Author: P Hana

Page 22


“It will only take a second,” she said cheerfully, letting her spoon clink against the edge of her mug. “Come on, Caitlin.” Outside, Rogerson was waiting. I could see him illuminated in the green dashboard lights, leaning forward, looking in at me. I glanced back at the table. So far, the game had been pretty docile, save for a short disagreement over the capital of Indonesia.

“Bring him in,” my father said, pushing the dice over to my mother, who handed them to Boothe lucky roller. “We should know who you're spending all your time with.”

“It won't be that bad,” Boo said, the dice clinking off her rings as she shook them up in her hand. “We'll be on our best behavior, we promise.“ I shut the door behind me and headed down the walk to Rogerson's car. He sat there, waiting for me to get in, and when I didn't, he rolled the window down and leaned over, looking up at me. ”What's the problem?“ he said. ”They want to meet you.“ He blinked. ”They?“ I gestured back toward the house. ”It'll only take a second.“ He sat there, considering this, then cut off the engine. ”All right,“ he said, opening his door and getting out. He was wearing jeans and Doc Martens, a bowling shirt with the name Tony written in script over the pocket, and a leather jacket, his hair loose and wilder than usual. ”Wait,“ he said as we started up the walk. He stopped, reaching into his pocket with one hand while collecting his dreads at his neck, then snapping the rubber band he'd fished out around them. ”Good plan,“ I said. ”We'll wait until next time to spring the hair on them.“ ”Usually a good idea,“ he said. The first thing I heard when we stepped inside was my mother's voice, loud and argumentative. ”It's Tokyo, it has to be Tokyo,“ she was snapping at Boo as we came up the stairs. ”Need to give us an answer,“ my father said in a level voice, his eyes on the tiny hourglassstolen from our Pictionary game, in an effort to make Boo and my mother respond within a set time limitas the sand slipped through. ”Don't rush me!“ my mother shrieked. ”You always do that. You know it makes me crazy, and you do it anyway. It's like some kind of psychological warfare.“ ”Margaret,“ my father said, ”either you know the answer or you don't.“ ”Mom?“ I said. ”Just a second,“ she said. ”First city in the world to have population of one million ... first city ...”

“New York,” Boo said. “I have this strong aural feeling it's New York.”

“No, no,” my mother replied, frustrated. “It's ... it's ...”

“And time is ... up,” my father said, holding up the hourglass for proof. “Stewart, roll the dice.”

“Mother of pearl!” my mother said angrily, and Stewart laughed. She never actually cussed, but her variations were just as good. “Take it easy,” Boo said. “We'll get them next time.”

“It had to be New York,” my mother protested. “Why didn't we just say New York?”

“I have no idea,” Boo said darkly, and they both fell silent, not talking to each other, while Stewart rolled the dice. I decided to just bite the bullet while the frenzy had died down. “Mom? Dad? This is Rogerson Biscoe.” Now they were all looking at us, or more specifically, at Rogerson. I watched as they took in his dark, olive skin, his deep green eyes, the bowling shirt. And, of course, the hair. Boo, as always, was the first to speak. “Hello, Rogerson,” Boo said. “I'm Boo Connell.”

“Stewart,” Stewart chimed in, waving. “Hi,” Rogerson said. My mother gave him a polite smile as she extended her hand. “Hello, Rogerson,” she said, as he shook it. “Do you, by chance, happen to know the first city to have a population of one million?”

“Margaret, honestly,” my father said. “Your turn is over.”

“Only because you flustered me!” she shot back, reaching to stir her coffee. “Um,” Rogerson said. “It's London. Right?” My mother studied his face, then looked at my father, who flipped the card over and glanced at it. “He's right,” he said. “My goodness! London!” she said, slapping her hand on the table and making all the glasses jump. “Of course. London!”

“Pull up a chair for the boy!” Boo said, yanking one over beside her. “I am claiming him for our cause. Have a seat, Rogerson.”

“No, no,” my father protested, already reaching for the top of the box, where the rules were. He lived for the rules, knew them by heart, and referred to them constantly during the game. “It specifically says that no team shall have more than”

“We need to go,” I said loudly over them. “Really.”

“Roll the dice, roll the dice!” my mother said to my father. Boo had already pulled Rogerson down in the chair beside her and handed him some dried figs, which he was holding, politely, but not eating. He looked up at me, half-?smiling, and I just wanted to die of embarrassment. “Okay,” Boo said, patting Rogerson on the arm as she drew out a card. “Stewart and Jack. This was thought in ancient times to be solidified sunshine or petrified tears of the gods. Go!” And my mother turned the hourglass and slammed it on the table. My father, brow furrowed, and Stewart, chewing thoughtfully on a fig, considered this. “Need to give us an answer,” my mother said, needling my father. “Hurry now.”

“I don't know,” my father said, shooting her a look. “Solidified sunshine or tears of the gods ... so it has to be some kind of natural resource....”

“Running out of time,” my mother said, and my father looked at Stewart, who just shook his head, spitting out a bit of fig into a napkin. When the hourglass was empty, my mother clucked her tongue, sliding the dice back to her side of the board. “Okay, then, Rogerson,” Boo said, hiding the card in her hand. “What do you think?” Rogerson looked at me, and I rolled my eyes. “Amber,” he said. “Fossilized resin. Right?” Boo nodded, and my mother's eyes widened, looking up at me, impressed, as if I'd created him myself from scrap. “My goodness, Rogerson,” she said. “You are brilliant,” Boo said, squeezing his arm. “A boy genius! How do you know so much?”

“We really have to go,” I said again. “I don't know,” Rogerson said. “Just watch a lot of Jeopardy, I guess.”

“Roll the dice, Margaret,” my father said, standing up. “Roger-?son, it was good to meet you.”