Benji has to make a choice. For more free flash reading check out the list of authors at the bottom of this post.
Trent stood in the doorway and studied Benji. The expression on the kid’s face was not one of a happy homecoming. Trent could relate, his own time on the streets weren’t something he liked to recall. The way Benji was acting was far too familiar to Trent.
“Have you decided where you want us to drop you off?”
Benji paused, his hands frozen in mid air. After a few moments he let them drop. “Anywhere downtown will be fine, I guess. I can walk to wherever.”
Trent stood still and then let out a held breath. “Look kid, I don’t want to drop you off under a bridge or something. But you have to be up front about what’s going on. Okay?”
Benji nodded slowly, his face expressionless.
“Well? What’s it gonna be?”
Benji struggled to contain his tears. “I won’t go back there. I’d sleep under a bridge first.”
“No one’s asking you to go back somewhere you don’t want to be. I’m sure as hell not.”
“Yeah, that’s what happens every time. People make promises. I get put somewhere. Then the shit hits the fan.”
“This time it’ll be different. We aren’t exactly your typical family! ”
Benji wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “No. You’re not the white picket fence crowd. I sorta got that. But you don’t know what I’ve done. You won’t want me in the house.”
“Kid. There’s nothing that you can tell me that’ll surprise me. I’ve done it all, or had it done to me.”
“Yeah so what makes you think this time’ll be different for me?”
“Well for one thing, we’re two couples, and Josh and I have been through some rough times before Darrin and Trent took us in. Josh doesn’t have all the baggage you and I might have, but his life still ain’t been a bed of roses.”
“Yeah, I’m not stupid. I knew you were a couple. You didn’t act like buddies or something. But that doesn’t mean much. There’s been people who everyone thought were fantastic and they were some of the worst when they couldn’t get caught.”
Trent stared at Benji, the toe of his boot rapping a quick pace on the floor. He glanced up and caught Benji’s gaze. “Kid, What do you think we’re going to do?”
Benji crossed his arms and glared at him. “If you’re life has been so rough, you know what happened. I’ve had it all done to me.”
“Like I said, I’d bet I could match you story for story, but that’s a waste of time. But I got over it and we have a good life now and two kids. What more do you want from your life?”
Benji shook, then balled his hands into fists. When he looked at Trent his face was crimson. “It can’t be this easy. There’s an angle for you guys. What’s the angle?”
Trent wiped a hand over his face as he fought down his first response and his diminishing patience. “Look, I’m just sayin’ here’s an alternative. We’re not perfect, but we’re a damn sight better than what you had.”
Benji slowly put away his things without meeting Trent’s gaze. As Trent stared at the slowly waving head of pink hair, he wondered if the kid was going to take a chance on them.
“Okay. Sure. I’ll give it a shot.” He snapped his gaze to lock on Trent. “But if you pull shit like these other people, I’m gone!”
Trent chuckled then shook his head. “Kid if you know how many times I gave them the same line, and if you knew how little it seemed to bother them, then you’d understand why it’s so funny. Get the rest of your shit. We’re about ready to go.”
The twins came bursting through the door, one on top of the other as they tried to make their way to Benji. Danny squealed out, “Benji, you going home with us, right?”
Trent cut Josh a glance as he walked through the door and saw their kids scrambling all over the young man. Trent looked to the pile of arms and legs on the bed where the twins were talking over each other as they questioned Benji. Trent pulled them off and set them on the floor. “Benji has to decide where he wants to live. I told him he could live with us if he wanted.”
Sammy squealed this time and threw her arms around Benji’s neck. “Yeah! Benji’s gonna be our big brother!”
Josh spoke up. “Now, what did we just say? He’s going to come home and see what he thinks. It’s up to him how long he stays.”
Sammy trapped Benji’s face between her two hands and stared into his eyes. “You’re staying with us. Right, Benji? You don’t want to go somewhere else, right?”
The smile slowly crept across Benji’s face as he looked at the two kids. “Yeah, I told your dad I’d help out. He said he could use somebody like me to keep everybody in line.”
Josh started to speak, but Trent motioned him to silence.
“Yeah, we could use someone like Benji around the house,” Trent said. He turned to Mitch and Darren.
“So, do you two old farts think you’re up to helping raise another one?”
Darren glanced at Mitch, who already had a smile from ear to ear. He grew a matching smile and winked at Benji. “I think we can handle it.”
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