The rest of the time in Frank’s house went exactly how Richard figured it would. The two men shouted at each other, swore, threatened, said they’d each see the other dead if they ever saw them again. Richard spent the first thirty minutes of the drive back rubbing at his kidney where Frank had hit him and seething. The parting words the old man had screamed at him as he’d left echoed through his head. “Whatever you think I did to that boy, I didn’t! He’s just weak! There’s people in this world can smell weakness, and they feed on it! That’s his real problem, not me!”
It’s not uncommon for abusers not to admit to their actions, and with Mom gone or Louis the way he is, there’s no evidence of anything. But what would the point of getting the old man arrested be anyway? We’re better off just forgetting the bastard exists.
Or at least, I am. But Louis still has his nightmares.
The drive back was long and lonely.
* * *
There was a strange car parked in Richard’s space in front of the apartment building. His eyes narrowed and he glared at the license plate, the university bumper sticker, the affectations that screamed “sorority girl” at him. He briefly considered sticking out his hand and running the key along the car from the gas tank all the way to the hood, but decided against it.
That was the kind of mean, petty thing Frank would have done.
Richard checked the time as he trudged up the steps to the apartment he and his brother shared. It was late, even though the spring sun promised a few more hours of light still. On campus his psych class had already let out a while ago and people had dispersed to grab dinner or go to other classes. I didn’t do anything productive today. I’m behind on everything, and I feel more exhausted than if I had just gone to work and class.
Even my days off aren’t days off.
Richard figured on collapsing onto bed for a nap, waking up for dinner, and then showing Louis the pictures afterward, but he heard voices trickling out from underneath the apartment door. A man, Louis’s, and a woman’s. Richard paused with his hand on the doorknob and laughed softly. He walked with a goofy smile, proud of his kid brother, but the smile vanished into a look of confusion as he entered the living room.
Fair skin and green eyes and red hair and an inscrutably smug grin greeted him. “Oh, hey. Richie. Missed you in class today.”