He was what amounted to little more of than social pariah in the view of our town - loud, obnoxious, short-sighted and too often rude. And usually I would come swiftly behind him, apologizing and smoothing things over when he ruffled too many feathers. He’d see this and always get angry, we’d have a brief spat and then he’d ground me and send me to the car where he’d make a big show about yelling at me when he drove us back home eventually.
“Do you think they bought it?” I asked as he locked the door behind us and closed the shades.
“Don’t they always?” He smirked back to me.
In truth, his act was just that - an act. Nobody knew that he had a doctorate in psychology, or that he was funny & well read instead of loud and cantankerous. All of his public image from the moment we’d moved there in the last year was to keep people away. He didn’t have to be rude to them outright, but he wasn’t a social person and them keeping themselves away by not making himself pleasant to be around kept people from badgering him.
As for me? Well being kept under such a ‘oblivious and controlling’ parent solved may problems we’d had before we moved & lived in a place where people asked too many questions about why I never left the house or why I had so few friends my own age. And if I showed up anywhere ‘walking funny’ but in good spirits, they’d see it as me keeping a brave face and not ask me about it.
The whole situation had been discussed at length and completely thought out during our long drive down. He even gave enough room for me to ‘have an out’ if I needed it - I was to be friendly with one boy at my college who I could turn to should I want to ‘run away’ from him. But truthfully, I didn’t need this. I was perfectly happy spending all my time with him and with this airtight ruse in place, I’d never have to explain why.