Chapter 4 Watsonville
"Hey, Jake. You should start waking up. We're almost there." Mr. Duncan patted my shoulder as if waking me gently.
I opened my eyes slowly, pretending to just wake up. After driving all Friday, we stayed in a little dinky motel to sleep. Then early Saturday morning, we got up and hit the road again. California is a long state, so to drive from the south to the north would take more than a few hours. This morning I pretended to sleep the rest of the way so I wouldn't have to hear Mr. Duncan's forced small talk any longer.
Don't get me wrong, he seems like the nice guy type, but all he's been talking about is my foster family, The Atkins. The parents both work as real estate agents in a small company they own themselves. They have four boys in high school: a senior, a set of twins in their junior year, and a freshman like me. They live in a quiet house, on a quiet street, in a quiet neighborhood, in a quiet town. Can four teenage boys be described as quiet? It all just sounds like nonsense to me.
"Watsonville is only a city away from the beach. It may be a small community, but there are multiple bigger cities on all sides so you get a bit of everything." Mr. Duncan is just like a machine of endless facts and comments. He exited the highway and started to take some streets. "Mary Atkins and her youngest boy, Noah will be there to greet us. From what I understand, Wayne and the older three boys are on a small trip, but will be home tomorrow."
I stared out the window, with nothing to say. This whole thing feels a bit surreal. I'm no longer a prisoner to my mom, but now the state is going to just put me with a random family? They could be just as crazy.
"Starting Monday, you'll be eligible to go to high school with the other boys. I've already signed you up with Mary and Wayne as your temporary guardians. I've spoken to the school counselor at length about your case so if you have any problems, you can go to her." Mr. Duncan tapped his steering wheel. "I'll leave a piece of paper for you with names and numbers just for clarification. You'll also have a psychiatrist, which you'll need to visit once a week. Mary will get you all signed up and settled with that."
Great. So they think I'm the crazy one.
I started to zone out on what he was saying and started to focus more on what I was seeing. Mr. Duncan was driving through small neighborhoods with the occasional grocery store or fast food restaurant scattered throughout. Definitely a small town feel to it.
"Jake?" Mr. Duncan raise his voice, grabbing my attention. He glanced at me to make sure I was looking at him. "I know that there's a lot to take in. Don't be nervous. I've got your back. If you feel uncomfortable or scared, you should reach out to me or your psychiatrist and we'll find you a new temporary home."
I scoffed inwardly. Scared? What can be scarier than my own mom trying to kill me?
"Your new home is coming up." His driving got slower as we moved through more residential streets. He slowly pulled into an empty driveway of a pink house.
I kid you not. Pink. The two story house was pink, with white shutters framing the windows. A small porch with a wooden swinging bench was very picturesque. Something out a magazine.
I looked at Mr. Duncan, unsure if this was really it. He just gave me a reassuring smile and got out of his car.