Chapter 26: Ryan

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Then Ryan was in an office where two staff members were going through his stuff

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Then Ryan was in an office where two staff members were going through his stuff. "An inventory," they had called it.

"It's basically just so we know what you're coming in with, because sometimes things get lost or stolen, and it helps to have a list," said the twenty-something man with a goatee and a t-shirt for a band called Arctic Monkeys. Ryan didn't remember his name.

"And to check for contraband," added the also twenty-something woman with most of her blonde hair buzzed except for a shock of pink that hung in her eyes. Ryan didn't remember her name, either.

"Sharps, drugs, things like that," the man agreed.

Ryan nodded and otherwise stared at various spots around the office. His eyes might land on a patched-over spot of wall that hadn't been painted yet, or the scuffed tabletop, or the list on the whiteboard titled "Restricted." He wasn't worried about them finding anything.

"Razor," said the man, and the woman recorded it on her list, then put it on the desk.

"We'll have to keep this in the office," the woman told him. "We'll keep your shaving cream too. Anytime you need to shave you just have to ask. It's just precautionary."

Ryan nodded.

"Blue polo shirt, striped," the man said. "White polo shirt. White t-shirt, plain. Gray t-shirt, plain."

All of his possessions, recorded on sheets of paper. He barely owned anything.

In the other room, a television blared. From the kitchen came the smells of food cooking. Two boys had been in the beginning stages of making dinner when Ryan had first arrived. One was a Hispanic boy wearing low-slung jeans and a tight black t-shirt. The other was a white boy so skinny his clothes drowned him. His hair hung from his scalp in greasy clumps.

"Ohhh-kay, what's this," said the man.

The rattle of pills in bottles woke Ryan up a little.

"Ryan? Can I ask why you have two bottles of your mother's prescription narcotics in your bag?" the man asked.

His mouth had gone dry. He just stared at the two bottles he'd almost completely forgotten about.

"Leigh, maybe you should grab his social worker."

Ryan watched the pink-haired woman named Leigh get up and lean out into the living room, where Allison had gone to sit and talk with another one of her clients.

"Ryan, this is very serious. Do you have an explanation for this?" the man asked again.

"It was..." Ryan's voice cracked. He swallowed. "It was just in case."

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