Drew drove slowly through the town as he looked for the hardware store. He wondered to himself if it was open on a Sunday, not to mention he had already made two wrong turns. Clearwater was a small town compared to L.A, but when it came right down to it, Clearwater wasn’t that small at all. There was a Wal-Mart, two cinemas, two dollar stores, a Dairy Queen, Subway, Taco Bell, Burger King, Pizza Hut, a Chinese Restaurant, Mexican Restaurant, four different gas stations and the town square was surrounded by little department stores, etc.
The Townsend Hardware Store was located beside the Pizza Hut and Drew was happy he finally found it. He parked his car out front and after he entered the store, he made his way to the back where the key cutting department was located. The store had that small town feel. Everything was old fashioned and there was no doubt it was a family business due to all the pictures on the walls and counters.
A short, fat, bald man sat behind the key cutting counter, reading a newspaper. Drew recognized him from most of the photos. Drew fished his house key out of the pocket of his sweats and placed it on the counter with a friendly smile.
"Can I help ya’ young man?” the man asked in a raspy voice.
"Yeah, I need to get this key copied,” Drew said, sliding it toward him.
"Sure thing, just give me a couple minutes to cut it. If there’s something else ya’ need feel free to look around the store till I’m finished.”
"Actually,” Drew said, “do you guys sell air mattresses?”
"Yeah, aisle four beside the camping equipment. You can check out back here when you’re finished.”
Drew made his way to aisle four, it was filled with random camping equipment and a couple guys Drew recognized from school were looking at the tents. He wasn’t really paying attention to them, but when they saw him, the shorter one began talking to him.
"Hey, you’re Drew Knight,” The short, dark haired kid said.
"Yeah,” Drew nodded.
"How is Luke doing? The whole town is talking about him being in the hospital.”
"He’s doing well.”
"Man, that guy is cheating death,” said the taller red haired boy.
"Yeah, but if anyone can cheat death it’s him. What happen to him anyhow?”
"He was attacked by David Davison and his jackass lackey’s.” Drew said with anger tainting his voice.
"That’s no surprise,” said the redhead.
"Did you hear about what happened to David Davison?” The boys began talking to each other.
"Naw Man, what happened?”
"I heard that he and his gang all got drunk last night and they beat the shit out of each other!”
"Ha! The bastards kicked each other’s asses for once!”
Drew laughed as he picked up the air mattress and went back to the counter. The boys stared after him, but Drew kept walking. Talk about a word getting around. At least the wrong yet right words were getting around about David’s apparent injuries.
The man behind the counter had the two keys laying out ready to go. Drew laid the air mattress on the counter and pulled out his wallet.
"You’re that Drew boy. I thought you looked familiar. I wish ya’ luck finding that brother of yours.”
"I hear you saved that Luke boy last night. Your total is fifteen eighty-seven.”
Drew handed him a twenty dollar bill and replied, “Yeah.”
"Shouldn't have wasted your time,” the man said with a snicker.
"Excuse me?” Drew asked him with a dark look.
"You shouldn’t have bothered with the murderer.”
"What is it with you people in this town? He is a human being, and a good one at that!”
"That boy is no good. His own family even knows it!” The man said firing back.
"You shouldn’t believe everything you hear about people. If you knew Luke you would know what a good person he really is. Everyone would.”
Drew took his change and stormed out of the store.
The entire drive home Drew was fuming. It wasn’t until he reached the driveway that he calmed down. Drew decided that if everyone in Clearwater thought of Luke the same way that the store clerk did that he would just have to make everyone comprehend what a good guy Luke really was.
Drew jogged up to his house and unlocked the front door. He went to his room first thing to begin setting up for Luke. Drew’s room was quite spacious. He had a full sized bed sitting in the far left corner, next to the back wall. To the right of the bed was his window which, was draped with dark blue curtains and black blinds. His desk was sitting down from his bed against the wall and he decided he could set up his black futon against the wall across from his bed and beside his closet. The walls of the room off white and his bed spread was a deep blue.
Drew made his way out to the garage and found the iron futon frame and the mattress and carried them one by one back to his room. After he set up the futon he rummaged around in his closet and found a blanket and a set of sheets, put them on the futon and went into the guest room. The room was about the same size as Drew’s and it was laid out like his as well, so Luke could move in there once he recovered. He realized that nothing else could be done until he retrieved Luke’s belongings from his uncle’s house. The thought of Dr. McGowan perturbed Drew almost as much as the thought of David did; if not more. With that in mind he decided to wait until Luke was with him before retrieving his belongings.
Drew grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and headed out the door to his car. When he reached the hospital he saw Jeff and Rose coming out. He grabbed the air mattress and jogged over to meet them as they were walking to their pick-up.
"Hey, you guys leaving so soon?” Drew said looking at his watch which read four-fifteen.
"Yeah, Luke fell asleep and we figured that was our cue to go. Besides, Jeff hates that couch. I don’t know how you slept there last night.”
"That’s why I bought this,” Drew said as he held up the twin sized air mattress box.
Jeff and Rose both laughed.
"We’re going to be back tomorrow morning,” Rose said smiling. “I have you to thank for bring Luke back to us. He’s almost like his old self again.”
"Yeah, he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you,” Jeff said.
"I’m glad I met him,” Drew smiled.
"We know,” Rose said waving as her and Jeff began walking to the black Chevy pick-up again.
"Bye Dude!” Jeff called over his shoulder with a big grin.
Drew stood with a confused look on his face as he watched them climb into the truck. He shook his head and made his way back to Luke’s room. He opened the door to Luke’s room slowly and quietly, and peaked his head through the opening. He saw that Luke was sleeping like Rose had said. He tip-toed in and plopped down, quietly, in the recliner. Luke opened his eyes.
"How long have I been out?”
"I don’t know. Rose and Jeff were leaving as I was coming in so I don’t think it’s been too long.”
"I guess I dozed off while she was talking. I’ll hear about that later,” Luke smiled.
"Yeah, she said her and Jeff were coming back tomorrow.”
"I can’t push them away anymore. I miss them too much.”
"You don’t need to push them away anymore.”
Luke looked as if he were about to tear up once again.
"Oh! Look what I have!” Drew held up the air mattress box and Luke gave him a confused look. “It’s so I don’t have to sleep in this recliner or that couch tonight. I just have to blow it up.” Drew looked down at the box with a determined look.
Luke smiled, “This is going to be fun to watch.”
"Yeah, yeah, make fun. I’m going to be comfortable tonight.”
Drew got up and went to set on the couch. He opened the box and took out the air mattress and began to inflate it manually.
"That is going to take you forever.”
Drew shook his head as he started to use the tiny pump that came with the mattress. Luke watched him tentatively.
Ten minutes later a breathless Drew threw his arms in the air in triumph. “I told you I could do it,” Drew said rubbing his biceps.
Luke laughed, “Yep, you sure did.”
"I’ll be back. I’m going to steal a couple pillows from the closet down the hall. Do you need anything?”
Luke shook his head as Drew hurried out of the room. Drew in a very sneaky fashion made his way to the closet and snatched two pillows. As he was nearing Luke’s room once again he was stopped by Jane.
"Drew,” Jane called from behind him.
Drew wheeled around to face an irritated looking Jane Knight. ‘Oops!’
"Okay, so I stole a couple pillows from the closet. Is that a federal crime or something?” Drew asked with a puppy dog face.
"Hun, I didn’t stop you because of the pillows. David just came in the emergency room. Turns out that late last night him and his friends got into a fight and he suffered a hairline fracture to the left side of his jaw. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?” Jane smiled, knowing her son was to blame for David’s little bit of comeuppance.
"Nope,” Drew grinned.
"Well, he isn’t going to be here long so I wouldn’t tell Luke. Why upset him if you don’t have to, right?”
"You got it Mom. Oh, I got everything set up for Luke at home and I got another key made.”
"Good, I’ve decided to release Luke after about three days. He is healing up just fine and as long as someone is keeping a close eye on him than he will be just fine. Oh, when you pick up Luke’s belongings from Dr. Jackass’ house keep Luke close. I don’t trust the bastard. When David came in he treated him so nicely it made my skin crawl.”
"Don’t worry; I refuse to let Luke be hurt anymore.”
Drew smiled and kissed his mom on the cheek. Jane returned his smile and walked on down the hall.
Drew walked back into Luke’s room with the two pillows under his arm and threw them on the couch on his way back over to the recliner.
“Go back to sleep, I didn’t mean to wake you up,” Drew said.
Luke shook his head. “No, I’m good. I was actually hoping we could talk. Not about David or anything, but just get to know each other.”
“Yeah, I guess since we’re going to be roommates…” Drew trailed off.
“I don’t really know where to start.”
“Just start rambling about what you like. You know music, books, favorite movie, whatever pops into your mind. Just promise me if you get tired you will go to sleep.”
“Well, I like country music,” Luke started. “I love fiction books and I watch comedies, or action movies. I used to watch a lot of pro football, oh, and I’m allergic to fabric softener. Your turn.”
“Okay, I listen to rock music as well as alternative, but I also like country,” Drew smiled. “I love books, comedy, romance, paranormal, basically if it’s written well I’ll read it. I love the Blade movies and the Fast and Furious movies, but I have to admit I do like some of the chick flicks. Oh, and I’m allergic to peanuts.”
“You’re not alone on the chick flicks, but the blade movies I can do without.”
Drew rested his elbows on the side of Luke’s bed. He looked at his healing face and felt a pang of pain in his chest. Luke had a smile on his face, but his face was still bruised and battered. Drew felt his anger beginning to return so he quickly continued the conversation.
“Your art. Why did you stop?” Drew asked as he watched the smile fade from Luke’s face.
“I-I just lost…” Luke trailed off.
“Everything…my friends, my family, my team, my life. I just couldn’t bring myself to keep painting. I was a different person back then. I’ll sketch once in a while but, only landscapes and they always turn out dark and stormy.”
“I saw the one of them in class the other day. You’re talented. Do you think you’ll start painting again?”
Luke’s smile returned, “Yeah, maybe one day.” His smile wavered for just a second, and he rubbed his knee.
“How is your knee?” Drew asked seeing Luke’s expression.
“It hurts a little bit, but I think it’s just because I’ve not been walking that much.”
“Well, if Mom gives the okay we will go for a walk. That is if you don’t rip open your stitches.” Drew laughed.
“Alright, I’ll hold you to that.”
“I got something for you,” Drew said pulling the new key out of his pocket. He handed to Luke who turned it around and around in his fingers.
“Drew, I know you and I are friends, but in a couple of days I’ll be eighteen. I can find a place to stay.”
“Luke, I want you to live with us. You need to accept that you have people who care about you and want you to be safe. You and I both know that won’t be possible unless you’re with me. Besides, I already fixed everything up at home with the exception of setting up your stuff.”
“You’re quite eager,” Luke smiled.
“Maybe so, but now you know that you have a home.”
“Yeah, I guess I do.”
Luke laid the key on the night table and looked out the window. The sun reflected off the water and he couldn’t help but laugh, even though it hurt a little.
"What?” Drew asked, confused.
"It’s just I never imagined I would ever feel like this again.”
“Happy,” Luke smiled.
Drew smiled and watched as Luke nodded off to sleep. That’s how the next couple of days went. Luke would drift in and out of sleep. More than often he would wake up from a nightmare and refuse to tell Drew what it was about. Drew hardly ever left Luke’s room except occasionally when Rose and Jeff came by. He would take that time to go pick up some food and run by the house. He tended to read while Luke slept during the day or watch the television with the captions on. Sometimes Luke would wake up and they would carry on a conversation, but as Luke began to feel safe with Drew he would just sleep. He even slept right through his birthday. He only woke up long enough for Rose, Jeff, Jane, and Drew to sing Happy Birthday and to eat part of a cupcake.
Jane kept a close eye on him and was very pleased at how well he was doing. She was glad it was spring break so he wouldn't miss too much school, but she also knew Drew wouldn’t be keen on leaving Luke at home by himself. She decided she would just have to excuse that because she knew her son would refuse to let what happened to Jordan and her happen to Luke. He was so attached to this mysterious boy that even she herself was beginning to look at Luke like another son.