A Song for Kenny Novel (Part 5)
AREN’T YOU MY FRIEND?
"Hello … Larry?"
"Kenny? I didn't recognize your voice on the phone. Got a cold or something?"
"Well, what's up sport?"
"I'd like to talk to you, if you're not busy. It's kind of important. I think I'm in a lot of trouble."
"Come on up to my house as soon as you can. I'll be in the backyard."
That was half an hour ago and now Kenny wasn't quite sure how to begin. He had gotten up early this Saturday morning, written a note to his mom and pedaled over to Larry's house.
He had to talk to someone he trusted. "Larry, I'm sorry to bother you."
"Listen Kenny, you sounded like this was really important. So, what's up?"
Kenny sat beside Larry on what was left of the old barn foundation. His hands fidgeted at his sides. He chewed on his thumbnail.
He began slowly, telling about the other night at Mr. Montgomery's. He was ashamed of what his best pal had done.
Larry listened carefully.
"Is Troy really a juvenile delinquent?" Kenny asked.
"No." Larry answered, "at least, not yet. Make sure something like this doesn't get out of hand."
"Well- he says Mr. Montgomery said he was one," Kenny stammered. "I think he wants to act like one too!" he shouted.
"What Troy did was mean and stupid. I know you're worried about him," Larry added quietly.
"What should I do? Troy is my best friend." If I tell on him to mom, then...a whole whack of things could happen. Mom might even cancel our friendship."
Should he tell Larry about his other feelings? About James maybe marrying his mom? Would Larry's friendship then be history?
"Kenny, take it easy. I'm really glad you felt comfortable coming here to talk to me," Larry said. It means you respect my opinion. Can I be honest with you about what I feel...?"
It seemed fair enough to Kenny. He shifted from one hip to the other. His behind was getting numb sitting on the cold rock foundation. His long limbs dangled over the wild raspberry patch.
He looked at Larry and studied him. Did Larry really care about his feelings? OK Kenny, take a deep breath. Relax. Larry wants to help. So shut up and listen.
Gears were changing in Kenny's head. The same way they did after coming home from Mr. Montgomery's house. He was confused. It was awful baring your soul even though it was to a friend.
How come he trusted Larry so much? What was there to stop Larry from phoning his mom?
Negative thoughts bounced back and forth. It was as if a tug of war was trying to influence him. Could Larry be trusted to keep their conversation just between the two of them?
"Larry, Mr. Montgomery is an old man nobody seems to care about." Kenny said it quietly while looking down at his sneakers.
"Mr. Montgomery has feelings too, Kenny."
"I know. But he's so old. What does it matter to anybody what happens to him?"
And it was true. Many of his school chums made fun of Mr. Montgomery. He was so nosey and grouchy. Maybe it's okay to tease him.
"It matters more than you realize," Larry said. "You proved it by going to warn him. And now you're talking to me."
"Why should I care, what happens to him?" Kenny asked. He was listening carefully for Larry's answer. But his head looked away, distracted by a crow's calling.
"He has special memories, and surrounds himself with the past. It helps him live each day. It's his reason to carry on. One day you'll understand better."
"I still don't," Kenny continued. "Everyone talks about him being so nosey. When I was angry last week I felt like smashing up all my things mom gave me. So why is it really bad Troy broke his window? Isn't it better than hitting somebody?"
"You sure have screwy reasoning." Larry answered. "For such a smart young fellow you should figure things out for yourself. And stop protecting your friend so much!"
Kenny remembered the oath of friendship between him and Troy. Now he felt like a snitch talking behind Troy's back.
And Larry was in a real grouchy mood. It was a mistake coming here. Maybe what Troy did wasn't really that bad.
What if Troy found out he'd told? The thought turned like a stick in his gut. He could almost feel Troy's pounding fist in his stomach already.
He didn't feel so good right now. "I came here because I wanted someone to talk to," Kenny said, more than a little upset.
"No, you didn't. You just wanted support for your buddy. Good old Larry will understand. Then everything can go back as if it never happened."
Larry was wild. "If you were my son, I'd ground you for a week. You deserve it."
Kenny jumped to his feet. He had never seen Larry so upset. What was he so mad about? "I guess I'd better go. I thought you were my friend." Kenny looked away.
"I am," Larry shot back. "Here you are asking for my opinion. I told you before, stay away from that kid. Do you? No. You're stubborn, that's what. He's trouble for you. And you're always trying to protect him! When are you going to grow up?"
Kenny shot back, "You're just like James! He's always nagging me too. I just want you to hear my side. I'm scramming." Kenny jumped to his feet and tore through the raspberry bushes. A bee buzzed around in annoyance.
He leaped on his mountain bike and pedaled furiously down the driveway.
Kenny didn't give his usual wave.
AN EASY WAY OUT
Kenny walked along with his buddy. He wasn't saying a word. But he felt like screaming.
"Where do you want to go?" Troy asked. He didn't know where else to begin. He had spotted Kenny driving recklessly into his yard. Then he watched as Kenny flung his bike.
"Wanta' go for a walk?" Kenny had said.
"Sure." Troy had answered. He wished he knew what was bugging his friend.
"Kenny, didja' hear me? Where are we going? Troy repeated. They were following the path into the woods behind Troy's place.
"How do I know?" Kenny answered. "Stop leaning on me, will you? Just anywhere, OK? Listen, I have to tell you a secret." He turned and faced Troy.
"I'm going to run away," Kenny said quietly.
Troy's eyes widened as if in shock and looked carefully at his friend. "What … did … you … say?" Troy stammered. This was unbelievable.
"I’m thinking about running away," Kenny repeated. He was surer of it now. "If you tell anyone about this, then we won't be friends anymore. And that's the truth."
"Kenny you're only twelve, just a kid. You can't do that. No way. Who will be my friend when you're gone?" This has got to be a bad joke, Troy thought to himself. He didn't know what else to say. "Some friend you turned out to be."
"What?" Kenny was astonished. "What did you say?"
Troy was older but he was lost for any more words. He knew Kenny never spoke foolishly. And everything he said, he meant. "Don't Kenny. Don't run away," Troy said. "Okay?"
"Why not? No one is on my side, anymore. Not even Larry. And you were even ready to knock my block off the other day. I have to do this."
"Well ... maybe I'll tell your mom." As soon as the words escaped from his lips, Troy was sorry. "Hey, I didn't mean that, honest." But it did come out swiftly.
Words spoken now rested in the airspace between them.
"You two-faced baboon," Kenny said. "I'm telling you my secret plan and you're going to tell my mom? What kind of a friend are you? Maybe I don't need a friend like you ... I kept your little secret."
"Just a minute," Troy said. "What do you mean my little secret?"
"Don't you want to go on a hike right now?" Kenny said trying to change the subject. His
It was very hard staring back at his friend.
Those black sockets burned into Kenny's forehead. He watched as if in slow motion his friend's jaw going rigid. Troy's muscles formed into tight knots.
"What little secret?" Troy repeated.
"Never mind, I have to go," Kenny said.
As he turned away, five strong fingers grabbed his shoulder and squeezed. That hurt. "Tell me!" Troy demanded.
"I saw you at Mr. Montgomery's. You threw the rock. Now you know." Kenny jumped back. He was really afraid now.
"If you ever tell ... I'll blast you one, Kenny. I mean it."
Kenny shuddered. He believed it. "Want to go for a hike now?" he asked meekly.
"Don't forget what I said."
Kenny watched his friend walk back down the path. Now he really felt alone. He wished he had the courage to stand up to his friend" Was their friendship over?" he wondered."