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Authors: Zane Riley

Go Your Own Way

BOOK: Go Your Own Way
9.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Copyright © Zane Riley, 2015

All Rights Reserved

ISBN 13: 978-1-941530-34-4 (trade)

ISBN 13: 978-1-941530-38-2 (ebook)

Published by
Interlude Press

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and places are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, either living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.

All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their
respective owners.

Book design
by Lex Huffman

Cover Design
by Buckeyegrrl Designs

Cover Illustration
by Colleen M. Good

To Mouthy—I hope the final product is a better pillow than the heap of notes that created it.


“Where are we going?”

Lennox gazed out the windshield at the jagged horizon. It was getting late and this pit-stop-turned-detour was seeming more like a summer road trip. A bizarre urge to chase the July dusk seemed to have come over his grandfather. For the last hour, the Appalachian mountains had begun to crest in front of the sun’s deep orange rays. The sun was all but gone now and the landscape around them was hidden in the darkness. He and Grandpa weren’t headed in the right direction. Home was the other way. It couldn’t be an accident: His grandfather always had a reason for everything he did.

“At your age, you should have east and west figured out by now.” Lennox plucked at his seatbelt. “Come on, Grandpa. What gives?”

Cameron McAvoy glanced at Lennox. His grandfather was a thin man with hair the color of dirty snow. He had frown lines around his eyes and mouth and a mole sprouting gray hairs where his jaw and neck met. On the rare days when he saw his grandfather, Lennox was fond of telling him he looked like a conservative politician past his prime.

“I’m taking you home.”

It was the same answer Lennox had heard since Vienna, and Lennox didn’t believe him for eleven reasons, each of which was an enormous road sign that didn’t list Richmond within the next eighty miles.

Click click click.

Lennox tapped his boots on the leather floor mat and flicked his tongue ring against his teeth. Something was going on. Why else would they have turned off the highway fifty miles before Richmond and headed to wherever they were going now?

Lennox pulled his right leg up and twisted the strap around it. No matter how many times he’d said an ankle monitor wasn’t a glamorous accessory, Officer Matthews hadn’t given a shit. Nobody had cared two fucks about what he’d wanted to do when he’d gotten out last year—not his grandfather or Officer Matthews or any of the other police he’d dealt with. Today though, his ankle monitor had been shut off, and his grandfather had picked him up in Vienna. It seemed he was going to be stuffed away somewhere new; getting expelled tended to make that happen. Only this time, Lennox was sure his next stop was going to be a shitty wooden box packed under earth.

“I know you’re getting on a bit in years, but home is back that way.” Lennox jabbed his thumb back toward civilization. Nothing but trees and this stupid road to be found here.

Where the hell are we going?

They’d end up in West Virginia before midnight at this rate. He swallowed and twisted to look behind them. West Virginia was the last place he wanted to be; he’d never been this far west a day in his life.

“These road signs haven’t been saying Richmond, you know. You should get your eyes checked so they can tell you you’ve been staring at the inside of your ass.”

His grandfather flicked on the high-beams and said nothing. Lennox shifted around to face front and went back to smacking his tongue ring against his teeth.

Click click click.

No response was the worst answer to get. When he was eight he’d sat on his grandparents’ front porch with his baby sister, Lucy, on his lap. They’d waited four hours for their father to pick them up, but nothing. No matter how many times he had called his dad he’d gotten no response. Lennox hadn’t liked what had followed that and, somehow, he was sure this wasn’t going to be any better. It never was.

“It was only a few sex parties,” Lennox said to fill the silence. His grandfather’s silence was as jarring as turning on a blender and hearing nothing; Lennox could imagine the pandemonium of vile thoughts whirling around inside his mind:

Just unbuckle his belt and shove him out of the car.

Gwen will thank me for getting us down to one grandkid when I get back. She likes Lucy better anyway.

Bury his body in the mountains and hope the snow covers it until it’s gone.

Lennox grimaced and plunked his head against the window.
Move Lennox here, move him there, just get him out of sight until he starts doing things the proper way
. Every single thought was another inch of pavement they were speeding over, another rea­son to keep driving. Silences with his grandfather were never empty. They were clotted and thick, sluggishly churning through Lennox until he felt dizzy and sick.

“I mean, they were open sex parties. I don’t discriminate on the basis of where you want to put it. Lots of dicks wagging and guys f—”

“Enough.” One quiet word was all it took. Lennox was getting pitched somewhere. Again. For good this time, too, judging by how far they were driving. Every long drive with his grandfather ended with him being left somewhere. Organizing a sex party in one of the basements at Lancaster Boarding School probably hadn’t been his wisest idea. An enjoyable one, but definitely not brilliant.

Click click—

“Stop. You’re going to ruin your teeth.”

Their car cruised through the first stoplight in twenty miles and passed a large sign that announced they were entering a town called Leon. A few shopping centers popped up along the road—at least, they looked like shopping centers. They were a lot smaller than anything he was used to in Richmond or Vienna, but compared to the empty road and the farms they’d been driving past for almost an hour, this was civilization at its finest. A hair salon, a small grocery store whose brand Lennox had never heard of and a pizza parlor. A McDonald’s appeared along the road. His grandfather pulled into the drive-through.

“Yes, I’ll have a Big Mac meal with a Diet Coke,” his grandfather said to the microphone. He turned to Lennox, as if decid­ing whether he was worth the five dollars. Lennox hoped he wasn’t. Guilt was the only reason his grandfather ever bought him McDonald’s. “And a twenty-piece chicken McNugget, two Quar­ter Pounders and fries with each of those.”

Lennox swallowed and gazed out at the empty parking lot surrounded by thick trees. He was in Leon for the long haul, whatever was happening. His grandfather never let him have McDonald’s except before something bad. The last time had been after the juvenile detention center but before boarding school. For one wild, blissful day, Lennox had been free and allowed to see Lucy again. Then he’d been taken to McDonald’s. The same thing had happened when his grandparents had picked him up after his mother had died a decade ago.

“Can I go take a piss?”

His grandfather handed money to the drive-through worker and rolled the window back up. “Can I trust you not to run off?”

Lennox smacked his foot onto the dashboard. His ankle monitor glinted in the light from the drive-through window. It might be turned off for the first time in a year, but he wasn’t stupid enough to think he still had it as a souvenir. “I’m not going back to prison.”

“Wisest choice you’ve made in years,” his grandfather said. He rolled the window down to accept their food, and then pulled over into a parking space. “Check the food first. If anything’s wrong, you can get it fixed.”

Lennox glanced into the bags, but everything checked out. As he got out, Lennox caught sight of the glowing picture of the latest Happy Meal toys. Transformers and ponies. Lucy wouldn’t care for the ponies—she preferred the little Barbies when they were available—but she loved Transformers. She pretended her prosthetic was part of an old Transformer. The last time he’d seen her, she’d pulled a leg off of Optimus Prime. Then she’d popped Barbie’s leg off and taped Optimus Prime’s to Barbie’s hip. Their grandparents had tried to get her to get rid of the Barbie, but Lucy had only insisted that she finally had a doll like herself.

“Lucy would love one of the toys.”

His grandfather looked at him. Lennox held his breath as if he was about to plunge into deep water. If his grandfather said no, everything Lennox suspected was true.

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” his grandfather said, his eyes on the toy display sign. “We’re trying to keep her away from Transformers. She has a very foolish love for them because of her… affliction.”

“There’s nothing wrong with her,” Lennox said, his heart sink­ing. He wasn’t going to see her again. Not for a long time. Lennox looked down at his ankle monitor and the little red light still glowing there. When they’d left the police station in Vienna six hours ago, the GPS tracking in the device had been temporarily shut off. Officer Matthews had given him the usual rules: Stay in his inclusion zone—within five miles of his residence—and don’t get into any more trouble. Everywhere he went would be trans­mitted directly to a secure website they would use to monitor where he was. At the time, Lennox had assumed that meant Richmond with his sister and grandparents, but it was apparent now that he was wrong. Once he reached wherever he was being taken, the GPS signal would turn green and he would be stuck.

“Normal little girls don’t swing their prosthetic legs around over their heads. Shut the door. You’re letting the humidity in.”

Lennox hurried inside to use the bathroom, and then they were back on the road. He stuffed his face and tried not to notice how much slower they were going or how the houses clustered closer together along the roads. Soon the houses joined into neighborhoods. They passed another small shopping center and then what looked like a school. At last, they turned into a cracked parking lot at a small motel. His grandfather parked outside one of the doors.

“This is your room until you graduate,” his grandfather said as he turned the car off and unlocked the doors. “The high school is a few blocks over. You’ll spend the rest of the summer here and go to Eastern for your senior year in September.”

Lennox hurried out after him, his stomach tight. “But what about Lucy? You can’t just leave me here.”

“What else would you have me do, Lennox? You’ve been expelled from every other school within a twenty-mile radius of home! Most schools won’t even consider taking you because of your record and the special circumstances.”

Lennox shook his ankle restlessly. “But, come on. What about a private school or h-homeschooling? I can take the GED… ”

“Absolutely not. Your grandmother and I have spent far too much money on you as it is. And you’re too smart to take the easy way to a diploma.” His grandfather opened the car trunk and pulled out an old trunk, a skateboard and a guitar case. The guitar had been his mother’s last birthday gift to him. “I don’t know what else to do with you. Your grandmother doesn’t want you in the house or near Lucy. I can’t argue with her after what happened at Lancaster. Lucy has enough issues without being exposed to what you’ll bring into the house.”

“Lucy’s fine as she is! And she can’t catch being gay,” he added. “If she could, she would have a long time ago. I didn’t just decide I liked dick one afternoon over my math homework.”

A door opened further down the building. Three men looked out, beer bottles and cigarettes hanging from their hands. Lennox took one look at the laughter stuffed in their cheeks and bit his lip. Great. He’d just outed himself to a group of strangers in the middle of some hick town. His grandfather carried Len­nox’s trunk up to the front door. Room 5B. The little wooden number was broken, the top splintered off and missing. Only the grungy outline where it had been made him sure of the number.

“You’re staying here. I’ll pay your rent until June.” His grand­father pulled out his wallet and handed him a card. “Your grand­mother didn’t want to give you more than your rent—she wanted to send you to some religious camp through church—but take it. I’ll put some money on it after you activate it at the bank in town. For food and clothes.”

“Don’t—come on, I’ll—okay, you can dump me wherever, all right? Just not here.” One of the men gave a loud hiccup as they dragged lawn chairs outside. They were drunk. Lennox could smell the alcohol.

His grandfather pulled a key from his pocket, unlocked the door and put Lennox’s trunk inside. Lennox followed with the guitar case and skateboard, glancing over his shoulder at the trio of men still watching him. He kicked the door closed and locked it. At least the lock worked, even if the knob seemed a little loose. His grandfather handed him the key and the card. Lennox pocketed them.

“It’s this or the religious camp.” His grandfather sighed and looked down at him. “I don’t want to send you to one of those. I don’t like your choices, but I can’t stand the things I’ve heard about those places either. After your graduation in June—and you better graduate—you can come visit your sister. You’re eigh­teen now, Lennox. Be grateful I’m doing this much for you after everything you’ve done.”

Lennox bit his tongue to keep from arguing. He was stuck. He couldn’t legally force his grandfather to take him home. His parole officer wouldn’t relocate him to a different area he chose as long as his grandfather was involved. After a year in a juvenile detention center, his grandfather had convinced a judge to release him on parole under the condition that he wore an ankle monitor for eighteen months and was sent to a boarding school with a focus on correcting troubled youths. He’d made it through a year at Lancaster Boarding School before getting expelled. In a few hours, his ankle monitor would turn on and he would be stuck in Leon for the last six months of parole.

“Fine,” Lennox said. He yanked the door open. “Goodbye.”

“This isn’t permanent, especially if you seriously rethink your choice to be—”

Lennox slammed the door in his face. For a minute, his grand­father knocked and hollered through the door at him, but Lennox didn’t unlock it. A car engine started and then faded away. Lennox took a long look around his new home and shuddered. It was a small room with a beat-up dresser, a lopsided nightstand and a mattress and box spring resting on the floor. A large, floor-to-ceiling pipe halfway between the front door and the back wall dripped. The carpet was covered with stains, and when he tried the light switch, nothing happened. Opposite the front door was a little kitchenette with a mini-fridge, but it had no stove. Instead, a large gap sat next to a small cabinet and sink. Lennox unlocked his trunk and pulled out his pocketknife and a small flashlight he’d stolen from the emergency kit in his grandfather’s car trunk. It hadn’t been easy, but when they’d stopped for gas his grandfather had gone inside to pay with cash. He’d pulled the trunk release on the driver’s side floor, then run around to the trunk to dig out the flashlight. It had been a whim, but he was glad he’d followed it now.

BOOK: Go Your Own Way
9.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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