Comeback Kid: Episode One

   The time has come. The following is the very first episode of Comeback Kid, something I have been working on since November, 2015 which partially explains my long, long, long absence from my wordpress. Well, now it’s finished. It’s time to reveal the first episode in the story. Have fun reading it! I had fun writing it.

My New Mission


My name is Obie and I have a very important job that many would not particularly enjoy. For starters, I work for free and even in these modern times, I live in isolation from society. Secondly, I am bound to this Earth for eternity until I am called back to where I came from. Third, I have to continually follow certain individuals around and give them advice on life so they won’t repeat their own mistakes. Again, I don’t get paid to do this. I am merely volunteering and that’s it.

My job is to help people, but to help them in a different way. I’m not a part of any charity organizations or churches. I can’t help any more than one person at a time, as it would create way too much confusion among myself and others. See, I have to take this job one individual at a time and this takes a good part of ten to twenty years to complete. I am writing this entry because I am embarking on what looks to be a twenty-five year journey through a life of a man I have been called upon to help him fix his past and improve his future. Wish me luck.

My story starts in a city near the Atlantic Coast known as Fort City, South Carolina. The place has grown substantially in the past several decades and it is one of my favorite spots to unwind after taking on a long job. I find peace here since it is known by many as the Holy City of the West. Today, I am anxious because I finished my job with one individual and I know my name will be called in due time to take on another challenge in a journey in the life of yet another individual.

I happened to be people watching in a public park when I noticed a man who appeared to be in his mid-thirties walking towards the park bench at which I occupied. He appeared to be walking from the site of what looked to be a family gathering under a large shelter. The family must have rented the shelter out for the day for a family reunion because that’s the only time it’s ever that full. There had to be close to sixty people under it today.

The man looked somewhat agitated when he took a seat and with me being the curious individual that I am, I decided to spark up a conversation.

“What’s wrong, stranger?” I ask brightly.

“Just got a phone call from my boss, well ex-boss,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. “Lost my second job this year and it’s only July.”

“Two in one year?” I ask, appalled. “What’s the big idea?”

“It’s one thing or another,” he said, staring off into the distance.

I stared off as well and nodded my head. I guess this is my new project then, I thought. I know it is because they always come to me and I never go to them. That’s how I know they’re sent to me. It makes my job easier but sometimes the selling point is not the easiest, so I decided to cut straight to the chase.

“How long has this been going on?” I asked.

“Well this is a new personal record,” he replied. “But I’ve probably been through ten jobs since high school! It’s outrageous. It’s like I can’t get anything right.”

This man was in luck today because I just very recently finished up with one of my toughest challenges yet. This one was a bad case and he had his ups but he certainly had his downs. Some people sent my way are easy and others are not. Some succeed and some fail. See, it’s my job to attempt to ensure these people avoid their pitfalls before they fall into them. Sometimes it’s easy and other times it’s very long, hard work.

“Let me tell you about someone who was in the same exact position that you were in,” I said. “Some of this story is very unbelievable but I can guarantee you it happened, because the individual I’m talking about likes to do a park workout here towards the evening hours. Will you still be here?”

“I have all day and half of the night,” he replied. “I may as well have some entertainment.”

“Good, because you are in for some awesome entertainment,” I assured. “Because I am going to talk about someone who went from worst to first. And it took a good twenty years to do just that. What’s your name?”

“Buck Savannah,” he replied.

“Well, Buck Savannah, strap yourself in, because this is going to be a story of a lifetime.”


Brock Patrick isn’t your average, ordinary individual. He’s actually far from it. Brock is a thirty-five year old high school graduate who has barely held onto the lowest level jobs for the last nineteen years. He shifted between positions such as grocery store clerk at a store called Lucks in Summersville, West Virginia and a cashier at Victory Electronics in neighboring Muralville, West Virginia. Brock has worked these past fifteen years as a part-time employee. In addition, he received zero job benefits in this time and he still makes just above the new minimum wage of nine dollars and twenty-five cents per hour.

In essence, Brock has been miserable at life and and his typical daily cycle proves this. In any given day, Brock goes to work, returns home, spends the rest of the day playing the latest popular video games, goes to sleep, and repeats. If he isn’t scheduled to work that day, he’s either surfing the internet, playing video games, or simply lazing around the house, making zero contribution. To put the icing on the cake, he still lives at home with his parents, Jay and Ana.

Brock loves to place the blame of his situation on his parents and various others. He likes to say they helped his younger brother, Jed Patrick, with school, sports, and work. As for all of the other people on the planet who have what they want, Brock will say they all had help getting to their destination while he had zero help whatsoever and that not a single soul believed in Brock since he started middle school all the way back in 2001. As a result, Brock has become one to hate and despise those satisfied with their life and anyone associated with success and happiness.

Being the family slacker, Brock is constantly confronted by Jay for this lifestyle habits. Deep down, Brock knows his father has a point, yet as mentioned earlier Brock considers himself to be a victim in life who was never given an opportunity by anyone or anything. So, about ten years ago, at age twenty-five, Brock decided to throw in the towel and accepted this pitiful life and ultra low social status. He came to the harsh realization that he would never, ever be anything but an insignificant loser dwelling in mom and dad’s basement. Brock thought if being a nobody is what people wanted him to become, then he was going to become one and blame all of society for it. Brock claimed to take no responsibility for his life and if it weren’t for the actions of others, he would be living a much different life today.

Since Brock has zero ambition these days, his favorite hobby is playing video games on his days off at noon, when he usually wakes up. He will mob his father’s television set (to Jay’s very vocal dismay) in the basement well into the early morning hours, sometimes until six o’clock the next morning. Brock will go to sleep for an hour and a half before dragging himself out of bed thirty minutes before he starts work at eight in the morning and remain there sometime between noon and four, or whatever his work schedule dictates. Often, he makes it there just in time to dash into the store and clock in right before the clock on the wall reads eight zero one. Other times, he’s a minute or so late which often results in a visit to the store manager’s office after this happens a few consecutive times, and it’s usually bound to happen at least once per week.

As previously mentioned, Brock knows he’s the bottom dweller in the entire family and by family, I mean both his immediate and extended family with whom Brock has a self-imposed serious problem. While Jay has been a successful car salesman who annually earned six figures after his forty-fifth birthday and Ana supplemented that income with an additional forty grand as a department store supervisor. Yet Brock’s anger and bitterness really stems towards his extended family, especially his brother and relatives who are around his own age, give or take a few years. Each and every one is living in an area other than River Valley, the name of the area Brock and his family currently live where major opportunity has been scarce since the decline of the steel industry decades ago. Every single one of them are either bringing in some serious cash or on their way to doing so while Brock dwells in the basement, watching the game from the sidelines.

Brock’s thirty year old brother, Jed, works as an exercise physiologist in South Carolina where he makes a very nice annual income judging from the pictures of his larger than life house complete with a double garage. Jed routinely sends pictures to Jay, who proceeds to proudly show them off to anyone who will take the time to listen. Oh, they’re all so proud of Jed, sulks Brock in his miserable thoughts. If one asked Brock about Jed, Brock would answer with “It wasn’t even him! Unlike me he had help from mom and dad at any given turn!” All it does is make Brock feel even more anger and hate. Jed also has a family who live quite comfortably consisting two very young kids, aged one and three. Jed has a very beautiful wife named Andrea. Jed is currently finishing his master’s degree in Kinesiology and aspires to become a boss one day in his position and at that level he will consistently pull in well over one-hundred thousand, a lot like Jay but over a decade earlier in his life than Jay’s.

Brock’s once favorite cousin is Lenny. Lenny is four months younger than Brock so of course they grew up together and as kids, constantly competing against one another from one on one basketball to academics to anything and everything under the sun. Even in their younger days, Lenny was the successful one, soundly beating Brock at everything. Lenny was the better athlete, the better student, the more popular student, the role model to others, and he was either at the top or near the top of everything he did. Surprisingly, and much to Brock’s annoyance, Lenny didn’t even look as if he were trying to accomplish anything. Things simply worked out for him. In everything Lenny attempted he was good at. Hypothetically, it didn’t matter if the person across from Lenny had twenty more years of experience than he did in a game like chess, baseball, or poker. Lenny was going to beat them. Some way, somehow, Lenny was just going to win. Everything just came naturally to the guy. Lenny is now the CEO of Victory Electronics, working at their headquarters in Annapolis, Pennsylvania, where he and his family are living very large. Lenny has two kids, aged six and eight. Like their father, each appear to get a quick grasp on anything they do. They are both at the top of their classes, much like Lenny once was. They also excel at every single sport they participate in. These two kids are far and away the crown jewel in the eyes of everyone, much like Lenny back in the day. Lenny is married to girl named Belinda, who routinely thinks of Brock as some heinous criminal who should be locked up behind bars somewhere. She never enjoys the fact her kids have to be around someone of his nature and only tolerates Brock because Brock is a relative of Lenny’s.

As for the rest, Brock’s older cousins Maria and K.J. are living in Fort City, South Carolina, heading up a very successful alternative clothing line. Both are multi-millionaires and are currently looking into expanding their line overseas, going international. As for Brock’s two younger cousins, Riley is living in New Mexico and working on getting an advanced degree while Lonnie is living in North Carolina, also working on his postgraduate studies. In all, Brock is the only one in the generation of his family who failed to earn a college degree.

Once upon a time in his disgruntled life, Brock actually wanted to succeed badly and he constantly dreamed of doing so but he was continually discouraged by a multitude of obstacles that he usually brought upon himself. For starters, he was never exceptionally good at anything. His overall grades were never at honor roll level or even close for that matter, and he was never accepted into any college or university except Thomas Community College, mainly because embraced an open door policy. He dropped out after only one semester because he could did not find the work to be conducive to his unseen ambitions. As of what these ambitions were, no one ever knew. It’s safe to say Brock was very self entitled at a young age and if he thought work needed to be put in so he would gain recognition, it wasn’t the field for him.

So Brock bounced around from job to job in his late teens, and early twenties strictly to remain under Jay’s roof. First, he worked at the local Quick Burger, where he worked grill, filled up the various milkshake and pop (those on the north panhandle of West Virginia refer to soda as ‘pop’) dispensers, prepared the fries, breaded chicken, and washed the dishes among other activities. Brock hated the place so he walked out after a few months, narcissistically thinking of himself to be way above that of a low paid Quick Burger employee. Someone should have told him then that he was too brash to believe he had any right to think in such a way. Months later, Brock landed at Lucks Foods in Summersville. While at Lucks he was a bagger. He started out making seven dollars and sixty-five cents per hour, working twenty hours per week on average. Again, a job he felt was way under him.

Despite believing he was above his job positions, Brock wasn’t a great worker. In fact, he was one of the least productive employees in the entire store. He bagged groceries at his own chosen pace and carried them out to the customer’s vehicle, again at a speed he deemed appropriate, which was much slower than what management preferred. He very rarely spoke to the customer because most of the time there was nothing to talk to them about or if he opened his mouth he figured he would accuse the customer of thinking they felt he or she were above him for being a bagger. On the contrary, Brock actually felt he was far above the customer, and he would make a leap far above them in terms of social status soon enough. Brock figured at that point he would be the one laughing.

Much like he is to his own family, Brock preferred being rather anti-social to most. Brock kept his head down as he went about his work, rarely speaking to or looking at anyone and he became known to many as the “weird guy who didn’t say much.” His mind was always at home on his video games and he looked forward to spending quality time with himself and his online colleagues in their online gaming world. Brock also felt he was better than all of these people he worked with, although the sad truth is he was constantly outperformed at even the simplest job task, such as sweeping the front area by the registers. Sometimes, he would be called out to work in the grocery, dairy, or frozen sections if there was a call-off, but he mainly allowed his phone to ring since he was busy with what he believed were more important issues than going into work in the place of someone else. He routinely believed he shouldn’t be subject to management on his day off. They weren’t his boss unless he was in that store and in uniform, so he wasn’t about to go in and be subject to the rule of someone else for a few short hours.

On most days Brock was always stuck at the front, making his low wage and receiving a raise roughly once a year during his three month evaluations and that wasn’t a good thing. Usually, management found something wrong in Brock’s work so many times he did not receive a raise. In fact, he had to make improvements in his unsatisfactory areas or he would face termination of employment. During these times, Brock would do just good enough of a job in his needs improvement areas to avoid being terminated. This would force management to keep him, or so he thought because at age twenty-four there came a time where Brock went three consecutive ninety day evaluations where he was unable to improve his weak areas despite the increased effort he claimed to put in. This time, there was a new management team in place. They were in the process of cleaning house and Brock, along with a few others who had been at the store for a few years were suddenly out of work. Brock blamed capitalistic greed, just like the others who had been, in their minds, wrongfully terminated.

After revealing the news to his parents and receiving an earful from Jay that evening once again about his lack of ambition in life and of how well his cousin Lenny was doing in Lake City at the moment managing an entire store at Victory Electronics. Ana had an idea and she called Lenny. Brock was convinced Ana was trying to embarrass Brock further but a few moments later she revealed Lenny would be able to secure Brock a job interview at the local Victory Electronics in Muralville. Now Brock really believed Lenny was going to do his best to embarrass him. Nevertheless, Brock started work there, still feeling the job was beneath him and his true calling in life was to stomp on those he felt stomped on him and consistently put him over in favor of others. But soon after he started to realize just how wrong he was and proceeded to accept his fate as a bottom of the barrel citizen.

A few years had gone by and Brock, now twenty-nine and still working the front at Victory Electronics saw on the news board that none other than Lenny himself was returning close to the area to take over as CEO at Victory Electronics headquarters in Annapolis, Pennsylvania. With that, Lenny decided to visit the store with another former classmate of theirs named Dale Detmer and his fitness loving European girlfriend. A day later both Dale and Lenny proudly announced a deal with a workout distributor that Dale worked for. Under Lenny’s leadership and at the constant urging of Dale, the well known electronics chain was now issuing a mandate that all employees of Victory Electronics pass health fitness screenings. At this, Brock decided it was time to plea at Lucks for his old job. For the first time in his life, he actually succeeded at something, convincing Lucks management to hire him back although he did have to start all the way back at the bottom again, which wasn’t any lower than Brock’s position during his first whirl at Lucks.

Brock was re-hired at Lucks and he was almost as poor of a worker now that he was during his previous run, simply going through the motions once again with no desire to move up in the company because he now thought it didn’t matter whether he tried or not and that he was destined to do this forever while watching others succeed around him. His wage was also at rock bottom once again at the new minimum. These days, a new kid almost thirteen years Brock’s junior would surpass him in everything from recognition, to earnings, to opportunities. Everytime this happened, it would burn Brock up. Oftentimes, he attempted to come up with reasons why these people are successful while he wasn’t. Brock’s reasons were far out, as if the parents of these kids were good friends with Lucks management or had connections that he didn’t have. Other reasons according to Brock were because these people happened to be more vocal than the often introverted Brock and yet another bizarre reason was because they mooched off of the work Brock did and took credit for it, all of which were false claims.

So there was Brock, still at the bottom of the rung, getting passed up by nearly every single individual he crossed paths with. The saddest part of the story is that most of these kids were starting grade school when he got the job the first time around at age nineteen. Yep, Brock was destined for the sidelines, watching others step in front and walk all over him while he played the role of grunt since it was supposedly what he was meant to do and was expected to do this with pride.


Today was Labor Day in the year 2026, and it felt like that typical early September where one would feel a small chill in the air and pristine optimism about the upcoming football season. Fall was going to come early this year. The sun was out, but the days were noticeably shorter and the cooler air was quickly making its trip back to River Valley once more while the leaves were just beginning to change to their fall colors of red, yellow, and brown.

Brock managed to get to work two minutes before he had to clock in, as his twenty-seven year old Cavalier had a very tough time getting started this morning. Brock was to work from nine in the morning to two in the afternoon. Not a bad shift, and then it was to Uncle Benny’s for the annual Labor Day cookout and get together. Brock always traveled with his parents to the party, each year being a repeat of the previous.

Now thirty-five, Brock had not looked forward to this party or any family function over the past ten years. Like at work, it appeared that everyone else was continually getting ahead of him in life. To make matters worse, he was about as important as a coat rack to most of his family these days. Brock’s living situation was now common knowledge to everyone in 2026. He was in the same line of work, driving the same car, and making almost the same amount of money. Only the year was different.

As a party ritual, Brock, his aunts, uncles, brother, cousins, and aging grandparents would take their turns in Uncle Benny’s kitchen or back porch eating anything and everything he and his wife had to offer. During these times the entire family would catch up and discuss all of the new accomplishments they achieved thus far during the year. These days, not only was it Brock’s brother and close relatives getting the attention, but in 2026, the new additions to the family received a lot of love as well as if the entire world had to know how much more advanced they were than the rest of the children in America’s society. Or at least that would be how Brock described these types of conversations in which he typically sat and had to listen in on against his will.

So there sat Brock, a look on his face that told anyone in the vicinity that he did not want to be there. In fact, the second he walked in he tried to look as angry as he possibly could. His face looked rather aged mainly due to his unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle. His face still contained blemishes while his teeth were yellowing at an alarmingly fast rate. On his face he wore a large set of glasses, complete with a bridge over the top of the frames. He was also very thin in the chest, arms, and legs although his stomach stuck out to a large extent. He stood no taller than five feet, four inches and his weight had to be roughly one hundred and forty pounds. He also possessed a very poor posture, usually hunching over rather than standing upright while he slouched in his chair rather than sit properly. To his right sat Lenny and Belinda. It was safe to say that Brock was not very happy with the seating arrangements.

Lenny and Belinda were usually the center of attention, being boasted on by Lenny’s parents who always took the opportunity at every little family gathering to provide updates about this “overachieving dream couple” as Brock liked to call them. It was one hundred times worse when the two were actually in attendance. Brock thought they may as well be offered thrones since they were such a high priority to just about everyone. It evolved over the years from what Lenny and Belinda had done to what their children were now doing. It appeared each of them had won some type of award at least twice during the year, and it was only September! Lenny, being the CEO of Victory Electronics, received a huge bonus for making several deals with other large and well known companies and he also made one with pro football’s Steel City United. He went on and on how he was “in” with several of the players and player’s families these days and how his kids had become very good friends with the children of former United running back Glenn Bell and linebacker Ryan Slayes. Brock was informed by Jay that Lenny’s oldest kid, Stanley, played quarterback on the same pop warner football team as Bell’s son, who happened to be the running back. The two were supposedly the best one-two combo in the league and this year they looked to win the championship.

Brock felt Lenny was a bully who would just whine about how he wanted things done at work and forced his inferiors to do much more than what they were hired to do. Negotiating with others, making deals, and making sound business decisions to Brock meant that Lenny was just abusing his power as CEO of Victory Electronics and inflating his own six figure salary and prestige at the expense of others.

Jed and his upstart family walked in about fifteen minutes after Brock and his parents walked in with his two young kids and wife of three years, Andrea. A few minutes later, Brock was now seated at the round kitchen table in between Jed, Andrea, Lenny, and Belinda while the four of them spoke over Brock in a little clique while he did his best to zone them out of his already more than annoyed mind. A conversation such as this would certainly boil his temper in this environment. Sadly, their aunts and uncles could not resist but keep up with Jed and Andrea’s grand life in South Carolina.

“So, how has life treated you, Jed?” asked Lenny’s mother, Maya, taking seat next to Belinda on her other side.

“Oh, you know, working hard and having a blast with these two,” answered Jed, bouncing his three year old daughter, Leah, on his knee while Andrea held their one year old son, Trey. “It’s been a great time. I’m in consideration for that big promotion and if I get that, we can afford that beach house I have been talking to dad about for the past five years. That will be a milestone. I’ll have to have you and Uncle James come down to see it. I’ll get the entire family to come down and we’ll all spend a weekend together on the coast.”

“That would be great!” said Lenny’s father, James, with loud such excitement from behind Aunt Maya that the entire kitchen turned their attention to him. “I tell you, Jed, you are going to go far in that field. You know I mean it when I’m telling you the work you and Lenny have put into your crafts have exceeded our wildest expectations. You guys stuck with it and are doing very, very well. Jed, allow me to let you in on something. Lenny has gone very far and you’re going to do the same. I can see it now. Your path will lead you further than you will ever imagine. That was a reality for Lenny and, Jed, it’s going to be a reality for you.”

At that moment Brock’s two youngest cousins walked in. There was Lonnie standing there with his girlfriend of five years, Savannah. Both Lonnie and Savannah were going to graduate school for Computer Engineering. Brock always boiled with fury whenever Lonnie would bring Savannah around. Brock never had a girlfriend in his thirty-five years of existence but if he had to build a girl from scratch, Savannah would be the result. She had perhaps the greatest look of any young girl he had seen. She possessed pale skin, a very athletic physique, and straight black hair. She was also a former Division I college track athlete who Lonnie had met a few years ago while attending Zip University and participating in track. The two started dating and would probably marry in due time, presumably when they were first finished with school.

Then there was Riley, was on his way to a graduate degree in Physics. Riley hailed from Utah and was also a former Division I athlete himself. Riley played soccer and was one of the best players in the nation a few years back, leading Steven Joseph University to a playoff berth and a run all the way to the semi-finals. Now in New Mexico, Riley was completing his final lap of school.

“How’s school, you two?” asked Brock’s eighty-four year old grandmother, Noella. .

“Been great,” said Lonnie, playfully bumping Savannah with a rather muscular arm while Brock shook with fury, shooting a glare under his large glasses at Lonnie who took no notice of him. “I’m currently working with a team on a research project that we will present to the head of our department as part of a final due at the end of the spring semester in which I will graduate and receive multiple letters of recommendations to a diverse selection of jobs.”

“My response would echo Lonnie’s,” said Riley importantly. “I’m currently looking to get into S.P.A.W.N. It’s one of the newer companies out there but there’s potential. I like my chances a lot.”

Brock was gazing in on the scene in a view far outside himself. He looked around the room while Riley was talking and noticed his grandmother leaning heavily on the counter, looking rather frail in her old age. Seemingly from a distance he saw Riley, Savannah, and Lonnie standing in front of the cabinets while Ana came inside from a portion of the party conversing on the back porch.

“Brock, let your grandmother sit down,” snapped her stern voice from behind him. “Why on Earth would you keep yourself in that seat when she obviously looks very tired?”

Typically Ana was the more caring and sympathetic one to Brock’s life of misery and living situation but her demeanor tended to change when there were people around. At these times her strict side would flare up like an inferno. One of the main reasons why Brock hated seeing the whole family was because he never managed to do anything right in front of either parent and each nearly always found a reason to be hard on him such as right now when he was merely sitting in the middle seat at the long kitchen table, doing nothing wrong except for picturing himself throwing the table aside and throwing a vicious punch in Lonnie’s face.

Brock turned and looked directly his mother, who was frozen in the doorway, glaring right at him.

“What?” asked Brock, taken aback at her remark.

“Get out of that chair and let your grandmother sit down,” said his mother, a little more harshly, the room’s attention now dawning on the potentially escalating situation at hand. To be honest, it wasn’t terribly long ago when a rather serious incident involving Brock at a Christmas party unfolded and it may be in the best interest of everyone in the room that a situation like that not happen again.

“She’s eighty-four and you know she can’t be on her feet for too long. You let her sit down. Now. Right now!” she snapped, her voice starting to rise.

Brock looked around, face reddening in embarrassment as had been the norm at parties for the past twenty plus years. Literally everyone went quiet and had their eyes on him now. Jed, Andrea, Belinda, Lenny, Riley, Lonnie, Savannah, and everyone else in the kitchen were now studying him with deep observance as if he were some freak sideshow. Silently, and keeping his mother in his direct line of sight, Brock slowly got up out of his chair and walked solemnly over to the counter, leaning up against it carelessly and folded his arms, pouting. He didn’t take his eyes off of his mother this entire time as he continued to glare at her from his new base.

“Act your age,” said his mother sharply in front of the entire kitchen, taking a few steps toward Brock as everyone else continued to look on the scene unfolding in front of them.

Brock turned away, facing the refrigerator, where no one was standing. “Do you really need to act like this in front of everyone?” he whispered, doing his best to keep this conversation private. He felt the eyes of everyone on him. Even his younger cousin Stanley looked on with curiosity with a little bit of a smirk on his face as if he knew his dork of a cousin was in big trouble and looked like he was going to enjoy every single second of this. Also a norm. .

“You know better than to make your grandparents stand for too long,” she said, her voice unfortunately carrying to the others who were seated, where they maintained their interest on the scene unfolding in front of them. “They are both in their eighties and yet you think you’re the one entitled to a seat? Well you better think again!”

“What did he do now?” came the voice of his dad.

Brock looked and saw Jay striding up behind Ana as if he had known something was going on in the kitchen that involved his son. Brock was now doing his best to wake up from this horrible nightmare. Unfortunately for Brock, it was no nightmare.

“He thinks he needs to hog chairs when his grandmother have nowhere to sit,” Ana relayed to Jay, her voice very well within earshot of the still silent kitchen. Now others squeezed their way into the vicinity out of curiosity to find the source of commotion. Apparently his mother’s voice carried beyond the kitchen and into the living room and the back porch.

“Mom, it’s only one seat and-” Brock attempted to explain a little loudly as if he were trying to justify his position with the entire kitchen, but his father interjected.

“Don’t talk back to your mother, Brock” he said loudly, firmly grabbing the front of Brock’s shirt and pulling him forward a bit. “You want another showdown right here? Because I’ll hand one to you right now and show you how tough you are in front of everyone and don’t think I won’t! Maybe you ought to remember what happened last time, kiddo, because I can guarantee you I will not be so easy on you this time around, tough guy.”

“So, what time is the dessert coming out?” asked Riley’s dad, Brock’s Uncle Sev, who was seated at the end of the table. Uncle Sev looked as if he were attempting to ease up the tension but it didn’t do much good for Brock. “Anyone know? I’m ready when everyone else is. It should be about that time, shouldn’t it, Grandma Noella?”

“Guys, I’m thirty-five,” Brock pleaded, still trying to keep his voice low.

“Then act like it,” said Jay even more loudly, drowning out his grandmother’s reply to Uncle Sev.

Brock drew a breath. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” he said. “Can we please just let this pass?”

“Start acting your age,” said Jay, walking over to the other side of the kitchen and grabbing a beer from one of the coolers before making his way back into the living room as his mother swept back outside to gossip. “And learn how to  show respect to other people. If you’re a mature thirty-five year old you should have figured out how to treat others by now.”

Brock looked around. All eyes were still on him, except for Uncle Sev who was still talking about the desserts, now doing so in a very loud and obnoxious tone.

“Yep, I hope we have some awesome stuff,” he yelled, looking wildly at everyone else who were still gazing at Brock and his parents. “What do you think, Lenny? More of the good stuff, right? Yep! Yes sir, yes sir!”

No matter how badly Uncle Sev tried to lighten the tense mood it wasn’t working. Brock took one more look around at the faces in the kitchen and then impulsively decided to tear through the party. He bolted in a beeline from the kitchen to the porch, accidentally stepping on someone or something but not stopping to see who it was as they groaned in pain while his dad yelled from behind him to apologize to whomever he just tripped over. This just catapulted him to run faster. He made his way to the door and tore off into the the cool, clear evening of the ever dying summer.

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