Josh planted his body firmly in front of the door, his arms outstretched. He directed a fierce burning gaze at his father, who was sitting in his favorite chair reading the paper.
“I won’t let them take him away,” Josh said with all the passion in his fourteen-year-old heart. “I won’t!” he added with special emphasis.
“Don’t be a brat. He’s going.” His father hardly bothered looking up from his paper.
Josh heard the two men climb the steps and walk to the front door. The doorbell rang.
“Open the door,” his father ordered calmly.
“No.” Josh had never felt so determined.
His father put down his paper. “Open the goddamn door!”
“He’s not going!” Josh shouted back at him. He could see the rage building in his father as he got to his feet. It scared the heck out of him, but he wasn’t about to back down now.
“Open the door before I tan your hide!”
The shouting brought his mother running into the room. “Stop all that yelling. You’re upsetting Scott!” She stopped short at the sound of the doorbell.
“Oh, my. They’re here.” She wrung her hands and looked nervously back and forth between father and son. “Please,” she begged, “I don’t want them to hear us arguing. They might decide not to take him.”
He didn’t understand his mother at all anymore. How could she be doing this to her own son? It was all up to him. “They’re not taking him, anyway.” He glared at his father.
The discussion ended right there.
Josh’s father took two steps toward him and gave him a blow to the side of his head that sent him flying across the room, then he calmly turned to his wife, who was staring at him, horrified. “What the hell are you waiting for? Go get the kid.”
She looked helplessly at Josh, who was sprawled on the floor with blood trailing out of his mouth and down his chin. She wanted to come to him, but she wouldn’t. He had come to expect very little of her in the past few years. She did as she was told, as Josh knew she would.
His mother went back into the bedroom and came out holding a small suitcase, leading Scott by the hand. His father opened the door.
“No!” Josh screamed and, gathering all his strength, flew across the room, trying to slam the door shut, but his father was too fast for him. In full view of the two men from the institute who had come to pick up Scott, he landed a punch in Josh’s stomach that doubled him over with the worst pain he had ever felt in his life. He lay on the floor moaning and clutching his stomach and heard his father say, “Take him.” Then the door closed, and his mother started crying softly.
The last thing he remembered before everything turned black was the creak in the springs of his father’s chair and the rustling of the paper as his father continued reading as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
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