HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 106

A taxi wailed on its horn and swerved around them as Tommy pulled up to the curb. The kid leaned back on the seat and put his feet up on the armrest. Tommy got out of the car and opened the back door.

“Get out of my car,” he said.

“Not until you tell me what’s going on,” the kid replied.

“I don’t think so,” Tommy said.

He reached inside but his hand passed right through the kid’s arm. The kid stuck his tongue out at Tommy. Tommy glanced at Frederica pleadingly. She shrugged.

“Come on, kid,” he said. “Quit playing around.”

“Okay,” the kid said. “I’m going to start screaming in five… four… three… two….”

“Fine!” Tommy said, slamming the door shut.

He slid behind the wheel and gestured to Frederica.

“I’m Frederica and this is Tommy,” she said. “What’s your name?”

“Robin,” the boy replied.

“Well, Robin, the truth is that I’m a journalism student,” she said. “I wrote a story about some bad people, and those people hired your mother to make life difficult for me. I’m trying to find a way to convince her to stop.”

“Are you going to hurt her?” the kid asked.

“No, of course not,” Frederica replied.

“Oh,” he said, and almost sounded disappointed.

“Do you… want me to?” she asked.

He shrugged.

“How long’s it been since you last saw her?” Frederica asked.

He counted on his hand and held up five fingers.

“Years?” she said.

“Sometimes she sends her friend to check on me,” he said. “But she never comes with. She hates me.”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Frederica said. “I don’t think she’d bother sending anyone if she didn’t care about you. What would be the point?”

“I don’t know,” he said.