Josh slammed into the house, anger and frustration radiating from every pore. How dare they? I’ve always been in charge, and now, not only was every one of them going soft in the head, they were all defying him! Who in the hell did they think they were? Storming through the living room, he failed to notice the small group whose conversation had ceased when he sent the front door crashing into the wall.
“Stop right there, young man!”
The commanding tone of his father’s voice quelled some of his rage as he turned to face the group he’d missed while blinded by the volcano roiling inside him. Several of his parents’ friends, including Mr. Adams, seemed to be having some sort of meeting which his violent arrival had interrupted. An image was paused on the wall-mounted flat screen TV.
Muttering an insincere apology his escape was halted by a quietly spoken order from his father.
“I believe you need to explain this outburst and apologize for your rude behavior.”
Josh gave the toe of his left shoe his undivided attention while whispering “Sorry’”.
His father wasn’t inclined to release him from this torture any time soon, as he commented wryly, “While I doubt the sincerity of your apology, I’ll let it pass while you explain your behavior. Please, I insist you share with us the events which brought you to this uncharacteristically volatile state.”
The chuckles which followed his father’s words did little to quell the inferno raging in Josh’s gut. The deceptively quiet tone he’d used did not bode well for anyone who failed to comply with what was more than a simple request. Josh had made the mistake of ignoring that tone only once in his life and the price he’d paid was etched indelibly in his memory, not to mention his body.
He took in the expectant faces of the people who were sitting on the yellow floral sofa and matching chairs his mother had chosen to decorate a room frequently filled with their guests. Avoiding their eyes, Josh desperately wished for a shot of whiskey from the liquor cart sitting close to his father’s chair, or better still, a trap door in the floor. Facing a room filled with some of Adamsville’s most influential citizens did little to calm Josh’s agitation. Feeling the eyes of both Principal Adams and his father boring into the top of his skull, Josh made a couple of false starts before launching into what he hoped would be an acceptable explanation for his behavior. He condensed the story of his friends’ betrayal into as few words as possible. He longed to escape to his room where he could sulk in private.
“Took Amy with me out to the old mine to run an errand for Mr. Adams.” Daring a glance at the man in question, he saw him give a slight nod. “On the way back, she started whining about how badly we’d treated that chick you wanted us to get rid of. She, Paul and Mary are gettin’ cold feet after spendin’ the last few months pullin’ every dirty trick we could think of to send her cryin’ home to mommy. They’re…well…they are…like..blaming me for talkin’ ‘em into it in the first place. They don’t get it. She had to go! She didn’t belong here!” With each word his voice rose until the last words sounded more like a child whining over a withheld treat than a teenager describing his friends’ betrayal.
Mr. Adams understood more than Josh’s words conveyed. He exchanged a look with Josh’s father then used his Principal’s voice to say, “You may go.”
Expecting obedience, he turned his attention to the other adults as if Josh was no longer in the room. Josh wasted no time escaping the torture, running out of the room and upstairs to his bedroom pausing to close the door quietly before flinging himself onto the bed. Anger and despair radiated off his body in hot waves.