Few hours have passed since they met the father. Ezekhiel looked at his friend talking on the phone, wondering why wasn’t he as fearless as Simo. ‘Yeah, we’ll be back for dinner, i think.’ As those words came out of his mouth, Simo noticed a movement at the far right window on the first floor. ‘Gotta go.’ he said as he stood up. ‘You’re right: need to go to the backyard.’ They headed behin the house: the backstage of it showed something very different from the front. The grass wasn’t maintained, dead leaves returned to dust on the ground and trees were dying of thirst. A small cabin was hidden between two of them: from the entrance, Simo could see a mattress. He had no more doubts on the situation. He checked if the back door was locked: it wasn’t. Before they invited themsleves in, Simo stopped his friend: ‘His father is a alcoholic and has a tendency to beat his son. And probably his wife too.’ Simo made eye contact with his soon-to-be partner in crime to clarify his agreement on what might happen next. Ezekhiel nodded. They went in. Beside low voices coming from the TV, the house was quiet. Clean. And warm. Strange, Simo thought. On the hallway’s walls, pictures of the family smiling and having good times were displayed. Ezekhiel glanced at his friend: the latter proceeded to walk up the stairs, undisturbed. He gave a look in the room on his right: the man fell asleep on the couch, his beer spilling on the carpet. Once on the first floor, the mood changed. The corridor was pitch black. ‘Which door?’ Ezekhiel whispered. Simo raised his shoulders. At the same time, a sound of a door opening led them. They slowly walked towards it then entered the room. It was minimalist: a bed in a corner and a desk on the other side were the only furnitures dressing it. Josh removed the curtains half way to let some sun light in. When he turned around to face his guests, the latters looked surprised: a black eye, swollen lips, a cut below his other eye, bruises on his arms and an arched back as his stomach was in pain. He sat on his bed. His steps were small and movement in slow motion. ‘What happened…’ – ‘Come with me.’ Simo interrupted. Josh looked surprised. He didn’t expect anything from anyone and wondered why they would come to his place in the first time. He looked at Simo. Seriousness overflowed around him. Ezekhiel did the same: ‘What are you talking about? He can’t just leave.’ Simo stared at Josh. ‘Your father did this to you, right? I didn’t think of what i would do once we will be face to face. But now… It seems pretty obvious that you need to get away from him. Even if he’s your father. It doesn’t give him the right to do that. So, come with me. We’ll find a solution once you’re out of here.’ A silent settled. Josh was thinking about it. Ezekhiel couldn’t find words to describe his intentions nor his feelings at the moment. ‘You can’t…’ – ‘I can’t leave.’ Josh whispered. Simo frowned: ‘Why?’ His aggressive tone surprised Ezekhiel. ‘Lower, Sy.’ Josh remained silent. He knew that his reasons weren’t logic. ‘There are other ways.’ Ezezkhiel tried to calm his friend, as frustration grew in him. ‘Not if he doesn’t want to be helped!’ Simo turned his eyes on Ezekhiel. The latter understood his feelings, but was powerless.
‘WHO’S THERE!?’ A voice shouted from downstairs. The three teenagers turned simultaniously their heads towards the door. Fear and apprehension could be read on their faces. For a second, they froze. Simo reacted first: ‘Come with us. What do you think he’s going to do once he’ll know we’re here?’ As Josh didn’t make any move, he continued: ‘Look at you!! Look what he did because you almost drowned! Look at what he’s capable of doing!’ Tears filled the fragile boy’s eyes. ‘He’s coming fast.’ Ezekhiel commented. A few seconds later, the bedroom door broke, showing the angry man, still drunk, in it frame. ‘WHO TOLD YOU YOU COULD HAVE GUESTS?’ Josh couldn’t move. The man started to walk toward him an idea in mind: beating his son up to give him a lesson. Without thinking, Ezekhiel and Simo stepped in his way. ‘Get out of my way.’ His voice calmed down. Ezekhiel felt a thrill on his back. As no one moved, the father engaged a fight. By reflex, Ezekhiel barely dodged the first punch but was hit by the second. He stumbled on the side but reacted in an instant when he saw the man walking forward. He tackled. They both fell on the floor: Ezekhiel tried as much as he could to immobilize his opponent but received few punches along the way. While Ezekhiel kept the father occupied, Simo turned his back to Josh, bent his knees, lowered his center of gravity and arched his arms: ‘Hop on!’ Josh stood still. He couldn’t believe the scene that was played in front of his eyes. Suddenly, a voice screamed in his mind: ‘Run!’ Like a wake up call, Josh made a decision. He jumped on Simo’s back. As soon as he felt his weight, Simo ran out of the room. ‘Zeke!!’ The latter glanced at them going through the door. He threw a weak punch on the father’s face, stood up and ran away. As they walked down the stairs, they could hear a grunt. ‘Maybe, i shoudn’t have hit him.’ Ezekhiel confessed. When they arrived in the backyard, the man was already at the backdoor. The teenagers fled as fast as they could, but not fast enough. Simo and Ezekhiel shared the same thought. When they arrived at the front side of the house, where sun was shining, Ezekhiel threw the trashes at the father’s feet. The latter fell flat on his face, giving them time to disappear.
After making sure they were out of the father’s sight, they slowed their pace. Simo put Josh down and called his father. ‘Are you sure he’s going to agree with this?’ Ezekhiel asked. Simo paused. ‘Yeah. He will.’ Half an hour, a car parked in front of them. The driver’s door opened. A man in his late forty appeared. He looked sharp with a white shirt and black pants on. His face inspired confidence and trust. ‘What’s going on?’ His tone was set. Ezekhiel hesitated to speak. ‘Well, his father’s beating him up any chance he gets. I needed to get him out of there.’ Simo’s father scanned them then motioned them to get into the car. Simo sat in the front, while Ezekhiel stayed with Josh in the back. A heavy silent reigned in the small cockpit. ‘So. What were you thinking?’ The father asked. ‘What’s your plan, now?’ He didn’t get any answers.
When they arrived at Simo’s house, the night reclaimed its rights. Rain started to drop as they found shelter. Simo’s father let his son take care of his guest. They took Josh upstairs to Simo’s room and settled him in the bed. As Josh fell quickly asleep, they both lay down on the ground. ‘So, you’re sure about this?’ Ezekhiel asked. After a moment of reflexion, Simo said: ‘Yes. I’m sure. He needed to get out of there.’ Ezekhiel stayed quiet. ‘Someone had to get him out of there.’ Ezekhiel took a deep breathe. ‘A bit cranky, don’t you think?’ he asked. ‘I know.’
To be continued