The Miller Miles
We hit Phoenix and the heat was nearly too much to handle while still buried among all the junk in the hatch back of the car. It had been a long journey to get down to our destination. Part of me wondered if we would ever make it at all, especially with all the strange characters we met along the way. It took us a week to finally get to where we had originally set out for.
A nasty surprise waited for us when we pulled up to the slum area Byron's father lived in. He was standing outside waiting for us to pull up.
"Who are all these people," his Dad asked. "Never mind that. You and your sister get into the house." He glared at Jason and myself. Jason cowered in fear. He stood frozen in place, not sure of what to do or say. It was the first time I had seen Jason not be in complete control since the journey began. Suddenly it became clear - he was nothing but a bully, and we were all younger than he was and therefore easier to push around. Jason was terrified of an adult male. Somehow I suspected abuse.
"I don't know where you came from, and I don't really care, but you aren't staying here. Both of you, get lost."
"But," I started, wanting more than anything to tell him about Stephanie. She needed him. "What's going to happen to Byron and Stephanie?"
"That's none of your concern, but if you must know I'm going to send them back where they came from... without the car." He said he would put them both on a bus home the next day. He also forbid me from saying goodbye to either one.
I sat on the curb and cried. Desperately I wracked my brain. That was what I had originally wanted, to get to Phoenix and part ways with those crazy people before they did something stupid, like hold up a liquor store. Jason turned and began to cry as well. I held back my tears, realizing that Stephanie might be able to see me. I needed to be strong for her. I stood up, marched straight towards Byron's father and asked him if I could just use the phone.
"Yeah," he said, softening a bit. "Do you need the phone book?"
"Yes please." Jason looked around at me, hopeful. One look from me was all it took. He knew that he wouldn't ever see my face again. He hung his head and cried again, all hope was lost.
"You need money for a taxi," the father asked me.
"No thank you, Sir." I thumbed through the pages of the phone book and held the cordless phone in my hand. My finger traced the names on the "C" page until I found the one I was looking for. There, in the middle of the page, was the one I wanted. I dialed the phone.
"Hi, um... is this Mike?"
"Yeah, who's this?"
"It's Amanda, Bob and Beth's kid."
"Well hi there!" Mike had always been warm and friendly. He was like an uncle to us kids when we lived in Victorville together. His step-daughter Jodie had been like a sister to me. I had even helped them move. It was a shot in the dark and pure hope that they hadn't moved. It looked like my luck was holding out. I didn't know another living soul in Arizona except an Aunt who's last name I didn't remember. "How have you been? Did you want to talk to Jodie?"
"Mike, I actually need to talk to you."
I spilled a good portion of my story to him over the phone and then asked if he would come and get me. Without hesitation, he said he would. I gave the address to him as Byron's father gave it to me, and we hung up. Within an hour, I saw the friendly, familiar face. His wife Julie was quite upset with me though, rightfully so.
That was the end of the miles I spent with Byron Miller.
Rumor had it that Stephanie ended up staying with her father after it was discovered that she was actually pregnant. For a long time there was no definitive answer as to who the father was, but later on it was discovered that it was actually her Step-Fathers child she carried to term. Stephanie kept my garnet ring.
Byron went back to his Grandparents and I saw him once or twice in school. He ended up dropping out and getting a job mowing lawns. I lost track of him after one night filled with revenge and hatred that I regret to this very day. That will be shared in one of my following stories.
Nobody in Utah heard from or saw Jason ever again. To some degree, I'm not even sure Jason was his real name.
The story is far from over at this point, but this was the end of the Miller Miles in my life. The next series of events would later lead to my finally leaving home for good.