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Chapter 22: Scene 76: A visit to the Morgans

     


ThinkLink: What was the biggest favor you ever had to ask of someone you didnít know very well?

       At first, rain comes just one drop at a time. While I'm kicking through puddles, thinking about what I'll say, the sky gets darker, the rain gets heavier and streams of water roll over me. My hair's plastered down . I turn up the collar of my jean jacket, but rain still runs down my neck and soaks my T-shirt.


       Even after Tony and I found the Morgan's number in the book, I decided not to chance a phone call. Tony figured out the right bus for me to take so I could just show up. Not give her a chance to think it over and call McGill.


       I pull my jacket higher up around my neck for all the good it does. I've been plodding for blocks since I got off the bus. I look at numbers on porches, but it's getting dark and most places don't have a light on. If neighbors look out and see a strange kid hanging around, I suppose they'll call the Cops . I walk up to what I think is the right house, wait a minute, and then ring the bell.


       Through a narrow window alongside the door, I see Mrs. Morgan coming down a hallway. She turns on the porch light and opens the door a little. "Yes? What is it?"


       Like some kind of sap, I stand there spluttering . "Yeah. Hi, Mrs. Morgan. It's me. John."


       "Come inside. You're soaked." She stands back and looks at me dripping onto her tile floor. "You're the wettest kid I ever saw." At least she doesn't say the dirtiest.


       A man comes out in the hall, expecting somebody he knows, I guess, not a half-drowned street rat. "Who do we have here?"


       Mrs. Morgan comes back with a towel. "Eric, this is John Hanson. I told you about him. He worked for me in the library at Fire Oak."


       "Um, I see. Looks like he could benefit from a hot shower and some clean clothes. Come with me, John."


       After I scrub away the worst of the dirt, I get into a sweatshirt and jeans their son left behind when he went away to college. Mr. Morgan even gives me a comb and a new toothbrush from the hall closet. I can't remember the last time I brushed my teeth.


       When I come back to the kitchen, Mrs. Morgan warms up some dinner for me. I haven't eaten since that sweet-roll this morning. Now the smell coming up from the plate lets me know I'm starving. I look around while I shovel in tuna casserole, salad and bread and two glasses of milk.


       Through the doorway into the living room I see Mr. Morgan going over papers at a desk. Behind him is a wall covered with books, floor to ceiling. Mrs. Morgan smiles. "Looks like what you'd expect from a librarian and a teacher. Eric teaches eighth-grade science."


       I feel warm and drowsy by the time I finish. It's so unreal being in a regular house with regular people. I could sit here like this for days. Mr. Morgan comes in and sits across the table from me. Mrs. Morgan picks up my dishes and puts them into the dishwasher. Then she comes back and sits down at the table, too. "This isn't just a visit, is it?"


       "No."


       The three of us sit there, waiting for me to talk. What if they make me leave? What if they call the Cops ?


       Finally I blurt it out . "I was wondering. I mean, I remember you take foster kids . I remember you said you didn't have one now."


       "Are you asking us if you can come here and live with us? To have us for foster parents ?"


       I nod. Mr. Morgan whistles softly and tips back in his chair. Mrs. Morgan looks off at the wall, like she's thinking.


       "I wouldn't be any trouble. I'd get back in school or ... or something," I finish lamely. Damn. Can't get anything out straight.


       "You've run away, haven't you?" she says. I nod.


       "You can't stay here tonight, no matter what we decide," Mr. Morgan says. "There's a law against harboring a runaway and we're not going to do that."


       "Maybe in the morning..."



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 Updated on 5/13/04

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