It was right around this time that Raymond began to put two and two together. Mom wasn’t home and now he had more control of his own life and freedom than he had before. It was a beautiful realization! And of course, he wasn’t about to waste time reading passages in textbooks and mouthing off to teachers at school when the real fun was elsewhere.
While Junie was off on her “vacation”, Raymond remembered that there was a specfic part of town that he was never allowed to go to, so of course he went there while he still could. Rustler’s Den was a very old building that looked to be abandoned, but when he tried to open the door, it wouldn’t budge, and he was sure he heard footsteps scurrying about inside.
“Hey! Let me in dumbass!” he yelled while kicking the door. He kept trying until he was tired, but it made him angry that those idiots wouldn’t open the door for him..
“Hey! I’m from out of town. I was wondering if you knew where- ”
“Hey, look! Fuck you, alright? It’s not my job to show you around. Dumbass. I hope you freeze,” Raymond said furiously. The poor travleler stood dumbfounded. He’d heard that Appaloosa Plains was such a nice small town, and he was only trying to find the Business Office so that he could get a job. But every town had a “bad area” and he was sensing that this was it. Who knows if this kid was on drugs or had a weapon?
“I’ll just go”
The traveler understood the name of the game a little too late. Raymond was already angry from rejection, cold from being outside, and he knew his mother would be alerted of his absence when she returned. He needed SOMETHING to take his anger out on. Before the man could even turn away, Ray grabbed him by his collar and began slapping him. The man tried to defend himself, but Raymond was quick and determined. He tackled the man to the ground and began kicking him in the ribs and stomach. Once his anger had mostly subsided, he saw the man bloodied and bruised below him. He ran away with a smile on his face. Being bad felt so good.
As Raymond continued to skip school, news of his angry tantrums, pranks, and fights spread around town. All around town. Even the elementary school. Some of the teachers loved to gossip. Basil was the first to hear of the news as he was delivering a sheet of paper to Mrs. Johnson in the teacher’s lounge.
Basil knew that if he left his brother alone and stayed out of his way, he would be fine. He had other things to focus on anyway. His look was inspired by his dad’s rock and roll career that he just begun to really take off. Elisha had replaced the lead guitarist for a pop star and was coming up in the music biz. Elisha encouraged all of the kids to explore their talents and the arts, so Basil would keep the stresses of school and his mean brother away by painting. His father was a much bigger inspiration that just that, though. Basil knew that one day, as soon as he could afford it, he would buy an instrument and play for people. Until then, he would work on getting perfect marks on tests.
With hard work came hard… relaxtion. Sweet little Basil’s only flaw was that he could be very lazy. Sure, he wanted to make great grades, but he had to always remind himself to do homework first and then watch tv or paint later. Sometimes he was unsuccessful in getting things done, but he would always remind himself that at least he wasn’t the worst Kay child. That spot went to Ray.
In sad news, little Pepper didn’t cope well with having her mother away. The days felt like months. When Basil told her that Raymond was going around tormenting people and skipping school, she was shocked. He wasn’t afraid of anything it seemed, and she certainly couldn’t defend herself against him. He knew she was afraid. Pepper needed extra attention, and Junie was great at nurturing her. Sometimes it was checking for monsters under the bed or letting her sleep in her room during a thunderstorm, but Junie always tried her best to make her easily scared daughter comfortable. Now that she was away, Raymond preyed on his little sister, making her cry every day.
Basil cast sympathetic looks at his sister, but he knew he would get pummeled if he tried to intervene, so instead, he encouraged Pepper to find something to do so that she could avoid Ray. She realized that she loved being outside. There was something about the snow that winter that was captivating to her. She would go outside for hours admiring wildlife, trying to be extra quiet so that they wouldn’t run away. She would also go ice skating on the lakes, pretending she was the queen of the seasons, and she just happened to prefer the cold today. She would skate and explore for hours until it was late enough and she knew that Ray would be asleep. She just hoped that her mother would come back soon.
Diary of Junie Kay
I remembered nothing. One minute I was running away and feeling anxious and in the blink of an eye, I was standing in front of my house with a green alien. I couldn’t move, but I saw it wink at me and smile before disappearing into thin air. Slowly I could move my fingers then my toes then the rest of my body. I ran inside to check on my children! Thankfully they were safe. I checked my cell phone to see that I had been gone for one week, and I had also gotten a ton of messages from coworkers.
I know you’re on vacation… but have you heard about your son?
Junie, do you want me to chat with Raymond?
I think you should know, Ms. Kay, that your oldest child has been terrorizing the town!!!
Me heart sank as I prepared for bed. I had countless messages and missed calls on my phone. I couldn’t go away for a simple vacation without Raymond acting up! I cried a little bit and wondered where I went wrong….
The next day at work was a living hell for me. It started that morning when Basil and Pepper hugged me ever so tightly and wouldn’t let go, begging me not to go on vacation ever again. I asked them what they had heard and what had been done, and I was furious! Raymond wasn’t just any old bully, he was bullying his siblings and perfect strangers alike. I went into his rooms and snatched the covers off of him.
“WHAT THE FU- Oh… mom. When did you get home,” he asked in a fake sweet voice, but this time I knew better.
“What is wrong with you, Raymond?! I can’t go on a vacation without hearing about your antics. I am extremely disappointed in you. You aren’t allowed to do anything, ya hear? No dances, no outings, no prom if this keeps up! Find another way to spend your time.”
At work I got a ton of angry stares and I was the center of attention despite not many people talking to me. I felt so embarrassed and had to cry in the bathroom a few times. I just wished that everyone would know that I wanted to be a great mom, the best mom and I didn’t ever encourage this behavior.
Every single day I would go into Raymond’s room and sit in there with him to make sure he didn’t go anywhere else. In the mean time, I played chess. He was welcome to join me if he wanted, but his facade was gone after I yelled at him. He just sat back and muttered mean things about me under his breath. It hurt to hear him refer to me as a cow and for him to say things like “I know why dad divorced you…” but I had moved on from that. I knew he was just trying to get a rise out of me.
“You know… mom’s always cooped up inside with us. Or she’s at work,” Basil said one day. Pepper was like his best friend. Sometimes he wondered if Raymond was so angry because he didn’t have a twin to talk to everyday. He’d tried to ask him if that’s why he was so mad, but Raymond didn’t respond. He just held up his middle finger and slammed a door.
“Yeah. She’s doing grown up stuff, though. Besides, I’m glad she’s watching Raymond. He creeps me out,” Pepper admitted. She had continued to go outside and explore the world around her. One of her favorite hobbies was now fishing, but she always released the fish because she didn’t one time and it died.
“I have a plan! How about.. we get mom and dad back together?” Basil asked excitedly.
Pepper looked up with wide eyes. She had very few memories of her parents together as a couple.
The next morning the twins woke up with bright eyes and bushy tails, ready for this school day to be done with so that they could get the plan moving along. They pretended to do homework and they whispered to each other so that no one… not even Raymond… could ruin their plans.
“Did you call dad?” Pepper asked Basil. He nodded, looking behind him to make sure Raymond wasn’t eavesdropping.
“He’s coming. I also invited some other friends so that it wouldn’t be so awkward. I think that after being married for such a long time, though, they’ll have to talk.”
They ran outside to catch the bus. Today was going to be interesting.