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Chapter 12: Scene 45: There's a slot open at Eagle Crest


ThinkLink: Has anyone ever told you they were doing something to help you out, but you thought maybe they weren’t helping?


Over in the library, Mrs. Morgan starts to ask me about the sirens and what's happened when the phone rings. "That was Mr. McGill. He's coming over here to talk to you," she says.

       The staffing. I forgot. McGill's supposed to tell me how it turned out. Maybe they've cleared me to go home. I move closer to the doorway, listening for those fancy leather shoes to click up the hall. Mrs. Morgan scowls a little, or as close as she comes to a scowl, but I stick my head out the doorway anyway and I see McGill coming around the corner.

       "Good to see you, John. I thought we could talk here in the library today." He walks me over to a table in the back. " Administration passed the word to cut down on the traffic today, and this gives me a chance to see you at work."

       "Is it Tony?" I ask. "It's gotta be Tony. He wasn't at Taylor for lunch today."

       "No use speculating and it's you I'm here to talk about." He sits down across the table from me in one of those straight library chairs. He stretches his legs out alongside the table. "Everyone at your staffing was very positive. Except for your stay in Howard, you really haven't had any really bad reports. Care to explain what happened?"

       I think about what Tony'd think of me snitching and shake my head.

       " Code of silence ? You learned that soon enough. Mr. Davis says he was in the kitchen that night. He didn't see the actual beginning of the fight, but he did say that just before it started you were washing pans and had your back to the other kids. He said it appeared that you hadn't started anything. Is that true?"

       "Yes, sir."

       McGill's mouth twitches . "I get called 'sir' about twice a year ... usually when someone's trying to sell me a car or new shoes. It sounds good. Now about your staffing..."

       "Do I get to go home?"

       "No. I'm sorry, John. I haven't been able to change any minds on that one. Although, when your mother called me after you lost your tags, she did say she was meeting with a new lawyer. In the meanwhile ... "

       "You talked to my mother? What did she say? Did the new lawyer talk to Judge Shields?"

       He shakes his head. "It all takes time."

       "Does that mean I'll have to stay here?"

       "As a matter of fact, that's what I came to tell you. There's a slot open at Eagle Crest , our forest camp over on the coast. The one I told you about. It's a special kind of place."

       "I'm getting farther and farther away from home."

       "If you do well, you won't be there too long. I'll check up on you regularly, and I'll be on the lookout for a place for you in a group home here in the valley or up in Portland . That or a foster home. We'll keep our options open."

       "A foster home! No."

       "Settle down, John. I still hope you can be released to your mother when everything is worked out. One of the camp staff will be here at ten tomorrow to pick you up."

       That's the one all the way across state, all the way to the ocean. I thought McGill was scaring me, talking about sending me all over so I wouldn't do anything to get me in trouble. I didn't figure he'd really do it. "Will you let my mother know where I'm going?"

       "OK, and I'll give her the good news about your staffing. Another thing, if you ever need to talk to me, ask the staff there to get a message through to me. Here's a card with my Portland office number on it. We have an answering service up there that can reach me most of the time."

       He stands up and holds out his hand. "Good luck, and make me proud."

       I almost don't take his hand. "Yeah, Mr. McGill."

       Maybe he thinks I should thank him for the big favor. The hell with that. He's sending me farther away than ever from the ranch . Thanks for nothing, McGill.

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