Spencer Willingham headed home after grocery shopping. It had become his responsibility like everything else. Nobody gave a shit. The apartment was a total disaster, dishes in the sink, laundry stuffed in weird places, stained furniture. It was depressing, but at 15, Spencer didn’t have anywhere else to go. The year before his father suffered a fatal heart attack in his insurance office and their lives had gone into a sudden spiral. His mother withdrew into a shell and left her nursing job. His sister moved in with her boyfriend, and gloom fell over their home. Their mother tried to carry on, then failed to appear mornings…within six months she’d retreated to her bed full time where she drifted into a vodka-induced stupor.

Spencer couldn’t believe things had gotten so bad. He tried to keep his own room neat, but found it cell-like and claustrophobic…especially with the rest of the place a mess. They’d never lived in luxury, but their top floor three-room apartment had once seemed wonderfully cozy and livable. They weren’t rich by any means, but with both parents working, had been able to go on vacations and buy what they needed.

Grocery shopping was a major pain, but Spencer found everything on the list, a major accomplishment since he was on his cell the whole time…his best friend Cal was having girlfriend problems…desperately wanted to go out with the hottest girl in class, Michelle Gettler, but she was hesitant and Cal was stymied, uncertain how to get things on track. He didn’t usually run into roadblocks. At 6′ 5″, he was already on the varsity basketball team.

“Everyone told me she was interested,” Cal moaned, “but she wouldn’t give me a yes or no. What the fuck?”

“She is interested,” Spencer insisted. “I spoke to her myself. She was just embarrassed because her friends were listening.”

“What’s she embarrassed about? Am I chopped liver or what? After the school play, she was all over me in the parking lot, but today she acted like it never happened.”

“Maybe it’s a mood swing…she’s been pretty upset since that senior dumped her, but she’ll snap out of it.”

“I hope so. If she doesn’t, fuck it, I’ll move on.”

“Hang in there,” Spencer said, feeling stab of guilt. There was something about the way Michelle looked at him…made him wonder what was really going on. She seemed too happy when he was around…had an unsettling way of staring and laughing at the dumb jokes his friends ignored. He wasn’t complaining. Michelle was sizzling hot with glossy black hair, blue eyes and the most unbelievably beautiful face he’d ever seen.

Spencer skipped up their brownstone’s steps two at a time. It was Wednesday. Emily usually stopped by to visit when her boyfriend Tim worked late at the market.

“What in the world are you wearing?” She exclaimed as he burst in the door.

“What am I wearing?” Spencer asked. “What kind of welcome is that?”

“You’ve got to ditch that shirt, and those pants are so nerdy….and blue? You look like an electrician.”

“What’s wrong with electricians?”

“Nothing, but a red checked shirt and blue pants? It looks terrible, and those pants are like baggies. Where are the skinny jeans I bought you?”

“I can’t wear them every day. They’re too tight.”

“Tight’s nice. Get with the program…..girls are keeping an eye on you.”

“How do you know? You’re a senior and I’m a sophomore.”

“I know…I get reports. You need to get in circulation. A lotta guys are going steady at 15.”

“Not me.”

“You could if you made changes…like a haircut. Nobody can even see your face.”

“Then they’d be scared shitless.”

“Spencer, stop, you’re decent looking and don’t have a clue.”

“Can we change the subject? How’s mom?”

“Not good. She needs to go to the doctor.”

“I know. She’s starting to slur her words. It’s scary. What’s gonna happen?”

“She needs professional help. We’ve got to get her evaluated or something…her liver could be messed up, but she won’t lift a finger to help herself. It’s so fucked up! She’s on this gene thing…it’s all she talks about…we’re gonna inherit a genetic defect and die young. She was talking about it a few minutes ago.”

“It’s strange that she’s so hung up on genes, but never says squat about Dad’s heart attack. Every time I ask, she totally clams up. I don’t know anything…who found him or what. It’s so weird. All I know is it happened while he was working late, that’s it. Nothing else!”

“I’m totally in the dark too.”

“I’m going to find out no matter what. There are people around who know…gotta be…his secretary, the doctor, Uncle Dwight. We need to know exactly what happened. I thought mom would tell us, but the way she is now, it’s like talking to the wall!” Read episode 2!