In the previous episode, Max returned home to Tala putting her backpack, full of their silverware, into her car. After changing the subject quickly, Tala retrieved some whiskey from the house, then sitting with Max on the front porch and talking with him. As they spoke, readers voted that across town the sheriff finds an earring in the yellow pickup.
The old yellow pick-up had been impounded by the Palo Duro Sheriff’s department. Before the Sheriff went home that evening, he decided to, once again, search the cab for anything that might lead to the man seen on the store’s close circuit video. As he ran his hand in-between the back and the seat cushions, his finger was pricked by a tiny metal rod. When he dug out the rod he saw that it was the post of a small pearl earring.
This was the first time it even occurred to him; what if the man they’re looking for isn’t a man at all? He raced back inside to review the surveillance video once again.
* * *
The next morning, Tala drove a fidgety Max to school. Being a skinny, non-cowboy freshman was an unpleasant experience that Max endured every single weekday. Now that Tala’s working for them, he no longer has an excuse to ditch.
“Let me off here,” he said.
Tala looked at Max curiously, but did pull over. Max made his way, walking to the school as Tala watched. She then looked in the backseat. The backpack with the silverware was still there. She gazed at it for a long moment, then back at Max — she turned the wheel, and sped off.
The Palo Duro Canyon public school parking lot was teeming with teenagers. A loud, obnoxious country/Western song blared as Max approached. He navigated past the pick-ups sporting Confederate flags, gun racks, and monster tires. At the school steps, hundreds of high school kids wearing cowboy garb milled about. Max walked past them, but at the door, he was stopped.
“Well, well, well — look at this.” It was a senior boy, Butch Capo, the loud-mouth leader of a four cowboy posse. They blocked Will’s entrance as they continued.
“What’s your name, ninth grader?”
“That’s Zane Goodnight’s kid.” Said one of the other seniors.
“Really,” said Butch, “Zane Goodnight has a gay son?”
The teen cowboys laughed as Max rolled his eyes.
“So, Parker — what’s with the girly outfit?” Butch said, referring to Max’s plain shirt, jeans and skate shoes.
“He’s special, Butch,” said another, “Didn’t you know that?”
“Is that right? You dress in college-boy clothes ‘cause you think you’re smart? You think you’re better than us?” Butch said, poking Max in the chest, while his posse laughed. “Well you know what I think? I think you’re too dumb to dress yourself. I think your mommy dressed you this morning!”
Silence. Max averted his eyes as the teen cowboys shifted, uncomfortably.
“Dude. That wasn’t funny,” said one cowboy.
The cowboy posse looked at Will, uncomfortable.
“What? What’s wrong with you fags?” Butch demanded.
“Get outta here, Max,” said one of the posse, standing aside as Butch watches, confused.
“Hey! I’m messin’ with him…”
“His mom died, dude” one of the teen cowboys explained. “It’s not cool.”
Butch nodded, unsure what to say.
“Well, come on, I didn’t know.”
Inside, at the lockers, Max saw his old friend Spike. Spike is also a freshman, and also dressed like an academic, NOT a cowboy. Though unlike Max, he’s fairly doughy.
“Hey,” said Spike, “where you been?”
“Rosario quit and my dad was gone so…”
“You hear about Nevils?”
“What about him?” Max asked.
Mr. Nevils was the bachelor biology teacher. He was in his 30’s and everyone wondered why he never married.
“I heard he killed himself,” said Spike.
“What? Why would he do that?”
“What am I, Freud?” Spike retorted, “People do stupid stuff when they get all emotional.”
“What got him all emotional?”
“What do you think? He was in love with some girl,” Spike lamented, “and he was a biology teacher! Of all people, he should’ve known better. Idiot.”
Both boys shook their heads. As Spike left, Max noticed something odd — Spike was wearing his typical button down shirt and khakis, but on his feet… cowboy boots.
At noon, the Sheriff was in his office, reviewing the surveillance video with his team. They had determined that, it was possible that the “man” in the video, hopping into the yellow pick-up, might be a woman.
Just then, they got a call that struck him as very odd… Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.
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