Chapter 5The house was on the other side of Briarville. It was pretty much as far away as we could be from the motel without actually leaving the town. Like the motel and the church, it was surrounded by trees and sort of isolated from the rest of the town. There was no driveway and I figured no one in this town would need a car unless they wanted to leave the town. There was a cobblestone path with moss growing in between all the rocks. I was walking in the front and I got the sense that both Emily and Acario were scared. It was weird because in situations like this, Emily was usually the brave one.
I knocked on the very old, very tall front door.
A lady that looked many years younger than Mary Jean answered. She had a very sour looking face, like she never smiled. “Can I help you?” she asked in an uptight voice.
“Umm,” I stammered nervously, “we were looking for Keene Jones. Does he live here?”
“Yes,” she replied with a cool gaze. “He lives here, however as his aunt, I don’t allow him to have visitors. They are distractions to his work.”
“Work? Mary Jean from the general store told us he was about our age.”
“His age is no concern of yours. Leave my residence at once!”
Then we heard a distant voice and footsteps. “Aunt Clementine? Is someone at the door?” The footsteps became closer and Clementine remained silent as did Emily and Acario. In fact, Emily and Acario had become so silent I had to turn around to make sure they hadn’t left me there! “Hello,” said a boy that I guessed was Keene. “Who are these people?”
“No one dear,” Clementine dismissed us as if we were not even there. “They were right about to leave.”
Ignoring his aunt, Keene turned to us and with a frown asked, “Who are you and what are you doing at my house?”
Emily found her voice and stepped out from behind me. “I’m Emily and my parents recently bought the old motel. These are my friends visiting from the city. This is Patricia,” she said while gesturing at me, “and this is Acario. Mary Jean said since I was new in the neighborhood, I may want to introduce myself to you.”
“Well,” he said smiling now, “I’m certainly glad you did. It’s nice to meet you . All of you.” He shook all of our hands before turning back to his scowling aunt. “I’ve finished all of my school work that Bartleby assigned me and all of my chores and it isn’t even noon yet. May I please go with these people to lunch?”
“We didn’t invite you to lunch,” I pointed out politely.
“You were thinking it,” he said and Emily and I exchanged a confused glance.
“Alright,” Clementine said, “you may,” Keene cut her off and said quickly ,
“But, don’t get into any trouble.”
“I won’t!” I had a strange feeling that poor Keene didn’t get out much.
“So,” I started casually when we started walking, “the librarian is the teacher?”
“O no,” he shook his head, “we have no teachers in this town. Bartleby is simply my tutor.”
“I see,” I said.
“Are we going to go back to the motel and get food for a picnic like we planned?” asked Emily.
“I don’t see why not. Does that sound good to everyone?” I asked.
They all nodded. “Excuse me,” started Keene looking at Acario, “what is your name again?”
“Acario,” Acario said quietly.
“What an unusual name,” Keene said. Acairo said nothing and we kept walking, headed toward the motel. It was fairly windy, but the sun shined brightly and though it was warm out, it wasn’t quite hot.
“Wait,” I said, “was there never a school in this town?”
“There was,” said Keene, “but it closed before I was born. It was actually connected to the old church, near the motel. The school closed down because not only was it hard to find good teachers, but there were not nearly enough kids so the town agreed to stop spending thier money and time on the school. The church was open for a few years afterward, some of my earliest memories are going to church. The priest died and was never replaced.”
“So that’s what happened to the church,” Emily mumbled.
“Yeah,” Keene said. “What’s it like living in the city?”
“Well,” I started, “It’s louder, there are more people and more buildings. It’s not that great really. It like it here better. It’s peaceful.”
“Just try living here for a few weeks,” said Emily. “I miss home and our school. I don’t understand why my parents thought it would be a good idea to live out here.”
“Miss school? It’s summer!” I laughed.
“Yeah well,” she said struggling to come up with something to say, “it turns out there are things even more boring than math class.”
“I agree with Patricia,” said Acario. I like it here better and I hate school.”
“I thought you were a nerd!” exclaimed Emily. “Nerds love school.”
“Emily!” I said with a glare.
“Well I don’t love school,” Acario said with a frown.
“That doesn’t make sense,” Emily said. “You get perfect grades and all the teachers love you.”
“Yeah well none of the other kids do!” he looked down and said, “my only friends don’t even go to the same school as me.”
“Who are...,” Emily started to ask, “O you mean us.” Emily looked guilty. but didn’t say anything. Keene looked uncomfortable, clearly not used to people quarreling like this.
I saw we had reached the foot of the hill leading up to the motel so, to ease the mood, I said, “race you guys to the top!” I took off and hoped that someone would follow me so that I didn't look stupid and childish.