Chapter Thirteen

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Ordinarily Zack would not have heard his phone ringing over the sounds of the band practising. It was only since he had learned he was a father that he'd become super-attuned to his ringtone, a stereophonic version of This Is Halloween. He was forever conscious of the fact that Maria could call with news of Dakota, or that Lysander could call if there was an emergency. So when he heard it start to ring just before midday, he dropped everything and left the garage to answer it—leaving behind him a disgruntled bassist and a chuckling guitarist.

'Mr Bennett? James Randall here. Do you have a moment?'

Zack pulled the door shut behind him, dulling the sound of the still-drumming Aaron. He retreated further into the empty house after this, ensuring he was in a place where he wouldn't miss a word of whatever conversation was about to transpire. James Randall. The name struck a chord within him, but he couldn't place where he knew the it from.

'Sure,' he replied without hesitation, his mind still reeling. 'How can I help you, Mr Randall?'

'I'm afraid it's about your son, Lysander.'

James Randall, Zack suddenly recalled with startling clarity, was the principal of the high school. He was kicking himself internally for not having picked up on this straight away—these were the sorts of things he should have committed to memory.

'Is he all right?' he asked quickly. 'He's not hurt, is he?'

'A little bruised, I'm sure, but nothing fatal.' Before Zack had a chance to enquire further about the nature of his son's condition, James Randall said, 'He got himself into a fight.'

Zack's heart sank.

'A fight?' he repeated. Maybe he'd misheard. 'Are you sure?'

'Quite sure. And I'm sorry to say this isn't the first time.'

Of all the things that his son could have inherited from him, Zack had hoped that a knack for getting into fights wouldn't be one of them. But it seemed he was out of luck. He ran a hand through his hair, unsure of what his next words should be. Was he supposed to apologise on behalf of his son? Promise that the boy would be disciplined appropriately?

James Randall must have senses his unease.

'You understand, I'm sure, that Lysander's actions cannot be ignored. He and the other boys involved have been suspended for the rest of the week. And should this happen again, further punishment will be required.'

Suspended. Well, it could have been worse. Zack nodded wordlessly before remembering that the high school's principal couldn't see him.

'Thank you,' he said. 'I'm sorry about this, Mr Randall. I'll be sure to have words with him.'

'I'm sure you will.' There was a moment in which the principal was silent, but then he said, 'The last time this happened I expressed my concerns to Mr Maverick that he was, perhaps, acting out because of his mother's death. I offered him the services of our school counsellor, but he declined. Obviously you would know him better than most. I was wondering if you felt it would be necessary.'

The question threw him off. Lysander rarely mentioned his mother and, as much as he was ashamed to admit it, Zack never gave much thought to the woman either. Besides the one time that Lysander had broken down in front of him, Zack never got the impression that her death was affecting his son anymore than it would have affected any other child. Sure, the boy missed her, kept her photograph on his bedroom nightstand and probably thought about her all the time. But he had never acted out because of it. Zack wondered whether these fights really were a result of pent up emotion.

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