“Seems that you’ve gotten yourself into a little more trouble then you can handle this time, huh son?”
Cameron stood up and faced Mr. Harris, Kyle’s father. “Yes sir.” He didn’t like the way Mr. Harris was looking at him; but it was the way he was usually looked at by the man, like he didn’t approve. He had never said outright that he didn’t like the fact that he was his son’s friend, but his looks alone told Cameron all he needed to know on that subject.
With all that had happened in the previous night and mornings events, he had completely forgotten that Mr. Harris worked for the police department. He wasn’t too sure of what exactly he did, but from the house they all lived in he figured he must be pretty high up in the department.
Mr. Harris opened the cell and walked inside extending his hand to Mrs. West. “I’m Ken Harris, chief of police.”
Cameron’s eyes widened. He knew the guy was high up, but didn’t think he was the boss.
“Natalie West. Child Welfare.” She said standing up and shaking his hand.
“Cameron here is a friend of my son. He’s spent many nights at my house, I’ve been on the phone with my wife, I had no idea anything had happened until I showed up for work this morning, but we would like to take him in.”
All Cameron could do was watch the exchange. He was too shocked to do much else. He had never even thought that the guy liked him spending the night. The fact he actually wanted him to live there was completely baffling to him.
Natalie looked at Cameron and smiled. “Well looks like you’re saved at the last minute.” She looked back at Mr. Harris. “You will have to fill out some paperwork, but considering your standing in the community I’m sure there will be no problems with this arrangement.”
He nodded to her. “Thank you ma’am. Is it okay to take him now?” “Sure I can drop by here later with that paperwork you’ll need to sign.”
He nodded and shook her hand again. “Thank you ma’am.”
She walked over to Cameron and shook his hand as well. “You’ll more then likely hear from me again, just to check up and see how things are going.”
Nodding mutely Cameron shook her hand still unable to find his voice. When she left, Mr. Harris walked up to him. “We’d better get you home.”
Cameron didn’t find his voice until he was in the passenger seat of the car and Mr. Harris was behind the wheel. “Sir?”
“Yes?” he replied starting the car.
“How come you’re taking me in?” He glanced quickly over at the man who was backing out of the parking lot then looked quickly back down at his hands. “I mean I didn’t think you liked me.”
“It’s not you I don’t like Cameron, it’s the choices you make. That can’t all be blamed on you however. Kyle has told me how your dad is. I know it must be hard knowing right from wrong without the proper guidance.”
“I don’t want to fool you Cameron living at my house is going to be a big change for you. You are going to learn some responsibility you are going to learn that you have to answer for your actions. My son sees something in you and I know he’s not stupid. If he says you’re a good kid I’m going to believe him. I think you just need some help getting back on the right track.” He continued talking as he drove.
“We’ll have a probationary period. If you decide that you don’t want live with the rules I’m going to lay down for you then you can leave after 90 days. And I’m not just talking about walking out the door. I will take you to child welfare and they can put you in a foster home. I have faith though Cameron, that after 90 days you will see there’s another way to live life and that doesn’t make it boring. There are many ways a person can fulfill themselves, healthier, less harmful, less dangerous ways to have a good time.”
Cameron listened to every word the man said his mind going crazy with the thoughts of the bible thumper he could be ‘converted into’ he had to stifle a laugh picturing himself with his hair slicked back a suite and bow tie on lugging around his bible. He knew he could never become that type of person.
He knew he could follow a few rules though, and that Mr. Harris was saving him from something he considered far worse. And if that meant behaving himself he just might be able to do it. With Josh locked away at the youth center, he didn’t have anyone to go out and be bad with in the first place.
“Does Kyle know yet?” he asked quietly.
“No, he’s at school. He won’t know until he gets home.”
A couple minutes later they pulled into the driveway of the Harris home. Cameron looked at its white two stories and wrap around porch in a whole new light; before it had just been his best friend’s house, a place he spent the night a lot. Now he saw it as where he would live for now on, at least for the next 90 days. He had no intentions of wanting to leave in 90 days but wasn’t so sure Mr. Harris would want to keep him around after three months.
As soon as he walked into the house Mrs. Harris swept him into her arms. “How are you hon?” she asked as she let go of him.
He smiled at her having always liked her, and not having the doubts about her liking him that he had about her husband. “I’m good.” He stammered a moment then added. “I really appreciate you taking me in ma’am.” He saw her exchange a look with her husband that he couldn’t read before she looked back at him and smiled.
“Come on I’ll show you to your room.” She started off up the stairs and he followed along. “It’s been being used for storage. We’ll have to clean it up. I thought that we would do that this afternoon.”
“I’m going to head back to work Kathy.” Mr. Harris said from the bottom of the stairs causing both Mrs. Harris and Cameron to turn and look at him. “You and I are going to have a long talk tonight Cameron, so I can let you know what to expect and what the rules are.”
Cameron nodded not really looking forward to that. He turned and continued following Mrs. Harris up the stairs and into his new room. She hadn’t been exaggerating when she’d said it was used for storage. Boxes were stacked everywhere. He could barely see the twin side bed on the opposite side of the room just below the window.
“We can’t put these in the cellar because it floods this time of year. So we’ll have to put them up in the attic.” Kathy Harris said as she stood among all the boxes.
Cameron spent the next four hours lugging boxes from the room up the ladder type stairs and into the attic. By 3pm he was soaked in sweat still contemplating what Mrs. Harris had meant by ‘we’ as she’d not moved one box herself. Soon as she’d seen he knew exactly what–to-do she’d headed back off downstairs. He’d smelled something sweet baking and was hungry as hell but hadn’t dared to go down and ask for any lunch, not wanting to be a burden.
He was standing in the middle of the now mostly bare room when Mrs. Harris walked in her arms filled with blankets and sheets. “These are for the bed. After you make it up come downstairs.”
“Do you mind if I take a shower first?” he hadn’t taken one since the morning before and with all the sweating he’d done that afternoon he didn’t figure he smelled too good.
“Oh yeah sure hon, you know where everything is.”
Cameron nodded. “I don’t have any clothes. Can I go over to my house and get mine?”
“Well I’ll get you some of Kyle’s clothes for now. Ken can drive you over to your house tonight so you can get your things.”
He was halfway through making up the bed when she brought him a pair of Kyle’s jeans and a T-shirt. Obviously Kyle’s bumming around clothes, because he was always dressed in slacks and a nice shirt for school.
He didn’t spend a lot of time in the shower and got dressed quickly so he could get downstairs as Mrs. Harris requested. Once he reached the bottom of the stairs he heard Mrs. Harris talking. He figured to the kids as they were probably home from school by now.
“So your father has decided he’s going to stay with us.”
Cameron’s eyes widened as he stood on the bottom step. He’d figured she had been the one to talk Mr. Harris into it, but by the way her voice sounded, it did not sound like she had any choice at all, and that she wasn’t too happy about it. Not wanting to be caught eaves dropping he stepped off the bottom stair and into the entryway of the dining room. The first face his eyes fell on was Kyle’s.
Kyle sat back in his chair and shook his head at him. Looking pissed as Cameron had ever seen him. He was well aware that Kyle would be pissed but it didn’t help with being face to face with it. He didn’t have to look at it long though as Kyle roughly pushed his chair back got up and quickly left the room brushing past Cameron like he wasn’t even there.
Kathy Harris looked at him. “Have a seat, I baked cookies.”
Feeling more like going after Kyle, Cameron sat down anyways, not wanting to disobey Mrs. Harris. He was still shocked at what he’d overheard and didn’t want to make her any angrier.
He could feel the twins staring at him as he ate his milk and cookies. He didn’t dare look up at them while he ate, though he couldn’t explain exactly why. He supposed he was feeling shame. He wasn’t so sure he was feeling it himself, but knew that’s what they were all thinking of him and he supposed it was rubbing off on him.
When he finished off his milk Mrs. Harris took the glass from him. “You probably ought to go talk to Kyle. If you are living under the same roof I don’t want you fighting.”
Nodding gratefully he stood up and made his way upstairs. He knocked on Kyle’s door and didn’t wait for a response before he walked in. Kyle was sitting at his desk a textbook open in front of him. He turned in his chair and narrowed his eyes as they fell on Cameron. He shook his head again and turned back to his book.
“I can’t believe you Cameron. I can’t believe you would do something like that. I thought I knew you better.” He slammed his pen down over the book and turned back around. “I did know you better, but that was before you started drinking and doing drugs. Before you started hanging out with that jerk Josh.”
“I’m sorry Kyle. I made a mistake.”
“You made a lot of mistakes Cameron, but at least you do realize that they are mistakes, and aren’t walking around pleading innocence.”
Cameron nodded. “No, I do know what’s my fault; and when it’s my fault.”
Kyle nodded looking down at the floor as he crossed his arms across his chest. He looked back up at Cameron a small smile on his face. “I am glad you’re going to be living here.”
“Your mom doesn’t seem too happy about it.”
“I think she’s just mad at my dad for making the decision without her. I don’t think it has anything to do with you. I’m sure if she had been given a choice she would have chose you to stay here. She just doesn’t like not being consulted.”
Cameron sat down on the edge of Kyle’s bed. “You really don’t mind me living here?”
“Of course not, I’ve wanted you to move in here for a long time.”
“And do you plan on being mad for long?” he asked grinning slightly.
“Don’t know, doubt it.” Kyle grinned too. “Were you with Josh last night?”
“What’s going to happen with him?”
“I don’t know for sure. He said he probably would have to go to the youth center.” He didn’t miss the look of relief in Kyle’s eyes and thought it made him a little angry but he didn’t mention it.
“What?” he asked, when Kyle started snickering.
“Your gonna have to go to church every Sunday!”
Cameron rolled his eyes as his stomach did a flip. He hadn’t thought of that. He could handle Mr. Harris’s rules, he thought, and whatever else that may lay ahead, but wasn’t so sure he could handle sitting in church every week listening to a man, in room full of people who all despised what he was, being preached to about something that he couldn’t change, that he didn’t want to change..
He knew Mr. Harris despised faggots too, and that thought disturbed him, though not as badly as thinking of sitting in a room full of faggot haters all hanging off every word that came out of their blessed minister’s mouth.
He looked back at Kyle realizing Kyle was snickering at him. “What?”
“I can’t believe a big tough guy like you can get all freaked out just with the thought of going to church. It’s NOT that bad.”
Cameron shrugged and shook it off not about to explain why he hated it so badly. Now more then ever he had to keep his orientation a secret. Now it came down to needing a place to stay. He knew he’d never be welcome in this home if anyone were to find out.
After a huge dinner of spaghetti, garlic bread and tossed salad, he helped with the dishes, and then was called into the living room by Mr. Harris. Mr. Harris stood up as he walked in. “Let’s go over and get your things. I talked to your father this morning it’s supposed to be all packed up for you.”
Cameron nodded silently never knowing exactly what he should and shouldn’t say around Mr. Harris. He followed the man out to his car and they made their way over to Cameron’s father’s place. As they pulled into the driveway of his old house he looked up at it realizing he was glad he was no longer living there.
The place just looked cold and ominous. It was a place that held no happy memories for him, and plenty of bad ones. He was surprised when Mr. Harris undid his seatbelt and stepped out of the car. He hadn’t expected the man to go right up to the door with him, he wasn’t sure he wanted him to go up to the door with him. He stepped out of the car himself and walked with Mr. Harris up to the door.
Before he could walk right in as he usually did, Mr. Harris knocked on the door so Cameron stayed put waiting for it to be answered. Within a minute the door opened and his father glared out at him. “Stuff’s on the sidewalk.” He said gruffly.
Cameron turned and looked out to the sidewalk and fount it was empty. He turned back to his father. “No it’s not.”
“Well that’s where we put it this morning.”
Not sure why his father would lie about it Cameron shook his head then realized what day it was. “But its Wednesday, trash day.”
A look of mock shock came over his father’s face. “Oh, woops, guess you should have come and got it sooner.”
Cameron’s face turned hot, he didn’t have a lot of stuff, but certainly liked what he did have. “You asshole.” He shouted and stepped forward only to be pulled back by Mr. Harris’s very strong arms as his father slammed the door in his face.
“Come on son let’s go.” Mr. Harris said, his hand closed in tightly around Cameron’s arm.
Cameron swung around his arm in the vice. “Are you kidding? He at least owes me money for my stuff.”
Mr. Harris shook his head as he literally pulled Cameron down the front steps. “I don’t think he’s going to do that.”
“But it’s my stuff, I paid for it!” he said as he was pulled to the car, through his anger he realized that Mr. Harris was one hell of a strong man. Mr. Harris opened the passenger side door and sat him down in the seat. Cameron roughly shook his arm loose the way he was being sat down reminding him of his arrest which only pissed him off more. “Don’t touch me asshole!” he snapped slamming his own door shut.
He started to regret his attitude as Mr. Harris was stonily silent on the way home. The minute they walked into the Harris home he was ordered to follow the man down the hall and into his office.
“Have a seat.” Mr. Harris ordered pulling back a chair then going behind his desk and having a seat himself. Seeing Cameron still standing he said. “Sit down son!” more firmly.
Cameron grunted and sat down heavily in the chair. He didn’t like being ordered around; he really hated the fact he had to live there at that moment.
“I think now would be a good time to go over the rules.”
Biting his tongue so he wouldn’t snap again Cameron looked at the floor feeling like he no longer had a choice in anything. That he would be like some kind of robot being told exactly what to do and when to do it. He’d never been under anyone’s command. He had never had to follow any rules before.
“First off I don’t EVER want you to talk to me like that again. I am trying to help you here and you need to respect me. I realize you were upset, and you have a right to be, but there are other ways to handle these types of things. You can’t go blowing up every time something doesn’t go your way.”
Cameron nodded not taking his eyes off the floor already knowing he shouldn’t have called the man an asshole, but still to mad to apologize for it. He knew he wasn’t really mad at Mr. Harris but was just so furious about his things he couldn’t manage to focus his anger on the right person.
“We’ll get you new clothes Cameron.”
He nodded again still not daring to let himself speak.
“Okay so here are the rest of the rules.” He paused a moment and Cameron heard him ruffling through some papers but didn’t look up to see what Mr. Harris was doing. “First off you are essentially grounded. You can’t go out after school, and you can only leave on weekends with either me or my wife.”
Cameron looked up at him. “What about work?” He wasn’t too shocked that he wasn’t able to go out. He’d already expected that but hadn’t thought about how it would affect his job.
Mr. Harris put his hand under his chin and rubbed it giving Cameron the impression he hadn’t thought about that. “How many days a week do you usually work?”
“Usually four to ten.”
“Well I’m really not to keen on the idea, but I do know you are going to need your money. You’ll be supporting yourself younger than most people have to, but while you are here I will be supporting you. So the money you make you’ll need to put right in the bank.”
“What?” Cameron scoffed. “You can’t take my money.”
“I’m not taking it, I’m making you save it. You can keep twenty-five dollars a week for spending money, but the rest needs to go into a savings account. I’ll be picking you up from work, so we can just make a night deposit. You do have a savings account right?”
Cameron shook his head, he had never held onto his money long enough to require one. And he was pissed he had to now, twenty-five dollars a week was not enough money. He knew there was no use stewing over it though; he was under this man’s rule now. His need for a place to stay outweighed anything else.
“Well the wife is going to have to take you out shopping in the morning to get new things, I’ll tell her to take you to the bank too and open up an account.”
“I can buy new things with my next paycheck.” He didn’t really feel right making them pay for everything.
“You’ll need all new things Cameron. More then one check can cover.”
Cameron looked back at the floor and wrung his hands. Them buying him clothes he just didn’t like. It just made him more indebted to them, and that he definitely didn’t want that.
“I also imagine you are going to be looking at a pretty hefty fine or community service for your behavior last night. I’m going to try and make it so I over see your community service, because either way you are going to be making my rounds with me on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.”
“Rounds?” Cameron asked looking up again.
“I have a few families I visit, keep them company, see if they need anything.”
Cameron nodded making another check mark in his head of things that were really going to suck.
“I was in contact with your principal today. He told me how your grades have plummeted. So every night you and I are going to sit down at the table and go over your homework. Then you’re going to do it and I’ll check it over. The principal will give you a form tomorrow when you get to school that you need to write your assignments on every class and have each teacher initial it.”
“You will also have chores. Its spring time and the wife will need your help with the spring clean up. So I’m going to put you in her charge.”
From the list that was being laid out Cameron had no idea when exactly he’d have time for these chores, but didn’t bother asking figuring he would find out soon enough.
“We are going to meet in here once a week as well. To go over the week and you can tell me any grievances you have, and we can discuss them. I don’t want you mouthing off like you did tonight; or coming running to me with every little thing every other minute of the day. Our time in here will be your time to bring anything up, so I suggest you write things down.”
Cameron nodded taking that as his hint to not go talking to Mr. Harris whenever he felt like it. It didn’t bother him too much, the man made him nervous. He knew full well the man hated what he was, even if the man didn’t know what he was. He still made him nervous just knowing what his feelings were. The feelings that were made very clear in the van after church the previous Sunday.
He looked up at Mr. Harris who was looking him over. He could almost feel himself shrink under the man’s gaze.
“Is there anything you’d like to say son?”
Cameron quickly shook his head. He just wanted to go to his room lay down and close his eyes.