Chapter Three

Outwardly, nothing in Hunter's life had changed. Same house, same mom, same dipshit brother. But something was different. It wasn't just magazines, wasn't just videos on Pornhub you sneaked on late nights, it was real. But it wasn't just that, either, not just the obvious thing that he and Billy and their friends snickered about crossing campus between classes. There was something more. It had…meant something. Lying in bed, wide awake as Saturday turned to Sunday, he was sure of it, and his thoughts turned to why.

Maybe she was some kind of sex freak. Maybe she went trolling around middle schools and libraries looking for kids to drag into bed. But that was stupid. His mother was the best judge of character he knew. If Andy was really a hard-core pedo, she'd have sniffed her out at first meeting. And it wasn't like she went cruising around in an unmarked van with the windows blacked out. He didn't even think she owned a car.

No, Andy was good. He felt it in his bones, just like he felt that Craig had always been bad and would never get any better. Andy was too good for this place. She was like the one blade of grass growing out of the scorched earth in Wall-E: maybe dusty and weather-beaten, but the one sign of life in an otherwise barren wasteland. And maybe, he thought, she had seen that same goodness in him.

He watched the white light come through his window like Christmas morning like a broke kid wondering what if anything Santa would bring come sunrise. He hadn't slept at all Friday night, so the exhaustion wore on him, and he slept deeply most of last night, but now here it was, dawn, and he was wide awake. Was she awake? Did she even remember asking him to come over? He had her address crumpled up in his sock drawer, had checked it three or four or forty times yesterday…but would he come up to the door only to have her, shocked, shoo him away like the kid he was? He decided he'd leave the house early, grab a bacon egg and cheese down at the bodega, and take it from there.

The house was silent except for Craig's snores from the bedroom next door as he exited his room. He had a crumpled five dollar bill in the pocket of his ripped jeans, but there was a twenty with a note on the counter stating that he should get breakfast, and if it wasn't too much to ask, could he pick up a carton of OJ and a dozen bagels to bring home?

He felt like ignoring the request but decided he could pick up everything on his way back. Andy's block was almost a twenty-minute walk, but something had pushed him to re-inflate the flat tire on his Schwinn yesterday, and he could be there and back before anyone else was even up.

What makes you think you're leaving so soon?

Because things like this don't happen.

Andy walked to the recycling bin for the third time. Her mother's bottles were still in there, still seemed to wink at her, as if to acknowledge their shared secret, and she did another lap around the house to make sure there weren't any she was overlooking. She had been up at the normal time for the breakfast shift, only there was no breakfast shift. Her internal clock had been right on the money given her nervousness, but it hadn't been work she had to worry about, only him. Should she make coffee? Was he even old enough to drink it?

Would he even come? Or would the police?

She stood in her tiny kitchen and measured enough coffee for two people and decided that she could always make ice coffee for tomorrow. She pressed the button with one finger she always kept her nails short and the light blue polish she had quickly brushed over them a couple days ago was already chipping. She went to her room and took a few more minutes to get dressed than usual, putting on one of the few sports bras she had. She often went braless even at work even though she probably shouldn't given the size of her breasts. She found bras uncomfortable and rubbed at her during long shifts. Plus her full coverage apron covered everything anyhow.

She pulled on a black t-shirt it was form fitting, stretchy with the Jack Daniels logo in white on the front. Bar swag Angelique swiped from one the jobs of her endless resume provided. She dropped her sweat pants shimmying out of them and noted the underwear she had possibly subconsciously pulled on before work yesterday. She didn't have a washer or dryer and the Laundromat was a good fifteen-minute walk and carting the heavy laundry bag back and forth was reserved for once every two weeks. She didn't always have clean underwear so she went without.

In the bathroom she brushed on some light make up her pale pearly completion making it difficult to find a drug store foundation to match but she had learned tiny tricks here and there to make it work. She even went above her usual day to day make up to draw on some winged eye liner. She than wondered why she was getting so dolled up to be put in handcuffs. She shook her head trying to jar herself away from the fear that pushed to paralyze her. Than again if he did come why was the winged eyeliner necessary? It wasn't, nothing was making sense in these moments.

Hunter clicked the bike lock securing the bike to a wrack just beside the bodega. He looked around into the pale light of early morning his eyes scanned the streets, he couldn't remember the last time he had been up this early on a weekend. He walked over to the door of Madabas and pushed the door open and walked in two men were arguing loudly about the Yankees over by the counter and Hunter weaved around them and over to the grill man.

"Hey little man you're up early, the usual, no ketchup?" The heavy set Hispanic man asked already reaching for a Kaiser roll out of the bin.

"Yeah thanks Carlos." Usually it wouldn't bother Hunter to be called little man, but today was different.

He strolled over to the case where the drinks were displayed and grabbed a Mountain Dew his mom would never know he'd had soda with breakfast, maybe there were perks to being up before her. Than he pulled his phone out of his pocket and put clicked the address that was already logged in his recent destinations. His heart began beating harder, thudding with each step to the counter. He pulled the five out of his pocket and Carlos came to the counter placing the wrapped sandwich for the cashier to ring up. He placed the five on the counter and the man placed it easily in the drawer. Hunter caught sight of the clock just behind the man's head, it read 6:26, he sighed and the man looked up in question.

"Oh nothing um, I gotta get some more things," Hunter said quickly. It was far to early to early to head out on a ten-minute trek, to early to bother her, to early to get his heart ripped out. "Can I get a dozen bagels six everything, six plain."

"Sure Carlos a get me a dozen, even everything and plain," The cashier called.

Hunter returned to the drink case and pulled out a carton of Tropicana and returned the counter to pay once again.

As he returned home struggled to pull his bike up the stairs his backpack waited down with juice and bagels. He finally got it up the last step and he didn't latch it up, which could be risky, but he was leaving soon anyway. He quietly as he could twist his key and came into the kitchen, he unloaded his backpack putting the OJ in the fridge and the bagels on the counter.

He tip toed to the table and took out his sandwich and soda and sat down. Even opening the sandwich he was trying to hard to be quiet doing his best to make no crumpling noises. He knew likely as it was his mom would be asleep till at least 10:30, having worked until midnight last night, Sunday was her day to sleep. Craig likely wouldn't rise until noon he heard him stumble in last night and bump into the table late in the night or early in the morning depending how you looked at it. But the very thought of someone waking up and having to lie hard about where he was going scared him, the thought of anything getting in the way of this sent sparks small sparks of trepid panic through him.

He ate his sandwich slowly partially from his lack of appetite and half because he figured the slower he ate the more time would tick on. What would they talk about? What words would come out of his mouth when they finally did? Worse than that, what words would come out of hers? Finally the clock struck 7:30 and he could wait no more, part of him said let's get this over with and another side said I wonder what she looks like in the morning.