Picket Fences

As midday sets in, the residents of the waterside town take their lunch and coffee breaks, some opting to take their dogs for midday strolls. One resident takes this time to dig for information. 

Payton clicks the Angela Wingate tab and it opens to more files and documents and saved pictures of houses, cars and clothes, some of which his mother owns. Payton starts to scroll through the file and finds voice notes labeled “Sessions.” Payton clicks on “Session 1,” and the screen displays “(restricted)” and shows a password tab. “Damn,” he whispers to himself, thinking, “What now?” As he falls back on his bed, he looks at the clock and notices it’s almost time to take Sydney to his night classes.

Payton isn’t the only one trying to get information.

Across the street in the Walker home, Hank has just arrived. “Madd, you here?” “Yes, I’m in the kitchen,” she replies. “You got another package,” he says, putting the package on the island.  “I hope this is what I think it is,” Madalyn says, excited to open it. “What is it?” Hank asks, pouring himself a glass of cranberry juice. “It’s a laptop for Sydney,” Madalyn replies. “Wait, didn’t you just buy him a computer?” Hank asks, becoming agitated. “Yes, but this is a laptop for school,” Madalyn said, taking it out of the brown box.  Hank looks at the laptop box, “You got him a MacBook Pro 16”, that’s a $2500 laptop, Madalyn. I think you’re going too far,”  Hank says, putting both his hands on the counter in frustration. “You’ve redone his room; a full closet of new clothes. I mean, it’s a lot don’t you think?” Hank asks, looking at her with quiet anger. Madalyn tries to take a breath to calm herself before she answers. “Hank, he is our son and we have already lost so much time and a few new things doesn’t even scratch the surface of what we have to make up for, God only knows what happened to him—”  Hank cuts her off, “How are we doing on that front? He’s been here almost two months and we still don’t know where he came from or who he—” Hank catches himself. Madalyn is frozen in shock. “Go ahead and say it … I’ll tell you who he is, he is our son … our son.” Madalyn says standing firm.  Hank pauses, “I know that, but don’t you want to be sure? The hospital has been asking to do blood work and I think we should do it,” Hank says. Madalyn picks up the laptop, “We are not going to push him, and I know he’s my son and you need to get on board and stop with all this.”

Upstairs, Sydney closes the bedroom door and lets out a deep breath of relief that his mother had his back.  The argument is broken up by a knock at the door.  Madalyn walks away to answer it as she hears Hank mutter under his breath, “Our son.” “Hi, Payton. Sydney! Payton is here,” Madalyn calls out.

Sydney starts to descend the stairs and makes eye contact with Hank. Hank nods. Sydney never breaks eye contact and doesn’t say a word, making the hairs on Hank’s neck stand up.  “Hi Payton, thank you for coming with me,” Sydney says, greeting Payton. “Wait, I got you something to help with school,” Madalyn says, surprising Sydney with the laptop. “Wow,”  Payton says. “Yeah, Mom, thanks,” Sydney says, hugging Madalyn and glaring daggers at Hank. Hank feels the hostility. “I’ll help him set it up before class,” Payton offers. And with that, Madalyn watches the two boys pull off in Payton’s red BMW. 

Sydney isn’t the only one receiving a gift.

Xavier is heading to his room when he overhears a conversation between his parents, talking about their weekend plans. His father is notably frustrated with the conversation. Xavier peeks his head into the bedroom. “What’s up, you two?” Xavier asks. “Nothing … your father planned a weekend getaway as a surprise but it’s on the same weekend I planned to check in on your grandmother’s house in Atherton,” Olivia replies.  Xavier sees his father roll his eyes. “It usually takes all weekend. I have to air out the house, open all the windows, run the water and I have a plumber coming and the gardener coming too, it’s a  whole thing, I don’t how she handled it all those years when she was alive.” She says with a sigh. “Let me do it and you two can have your weekend. Just leave me a list,” Xavier offers. “No, I wouldn’t ask you to do that,” Olivia says, looking at her husband. “Let him do it, it’ll be fine,” he says, taking her hand. “Okay … but if you have any questions, call us. Are you sure? It’s a big house, you’ll be there all by yourself,” Olivia says, giving in. “I’ll be okay Mom; you guys have fun.”  Xavier walks quickly to his room to text Payton: “Hey, call me, I have an idea.”