Everyone recognized me instantly. I mean, even the girl who had been looking at Robert and me actually slipped.
But what I wasn't ready for was for when someone else happened to be walking by at that moment. And her initials are L.W. Yep, that's who.
She was walking down the hallways, when she stopped and said, "What are you doing here?"
My mind started racing almost as fast as my heart was palpitating. I had to say something quick to clear all doubts. I turned to the guy who'd just punched Robert in the nose. "And you stay away from my brother! If you ever mess around with him, I'll take care of you personally! PERSONALLY, if you know what I mean!" Then I turned to Robert. "Come on, let's go."
We had just started to leave when Lilia grabbed by the arm and said, "What as that all about?"
"What? Oh, that. Well, I, uh…" My mind drew a blank. I tried to get my mouth muscles to move and my vocal cords to say something but they just weren't responding to Command Control. Or my brain in simple words.
"Oh, just a little scuffle," said Larry. "You know how kids of today are. They like to get rough once in a while. Especially 12-year-old boys who are just starting to grow."
"Um, yeah, that's it," I said. Now can we get out of here?!
I grabbed Robert by the arm and we started on our way home. Well, more like ran two-thirds of the way and didn't even stop sprinting and jogging until we were two or three blocks away.
I decided that it was time for me to change my role from Protector to Disciplinary Judge. "As for you," I said to Robert. "What have you got to say for yourself, young man? What were you thinking, hanging out with a bunch of hoodlums like those?"
His answer surprised me. "I'm fine okay. I was perfectly fine!"
Fine? "You end up with a black eye and a bloody nose. You call that fine?"
Then he looked at me straight in the eye. "It wouldn't have happened if you hadn't interfered in what's not your business!"
Before he could turn around I grabbed him firmly. "Listen to me, Robert S. Kyverná. You and I may both be minors. We may be still in our early teens. I know that I still have a lot to learn and mature. I'm only 14. But I have lived longer and I've had more experience than you! You've barely started your adolescence!"
"Yeah, barely started to change," said Larry.
"Stay out of this Larry!" I yelled at him.
He blinked his eyes and raised his eyebrows. "Chill, dude, chill. Just trying to help."
"Well, I didn't ask you for your help!"
Then Robert said, "He's right you know. Chill, dude."
Dude? DUDE?! Did he just call me dude?
I looked at Robert in shock. "Did you just call me…" I laughed at that. It was a half-sarcastic, half-angry laughter. "Oh, you're really asking for it you know! You're trying my patience."
"You already made lose mine," he said defiantly.
All right, that did it. "Okay, you've brought this upon yourself. You're a little too old for me to give a good whipping or spanking. But you will still pay the mistakes that you make. From now on, I don't want you going anywhere besides school without me knowing about it. And I want you to be inside after sund…no, wait! I mean, before sundown. And Larry, shut up your laughing!"
That fool was on the ground rolling and practically dying of laughter. "After sundown! Ha ha ha! He'll definitely obey that!"
I rolled my eyes. He's hopeless.
Then Robert said, "Seriously, I can't go anywhere without you knowing?"
I was about to say "yes." But I stopped myself just in time. I knew exactly what he was trying to pull on me. After I said "yes", he was going to say something stupid like, "even to the bathroom?" That would make me look like a fool and it would lose the disciplinary touch of the moment.
"Oh no you don't! You're going to trick me! You know perfectly well what I'm telling you!"
"What about the bathroom?"
"Or when I have to go shower…"
"Or when I need to go buy something for the girls. Or when…"
"WILL YOU LET ME FINISH?!"
I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. "Robert. I'm talking about places where you can get in trouble, like at the pool game. You are more than capable of understanding that."
He didn't answer. He didn't even seem to respond. It was like everything I had just said to him had gone in one ear and out the other. It was obvious that he wasn't listening to anything of what I had just said.
Talk about timing!
At that moment, one of the kids on Robert's team went walking by. "Hey, Rob, see you tomorrow night. Remember: pinball, pinball, pinball!"
"I'll be there!" said Robert. But I had just said to him that…OH! I give up.
I sighed. "Do whatever you want. You already know how I feel about you hanging out with…with certain peoples. But it's your life. I'll only say this. The decisions that you make now will affect you for the rest of your life. And if it's a bad decision, you won't just be hurting yourself. You'll be hurting everyone around you."
I was about to just give in when Larry said to me through Mind Communication, "Hey, what about the way that girl was dressed."
"And another thing," I said to Robert. "That girl…the way she was dressed…I mean, do you what that can lead to?"
"Yeah. It can lead to playing basketball," said Larry.
I turned around at him and gave him a menacing glare. Then back to Robert. He still didn't show any response. "All right. All right. I've had just about enough! You want me to stay out of your life? Say the word and I'll just stay out of your life!"
Still no response. But then he turned around without saying a word, walked up to the Palace, and went in, slamming the door behind him. I looked at Larry. "That was rotten." He chuckled.
I crossed my arms. "First man-to-man talk with my brother and look what happens."
"Yeah, that usually happens the first time."
"Well, now what?"
"You know, I think I know what the problem is."
I stared at the lunatic in front of me. "You?! How could you possibly know anything?"
"Well, the way I said it is that Robert is trying to fit in with other types of people. I mean, even though he is a prince, but he doesn't like to show off that. It's almost like he doesn't want to be rich and powerful. He wants to fit in with street kids."
I was about to laugh in face and say what a foolish thought that was, but I started to process it in my mind. Hmm. When you think about it….it did make some sense here and there.
"You know, now that I think about it…I think you may be right. I think he's starting to turn into one."
"Spiny, I don't think he is. He does his homework and he's always been responsible. I think he's just s scurrier."
"A street-goer. But that doesn't make him a street kid."
Well, I couldn't argue with that, but….oh well. "What time is it?" said Larry.
"I don't know."
"Look on your iPhone."
"Are you calling me an idiot?"
"Yeah and what are you going to do about it?"
Okay, long story short, I didn't have to time or energy to give Larry the thrashing that he so richly deserves. "Oh, forget it. It's 10:30." Wow, it was late. I hadn't even realized that all this time we'd been outside. "Come on. Let's get to bed. I'm exhausted!"
Larry yawned, "Oh, me too."
It was already dark when we got in. I was sort of thankful everyone else was asleep. I certainly didn't feel like talking or explaining to anyone. We got up to our room and changed into my pajamas. After brushing my teeth and washing my face, I slipped under the covers and turned out the light.
"I have a confession to make."
"What is it?"
"This isn't the first time Robert went there."
My eyes popped open and all the drowsiness went away. I turned around. "What? You mean, he's been sneaking out of here?!"
I could see his expression in the darkness. "My, what a beautiful moon we have out tonight! Doesn't the sky look lovely?"
I'd had enough of his games. I threw off the covers, turned on the light again and pulled him out of his bed. "Come on! Say it or you'll be looking at stars for the rest of your life!"
"All right, all right!" He released himself from my grip. "He's been sneaking out of here for some time now. I don't know exactly how."
For the second time in that day, my mind drew a blank. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't understand it. "What is he trying to prove with this behavior?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. All I know is that he wants to be a normal kid. Someone who isn't part of the Royal Family. Someone without wealth, influence, or privileges."
I sighed and fell on the bed, staring at the ceiling. "What am I going to do with him?"
"Kill him. Send him to a butcher or a weenie factory. Or even the smokehouse you built in the backyard."
"Huh? Just trying to throw in some humor so this won't all be so doom and gloom."
"I know, I know. So, what do you think I should do?"
He reached under his bed and handed me a belt. "Use it. It's always worked since the dawn of time." And he started snickering.
"That's not funny."
To which of course, he started howling with laughter until his ribs were hurting. He stopped abruptly. "Nah, just kidding. But seriously now, I don't really know how you should handle that situation. That's pretty much up to you, being the Head of the Royal Family."
I guess he was right. I was to turn in when he said, "Do you have a Bud Light?"
I froze. "A WHAT?"
"A Bud Light. You know, beer."
"Get it yourself!"
I lied on my back and closed my eyes. I was starting to fall asleep, when I felt something lumpy. I got up and checked the mattress under me. Hmm. Maybe I'd imagined it. That can happen. Especially when you've been working too hard and you got to bed late. Then I felt it again.
I looked under the bed and…huh? "Greeny?"
"Greeny?!" Larry was shocked too.
"Gredard R. Kyverná, what do you think you are doing hiding under my bed, listening to private conversations, and staying up almost two hours after your bedtime?!"
"I want to know what you said to Robert."
Oh, for heavens' sake! I was too tired to even say something reasonable. "You'll find out later. Now GO TO BED!"
"Okay." He got out from under there and went to his room. Sometimes I wonder…never mind.
"Well, I hope that every living soul in this Palace is finally asleep. I can't take this anymore. Next time, I may have an insomnia breakdown or something."
"Yeah, I know. Kids at his age, they play a game called possum."
"Yeah, they pretend to be asleep. Then they sneak out of bed and listen through the cracks in the door and they get the full story, uncensored."
"You know what? I think it's something that Kathy and Patty would do if they knew what Robert's been doing. They would have acted like mothers."
"Yeah. I just hope they don't find out. I hope they never have to find out."
"Hope so," said Larry. "Well, goodnight, Spiny."
I nodded. "Yeah, goodnight for you. But who knows what it'll be for me." I turned out the light and laid my head on the pillow. I wish I could've gotten some rest to take my mind off of all this. Unfortunately, I spent the whole night thinking and thinking and wondering and worrying then thinking some more and worrying even more.