Taylor twittered around on the Web for an hour after getting himself and William home while he waited for his mother to arrive home. He had debated what, if anything, he should tell her about Philomena's threat. It seemed silly to bother his Mom with something like that, but he remembered Philomena's face and the certainty there. Coupled with his feeling she was more than capable of following through, Taylor determined to say something to her.
Two hours passed and Taylor was certain his mom should be home. He went to the land line to call her cell when he heard keys in the door and he slammed the phone down.
“Ma?“ he shouted across the apartment.
“Mommy!“ came William's jubilant shout. Taylor swallowed hard, not wanting to lose his resolve. He ran to the front room and as soon as he saw her he knew something was wrong.
"Ma? What's wrong?“ Taylor said.
June Zachary wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
She choked up for a second and clung to William as though he were a lifeboat. She waved Taylor over and wrapped her arms around him as well, squeezed him tight and shuddered with slight, barely controlled sobs.
“I... um. I was fired today.“ June said finally.
“Fired?“ Taylor said, his voice strangely incredulous. Though he had been about to warn her of the very thing, it was incredible it could have happened already. A sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach accompanied the face of Philomena Behrstable in his mind's eye.
“How? I mean... it's... what happened?“ Taylor managed to croak out.
But June was too choked up and didn't reply, instead squeezed William tighter and pulled Taylor into the hug as well. Despite her mild sobbing it felt nice to Taylor. She drew back and wiped her eyes with the back of her hands.
“I don't know, really.“ June said finally. “Mrs. Janus came to see me just after school ended... she said... said my services would no longer be needed. She also said I need not ask why, there was nothing to be done about it, the order came from the top.“ June laughed, a short derisive bark. “I didn't want to believe it, but when I left the school Headmaster Ballard waved at me, like nothing was wrong and I just could not bring myself to face the man and ask why, not while he was smiling at me like nothing was wrong, it was just awful.“ June laughed again, rubbed her eyes one last time then smiled. “Well, what do you boys want for dinner? I feel like doing something special!”
Taylor barely heard William shout “Angel's!“, which was a cheesy but tasty faux Italian bistro on First Avenue and 65th street they had eaten at their first weekend in town. A loud insistent buzzing clogged up Taylor's ears and he felt he was falling down a narrow tunnel. Several hard shakes of his head finally dispelled the feeling and he knew he had missed something.
“What?“ he said confused, blinked at his mother.
“I said, 'Is Angel's OK with you?'“ his mother said, tentatively, then put a hand to his forehead, “Are you OK, son?“ Taylor blinked away her concern and smiled, a forced expression.
“Um. Yeah. Sure. But I can't go out to dinner Ma. I have so much homework and I really need to be studying tonight.“ Taylor said through his forced smile. A plan already formed itself in his head, had been building in his subconscious since Philomena's threat earlier. As he zoned out the plan took full shape and with a rugged certainty, mostly free of fear or anxiety, Taylor knew no matter the risks he was going to make sure she paid for doing this to his mother. It was one thing to continuously pick on Taylor himself, to humiliate him time and again, even to hurt him, beat him up. That was acceptable. It was life as a teenage boy. But there was a line and everyone knew that. Mothers are off limits. Even as Taylor had this thought he wondered if maybe Philomena Behrstable didn't know what everyone else knew. Maybe she's so rich she doesn't know, like George Bush and milk. Did she act alone or had Parker had a hand in it? Grimacing, Taylor realized it didn't matter. He would go after all four of them. Philomena and Phaedra, Parker and Lil J. His grimace turned into a smile, predatory and hungry.
“Taylor? Hon?“ June said, seeing her son's face. “Are you sure you're OK?“ She ran a soft hand across Taylor's shoulder, comforting him.
“Yeah, Mom. Really. I just... need to do this homework. You guys have fun, you deserve it.“ Taylor mumbled.
June looked unsure but William started bouncing around with pre-dinner excitement and June's focused shifted to the younger boy. “What do you say we go see a movie before dinner, lil' man?“ June tickled William's sides, produced rounds of giggling.
“Yay!“ William shouted.
Fifteen minutes later Taylor was alone in the apartment, his mother and brother off to the movies and a late dinner, his father at work for the rest of the evening. Taylor looked at his watch and made quick calculations for how long it would take June and William to see a movie and have dinner after. He figured he was good until Just around 10PM, ten-thirty at most. Nodding to himself he was sure it would be enough time. Though how he could be sure was really beyond him, he was about to do something he had never done before, about to take his hacking to a new level and he should have been nervous, afraid or unsure, but he wasn't. Not really. He was was angry and hurt. As he twirled his mother's Employee Access Card from Willow Prep around his hand he smiled, grimly.
They're going to regret messing with me.