Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved
“I If my mother was still alive, I'd tell her that I finally
experienced a "certification." She'd know what I meant by that. It's from
her favourite book -- The Moviegoer by Walker Percy -- and it's a term the
narrator uses when he goes to see a movie with a scene showing the
neighbourhood of the theatre he's sitting in. The guy gets all excited
about it, and I remember having no idea why he was so worked up. I was
fifteen when I read it. I don't read much but I read it the first few days
after my mother died because it was her favourite book and I was allowed to
stay home from school and didn't feel like watching any television for
Last night I was sitting on the couch watching a Phillies game and
drinking my third Wild Turkey and Pepsi of the night. My father took a new
job at the beginning of the summer, a night security position at the local
hospital, which keeps him out of the house from nine-thirty at night to
six-thirty in the morning. My nights are all pretty much the same: I wait
for him to leave, then take out whatever liquor I have in my closet and
watch some television for a few hours while I drink myself into a good
buzz. At about eleven or so, my two best friends, Edgar and Jim, come over
and smoke up while I go on drinking (I decided, the night of my mother's
funeral, to stop smoking anything, weed or cigarettes, since it was lung
cancer that killed her). After Jay Leno's opening monologue, we head out
to do some poolhopping.
So last night I was just waiting for Edgar and Jim to come over. I
looked at my watch; it was only ten-thirty and already the room was
beginning to look cloudy. But I knew that the poolhopping would eventually
sober me up, so I wasn't worried. Anyway, the Phillies were playing an
away game against the Colorado Rockies, which is why they were on so late,
and I guess because the Coors family has some sort of ownership of the
Rockies, there were lots of Coors commercials. One of the commercials had
Pete Coors, this old guy with bright white hair, standing in a mountain
range, talking about underage drinking, how Coors does not advocate that
at all. I couldn't help but laugh. I'm only sixteen, and I wonder what
Pete Coors would think of me. Plus the Phillies were beating the Rockies
7-0 at that time, so he'd already be pissed. I finished the Wild Turkey
and Pepsi and went to the refrigerator. I took one of my father's Coors,
figuring he wouldn't notice it missing, and had a nice cold one in honour
of Pete Coors and his family. That was my certification, although if it
were up to me, I'd call it a validation.
There are only four houses that we know of that have pools in
their backyards, so our poolhopping trips usually only take about an hour.
We head out, stumbling a bit because we're always a bit drunk or high, and
we always follow the same pattern of houses. First, the circular pool on
Rogers Drive. Second, the rectangular pool on Liebert Street. Third, the
above-ground pool on Jessel Street. And fourth, the best house of all, the
heated pool on Montgomery Lane.
I don't really much enjoy swimming, and my guess is that Jim and
Edgar don't either, but poolhopping is different. It isn't about the
swimming, it's about that first splash of entering someone else's water.
The funny thing is during this whole summer, never once has anyone come
outside and chased us off their property. We know they're home; all the
cars are in the driveway and occasionally a light will go on in the house
while we're swimming. And it's not like we're being quiet, because
sometimes we make enough noise that neighbouring houses will throw a light
on too. But never once has anyone seemed to care. I guess they think we're
just some local kids trying to have some fun, which is true. It is fun,
almost like a game. Like once we get to the first pool on Rogers Drive,
there's always a race between us as to who can get his clothes off first
and be the first one in the water.
Edgar usually wins because most nights he walks around without a
shirt on anyway. He's started working out with his older brother and is
always talking about his biceps or his pecs or his abs, even though he
still looks skinny to me. But I would never say anything to him, because
even though he's skinny and on the short side, that kid can fight. He
doesn't really have any friends other than me and Jim because most of the
kids we know think that Edgar is crazy. He talks openly about the
medication he's taking and the psychiatrist he's seeing, which makes me
think that he really isn't crazy, because why would he be so proud of
that. No, I think that Edgar is just faking to get drugs from that doctor,
which he never admitted but one time he gave me one of his pills and we
did a few tequila shots with the pills, and man, it was like getting
knocked out by a train. I'd fake being crazy for that kind of feeling
Edgar made me promise not to tell Jim about the pills, because Jim
is a pot fiend and he'd be any other kind of drug fiend if he had access
to it, so Edgar didn't even want to entice Jim. "He's weak," Edgar said to
me one night as we were floating on our backs in the heated pool on
Montgomery Lane. Jim was lying on the grass beside the pool, smoking the
remains of a joint that he had found in the pocket of his shorts. "He'll
always be weak," Edgar went on, "and it'll be our responsibility, for the
rest of our lives, to look after his sorry ass."
We always end our nights with the heated pool on Montgomery Lane
for two reasons. First, by that time of night, the air is getting colder
and the water on our bodies has us shivering, so that heated pool is like
a special treat for us. But the second reason is, I think, the real reason
why we like to go there last, maybe the reason we go poolhopping at all,
even though none of us ever says it. The owner of the house, a man in his
forties or fifties, is dating Lara DeMarco, the hottest girl in the
neighbourhood. She's twenty-three and she used to date Edgar's brother when
they were in high school. In fact, Edgar's brother had a nervous breakdown
during his senior prom and most of the people who were there blamed the
whole thing on Lara because she dumped him that night and he couldn't take
it. After swimming a bit, we get dressed and stand outside the first floor
bedroom window, watching the owner do Lara DeMarco. It's like a live porno
film, except sometimes the guy hits Lara, which is something I've never
seen in a porno but Edgar says that there are in fact some pornos that
feature hitting and it's a fetish for some people, gets them all horny and
excited, which is probably the case for the owner of the house.
My father comes home from work around six-thirty. I always set my
alarm for six-forty-five and every morning this summer we've had breakfast
together, just like during the school year. Before my mother died, I
always slept through breakfast, which my parents didn't seem to mind
because they probably enjoyed the time it gave them to be alone with each
other. But once my mother was gone, I felt bad about my father eating
alone and started having breakfast with him.
Because my father is coming home from work, his biological clock
is all screwed up in the morning, so his breakfasts are a few beers and
maybe some pretzels or chips. I'll have a bowl of cereal, which usually
helps my hangovers. Our conversations go something like this:
"What are you going to do when you wake up?" my father'll say.
"I don't know," I'll say.
"Maybe you'd like to go out and practice driving a bit? We could
do u-turns or parking, maybe."
"Okay. You have anything you need to do today?"
"Well, just the driving range for an hour or two, but other than
that, not that I know of. Maybe do some grocery shopping on the way back
from the range."
My father has been playing a lot of golf; not really golf, just
going to the driving range and hitting a few buckets of balls. He's only a
beginner and feels that he isn't ready for a course. But he thinks about
golf all the time, he told me, and he's always watching it on television
or reading golf magazines or renting golf videos. He never did any sort of
sports, as far as I can remember, before my mother died. He told me that
she had always dreamed of the two of them in their old age moving down to
Florida or Arizona and being a golfing couple. "Your mother was weird like
that sometimes," my father said. "All these fantasies that came out of
nowhere." But I guess he wanted to respect her wishes, because he decided
to become a golfer for her.
By the time I'm on my second bowl of cereal my father is usually on his fourth or fifth beer and by then his mind is usually consumed with
golf. He'll start spouting out little sayings that he calls "golfisms,"
which are like riddles although they never seem to be funny or meaningful.
"Adam, the key is," he'll say, getting out of his chair and practicing his
swing, "the key is to swing softly as hard as you can." He'll go through
the swing again and watch his imaginary ball land. "I meant to say, you
have to swing slowly as fast as you can." He'll sit back down, take a sip,
and add, "And, son, you have to hit the ball with the back of your left
hand. You see what I'm saying, with the back of your left hand?"
"No," I'll say, and then he'll reach across the table and run his
hands through my hair.
"You should go back to bed then."
I'll say goodnight then, even though it's bright day outside, and
I'll head back to my room, lying in my bed and listening to my father
chant some more of his golfisms to himself. I'll usually fall asleep in a
Another bad thing: I probably shouldn't be drinking so much, but
it's something that makes me happy and I have given up weed so drinking's
a bad thing that I am willing to live with, plus I have been very careful
not to let my father find out about my drinking, with all the liquor
hidden in my closet. I don't want to worry him, so that's another one in
the positive column about the drinking. Plus, the drinking has definitely
helped out Country, the homeless guy who sits outside the liquor store
trying to get change. Whenever I need more liquor, I give Country a twenty
dollar bill and my order, and when he comes out I tell him to keep all the
change, which is sometimes a few bucks. One time I even brought Country a
I realize I'm being wishy-washy with the bad things. Not with this
one: I know that what the man on Montgomery Lane does to Lara DeMarco
isn't right, isn't some sort of sex fetish, and even if it is, Lara isn't
getting anything out of it. I know it's wrong that we watch them have sex,
but what's even worse is that we watch him punch her in the back and
sometimes even in the head, and all we do is stand outside the window, and
now I'm just speaking for myself, but I go home and put on dry clothes and
sit on my couch, drinking something and completely forgetting about Lara.
That's not right, and another bad thing is that I'm pretty sure none of
us, including me, is going to do anything about it.
Back to the good things: My mother was an English teacher at the
high school and she'd be proud of me for reading The Moviegoer and for
keeping a journal which I write in every day, even if it's stupid things
like saying what I did the night before or listing what's good and what's
bad about me. It's still non-school writing and that was something she
tried to get all of her students to do during their summer vacations, so I
know she'd like that. My mother would also be happy about the relationship
that my father and I have. Sometimes we can talk to each other like
friends, which is something we never did when she was around. Then it was
those two on one level and me on another. But now, not all the time but
sometimes, my father and I joke around or go to the driving range together
or see a movie on a Sunday afternoon. Other than the people at his job and
the other golfers at the driving range and people in the stores where he
buys food, as far as I can tell I'm the only person he ever sees. I'm his
Last night I asked Country to buy me a litre of Captain Morgan and
a two litre of Coke from the liquor store. The bill came to a little over
fifteen dollars, so he got to keep almost five dollars. Edgar and Jim came
with me to the store and they smoked up with Country after he bought me
the liquor, so he really had himself a good night. I drank directly from
the two bottles, shots and chasers in the liquor store parking lot, even
though I was hoping to have some nice Captains and Cokes in the comfort of
my house. But there was a feeling of friendship in the air, between all
four of us. Those three smoked and I drank and there wasn't much talking
but we all were on the same plane. I watch a lot of movies, pretty much
any one that's playing on cable, and so I have this habit of viewing parts
of my life as if they're a scene from a movie. I was able to watch us last
night in the parking lot, and I even inserted an imaginary flaming trash
can, around which we were all huddled, forgetting that it was summer. I
pictured us as these four happy bums, making the best of what we had. I
was so into that scene, it was like I didn't even need to get drunk.
We were getting along so well with Country I thought for a second
that we might ask him to go poolhopping with us. But we didn't, and soon
we were on the fourth pool, the heated one on Montgomery Lane. The night
just glided along, like a musical number that speeds up time in a movie,
and soon we were in our clothes, standing by the bedroom window, watching
the house's owner press into Lara DeMarco, occasionally taking her head in
his hands and bashing it against the wall. She was crying and the man was
shouting and we were just looking on. Like another movie.
My father asked me if I wanted to drive him to the range for
practice. I said sure, and soon we were out of the house. On the road he
asked me if I was having a good summer.
"Yeah, sure," I said.
"What do you do at night when I'm at work?" he asked.
I got a bit nervous that he knew something he shouldn't have
known, but I also was fairly certain that I had kept all of my vices
hidden from him, trying, as I've said before, to be a good son. "Nothing
much," I said. "Watch whatever's on the television."
"Do you ever have any of your friends over the house?" he asked.
"Yeah, sometimes. Edgar and Jim come over every once in a while,
just to hang out. Summer's a really slow time, you know. We just kind of
hang out in the basement." I was saying too much, I realized, being
over-talkative like someone who's guilty.
"Someone's been drinking my beers. I bet you it was that Moore
kid, he's always been a sneaky kid." My father was talking about Edgar.
He's known throughout the town because of his older brother, who's always
getting into fights and showing up in the "Police Watch" section of the
local newspaper. "You tell him I've started counting my beers." I stayed
quiet, signalling for a right turn and keeping my hands at ten and two
o'clock, just as my father had told me to do. "Look, I know you're trying
to be a good friend by not ratting him out, so I won't say anything else
about it. You know what's right, I know that, because your mom taught you
well. Listen, though, okay, just listen, I know I come down with this
stuff a lot on you, but for some reason I feel like I have to say it. It's
just us two now and we have to be a bit more careful and a bit more
responsible. It sucks for you because you're sixteen and when I was your
age, being responsible was the last thing I wanted to be, but I had a
mother and so I was allowed to be a fuck-up, whereas you have a whole
different life." He rolled up his window and put the air conditioning on.
"Dad, I know what you're saying."
"It's like golf," he continued, not seeming to register my words.
"To hit a good iron, you have to do the opposite of what you want. To get
the ball flying far and in the air, you have to swing down. You have to
chop at it, and for some reason that works. Swing down and the ball goes
"Yeah," I said, lying so that we could finish the conversation. I
made the turn into the driving range, happy that this lesson was over.
My father went through three buckets and I sat on a bench behind
him, watching him work on his swing, listening to whatever golfisms he
felt like sharing with me. When he was finished, he went to the pro shop
to buy himself a new glove. I went in with him and started comparing the
various balls they were selling, trying to figure out the differences
between the brands, not knowing why I was doing so, other than finding a
way to pass the time. Summer is really slow, I thought to myself. My
father started talking to the man behind the counter and I looked up,
following their voices until my eyes rested on the face of the man behind
the counter. The same man who owned the house on Montgomery Lane and who
fucked and hit Lara DeMarco at the same time.
"You know, Jack," my father said, "golf is a game of inches, and
the three most important inches are right here." He put his hands up
against his ears. The other man laughed.
"That's a good one. Where'd you hear that?" the other man said.
"I think Ben Hogan said it," my father said.
"How's your game coming along?" the other man said.
"Well, there are some things you can't fix," my father said. Again
he put his hands up against his ears and then put them down by his side.
"Like what I got up here, that'll never change, so I don't think I'll ever
be able to master a course the way Hogan did. But I am getting some good
lift out of my high irons and I'm keeping my drives pretty straight."
"That's the way to do it," the other man said. He looked over at
"Sure is," my father said. "Adam, come over here and meet Mr.
Reed." I walked over slowly, staring at Mr. Reed's smile, a smile I knew
so well already. I felt like I knew everything about him, and I assumed he
knew all about me too, which frightened me. "Jack, this is my son, Adam,"
my father said. "Adam, this is Jack Reed."
I waited for Mr. Reed to extend his hand and then I shook it.
"Nice to meet you," Mr. Reed said, and I said the same.
"You play golf as well as your father?" Mr. Reed asked me.
"I don't play at all," I said.
"Well, it's an old man's game, I guess," Mr. Reed said.
"Not if you want to be good," my father said. "I wish I had
started when I was his age, even younger. But he just wants to laze
around, don't you, Adam?" He put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a
"Yeah," I said.
"And practice parallel parking, right?" my father said.
"Yeah," I said again. I felt like an idiot, mumbling away while my
father and Mr. Reed were talking like old pals right in front of me.
"I better get him back on the road then, Jack," my father said.
"See you tomorrow."
"No you won't. I'll see you on Monday. I'm taking tomorrow off and
having myself a long weekend, going up to the Poconos with my lady."
"That sounds nice," my father said, staring at something behind
Mr. Reed. His eyes glazed over, and they stayed like that all the drive
home, right until we got inside the house and he sat down with a beer in
the kitchen. Then he seemed to snap back. My guess is he started thinking
about my mother, probably thinking about a long weekend with her, how
great that would have been, and the sadness caught him off-guard. That's
the way it works with me. Some little thing -- like a song or some actress
on television who looks a bit like her or even seeing one of her students
who came to the funeral -- will just smack me in the head and I'll get
consumed with thoughts of her. I'll think about her for hours, all day
sometimes until I go to sleep or until I have a lot to drink, and then
she'll leave my thoughts for a while, until something else gets me. It's
like she's planted herself in my head, waiting for an opportunity, and
that's probably the way it works for my father too.
My father just left for work and the house has a strange emptiness
to it, as if he's never going to come back and I'll be here alone,
forever. It's not true, obviously -- he'll be home tomorrow morning as
usual, and as usual Edgar and Jim will be coming over in a few hours --
but I guess there must be something to this feeling of isolation.
" When my mother died, I had to do a little hypothetical thinking,
because there's always the chance that my father could also die at any
minute. He could get into a car accident or have a sudden haemorrhage or be
stopping for coffee at a 7-11 when there's a hold-up and get shot as an
innocent bystander. These are gloomy thoughts, I know, but I think it's
what every kid of a single parent forces himself to think, just to have a
plan ready in case something bad should happen. Now that I'm sixteen I
think I'd be allowed to skip out on foster homes and live here by myself,
and to tell you the truth, other than missing my father, it wouldn't be
that bad. I'd get a job and work hard all day, then come home and have a
few drinks with dinner, watch what's on television or maybe rent a movie,
and then go to sleep real early, wake up real early the next day, have a
leisurely breakfast, and then off to the job again. It would be a nice
little cycle. I'd have to work a girl in there somehow, maybe after I'd
made enough money at the job to take her out to a nice restaurant.
I don't feel like going out tonight, seeing Edgar and Jim and
having to put up with their shit. They're my best friends but sometimes I
need a break from them. Edgar's so wired up all the time, it's like he
could snap anytime, like his brother, who, according to the "Police Watch"
section of today's newspaper, was arrested last night for drunk driving.
See, the thing about Edgar is, even though he's supposedly my best friend,
I wouldn't dare ask him about that. And the fact that I'm afraid to ask
him about it is probably the best way I can explain why I don't feel like
hanging out with him tonight. And Jim, well Jim can be depressing
sometimes. His whole life is getting high, and sometimes I'm jealous that
he still gets to smoke whenever he wants and I have my stupid little vow
to never smoke again (thanks, Mom), but most of the time it's just so
fucking depressing seeing the way his mind has been burned away. Edgar's
right, someone will have to take care of Jim's sorry ass for the rest of
his life, but I don't want it to be me. And I'm pretty sure Jim doesn't
want it to be Edgar.
" When they come over, I'll just tell them that I'm too drunk or too
sick to go out tonight. If that doesn't work, if they don't leave, I'll
pull the wild card out, tell those two perverts that the guy on Montgomery
Lane isn't even home, that he and Lara DeMarco are away for the weekend,
so they're not going to get their private show tonight anyway. That'll put
those two in their places. That'll shut them up and make them leave and
then I'll get to be alone for the night, maybe have one more drink and go
to sleep early. I'm so tired tonight.
The only explanation I can give is that Edgar just wouldn't take
no for an answer. Jim seemed alright with taking a night off, but Edgar
was so insistent that we both finally gave in. So we headed out and did
our usual pattern, but looking back I guess I should've seen something
different in Edgar from the start, because he took his time getting into
the first three pools, like he was in no rush at all, just taking his
time, planning. And he was way too quiet.
Until the heated pool. Then he jumped in and started shouting and
splashing away, like a retarded kid who's never been in a pool before. A
neighbour turned the lights on, and Edgar went quiet. He shot us both a
look to follow him, and so we swam in silence until the neighbour turned
off the lights.
The enjoyment ended soon, though, because I started feeling
nervous, like what if that neighbour who had turned on his lights saw us
breaking in and called the cops. Also, not knowing where Edgar was
bothered me. I got up from the couch, finished my drink, brought the cup
to the kitchen sink, and then went looking for Edgar. I knew where he'd
be, so I went directly to the bedroom. He was lying on the bed, wearing
Mr. Reed's bathrobe, the one Mr. Reed put on after sex with Lara DeMarco.
"I took a shit in his shower," Edgar said to me.
"Nice work," I said. "How long you want to stay here?"
"What's the rush? We got all weekend, right?"
"You think this is okay? What if the cops come or --"
"Why the fuck would the cops come?"
"I don't know, maybe someone saw us come in."
Edgar got out of the bed and went to the dresser. He took a gold
watch off the dresser and put it on his wrist. "Adam, it's fucking one in
the morning. Everyone in this town is asleep, including the cops. We're
fine. And now I have a new watch." He left the bedroom and I followed him
I fixed us all Jim Beams and Ginger Ales while Edgar figured out
how to order pay-per-view pornos. I was still nervous, but I figured all
we were doing was drinking some of his liquor and watching his television,
so we really weren't doing anything really bad to Mr. Reed. I was pretty
sure Edgar was lying about taking a shit in the guy's shower. I brought
the drinks to the living room and we drank for a while, watching the
opening scenes of a porno called "The Chauffeur." The chauffeur was
driving an actress home from a movie set, and she was telling him about
how badly the scenes had gone that day. They had been doing a love scene
and her co-star was a total dud with a small cock (her words, not mine)
and she wished they would start hiring actors who were good in the sack.
The chauffeur smiled at her through his rear view mirror and she smiled
back. He told her he wanted to be an actor, and she said she'd try to get
him his first break. I forget how they ended up doing it in the back of
the limo, but that's what happened. He pulled over and they started going
at it in the back of the limo, and when she started making sounds, Jim put
the volume on really loud and Edgar started playing with the stereo so
that the movie came out of its speakers. We were surrounded by that
woman's groaning, and that's why we never heard Mr. Reed pull into his
We heard the front door open and time just seemed to take on a new
quality, not faster or slower, but more like paused. We looked at each
other and somehow knew where to go, right into the kitchen, into the large
pantry. There was a light inside the pantry but we didn't turn it on, so
we stayed in that darkness, surrounded by food we couldn't see, waiting
for Mr. Reed to find us. We could hear his voice.
"What the fuck?" Mr. Reed said. He turned the television off.
"What the fuck!"
"Call the cops," another voice said, a woman's voice, Lara
"It's probably a bunch of kids. They might still be here," he
said. He moved into the kitchen, opened a drawer, and we heard a click.
"If you're still in here," he shouted, "I have a gun."
Lara DeMarco came into the kitchen. "Jack, call the cops," she
"Fuck you," Mr. Reed said. "I'll call them when I'm good and
"You're going to shoot someone?" Lara said, her voice shaking.
"It's not loaded," Mr. Reed said, softly. "I just want to give
these fuckers a scare."
"I think you should call the cops," Lara said.
"Shut up," Mr. Reed said.
"We shouldn't have come home. We should have just gone to another
hotel. I'm scared, Jack."
We heard him hit her with the gun and we heard her crying. "I
thought I told you to shut up. In fact, I thought I told you to shut up
when we started driving home and you've been yapping ever since then. What
don't you ever listen to me?" He hit her again, this time with his fist.
"Now just sit the fuck down and stop your crying and wait for me in here."
He left the kitchen and then all we could hear was Lara's crying.
The poor girl was trying to stifle her tears but doing a poor job. Mr.
Reed came back a few minutes later. "They're gone," he said. "Oh, what the
fuck is wrong with you?"
"Nothing," she said. "I'm sorry, Jack."
"Just go take a shower and clean yourself up. You look like shit.
I'll join you in a few minutes."
"You're not going to call the cops?" she said.
"Naw, all they did was watch some television. Just some little
fuckers from the neighbourhood. Get in the shower." He slapped her,
probably on the butt, and we heard her leave. Mr. Reed went to the sink
and poured himself a glass of water. He pulled a chair out and sat down,
"No," Edgar whispered back.
"What are we going to do?" Jim whispered.
"We'll wait for him to go into the bedroom with Lara and then
we'll break," Edgar whispered.
"Okay," Jim said.
I pictured Mr. Reed going into the bedroom, waiting for Lara to
come out of the shower, this beautiful girl all naked and wet and willing
to do anything for him, and all he was going to do was curse at her and
hit her some more. We had done something wrong by breaking into Mr. Reed's
house, and we had been doing wrong all summer long swimming in his pool
and spying on him, but I felt like there had to be a reason for that. The
summer was like one long movie, and there had to be an ending to it. There
had to be a reason why I felt so bad, so low, why I was surrounded by
darkness and hating the way my life had turned so quickly. Just a half a
year ago, both my parents were alive (my mom was pretty sick, but she was
still there, we could still talk) and my life was so goddamned simple --
wake up, go to school, smoke up on the weekends, see the new movies when
they came out, simple stuff like that. And now I was "pure bad," my father
would have said. I tried to think of my father then, wondering what he
would do in this situation, but all I could picture was him sitting next
to me in the car, saying "Swing down and the ball comes up."
"Adam," Edgar whispered. "Are you cool with that? We break as soon
as he goes into the bedroom, okay?"
"No," I whispered. "We break now, and we kick the shit out of
him." Not waiting for an answer, I opened the door and we all rushed right
at Mr. Reed, who did get a punch in on me but was soon knocked down to the
floor. We kicked him all over and Edgar even spit on him. I backed away
and let them work him over more. I knew where I wanted to go, knew what I
had to do. I followed the sound of the shower and stood outside the
bathroom. I rehearsed what I was going to say to Lara DeMarco once I
opened the door, something like "Turn off the water, dry off, get dressed,
and pretend like none of this ever happened. I don't want you ever seeing
Mr. Reed again. Okay? Promise me that, Lara. I need to hear it from your
own lips." I was going to be the hero. I stood outside the bathroom door
for another few seconds, listening to the water of the shower and the
groans coming from Mr. Reed in the kitchen and the curses flying from my
friends' mouths as they continued to pound away. It was the best ending I
was going to get.
" I knocked on the bathroom door and opened it, not waiting for Lara
DeMarco to say "Come in" or something like that. The bathroom was steamy
and I began to sweat. "Lara?" I called out. There was no answer. "Lara?" I
said again. "Lara, we're here to help you. I'm going to open the shower
curtain, okay, so maybe you should cover up. I'll open on three. One. Two.
Three." When I opened the curtain, I saw that the window was open. Lara
DeMarco was gone. Good, I thought, she came to her senses. I turned the
water off and went back to the kitchen. Mr. Reed was lying on the ground,
unconscious, blood running from his mouth and ears and nose. Jim and Edgar
were pissing on his legs.
"Let's go," I said. "Before he wakes up."
"Where's Lara?" Edgar asked, his eyes filled with something
sinister in them.
"She's gone," I said, "and we should be too."
So we left. I feel bad about what happened but it all ended for
the best, I think. I've only had a day to think about it though, so I may
be wrong. The cops haven't come for us or anything like that. My guess is
that Mr. Reed is too embarrassed to report something like this to the
cops, like they would laugh at him for getting beat up by three kids and
then getting his leg pissed on. The only thing I'm really worried about is
if Mr. Reed saw my face and remembered who I am and then told my father
what happened. I don't think that will happen, but that would be the worst
possible thing, worse even than getting arrested.
I guess I'm also worried about Lara DeMarco, if she'd ever go back
to Mr. Reed or if he'd ever go after her if she didn't. And Edgar and Jim,
too. I worry about what would happen to them if we got caught. Still, most
of all I think of my father, about how disappointed he'd be in me, how he
wouldn't be able to go back to the driving range anymore, how he'd be all
alone if I went to jail. Last night, though, must have happened for a
reason, and I don't think the reason was to ruin my father's life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Bomback is a second year medical student at Columbia University College of
Physicians & Surgeons. When he has some down-time from my studies, he enjoys
writing and has published stories in Elysian Fields Quarterly, Carve
Magazine, Panic Attack, and Humanism in Medicine. A story of his was
recently chosen as a finalist for the 2001 Raymond Carver Short Story
Award at the University of Washington.