38 Years Old (Never Kissed a Girl): Chapter Five
Author’s Note: This is Part 5 of a series of posts serializing my novella 38 Years Old (Never Kissed a Girl). For more information on the origins of this novella, including all disclaimers, and a complete chapter list, please see the announcement regarding this series.
Mom and Dad pulled back into the driveway hours later, exhausted and silent. The tension in the room rose as they walked in the door. Mom broke down crying as soon as she scooped me off the floor.
“Is Cathy going to be alright?” Brenda had been helping Aunt Doris prepare dinner, and came out of the kitchen when she heard them drive up.
“They’re going to keep her for a couple of days.” Dad sat wearily in his chair at the table, and pushed has hair back from his face. His Sunday-best suit looked like it had been left in a corner for three weeks under a load of other laundry. His bleary eyes were ringed with red.
“Can I get you anything, Les?” Aunt Doris emerged from the kitchen, toweling off her hands.
“Tea, please, Doris.” It took him a moment to register. “Where’s Mike?”
“He went off with Billy around noon,” I reported. Dad looked at Doris for confirmation. She nodded slightly. Dad’s jaw flexed. His hand slammed down on the table, rattling the silverware and sloshing the water in the glasses. The sound stopped everyone in their tracks.
“Damn it. I told him not to leave the house.” Dad got up and went to the phone, and dialed Billy’s house. The phone didn’t ring long before it was picked up.
“Hi Karl. It’s Les Mallory. Is Michael there?” He paused while he got the answer, which was apparently “No.”
“If you see him, tell him to get his ass home, now. Thanks.” He slammed down the phone, then dialed another number, and checked with Mike’s on-again off-again girlfriend. She hadn’t seen him all day, but had heard about Cathy. She kept him on the phone for a moment, and he hung up gruffly.
“Dad, what happened to Cathy?” Ricky stayed at the far end of the room, leaning up against a door jamb, thumbs shoved into his pockets.
“We’re not sure, Ricky.” Dad’s hand slid down the wall next to the phone. “Someone beat her up last night, and left her down by the high school. Mikey found her down there this morning, and took her to the hospital.”
The high school had two famous make-out spots on the weekend: the back parking lot, which was surrounded by trees, and a courtyard in the center of the U shaped building. The cops patrolled it once in a while, but it wasn’t in a high-crime part of town, so it wasn’t a regular beat. With the long weekend and all, most of the cops were on the road, picking up drunken teens closer to the water.
“Who did it, Dad? Why would they beat her up?” Brenda’s eyes filled with tears again. I was having a hard time comprehending what ‘beat up’ meant, when taken to this extreme. Ricky and Tony sometimes beat me up, but if it ever crossed the line to even so much as a black-eye, Dad would have skinned them alive.
“We don’t know.” Dad may have been telling the truth, but his eyes said he was lying. “The police are looking into it.”
Mom set me down and put a hand on Dad’s shoulder. They weren’t going to tell us anymore. Not tonight. “Get ready for dinner kids.”
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