Chapter 1: Chapter One
Eighteen year old Murdock sat at the corner booth of the cafe sipping on a coffee. He carefully watched the girl behind the counter hand the only other customer, asides himself, their change and some form of sandwich. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, she was wearing faded jeans and an off white shirt. Suitable dress seeing as her job was one that entailed becoming covered in grease stains during the course of the day. But what ever she wore Murdock thought she looked beautiful.
She was just so pretty, he thought. He'd had a crush on her ever since she'd moved into town three years ago. Three long years and he still hadn't found the courage to ask her out. Lately seeing her around school just wasn't enough for him so Murdock had resorted to spending every Saturday morning sitting in the cafe owned by her parents, drinking a coffee whilst trying to work out more about her. Sandwich customer took a seat at the other end side of the cafe leaving Louise free at the counter. She looked over at Murdock and smiled, he was pretty much sure he'd been caught staring but gave her a nervous smile back none the less before quickly averting his gaze to his coffee cup.
He mentally gave himself a pep talk, the one that he gave himself every week. The one that encouraged him that now was his chance to speak to her and ask her on date. The same one that he was sure he'd be giving himself next week as he couldn't bring himself to do it today.
Running his hand through his floppy brown hair he gave a defeated sigh, this was useless, he couldn't even find the courage to simply ask her on a date, and even if he could he doubted she'd say yes. Louise was extremely popular, especially between the 'cooler' guys around town and school and he was just Murdock, that crazy kid who always seemed to be in his own little world.
Just then, as if on cue, two of said 'cooler' guys entered the cafe.
"Great..." Murdock mumbled as he laid eyes on them. It was Steve Briggs, captain of the soccer team and top of the student body food chain, followed by his team mate Butch.
"You got a problem, Murdock?"
Murdock suddenly realised he was staring at the two teenagers and quickly shook his head. "Sorry," he murmured, not wanting any trouble and luckily Steve resumed making his way to the counter. Murdock continued watching them.
"Hi Louise," he greeted tilting the brim of the black Stetson he was wearing.
"Hey Steve, what can I get for you?"
"Well it's a mighty fine day today and I was just wondering if you wanted to come and hang with a few of us down at the lake later?"
"I'm sorry, Steve, I'm stuck here until 3, then I've got to run some errands for my mom and there's that book report due in I want to get started on."
"C'mon babe, it's Saturday, no one does homework on a Saturday!"
"Sorry, Steve, maybe next week."
"But it'll be more fun if you come! Me and some of the guys are probably going to play shirt vs. skins soccer. I can make sure I'm on skins if you want." He raised his eyebrows suggestively but Louise just chuckled, but she wasn't the only one.
The customer who had ordered the sandwich had joined Steve and his mates at the counter; Murdock didn't recognise him from around town or from school. He looked about his age or a few years younger. He had dirty blonde hair which was combed perfectly into place and his piercing blue eyes were complimented by the fitted baby blue t-shirt he was wearing. He had a lean frame and looked fit enough, was that enough to take on Steve and co though? Doubtful.
Though Murdock couldn't help but note that this stranger was very handsome and from the air of confidence he gave off the stranger knew it too.
Butch folded his arms and looked down at the sandwich eating customer, "What's so funny kid?"
"Oh nothing really," he replied, "it just amuses me to see your friend try it on with this lovely young lady here." He nodded towards Louise "Despite her obviously having no interest towards him."
Steve growled, which Murdock knew meant trouble. "And what would you know?”
"A lot more than you, Steve, that's your name right?"
"Look kid," the football captain cracked his knuckles, "I'm in a good mood today so if you apologise and leave now I won't damage that pretty face of yours."
"But I don't want to leave; in fact I wanted to ask the lovely young lady here if she'd show me around town tonight." The stranger gave Louise a charming smile. "What do you say?"
Murdock couldn't believe what he was hearing, this kid was crazy and Steve looked like he was about to go crazy.
Without another warning Steve shoved the kid against the wall, "I warned you pretty boy!" he yelled.
"Steve, leave him alone!" Shouted Louise, but she went ignored.
Steve landed a punch in the kid's face. The kid quickly shook it off and returned it with an uppercut to the stomach, just making Steve angrier.
"You son of a bitch!" Steve shoved the kid again sending him on to the floor hitting his head against one of the tables as he went down and when he got up again, dazed from the knock on the head, Butch punched him in the stomach.
The kid felt his head where he'd hit it and when he removed his hand it was covered in blood, "Great, I’ve only just washed my hair." He seemed genuinely annoyed by this, he then wiped some blood away from his mouth. "Two against one now really, that's not fair."
Steve smirked. "Life's not fair you brat."
"Please stop!" Louise cried. "You're going to kill him, don't make me call the police!"
Steve shook his head, a dangerous look in his eye. "The cocky idiot has to learn, he can't just disrespect me and expect to get away with it!"
Murdock couldn't just sit and watch anymore. He jumped out of his seat. "You heard Louise, stop it."
Steve looked round can cocked an eyebrow. "Shut it Murdock, or you're next!"
Murdock silently gulped, but looked at Louise, he couldn't back down in front of her, "I said stop it!"
"Are you mad too?”
"Maybe," Murdock shrugged, "but if he even more so if you think I'm just going to let you muscle heads beat up this boy here."
"You're a dead man Murdock!" Steve just looked at Butch, he didn't need telling, he lunged towards Murdock. Murdock ducked out the way of his fist and punched him in the stomach, Butch doubled over and Murdock took the chance to knee him in the face sending him backwards.
"Don't make me have to beat that idiot up for you!" Steve yelled at his companion, getting angrier.
Butch got back up and took another swing at Murdock who blocked it and punched him again.
"What are you playing at!" Steve spat forgetting about the kid. The kid tapped him on the shoulder and Steve turned around only to be greeted by a chair smashing into him. The wooden chair easily broke and the kid started punching him repeatedly, not give him a chance to reciprocate.
Murdock also seemed to still have the advantage over Butch, who it turned out wasn't a very good fighter.
The brawl went on until the sound of approaching cop cars could be heard. All four boys stopped mid-fight.
Steve looked at Butch. "Man, I can't be in trouble with the cops again." He gave one last look to the kid. "Next time boy I'm gong to end you." He warned before he and Butch fled the cafe.
Murdock went over to the counter where Louise was standing, "Did you call the cops?"
"I'm sorry about what happened." He gestured towards the mess they had made including two broken chairs. "I'll help you to clean it up."
"Thanks, but it's not your fault Murdock, that Steve is a real jerk."
"You're telling me," the kid piped up, he was straightening up his t-shirt, "At least he didn't damage the face."
"W-who are you?" Murdock asked.
The boy picked up Steve's hat which he'd left behind, blowing some dust off he placed it on his own head then held out his hand to Murdock, "I'm Peck, Templeton Peck, it's nice to meet you."
"Erm, ditto," said Murdock, shaking his hand.
Templeton then smiled at Louise. "So dinner tonight?"
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
"Thanks for covering for me with the cops," said Templeton slinging his arm over Murdock's shoulders.
Following their altercation at the cafe they had been questioned by the cops and let off with verbal warnings seeing as they didn't start the fight, Templeton had told them that he was Murdock's eighteen year old visiting cousin which Murdock went along with.
"That's okay." Murdock said as they strolled through town, several people glancing their way probably due to their battered 'fresh from the fight' state. "So why'd you lie any way? Where are you really from?"
Templeton removed his arm from the taller boy and stopped in his tracks, he looked around as if to check no-one was listening in on them, "I'm from L.A and I'm only seventeen I've sort of run away. That’s why I didn’t want the cops to think I was a minor."
"Your parents must be worried."
Templeton frowned, "I don't have parents," he explained. "I ran away from the orphanage." He stuffed his hands in his pockets and started pacing around.
"I'm sorry about that." Murdock sounded sincerely sympathetic, Templeton was used to it. Every time he told someone he was an orphan they apologised as if it was their fault.
"Thanks, but growing up at the orphanage wasn't too bad." Templeton wasn't lying, the sisters had always been very nice to him and he was never short of 'acquaintances' especially the female kind, his favourite type. Although admittedly, it could be lonely at times.
"Then why'd you run away?"
"Because," Templeton decided not to tell him the whole truth about searching for his parents so just went with, "Because, I was bored, it was the same routine day in and day out. I wanted to see the world and what it has to offer." He winked at a group of giggling girls that passed by. "And boy does it have a lot to offer!"
Murdock grinned. "I hear you there buddy!" He threw his arms in the air and spun round. "This world is like one big adventure just waiting for us to tackle it! But unfortunately I have to at least finish my senior year first."
"Well I wanted to get a head start! It's been just over a month since I left L.A and so far it's been pretty easy."
"What do you do for money and board and stuff?"
"Oh, I have my ways," Templeton replied confidently. He chuckled at the random memory of selling tickets for a free concert at a bar making him exactly $224.94 alone in that one day. He was a genius, or so he thought anyway. "Anyway Murdock, enough about me, tell me about yourself. What does the H.M stand for?"
"Why it stands for H.M of course,” Murdock simply replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Har-de-har." Templeton patronised. "Steve was right, you are mad."
Murdock grinned. "Howling Mad to be exacts. Maybe that’s what it stands for."
"Howling Mad Murdock!" Templeton thought this was a fitting nickname for the rather 'strange' teenager. "So I take it you live around here then?"
"Yup, me and my grandma."
"Oh," it was Templeton's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Where’s your mother and father if you don't mind me asking?"
"I don't mind." Murdock gave him a weak smile. "My mom died when I was five, she was pretty ill. My father took off shortly after my mom died. So my grandparents took me in." He looked sadly at the ground. "And then two years ago my grandpa died, he was pretty ill too."
Templeton was lost for words, sure he too had grown up without parents, but unlike this other boy he had no idea of what the pain of losing someone close to you felt like. He then found himself doing what people done to him upon sharing his life story.
"I'm sorry Murdock."
Murdock must have realised he was looking upset as he plastered a false smile on his face. "Don't be! It's not your fault!"
"Yeah, but still..."
"But nothing!" Murdock cut him off quickly changing the subject. "So I take it you have nowhere to stay for tonight?"
"Well I wasn't planning on sticking around," said Templeton. "But if you're offering a place to crash, I wouldn’t say no."
Murdock's fake smile turned into a real one. "I'm sure grandma won't mind if you stay the night, she always is encouraging me to bring home real friends."
"As opposed to fake ones?"
Murdock grinned again but didn’t answer the question and gestured for Templeton to follow him. As he done so Templeton took in the little details of the town, the ones that may come in handy to him at a later point, such as the fact there was a bar that held a weekly poker tournament. He may have to take advantage of that next week, that's if he could persuade Murdock to let him stay that long, but it seemed that shouldn't be a problem. The older boy had a kind hearted nature; Templeton knew exactly how to use people of that nature to his advantage.
Murdock led him to a battered old blue pick up truck, "Is this your ride?" Templeton asked despite knowing the answer.
"Yup!" Murdock patted the bonnet proudly. "Grandpa gave it to me just before he died as a present for passing my test."
Templeton climbed into the passenger seat and watched as Murdock started the car, he felt a bit jealous. Before running away he started saving up money for driving lessons, it would be way easier to impress the girls if he could drive, but the lessons never happened.
"Can you drive?" Murdock asked as if reading his mind.
"No, not yet."
The blonde lad felt like he was under interrogation as Murdock drove to his house, the teenager kept coming with question after question, but he couldn't be blamed, Templeton was a stranger he was inviting into his house so he played along trying to be as honest as possible.
"So how did you end up in this town?"
"I hitched a lift in the back of a delivery van." Templeton replied, looking out the window. They were driving down an empty road surrounded by either trees or fields though sometimes they passed the occasional house. It sure was different from L.A and most of the other places he'd been so far.
About fifteen minutes and what seemed like a hundred questions later Murdock finally pulled up in front of a house. "Welcome to casa Murdock!" he said enthusiastically.
Templeton climbed out the truck, the house looked nice. Two floors, moderate size, well kept front garden and a red Chevrolet also in the drive. That car wasn't cheap indicating the owner had money. Templeton decided he already liked staying here.
"That is a sweet ride!" He exclaimed nodding towards the shiny red car.
Murdock nodded in agreement. "I know right, but grandma won't let me drive it though. Doesn't matter, my ride is so much better don't you think?"
"Whatever you say, buddy." Templeton nodded.
While Murdock bounded off towards the front door Templeton dragged himself behind. He was suddenly overcome with feeling pretty faint and tired, he hadn't expected that fight earlier and the blow to the head had knocked him for six. He removed Steve's hat and felt over the bump that was forming, which just made it throb painfully. He wasn't going to go to the hospital though especially for a minor injury, they asked too many questions and for all his charms his visibly teenage age could be somewhat a hindrance when trying to flirt and wrap the pretty nurses around his little finger.
"You okay there pal?"
Templeton blinked several times before being able to focus. "Y-yeah, I'm good,” he lied weakly putting the hat back on. "Just a bit sore."
Murdock wasn't convinced. "You sure you don't wanna get that looked at?"
"Really, it's fine."
"Well at least we can get you cleaned up inside." Murdock started pushing him into the house but by this time Templeton was feeling so dazed he couldn't pay attention properly.
Templeton found himself in a kitchen, there was an old woman wearing a white apron over a pink dress, with her grey hair pulled back into a bun, standing over one of the counters, he couldn't quite make out what food she was preparing.
"Something smells nice grandma,” Murdock said, leaning down to peck the woman on the cheek.
She didn't look up but replied, "I hope you didn't spoil your appetite in town."
"Of course not, I always love fully appreciating your cooking."
"Did you finally ask out that nice girl at the cafe?"
"I told you grandma, Louise is nice but I don't like her like that."
"Now, H.M you can't hide these things from me..." the woman trailed off as she finally stopped the task in hand and looked up at her grandson. "Have you been fighting H.M?"
"I had no choice,” Murdock insisted.
"He's right..." Templeton mumbled grabbing on to the side to try and stop the room from spinning. "My fault, he was helping me..."
The woman looked round at him and smiled before looking back at Murdock, "Who's this handsome young fella?"
"T-Templeton Peck,” Templeton said before Murdock could reply. He stepped forward, one hand still clutching the side to steady himself the other stretched out for her to shake. "Nice t'meet you." The woman took his hand and he shook it weakly before dropping it limply back to his side.
"Are you okay dear?" he heard the woman ask although it was barely audible to him.
"Templeton!" Murdock's voice echoed through his head.
Templeton didn't reply, everything was spinning so fast. He let go of the counter and stumbled back, tripping over his own feet. This was the last thing he remembered before everything went blank.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Murdock tapped his right foot impatiently as he waited in Templeton's hospital room. He hated hospitals form the clinical look and smell to the technical jargon used by the professionals plus not to mention the last time he'd seen his mom and grandpa had been in a hospital, although the former was when he was very young he still had several memories.
"Hurry up and wake up buddy," he muttered to his unconscious friend.
With a half yawn half sigh, he crossed his right leg over the left and shook his foot as the tapping had begun to irritate him. He spotted Templeton's wallet and watch on the bedside table. He picked up the brown, leather strapped time piece and studied it. The brand name read, 'Hamilton', Murdock didn't know much about watches but it sure looked expensive. Carefully, he put it back down and picked the wallet up next. This was also brown leather, matching the watch. Flipping it over in his hands several times, he debated with himself whether to take a look inside it.
He was curious as to what such a mysterious character as Templeton Peck carried in his wallet, maybe he'd find I.D that contradicted his story. Maybe he wasn't even a young runaway lad, but instead a travelling con artist picking on naive people such as Murdock himself. He knew that he was too trusting sometimes, but he couldn’t help it. He liked to give everyone the benefit of the doubt particularly ones that didn’t hesitate to stand up to wrong doing, but there was benefit of the doubt and then there was inviting the unknown into your house with your grandma.
With no more inner debate, Murdock opened the wallet. Curiosity killed the cat not the teenage boy, he reasoned. Firstly he counted how much money there was; two $100 bills, one $20, a couple of $1 and about $3 worth of change. Pretty rich for an orphan runaway. Secondly, Murdock pulled several cards from one of the pockets. For a guy that couldn't drive he sure did have a lot of licences, he counted six of them. One was a Californian one under the name of Templeton Arthur Peck who's date of birth was 12/07/47 which would make him nearly 19. The rest were under a selection of names such as Alvin Brennar, Al Peck and Morrison Holmes, each from different states and with different, yet still believable, dates of birth.
Murdock put all the licenses back in their proper place and pulled out the contents of the second pocket. It contained scraps of paper with addresses and phone numbers scribbled on them amongst other things and a condom. Go figure, most of the phone numbers were accompanied by women's names. Templeton seems like one who knows how to charm the ladies. Maybe he could ask for some tips on how to win over Louise. Again, Murdock put the papers and condom back in their correct place.
What he found next intrigued him the most, a small black and white photo. It was in poor in quality and torn round the edges but Murdock could still make out the picture of a smiling toddler, perhaps around one year old, sitting on the lap of a woman whose top half of her face was torn off. But you could just make out her smile, one that identically matched that of the toddler and the boy laying here in the hospital bed.
"Grandma!" Murdock jumped, almost dropping what was in his hands. He quickly put the photo back and put the wallet in his pocket.
"This is Dr Gillingham."
Murdock looked at the middle aged doctor that had followed his grandma. "Hey doc,” he greeted.
"Don't look so worried son.” Dr Gillingham gave him a reassuring smile, flipping through pages on his clipboard. "Your cousin will be just fine."
"Cousin?" Murdock's grandma questioned.
"Yes," Murdock quickly spoke up. He'd given the nurse the same story he and Templeton had given the police after the fight earlier. "Second cousin actually,” Murdock said to the doctor after his grandma’s confusion seemed to spark his interest.
"Well, as I was saying," the doctor thankfully continued, "Mr Peck here will be just fine. He suffered quite a heavy blow to the head, he has mild concussion and will probably have one hell of a headache, but there isn't any long term damage. He should wake up in the next few hours or so but we'll still keep him over night for observation just to be on the safe side."
"Can I stay here with him?" asked Murdock.
Dr Gillingham nodded. "Sure. But like I said, he won't wake up for a while yet and visiting hours finish at 7:30. You're better off going home and coming back tomorrow morning. Due to the nature of his injury we won't discharge him unless he's with someone."
"Got it doc."
"Right, there's a little boy in the ER with a marble stuck up his nose I must now tend to."
"Kids," Murdock's grandma chuckled as the doctor was leaving. Once he'd shut the door behind him, she crossed her arms and looked at her grandson. He knew what was coming.
"I can explain," He said.
"Really?" Murdock's grandma looked slightly amused, "Please H.M, do tell when you gained a cousin and I gained another grandson?”
Murdock hesitated before answering, "Templeton has run away and he has nowhere to stay?"
"So you think he's going to stay with us? He’s just a kid."
"That was going to be my next question." Murdock flashed her a hopeful smile. "It'll only be for a night or two! Please grandma!"
"Murdock," his grandma matched his hopeful smile with a sympathetic one. "I know you're only trying to help, but do you know how much trouble I could get in if the authorities found out I was harbouring a teenage runaway. And not to mention his poor parents are probably out of their minds with worry."
"He comes from an orphanage!"
"Well I'm sure they're worried about him too."
"No they're not." Murdock mentally apologized for the lies he was about to tell is grandma. "He said they treat him horribly there and the other kids pick on him. He's 18 next month, and then he can do what he wants anyway. But please don't make him go back just for that month. Like I said, he only needs a few nights to rest and he’ll be gone anyway."
For a moment his grandma didn't say anything, she just turned her gaze to Templeton and studied him carefully before turning back to her grandson. "And you trust this stranger enough to invite him into our house to stay?"
"Yeah," Murdock nodded. "He's not a stranger, he's my friend. He stuck up for Louise, he's a good person." He truly believed this, despite the mystery that surrounded the younger boy.
"Templeton can stay at ours until his fine to leave. You're a smart boy and I'm trusting you on this one H.M. but I don't want you boys getting in anymore trouble. No fighting."
"But it was Steve who..." He took one look at his grandma and realised his defence was futile. "Done and done. There'll be no trouble, I promise. Thanks grandma."
"Just make sure I don't regret it." His grandma said. "Now we should get going, you heard what the doctor said. We'll come and pick Templeton up tomorrow morning."
"Okay, grandma." Murdock sighed, despite hating hospitals he wanted to stay with his new friend but he knew it made sense to go for now.
He stood up and took one last look at Templeton. He was going to put the wallet back but before he had a chance, his grandma had slipped her arm around him and was ushering him out the door. Oh well, he could give it back tomorrow, no harm done.
Upon waking up it took Templeton a few minutes to make sense of his unfamiliar surroundings.
"Where am I?" he mumbled weakly. He pushed himself up and realised he was in hospital. The last thing he remembered was being in a kitchen. Murdock's kitchen, when the room had started spinning. He must have collapsed. Whatever had happened it had left him with a killer headache. He carefully felt his head, unfortunately the bump was still there, he knew it was stupid to think it would mysteriously disappear.
Damn, he thought. Why did he have to go and collapse and why did he have to end up in hospital? This was all he needed and there was no sign of Murdock. What if he'd told the doctor's the truth? There was no doubt they'd call the police or social services then it would be back to the Sacred Heart orphanage in L.A for him.
"Oh boy, oh boy, he groaned, softly rubbing his temples, wishing this terrible pounding in his head to go away.
He had to get out of this place and quickly. He pulled the bed covers off himself and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He grabbed his jeans and t-shirt which were fold neatly in a cubby; in the bedside table and hurriedly changed out the hospital gown he was wearing. It was when he was pulling on his boots he noticed his watch and wallet weren’t with his clothes.
Templeton quickly located the watch but there was no sign of his wallet. Panicking, he patted down his pockets, but still no wallet. He needed that wallet. It had all his money, his many plus contact numbers in it. It also had the photo in it.
It wasn't much of a photo but it was the only one he had of her, his mother.
He began to panic even more. He pulled the covers off the bed, it wasn't there and it wasn't under the pillows or dropped on the floor either. Just then someone entered the room, it was a young nurse. "Mr Peck, what are you doing out of bed?" She asked with a kind yet concerned tone of voice.
"Where's my wallet?" Templeton asked, ignoring her.
"Mr Peck, I must ask you to get back in bed."
Templeton ignored her again, "I need my wallet, my watch was here so where's my wallet?”
"I think it was your cousin, who brought you in earlier maybe he took it for safe keeping,” the nurse explained. "Now please sir for your own good will you get back in bed."
"Murdock!" Templeton said, "I've got to find him."
"He’ll be here to collect you tomorrow morning but for now you need to rest." The nurse sounded like she was trying her best not to lose patience with him, but Templeton didn't care, he just wanted to get out of this place and get his wallet back.
Then, as if he didn't have enough to worry about, he saw two police offers speaking to what seemed to be a doctor out in the corridor. In his already riled up state, Templeton instantly thought the worst.
"You called the police on me!"
"Huh?" The nurse looked over her shoulder to see what the patient was on about. "Oh, no..." she began to explain, but Templeton wasn't sticking around to listen.
He pushed past her and ran down the corridor in the opposite direction from the police, he could just about here the nurse calling after him.
He turned into more corridors despite not knowing where he was going, several staff members took it upon themselves to recite him the safety rules about running as he dashed past them. Eventually he found a fire exit which lead him out the back of the hospital. He stopped to catch his breath before casually walking away. Asking for directions he found the hospital was located near the town he had been in earlier. Great, he roughly remembered the route to Murdock's house but he was in no fit state to get there by foot. The twenty minute walk into town was just about all he’d be able to manage. He looked at his watch: 6:14, it was going to start getting dark soon.
With no real plan nor any money to book a cheap room for the night, when he got to town, he found himself walking through the town towards the cafe where the fight had taken place. Although he could really do with an ice cold beer right now, he knew he wasn't going to get served without his fake I.D which was in is wallet, which hopefully Murdock hopefully.
Maybe at the cafe he could talk his way into a free coffee at the least because of his 'heroic' deeds earlier.
The closed sign was up at the cafe door but the lights were still on and Louise could be seen clearing up. He lightly knocked on the door getting her attention. She smiled at the sight of him and walked over to let him in.
"Templeton," she said, locking the door back up once Templeton was inside. "What brings you back here? And where's Murdock?"
"I was in hospital,” he explained and Louise shot him a worrying look. "It's nothing serious, just the fight earlier took more out of me than I thought. Anyway, I didn't want to stick around, but I'm not quite sure how to get back to Murdock's place."
"Well let me fix you up a coffee then I can give you a lift as a thanks for earlier."
"You are a star. Do have any pain killers too? I have an awful headache."
"I think there's some in the back somewhere."
"Thanks," Templeton smiled, he could tell this girl had taken to him. "Hey, didn't you tell Steve you finished work at three?”
Louise shrugged as she went behind the counter and he took a seat in one of the booths. "I ended up having to cover my dad's shift plus it stops Steve coming back here for me anyway."
"He's really possessive."
"My dad and his dad are close friends, so in Steve's mind we’re meant to be together. I keep telling him otherwise but he just won't take no for an answer.”
"Well I can't blame him." Louise looked over at Templeton and he continued, "Such a beautiful woman like you."
Louise tuned visibly red, it seems he had made her temporarily speechless and clumsy as she nearly dropped a mug. She managed to compose herself before changing subjects. "So why did you tell the police that you was Murdock's cousin?"
"And you actually managed to get the teacher to write the whole essay for you?"
"Yep.” Templeton nodded proudly. "She even gave me an A+ and praised me on my excellent writing techniques."
"You are quite the guy,." Louise said.
"I've been told that once or twice before." He picked up the chocolate muffin Louise had given him alongside the coffee and took a bite. The two had been sharing stories for the past 45 minutes. Most of Templeton's were true apart from swapping the orphanage to his made up family when ever needed and convincing her he was 18, she didn't need to know the whole truth about him. He had even got away with telling her the reason for lying to the police was down to nerves.
Louise gave him a coy look before she asked her next question, "Have you got a girlfriend back home Templeton?"
Templeton put the muffin down and mentally high fived himself as he played out what was going to happen next in his head. "No, I haven't,” he replied. He brought his hand up to Louise's face and gently rubbed her cheek with his thumb. As expected, she didn't mind. "But if I did, I'd want her to be just like you."
He slowly leaned forward, closing his eyes; he was met with no complaints when his lips met hers and they began kissing. Still cupping her cheek with one hand he wrapped his other arm around her waist. Louise's hand found its way through his hair and to the back of his head where she pulled him into the kiss more.
The teenagers kept making out until they were disturbed by a banging on the door. They pulled apart and Louise popped her head up to see what had interrupted them. Then she ducked back down in her seat.
"Who is it?" Templeton was about to look for himself but Louise pulled him back down. "What?"
"It's Steve and he's got more than just Butch with him this time."
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
"Come on babe let me in, I know you're in there!"
Templeton groaned, sinking lower into his seat. "Is he going to go soon?"
"I doubt it." Louise shook her head as Steve continued banging on the door. "At least not until I speak to him. Plus I think he's drunk."
"Maybe you should just go and talk to him then before he breaks the door down."
She looked at him skeptically. "But-“
"Don't worry, I'll be here if he tries anything," he attempted to reassure her.
"That's what I'm worried about, I don't want you getting hurt again Templeton."
"Louise!" The banging was becoming more forceful.
"Go," said Templeton. "I'll be right here listening." he literally pushed Louise off the seat so she didn't have a choice. She smoothed down her jeans before walking out of his sight. He heard her opening the door.
"Louise aren't you meant to be doing homework right now?" He heard Steve ask, voice slurring slightly as he audibly resisted the effects of what ever alcohol he had consumed.
"I ended up having to cover my dad's shift," came Louise's reply. "I thought you was going down to the lake."
"We got bored. If you're leaving I can give you a lift home if you want," Steve offered. "Or back to mine; my parents won't be back until later." His voice was full of suggestion.
"You've been drinking."
"That doesn't matter honey, Steve Briggs never fails to perform if you know what I mean."
Templeton listened to Steve's friends laughing and making suggestive remarks at what their ring leader had just said. He couldn't be certain but it sounded as if there was at least four of them. He silently prayed that he wouldn't have to step in anytime soon.
"So what were you doing sitting over there huh Louise?"
"Just drinking a coffee and having a bite to eat. It's been a long day I ought to get home, I still have that report to do."
"Like I said, I'll give you a lift."
"I have my own car thank you."
"But I want to spend some time with you babe."
"We have English lit, chemistry and study hall together on Monday."
Steve chuckled at this but Templeton could tell from his tone that he was getting frustrated. "Look Louise I'm really sorry about what happend earlier, just let me make it up to you."
"You beat up a boy for no reason."
"It wasn't for no reason. He was disrespecting me and he was disrespecting you."
This comment made Templeton angry, if anybody was the disrespectful one it wasn't him.
"I hope I don't see him around here anymore or he's dead," he heard Steve punch his fist into his hand a and low growl leave his mouth. "And that Murdock kid better learn some respect or he's dead too."
"Steve!" Louise suddenly snapped making Templeton jump a little in surprise. "I need to get on now. I'll see you on Monday, okay."
"Fine, me and the boys are going to Rodger's Bar anyway." This earned some excited grunts from Steve's friends. "You should get some fake ID so you can join us one time."
"I'll keep that in mind."
Templeton still couldn't see but he had a feeling there was an awkward one sided hug before he heard the guys leaving. Slowly he peaked his head around the side of the seat, luckily Steve and co were staggering away drunkenly.
Louise watched them for a minute before locking back up. "That was close," she sounded as releived as Templeton felt.
"We should get out of here," he said, "Encase Steve comes back."
Louise agreed with him. He helped her with the last bit of cleaning up she had before they left. Templeton was somewhat glad that her car was parked round the back and they didn't have to walk through town with the risk of running into Steve's gang.
He jumped into the passenger seat of the yellow 1948 Studebaker Commander, leaned his head back against the seat, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. If he wasn't so tired he would have tried to carry on what Steve had interrupted between him and Louise. He needed sleep, the kind that wasn't induced by a head injury. Hopefully Murdock's grandma was happy with letting him stay a night or two, otherwise he'd have to go through the hassle of finding another place to crash for the night.
"Something the matter?"
"Sorry." Templeton opened his eyes. "It just hit me how tired I am."
"Have a nap if you want I'll wake you when we arrive.”
"You're not going to interrogate me are you?"
Templeton stifled a yawn. "Good, earlier Murdock just wouldn't shut up when he drove us to his."
Louise chuckled whilst starting the car. "That sounds like good old Murdock."
"How long have you known him?"
"Since fourth grade when I moved here." Louise explained as she drove. "I don't know him that well as he's always kept himself to himself. But I do know when he becomes fixated on something there's no stopping him. Although he can be a little..."
"That's one way to put it." Louise chuckled. "Also when his grandfather died a few years back, he changed a bit. Instead of being your happy-go-lucky crazy sort of lonely he became the withdrawn sort of lonely."
"Yeah, I saw him visit a the school councillor a few times. It seems to have slowly changed him back to his normal self."
Templeton didn't say anything to this. He just let the conversation die down and closed his eyes again. The rest of the trip was made in silence, but he still didn't manage to have a nap in the meantime. Soon enough they were pulling up infront of Murdock's house. "I'm pretty sure this is the place," Louise said.
"It is." Templeton instantly recognised the red pick-up and Chevrolet in the drive.
"Shall I come to the door with you?"
He didn't answer yet, instead he quickly got out the car and rushed round to the otherside, Louise rolled down her window and he leaned in, "That's okay, you've done enough for me, thank you for the lift."
"That's okay. I'll wait here though just to make sure it's definitely the right house." Louise smiled, and let him steal a quick kiss from her.
He jogged up the front garden and rung the door bell, it was opened almost instantly.
"Templeton!" Murdock sounded both surprised and happy to see him. "I thought the hospital was keeping you until tomorrow? Are you okay?"
"Minor misunderstanding.” Templeton shrugged. “And I’m fine.”
"Did you walk here?"
" I got a lift from the lovely Louise." He looked over his shoulder and waved, she waved back at both boys before starting her car and driving away.
"So buddy can I stay here please?" he asked, turning back to Murdock. "And also have you got my wall..." he trailed off. Murdock was just staring absantly at the spot where Louise's car had just been. "Hey Murdock." He clicked his fingers in front of the boy's face.
Murdock snapped out of what ever daze he was in and quickly averted his gaze to the floor. Templeton was sure sure the boy was starting to blush.
"As I was saying, can I please stay here and have you got my wallet?"
"Yeah... yeah..." Murdock straightened himself up a bit. "Yeah grandma said that it's fine with her and I do have your wallet."
Templeton didn't hide his sigh of releif. "Thank God, you had me worried for a minute." He patted Murdock on the shoulder and slid past him into the house. "By the way Murdock, let me tell you, that girl Louise is one of a kind."
"She sure is." Murdock took one more longing look outside before shutting the door.
"And she's quite the kisser too." At this sentance, Templeton unkowingly now had the other boy's full attention.
"You two kissed?”