It all started the night Drake’s father, Derek Fletcher, returned from his annual trip to Boston. Drake was in his room finishing his homework when his dad pulled into their driveway in Aurora, Colorado. When he was younger, Drake would greet his father at the front door, but this time Drake stayed in his room as his father walked up the drive and into the house, calling “I’m home” in his usual over-animated fashion.
Drake rolled his eyes, thinking how ridiculous that this was getting. Ever since he could remember, that was how his father walked into the house after work. One would think he had the best job in the world. He was an actuary; he sat behind a desk and calculated insurance risks. About the most boring thing Drake could think to do.
Drake stayed upstairs doing his homework. Also, he was not talking to his parents at the moment. Either way, he had an excuse to stay away from his father. Drake put his headphones over his ears and went back to his homework.
For half an hour no one bothered him. Drake finished his homework and was playing a video game when his mother, Alexis Fletcher, came up and told him dinner was ready. Drake grudgingly responded without looking at her. She didn’t bring up his attitude, which kind of upset Drake. A part of him was looking for confrontation, but his mother wasn’t going to let him have it. Drake’s mother was an elementary school teacher, and never stood for attitude before, especially from Drake.
Dinner that night was one of the most awkward times in Drake’s life. His dad tried to keep things light by talking about his trip.
Every year, Drake’s father makes a trip to Boston, Massachusetts for a get-together with all of his college friends. They were all part of some club that didn’t interest Drake. He had no idea what this club was. Drake had only been to one reunion three years previously. The group of about ten people stayed in the same hotel, rented a conference room and just talked. Drake actually just stayed in the room and watched TV. This club was actually how his parents met; Drake’s mother stayed home in recent years to look after Drake. The other adults were exactly like his parents: normal and boring.
Things got stale quickly however, and Drake finally let out what was on his mind.
“Why don’t you guys trust me?”
They both look at Drake and his father says, “Because you have to earn trust, Drake. And after you earn it, it doesn’t mean that it is yours forever.”
“Wait,” I say, cutting the boy off. He’d been pacing around his side of the room as he told his story, barely looking at me. “Where are you going with all of this? We don’t need all of this backstory.”
“You said you wanted the full story,” Drake points out. “I’m giving you the beginning, now shut up and listen.”
A knock at the door pulls me away from Drake for a minute. Our food arrives: a large pizza, a six pack of soda and a few paper plates. I bring it all inside and Drake’s eyes are locked on it all. As soon as I set it down, he goes for the pizza. He tries to act calm and move slowly but I can tell he’s salivating over having pizza. He takes one bite and his face turns to pure pleasure. He scarfs down two more slices and chugs a can of soda.
I laugh a little to myself. This boy keeps acting like he’s a tough customer, someone to be reckoned with. Then he turns around and reminds me that he’s just a kid. A kid that was just handed a raw deal in life.
I wait for him to finish before I lean in and speak.
“Continue your story, Drake, but do me a favor and cut the tough guy act. You’re not fooling me with it.”
Drake explains that the weekend before his father left for Boston, he had been at this party a few streets away from his house. The owners of this house were out of town and had hired a neighbor’s kid to watch while they were out. Everything was relatively nice and quiet until a group of high school seniors showed up with liquor. Police were called for a noise complaint and the party was busted. Drake was driven home by the police but swore to have never taken a sip of alcohol. A breathalyzer test proved that he had told the truth, but since then his case for getting a cell phone was shattered.
These arguments had been going on for a while, and thus fell into a predictable chain of events. Drake would mention all that he had done despite the party, and that he was trustworthy; if anything, the fact that he told the truth about not drinking that night furthered that point. His parents would come back with that they did trust him, but that a personal phone is a lot of responsibility. They would also counter that it wasn’t that Drake needed a phone, it was that he wanted a phone.
Right when Drake was about to reply to that, the house phone started ringing. Drake’s mom got up to answer, stopping the argument dead. She had talked on the phone for five minutes and when she came back, she told Drake to go up to his room.
“What did I do?” Drake asked.
“Nothing,” his mother answered with a tone of urgency. “This doesn’t concern you,” she said, indicating to Drake’s dad to back her up.
“Do you remember what they said?” I ask Drake.
“Ummm,” he said as he scratched his head. “Not perfectly, I only heard it in passing; I only went down to grab a drink. I didn’t want to hang around and get caught snooping on them.”
“So you say that at the time their conversation was weird, but you didn’t stop to at least try to figure out what they were talking about?” I ask.
“What do you want?” the boy buts back. “I’m sorry for not thinking my parents were interesting at the time. Hindsight’s always 20/20 they say.”
“Whatever,” I say, “back to my original question. Do you remember what they said to each other? Did you hear a name, a place, a general subject?”
“Give me a minute,” he says, leaning back and covering his ears. I keep quiet as he does… whatever it is he’s doing. He covers his ears, rubs his face, scratches his neck and runs his fingers through his hair. I suppose this was already almost a year ago and would be hard for anyone to remember exactly what was said.
He finally comes back to the world saying, “I remember, kind of.”
“When did that happen?” Drake’s father whispered frantically.
“She didn’t know,” his mother replied, also in a whisper. “He just said no one had heard from him in weeks.”
After a second, Drake heard his father ask, “How far out is she?”
“She said she’d be in town by ten,” his mother answered. “She said she would text me…”
Drake didn’t hear anything else of that conversation and nothing else when he went back down to set his dishes in the sink. The table had been cleared and his parents had retired to their bedroom. Drake spent the rest of the night in his room.