I didn’t see Randy again until the next evening, Saturday evening. I had been holed up with Ethan in the house, discussing the papers, trying to figure out what they meant. We had argued. Ethan was worried. Crystal had been better equipped that we had been expecting. And she was probably the best friend I had at the school. Not that that was saying much. I had purposely kept my relationships superficial. I wasn’t here to make friends. Still, though.
The doorbell rang about seven o’clock, just after the sun had set, while it was still dusky outside, not yet dark. The hardest time of the day to see. Ethan took out his gun cocked it, otherwise didn’t move from the cheap linoleum kitchen table. We didn’t usually get visitors. Especially ones we weren’t expecting.
Slowly I stood up, hand at my back, where my gun rested. I silently moved to the curtained window, pulled it back a breath. Standing alone on the porch was a tall, lanky, unkempt young man. It was Randy.
I released my grip on the gun, and went to answer the door. Ethan still hadn’t moved. I opened the door. “Randy.”
“We need to talk,” he said. He was agitated, his eyes wider, more alert, more adult than they had been 26 hours ago when he dropped me off.
“Okay,” I said. This could only mean one thing. They had gotten to him. “Come in.” I knew Ethan was listening 15 feet away, just out of view.
“No,” he said shaking his head. “Come with me. Please.”
I hesitated. My brain was once again wary, but inside I couldn’t find any reason not to trust him. Besides, I wouldn’t be taken by surprise this time. “Okay.”
Before I could take the step out the door, Ethan had materialized. “What are you doing?” he asked. I knew he wouldn’t approve.
“Just going out with a friend,” I said, trying to sound like any other teenager on a Saturday night. “I’ll be back later.” I stepped out and shut the door on his stifling glare, not waiting for him to protest. I knew he wouldn’t stop me, he would just try to talk reason in to me. I’d end up going in the end, either way, so why waste the time.
I followed Randy down the walkway and through the chain-link gate. “Is that your dad?” he asked.
Did Ethan really look old enough to be my father? That made me feel…creepy or something. “Foster dad,” I said. It sounded good enough. Besides a foster parent can be much younger than an actual parent would be.
Randy nodded, opened the car door again for me. I can’t say I was sad to be back in the Lambi. He got in and started her up, headed away. I couldn’t tell where we were going. I wasn’t sure he even knew. At first he was quiet. I waited.
Eventually, after we got on the freeway, heading east, he said, “So a car pulled up next to me today, this morning. It was a nice car, all black, a small limo. At first I thought it must be from my lawyer.” He looked over at me. I know he was waiting to see if I was confused, surprised, scared. But I wasn’t any of those things. I waited for him to continue.
“See, my parents died, about three and a half years ago,” he went on. “I don’t have any other family. My family’s lawyer agreed to take custody of me, and he lets me live in my family’s house by myself, as long as I don’t get into trouble. He comes and checks on me every couple days.” Randy was talking to burn off his nervous energy, telling me his life story because he was too nervous still to tell me what he came to say. Some people cry when they are in a situation like this. Some people laugh. Some people freeze up, play dead. Randy talked. I couldn’t tell yet if he was still on my side or not.
“He drives a limo?” I asked to show I was listening, paying attention, and to remind him why we were here.
“Uh, yeah, sometimes,” Randy responded. He paused not sure if he wanted to reveal the next part but he was too nervous not to. “See, well, my family is–was pretty wealthy. Their lawyer is the best. He’s pretty wealthy too.”
“So now you’re loaded.”
“Basically, yes,” Randy said. “It’s all in a trust fund. I get an allowance and all. Gary, he’s the lawyer, takes care of everything like bills and stuff. If I do anything stupid, drugs or wild parties with too much beer, or get a D in a class, Gary’ll haul me away, and I’ll have to live with adult supervision. Maybe with him, maybe foster care, I don’t know. I like being on my own, so I don’t rock the boat.”
“That explains the car,” I said. “Why’d you tell everyone it was a gift from your dead grandfather?”
“It took almost everything from my allowance for three years to get this car. I didn’t buy clothes, or anything, so I could get it,” he said.
“Still, it’s got to be worth a three hundred fifty, “I said.
Randy looked over at me, surprised I would have any idea what a car like this would cost. Most girls don’t know cars like I do. Sure they know it’s fast, they know it cost a lot, but they don’t know how much. “Almost,” he said. “I got a good deal.”
“That’s not a bad allowance.”
“Well like I said, my family was pretty well off. I told everyone it was from my grandpa, that he blew all his retirement on it, and then died, left it to me.”
“People believe what you tell them most of the time,” he said. Didn’t I know it. “I didn’t want to have to spend all my time figuring out who liked me because of the money and who liked me because of me. I didn’t want anyone to know.”
“Seems like you enjoy spending time alone,” I said. He shrugged. We pulled off the freeway, made a left and started winding up into the hills. The houses were large here. Many were gated. They just got bigger, more precariously perched the farther we climbed. He was driving well over the speed limit but had full control. He had gone silent. “You’re good with her.”
“Thanks, I drive her a lot.” He seemed to have calmed since we left the house, as he told me his story. We reached the end of the road, at the top of a hill overlooking the city. It was a classic teenage makeout spot. For a millisecond I thought maybe that was the only reason he had brought me here, but no, if only life was that simple.