“Mom, really?” Burl yelled. “Why can’t you be like normal mothers and listen to appropriate music?”
Deirdre turned the music down. “And what’s appropriate?” She smiled, raising an eyebrow as she turned it down a little.
“I dunno, like Enya or Michel Bublé.”
“Hmm…. No. And hell no.”
The music changed, now it was More Human Than Human by Rob Zombie. The song began with the sounds of a woman having an orgasm. Burl hid his face in his hands.
“Please, Mom! Come on! People know me!”
Taking pity on her son, Deirdre laughingly turned the music down more. Corin got there a couple minutes later, disheveled and red faced. His shirt was torn and his face bruised. His lower lip was puffy and one eye was going black.
“What happened to you?” Deirdre asked, concerned.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Freak!” some kid yelled at him.
“Can we just go?”
Others walked by, leering at them, making rude noises and cursing.
“What the f**k?” Burl said. “What did you do?”
“Nothing! I heard some guys talking about Aiden finding Wendy’s body, and they were saying awful things about her—and him! So I tried, politely, to set them straight. I said he hadn’t found her, I had, and they jumped me.”
“Jumped you? Who?” Burl opened his car door.
Deirdre, who had been ready to pull into traffic, slammed on the brakes. “What are you doing?”
“No one f**ks with my baby brother. They want a piece of Partridge, they go through me.”
“Burl, I’ve told you…!”
He actually glared at his mother, one foot on the ground. “I don’t care, Mom. I’m as non-violent as the next guy, but someone put hands on my little brother, they cross a line. Look at him, he’s half the size of nothing. That can’t happen!”
“Get back in the car.”
“No. Corin, who was it?”
Three large, tough looking boys were walking over to the car. Corin shied away, although he was inside. That was all Burl needed. He walked over to the center one, blocking his way. He wasn’t quite as tall as Aiden, but was more solidly built. His anger made him seem bigger.
“You got a problem, Partridge?” the boy asked, squaring off with the middle brother.
“Yeah. You’re messing with my brother. I guess no one told your dumb ass not to f**k with our family.”
“Must have missed that memo,” the boy said, taking a step closer. He chest bumped Burl.
His friends hung back, ready to bolt. The raised voices had finally caught the attention of other students, and teachers.
Deirdre started to get out of the Jeep, but Corin caught her arm. Shaking his head, he held her in a steel grip.
“I guess you don’t listen well, then. That’s been the word now for three years. You f**k with one Partridge, you get us all.”
“I see only you. Your big brother’s not here to protect you.”
“I don’t need Aiden,” Burl said softly, looming over the shorter boy. “You think I need him to fight my battles?”
“You fighting for the baby,” the boy countered, but he looked less sure.
“You leave him outta this. Your argument is with me, now.”
“Your crazy big brother’s probably the one who killed her,” the boy grew bold, thinking his friends were behind him.
They had backed off even further. Teachers and administrators were converging on their position. Given the number of students who were gathered around, they were having a tough time getting through the crowd.
Burl started laughing. It was a deep, dark, ugly sound. “You think you’re a tough guy, huh? You’re a pussy. You and your butt buddies need to back off. If I catch you anywhere near my brother, or even smell your stank….” he didn’t have to finish the treat. It was implicit.
The other boy, unfortunately, didn’t read it right. Feeling bold, but threatened, he took a swing at Burl. The middle Partridge ducked, slugging the thug in the stomach. The other boy gagged and retched, red in the face. Moaning, he gripped his stomach. Backing up a step, Burl put his hands behind his head as the school security officer came over.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes