Home > Take Me with You(7)

Take Me with You(7)
Catherine Ryan Hyde

“You’ll think I’m crazy,” Wes said.

“So you mentioned. But go ahead and let me think what I want. I believe it’s time to get this out in the open. Whatever it is.”

Wes sighed. Squatted down onto his heels, which put him somewhere in the neighborhood of August’s level.

“Here’s what I’m thinking,” Wes said. “I can get you to Yellowstone by giving you this repair one hundred percent free of charge. I’d even pick up cost of the parts. I’ll even take the cash out of my pocket you gave me for the tow and hand it back to you. Then you’ll be right back where you were when this trip started. All you’ve lost is three days. And, like you said, you got plenty of time. Then you can go and do what you said was so important to you.”

August waited briefly to see if Wes would continue on his own. He didn’t.

“Yeah. That would get me there all right. But it leaves an obvious question. Why would you do that for me? Wait. Let me phrase it more directly. If you were to do all that for me, what would you want me to do for you in return?”

Wes took another drag of smoke and blew it out in a series of perfect rings that bent and collapsed as they floated over a hydraulic jack. He didn’t seem inclined to answer.

“You’re going to do this sooner or later, Wes. Please let’s just get it over with already.”

“Take my boys with you.”

In the silence that followed, August thought, Yeah. You’re right. I think you’re crazy. But he only said, “All summer?”

“Yeah. You’re coming back through before school starts, right? You can drop ’em back to me then. Meanwhile they get to see the world. Some national parks. Geysers. They can go to Yellowstone and see geysers. You know what those boys’ve seen their whole lives? Nothing. Just what’s within fifty or so miles of here. And let’s face it. That’s nothing.”

August breathed deeply two or three times. “They don’t want to see those places with a stranger. They want to go with you.”

“I’m not going. You are.”

“Even so. They’ll wait for you. They want to be here at home with their dad all summer. They’ll wait for a time when you can travel with them. They want to be with you.”

“Well, here’s the thing about that. For the next ninety days or so, they don’t get to be. This’s the part where you find out I’m not crazy by nature. More like desperate. You know. Fresh out of options. I’m on my way to jail for ninety days.”

“I don’t get it.”

“What’s there not to get? I got sentenced to ninety days.”

“Then how can you be here? I thought when they sentenced you they put handcuffs on you and dragged you right out of court.” Part of him wanted badly to go on to ask, “Sentenced to ninety days for what exactly?” But he didn’t. It was really none of his business, and besides, another part of him didn’t want to know.

“Well. They can if they want. Judge can do pretty much what he wants to do. Thing is, I got these two kids. So I told the judge I needed a few days to get ’em settled in. You know. Make arrangements for somebody to take care of ’em. Kind of stupid, because I don’t have much family, and what I have I knew they were gonna say no. They said no last time. Why this time would be any better I don’t know. I guess I just figured if I had some time maybe I could pull something out of my hat. So he gave me till Monday morning. Monday morning I have to surrender myself at the jail or they’ll come get me and escort me there.”

“Where do the boys go if you can’t pull something out of your hat?”

“County takes ’em.”

“Where did they go last time?”

“County took ’em.”

“Oh. Well. That’s not bad, right? That’s not the end of the world.”

Wes snorted, and smoke puffed through his nose. “Not for you. But I’m sensing it’s not such a great deal for them. Henry hasn’t said a damn word since I got ’em back. I think he talks to his brother. But I can’t prove that. It’s just a suspicion.”

A long pause fell. August put it to good use by mentally rehearsing the kindest ways to say no.

“I’d send you with some extra cash for their food,” Wes said. “They’re good boys. You can see that with your own eyes. You said so yourself. Henry won’t say a damn word. Seth is a talker, but he’ll stop if you ask him to. He’ll do anything you ask him to. He can look after his brother, too. He’s old enough. It’s not like they’re babies. You wouldn’t have to watch ’em every second.”

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