Max's Redemption(4)

By: L. Wilder

I got out of my truck and she never looked up as I walked over to her. “What’s shakin’, Freckles.”

“You’re late. We already ate breakfast.”

“I guess that’s my bad luck.”

“Maybe, but it was good luck for me. I actually got to eat pancakes this morning before Mom’s personal garbage disposal came in and ate everything in sight.”

“That hurts, Smalls.” I teased.

She glanced up at me for a moment, her eyes skirting over my body as she complained, “I don’t know where you put it all. You’d think you have a parasite or something.” Her eyebrows furrowed as she studied me, then she bit her bottom lip as she tried to fight her smile. “You know, that could be it. You could have worms like Ditto.”

Ditto was their old, ornery gray cat that drove them all crazy. I got along with most animals, but that cat was too out there even for me. “I don’t have worms, Knucklehead. I’m healthy as a horse.”

“Well, you definitely eat like one.” She slammed her book shut as she stood up and started walking towards the front yard. “FYI … Brody’s in the garage.”

“Thanks, Half-pint.”

When I walked into the garage, I found Brody’s ass in the air and his head buried under the hood of his car. The guy didn’t even know how to check his own oil, so I knew he didn’t have a clue what he was looking at. “You lose something in there?”

A loud bang rang through the garage when he stood up and bumped his head on the hood. “Damn it.”

I laughed as I patted him on the back. “That had to hurt.”

“Thanks for caring, bro.”

“What are you doing anyway?”

“I lost my keys.”

“And you’re looking in the engine for them?”

“No, smart ass. I put a spare in one of those magnet key holders somewhere in here, and I’m trying to find it.”

“You know the way you drive, that thing’s long gone.”

He groaned. “I know. But without my keys, we’re stuck riding with Mom and Dad.”

“If the car’s here, they’ve gotta be here somewhere.”

“No shit, Sherlock. But where?”

Brody was a good guy, one of the best, but he wasn’t always the sharpest tool in the shed. Most times, it didn’t matter that he didn’t have the commonsense that God gave a gnat. He got by with his good looks and charming smile, but sometimes it just wasn’t enough—times like these were a perfect example as he searched for his missing keys again, or last Wednesday afternoon, when he got lost in the mall. “Let’s go back to last night. Where’d you go?”

“After I worked out, I ran by Penny’s for some—”

Penny was his girlfriend, at least for the time being. Brody was always looking for the next big score, and even though he’d think each new girlfriend was the one , it was only a matter of time before he dumped them and moved on to the next. “Don’t need to hear all the details, man. Fast forward to what you did after coming home.”

“Well, I’d worked up quite an appetite at Penny’s.” He snickered. “So, I went to the kitchen to get something to eat.”

“Okay. Now, we’re getting somewhere.” I started towards the door and said, “Ten bucks says that’s where they are.”

“Nope. I already looked,” he argued as he followed me inside.

Ignoring him, I opened the back door and headed into the kitchen. Over the years, I’d gotten accustomed to the enormity of their house. It no longer fazed me that their kitchen was three times the size of ours, and their appliances alone cost more than every piece of our furniture combined. With its floor-to-ceiling, white cabinets and black marble countertops, it was the kind of kitchen you’d see in those fancy home magazines, but even with the high price tag, it still felt like home. As I started opening the stainless-steel refrigerator door, I turned to him and asked, “What’d ya eat?”

“I made a turkey sandwich.”

When I didn’t have any luck finding the keys in the deli meat drawer, I walked over to the pantry and checked the shelf where they kept the bread, then further down, I pawed through the chip basket. Still nothing, but I wasn’t ready to give up. I went over to the drawer that held the utensils, and as soon as I opened it, his red keychain was sitting on top of the knives. I picked them up and dangled them in front of him. “Do these look familiar?”

“How the hell do you do that?” He groaned as he grabbed the keys from my hand.

“What can I say? It’s a gift.”