As usual for this time of day, the house was empty when they arrived. As he threw Rex’s jacket onto the living room couch, Rune remembered his being there just a few days ago, with Annie. He thought about telling Rex what they’d done in the time they had alone before his mother had arrived from work. There would be a certain power released in that revelation, he wouldn’t even have asked Rex to keep it to himself, rather he’d want his friend to inject that story back into the rumor mill, let it stand triumphantly as a lighthouse of truth amid the sea of lies and innuendo. Of course few would care about the truth, but he would know. And Annie. And their teammates on the fencing team. The only people, outside Rune’s family, who mattered to him.
But he walked away from the couch. In the end, he suspected there was more power in withholding the secret than in setting it free.
“It’s in the basement.” Rune opened a door next to the kitchen, narrow stairs leading down; walked down two steps, footfalls echoing in the darkness, then flipped a light switch on the wall to his right. Rex followed, ducking his head to avoid hitting the ceiling. The basement was a cold gray room of concrete walls and floor, and smelled of laundry detergent.
Rex followed his friend around the stairway, past a matching white pair of washing and drying machines (bed linens piled on top of each) — he noted a large floor drain in the middle of the basement — Rune pulled a string over his head, illuminating an area of metal shelving. Rune reached to the top shelf, pulled down a long narrow bag, red with white lines and lettering.
Rex’s eyes widened. “Is that — ”
“Exactly what you think it is.” Rune lowered the bag onto the floor, pulled open its zipper, and with a satisfied smile on his face, lifted an object from the bag, and handed it to Rex.