Bodega Bay by Nick
When I was six my mom bought me a cat, and I loved it to death. Unfortunately for both the cat and myself, I had no idea what I was doing when it came to caring for it. Cat’s are such temper mental creatures that it’s almost always a mistake to buy one for a kid to have as a first pet. I clearly remember the day we brought him home. He was almost full grown, a Siamese, and I called him Bandit. The dark shades of color around his eyes reminded me of a train robber from the nineteenth century, thus the name
I think the biggest failure on my mom’s part came from the fact that she gave me the cat, his food and his litter box, then she left me to my own devices. For my part, I couldn’t leave the poor thing alone. I had to hold him all the time, and he didn’t want any part of it. I cradled him like a baby in front of the TV every day after school, and he would always try to claw his way out of my grip.
When I got sick and tired of him scratching me up, I kept him in the carrier that we used to bring him home from the pet store. As a punishment for scratching me, I would turn the hose on him once he was secured in his cage.
Of course, at six, I really didn’t know any better. My mom caught me one time and scolded me, but I still persisted. Then one day it happened.
Bandit got sick and tired of the treatment and abuse he was getting from me. He waited patiently in the cut for me one day when I had him locked in his cage. I opened the door to let him out so he could eat, and he made his move. I’m not sure if he timed it right or if fate was simply on his side that afternoon, but whatever it was, fortune had bestowed itself on Bandit. He made good use of the opportunity that had made itself available to him. Just as I had opened the cage to let him out to eat, my mother was coming through the side gate that led into our backyard. In a flash, Bandit was gone.
I wasn’t too certain what my odds would have looked like had I opted to take the same course of action that Bandit had taken so many years before, but I would be lying if I said that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. It most certainly would have been something I might have tried if I thought I could have gotten away. Patricia and the man sitting with her looked especially troubled as I sat up. The boy who was with them smiled and gave me a small wave that I didn’t have the nerve to return.
“Are you hungry, Kevin?” Patricia asked as I blinked and looked around, still trying to clear my head and finish waking up. I used my left hand to reach back and run my neck, then I ran it through my hair and over the top of my head, down the front of my face as I yawned. The growling in my stomach was intense enough that the three of them might have been able to hear it, but I couldn’t say for sure. What I did know was that the answer to Patricia’s question was a resounding yes. Unfortunately for me, I was too shy to say so.
In fact, I was too frightened to speak at all. The reality of the events of the previous day was starting to rear it’s ugly head, and in an instant, I realized that I had no idea where I was or who I was with. I was able to figure out that I was most likely in Concord, California, but where in Concord, I couldn’t say.
I wanted to call my dad. I wanted to call him and beg him to come get me. I wanted him to take me back to Modesto so I could live with him. I wanted him to come get me and protect me from Billy and my mother. That’s when a new reality came crashing down on me and my heart sank. My dad wouldn’t help me. I already tried. I begged him for help. I pleaded with him until I was in hysterics. His simply reply was to hang up the phone. My dad didn’t want me.
In my whole life, I’d had one hero. One role model. One man I longed to be like when I grew up. One person who’s every action I tried to imitate and who’s image I tried to emulate.
It wasn’t lost on me that Patricia, the man sitting with her and the kid next to them were all watching me with some great amount of concern. I knew I had an audience, but at the moment, I couldn’t do anything about the steady stream of tears that were coming down my cheeks.
I used my hands to rub my eyes as I tried to compose myself, and that’s when Patricia must have made her way over to the couch I had been sleeping on, because I never saw her get up, but she was now sitting next to me with her arm around my shoulder, drawing me in for a small hug.
“That does it, Trisha,” the man said as he stood up. “We have to call the police.”
If I had been frightened earlier, I was petrified when I heard him say that. I knew for sure that if he called the cops I was going back.
“George, please,” she admonished him, shocking me a little. “He’s scared.”
She had no idea how correct she was. In fact, scared was a serious understatement. Petrified was more like it. So many thoughts were swirling through my head that even if I weren’t too flustered to speak, I wouldn’t have been able to put them all in order so that I could express them all.
I rubbed my eyes as hard as I could in a vain attempt to get my tears to stop as I looked around the room and tried to assess my situation. What I knew up to that point was that I was in a stranger’s house, in a town I had only heard of, and that I had run away in a moment of hysterical desperation.
Why had I done it? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I try to call my grandparents?
That’s when it struck me. I could call my grandparent’s. They lived close enough to Concord, didn’t they? Of course. They lived in the very next city. No wonder Concord rang a bell when Patricia said she lived there.
“Trisha, we have to do something,” the man said again, then he sat down on the couch with us and addressed me in a gentle voice. “You’re going to be okay, buddy.”
I looked up and smiled at him, feeling at least grateful at the moment that he hadn’t picked up the phone and called the cops.
“Kevin, do you know your phone number?” Patricia asked when I started to compose myself. I slowly nodded, then I realized that I couldn’t give her my real number.
“Do you live in Bodega Bay?” the man asked. I could at least figure out that his name was George. I looked up at him, then down to the cushions of the couch I was sitting up on and slowly shook my head. I heard him sigh loudly, and found myself suddenly afraid to look back up at him.
“Do you live in Modesto?” I heard Patricia ask, and, still looking down, I nodded, feeling tears well up in my eyes all over again.
“Well that’s just great,” George exclaimed loudly as he stood up and paced back and forth. “Why didn’t you call the police last night?”
“I didn’t know what to do, okay?” Patricia countered. “He was on the freeway with his bike for God’s sake. What would you have done? He told me he lived in Bodega Bay.”
“Well for one, you could have used the goddamn cell phone we pay for and called the fucking cops!” George hollered, making Patricia get up and grab him my the arm, leading him out of the living room. I pulled my legs up to my chest and buried my head in between them, wishing I hadn’t tried to get away.
The scent of a warm Pop Tart brought my face out from between my knees. I looked up and the boy was smiling at me with a small plate in his hands. He held the Pop Tart out to me, and I cautiously accepted it. I took a bite and suddenly I felt my appetite return. In no time, I had devoured the pastry and handed the plate back to him, and then he was gone again.
When he returned, he sat down across from me on the adjacent couch and smiled shyly at me. I could see the distress in his eyes that most likely came from the knowledge that his parents were fighting, or possibly, the entire situation. But he never said a word. He just sat still and smiled politely while we waited for Patricia and George to come back into the room.
While we were waiting, I looked around the room at the decorum and I was struck by the newness of it all. The room seemed to be opened up to the kitchen, which wasn’t very big, but it was wide open too, and it seemed to have all of the space that would be needed.
From the pictures that hung on the walls I got the impression that they were modern art collectors. In a far corner sat a column that served as a plant stand for a tumble weed arrangement that seemed to blend right in with everything, even if it was unlike any other plant decoration I had seen before. Giant art pieces hung from the walls, and on the fireplace mantle were family photos of Patricia, George and the boy.
“Steele, how about giving us a minute, bud,” I heard George say as they returned. So that was his name. So much for introductions, I thought.
“Okay, dad,” the boy said dutifully as he got up from the couch and made his way out of the room. I still hadn’t moved from the spot I was in, and I was beginning to wonder when my chance would come. I had a full bladder and needed a bathroom, but I felt too scared to ask for that. I was almost afraid of George and Patricia finding out that I had eaten a Pop Tart.
“Kevin, I want you to do something for me,” George said in a serious tone. “I need you to be honest with me. Can you do that?”
“Yes,” I said timidly.
“Good,” he said in a simple tone but with a smile on his face. “Why did you say you lived in Bodega Bay? Did you run away?”
“Yes,” I said as my voice cracked.
“Yes, you ran away?” he asked, and I nodded my confirmation. “Who lives in Bodega bay?”
“I don’t know,” I said sadly.
“Why were you running away?” he asked calmly, and that’s when I panicked. I didn’t even know how to tell him what had happened to me. I didn’t think he would believe me. Heck, my own mother didn’t believe me, and my own father wouldn’t even help me. Still, I told him the truth.
The shame I felt as I relayed the abuse I took from Billy was immeasurable. My cheeks were burning as I had to answer questions that were obviously hard for George and Patricia to ask, much less for me to answer. The looks on their faces were expressions of horror and disgust. At one point I broke down and sobbed, feeling so ashamed of myself for letting what had happened to me go on for so long, but they did their best to assure me that it wasn’t my fault. Then the fateful moment came.
“Kevin, sweety,” Patricia said. “We had to call the police. I promise you that no ones going to hurt you like that again. They won’t make you go back. Okay?”
I tearfully nodded as I rubbed my eyes, and the only thing I could think to say was, “Can I go to the bathroom?”
“Of course you can, pal,” George said as he stood up and placed a hand on my shoulder. I stood up to his waist and I felt incredibly small and vulnerable when I looked up at him as he led me out of the living room and down a hallway to a bathroom by the front door. It dawned on me that I hadn’t seen this much of their house because I was sleeping when Patricia brought me home the night before. I wondered to myself what time we had gotten here and if George had carried me inside.
When I was finished I made my way back down the hallway and sat again with George and Patricia, who again inquires about whether I was hungry. I told them that Steele had fed me a Pop Tart and that I was okay, so they asked me more questions.
I told them about my grandparents who lived in Pittsburg, one town over. I even knew their phone number, but Patricia and George thought it would be best if we waited for the police to come. We could give them the number and let them decide what to do.
Suddenly the doorbell rang and they both got nervous looks on their faces, and I suddenly didn’t feel so good. In fact, the Pop Tart I had eaten seemed like it was making a journey back up my digestive tract. I fought it off though, and waited patiently on the couch while George got up to answer the door.