The song wound down. Nik’s mouth hardened when he looked towards the door. He cut the ending three measures before the keyboard ended.
“What?” he said to his father.
“Josh needs to go home now,” his father said.
“Why? Is something wrong?”
“He just does.”
“What about Vee?” Gemma said.
“Vee is welcome to stay,” Mr. Sheridan said. “Josh, please get your things, all of them, and go. You are not to come—”
“Why Vee and not Josh?” Nik said.
“Things at church,” Mr. Sheridan said. “You know—”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Nik said.
“Don’t use that language with me, young man.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Nik said.
His hands wrapped around the microphone. Josh was afraid he would fling it at his father, he was afraid instruments and bones would break, so he quickly rested his guitar in its case and locked it. He picked it up by the handle.
“Until you pay the bills around here, what I say goes,” said Mr. Sheridan. “Help your friend.”
“That’s okay,” Josh said. “I have everything.”
He slung his backpack over his shoulder. Gemma and Vee watched him with big eyes. Nik stepped toward him. Josh raised his hand, to stop him.
“I’m okay, Nik,” he said again. “I figured this might happen.”
Josh wanted to cry, he didn’t understand why adult disagreements had to spill over into his life, his friends’ lives, it all seemed to stupid and needless, but Nik had the dark look in his eyes when he got angry, the same look he had when he threw a fifty pound amp into the orchestra pit when the teacher cut Nik from band practice for showing up late, and the time Nik slid a cafeteria tray across the table with such force it left a foot long gouge in the wall.
Josh approached the door. Mr. Sheridan didn’t move, didn’t say a word. Josh squeezed by. At the top of the stairwell, the kitchen blazed in yellow incandescence because daylight savings had not started and night fell with vengeance. Mrs. Sheridan hummed from the kitchen, a bit too loud and happy. He couldn’t place the name of the song, something ridiculous from the seventies. She looked up at Josh and stopped humming but didn’t say anything, just smiled that smile he’d seen in church. She turned to the sink, humming again. Josh didn’t say good night or good-bye, just let himself out the door.
Behind the closed front door, Josh heard Nikko’s mumbled yell, “Fuck you” and his father’s reply to get upstairs, get to his room. By the time Josh got to the end of the short drive way, the small house trembled from music played so loud he could not make out the song, only felt the incessant pounding of the lower register of the keyboard, the scratch of electrified guitars.
The clouds opened. Rain pounded from the sky. Josh began to run, backpack thumping hard on his spine, stumbling over his guitar, grateful for rain to hide his tears.
The fourth installment of long story under construction. To read the rest, go HERE. As always, thank you for reading my work. Peace...