This is the intro chapter for Tommy Langley of the Invisibles
“Didn’t I tell you to put more beer in the fridge, you useless brat?”
Tommy dodged just in time to avoid another punch to the head, but he wasn’t fast enough to avoid the kick that followed.
“We’re out of beer. You finished the last case,” Tommy said, grabbing his shin.
“You stupid pain in the ass, why didn’t you tell your mother?”
Tommy’s mother stood at the stove, silently stirring a pot of oatmeal. Tommy had told his mother. She must have forgotten. It was not surprising. At 26 years old, Donna Langley was trying to take care of five kids while evading an abusive, shiftless husband. Tommy read the fear in her eyes.
“I’m sorry. I forgot to tell her.” Tommy stood there, waiting for the next, inevitable smack. He had learned that it was usually better to stand there and take the abuse than try to escape it. If you made Bob Langley work too hard to dole out his punishment, it was inevitably worse.
This time, the smack to the head brought tears to Tommy’s eyes. He quickly wiped them away. That was the second rule. Crying just instigated his masochistic stepfather. Sympathy and mercy were two words that did not even exist in Bob Langley’s vocabulary.
Langley abruptly turned his attention to Tommy’s mother. “Finish taking care of those kids. I need you to go get me some beer.”
Donna Langley silently took the pot off the stove and put it in the sink. She grabbed the baby out of the high chair and made her way to the bedroom to get dressed. Bob sauntered back to his throne in the TV room - king of his castle once more.
As soon as his stepfather was settled in his chair, Tommy went to the sink and got the pot of congealing oatmeal. Like hungry birds, his three younger siblings sat, waiting expectantly, spoons poised for action. Tommy filled each of their bowls, adding sugar and milk. A mild feeding frenzy ensued.
Tommy ran water in the empty pot while he threw together some lunches for himself and his two twin brothers. They would be heading to school while his two infant sisters would stay with his mother.
Tommy hustled the young boys out of the house to wait at the corner for the bus. Then he picked his four-year-old sister up and brought her to her bedroom to help her get dressed. His mother was already there, changing the baby. They didn’t speak, but Tommy’s mother came up behind him and planted a kiss on his cheek.
A traitorous tear rolled out of the corner of his left eye. “I have to go to school,” he mumbled as he sat his sister on the bed. He left the room quickly and gathered his lunch and books before slipping out of the back door.
Tommy ran to the bus stop. He hated school, but it still beat being at home when he was there. Bob Langley would disappear for days at a time. Tommy lived for those occasions, but he dreaded the man’s return. As a general rule, his stepfather was usually at some stage of being drunk or hung over, but at the back side of an extended bender, he was even more vicious than usual.
Tommy didn’t understand why his mother stayed with the man. Sure, it would be scary, leaving with five kids in tow, but no scarier than being used as a punching bag on a daily basis. It wasn’t as if they needed the guy. Bob Langley definitely took more than he gave. What money he brought into the household from his disability insurance, he drank away, and then some.
Tommy pulled a curtain down over those thoughts. He was at the bus stop. He scanned the crowd of kids mulling around on the side of the road. She wasn’t here today either. He couldn’t believe that he actually missed her, but he did.
He’d been looking for Sara at school, but so far he hadn’t seen her. She was two years younger than he was, so they didn’t share any classes. Maybe she was sick. It had been over a week since Tommy had seen her at the bus stop.
He hoped she was all right. Maybe he should go to her house and ask about her. ‘Nah! That would be lame.’
“Hey. Any of you guys know where Piller Miller is? It’s kind of boring here with no one to tease?”
They all shook their heads in the negative.
“I guess we’ll just have to find someone to fill in for the little blimp,” Smitty said, stepping threateningly toward a little third grader.
“Nah,” Tommy said, “I don’t want to have to break someone new in. We’ll just wait for Miller to get back.
Check out the next chapter
"The Invisibles Chapter 3 - Billy"
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