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42. DARRELL: Be A Man

e walked far enough down the drive that he felt like he was surrounded by forest again, before he decided for sure that Juliette was not going to follow him.

He really wanted to keep going. Find the road that was surely at the end of this track and thumb a ride back home. Do whatever his mom told him from now until the end of time.

But he couldn’t leave Juliette here by herself. Be a man, he told himself. Go back.

She was nowhere to be seen. At first he thought she might have run back into the woods, but then he saw one of the old casement windows pushed in and realized she must have gone inside.

Shit! Tell that girl something she was not supposed to do, and she’d run right toward it, arms open.

Darrell climbed on top of the banged up metal garbage can she must have pulled under the window and peered inside, ruffled granny curtains flapping around his ears.

“Julie?”

“What?” came her muffled voice.

“Where are you?”

“In bed.”

Shit. Telling her to get up and get outside RIGHT NOW, the way Dwayne talked to his wife, was not going to do anything but make Juliette mad. She was like his mom in that way: Nobody was going to boss her around, and especially not a man.

But was Darrell a man? He was back here, going after her, not leaving her alone, because he was trying to be a man in the best possible sense of the word, right? And how could he be a good man, and not a bad man, when he wasn’t sure how to be a man at all?

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