I guess it’s easy for me to forget just how new to parenting Adam is. He’s just been such a natural at it so far, it’s hard to imagine him having trouble. But it’s barely been a month! This life that’s started to seem so normal, it’s still just begun! And through it all, Adam’s been my rock, but right now, I can see him doubting himself. One way or another I’m going to dismiss those doubts, I know I will.
“So,” Dizzy began with a smirk as he led me away from everyone. “what are we doing tonight?”
“I don’t know what you’re doing, but Adam and I are going to spend the night together.” I smiled, seeing surprise fill his face.
He let out an overdramatic groan before forcing eye contact. “And after that?”
“I’m going to bed.” I shrugged, seeing a smirk beginning to form on his face. “Alone.”
“You sure about that?” He asked, letting the smirk take over.
“Yup.” I insisted, holding my ground. “You heard Mrs. Mowry, one more late day and we’re both getting detention.”
“You can’t actually be mad at me for that?” He complained as his face grew serious. “I mean we got out of it, and besides, I remember this morning’s activities being your idea.”
“Says the guy who climbed on me.” I played along, letting my smile grow to show I wasn’t actually upset. “I just need some time with Adam. He’s a little, off today. And I can’t risk him catching on and thinking he’s screwing up.”
“Goody two shoes.” Dizzy teased with a roll of his eyes, but I could tell he understood. “So where are you going?”
“I don’t know,” I began to think it over. “I guess maybe the Tavern again. That guy he likes might be working tonight.”
“Boring!” Dizzy exclaimed, loud enough to draw stares. “You play it too safe, go somewhere new tonight.”
“Like where? I want to surprise him again, and I’m not exactly Mr. San Francisco.” I complained, knowing Dizzy had a point.
“China Town.” Dizzy shrugged. “It’s far, but not too far and he’ll never see it coming.”
“I don’t know how to get there.” I complained, noticing Adam starting to watch us closely.
“Just take the twenty-two to the one, you’ll know when you get there.” He explained, but hesitated as he saw confusion grow on my face. “I’ll text you the directions, and worst case you could just use your phone or something.”
“I don’t know,” I gulped, feeling my anxiety starting to get the better of me. “what if I get us lost?”
“You’ll be with Adam, what are you worried about?” Dizzy asked, freezing me even more. “Besides, getting lost is half the adventure!”
“Maybe you should come,” I began instantly drawing a shake of his head.
“I’m getting the vibe Adam’s not the only one doubting himself today.” He analyzed, taking a deep look into my eyes. “You’re smart and brave and strong and just,” He caught himself before he started to ramble. He went to say something else, but before he could leaned in and stole a kiss from my lips. “Just relax, you and Adam could use an adventure together.”
“This whole month has been an adventure.” I complained, but simply got a shrug from Dizzy.
“And how much you’ve grown from when I first met you.” His smile grew as he led me back towards the group. “Ky, what are you up to tonight?” He began, immediately trying to find plans for the night.
“I guess nothing,” Ky hesitantly began. “but you’re not sleeping over! My Mom’s already mad enough at me!”
“Because you got a B on that computer science test?” Dizzy teased.
“No, be-because my Dog keeps having accidents in the house.” Ky corrected, but it was obvious he had come up with it on the spot.
“Because you got a B on that test.” Dizzy insisted, glancing back at me. “Good night Artie.”
“Good night.” I replied as my smile continued to grow.
“And what about me!” Charlotte yelped, noticing she was being left out of their plans.
“You can come over too,” Ky shrugged, looking over to her. “and Artie too of course.”
“I’m hanging with my Uncle tonight.” I explained, drawing a look from Adam.
“You’re leaving me with them?” Charlotte sighed, glancing back to me but as our eyes connected she could tell there was a reason why. “Text me?”
“Already sent.” I smiled as the three of them began to walk away.
“So,” Adam began as we watched them disappear into the crowd. “what are we doing tonight? You can go hang out with your friends if you want.”
“I have a surprise for you.” I explained, as we began the short walk back home. “I just need to shower first.”
“Oh thank God.” He exhaled as I shot him a serious look. “What? You smell.” He laughed, trying his hardest to return to his normal self.
“Gee, thanks.” I complained, looking straight ahead.
“Dizzy kissed you anyway.” He shrugged. “Not that I was watching!”
“You’re such a creep.” I couldn’t help but tease.
“Maybe don’t be kissing boys in open fields.” Adam shrugged, giving me a light push.
“Only the cute ones.” I played along drawing a laugh from him.
The rest of the evening I noticed Adam watching me a little bit closer than usual. I could tell he was still thinking everything over, still trying his hardest to figure out how to be the best role model he could. But I don’t think that’s something you intentionally do. I think it’s something that comes from the little things, from your words and your actions. And Adam, well he’s been acing that since I met him. I just need to show him that!
“Alright,” Adam began as we walked out of our front door. “where are we going tonight? The Tavern?”
“You’ll see.” I shrugged, leading him to the bus stop.
“The Tavern.” He nodded his head, but as we got on an unfamiliar bus I could see him starting to think it over. “Not the Tavern.” He decided, falling into thought. “Do you even know where we’re going?”
“Yeah.” I nervously let out. “I, I’ve got this.”
“That’s the confidence I wanted to hear.” He teased, but as we passed a big brick building he couldn’t help but excitedly point it out. “Now that!” He exclaimed. “That’s where I have to take you!”
“What is it?” I asked, thrown off by his sudden excitement. As I took a closer look I noticed a music store on the ground floor and a big LED screen near the top. Part of the sign read The Fillmore while the flashing LED screen kept changing.
“That’s The Fillmore.” He happily explained. “Lindsay took me there like my second or third week here, and just, live music, there’s nothing like it.” He said, barely able to contain his excitement. “I’ve got to take you to your first concert!”
“Well maybe that’s the band we should see.” I pointed out as the LED screen focused on a certain band.
“Messiah - May 25th, 2018
Get Your Tickets Now!”
“I’ve never heard of them, but it sounds like Christian rock.” I shrugged. “That could be a happy middle ground for us.”
“Trust me, they’re not Christian rock.” Adam laughed, letting himself fully ease up. “it’s hard rock, so I’m pretty sure that show would kill you. Their singer is around your age and is some kind of gay activist though. He’s got a lot of talent too, just a nasty drug problem that’s already starting to hurt his name.”
“How do you fall into drugs that early?” I shook my head as the smile fell from my face.
“Guess he had a lot of tough breaks and no one to show him the way.” Adam shrugged, not fully knowing the band’s history.
“I guess so.” I nodded my head. “Well, I’m glad I have someone.” I forced out, causing Adam to keep his eyes looking out the window. I could tell my words caught him off-guard because he grew quiet and watched the passing buildings closely.
“I think we have to transfer now.” I finally broke the silence as the bus came to a stop. “Onto, the, the one?” I explained, trying my hardest to decipher the directions Dizzy had texted me.
“Where are you taking me Arthur Price?” Adam teased as we got off the bus.
“I’m not sure.” I nervously laughed as another bus immediately pulled up.
“Towards the bridge?” Adam tried to guess. “Because this is a weird way to go about that.”
“You’ll see!” I insisted as we both sat down once more.
“One of the piers?” He continued to guess but I simply shook my head. “Union Square?” He guessed again, but once more got no answer. “A Giants game?”
“Yes Adam.” I began to giggle. “With all my money, I bought us tickets to go see the San Francisco Giants on short notice.”
“I don’t know what you do.” Adam shrugged. “Besides, you’ve been a little secretive lately.”
“Have not.” I lied, trying to hide a blush that was beginning to grow on my face. Does he know Dizzy’s been sneaking in? Does he know what we’ve been up to in my room? Am I that bad at hiding things?”
“There!” I suddenly pointed out, seeing a row of lights in the distance. I went to say something else, but the site froze me where I sat.
“China Town.” Adam finally exhaled. “Good surprise Artie.”
I nodded my head, but was far too captivated by the sights. Giant signs in foreign languages covered the buildings as stings of paper lamps seemed to crisscross from wall to wall. If you’d have blind folded me and taken me here, well, I would think I was actually in China!
“Cool right?” Adam asked, seeing the amazement on my face.
“Yeah.” I managed to say.
“You know what restaurant you want to go to?” He asked but I simply shook my head. “I’ll take it from here.”
“I’ve never even had Chinese food.” I finally spoke. “Well, I’ve had crappy Texas take out Chinese food, but that’s it.”
“And let me guess, your Mom barely ordered it because she hates Chinese food.” His smile began to grow.
“Yup.” I caught his smile as I looked up at him. “Do you like it?” I nervously asked, realizing I hadn’t even put that much thought into Dizzy’s suggestion.
“I freakin’ love it!” He happily nodded, pulling the line above us to get the bus to stop.
As we got off and started to roam through the streets I was left in a state of amazement. Crowds of people rushed past us as the glowing lights above us lit up the streets. It’s funny, when I first got here this all would have terrified me, but not anymore. Now this, this is thrilling! And when I do get overwhelmed, well I know I have Adam right here with me.
When we had finally had enough site seeing Adam led me to his favorite Chinatown restaurant. The outside didn’t even look like a restaurant, just a door in the middle of a wall with a green cube above it! But as we went inside I started to wonder if we were even dressed nice enough to eat there!
“You had no idea what you signed up for when you took me here, did you?” Adam teased, seeing the excitement still covering my face as we sat down.
“Nope.” I shook my head. “Dizzy suggested it, and it sounded fun.”
“It was a good idea.” Adam happily nodded his head, before starting to fall quiet. I noticed him uncomfortably fidget as he thought over his next few words. “You know I meant it before when I was talking about how proud I am of you, right?”
“I know.” I quickly nodded my head.
“It was just, it was so amazing getting to watch you play baseball.” He froze as the words started to get caught up in his throat. “I know Sarah would’ve loved it to, and maybe, maybe that’s part of the reason why this conversation is so hard for me.” He explained. “Sure, because of my Dad I’m not too sure how to talk about this stuff, but it’s hard that she’s gone. It’s hard that she’s gone when I know she would’ve loved every second of today.”
As I noticed a tear forming in his eyes I had to fight to keep the water out of my own. “If you cry, I’ll cry.” I warned in the strongest voice I could manage.
“Sorry,” He shook his head. “I’ve just really been missing her today.”
“Why?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“I don’t know, maybe it started with seeing you asleep on the couch.” He took a deep breath as he paused to think it over. “You just remind me so much of her, especially in the little things you do. She’d be so proud of everything you’re becoming.”
I nodded my head as a smile began to form on my face. “She would’ve been so proud of you too.” I reminded him. “The same way I am.” I forced out. “I-I feel like you’re doubting yourself today and I, I don’t want you to. I want you to know what an amazing job you’re doing.”
“Artie,” He tried to interrupt.
“No, I’m serious.” I insisted. “I was such a shy kid when I got here and you, you pulled me out of my shell.”
“Dizzy pulled you out of your shell.” He tried to argue.
“Dizzy helped, but you’re the one who took me here. You’re the one who showed me around on our way home. You’re the one who convinced me to give this lifea chance.” I shook my head. “It just, it felt like I was so broken when I first got here, but you, you’re putting it all back together.”
“For telling me not to cry, you’re really trying your hardest to make me.” He teased, trying his hardest to ease the moment with a joke. “When you first got here you called us a team, and, I-I wouldn’t want anyone else on my team.”
“Me neither.” I happily agreed as she shared a smile before looking back down at our menus.
The rest of the night was just as amazing as when we first got there. The food was amazing! And the sights, well they continued to take my breath away! Most importantly, the bond between Adam and I seemed stronger than it ever had. It was like we were just on the same page, like we had finally broken down whatever barrier was left between us. I mean, I thought coming out had done that, but I had no idea just how close we could be, and I get the feeling this is just the start.
When we finally left China Town and got back home Adam made sure to throw on a movie. I couldn’t stay awake for long, between exploring China Town, school and my baseball game I was totally wiped out! For some reason it felt just as peaceful as sleeping on the couch last night did. I just felt, protected.
And nothing was a stronger reminder of that then when I heard a crash coming from the kitchen that immediately woke both me and Adam up.
“Who’s there?!” Adam shouted before I could even fully wake up. I noticed his silhouette reach down for my bag and grab the bat out of the side. “Who’s there?!” He repeated, taking a few steps towards the kitchen and slamming the lights on.
But as soon as I saw the young skinny figure I jumped up from the couch. “Dizzy?” Adam asked, slowly starting to lower the bat.
“I-I’ll take this.” I nervously exhaled, taking the weapon from his hand.
“What the hell are you doing?” Adam asked in an irritated voice. “How did you even get in?”
Dizzy stayed quiet and shrugged as he kept his hood tightly over his head and his eyes down. “Are you okay?” I asked, noticing a few stray pots he had knocked over.
“Fine.” He finally forced out in a quiet voice.
“Dizzy.” Adam called out in a strong voice. “What the hell are you doing?” Adam repeated, but once more Dizzy stayed quiet. “Are you high, or drunk or,”
“No, I-I’m sober.” Dizzy shook his head, but kept his face hidden.
Adam glanced to me, as we tried our hardest to silently piece together what was happening. Did he try and sneak in even though I told him no? Did he get thrown out of his house? I know he usually thinks this is a game, but he’s not exactly acting like that right now!
“It’s three in the morning, if, if you don’t want me to call the police I need you to start talking.” Adam warned, taking a few steps forward. But as Adam grew closer Dizzy took a few steps back.
“Adam!” I warned in a concerned voice. “You’re not calling the police!”
“What else am I supposed to do?” Adam asked, looking back towards me. “He broke into our house.”
“I didn’t break in.” Dizzy exhaled. “Your spare key just isn’t hard to find.”
“Well now it will be.” Adam shook his head. “And I’m serious, you better start talking.” As Dizzy fell quiet once more I noticed the irritation on Adam’s face beginning to grow. “Dizzy! Talk to me!” He shouted in a tone so stern I almost didn’t recognize his voice. The second his words hit the air Dizzy jumped, then moved back even further.
“You’re not okay, are you?” I asked, starting to grow closer, until finally I was standing right next to him. At first when I reached out he pulled away, but as I reached out a second time he let me pull his hood away exposing a fresh black eye and bruised lip.
“Dizzy.” I exhaled in concern. “What happened?”
“I just, I was out tagging and I messed with the wrong guys.” He lied, immediately pulling the hood back over his head.
“What kind of guys?” I asked, too worried to see through his words.
“Gang members I guess.” He shook his head. “I was hired to do a memorial piece and I guess they didn’t want to pay me, but I tried to force the issue and,”
“Stop lying.” Adam interrupted, watching him closely.
“I’m not lying.” Dizzy tried to insist.
“Just stop.” Adam warned, pulling out a chair at the table. “Sit down.” He instructed. As I led Dizzy to the seat I noticed Adam reach into the freezer and grab an icepack. “Here.” He offered, but Dizzy refused the help. Instead I grabbed it from him and held it to Dizzy’s eye, making sure to pull down the hood once more.
“Now what happened?” Adam asked, dragging a chair across from Dizzy and taking a seat.
“I was telling the truth.” Dizzy shook his head. “I just can’t go home and have my Mom worrying about me.
“Well I, I’m going to have to call your Mom and talk to her no matter what.” Adam threatened. I could tell he had a rough idea of the real story, but wanted to hear it from Dizzy first. “So please, just give me the truth.”
“It’s just me and Adam,” I reminded Dizzy. “you can tell us stuff.”
Dizzy stayed quiet for a few moments before I noticed water starting to fill his eyes. “I just, I spoke up.” Dizzy shook his head. “And I guess, I don’t know,” he began to unravel. “people always tell me I don’t know when to stop, and I guess I don’t, but I-I had to say something!”
“Relax,” Adam tried to comfort as I rested my spare hand on Dizzy’s shoulder. “just start from the beginning.”
“I-I got home from Ky’s and, and my Mom’s boyfriend was just on a rampage.” He finally began. “He was just, he was saying so much crap about her.” The tears began to fall faster from his eyes as the truth began to come out. “I-I-I had to do something, right? I just had to.”
“And he hit you?” Adam offered, trying to spare him the words.
“I just, I stood up for her and he lost it.” Dizzy’s eyes fell back down to the floor. “He just started hitting me and I-I don’t know!” He yelped, but this time I pulled him in close as tears began to fall from my own eyes.
Adam let out a heavy breath and let us have a few moments to calm down before he motioned for me to let Dizzy go. Adam slowly inched closer and grabbed Dizzy’s closed hands before he could push away. “Hey,” Adam let out, forcing eye contact with him. “you’re safe here. You’re safe here.” He insisted as Dizzy tried to break free. “I promise you that.”
Adam took another second to recollect himself as Dizzy finally began to calm down. “I-I’m so sorry about what happened to you, and you, you can stay here as long as you need.” Adam offered. “You’re such a brave kid.” He tried to comfort. “And you’re right, you don’t know when to stop, but that’s your strength.”
“Sticking up for your mom, taking the beating for her, that’s what a man does.” He explained. “And it’s not right, it’s not right at all. But you know what? Your Mom’s boyfriend is scared of you. He’s scared of what you were saying, that’s why he hit you. Small minds, they just can’t handle people like you.”
“People who say too much?” Dizzy exhaled as he shook his head.
“No,” Adam quickly rejected, finally letting him go. “people who speak the truth. You still have the spare key?” Adam asked, drawing a faint nod from Dizzy. “Good.” Adam remarked as Dizzy offered him the key. “Keep it.” He instructed. “You let yourself in whenever you need to. It should work for the front door too. And we, we’ll talk about this more in the morning.”
“Thank you.” Dizzy exhaled in shock. “Thank you.” He repeated, lunging forward and wrapping himself around Adam.
When I was proud of Adam before, well, that pride had barely scratched the surface compared to now. Adam easily could’ve called the police and had them deal with it. This isn’t his kid, this isn’t something he has to deal with, yet he is. Before he was trying his hardest to be a good role model, but like I said, it’s something he just knows how to do. I’m scared to tell him about the custody issue, but now I know he’ll have a plan. Now I know he’s strong enough to handle it.