Wayne Jarrett lived in a two-story, red-and-black brick manse, on Main Street, a block away from the entrance to the municipal park.  Wayne's mother Annabelle answered the door.  Annabelle Jarrett was tall, spindly-looking woman with faded, coppery-orange hair.  She looked pale and wan, almost ghost-like, in a garishly colored gown, which looked as if it had been hastily cobbled together from bits and pieces of old Christmas wrapping paper.

     Her living room reminded Joey of a museum, with its ponderous antique furniture.  The bare, mahogany floor had been polished repeatedly, until it shone like dull glass in the sparse shards of soft, golden light, which somehow managed to penetrate the heavy, closed curtains.  Mrs. Jarrett composed herself in a prim and proper manner on the sofa, while Frank and Joey were forced to share a fragile love seat, on the other side of the room.  Frank was a tall, muscular man and it was quite obvious that he was uncomfortable having to sit scrunched up so tight against his son, which much to soften Joey's ever-increasing sense of anxiety.

     "Now, Mr. Duduka," Mrs. Jarrett said in a cool, formal voice.  "What exactly, if I may ask, is the nature of your visit?"

     Frank told her the same thing he'd told Harold Kilabreski.  "Is the boy at home, now?" he asked Mrs. Jarrett.  "I'd like to talk to him, if I could."

     "No, Mr. Duduka, he is not," Mrs. Jarrett answered in her clipped, precise voice.  Each word came out sounding strong and forceful and fiercely masculine.  "I assume that he is out somewhere with his friends.  But Wayne knows very well that irregardless of whether or not it is a school night, he must be back inside these walls, each night, by no later than ten o'clock.  On that point, my husband and I are both quite emphatic.  You and your son---" and here, she turned her sharp,grey eyes on Joey; he forced himself to return her gaze and not look away "---may both rest assured that I will speak most severly to Wayne when he returns home, tonight, and make absolutely certain that this, ah, unfortunate incident progresses no further."

     Frank looked dubious.  "Is your husband at home, by any chance?  Maybe it'd be better if I talked with him."

     "Mr. Jarrett is away on a business trip at the moment," Mrs. Jarrett snapped back.  Even at thirteen, Joey realized that this was a woman who liked to manipulate, dominate, and control other people.  Now he understood from whom Wayne had inherited his cruel streak.  He almost felt sorry for Wayne.  But only for a moment.

     Mrs. Jarrett went on.  "But as I said before, Wayne will be reprimanded most harshly for his unpardonable actions against your son---by both myself and my husband.  On that, you have my word."

     "That's all I wanted to know," Frank said.


The End

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