Kevin pulled up to Sam’s house right before midnight. The only light in the house came from the kitchen. Sam undid his seatbelt. “Thanks, Kev. See you tomorrow.”
“No problem.” Kevin gave Sam’s shoulder a squeeze. “Hey, Sam.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll all be cool.”
“Yeah, right. Thanks, dude.”
Kevin’s Mustang roared off and Sam trudged up the driveway, still unsure of what he would do. Discussing it all evening long in the Lowry’s attic with Kevin hadn’t helped. He might say nothing. Pretend, just like his dad did, that he was the same Sam who had left for Maine that June. Sam didn’t think he could do that. Moreover, he didn’t know how his dad had done it. His mom already sensed he’d changed and his dad knew beyond any doubt. He might talk to his mom first, or maybe his dad. Or maybe talking to them at the same time was his best move. Sam couldn’t make up his mind. Every option led to certain disaster.
Sam looked through the window into the kitchen. His dad was sitting with his back to the door at the still uncleared table. Sam’s plate had a full serving of ribs and slaw, but half his fries were missing. His mom must have had eaten them. She ate off his plate when she was nervous. Aunt Jeannie used to complain jealously about Faith’s fast metabolism. Sam’s mom could eat McDonalds every day and still qualify as milf. Half a dozen beer cans and a half empty whiskey bottle rested on the table near Dan.
Sam put his nervousness aside and opened the door. Dan turned around and, to Sam’s relief, was wearing a huge grin. He’d thought his parents would still be mad. “Sam! I’m glad you’re home. Sit down and eat some dinner. I saved it for you.”
Sam’s eyes darted around the room and into the living room beyond where the television was playing Fallon. “Where’s Mom?”
“She’s not here.” Dan Spencer leaned back in his chair and started humming Camp Sacquenuckot’s alma mater.
Something about his manner made Sam freeze. A lump formed in his throat and his heart pounded like Dander’s had the first time Sam held him. “Where is she?”
Dan locked fingers behind his head before saying, ever so calmly, “Oh, she wandered off.”