"I don't know what to do with that boy." Kevin Vinn sighed as he expressed his concerns about his thirteen year old son, Jared Vinn, to his best friend, Cameron White. Kevin tossed Cameron a can of beer and grabbed himself a can of pop, then leaned on the kitchen counter. "He just, doesn't respect anyone. I mean, he was always a difficult kid when he was younger, but ever since his mother died, he's been uncontrollable. You know what I mean, you've watched him grow up since he was first born."
"Raisng a boy can be hard." Cameron tried to comfort as he sipped on his beer.
"Says the perfect parent." Kevin said with a smile. "Little Alyssa is the same age as Jared and she's a perfect little angel. And C.J. is two years old than Jared and he never steps out of line."
"I wouldn't say he never steps out of line." Cameron said. His son, Cameron Jr., better known as C.J., and daughter, Alyssa, were very good kids. Jared was just the opposite of them. "But where's you little rascal now? Wasn't he suppose to be back my now?"
"He's coming back home from living with my sister. She had him for five weeks, thats longer than anyone's kept him before."
"Why do you keep pawning him off on everyone Kevin?" Cameron sighed. "Step up and be the kids' father again."
Kevin sighed and twisted the tab off of the pop can.
"Cameron, I really messed up with him. I did something really stupid and he just got worse after it." He mumbled. "I, I got drunk one night when he was eleven. A cop ended up bringing Jared home late at night, I can't even remember the reason why. But once the cop left, I, I-" He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I beat the crap out of him. It was bad, really bad. He still has scars from it."
"You, you left scars on him?"
"A lot of scars." Kevin rubbed his eyes. "Worst mistake I ever made, hitting that kid. At least before he would show some sign of regretting what he did when he was punished, but after that night he couldn't care less and became even more of a little brat. He couldn't care less. You know, I've raise his seven siblings without ever laying a hand on them."
Cameron shook his head. He never understood why his best friend since middle school had so many kids at such a young age.
Kevin and his high school sweetheart, Melinda, who he married at seventeen, had their first child, a girl, when they were sixteen. They planned the pregnancy because Melinda's parents agreed to help them financially and help them raise the baby. At seventeen, a unexpected pregnancy came up and Melinda was pregnant with twins, identical boys. At nineteen, they had another set of twins, a boy and a girl, and one more set of twins, identical girls, at twenty. Cameron thought they were crazy for having so many kids, and he was relived to hear that they were done having children after the last set of twins were born. But when he heard that Melinda was pregnant again at twenty-nine with Jared, he thought it wouldn't be half bad to have his two kids grow up with his best friends' kid. Cameron and his wife, Megan, always wanted a houseful of kids, but a miscarriage of their first child made them afraid to try to have more children for two years until Megan was pregnant with C.J., then after Alyssa was born they decided not to press their luck with any more children.
They heard a car pull into the driveway, some shouting and cussing coming from Jared, then a pair of angry feet storming up the steps.
Jared flung the door open, lugging a big, bulky suitcase with him, and scowled at his father as he kicked his muddy old sneakers off.
"Hey bud," Kevin smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"Hungry. Make me a PB and J sandwich." Jared demanded. "That dumb-ass sister of yours didn't get me any dinner."
"Come on, J." Kevin sighed, and opened the refrigerator to get the jelly. "Don't cuss."
Jared rolled his eyes, then smiled when he saw Cameron. He opened his mouth to greet Cameron, but shot his father a deadly look as he interrupted him.
"Say hello to Cameron, bud." Kevin said as he pulled the jelly jar out, his back still to Jared and Cameron.
"No!" Jared called out defiantly, stomping his foot on the ground then storming through the kitchen, to the hallway, up the stairs and to his room.
"See what I mean?" Kevin sighed, but continued to hunt for the peanut butter. When he found it, he pulled two slices of bread out of a plastic bag and started to construct Jared's sandwich.
"Don't you take his things away? Don't you ground him?"
"He's lost everything and he doesn't care. His room is just bare walls, a bed and a closet. He doesn't even have a door." Kevin shook his head. "I've done the same thing with him that I've done with his brothers and sisters. Other than that one night when I was drunk."
"Here," Cameron gestured for Kevin to hand him the paper plate Jared's sandwich was on. "Let me take that up to him."
"Go ahead." Kevin shrugged and handed Cameron the plate. "He'd probably just end up throwing it against the wall if I take it to him."
"Hey Jared." Cameron said as he entered Jared's room. Jared was sitting on his bed with his legs dangling off the side, kicking the floor with his toes.
"Thanks." He smiled and took the sandwich, happily biting into it. "Sorry I didn't say hi down there."
"What was all that about anyways?" Cameron crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the small, young boy. "Do you always treat your father like that."
Jared seemed to curl up inside of himself for a moment, but then found his voice.
"He doesn't give a damn about me!" Jared grumbled angrily, his happy smile gone.
"Don't you cuss when you're talking to me!" Cameron corrected sternly. "And he does care about you. He loves you Jared."
"No, he loves my brothers and sisters. The ones he sent to camps and went to the movies with! The ones that he is so proud of because they're going to college!"
"He would send you to camps and go to the movies with you if you just behaved. What gave you the idea that he doesn't love you?"
"These!" He stood up and pulling his shirt off over his head and pointed to a long scar on his chest. He turned around to show five more on his back, then turn back around and push his hair away from his forehead to show another scar. "He beat the shit out of me! Or did he not tell you that that was part of his parenting technique?!"
"He told me." Cameron sighed. "And he was wrong. But you're bringing it on yourself by acting up like this!"
"You know what?" Jared jutted his chin upward. "When Mom died, guess who held me through the service?"
Cameron looked down at Jared. His eyes filled with tears as he remembered his mother who died in a car crash when he was just eight years old. Cameron remembered the service. Kevin was so upset about his wife's death, that he seemed like a different person. He was in to much need of comfort to comfort his youngest child.
"I did." Cameron muttered.
"You did." Jared shook his head and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "You're not even my father and you hugged me more that day than he did. How can you say he loves me when he didn't even hug me or anything the day my Mom was buried?!"
"Jared, he was in love with your mom. He was crazy in love. Part of him died along with her."
"Well you know what? I guess the part of him that loved me died that day. Because you've been a better father to me than he has."