I couldn’t think of an escape, so I ended up heading home, slowly. When I entered the front door, I could tell Dad was pissed as he yelled for me. I walked into the kitchen where he was standing with his back to me.
“What the hell did you tell them?!” he screamed. He turned slowly, big baggie of pot in one hand, a cooking pot in the other. “What did you tell the police?!”
“Nothing I swear!” I screamed back at him. “Why don’t you put that down.” I added softly, flinching.
“Ok.” He threw it in my direction and I ducked quickly as the metal pot struck the wall close to my head. Thank God. Not this time.
But if only I had known someone was watching us. It was just like all the other places we’d been to. Someone would catch onto what was happening.
“I’m excepting someone for business. Run along now.”
My dad ran a strick pot business, a place where cutting corners could mean anything. He looked pissed so apparently, a corner had been cut or a secret spilled.
And I didn’t want to know this time.
Unbeknownest to me Van followed Gail to her house. The story, told to me later, was this:
Van arrived a Gails home a few seconds after she went inside. At her front door, as he was raising his hand to knock, he heard her father scream at her. She said something back, but Van couldn’t make out what. Quietly he moved to the front window, where he could see into their kitchen. He observed her dad throwing a cast iron skillet at Gail. Then more yelling, then he grabber her arm and slammer her into the backdoor. It was at that point when Van rushed inside-- to bedlam.
Gail was crying, Van was yelling at her dad and her dad was yelling at Van. Van threw himself at her dad, but in a fight between a135 pound kid against a 220 pound man, you know how that’s gonna come out. Van was gettig the worst of it until Gail jumped on her dads back. He backhanded her, but in doing so the plastic baggie we was holding broke open, scattering marijuana throughout the kitchen. The neighbors must have called the police.
Van and I sat outside the police station. The officer had allowed us to be outside while they discussed the issue. I iced Van’s bleeding lip and nose while he stared angrily at my face.
“I’m okay.” I assured him for the hundredth time.
“He hit you.” Van hissed.
“And I’m okay. I swear. Are you okay?”
Van nodded still glaring. He cradled my chin in his hand gently. “It’s swelling.”
“It’s fine.” I pecked his cheek sweetly and he blushed like a little girl. Van looked down at the ground, hiding his face from me. “How’s your lip?” I asked randomly.
“It still kind of hurts. But not that much.” He was trying to be the big man. Okay, okay, I understand. Just to stun him, I leaned forward and kissed his lips for a second.
“Does it still hurt now?”
“Naw.” He grabbed my face and kissed me again, smiling this time. I could feel him practically melting beneath me. I closed my eyes, kissing him one more time. “All better.”
Van said, “Yeah, Matt, I really thought it was all better, boy was I wrong.”
It was the next day, and Van and I were sitting in my Toyota sneaking a smoke before school started.
Van continued, “We were just warming up to each other when the cops called us back in, said they wanted to talk to Gail alone, but she rebelled, said I had to be in there too.”
“She’s a tough girl,” I offered.
“Yeah, well anyway, they took us into an office. There were two cops and a gray haired lady. They introduced her as Mrs. Winsail, said she was from Child Welfare.” Van flipped his cigarette out the window. “They told Gail that with her dad in jail, and her under the age of 18, she was gonna have to go into foster care. Unless, she had a relative that could take her in.”
I doused my cigarette in the ash tray. “And?” I asked.
“She has an aunt.” Van said.
“Well that’s good, isn’t it?”
“Her aunt lives in Utah. That’s eight hundred miles from here.”
I looked away to avoid seeing the tears streaming down his cheeks.