CHAPTER TWO - CONFESSION
“Maybe he’s passed out in his room,” Ethan offered. “I bet he’s asleep right now, drooling on his pillow. We’ll go up and give him hell for making you worry and we’ll be out of here, right?”
“Yeah, that’s probably it,” Scott said, his eyes dropping from Ethan’s face.
Ethan lightly placed one hand on the other boy’s shoulder. “I’m sure he’s fine. After all, guys like Squeaky may get into a lot of trouble, but they always seem to find their way out of it again just as easily.”
Scott flashed Ethan a grateful grin that he tried to return with a confidence he didn’t feel. Ethan was grateful it was too dark for Scott to see how quickly his smile faltered.
Scott began to fiddle with his phone again until he’d found what he was looking for. “Flashlight app,” Scott explained as he held the phone out in front of them to light their path. Once they reached the second floor landing, Scott directed them down a hallway. “The stairs to his room are this way, I think.”
“You think? Or you know?” Ethan asked with a half-laugh.
Scott shrugged. “This is the first time I’ve been here sober so I think it’s this way. We’ll find it. The house isn’t that big. Not like Koenig Manor.”
“Hey, lay off the size of the Manor,” Ethan said. “We get away with a lot of shit in there because no one can find us.”
“Damn straight. The Manor is my favorite place.” Scott said.
Ethan followed Scott down the hallway. Maybe he was a little jaded by the Manor’s size and its other eccentricities, because Squeaky’s house looked unremarkable from what he could see of it. Wood floors, white walls, doors opening into bedrooms or bathrooms. Nothing to distinguish this place from a million other McMansions. It’s not ugly. Just blah. There was no personality to it, nothing to mark it as owned by the Kimble’s. And yet for all its blahness, Ethan felt the skin between his shoulder blades twitch as they passed by each of those empty, featureless rooms. The doorways reminded him of open mouths ready to suck them inside.
“When was the last time you heard from Squeaky?” Ethan asked.
“Yesterday. But if he’s tried to call me since, I probably won’t have gotten it,” Scott said as he shone the light around them.
“I don’t know, but the text you sent me this morning didn’t show up until I picked you up tonight,” Scott said. “I think my messages are getting delayed, too. Ah, I was right! Here are the stairs.”
The stairs to the third floor were narrower than the ones to the second so they had to walk single file rather than beside each other. This time Scott took point and stopped a few steps up. Ethan stumbled into his back and got a rare chance to feel Scott up against him. He blushed as his body took immediate notice of the other boy. He quickly stepped back and clutched at the handrail.
Scott turned to face Ethan, his handsome face pulled into a concerned frown. “Maybe this isn’t such a hot idea.”
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe we shouldn’t be here,” Scott said, slowly.
“It’s a little late for you to be bringing this up now, isn’t it?” Ethan asked. “We’re already here. Let’s just go up there.”
“Look, I’ll check out his room. If Squeaky’s around, I’ll call you up. If he’s not, we motor,” Scott offered.
Ethan resisted the urge to smack his own forehead or Scott’s. “You’re honestly going to leave me standing here in the dark while you go upstairs with the only flashlight? I think I’ve seen this horror movie before and I don’t care to act it out in real life.”
The truth was that Ethan didn’t fear for himself; he was afraid that something would happen to Scott and he wouldn’t get there in time to help the other boy. No way in hell is he going anywhere without me. He lightly pushed Scott to make him climb the stairs already, but the bigger boy wouldn’t move.
“E, I shouldn’t have brought you here in the first place,” Scott objected. “Seriously, you should hang out down here.”
Ethan shook his head. “We’re staying together, Scott. End of story.”
“You’re stubborn, you know that, Ethan?” Scott quipped.
“It’s part of my charm. Now let’s go.”
Scott laughed. Both boys then climbed the short set of stairs until they emerged into a large room. Again, there was no electricity, but there were plenty of windows with the shades up. Ethan took in their surroundings.
A large king-sized bed was pushed up against the far wall. It was the only relatively neat thing in the room. The covers were spread over the top even though there looked to be a strange lump in the center. Maybe clothes or sheets? Too small to be Squeaky underneath there.
Two night tables were on either side of the bed. Their drawer fronts were missing and papers spilled out of them like a waterfall. On the other side of the room was a desk with an Alienware computer. The green Alienware logo screensaver twirled almost hypnotically. The floor was covered with clothes and papers. Ethan scrunched his nose up as he caught a whiff of rotting food and foul body odor.
“Looks like Squeaky’s of the opinion that no cleaning is a good cleaning,” Ethan remarked.
Scott didn’t respond. His eyes were flickering all over the room, looking for the lost boy. There were no closets to hide in. The only door in the place led to a bathroom, which Scott quickly walked over to and looked inside.
“Is he in there?” Ethan asked.
“No, it’s empty,” Scott said and stood still for a long moment in the center of the room. He kicked aside a ream of computer paper in frustration then he froze and thumped his hand against his thigh. “Of course!”
“Of course what? Scott – what are you doing?”
Ethan spun around as Scott rushed over to the computer. The other boy jiggled the mouse to turn off the screensaver.
“I thought Squeaky was more paranoid than this. Not password protected.” Scott began to click on Squeaky’s personal files.
“Why would he need a password to protect his computer in his own room?” Ethan asked.
“You can’t really be that innocent, E. Everybody’s got something to hide especially in their room,” Scott said.
“I don’t,” Ethan challenged.
“What about the spare cell phone I gave you when your Dad confiscated yours?” Scott asked and cocked one eyebrow up. “I believe you have that hidden in the back of your closet.”
Ethan’s mouth opened then shut. He hadn’t thought about the cell phone as something hidden. More like unmentioned. Ethan only had it, because his father had overreacted to a particularly bad health scare a few months back. He had taken the land-line out of Ethan’s bedroom, and even removed his laptop and cell phone. Ethan was to be completely focused on getting well. But I needed Scott; needed to hear his voice, to see his face whether in person or online. Father didn’t understand that. But Scott did. He smuggled me that phone. It was my only lifeline.
“I guess I see your point,” Ethan conceded.
“I knew you would,” Scott answered as began to pull up files on Squeaky’s computer.
“What are you looking for?” Ethan asked.
Scott didn’t answer at first. His mouth was set in a determined line as he methodically searched Squeaky’s browser’s history. Ethan grasped Scott’s arm to get his attention.
“What’s going on here, Scott? You aren’t just randomly searching. You’re looking for something in particular,” Ethan guessed as he took in the way Scott disregarded certain information and honed in others.
Scott gave him an apologetic look. Not quite the full puppy-eyes, but close to it. “I don’t know what you mean –”
“Just tell me,” Ethan said with a whoosh of annoyance.
Scott again did the telling-running-his-hand-through-the-hair-thing before he finally nodded and said, “You know the trouble Squeaky might be in, well, it's – ah, it’s …”
“It’s drug-related,” Scott confessed. "And people ... well, people have died."