Picket Fences

As a new day dawns on the waves of the Carquinez Strait, it’s a beautiful Saturday morning.

Some residents start their weekend morning routine while others begin theirs with hopes of a fresh start.

In the kitchen, Payton meets his mother, Angela. “Good morning, baby. You’re up early!” Angela exclaims. “Morning, I have to get on the road. I should be back Sunday night,” Payton replies. Angela takes a sip from her teacup and looks at Payton lovingly. “Look at you, turning eighteen in a few days, making weekend plans. I still remember when you were a baby… time went by so fast,” she says. Payton gets up and hugs his mother. “You can’t get rid of me that easily,” he says, comforting his mother. “Okay…okay, you get out of here and call or text me the address when you get there,” she says, giving him permission to leave. “I love you, Mom. I’ll see you Sunday night,” Payton says as he leaves the kitchen and heads to the car he packed the day before.

But Angela isn’t the only one finding it hard to say goodbye. 

Madalyn descends the stairs and finds Sydney looking out of the living room window across the street, wondering what he’s up to. “Do you have any plans, honey?” she asks. “No, Payton’s gone for the weekend. I was just thinking of getting some homework done early,” replied Sydney, starting to head upstairs. Madalyn suggests he join her to meet with vendors for work, adding they could stop by Double Rainbow for ice cream afterward. “That actually sounds perfect,” Sydney says, excitedly, before walking out the door with his mother.

Sydney isn’t the only one excited.

As Payton pulls up in his red BMW, Xavier sees him and takes one last look around the house to ensure that everything is perfect. Payton parks the car and admires the stately home and the breathtaking landscaping around it. Xavier walks up to the car to greet Payton with a hug and says, “I’m so glad you’re here.” “I am too,” Payton responds. Xavier quickly grabs the rest of the bags from the car and leads Payton into the house. Payton is struck by the grandeur of the house and Xavier’s ease in navigating it. He can’t help but feel hypocritical as he thinks about his own privilege but is still in awe. “This is your room, and mine is down the hall,” Xavier says, putting the bags down. “Thank you, it’s nice,” Payton replies. “Lunch is almost ready, I’m making bison burgers and truffle fries,” Xavier says, and heads back downstairs, leaving Payton to unpack. Payton sits on the bed to take in the beautiful room but can’t help thinking about the task at hand. He pulls the flash drive from his bag and puts it in his pocket for later.

But Payton isn’t the only one with an agenda.

Angela is sitting in her living room when she hears a knock at the door. Upon answering, she sees Sara standing there. “So, what do you want me to tell this detective?” asks Sara, pushing past Angela and entering the house. “I’m glad you made the right choice,” Angela replies, closing the door behind her. “Cut the crap. You and I both know I didn’t have a choice,” Sara retorts.

The two women then hear a voice calling from the landing. “Is everything okay down here?” It’s Bruce. “Everything’s fine, just fine,” Angela replies, looking at Sara. “Would you like some tea, Sara?” she asks. “Yeah, I’d love some Earl Grey if you have it,” Sara answers through gritted teeth.