Part Two: Chapter One

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What can Atlas say…he was bored in the two hour “practice session” and challenged himself to stealing as many wallets as he could before someone caught on (no one did). He can’t help himself, and as Chris starts questioning the teens about their missing items, Atlas gives him a smug salute. Before his stepfather can tackle him to the ground, Atlas disappears into the crowd. Perhaps Chris will find the wallets stacked in the men’s locker room trash can, still stuffed with bills and credit cards under their parents’ names, and perhaps he won’t.

Atlas finds Mary in the parking lot. Sitting on the hood of a black BMW convertible, she surveys the crowd like a princess would survey the peasants of her kingdom. The last time Atlas saw her she stood below his favorite tree and told him that as soon as he graduated from high school, they would put their thieving skills to good use. After tricking him into stealing from their own parents, bank robbers who abandoned them when they were just kids, the promise was the least she could do.  

“Do I want to know where you got the car?” Atlas runs a finger along the spotless chrome.” Or should I say stole?”

“Do I want to know who hid all the wallets of the recent graduates?” she volleys back.

“Touché.”

After he puts his duffel bag in the trunk and removed his gown, Atlas climbs in next to Mary. He relaxes into the familiar feeling of his black skinny jeans and rock band t-shirt as the air conditioning lightly cools his face and mop of sweaty black hair.

“Where’re we going?” he asks. “Wait, more importantly, have your driving skills improved since last summer?” He buckles his seatbelt and tries not to think of Mary driving Max’s van as the makeup artist tried to secure a Billy Idol wig on Atlas’s head.

Mary pulls out of the parking lot to a chorus of squealing breaks. “I don’t know, you tell me.”

****

In the typical Mary fashion, she says little about what she’s been doing for a year, and she doesn’t mention Atlas and Lana’s long-distance breakup. Instead, she asks him questions about his classes: What level math did he take? How were his grades? Did he feel confident in his knowledge of US History?

“What is this, an investigation?” he finally asks as he finds a rock station to drown out her questions. “My grades were great, though I never studied and never went to class. Why does it matter? I’m done with all of that.”

“Right.” Mary focuses on the road ahead, but he can tell there’s something on her mind that she’s not saying.

Atlas identifies the song for her in order to make small talk: “Highway to Hell. You know it?”

“Never heard of it.”

“What about You Shook Me All Night Long? Thunderstruck?

“Nope.”

“But Dad used to play them for us all the time.”

Mary shuts the radio off and turns to him as much as a person can while she’s driving. “Listen Kid, he’s not my dad. I’ve pretty much blocked out the first few years of my life entirely, and I’d appreciate if we could end this little therapy session before I remember them again. You’re the only part of that life that I want intersecting with this one, and we’ll leave it at that.”    

“Selective amnesia. I like it.”

“Sure, you could call it that. I call it survival.”

“I think I’ll try that with Chris and Andrea, though I doubt it’ll work.”

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