Carl answers after a few rings. “Hey, Gus, what’s up?”

“Where are you?”

“My house. Stacy’s here. Neal and Wendy just left.”

“You think those two’ll stay together?”

“I don’t know. She’s pretty advanced for him. He’s got that tall lanky body which she likes a lot, but he says nerdy shit out of nowhere. A little while ago, Wendy was dying to hook up, but he didn’t get it…kept talking about the weather!”

“The what???”

“The weather. There’s a line of thunderstorms coming, or some shit. He couldn’t stop talking about it.”

Azalea’s, like, motioning me to get to the point. “Carl, listen, dude. I called to warn you. No way you can go to Baker’s tomorrow.”

“How come? I’ll land in deep shit if I don’t show.”

“You’re not gonna believe this, but I saw him driving around trying to pick up young guys. I went to get groceries and he, like, stalked me!”

“Are you serious? Where?”

“Out by Azalea’s. I walked to the Quick-Mart, and on the way home, he gave me a ride. but here’s the weird part. He didn’t recognize me.”

“No shit? What happened?”

“I got in his car. Then, he totally freaked. Shit, I freaked too, so I told him a bullshit story about visiting friends, made him let me off, but the fucker kept driving behind like he was checking up on me, so I jumped the fence and ran into the field!”

“Christ!”

“Tell me about it, but, Carl, that’s not all. I forgot something and went back to the store, and he was there again…picking up some kid who like quoted him a price to…whatever…and it didn’t sound like the first time! The guy’s definitely a pedophile! Tomorrow you better call in sick…anything. He’s dangerous!”

“But my fucking parents want me to go. I can’t not show.”

“Maybe you should tell them what I saw.”

“Are you crazy? My parents would go ballistic, and what if you’re wrong? I’d be fucked!”

“So, tell your parents you’re going, then come and hang with Azalea and me.”

“Yeah. I could do that, but Baker’d call my house. Then the shit would really hit the fan!”

“True, but you should try it. Baker’s bad news…maybe I should tell my dad. See if he could help us somehow.”

“Gus, are you crazy!!! Your dad’s as nutty as Baker!”

I’m insulted, but know Carl’s right. Damn! I got so screwed when they handed out fathers? “Look,” I tell him. “You can’t go to Baker’s. He’ll try and molest you…slip shit in a drink or something. Dude, it’s not safe!”

“Okay. I’ll be over around 4:00. No way I want to go to that pervert’s house!’

“Bring Stacy.”

“Definitely!”

We sign off, just as Azalea breaks into hysterical laughter…starts waving a piece of paper in my face. “What’s that?” I ask.

“Gussy, can’t you see! A check! Mom sent a check for two-hundred dollars!”

I can’t believe it. Between the money left from Dad, and the check, we’re rolling in dough. “That’s so fucking awesome,” I tell her. “We’re financially independent!”

“Well, it’s not all ours,” she informs me. “I gotta pay a couple of bills like electric and garbage.”

“How much is that?”

“Like sixty dollars.”

“We’re still in great shape!”

Azalea rolls her eyes. “For a while.”

“I know…I gotta get a part-time job…mowing lawns, caddying or something. I wonder if there are jobs posted on the net. Fuck! I gotta convince my dad to let me stay here. He has no right to turn me down. Especially with all the fucked up shit he’s into.”

“Gussy, I don’t want to be here without you!”

“I don’t want to be away from you either!”

We finish our beers and pop another. I’m starting to feel better…in fact, really good…finally stop worrying. Feel like dragging Azalea to the bedroom. Wish the place wasn’t so run down. Kind of takes the fun out of it…but, not really. “Just think,” I say. “If I got a job, we could paint this place cool colors, get better furniture and soft rugs to wiggle our toes in.”

Azalea thinks about it…cackles with laughter. “You want to get rid of my family heirlooms?”

I’m nor sure if she’s fucking with me or not. “Are you serious?” I ask.

“No way. I hate this crap! It looks like nobody lives here!”

“Maybe we should get a dog, so it’ll be safer. It’s kind of isolated.”

“Yeah! A big fucking dog that’ll scare the shit out of my dad.”

“And Baker!”

“Yeah! Him too!”

We’re laughing like crazy…having a super time. I look at the happiness on Azalea’s face, her twinkling eyes and dimpled cheeks…and feel so fucking good, and lucky, to have somebody that totally gets me, and vice versa. I’m suddenly dying to feel that warm. comfy body next to me…plus my pants are sticking out a mile. Grab her hand and pull her toward the bedroom.

“What do you have in mind, baby?” She asks with a wicked grin.

I glance down at my bone. “Just want to show you something.”

“Is it something I’ve seen before?”

“I think you’d recognize it.”

“Does it look like…um…a mushroom, or a soldier with a helmet?”

“Sort of.”

“Do I get a prize for guessing right?”

“Definitely! A whole night with the guy of your choice!”

To be continued…Read next episode