Look The Part(5)

By: Jewel E. Ann


“They’re jealous that I’m not an idiot?”

“Precisely.” I add a cold pack to his lunch bag.

He rolls his eyes. The kid’s too smart for his own good.

“Your science teacher emailed me. She said you haven’t handed in your research paper.”

Harrison slips on his winter coat and grabs his lunch bag from the counter. “It’s stupid.”

“Why?” I shut my briefcase and check to make sure the lights are turned off before we leave the house and start a new workweek.

“The textbooks are outdated. Everything they’re teaching is outdated. We have a mandatory resource list, and we can’t use information from outside sources. So basically she wants me to write about incorrect science and cite it from ancient research. It’s a waste of my time.”

I shoo him out the door and into the vehicle. “You’re twelve. No job. No major responsibilities. You have all the time in the world. I’ve told you a million times, you need to think of school as your job.”

He fastens his seat belt as I pull out of the garage. “Fine. I have the time. But I’m not going to do it because it’s an insult to my intelligence.”

I have a “mildly” autistic child. Doctors don’t seem to know their head from their ass when it comes to the epidemic that has devoured this generation of children. There’s no clear way to diagnose it. Or a shot to prevent it. Or a pill to mask the symptoms.

Harrison is an information junkie. It’s rare to see him without earbuds shoved in his ears listening to podcasts on everything from modern art to the theory of evolution. He has issues keeping his emotions in check, his social interactions are a little rough, and he has an odd sense of humor, which is interesting because he so rarely gets other people’s humor. Other than that, he’s a fairly “normal” and well-adjusted twelve-year-old.

“Play the game, Harrison.”

“It’s a stupid game.” As if on cue, he slips in his earbuds, ending our conversation.

“She’s going to fail you if you don’t do the work. I think that’s an even bigger insult to your intelligence.” I glance over. He’s zoned out.

*

I spend my morning in court and grab lunch before heading back to my office.

“Hey, how’d it go?” Amanda asks as I toss my briefcase on my desk and unbutton my jacket.

“We won.”

“Congrats. When’s the last time you lost a case? I can’t remember.” Her lips twist to the side.

She doesn’t have to remember. My memory is just fine. And I remember every case I lose, replaying it over and over in my head, wondering what I could have done differently. And then my mind always goes back to Heidi, my biggest loss and the only one that didn’t come with a chance to appeal.

“What’s that sound?” I ease into my chair and pull a sandwich out of the brown bag, glancing up at the ceiling.

“Ellen. She moved her stuff in over the weekend. Painted too.”

“And?” I squint at the ceiling as the bang bang bang continues.

“And she’s seeing clients today. Drums now. But it was guitar and singing about an hour ago. Wheels on the Bus.”

“Explain.” I unwrap my sandwich, cringing at the racket.

Amanda flips her blond hair over her shoulder. “Well, it’s about a bus and the wheels going round and round, people going up and down, the horn beep—”

I cut her off with a look—maybe the look. This is why I have to fire her every day.

She grins. Her smart-ass attitude keeps growing, just like her confidence. Working for me has allowed her the extra money to get a tummy tuck after three C-sections, a gym membership, and I think something with her varicose veins. I’m certain she’ll leave her husband once she hits her goal weight. I see it all the time. Hell, I make a living off it.

“She’s a music therapist, Flint. Please tell me you assumed music would be involved? Otherwise, I’m embarrassed for you.”

bang bang … bang … bang bang bang

I glance up again, slowly chewing my food. “This isn’t going to work.”

“It’s a year lease.”

“I can get out of it.”

Amanda laughs. “What rule is she breaking? You don’t have noise restrictions in the contract. She gave you full disclosure as to her profession. But seriously … you have to tell me what you thought a music therapist does.”

“Comfy sofas and relaxing music played through noise-cancelling headphones.”

She smirks. “You should have done an internet search. Lots of videos showing exactly what happens at a music therapist’s office. I’m a little surprised this one slid by you.”

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