W.A.R. Part One - Black Summer
Chapter Five - The Black Eye Affair
by Jeff Wilson
The sky was getting dark far earlier than usual for a summer night. The air felt thick and full. Clouds were billowing higher and darker overhead. There was going to be one hell of a storm later that night. The sound of distant thunder made me quicken my step as I reached the crest of the hill. From this spot I'd be able to see the whole town come winter time. There was even a stump from a tree that Dustin had cut down that made a nice place to just sit and watch the world go by. But now I was more worried about being at the highest place in town and getting struck by lightning.
My mind raced faster than my feet as I walked along. I was a little confused about the events of the day. Brett had always been close to me, yeah, just like a brother. But after today, I couldn't help but look at him a little differently. I couldn't get the picture of his body out of my head, and I really didn't want to. In fact, I was doing everything I could to burn the image into my brain so that I'd never forget it. But we were both boys. I shouldn't be thinking that way about another boy. It's not right. I should be trying to wipe out the mental picture of his butt, not wondering how it would feel to hold it. I shouldn't be so curious about when he was going to be able to shoot. I shouldn't be thinking about how it would have felt to touch him without clothes when I had the chance, or how his fingers had felt so good when they touched my bare chest. I shouldn't have been thinking about how it would have felt to feel his body against mine.
I made it out of the woods in time to feel the first fat heavy drops of rain begin to fall. I started to run toward my house, hoping that I wouldn't be too drenched by the time I got inside. It didn't work though. The heavens opened up and a deluge of rain fell from the sky like a waterfall. A blast of lightning and an explosion of thunder knocked out the power just as I reached the safety of the porch. I dug into my pocket for my key, but was surprised to find the door was already unlocked.
"Where the fuck have you been?"
I was startled when I heard my father's voice coming from the darkened living room. He had just lit some candles which cast an ominous glow on his twisted and angry features. My mind raced as I tried to find the best answer to say. Why was he so angry at me? Had he found out that I had gone through his belongings? He must have found the tape was missing. It was the only explanation.
"Well, William Aaron? Answer me goddammit!" he shouted.
I began to speak but couldn't find my voice. He'd already scared the crap out of me when I got home. Now he was pissed off and waiting on my answer. I licked the inside of my mouth and swallowed hard, but there was still no moisture in my mouth.
"I was at Brett's place," I finally answered. I slung my book bag over my shoulder and hoped he didn't ask to see inside it.
"You were at Brett's place?" dad repeated from the dark shadows.
"Yeah. I don't understand. What's the big deal?" I asked. I kept waiting for him to drop the bomb and ask me what I was doing going through his stuff.
"What the hell were you doing at Brett's place?"
"We were just hanging out," I managed to say.
"'Just hanging out?' So tell me something, boy. Why were you at Brett's `just hanging out' instead of at the ball park where you were supposed to be?"
"The ball park?" I asked. What did that have to do with anything?
"Yes, boy. Why weren't you at the goddamned ball park?" dad shouted. His voice got louder and angrier with every word. I was really scared of what was going to happen. Why was dad so pissed at me?
"I don't know," I replied timidly.
"You don't know? Are you fucking stupid? You had me worried to death! I went there to watch your game and you weren't there! Your coach said you never called or showed up so I rushed back here thinking `God knows what happened to you or your grandmother.' Your mother didn't know what I was talking about. I even called Brett's house but there was no answer. You make me look like a complete ass, and had me scared to death, and all you can say is, `I don't know?'"
"I did too call him! Amanda must not have told him or maybe he was too drunk to remember! But so what if I skipped the stupid game and had some fun with my best friend instead of sitting on a stupid bench roasting my butt off! I hate playing baseball! If you ever showed up at a game you'd realize that I absolutely suck at it! So I skipped the game today, what's the big deal? It's not like you care any other time." I grumbled.
"I told you I was coming to your game today!" dad replied angrily. "I gave up a very important job with Mr. Nicholson this evening to come and watch you. Do you know how much money we lost because of you?"
"Oh, so that's what you're so mad about, huh? Money! I should have known," I replied angrily. "You don't care about me, you only care about how much money you lost today! How was I supposed to know that you were actually going to show up this time, dad? You never do any other time!" I felt my face flush red with anger. I was so mad my ears were burning and pulsing with my quickening heartbeat.
"This isn't about me, boy!" dad shouted. "This is about respect!"
"Oh please!" I yelled. "It's always about you and how much money you could have made! All you care about is your stupid work! You don't give a crap about me!" I threw my book bag on the floor and it slid across the dining room floor all the way to the edge of the living room carpet. Only after I'd flung it did I remember the tape was in it. But I didn't care at that point. I was so angry I couldn't think.
"Why in the hell do you think I work so much, boy? Do you think I want to work seventy hours a week? I do it to put clothes on your back and food in your belly!"
"No you don't!" I replied. "You never do anything for me! You never come to anything I'm in! You don't even care!"
"Now you're just being stupid," dad sniped.
"No I'm not! You're stupid!" I replied back. "I hate you!"
"That's it!" dad bellowed. "I've had enough! Go to your room!"
What happened next is still kind of a blur to me. Everything happened so fast that only later did I figure out what happened to me. What I remember without a doubt was that I'd pushed my dad farther than I'd ever pushed before. I normally wouldn't have dreamed of talking back like I did that night. But something snapped in me and I had exploded before I even knew what I was saying. Having a temper was something that came with being a Roberts, I guess.
Dad lunged out of the living room into the dining room. I hadn't expected him to actually come at me and I was afraid he was going to hit me. So I ran around the dining room table. I was so scared that I wasn't watching where I was going. I honestly didn't know what my dad was going to do to me, but I knew it wasn't going to be good. Dad chased me around the dining room table and I ran toward the living room, scared for my life. I never saw what tripped me. (It turned out to be the book bag I'd thrown earlier.) All at once, my feet tangled themselves together and I went down hard. It happened so fast I wasn't able to even put my hands out in front of me to stop myself. And then...
The darkness of the house was instantly replaced with a blinding white light. The light faded into a bunch of smaller lights that kind of moved around in circles. For the first time in my life I had been knocked out and I understood what it meant to "see stars." When things started coming back into focus, I felt nothing but a blinding white hot pain on the right side of my face. I realized that my dad was kneeling next to me.
"Oh Jesus, Billy! Thank God you're okay. Stay still, boy," he said.
I tried to speak, but it felt like someone had hit me in the right side of my face with a sledge hammer. I screamed in pain! I held my hands up to my face and burst into tears. It was the worst pain ever! It was throbbing through me like I was getting stabbed in the face over and over and over. Each wave of pain felt worse than the last. Tears streaked down my face. I started to hyperventilate and panic. "OH GOD I'M GONNA DIE!! I'M GONNA DIE!!!!!!"
"You're not dying. Calm down, boy!" dad scolded. "You just smacked your head on the coffee table. You're not even bleeding."
Mom burst through the front door, half soaked from the rain. "What is going on over here? The whole neighborhood can hear you!"
"He's fine!" dad said. "He just tripped and cracked his head off the coffee table."
Mom rushed to my side. I sobbed in agony clutching my eye.
"It hurts!" I bawled.
"I know it does, Billy. Now knock it off and let me see it," mom soothed. She pried my hands from my face but warned me not to try to open my eye. Then she examined me in her observant nurse's way while I blubbered and whimpered like an idiot. She very gently touched me right under my eye and it felt like she slugged me. I screamed in agony and she commanded me to settle down. She stayed by my side and scolded my dad.
"He's not `fine,' George! I think he broke his orbital bone."
"Oh god!" I cried.
"Billy, please! Calm down for heaven's sake. You're just making it worse," mom rebuked me sternly. She turned to dad. "Well don't just stand there, George! Get him some ice for him!"
Dad quickly walked to the kitchen. Mom warned me not to touch my eye because I could go blind if I messed with my eye too much.
"It hurts really bad," I sobbed.
"I know it does, sweetheart," mom said calmingly. She gently stroked my hair. "Your father is bringing you some ice."
Just then dad returned with a plastic bag filled with ice. "Here, put this on there, boy."
"Don't fuckin' touch me!" I snapped. I didn't even care that I'd just used the f-word in front of my mother. It hurt so bad. I snatched the ice from him and gingerly placed it on my eye. "Ow! Owww!!! Owwwww!!!!!" I wailed.
"Just leave that on there and lay on the couch for a minute. We'll go get you x-rayed after I have a word with your father."
I somehow managed to find my way to the couch while mom and dad walked out to the kitchen. While they tried to talk quietly, I could hear most of what they were saying.
"What were you thinking, George? Of all the senseless, irresponsible..."
"This wasn't my fault, Paula," dad replied. "He could have been dead lying in the woods for all we knew."
"Was he at Brett's house like I told you he was?" mom asked.
"That's beside the point! He had a responsibility to be at the ball field where he was supposed to be! I missed work for that goddamned game!"
"Don't you take the Lord's name in vain in my house, George Roberts! Your son is going to have a black eye and he could need surgery for all we know! I guess he learned his lesson, George!"
"You know I didn't mean for this to happen, Paula! The boy has to learn respect!"
"Yes, I agree! But that's no reason for this to have happened. Why do you have to be so stubborn?"
They argued a bit more but the pain got worse and I zoned out. Mom helped me to the car while dad followed behind us. I leaned the seat back so I could almost lie down as the pain seared through my head. It was the worst pain ever!
"I'm sorry this happened, boy," dad said. "I never meant for you to get hurt. I love you, boy."
I didn't say anything. I hated him so much. I just turned the other direction so I couldn't see him and tried not to cry in front of him. Mom sat in the driver's seat and dad went to grandma's house to watch her while we were gone.
"We'll be all better soon," mom said softly as we drove toward the hospital where she worked. It wasn't a far drive, just over the hill really. I sat there with my eyes closed and pain throbbing through my whole head.
"He is sorry, Billy," mom continued. "It's just so stressful right now for all of us. With your grandmother being sick, and having to work so much... He was just disappointed that he promised you he'd be at your game and then you weren't there. He really does love you."
I turned away from her and faced the window. I really didn't care what my dad did right then. I was never going to talk to him again. He'd hurt me far worse than the pain in my head. No bag of ice was going to make that pain go away.
Hi! I made a slight adjustment to the font size in this chapter and moving forward. 16 pt font was a touch too big, I thought. Of course, you can adjust things on your end if you like. I'm very thankful for your reading this story. It is a lot of fun writing it. If you enjoyed it, I always like email! If you hated it, I don't mind hearing that either. Writing is a community event really. I'll always do my best to get back to you. I used to have a yahoo group back in the day, but it was eventually overtaken with spam. If you were a part of that, sorry about the spam, though I did value our time together! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org See you next time!