Chapter 22

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Chapter 22

       "I swear Munro, if you don't put your damn shoes on, I will do something you'll regret!" came Laughlin's voice from inside the house. Laughlin called me, asking me if I could stop by his house before school to help with his brothers. His grandma went to work early and his dad was doing volunteer work.

       I knocked on the front door, which was opened by Nick. "Hi, Elliot!" he said. "Laughlin is yelling again."

       "I know, I heard," I said. "Can I come in?"

       Nick nodded and stepped aside, allowing me to walk in. Munro was running around the house, carrying his shoes with him. Laughlin was chasing him, a furious expression written on his face.

       "How long have they been doing this?" I asked.

       "I dunno," Nick said. "Laughlin said it was time to go but Munro didn't want to put his shoes on."

       Something told me that Munro didn't want to go to school because of something specific.

       When Munro saw me, he ran and hid behind me. "Save me, Elliot!"

       "Laughlin," I said as he stood in front of me. "Calm down."

       "Calm down?" he asked. "He's irritating me!"

       "Let me talk to him," I said. "Take Nick to your car."

       Laughlin's only reply was grumbling as he walked out of his house with Nick following.

       I turned to Munro and knelt down in front of him. "What's going on?" I asked.

       "Nothing," Munro said. "I just wanted to bug him because it's fun."

       "Something happened at school," I said. "Didn't it?"

       Munro sighed and nodded. "Those guys told me that my dad is just going to go to prison again and he doesn't love us."

       I sighed, feeling hatred for the boys that had been bullying Munro. "Don't listen to them, okay? They've never met your dad before, but I have. I know he loves the three of you very much. Laughlin even told me that he was the best dad ever, it's just his choices outside of the home that was bad."

       "You don't get it," Munro said. "Those three guys are everywhere I go. They won't leave me alone."

       "Ignore them," I said. "The bullies only do it for a reaction. You know how you bug Laughlin to get him angry, but once he calms down, you stop? It's like that. If you, say, pretend they don't exist, they will stop. Or you could make a friend."

       "Nobody wants to be my friend," Munro said. "They all think I'm like my brother. A troublemaker who gets into fights."

       I sighed once again, not knowing how to help Munro. I wish I knew how to help, but I hadn't been in his situation before.

       "School's going to start soon," I said. "Just take my advice, okay?"

       Munro nodded, so I stood up and we went outside. I was about to get into my car, but Laughlin stopped me. "Not so fast, Ellie," she said. "I'll drive you to school."

       "And how will I get home afterwards?" I asked.

       "Simple. I drive you back here so you can get your car."

       "Fine," I said, knowing he wouldn't take no for an answer. I got into the passenger seat of Laughlin's car before he drove to Munro and Nick's school.

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