“If you ever get close to a human
And human behaviour
Be ready, be ready to get confused…
There's definitely, definitely, definitely no logic…”
Partial lyrics from "Human Behaviour" by Bjork
Two weeks had gone by swimmingly for Odesssa. Her newly formed liaison with The Boy was naturally blossoming and their pairing had been the envy of many fellow Llanview High students, as they had quickly become one of the school’s “It” couples. However, Odessa still had her university entrance applications and essays to finish up, as well as completing a few time-consuming projects for some of her advanced classes. Although the workload cut into her time with The Boy, they still made each time for each other by keeping up the lunch meetings they’d set up long before, as well as her quick visits to him on days he was working, or meeting up briefly after school at the Diner Vega. A couple of times during the weekends, The Boy skipped his usual retreat to Llantano Mountain, so that he and Odessa would sneak off into Philly, as there wasn’t much to do in Llanview anyway. The Boy had even called her a few times, saying he could get use to the using the phone more often again, just so he could hear her voice. His calling Odessa had prompted her father to inquire about him, and she told her parents about her new relationship with The Boy, with the exception of his riding a motorcycle. Her mother was happy for Odessa, as long as her relationship with The Boy did not distract her from her schoolwork, of course. Her father was less enthusiastic, but that was to be expected. At any rate her parents wanted to meet The Boy and wanted Odessa to invite him to dinner at their house. Odessa was fine with the idea, but insisted on a meeting at The Palace. That way, her dad would --hopefully-- be less inclined to interrogate The Boy, and it would be easier to hide the fact that he rides a motorised two-wheeler. All three eventually agreed on lunch at The Palace on Sunday afternoon.
Aside from all that, to Odessa’s surprise Gisella hadn’t given her much trouble. But that was due to her being unaware of both Skyler and Nicole confronting Gisella privately, threatening to have Randy and Jacob spread vicious rumours about her to members of the football, boy’s basketball, and baseball team, if she tried interfering with new “It” couple’s relationship. Gisella was infuriated with the threat but she complied, as she wanted to protect her “reputation” by all means.
It was now Thursday, the day before Halloween, and Derek, Kiko and The Boy had been at Odessa’s house for a last-minute study group for their chemistry test the next day. Kiko’s parents had drawn up divorce papers the previous weekend, and making her extremely upset with the situation, and became distant for a few days. Odessa had been worried about her but at their study session, she was happy to see Kiko actively participating and laughing along with them. She knew her best friend well, and Kiko snapping out of her blues was definitely a good sign to her. Their session lasted about 90 minutes and after finishing up their session, Derek and Kiko left as The Boy stayed behind.
“Hey Tim, do you want another soda?” Odessa called out from the kitchen.
“Nah, I’m good, thanks!” The Boy answered, who was in the den looking at a family photo album on the bookshelf.
“You were a really pretty little girl, and I like this picture of you in a rabbit suit,” The Boy said when Odessa entered the room, drinking chocolate milk, and joined him on the couch.
“Oh goodness, that picture is so embarrassing!” she chuckled. “I was the Easter Bunny in my kindergarten class play, and I remember I hated wearing that suit. It was so freaking itchy! I still don’t know why my parents keep that thing on display.”
The Boy smiled, put the photo album down and sat closer to her. “Well it’s obvious why you say your dad scares away boys who get near you… going from beautiful child to an even more gorgeous girl.”
Odessa frowned. “Tim, you don’t have to keep commenting on how I look,” she said quietly.
“Why not? I’m only calling it like I see it… it bothers you?”
“I just don’t think it’s necessary, that’s all.” She got up to put away the album back on the shelf. He was staring at her, confused.
“Oh, remember you were asking me about seeing some of my photography work? Let me go get a couple of my portfolio books.”
The Boy was still thinking about earlier remark. “Odessa… I--”
“I’ll be right back,” she didn’t let him finish and quickly went off to fetch some of her camera work. She came back she had with her two albums from her ample collection of work. The selections she brought down were of her digital work: one was an album of black and white pictures; the other with work in several types of colour tints. All of her subject matters, which were of people, animals, events, and so forth, were beautifully shot in different angles and perspectives, the majority manipulated with different styles to them.
However, The Boy had made his way onto the front porch and was sitting comfortably on the porch bench. He looked at her and smiled when she came outside. “The bench was starting to call my name.” He took the portfolios from her and began looking through them, as she stood next to him. “Wow! These are really good… I can’t believe you’ve already decided not to go for a career in photography.”
“Thanks, but it’s just an intense hobby of mine. In terms of a career, I’m not sure on that yet, but I know I want to work with computers. I’ve think I’ve decided to major in computer graphics when I start university. That’s where all the glamour is when it comes to that kind of thing, I think, especially with graphics getting better and better.”
The Boy smiled. “That’s cool. So how is it you have such a knack for getting ‘Kodak moments’?”
Odessa pondered over the question. “Hmm, well I think I was about 3 or 4 when my Uncle Michael gave me one of those View Master toys where you see shots of different things, and I know it wasn’t a camera, but seeing those images behind the lenses… through an intimate perspective… I dunno… it gave me the chills as a little kid and I loved the feeling…”
“Well, from what I’ve seen I can say that you definitely have an eye for capturing the beauty in things,” The Boy admirably complimented.
Odessa remembered the photos she took of The Boy. In your case, I can definitely say so… The third photo she’d inadvertently taken of him was tucked away in one of her folders on her desk. “Why thank you, but that’s all left up to the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?”
“Maybe so… but for many people it should be obvious as hell if something, or someone, in particular is seen as attractive… at least, I know I do.”
Odessa cleared her throat and quickly changed the subject. “So what about you? Have you thought more about what you’ll do after graduation?”
The Boy was quiet for a bit but then got up to sit against on the porch rail, his back against the support. “Not really… In theory I probably should, but the past few years have been rough… Now that I’m trying to get my life back together, I think I’ll worry about what I’ll do when the time comes.” He stopped then smiled. “But I do love working on cars and bikes, though.”
Odessa rubbed his arm gently. “I see… It sounds you’ve gone through a lot.”
“That’s beyond an understatement, but forget all that, Babes... all that’s happened to me is in the past now.”
“Fair enough, I won’t press on it. Instead, how about you to put those lips of yours against mine, and we call it ‘macaroni’?”
“So cheesy,” The Boy chuckled shaking his head. He got off the rail and pulled her closer to him with one arm, nuzzling his nose against hers. “But your wish is my command, Yankee Doodle…”
They stood there tenderly kissing each other, when a black Mustang convertible drove by and honked. It then reversed and pulled into the McBain driveway. It was John Cramer Manning, better known as "Jack" to everyone around him. “Hey Ode!” Jack greeted as he came out of the car. He pushed forward the driver’s seat and to let out a little person; it was with his five year-old niece, Rosie.
“Hi Jack, how’s it going?” Odessa greeted as she started walking down the porch steps, picking up The Boy’s helmet that was placed on one of the steps; The Boy followed her down.
Jack was carrying Rosie, who was eating a lollipop, and set her down when he reached the steps. “Oh, not too bad really... I skived off early from work today, and I told Starr I’d pick up little Rosie from school today. We just came from the gas station for some sweets and while driving by, we saw you. I know I’ve interrupted your moment--” he said as he looked at The Boy. “--but Rosie really wanted to say ‘hi’.” Rosie was hiding behind Jack “Oh now you want to be shy, huh? Aren’t you going to say ‘hello’ to Odessa?”
“Hi Odetha!” Rosie said with her squeaky voice, snuck a little peek at The Boy and giggled.
Odessa went over to her, bent down and squeezed the little girl’s cheeks. “And hello to you too, angel!” She rose up and noticed Jack give The Boy a curious look. “Oh Jack, I want you to meet my boyfriend Tim, and Tim, this is Jack Manning, Jamie’s fiancé, if you remember me telling you about him some time ago. And this is his niece Rosie; I babysat her a few times over the summer.”
“Nice to meet you Mr. Manning… and congratulations on your recent engagement,” The Boy stood up to shake hands with him. He then down looked at Rosie and smiled.
“Hey there, little lady.” Rosie responded by shyly waving to The Boy, giggled again and then hid behind Jack’s back. The other three laughed.
“Thank you, but there’s no need to call me ‘Mister’. I’m no old man yet! So please call me Jack, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, too…” A Cheshire grin grew on his face.
“So you two are dating huh? I have to say you’ve got yourself quite a catch there, Tim, but watch out! I’ve known her for many years now, and take it from me… Ode can be quite a handful,” he kidded.
“You know what, Jacques? I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that,” Odessa said in mock-retort.
“No worries here, I think I can handle her,” The Boy said whilst giving her a little squeeze around her waist.
Jack noticed Odessa holding The Boy’s helmet. “Whoa, Ode! Since when did you get all ‘Biker Babe’?”
Odessa laughed. “It’s not mine! Dad wouldn’t have any of that! It’s actually Tim’s.”
“Ahh, okay… so that’s your Suzuki machine in the driveway eh? I gotta tell ya, you’ve got one hell of a beauty there, Odessa aside!”
“Uhh, thank you Mr. Manning,” The Boy blushed, surprising Odessa since it was something she’d had never seen him do before.
“You know, my old man has been collecting bikes for a few years now, and I’ve just bought a vintage Italian Ducati Turismo that I plan on giving him for Christmas, even though my stepmother is gonna kill me for that since she doesn’t like motorcycles,” he sniggered. “Anyway, I’m hiding it at my place, and it needs to be fixed-up. I’m wondering if you know any trustworthy bike mechanics around town.”
Odessa proudly stepped in, “Actually, Jack, not only does Tim work at the auto shop, but he’s also had plenty of experience working at a biker shop too.” The Boy gave her a slight panicky look, which she did not notice.
“Really? I don’t suppose you’d be interested in helping me restore the bike then, if you have time that is…”
The Boy was flattered but obviously debating. “Wow, a Turismo... Gee Mister, uh… I mean Jack, I don’t know…”
“I know a thing or two about motorcycles, and I don’t’ know why, but I’m getting a good feeling you know your stuff really well, too. With the two of us working on it, I’m sure we’d be able to finish before Christmas time hits up. If it’s school or your job you’re worried about we can plan out a schedule that’ll work for both you and me… and I’ll pay you handsomely,” Jack baited.
“Jack, stop trying to put pressure on him!” Odessa teased.
“That’s okay… I’m not worried about school, work. And money won’t be a problem either, so forget that…” The Boy said. Odessa looked at him incredulously.
Rosie who’d been happily munching away on the rest of her lollipop suddenly spoke up. “Uncle Jack! I hafta go to da potty!”
“Oh okay, sweetie, uh… Ode, is it alright if Rosie can use your bathroom?”
“Of course! I’ll take her in while you continue to harass Tim…” and Odessa went inside with Rosie.
After Rosie finished using the bathroom, she was cheesing when she came out. “Odetha, guess what? I think Tim is cuuuute!” and she giggled. “Are you two going to get married like Uncle Jack and Auntie Jamie?”
Odessa laughed at the little girl’s innocence. “Yes, he is cute, but no, we’re not getting married! I’m still too young to marry anybody.”
“Oh, okay... but if you do marry him, I want to be in your wedding, too!"
"Sure thing, Rosie. You'll be in it..."
"Odetha, why was Tim scared of Uncle Jack?”
Odessa looked at the little girl, confused. “What do you mean, Rosie?”
“When I got out of the car, he looked scared, and then you said ‘biker shop’, he looked scared again.”
Odessa pondered over the little girl’s observation. “Hmm, well I’m not sure why, Rosie, but I’m sure it was nothing bad.” She looked out the window and saw the two fellas over at The Boy’s bike, with which Jack was sitting on. They both were seemingly in happy conversation. Well isn’t that cute? “See Rosie? Look! Tim’s doesn’t look afraid of your Uncle.” She then had a sudden idea. “Actually… will you wait here for a few seconds? I want to run up to my room and get my camera.”
“Okay!” the little girl responded. Odessa quickly ran to her room and since she still had some film left over, she picked out her film camera.
When the two girls came back outside, Jack and The Boy were still in hearty conversation.
“…my bike’s frame is aluminium-alloy truss and has a horsepower of 72.5,” she heard The Boy saying.
“Really, that much horsepower? I guess it uses fuel injection for its system then?”
“Yup, I love that it uses less gas and has a more earth-friendly exhaust system.”
Odessa snapped a picture of the two, breaking them out of conversation. “Look at you both, yapping away over bikes,” she quipped.
“Hehe, I know right? Actually, Starr is taking Rosie costume shopping today, and I should probably get a move on before she wonders what the heck is taking so long. I don’t feel like being the receiver of my sister’s right cross today,” he winked. He looked at Rosie. “You ready to go then, princess?” Rosie nodded her head. Jack looked back at The Boy. “So can I convince you one more time in helping me out, buddy?”
“Hehe, go on, Tim! Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? Except for maybe you actually liking to spend time with Jack,” Odessa quipped.
“Hey now don’t discourage him, O!”
The Boy smiled. “Um… okay sure. I’ll help you,” he finally agreed. Jack was elated and he exchanged contact numbers with The Boy, who Odessa noticed was hesitant to give up.
“Great! I’ll give you a call sometime soon to work out a schedule that’s good for us.” Jack said. After a few more exchange of words, Odessa requested for a photo of Jack, Rosie and The Boy. The Boy was reluctant, but Rosie really liked the idea, giving him a change of heart. Jack and The Boy knelt on either side of Rosie, who was cheesing and had her little arms wrapped around their necks. After Odessa snapped their photo, Jack took one of her, The Boy and Rosie. Afterwards, Jack said his goodbyes to Odessa and The Boy. Odessa asked Jack to greet Starr for her.
Rosie bid her farewell, too. “Byyeee Odetha and Odetha’s boooyfriend!” she said, giggling and running inside Jack’s Mustang.
“Well that was cool! You got yourself a little bike gig there, huh?” Odessa beamed as they started walking back to the porch, when the visitors drove off.
The Boy was still a bit uncertain. “Yeah, I guess so… Jack seems like a cool dude, though… and Rosie’s a really cute kid.”
“Oh he’s awesome, very nice and easy to get on with…” She chuckled. “Rosie thinks you’re cute, too. I’d say she has really good taste,” Odessa said giving him a quick peck on the mouth. They sat on the porch bench this time. “But I’m glad everything seems to be going well for him, which is lucky considering his family went through so much shit many years ago… so I hear.”
“Oh yea? How so?”
Odessa gave The Boy a fuzzy explanation of how many years ago, Jack’s and Starr’s mother, Blair Cramer, had taken up a relationship with a doctor name Spencer Truman, shortly after their father Todd, had been found guilty of killing a pregnant woman by drowning her in a lake at Llantano Mountain. The bodies of the woman and the unborn child had been found in the Mountain’s rocky river. Right before Todd was scheduled to be executed on death row, he was exonerated when an anonymous videotape turned up, showing that the woman had jumped out of the boat on her own, and that he’d actually jumped in the water to look for her. After the tape had shown up, Blair broke things off with Spencer to attempt in reconciling with Todd. Alas, it was all but over for Blair, as Todd saw that Blair did not stand by him throughout his ordeal, feeling she betrayed and threw their love away. He’d basically told her he wanted nothing to do with her ever again. Starr, who was very close to her father, shared the same sentiment, whereas Jack was too young to understand what was going on, even though he’d grown fond of Spencer.
Meanwhile, Odessa’s father, John discovered that Spencer’s ex-wife Paige Miller had botched the operation she performed on his father-- Odessa’s grandfather -- whilst intoxicated, many years before in Atlantic City, which she’d been covering-up; at the time of the operation she had been married to Spencer. What once was designated a cold case it had been re-opened, and Paige was prosecuted and convicted. She lost her licence, and ended up serving time in prison for manslaughter. On top of that, it was also revealed that Spencer’s brother David was the one who shot John’s father, which resulted in him serving time, as well. The combination of Blair breaking up with him, as well as the flack he was receiving for David’s and Paige’s fatal blunders caused Spencer to leave Llanview and move out west, although he’d returned to Atlantic City, only for the purpose of testifying against his brother and ex-wife in court. After a few months, the immense amount of shame Blair was feeling took a toll on her. She reconnected with Spencer and ended up joining him on the West Coast. Although they hadn’t married legally Spencer and Blair had family of their own, raising a son together. Todd had also done a bit of reconnection, this with his other ex-wife, Téa Delgado. The two have been re-married about for going on seven years now -- the longest span Todd had ever gone through, regarding matrimony -- and with Téa taking Todd’s surname the second time around. Until this day, Jack had been the only one in his family who’d spoken with Blair, but he never once asked about Spencer, on his own will, out of loyalty to his father. None of Blair’s family had seen her since she left town all those years ago, and until a couple years previously, communication between her and Jack had become minimal; it’d been at least a year since Jack last spoke with her. However, he discovered through wire reports several months back that Spencer had fallen into a coma nearly two years ago due to abnormal amounts of toxins his body had been producing, his condition still unchanged at the time of Jack’s findings. He never contacted his mother about Spencer’s state, due to his reluctance of opening up “old family wounds.”
After Odessa finished the story The Boy sat still, stunned. “Wow… talk about a whole lotta shit going on, huh? I’m sorry that all that happened to your family.”
“I never knew my grandfather since he died way before I was born, but Mom says Dad was damn near crazy for a spell, since he’d been obsessed in finding his father’s killer. Obviously, he’s at peace now…”
“Well that’s definitely a good feeling… But imagine someone killing a pregnant woman?”
“But Mr. Manning didn’t do it, that’s the thing! And almost everyone really hated him for it until he was proven innocent, literally at the last minute. I’ve never known Mr. Manning all that well, but he does love his family from what I’ve seen. Their whole situation was beyond fucked-up. My mom even represented Mr. Manning, and she always felt he was innocent and was being set-up for the so-called murder. My dad can’t stand him, but he believed that he was innocent too, eventually…”
“Hmm… So your mom tells you about her cases?”
“No, not really, but Jack has told me a few things, and this is a small town… you know how people can talk, right?. Anyway, the stuff that happened with the Mannings is ancient history, but still, people talk.”
“Including you…” The Boy smiled.
“Hehe, it’s not my fault. I act that way courtesy of society.”
The Boy grinned and grabbed his helmet that was now sitting on the rail, where Odessa had placed it before taking Rosie inside. “Right then, well I’m gonna go before either of your parents come home and see my bike in their driveway… I know you haven’t told them about it, yet.”
Odessa looked sheepish and sighed. “I know, I know… But are you nervous about meeting them this weekend? I’ll try my best to make sure Dad doesn’t get all ‘Kojak’ on you, or anything.”
“Honestly Odessa, I’m not thinking about that right now. It’s all about acing that chemistry test tomorrow…” He began given her a series of quick kisses on her face and neck. “…and looking forward to being with you on All Hallow’s Eve, oooooh!!” he said in a mock-spooky voice.
“Oh man! Now I’m almost afraid of what to expect tomorrow!”
“Don’t try to expect anything Odessa… There’s no fun it that!” and The Boy kissed her goodbye before leaving.