The Hot Babysitter

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In the previous episode, Max realized that Tala brought a great deal to the Goodnight home. He also recognized he had to talk to someone about how he felt and on his way to see his father, he found Tala and Zane talking intimately with one another. In a fit of rage, readers voted that he grabbed the keys to the van and ran off to visit his mother’s grave.

Episode 13

Normally when a 14 year-old boy drives a car he feels either a sense of elation, or a sense of paranoia, fearing he’s going to get caught. But all Max felt was anger fueled by jealously and betrayal.

West Texas is crawling with attractive women who are more age appropriate for Zane. Why even look at Tala? It was illogical Max thought. Of course the problem with being logical is, you sort of have to apply the same logic to yourself. He is younger than she. Typically the female of the species is attracted to older males for some bone-headed reason. Max was starting to wonder if the special bond he and Tala had was even real. Every glance, every wispy touch, every word spoken in her smooth voice — Max had given all of that meaning. But was it a real, true connection? Or imagined? As he drove, his anger gave way to confusion which led to sadness. And when Max gets sad, he needs his mother.

Max stopped. He parked the van in the church lot, and made his way to a tombstone bearing his mother’s name. The full “Comanche moon” lit cemetery in cool blue light. All was quiet. Only the sounds of nature. Wind rustling leaves and grass. Crickets. An owl. Max sat next to his mother’s granite headstone, and leaned against it.

“What should I do?”

Max didn’t believe in ghosts. But for some reason he really thought he might hear her. The mystical feeling Max sometimes gets when he lays aside the dread of his future, and the regret of his past, and focus entirely on the miracle of now. Right now. It doesn’t happen often, but when all is quiet and only nature “talks,” this is when the feeling comes.

But Max didn’t hear anything. At least no words. But he felt something, and that something was his answer. Where did the answer come from? Was it right? Max had no idea. The mystical feeling is a moment of clarity, but not a moment of certainty.

Max’s mind shifted. He thought of his mother. The memory was brief but clear. Of course the mystical feeling was displaced — that was fine. He had his answer. He felt he knew now what to do.

* * *

Back at the Goodnight ranch, Zane stood at the front door, furious. Max had been pulled over. The Deputy was a fan of Zane’s and didn’t want to arrest his son. So he called and woke the Sheriff, and the Sheriff called Zane. The van was parked in a Krispy Kreme parking lot, and Max was on his way, being driven by the Deputy in charge.

When they arrived, Max was sent immediately to his room while Zane spoke with the Deputy. Max had not been driving recklessly. The only reason he pulled the boy over was, he could see who it was and the Deputy wanted to make sure everything was all right. No charges were pressed. The Sheriff knew Zane would press his own “charges.” Palo Duro Canyon’s finest were done — but Max and Zane were only beginning.

“What the hell were you thinking?!” Zane asked in raised volume. When Max heard this he became more fearful. The Goodnight’s are Christians. Max was taught by both parents to never swear. If his dad was so angry that he was willing to break his own rule — it was going to get ugly.

Sure enough, Zane paced back and forth like a caged gorilla, ranting about the dangers of driving and the legal trouble he could’ve gotten in. Tala, in her room, could hear Zane going off. She felt terrible, but knew Zane was right. Zane is the man. The dad. It is his responsibility to discipline. In life, actions have consequences. And when a kid does something wrong, but somehow dodges the “consequence bullet,” it is up to the father to create a consequence so a lesson is learned.

But Tala’s a woman. She’s not Max’s mother, but she does have maternal feelings for him. Her instinct is to nurture. To give the punishment context. To explain that, what the dad said, and the punishment he meted out was in fact, for the child’s own good. She couldn’t wait for Zane to leave so she gave Max comfort. But curiously, it suddenly got quiet.

In Max’s room, Zane had railed for several minutes. But when he asked; Where were you even going? He was silenced, taken aback by Max’s reply. “I wanted to see mom,” was his answer.

It wasn’t meant as manipulation. It was a simple, honest answer. But when Max took the conversation there, it was NOT a place where Zane wanted to go. He tried to recover, re-build his outrage and continue… but he couldn’t. Zane had been halted. All he could say was; “We’re not done here,” as he hurried out the door.

Zane couldn’t sleep. He sat alone on the back porch sipping his Makers Mark. He was calmer now. He knew that Max could drive. No one was truly in danger. He did break the law though. That had to be dealt with. Then Zane recalled a few times when, as a teenager, he had done some equally stupid, technically law-breaking things. He’s a kid, Zane reminded himself. And he misses his mother. How can I punish him for that?

The next morning, Zane told Max; “No more symphonies for two months.” Zane knew it was more of a symbolic than harsh punishment, but at least now it was over. He drove Tala and Max to the Krispy Kreme, Tala and Max hopped into the van and made their way to school. They didn’t talk much — Max was deep in thought about his plan. He still felt he was losing Tala to his dad but hadn’t given up. And if you’re going to do battle with a cowboy, there’s only one logical thing you can do. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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