When you’re a teenager it’s easy to be led astray. What’s hard is getting out of a bad situation.
Mature or distressing themes and strong language. This story deals with issues that are, unfortunately, true to life for some teens.
In keeping with our policy of not running from real life issues, we are hosting Bad Boy Gone Good with this advisory.
When they got home Beth walked into the kitchen followed by Greg and Jay. The boys each grabbed a banana.
“Did you want anything else?” Beth asked.
“What time’s dinner going to be?” Greg asked.
“About six o’clock.”
“This banana is enough for me, then,” Greg said.
“Yeah, me too,” Jay added. “Oh, Beth, I have something you have to sign. It’s a change of address form for school. I filled it out except for your signatures.” He handed her the form.
“Is this going to be accepted since your last name and our last name aren’t the same?”
“I don’t know. How messy is your handwriting?”
“Well… it isn’t too legible. They might not notice the difference in last names.”
Greg grinned. “Mom, your handwriting is terrible.”
“Just sign it and I’ll take it in,” Jay said. “I don’t think it’s gonna make any difference. The only thing they want to make sure about is that I’m still in San Bruno and in the Aston High attendance area.”
Beth signed the form and handed it to Jay. He showed it to Greg and chuckled.
“Thanks, Beth. That’s perfect.”
“Yeah, Mom, perfectly illegible.”
“Aren’t they going to cross-check your new address with our address for Greg?” she asked.
“I don’t think so,” Greg answered for Jay. “I don’t think the Aston High admin computer system is all that sophisticated.”
“Well, if there’s any trouble you let me know. I’ll go talk to Artis Lafon and let her take care of it.”
As they started upstairs to get started on their homework, Beth heard Jay tell Greg, “Bringing out the heavy artillery, ‘eh?” and they both laughed.
About an hour later Greg pushed back from his desk, stretched his shoulders, yawned, and walked across the hall to Jay’s room.
“How are you doing, bro?” he asked.
“I’m ready to quit. I’ve been reading ahead for my Physics class. Did you take Physics?”
“Yeah, last year. You doing okay in your class? Who’s your teacher?”
“Reynolds. You know him?”
“Nah. Remember, I took Physics at Sehome High in Bellingham last year. Do you like the class?”
“Yeah, I do. I decided I’m going to take AP Chem next year. He’s going to be teaching it. I just have to find out what time so I can get in his class. You’re taking AP Chem this year. Who’s your teacher?”
“Lazelle. He’s a little weird, but I like him. Ryan’s in my class. We’re going to get together to study for exams, and we’re lab partners. Having someone I know to work with that way’s a big help.”
“Davis is in my Physics class, and he said he’s thinking about taking AP Chem next year. I ought to talk to him so we can have the same class with Reynolds.”
“That’s a good idea.”
Dave knocked on the door jamb. “Excuse me, guys, do you have a minute?”
“Sure,” Jay replied, then he grinned. “What can we do for you, sir?”
“Wiseass,” Greg whispered to Jay.
Dave laughed, both because of Jay’s comment and because he’d overheard what Greg had whispered.
“I have several things that I’ve been able to get underway. First, our attorney has applied for a permanent order restraining Pete Medrano from being within 300 feet of you at any time, Jay. We’re waiting for the judge to make a ruling on the application. I know that judge, and both Alan Quallier, our attorney, and I think it will be granted before the temporary order runs out this weekend.”
“That’s great. Thanks for doing that, Dave.”
“Second, I’ve filed an application for me and Beth to become your personal guardians, if you agree. The main benefit is we will have legal responsibility for you and it removes Doris and Pete from having any legal responsibility and most importantly any legal rights. We won’t be the guardians of your property including the house, the money you inherited from your father, and your trust. All of your assets will be managed by your trustee.
“Third, Beth picked up forms that we had to fill out to allow both of you to carry your cellphone while you’re at school and it can be turned on at all times. One limitation is that it can’t have an audible ring. That means you’ll have to set it to vibrate only. You can’t answer it in class, but if the caller is me or Beth then you can ask to teacher if you can step out for a minute to take the call or text. Each of your teachers will be advised that you have permission to take important calls or texts. Just make sure they are important. I’m going to give the forms to you to turn in to the administration office.
“Fourth, I contacted the trustee of your account, Jay. I’ve set up a meeting tomorrow at four o’clock. I’ll pick you up after school. Greg, you can come along for the ride if you want. You won’t sit in on the meeting, but you can wander around downtown or do some of your homework while Jay and I are in the meeting.”
“I like the wandering around idea,” Greg said.
“Well, that’s about it. Any questions, Jay?”
“I… I don’t know what to say. Except thank you, Dave. Hmm… when you and Beth become my guardians, can I call you Dad and Mom?”
Dave held out his arms and Jay jumped up and they hugged.
“You can call me Dad and call Beth Mom starting right now if you want.”
Dave noticed a tear sliding down Jay’s cheek.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Jay said.
“We’ll have to meet with our attorney so you can sign the guardianship papers which he will file with the court. Then there will be a hearing where you have to approve of us as your guardians. Doris will have to approve of this change. We’ll try to get Doris to agree to the guardianship. It’s possible that she will fight the guardianship. That will slow it down, but I think we can show that she should be removed because of her marriage to Pete and the way he abused you.
“If you’re wondering about the emancipation, Alan will talk to you about it. It can still be done, but there are some issues you’ll want to consider first.”
Dave handed Jay a document titled ‘Emancipation Guide,’ another titled ‘Guardianship Pamphlet,’ and a third titled ‘Becoming a Guardian.’
“Alan gave me this material so you’ll know what becoming emancipated means, and what your rights and our responsibilities will be under a guardianship. You can read them before we go to his office after school on Monday. He’ll have the guardianship papers ready to sign then.”
“Wow. Thanks. Things are really moving fast.” Jay smiled. “You and Mom are great.” Then he turned and looked at Greg.
“Greg, is it okay with you if I call your folks Dad and Mom?”
“Of course it is! There’s no reason it wouldn’t be, bro.”
Dave interrupted. “Don’t tell anyone else until we get the guardianship approved by the court.”
“Looks like I have some more reading homework to do,” Jay said, holding up the pamphlets Dave had given him. “Personal homework this time.”
Jay knew he’d have to find a way to quit his pot habit. He still felt the need, and more often than he’d expected. Going cold-turkey would be a problem. He’d gotten used smoking a joint every couple weeks or so, and shaking that urge was becoming a lot harder.
He’d promised Greg and Greg’s folks that he’d give it up. Greg’s dad had told him he wouldn’t be able to do it alone. Having Greg’s help would be important, but that wouldn’t be enough. Not nearly enough.
That evening he and Greg were sitting at the kitchen table with Greg’s laptop.
“Okay, let’s do a search. How about using ‘how to quit smoking marijuana’ as a search string?”
“Sure,” Jay replied.
Greg typed the search string into Google.
“Whoa! Look at this. It says it found ‘About 1,020,000 results.’ How are we supposed to find the one best program from all of the ones that are junk?”
“I don’t know. Maybe we should just start looking from the top. Those that are first are probably the ones that pay for being at the top.”
“I suppose,” Greg said. “Okay, the first one is for a ‘private mountain lodge.’ That’s not what we’re looking for.”
“Hey, look at this one,” Jay said, pointing at the screen. “It’s from the University of Notre Dame. ‘Quitting Marijuana — A 30 Day Self Help Guide.’ I’d trust a major university website. Let’s take a look at it.”
Greg clicked on the link, then scrolled through the first page. They read the introduction and looked at a long questionnaire with several sections. The first was titled ‘Social Self’ which it described as the way someone relates to others and if they felt comfortable with other people. The next section was about school, the next about family, then financial, legal, and finally personal. There were links to click to select the particular drug. Of course, they’d already found it by searching for marijuana, so that was their selected drug.
“Did you finish looking at the questionnaire?” Greg asked.
“Yeah. It looks like something we’d print out and fill in. Can you print it?”
“There’s no link to print it, but I can use the screen capture and print tool.”
“I think it’s too long for that,” Jay said. “How about copying the questionnaire and pasting it into Word?”
Greg tried that, but the formatting was messed up. He used a paste option and that solved the formatting problem, but the background was black with white text and he couldn’t find a way to change that.
“Is this going to be okay?”
“I don’t think so. Why don’t you just try printing the page?”
Greg did that, and it showed the introduction text and the questionnaire without the links that had been listed on the left side of the page.
“This is cool. It’s going to take five pages, but big whoop. My printer has a duplexer so it prints on both sides of each sheet. That means it’ll only take three sheets. I’ll print three copies, one for you, one for me, and one for our folks.” Jay grinned when he heard Greg refer to ‘our folks.’
Next Greg picked the ‘Marijuana’ link at the left of the page. It had an explanation of marijuana addiction and a chart showing some of the withdrawal symptoms listed by Physiological, Behavioral, and Sleep. He printed three sets of pages, then clicked a link to ‘Quitting Marijuana — A 30 Day Self Help Guide.’ That took them back to the page where they’d started.
“That’s weird,” Jay said.
“Yeah. They need someone to look at the design of the site and the navigation. What they have is real clumsy. Okay, there’s still a bunch of links on the left. I think we can skip all of the links to other stuff like alcohol and Narcotic Analgesics, right?”
“Yeah. I’ve never used any other drug and I don’t like alcohol. Except maybe a small glass of Champagne on my birthday and New Year’s Eve.”
“You don’t like beer?”
“No. Its taste is yucky.”
Greg laughed. “Yucky? I love it! What you said, not beer.”
“Okay, okay! Let’s explore some of those other links.”
That’s what they did, and Greg printed three sets of the pages for Myths and Current Research, Making the Decision, and Managing Cravings. Then Greg opened the first ‘Day’ page and printed three copies, then opened the second ‘Day’ page and printed three copies, and so on through Day 30. It resulted in a lot of pages for each of them to read.
“Most of these Day pages are short, some of them are a little longer.” Greg said. “They have activities we’re supposed to do. Others are things to think about and commit to, sort of motivational stuff. They are all pretty good for us because they’re written for college students, and we’re close to that, so where it talks about doing things they are mostly relevant for us. Where they don’t fit we can substitute a related activity. There are a lot of links to pages that are just for college students and their parents, or for students at Notre Dame. Those don’t apply to us so I didn’t print them.”
“None of the Day pages I’ve looked at seem impossible,” Jay said. “There are choices on quite a few of the pages, so we can pick which choice or choices we want to do. I think if you can do them then I can do them too. How about we follow the day schedule together. That way we’ll be supporting each other and making sure we’re both doing each day’s activities.”
“Sounds good. Let’s show my folks what we’ve printed. They’ll probably want to look it over and they’ll give us their opinion of this self-help approach.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Greg and Jay sat down with Dave and Beth at the kitchen table.
“Jay found a drug program they use at Notre Dame University,” Greg said. “We looked it over and think that it makes sense. I printed out the material and stapled it together in the sequence we’d follow. We’d like you to look it over and tell us what you think.” He handed Dave their copy.
“Okay,” Dave responded. “One question. Why did you pick a drug program from a university?”
“We figured they’re students, and we’re students, and that’s a good fit,” Jay said. “We read through all of the material and most of it is easy for high school students to follow.”
Greg pointed at the set of pages they’d given Dave. “We think you’ll see it’s a good fit for us when you read what I printed. The link to go to their website’s there too, if you want to look at the original material.”
“There are other kinds of drugs in their program, like alcohol and cocaine,” Jay said. “They don’t apply to us because we don’t drink or use hard drugs.”
“You’ve never had any alcoholic drinks, Jay?” Beth asked.
“My dad used to let me have a small glass of Champagne for my birthday and Christmas dinners. I don’t like beer, and the hard stuff that my dad let me taste was awful.”
“He let you taste hard alcoholic drinks?” Beth sounded incredulous.
“Yeah, like a quarter teaspoon or so. The worst was Scotch. I don’t understand how anyone could drink that. It think that must be where they got to term ‘rotgut’ from. It was his way of making me taste how bad it was. It worked. I’ll never drink any kind of booze. Ever.”
Pete woke up in his own bedroom. He’d gone to bed after checking out the rest of the house. The door to the backyard wasn’t locked, so he’d locked it. The only other things he’d found out of place were the doors to every room were open, and the lamp on the table next to his bed was laying on top of the bed.
He’d planned to sleep at the shop, but when he had started to turn off Carolan Avenue into the driveway he’d seen cop cars with their lights flashing. They were parked in front of the building, and his boss had been out there talking to the cops.
‘What a fuckin’ douche!’ he thought. ‘Some friend he turned out to be, spilling his guts about me to the cops.’
What Pete knew it meant was he couldn’t go back to work until he got Jado arrested for what happened to Doris.
He poured some cereal and milk into a bowl and ate that for his breakfast. Not a real meal, but he wasn’t a cook and didn’t even know how to use a microwave oven. He actually began to miss Doris. Trouble was, she was a loose cannon. She’d tell the cops that he was the one who hit her. He had to shut that down. And soon. Way to do that would be to go to the hospital and chat her up. He’d have to figure out which hospital, but it was probably Bayside Memorial, the closest hospital to where they lived.
He dumped his bowl and spoon in the sink, then walked out through the front door locking it as he left. He hadn’t moved his car from where he’d parked it down the street on Fleetwood Drive. He’d decided it would be best to have it a ways away so it wouldn’t lead the cops to him.
The traffic heading east was heavy with people on their way to work to the north in San Francisco and to the south at the airport and in Silicon Valley. It took twenty minutes to get to the hospital, then another five minutes driving around the parking lot trying to find an open spot that wasn’t marked for handicapped.
Pete walked in through the main entrance of Bayside Memorial Hospital. They had a security station with a guard sitting at a computer just inside the entrance. There were three people in line ahead of him. Pete took a couple deep breaths to keep from boiling over and blowing his chance to see Doris.
“What patient do you want to visit?” the guard asked.
Pete didn’t understand at first. “Huh?” he asked, but then he realized what the guard wanted. “Oh. I’m her husband.”
The guard put out his hand. “Picture ID please.”
Pete handed him his driver’s license. The guard entered his name and returned the license. Then he printed a tag with both his and Doris’s names and a room number and handed it to him.
“Put it on where it can be seen, and wear it the entire time you’re in the hospital. Take the elevator at your right. It’s room 217 in Intensive Care.”
If Doris was in intensive care she had to be hurt bad, Pete realized. He took the elevator up one floor and got off. He was in a short hallway with closed doors at each end. He couldn’t figure out where he was supposed to go. Then he saw a sign above a phone mounted to the wall. It read, ‘Pick up the handset for access to the ICU.’
He picked it up and it rang twice, then he heard a woman’s voice. “What patient are you visiting?”
“Your relationship with the patient?”
“I’m her husband.”
“Alright.” With that the door to his left swung open, and he walked into the ICU. He’d never been in an ICU before. These weren’t rooms like on the regular hospital floors. The beds were side-by-side and separated from each other by a sort of curtain thing on each side. He saw that the curtain could also be pulled across the foot of the bed for privacy. The numbers were located above each bed. He found bed 217 at the far end of the room, and Doris was in the bed. He walked up to the right side of her bed.
‘Jesus, she looks like shit,’ he thought. Her face was all black and blue, her eyes were shut and all puffy, and she had a huge bandage starting from just above her eyebrows that ran all the way around her head. There were tubes running from three plastic bags that were hanging from a stand that looked like a weird sort of metal coat rack. Each bag had clear liquid that was being dripped into Doris’s right arm. ‘Must be some sort of medicine,’ he thought. There was a blood pressure cuff around her other arm. There was another tube running from the wall into her nose, and a tube ran from under the blanket to a bag hooked on the side of the bed that looked like it was filled with urine. A bank of equipment with flashing lights and big colored numbers was mounted on another stand behind the head of her bed. Her mouth was open and it sounded like she was having a hard time breathing.
Pete bent down next to her ear. “Doris? Doris, honey?”
There was no response.
A nurse walked up and startled Pete. “Are you her husband?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied, trying to look and sound grief-stricken. “What’s wrong with her? Is she gonna be okay?”
“She’s in a coma.” The nurse put her hand on his shoulder. “You should talk to Doctor Barrington. He can tell you more about her condition.”
Pete looked around. “Is he here?”
“No. He’s doing his rounds. He should be back here in the ICU in about an hour.”
“Has she been able to talk?”
“Not since I started my shift at seven this morning.” She looked at Pete. “If you’d like some coffee while you wait, the cafeteria is open on the first floor. Just follow the signs.”
“Thanks. That sounds like a good idea. I’m so confused. I don’ know what could of happened to her.”
The nurse walked away and Pete left the ICU. He took the elevator to the first floor and left the hospital. He figured that if Doris survived she probably wouldn’t remember what happened.
He sat in his car wondering what to do about Jado. ‘I can go to the school and tell them his stepmother was in a car crash. When he hears that he prob’ly come with me to the hospital for sure, then I can off him and borrow Larry’s boat and take his body out into the Bay and dump him,’ he thought. ‘Or, I can go home and call the cops saying that someone trashed the house and stole some stuff, and that I think it’s Jado.’ He tried to come up with a reason Jado would beat up Doris. ‘I don’t have to worry about that part. I don’t know that she got beat up. I’d just call the cops and tell them she’s missing and that the house is trashed and I don’t know where she is. I know, I can say they’d been arguing about Jado moving out.’
He tried to figure which of the two plans was better. The first plan, going after Jado at school, was less risky than calling the cops and blaming him for trashing the house and beating up Doris.
With that he started the engine and pulled out of the hospital parking lot and headed for Aston High School.
He got lost, even though he stopped at a gas station and asked for directions. Then he stopped at another gas station and the guy gave him better directions. When he arrived there was one open spot in the visitor’s parking lot.
Pete entered the Aston High School administration office and stepped up to the counter. The receptionist looked like she was a high school student. He put on what he thought was his sad face.
“May I help you?” she asked.
“Yes. I need to pick up my stepson. His mother, my wife, was in a bad traffic accident this morning and I need to take him to the hospital before it’s too late.”
“You’ll have to go to the attendance office. Go back outside, turn left, and go to the next building on your left. You’ll see the Admissions Office sign out front.”
“Okay.” Pete found the admissions office and walked in. There was and old lady behind the counter. She wore a name tag, Ms. Fintch.
“Yes?” she asked.
Pete told Mrs. Fintch the same sad story he’d told the girl in the administration building.
“Okay,” she said, “so what’s the student’s name?”
“And what’s your name?”
“You got some ID?”
Pete pulled out his driver’s license and slid it in front of her. She picked it up and looked at both sides. Then she keyed something into her computer and sat looking at it for what to Pete seemed to be a long time.
“Excuse me, my wife might be dying. Jado will want to see her before she goes.”
“Yeah, yeah. Got a problem here. Your name isn’t on the contact list for Jaydon Oron.”
“Well, Jado’s mom and I just got married in July. She prob’ly didn’t think about adding my name to Jado’s high school records.”
“You got some proof you’re her husband?”
“I’ve got the marriage license.”
She wiggled her fingers in a ‘give it to me’ way. “Lemme see the marriage license.”
“I don’t carry it with me. It’s at home.”
“You’ll have to go get it and bring it in, or wait until 3:20 when school is over for the day and maybe you’ll see him as he leaves the campus.” She dismissed Pete by looking past him at the boy standing behind him, apparently one of the students.
“Wait! What am I supposed to do? Can’t you make a acception?”
“A what?” she asked.
“A acception!” Pete almost shouted.
“I think he means ‘an exception,’” the kid in back of Pete said, apparently enjoying the exchange between the two adults.
Pete turned and glared at the kid who made a snide ‘oooo’ expression with his mouth and laughed.
“Okay, an exception, please?” Pete pleaded.
“Sorry, we can’t let just anyone walk in here and walk out with one of our students. You read about this sort of thing all the time, kids getting kidnapped or worse. Your name isn’t on that boy’s file, we can’t release him to you. No exceptions. Period.”
“What am I s’posed to do? His stepmother is dying! Dying!” he shouted.
“Get your marriage license and bring it in. Or wait until 3:20 when school’s over for the day. Until then, I got students lined up back of you who I’m sure are eager to tell me their own interesting tales of woe. Next!”
Pete stormed out of the office, got in his car, and beat his fists on the steering wheel. Finally, once his temper was curtailed, he pulled out of the parking lot onto Sneath Lane and headed back to the house.
“I don’t know where Doris put the fuckin’ marriage license. That stupid old bitch at the school wouldn’t make ‘an exception’ so my time this morning was totally fuckn’ wasted,” Pete thought. “Okay, it’s gonna have to be plan two,” he decided.
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