Chapter One: Dana Point
"Damn you, Dylan! Get out! Now!”
The night before, my stepdad Steven spoke in front of 18,000 at the Honda Center, urging them to live to their full God-given potential or some shit like that. That morning, he yelled at me in the front entryway of our house like I was some drunk who puked all over his $1,000 shoes. Behind him, Mom screamed at me uncontrollably. I couldn’t make out a word she said. Just blasts of hateful air burning out of her lungs.
“You’ve humiliated us for the last time!”
I don’t know what I did. If it happened the night before, I didn’t remember. I don’t remember anything when I go out partying. I figure that if I don’t remember, I had a good time. But I wished I remembered that morning. If I had, I would’ve apologized for it. Not that I would’ve meant it, but it would’ve stopped what was going to happen next.
“You’re 18 now, Dylan! We don’t have to put up with your garbage anymore!”
I didn’t want to put up with their garbage either. I was planning to move out after I graduated high school. Except I wasn’t going to graduate. I was failing at Dana Hills High School. I did pretty well in elementary school. They even recommended me for the honors program. But I just got bored of school in seventh grade. Mom and Steven sent me to a military prep academy in eleventh grade and made Dad pay for it. I was kicked out of that school. I went back to Dana Hills until I dropped out. I was planning to go back and get a GED in the fall. If Mom and Steven would let me stay.
“If you don’t want to be here and follow our rules, you can get out!”
And Mom said the only intelligible words I heard from her that morning, “And you can go live with your father, you ungrateful little shit!”
There was only one thing I could do.
“Where are you going!?” Steven stood between me and the stairway.
“Getting my stuff.”
“Oh, no, buddy boy.” He stuck his arms out to the sides as if he were making some magical invisible barrier. “We paid for all your stuff from the money we earned. That’s right! We earned it, and you didn’t! You take what we give you. No Xbox. No MacBook Air. Nothing.” He then stared at the rectangular bulge in my front pocket. “And forget about using your iPhone. We shut off the service this morning.”
I stood in front of what was my house and watched my clothes get thrown out of a second-story window. Steven didn’t look at me as he replaced the deadbolt on the front door.
They didn’t take my keys. That meant I still had my Ford Explorer. Dad gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday, and there was no fucking way they’d take that away from me. When the last pair of underwear landed on the front step. I gathered up the pile one armful at a time and tossed it in the back of the Explorer. They didn’t give me everything. They didn’t give me my favorite Hundreds t-shirt. Or my Angels jersey with number 58 for Wayne Morgan. It wasn’t any good anyway because he was traded last year to the Royals. I would’ve liked to keep my Dana Hills High School Dolphins sweatshirt. I don’t give a fuck about the school, but it was the warmest one I had.
When I threw the last of my socks in the back, Steven had already finished replacing the deadbolt and shut the door. The upstairs window had already been shut and the shutters tightly closed. The downstairs drapes were shut tight too. Perhaps they were watching me with their security cameras. Or maybe they didn’t care to see if I left.
I thought about shouting a final “Fuck you!” and squealing the tires as I pulled out of their driveway. But I didn’t care either.