Sammy was so excited about visiting Brian that he could hardly sit still as he waited for his friend to arrive. He fidgeted non- stop in the plastic chair in the lobby.
Eventually, Brian arrived just like he’d promised he would. He smiled. “You ready, Sammy?”
Sammy nodded and jumped to his feet to give Brian a hug. Brian held him for a second and then took his hand and led him out of the dreary home and into the warm sunlight outside. It was so bright that Sammy had to blink for a few seconds. He hadn’t stepped outside since he’d arrived at the home and he found that he missed being out of doors.
In this place, there was thick green grass growing on the verge and the sun sparkled off of the clean sidewalk. Back at his home, the sun had barely penetrated their dark, cramped street. The roads there had been grubby and untidy. Things were so much nicer here.
There was sleek, black car parked by the road and it bleeped as Brian deactivated the alarm. He opened the front passenger door and Sammy hopped inside and looked about curiously. He had never been in a car like this before. It was so different to his mother’s rickety old car. His mother… He closed his eyes and thought of her for a moment but then he pushed her away. He didn’t want to be miserable today.
Brian jumped in the other door and did Sammy’s seatbelt for him. “You okay?” he asked.
“Yes,” Sammy said, making sure that Rocky was safe beside him.
Brian smiled at him fondly and then started the engine up. “My place is about an hour from here,” he said.
“Where do you live?” Sammy asked.
“Atlanta. On the outskirts anyway.”
“What’s your house like?”
“You’ll have to wait until we get there won’t you?” Brian teased, as he pulled onto the freeway.
“What’s your job?”
Brian hesitated for a moment. “I’m a performer,” he said, eventually.
“Wow, like an actor?”
“No, I sing.”
“Really? What things do you sing?”
“Pop songs. I’m in a band. Do you remember the four other guys who were with me when I found you?”
Sammy nodded. Rescuers are not people you forget.
“They’re my band mates. We all sing together.”
“You like singing?”
“I love it and the rest of the guys are great too,” Brian said. “What about you? What do you like doing?”
“I like drawing,” Sammy said, shyly. No one had ever been really interested in him before. “I used to have a big box of crayons at home and some paints.”
“I’ll have to get you some more crayons won’t I?”
“Oh, you don’t have to,” Sammy said, going red.
“No it’s all right, I don’t mind.”
“Thank you,” Sammy said. “I never got many presents before.” He remembered that his mother used to buy him little things every now and then but that had stopped once she had lost her job. Once again he had to banish her from his mind. It still hurt too much to think of her, especially all of the nice things she had done for him.
“What pictures do you like drawing, Sammy?”
“I do stories,” Sammy said, proudly. “I did lots with Rocky in.”
Brian grinned. “You’d like Nick, that’s the blond headed friend of mine, he loves drawing as well. He drew pictures of me and the rest of the guys and we all looked terrible!”
“Can I see the others again sometime?”
“Sure you can. They’ve been asking about you a lot. I could bring them with me next time I come to see you.”
“I’d like that,”
For the next hour, Sammy chatted happily to Brian. He hadn’t ever really had anyone who he could really talk to before so it was a real treat to be with someone who seemed to understand him. Brian was quite happy to hear about Sammy’s stories about Rocky and the things that he had been doing at the foster home.
Eventually, Brian pulled onto a more quiet road. He slowed down as they reached a small cluster of shops.
“Wanna stop for ice creams?” he asked Sammy. “There’s a great place just here.”
“Yes please!” Sammy replied, hardly believing his luck.
Brian grinned and turned into a car park. Sammy bounded out of the car and looked about him. The ice cream parlour was painted a bright blue. Outside were white tables with sky blue umbrellas, shielding people from the strong sun. A few people were seated at the tables slurping away at cones of ice cream.
“Come on,” Brian said, taking Sammy’s hand.
Sammy happily walked beside Brian while taking in everything around him. This was nothing like his run down home area where he had lived with his mother. The grass was green and well watered and flowers had been planted along the paths. The side walk was clean and well swept and the buildings were completely free of the graffiti he was used to. As they approached the ice cream parlour though, he began to feel uneasy. Why were people staring?
“This is a lovely place. I swear it does the best ice creams in the country!” Brian said, ignoring the stares.
“I haven’t had ice cream since I was at Dylan’s party. That was months ago,” Sammy said, remembering the tiny bowl of vanilla he’d tried back then.
“In that case we’ll have to make sure you get a big one!” Brian said, smiling and leading Sammy into the parlour.
Inside an elderly man was cleaning a spare table. He looked up when they walked in. For a second, his eyes lingered on Sammy, curiously. He seemed surprised at something. He smiled at them both.
“Hi Brian! Long time no see!” he said, moving back behind the counter. “Been touring?”
“Yeah, but I’m done now. Last show was on Tuesday,” Brian replied.
“Everything go okay?”
“Nick fell over during the finale, but yeah it went great! How have you been?”
“Oh, I’m all right. How can one not be when you’re surrounded by ice cream all day!” He winked at Sammy. “So what’ll it be?”
The counter was too tall for Sammy to see in properly so Brian carefully picked him up and showed him the dozens and dozens of ice cream pots. Sammy had never seen so many flavours in his entire life. He thought he’d been lucky at Dylan’s just to get vanilla but now he was confronted with cookie dough, chocolate, peppermint, fudge, strawberry and pots of others.
“So what would you like?” Brian asked.
Sammy was spoilt for choice. “I’ve never tried any of these before,” he said. “What are you having?”
“Me? Same as always, choc chip cookie dough!”
“Can I try one as well?”
“Sure you can. Tell you what, we’ll make it double. What other flavour do you want as well?”
Eventually, Sammy chose plain chocolate to go with it and was soon licking at a huge ice cream. Brian paid for both of them. The man handed him the change and once again stared at Sammy. “I never knew you had a son, Brian.”
Sammy stopped mid lick and felt his face burn slightly.
“He’s not mine,” Brian said, eventually. “He’s my little friend. His name’s Sammy.”
“Really? Well I’ll see you both again. Bye Sammy.”
Sammy followed Brian out of the parlour and once again felt stares upon them. He shuffled closer to Brian. Why was everyone so interested in them?