Janie’s mom shot into the dining room, yanking the Wings 8-track out of the player. “Fetch your brothers, we’re going to the beach.” She ricocheted out, leaving a Merit 100s trail and ash on the table.


“Soon as I make a call.”

“But it’s pouring, and I need to finish my geography.”

“Do it in the car.”

Twenty minutes later, they were packed into the back of the Bonneville, weaving through Beach Boulevard traffic, windshield wipers a metronome for songs they couldn’t hear because the radio was still busted.

Through the rear-view mirror, Janie spied a thin black line creeping down from behind her mother’s faux Foster Grants.

“You okay?”

“Course I am, do your homework. And Jimmy, quit kicking the goddamned seat.”

Janie squeezed her youngest brother’s knee, pulled him close, and kissed his wavy black hair. Justin was half asleep, his head bouncing against the water-streaked window.

She wished she’d found them sooner. Maybe she’d have heard more than “wants me out, Mama … can I come home?”

Hopefully the storm would pass. It’d be a long drive to Nebraska (especially without a radio), and she knew this band on the run could never afford a jet.