John was perfectly calm when someone started hammering their fists on the front door. He smiled at me again and slipped out of the room.
“I’ll be right back, sweetness”
If I could just get to my phone then I could call Maxxie. Being a bored teenager, I’d taught myself to dial with my nose. I’d convinced myself it would come in handy one day.
"Can I help you?" I heard John ask once he’d opened the front door.
"Mmm, heard Hadley ran into you earlier. He said he's home, but we tried there already and he's not. I wondered if you might know." Oh God, Maxxie.
"He might've gone to see Cayden again. The docs changed their mind about letting him go"
"It's a bit late for hospital visits, isn't it?"
"Maybe he went to get something to eat on the way back"
"I doubt it."
"Sorry, I don't know"
"That's fine. D'ya mind if I use your bathroom? Only Max didn't give me a chance to clean myself up before coming here. I'm still bleeding." Alex.
"Sure, just down the hall. The one upstairs is being redecorated" John said after a pause.
"Cheers" Alex said and I heard him head into the downstairs bathroom.
"Caleb not around?" John asked. How did he even have the fucking nerve to say Caleb’s name?
"Typical kid" he laughed a little.
"You could say that, I guess."
"Ah, shit," he walked back to John, "I kinda got blood on your towel. Sorry, man. Where shall I put it?"
"No worries, I needed to wash the towels anyway. I'll take it"
"Sure. How does my lip look? Is it all swollen?" he asked. That’s…weird.
"Er, kind of" John said, clearly as confused as me.
I sat there trying to work out what Alex was up to when my phone screen lit up. It was a diversion. Maxxie was calling me to see if I was here. Oh well done for keeping your phone on silent, Hadley. Hang on, why don’t you just shout? I shuffled over, still tied to the chair and just about made it before my shitty piece of crap phone went to voicemail.
"Aw, crap." I heard Alex say.
"Something the matter, buddy?" John asked, no doubt frowning.
"Oh, just this number I don't recognise keeps calling me. I think it might be my mum, but I'm not sure." Maxxie said.
"You don't know your mom's number?"
"We don't get on."
"Harsh. Well, is that everything?"
"Sure you can't think of anywhere Hads would be? Maxxie's been fretting like, all day."
"Did you try that treehouse? I know he goes out there a lot when he wants to be left alone"
"Yeah, we did. Why else would we be here?" Maxxie said.
"Chill, bro. He'll turn up, kids always do" Yeah, they do when they get untied from chairs and actually let out of people’s houses, dick.
"Maxxie's been worrying 'cause Hads hasn't been feeling so great recently." There was a pause "Ow, that hurt, man." Maxxie must’ve whacked him.
"Way to make me sound like I'm his mother!"
"What's up with him?" John asked. You fucking know what’s wrong.
"Dunno, he's been dizzy and his appetite's been fucky." Maxxie said.
"He was fine when he was with me..."
"When was he with you?"
"Pretty much all day. I met him at the diner in the morning, stuck with him while he spoke to his folks and went and saw Smithy with him"
"Now, why would he be with you, when he was so reluctant to go with you the other day?"
There was a pause.
"He's here, isn't he?"
"Well where else would he be, huh?"
"Take it easy, dude"
"Man, you're lucky you're not in hospital with Cayden, to be perfectly honest. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble by just telling us the truth." Alex said. Seriously, Hadley, just shout something, they’ll find you in no time.
"You're welcome to come in and check"
Alex and Maxxie stepped inside and I heard John shut the door behind them. Maxxie headed upstairs while John and Alex waited downstairs. He came back down after a while.
"Believe me now?" John asked. I felt like punching the guy.
"He reminds me of Norman Bates. Maybe you should look in the basement" Alex laughed slightly.
"Now all I need's a basement"
"Sure you don't have one? I thought all houses like this had basements"
"This place is fairly new, the attic's big enough that you don't need a basement"
"Fine. Max, I'm beginning to ache, can we get back to the motel now?"
“I'm still not convinced" Maxxie said, still uncertain. I’m down here you English prat.
"I don't know what else to say"
"C'mon, Max, let's go, hmm?" Alex said. I could hear him pulling Maxxie towards the door.
"Get off me. Tell me where Hadley is!" Maxxie snapped, losing his temper.
"I don't know where he is"
"Maxxie, calm down"
"I said get off me." There was a pause, "Thank you”
"What the actual fuck?" John cried out. Maxxie must’ve punched him.
"You get a kick out of fucking with people, don't you? First, you split me and Cayden up, and now you're not fucking telling me where Hadley is!"
It sounded like there was some kind of scuffle going on. "I don't fucking know where he is. I love that kid like he's my brother, do you really think I'd risk his safety over something like that?"
"Ooookay, let's chillax a bit here," Alex said, "sorry, Norman - I mean, John. He doesn't deal well with stress, and he's been pretty stressed out since, well since he met you, actually."
"I think you should leave now"
"Y'know, you're supposed to stick up for me" Maxxie said, irritated.
"We're leaving, Max" Alex said and I heard him dragging Maxxie to the door.
"Fuck you" Maxxie spat.
"Tell Caleb I said hi" Don’t even say his name, you prick.
"Fuck you, too"
"Max" Alex said, his tone warning.
I heard the door open.
"You're both assholes. Get off me." Maxxie snapped.
"I hope he shows up soon" John said, more to Alex than Maxxie.
"Me too. Sorry to have barged in like that"
"Hello? Earth to Alex, can you hear me? I said get off."
"No worries" John said, shutting the door.
I heard Maxxie start shouting at Alex outside but couldn’t make out any of what he was saying. John made his way back down to the basement with a smile, moving my phone out of reach and sitting down on the bed.