38 Years Old (Never Kissed a Girl): Chapter Eight
Author’s Note: This is Part 8 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.
About six months before, Tony had hit me in the gut with an old boxing glove. That punch knocked the wind out of me for about five minutes. But that hit was nothing like hearing the word ‘dead’ that night. That four-letter word crushed everything around it. It had momentum, like the metal press at the plant. Once someone pulled that lever—said that word in that way—there was no slowing it down and no taking it back. The world closed down tight, and became that one word. Dead.
“Jesus Christ,” my father gasped, apparently hit by the same steel-bending force.
“Michael?” Even with the door closed, I heard Mom sob. There was a pause, and the officer cleared his throat.
“Mike, why don’t you come down to the station with us? We’ll talk things over. Mr. Mallory, why don’t you follow us down there?”
“Let me grab my boots.” Mikey wasn’t going to put up a fight. Mikey was a bright kid, most of the time. He shut up and slid his tarred-up work boots on, and I listened as he and the officers walked slowly down the sidewalk to the awaiting patrol car. The car door slammed, and then our front door closed. My father rushed to his bedroom. My mother’s panicked voice echoed through the house. My father spoke in hushed tones barely audible through the thin walls. Everything moved so quickly. We kids shuffled from the door to the wall to find the best place to hear the conversation.
“I don’t know, Anne. I’ll go down there, and see what’s going on.”
“Oh, Michael…” Mom’s voice trailed off. Their bed squeaked. “It’s has to be a mistake, Les. This has to be a mistake. Michael wouldn’t hurt anyone. Michael’s such a good child. He wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
“I’ll talk to him. We’ll get a lawyer. Everything will be fine. Get some sleep. I’ll call you if I find anything out.”
Dad’s boots stomped across the floor. The engine in Dad’s old Buick growled to life, then roared down the street. Our hearts raced. Mom sobbed in her room.
We shuffled back to our beds, and climbed in. None of us could get right back to sleep, but none of us said a word.