Bodega Bay by Nick
The look on my mother's face was stone as we sat in a room across from each other. The judge was about to take me into his chambers, and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. My grandmother was holding my hand as I gulped and looked down when my mother and I finally made eye contact. I could tell she was holding a grudge against me, and I felt for a moment like perhaps I had done something wrong.
No questions had been asked, no words spoken, but I knew this was serious. Ron had a very professional look about him as he took his chair at our table and opened his brief case. My mom had her own attorney with her, and Jackie was sitting at a neutral table with George and Patricia, whose faces both lit up when they saw me. I wanted to get up to go talk to them, but my grandparents and Ron had spoken to me before hand and explained to me that it was imperative that I be as courteous and respectful as I could while we were there.
When the judge walked in, we all stood up and stayed standing until he sat. He motioned to the bailiff, who came over and waited for me to stand. When I did, he asked me to follow him. He led me to a room behind the bench and told me to wait for the judge.
Ten minutes later, the judge came in. He was smiling when he entered the room, and I stood up, not knowing for sure if that was still the rule. His chuckle gave me my answer.
"Have a seat, Kevin," he said. "Do you understand why we're here today?"
"Yes sir," I said timidly. "To decide where I'm going to live."
"That's right, son," he said in a casual tone as he took his chair. "Now I'm going to ask you some questions, Kevin, and I need you to answer them all honestly, okay?"
"Yes sir," I said as I nodded my head, understanding how important this was not only to me, but to Patricia and George as well. I overheard my grandma talking to one of my aunts, telling her that my mom was still trying to press charges against her for kidnapping. I wasn't even aware of the fact that my mom was pressing charges in the first place. In fact, I just assumed that my mom still didn't know where I was.
I was calm throughout the proceedings, and I answered all of the questions honestly. I felt relieved that the judge didn't make me go into graphic detail about Billy and the abuse he heaped on me, but I was embarrassed just speaking in general about it. When we got to the part about my dad and the call I made from the pay phone, a look of anger flashed across the judge's face. I'm sure it wasn't lost on him that my dad wasn't there for the hearing.
The one subject he kept going back to, however was that of my mother simply closing the door and allowing Billy to continue his final assault on me. I was almost irritated that he kept asking me if I was sure that she saw what was happening, but I still answered his question. I wanted to move on and tell him that I had lied to Patricia about where I lived, but the subject never came up. In fact, the only thing he asked in regards to George and Patricia was whether or not they called the police first or my grandparents first. When I told him they called the police and let the police contact them for me, he sat back and smiled.
He never asked me where I wanted to live, though. If he had, I would have easily answered that I wanted to stay with my grandparents. Of course, my first choice would have been with my dad, but that was obviously not happening. I got a little nervous when he stood up and walked out of the chambers without finding out what I wanted, but five minutes after he walked out, the bailiff returned and asked me to follow him.
When I saw my smiling grandparents waiting with Ron, Jackie, George and Patricia, I breathed a sigh of relief and almost ran to them. Even though I was almost certain that I wouldn't end up back with my mother, I was cautious. I didn't want to get my hopes up and have them crushed. After what happened with my dad the month before, I knew better.
My grandparents both hugged me tightly, and while they did, I looked shyly up at George and Patricia, who were smiling at me with Jackie and Ron. When we broke out hug, I moved slowly toward Patricia, who reached out and wrapped her arms around me. I felt George's hand on my shoulder while I hugged the woman who had helped rescue me from the nightmare I was in. I knew that if she hadn't stopped that night, someone else might have, and I could have either been returned to my mother or kidnapped or even murdered.
I wanted to apologize to her for everything. I knew that my lie was what prompted her to take me home with her to Concord, thinking that I was trying to get home to Bodega Bay when the truth was, I had only been there once. The possibility that my mom could get her in trouble for helping me was making me nervous.
All of those thoughts dissipated almost instantly, however, when the door to the court room swung open and my mom walked out with her lawyer, glaring at us the whole time. She walked right up to my grandpa and motioned him to follow her. Ron and my grandmother followed them to a corner, where they seemed to be arguing about something. This went on for a few moments, then I saw Ron nod and look my way as my grandparents approached me.
"Kevin, sweety," my grandma started as she took my hand. "Mom wants to talk to you alone. It's your choice, and grandma and grandpa will be right here if you decide that you want to speak to her. You don't have to, though."
I looked over at my mom, who was looking over at me sadly, and my heart sank. Of course I wanted to talk to her. I longed to hear her voice, to feel her touch, to give her a kiss and tell her I loved her.
All of those thoughts just came rushing to me out of the blue and I suddenly realized that, through all of the torment and the craziness, I still loved my mom. Even though she let Billy have his way with me, even though she was mentally unstable, and even though she had left me with issues I couldn't even begin to approach, she was still my mom. Plain and simple. I needed to talk to her and hear her say she wasn't mad at me.
"Okay," I said in a shaky voice before I let go of my grandmothers reassuring hands and moved timidly toward my mom, who had tears streaking down her cheeks when she looked over at me. When I got to her, the only thing either of us did was move into an embrace. She knelt down and wrapped her arms around me and hugged me tight, and I could hear her lightly whispering to herself, "my baby" as she squeezed harder and her tears landed on my head.
She took my hand and led me to a bench where we could sit together and talk. It was actually placed in the center of the hallway and facing a window so that we could see the trees that lined the otherwise dry hillside next to the courthouse. At first we didn't speak at all, but after a few moments, she broke the silence between us.
"How have you been, Kevin?" she asked in a concerned voice. I didn't know how to answer her question. I thought it should have been obvious to her that I hadn't been doing so good considering the circumstances, but maybe she hadn't quite grasped the situation. I wasn't sure, so instead of answering, I looked up at her and frowned. She seemed to get the message, because in reply, she sighed and looked away momentarily.
"I want you to know that I still love you, sweety," she said. "I'm not mad at you for what happened, and you can come back home if you need to."
As soon as she spoke those words, I knew that she hadn't accepted any responsibility for what happened. Maybe she didn't know at first about what Billy had done to me, but as soon as I told her, she had a chance to make it stop. I didn't expect her to be able to overpower Billy and force him to stop, but she could have tried or at least called the cops. Instead, she closed the door and punished me for not cooperating. She ate dinner with Billy like nothing was wrong, and I was told to stay in my room because I was grounded.
"I'm going to stay with grandma and grandpa," I said quietly. I knew it would hurt her feelings, but I also knew that there was no way I was ever going to let her do that to me again. Unfortunately, this was the impetus for her to snap quietly.
"Billy isn't there," she said shortly but in a low tone that told me she demanded my silence about whatever we talked about. "Thanks to you he's in jail right now. I'm all by myself, Kevin and I need someone to take care of me. I want you to come home."
I was frightened like never before. My mom's eyes were dark and her tone was suddenly cold, as if it were an order she was issuing to me, and I had no choice. I thought to speak up, but the look on her face at that moment told me not to even consider it.
"He wasn't going to do it anymore, you little shit," she spat in a spiteful way, though she was still careful to keep her tone low. "You just think you're too good to live with us anymore. Well I have some news for you, Kevin; you aren't. You're going to have to come home eventually, so you might as well make it sooner than later."
By this time I was trembling with fear at what my mother was telling me. I tried to get up but she violently yanked me back down onto the bench by my arm, and that's when everyone rushed over to us. I got back up during the confusion and ran and hid behind my grandfather, who had stepped in front of me protectively while my mother suddenly went into a venomous tirade about how my grandparents were snobs and they never thought she was good enough for their son. She spat that they always had it out for her and now they had found a way to steal her son.
While all of this was going on, I simply stood still and cried as I watched my mom being dragged away by her attorney, who looked flabbergasted. I glanced up at George and Patricia, who were standing with Jackie as she was frantically dialing a number on her cell phone, and I suddenly felt humiliated for my mother and her actions. I didn't want them to see her treating me that way, but they did. It happened right in front of them, and I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I was so ashamed of myself for making my mother snap the way she did, and now I was certain that she was going to try to make more trouble for George and Patricia.
When my mother and her attorney were out of site, Jackie made her way over to me and asked me if I was alright. I nodded sadly and let out a small sob, turning to my grandpa, who had knelt down and collected me in his arms. I laid my head on his shoulder wrapped my arms around his neck for protection as he stood up with me still in his arms, telling me to let it out. I noticed that Jackie still had her phone to her ear when she turned and walked toward Ron, who had an angry look on his face as well.
As I started to calm down, my grandpa set me back down on my feet and walked over to a corner with Ron and George while Patricia and my grandmother tended to me on the bench. I sat down and let my grandmother wrap her arm around me and pull me close to her while Patricia sat to my right and ran the back of her hand gently over my face, wiping away my tears. Her touch was as tender as any I had ever felt, and I could tell that she was a good mother to Steele. Even though I had no proof of this other than her actions on the night I ran away and the house she and George provided for their son, I knew it because I could sense it. She had all the qualities of a good mom.
When we got home from the courthouse, I fought the urge to go straight to my room and cry myself to sleep again. Instead, I willed myself to spend time in the yard with my grandparents. When they were finished, I went inside and turned on the TV, but everything that was on reminded me of my mom and of what had just happened. Finally, I decided that I needed to get out of the house and ride my bike.
I hadn't been on it since the day we went back to George and Patricia's to get it. They had kept it in the garage for me, and when I got it back, it was like a reunion of sorts. I looked it over carefully, looking for any blemishes that I hadn't noticed the last time I saw it. When I was sure it was in good condition, I got on it and rode it to the end of the cull-de-sac they lived in and on my way back, I picked up as much speed as my legs could muster. The sidewalk was clear, so I used a driveway opening to access it, then, I did a small hop off of the curb, landing on my back wheel first and attempting to ride out a wheelie that I couldn't sustain.
Steele watched me from the driveway that day as I rode up and down the street while my grandparents talked to George and Patricia. For some reason, Steele was grounded and not allowed to ride his bike, so I made sure not to ride mine too long. I didn't want to upset him by showing off in front of him when it was obvious that he wanted to ride his bike too.
Steele was a funny little kid. He was only seven, but he acted like he was his parents' age. Just from talking to him and hearing him talk amongst the adults, I gathered that there was a real possibility that he was grounded because he had a tendency to be disrespectful. I suppose I wasn't in much of a position to form an opinion about him the first time I had met him, but the second time I met him, he struck me as the type of kid who had an opinion about everything and who was ready to stick his tongue out at you in a moments notice.
When I brought my bike out to the front yard through the side gate, my grandma called out from the kitchen window not to get too far from the house. I called back out my promise to comply with her request as I secured the side gate closed once again, then I hopped on my bike and prepared to start my journey. When I got to the end of the yard, I surveyed the street, looking for side roads and other landmarks that would be useful to me as I prepared to go on the first trip of my new bus route.
I started down the block, following the sidewalk as it led me to a right turn, deeper into the neighborhood. As I picked up speed, I pretended that the change had just dropped in my coin deposit, then I made a decision to make a left turn. This entailed crossing the street, so I stopped and pretended to put my left blinker on, then I crossed the road and continued my journey.
From where I was, I saw a lone figure playing in a yard that was occupied by a large orange U-haul truck, backed up to the door. "Perfect," I said to myself as I approached the yard. "My first passenger."
When I got closer, though, my thoughts turned away from my route. As soon as I got a better look, a funny feeling came over me that I had never felt in my life. It was unsettling yet euphoric all at once. The figure had come into plain view, and when I set my eyes on the boy throwing the baseball into the air and catching it back into his own mitt, I knew I had to stop and introduce myself.
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