Seconds Away Page 16

’’The news reports say Rachel\'s wounds are not life threatening.’’

’’Yeah, that\'s what they said in school,’’ I lied.

’’Do you have a lot of homework?’’

’’Some.’’

’’Come on,’’ Myron said, starting for the car. ’’I want to show you something.’’

’’What?’’

’’It\'s a surprise.’’ He started toward his car. I followed. ’’And it might explain why I won\'t be around much the next couple of weeks.’’

Not be around much? That would be welcome. Don\'t get me wrong. I understood why I had to stay with Uncle Myron. He was trying. I was trying. But I wanted my mother back. Dad, well, Dad was dead. Dead is dead. But Mom was just . . . broken, I guess. When something is broken, it can be fixed, right?

I flashed back to that photograph of the Nazi who looked like Dad\'s paramedic. For a second, just a second, I debated telling Myron about it. But what would he do? He would think I was crazy. And even if he didn\'t, well, did I want him involved in this? Did I trust him enough to share? Hadn\'t even Shaved Head warned me not to?

Good questions.

I slid into the passenger seat. Myron drove a Ford Taurus. We spent the first two minutes sitting in uncomfortable silence. I\'m okay with uncomfortable silence. Uncle Myron is not.

’’Soooo,’’ Myron said, stretching the word out, ’’how was school today?’’

Really? I thought, holding back the sigh. ’’It was okay.’’

’’I\'m so glad you have Mrs. Friedman. She was my favorite teacher back in the day.’’

’’Yep.’’

’’She brings history to life, you know?’’

’’I know.’’

I looked out the window.

’’Basketball tryouts start Monday, right?’’

Let it go, I thought. ’’Yep.’’

’’Good luck with that.’’

’’Thanks.’’

As we drove past the Coddington Rehab Center, I could feel Myron tense up. He hit the accelerator a little bit harder, trying to be subtle. I got it. My mom was inside there. After her most recent relapse and, yes, it was a bad one I was told that I couldn\'t visit her for at least another two weeks. I didn\'t like it. I thought that maybe their ’’cure’’ was too cruel. But I would listen. Still I looked out the window and imagined what was going on up that little hill. My mother was going through withdrawal now. I pictured her alone in some dark room, doubled over in pain as the poison left her veins.

’’She\'ll be okay,’’ Myron said.

Like I was in the mood for platitudes. I changed subjects.

’’Where are we going?’’ I asked.

’’Just wait one more minute. You\'ll see.’’

He turned down a side road. Up ahead I could see a driveway with a dark ornate gate, like something you\'d see in some scary old movie. Two stone lions guarded the entrance. Myron pulled up and stopped the car. He leaned out the window and waved to the guard. With a slow creak, the gates swung open.

’’Are we still in Kasselton?’’ I asked.

’’On the border, yes.’’

I expected to see a house right away, but the driveway winded up a hill. I don\'t know how long the ride was but I\'d guess that it was nearly half a mile from the entrance until I saw the . . . well, ’’house’’ really wouldn\'t do. Neither would ’’mansion.’’ It was more like a dark castle, a nightmare version of the one in Disney World. There were towers and spires, and it had an almost fortresslike feel.

’’A famous mobster lived here for nearly fifty years,’’ Myron said. ’’When your dad and I were kids, well, there were all kinds of rumors about this place.’’

’’Like?’’

Myron shrugged. ’’Just stories. Like with Bat Lady\'s house. Probably nothing to them.’’

He should only know.

’’So who lives here now?’’ I asked.

’’You\'ll see.’’

We stopped the car. There was a moat around the castle. I don\'t think I\'d ever seen that before. A burly bodyguard nodded at us. Myron nodded back. We crossed the bridge. Myron knocked.

A few seconds later, a man in black tails and slicked-back hair greeted us at the door. ’’Good evening, Mr. Bolitar.’’

He spoke with a thick British accent and looked like something you\'d see on one of those boring British historical shows.

’’Good evening, Niles.’’

Was this guy a butler?

’’Meet my nephew, Mickey.’’

Niles smiled at me, but there wasn\'t much warmth there. ’’Charmed.’’

’’Yeah,’’ I said. ’’Charmed.’’

’’You may wait in the drawing room,’’ he said.

I don\'t know where the term drawing room comes from, though I bet Spoon could tell me. There were no crayons or sketch pads or anything like that. The chairs were covered in red velvet. I stayed standing because the furniture looked old and like it might snap if we sat. I noticed Myron stood too. There was an antique globe and lots of dark woods.

Niles came in holding two cans of Yoo-hoo. Myron smiled happily. Yoo-hoo, for those who don\'t know, is like a chocolate soda. Myron loves it. I think it tastes like dirt.

Myron took his and started to shake the can. Niles turned to me and I said, ’’No, thanks.’’

Niles left us alone. I turned to Myron. He was gazing at his can of Yoo-hoo as if it were his new girlfriend. I cleared my throat.

’’Well?’’ I said.

Myron gestured for us to sit. We did. Gingerly.

’’So remember yesterday when my friend called?’’ Myron began.

’’Yes.’’

’’He asked me to do him a favor and watch out for someone.’’

I narrowed my eyes. ’’Watch out?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Like you\'re watching out for me?’’

He swigged the Yoo-hoo. ’’Well, not quite.’’

And then she walked into the room.

Like calling this place a ’’house’’ was inadequate, saying she ’’walked’’ also seemed far too tame. Accurate, yes. I mean, she didn\'t do anything extraordinary. Not really. She didn\'t glide into the drawing room or ride in on a white horse or anything like that. But she might as well have.

She made an entrance and she made it just by entering.

I didn\'t say ’’wow’’ out loud, but I almost did.

We both quickly stood, not because we were being gentlemen, but because something about her entrance demanded it. There, in the flesh, was the talk of the town, the movie poster come to life, Angelica Wyatt.

’’You must be Mickey,’’ she said.

Angelica Wyatt was, in a word, stunning. She stepped over to me and took my hand in hers. ’’Such a handsome young man.’’


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