Schoolbag slung over my shoulder, I shuffle towards Dad’s office. His personal receptionist, Rita, greets me with her usual wide smile. “Thomas, what can I do for you today?”
“I’m here to see my dad,” I tell her. “I wanted to catch him before his lunch break.”
Rita purses her lips and she pulls a slight frown. I nod at her. “I know, he’s very busy, but this isn’t personal. I need to talk to him about something as the Mayor, not as my dad.” She nods curtly. “He’s in his office. As far as I know, he’s alone.”
I smile weakly and head towards the door. I feel bad about just lying to Rita, because knowing my dad, she’ll have a bit of a talking to later over letting me approach him at work. What I wanted to talk to him about is personal, but I feel that as Mayor, he’s probably the best person to talk to about this. And, he’s rarely home anyway, so I never really get a chance to talk to him about anything. My dad and I aren’t exactly close. We don’t have a huge bond, so it’ll be easier to talk to him as a resident of Eventide rather than as his son, if that makes sense.
I’m standing at his office door, inching my clenched fist closer to the wood. My hand’s resting an inch before the surface of the door. I want to knock. I need to talk to him but I don’t want to interrupt him from work. He’s not exactly understanding towards that kind of thing. I’ll probably be greeted by an impatient scowl and a quick dismissal from the office. But, it’s worth a shot, I guess. I draw my hand back and bring it closer to the door again.
“Faye, I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this,” Dad states. He’s not alone. He’s with Mum, which is weird. She doesn’t usually dare approach him at work either. I lower my hand and tune into Mum’s response.
“Luke,” she retorts. “Thomas is our son. Don’t you dare turn around and tell me you can’t spare five minutes to talk about him.”
My nose wrinkles at this response. “Look, Faye, it’s unfortunate that the poor kid died and that he was a close friend to Thomas, but I cannot do anything about it. I don’t have time, as insensitive as that may sound.”
I swallow at Dad’s response. I know that it’s true and that he doesn’t really have the time, but it feels like my dad is labeling me as an inconvenience. And that kind of hurts. I can hear Mum releasing a tetchy sigh. There’s definitely an argument brewing here, and if it doesn’t escalate right here, right now, that’ll mean a bout of tension back at home tonight. “Luke, would you forget about the fact that you are Mayor and own half of this goddamn town for a minute? I don’t care if you feel overwhelmed by the amount of businesses you are trying to run while also trying to lead this town right now. Because our son is a lot more important. He comes first. He was sobbing his heart out this morning over Alex. You weren’t there to see it. You’re never there and it’s time you started. Thomas needs you. He needs you to be his father. And if you want to carry on putting your job first, then at least, focus your attention on one of the biggest issues in this town.”
My eyes widen. Is she referring to--. “What are you talking about, Faye?”
“The Grim Reaper,” she hisses. “If you want to focus on work, then focus on finding out who he is and getting him locked up.”
Mum and I must be telepathic somehow, because this is exactly what I came to discuss with him. I lean to the door to eavesdrop on Dad’s hushed response. “I can’t do anything about that,” he snaps.
I raise my eyebrow. “Luke,” Mum objects. “This killer is targeting the people of Eventide. This town. The town that you supposedly care so much about that you wanted to be Mayor of it. If you cared about the people, about your son, you would do something about it.”
I’m glad that Mum is telling him this, but I don’t want them to be fighting because of me. I also wish she hadn’t let it slip that I was crying this morning. I don’t want Dad to think I’m weak. “My role in the town is not that huge, Faye. And I’m sorry, but I cannot help Thomas.”
Everything’s fallen silent in the room. I can’t see them, obviously, but I can imagine that right about now, Dad is sinking into his wheeled leather office chair and Mum is standing before him, an expression of hurt across her face, as she’s conjuring up a sharp response. “It’s not that you cannot help him,” she says. “You’re just too self-absorbed to want to.”
And now, I can hear Mum’s marching footsteps towards the door. My heart skips a beat and I dash backwards, concealing myself from Mum’s sight at the curve in the corridor leading to Dad’s office. I watch his door intently, waiting for him to follow Mum and tell her she’s wrong. But the door handle isn’t budging and there’s no sign of him stirring at all in the room. I swallow. My dad has never been any different but I guess that I just keep hoping that he’ll change. I was going to seek his aid over The Grim Reaper, but it’s fairly obvious that he’s unwilling to help. So, I just have to take it upon myself, I suppose.
My dad, the Mayor of Eventide, doesn’t seem to want to help his own people. And what’s worse, he doesn’t seem motivated in the slightest to help me, his son. What hope does this town have if that’s the case?