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.
Of course, Jay didn’t know anything about Pete coming to Aston High supposedly to take him to see Doris but actually to ‘off him,’ as Pete put it. The school didn’t let students know when someone like Pete came and unsuccessfully asked for them. And, unfortunately, there were no records kept of such attempts.
Jay and Greg stood at the pick-up area in front of the school waiting for Dave to arrive.
“How were your classes today?” Jay asked.
“Probably about the same as yours, same-as, same-as. The good thing is there were no tests or quizzes today. What about you?”
Jay grinned. “Other than a snap quiz in Algebra 2 and a test in Physics, it was all same-as just like your classes.”
“How’d you do on your snap quiz?”
“Twenty out of twenty,” Jay replied, with a grin. “I don’t have the results from the Physics test, but I think I did okay. We knew what it would cover so I was able to review the material last night.”
“Hey, there’s dad’s car,” Greg said. “Easier if we walk down there than wait for him to beep-and-creep all the way up here.”
They got in the car, and as he pulled onto Sneath Lane Dave asked the typical question all parents ask, “How was school today, guys?”
“Good,” Jay replied. “I had a snap quiz in Algebra 2 and a test in Physics. Aced both of ‘em.”
“No tests for me today,” Greg added. “Just the normal class stuff. Learning something new every day.”
“We can only hope,” Jay muttered.
“What do you mean by that?” Dave asked.
“It seems like they keep covering things that we learned before, in earlier grades and even in middle school.”
Dave smiled. “When I took a class on how to give legal seminars I learned a useful rule. It’s this: ‘Tell them what you’re going to cover, then cover the material, then tell them what you covered.’ In other words, it takes three times for material to be absorbed and understood. I think the same is true for kids in high school.”
“Oh, there was one other thing,” Greg said. “I turned in the cellphone forms so we can use them at school for emergencies. I got two copies of the rules.” He pulled them out of his backpack and handed one to Jay. “It’s titled ‘Proper Use of Authorized Cellular Phones.’ We’ll read it tonight.”
“Do either of you have much homework?”
Their responses were similar and typical: “Just like always!”
The drive to the trustee’s office took about ten minutes, and by the time they parked and got to the office they were right on time.
“I’m going to go wander,” Greg said.
“Greg, I’ll phone you when we’re ready to leave. Do you have your cellphone with you, and is it turned on?”
“Yes to both. I’m not going very far. I saw a bookstore about a block from here. I’ll probably spend most of my time there.”
“Okay. Have fun.”
The meeting with the trustee took about forty-five minutes. There were a lot of forms to review and sign. Doris and Pete were specifically excluded in the trust documents. Sharon Garver, the trustee, agreed with Dave that Jay should have an allowance for his personal expenses. She was impressed that Dave and his wife were becoming Jay’s guardians, but were leaving his assets in the trust under the management of the trustee. She was even more impressed that they were paying all of Jay’s living expenses instead of having them paid from the trust. That made her wonder if they were considering adopting Jay.
After calling him, Dave and Jay waited for Greg at a coffee shop on the corner. Jay ordered a mocha with an extra shot of chocolate, and Dave ordered a black coffee. Greg arrived about ten minutes later and decided he’d have what Jay had ordered. They sat talking about the permanent restraining order.
“I phoned Alan to find out if he’d heard anything from the court, and the answer was not yet. He expects it to be approved in the morning.”
“The sooner the better,” Jay said.
“I agree,” Dave said. “You and I have an appointment on Monday with Alan to sign the guardianship papers. I made it for four o’clock. That time seemed to work out okay for you today.”
“Sure, that works for me.”
“I guess I’ll come along too, Greg said.”
“Actually, if you want you’ll be able to go home from school with your mom. She’s picking up Ryan, Jennifer, and Davis to bring them home, and you and Jay as well, each afternoon next week.”
“Okay,” Greg said. “As long as you don’t think I’m abandoning you, Jay.”
“No problem. I assume we’ll be home before dinner. Won’t we, Dad?”
“Yes. I don’t expect our meeting with Alan will be longer than a half hour.”
“Speaking of dinner,” Greg said, “I’m getting hungry.”
“If you’re finished with your mochas we can leave.”
They got up and threw their empties in the recycling bin and headed outside.
Jay turned and grinned. “Hey, Ian! How you doing?”
“Good, good! Hi, Greg.”
“Hi, Ian. Hey, this is my dad, Dave Cameron. Dad, this is Ian McCarthy, a friend of ours from school.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Cameron.”
“Hey, Jay, how’s your stepmother? Is she going to be okay?”
“What do you mean, is she going to be okay?”
“Well, there was a guy looking for you at school today. Said your stepmother was dying. He wanted to pull you out of school and take you to the hospital, but old lady Fintch wouldn’t let him.”
“What was his name?”
“Pete something. It wasn’t your last name, though. He seemed like a real jerk. He mispronounced ‘exception’ as ‘acception’ or something like that. You know how Fintch is, she kept asking him what he was saying. So I said I thought he meant ‘exception’ and he turned and gave me his best frightening look and I did an ‘oooo’ and put my hands palms-out,” which Ian demonstrated to Jay and Greg’s laughter. “He was a big jerk.”
“Was his name Pete Medrano?” Jay asked.
“Yeah, that sounds about right.”
Jay looked at Dave. “We need that restraining order!”
“Why were you in the admissions office?” Greg asked.
“I was late. Stupid bus broke down. I had a breakdown pass from the bus driver and wanted to get to class. That Pete guy was all teary about needing to take you to the hospital ‘cause your stepmother was dying. Fintch said his name wasn’t on the school records and he’d have to bring in his marriage license to prove that he’s your stepmother’s husband before she’d let you go with him.”
“What time was this?” Dave asked.
“Maybe quarter to ten, maybe a little later.”
“Did he say what hospital?” Jay asked.
“No. If you ask me it sounded like he was trying to pull something. He just took off, all pissed off like. So much for being all sad and teary. Jay, was your stepmother really in an accident?”
Jay shook his head. “Not as far as I know. I think I would have been notified if there had been an accident. Let’s just say Pete and I aren’t friends. In fact, it’s the opposite.”
“I should have looked for you at school and let you know,” Ian said.
“No problem. I am glad you saw me here and told me what you saw and heard.”
“As you say, no problem. Say, it’s getting late and I gotta get going. See you guys at school tomorrow.”
Jay turned to Dave. “I think we’d better check on Doris. Thing is, I don’t want to do it. Pete might answer the phone and if I asked for Doris he’d recognize my voice. Could you call him, Dad?”
“You want me to call the house, right?”
“Do the phones at your house have caller ID?”
“No. They’re old style phones.”
“Okay, I’ll call when we get home.”
The first thing Dave did when they got home is go into his office with Jay and Greg.
“Jay, do you know what kind of credit card Doris uses?”
“Yeah. It’s a WestBank Visa. I even have the number in my cell ‘cause she let me use it a couple times to buy stuff on Amazon for her. She didn’t know squat about how to use a computer.”
“Okay, I have an idea. I’ll say I’m calling from WestBank and there’s been a charge on her Visa from outside the country. That way if she’s there he should let her take the call. If not, we might learn something from his reply.”
“I like that. And Pete’s dumb enough to believe it. Here, let me write down the Visa card number and the security number from the back for you.” He handed Dave the information.
“Thanks. Go ahead and dial your home number.”
“Okay.” Jay dialed, then handed Dave the phone.
The phone rang about ten times and Dave ended the call.
“Let’s call Mr. Porter. He’s the neighbor across the street from my house. He’s like the neighborhood busybody, but that’s in a good way. He also hates Pete.”
Jay had Bob Porter’s number in his cellphone contact list, so he placed the call.
“Hi, Mr. Porter. This is Jay… uh, Jaydon. I heard that Doris was hurt in an accident. Do you know anything about that?”
“Jaydon! There was some sort of problem at your house. Around one a.m. Tuesday morning Pete drove off in a hell of a hurry, pardon my language, and left the garage door open. Tuesday night the garage door was still open, so I called the police to have them do a welfare check. They arrived and a few minutes later, then so did an ambulance. Then a policeman came to my door. He wanted to know where Pete was and I gave him the address and phone number where he works. I asked him if Doris was okay and he said someone slugged her real hard in the face, and she has a major injury to the back of her skull. They asked if I knew anyone with a key to the house and I gave them your name and said you’d moved out because Pete beat up on you. He wanted to know how to get ahold of you and I said you went to Aston High. Did they ever get in touch with you?”
“No, they didn’t. Do you know what hospital Doris is at?”
“No, they didn’t tell me that and I didn’t think to ask. I’d guess it’s Bayside Memorial because that’s where they usually take emergency patients.”
“Okay. I’m going to try to go there to see her. Has Pete been back to the house?”
“I think so. I saw lights in the house Tuesday night so I called the police. I don’t know if they came by to check it out or not.”
“Okay, thanks a lot Mr. Porter.”
“Thank you, Jaydon. If there’s anything I can do to help you, just give me a call. And if I see lights at the house again I’ll call the police and tell them I think Pete’s there.”
“Good. He oughta be in jail. I’ll let you know about Doris after I’ve seen her. Thanks again.”
Jay hung up the phone. “Mr. Porter thinks Doris is hurt bad. The policeman told him that she got slugged in the face and has a major head injury and the police are looking for Pete. He didn’t know what hospital she’s at, but he thinks it’s probably Bayside Memorial. Dad, can you take me to the hospital? I want to find out how she is and see her.”
“Can I come too?” Greg asked.
“I think it’s better if just Jay and I go to the hospital because you probably couldn’t get in to see her. I’ll let your mother know what’s going on. Jay, you’ll need your school ID to prove your name to get in to see her.”
“I’ve got it in my wallet. I also have my medical card and it has Doris’s name on it.”
After explaining to Beth what had happened, Dave and Jay left for the hospital.
They entered the hospital and went through the registration process. The guard directed them to the ICU unit on the second floor.
“The ICU means it’s bad, doesn’t it?” Jay asked as they walked to the elevator.
“Yes, it does. But it also means she’s getting immediate attention from doctors and nurses.”
“What if Pete’s there? That could be trouble.”
“Somehow I don’t think he’d want to be anywhere near the hospital knowing that the police are after him.”
“How would he know that?”
“If he went to work his boss would have told him the police were there looking for him. Remember, you said Mr. Porter said he gave them the address where Pete worked. Anyway, don’t worry about it. If you see Pete we’ll notify security and call the police.”
When they got to the second floor Dave picked up the phone for access to the ICU.
“What patient are you visiting?”
“Doris Oron,” Dave replied.
“Yes. That’s her married name.”
“What’s your relationship?”
“Her stepson, Jaydon Oron, is here to see her. I’m David Cameron, Jaydon’s guardian.”
“Her stepson’s age?”
“Alright, you can come in.”
The door clicked and swung open, and they walked into the ICU. This was the first time Jay had ever been in an Intensive Care Unit. It was frightening looking, with nothing but a curtain separating the beds from each other. The wall in back of every bed had all kinds of medical monitors with flashing lights; some were beeping continuously.
“Where is Doris?” Jay whispered.
“You don’t have to whisper in here, Jay. Doris is in bed 217. It looks like it’s ahead on the right. But before we go see her, let’s stop at the nursing station and find out something about her condition.”
They walked up to the nursing station. A woman sat at a computer, and after a short wait she looked up.
“May I help you?”
“Yes. This is Jay Oron. I’m his guardian and his attorney. He’s here to visit his stepmother, Doris Oron-Medrano. Before we see her I’d like to find out her condition and prognosis.”
She went through a file and pulled out a folder. “Doris Oron-Medrano is still in a coma. She’s heavily bandaged because of an injury to the back of her skull. As far as her prognosis, you’ll have to speak with the on-call doctor who is on the floor. That’s Doctor Knapp. I’ll let him know you’d like to speak with him. You can visit her, but it’s unlikely that she’ll respond. However, if Jay would like to talk to her, she might recognize his voice, or perhaps not. In any case, it’s something we tell visitors to do. It can assist in recovery from a brain injury.”
Jay looked stunned. The environment of the ICU was bleak for the patients and cold for the visitors. He was glad he’d put on a jacket. He felt Dave’s hand on his left shoulder.
“Are you ready to walk down and see her?”
The idea of seeing Doris in a coma? No, he’d never be ready for that. But only a lie in response would be appropriate.
They walked slowly past beds with some patients visible and others closed off from the curious. He wasn’t curious. He tried to think of an appropriate antonym for ‘curious’ that described how he felt as they walked, and walked. It seemed to take forever. And he couldn’t think of an antonym.
Dave stopped and again put his hand on Jay’s left shoulder
“Here we are, Jay.”
He turned to his right and faced the bed. That couldn’t be Doris in the bed. That must be some other person who was hooked up to the numerous tubes from IV bags hanging from three stands at the right side of the bed. There was a bank of medical equipment with colored numbers and moving graphs and blinking lights on the wall above the bed. There was some sort of machine at the left side of the bed with a large tube that ran to a breathing mask over Doris’s face.
He stood and stared at the array of medical equipment. He slowly shook his head back and forth, back and forth.
“Would you like to step up to where you can say something to her? The nurse said it could help her recover.”
He didn’t want to and he wanted to. Dave’s hand was still on his shoulder, and he helped guide Jay where he could see her face through the breathing mask. It was black and blue with red and yellow bruises. A bandage was wrapped around her head totally covering everything starting just above her ears and around her forehead and continuing so only a small patch of her hair could be seen on top.
Jay felt like he was about to collapse so he leaned into Dave’s side. Dave put his arm around Jay and held him tight.
Seeing Doris like this made him sad. That Pete would do something like this to her made him furious. That combination made the tears flow. Doris hadn’t been a very good mother, but she didn’t deserve anything like this.
He realized that Dave had eased him into a chair that he had positioned so, when Jay leaned forward, he could talk to Doris. He found her left hand and took it in his right.
“I know you loved my father, Doris, and he loved you. I know you loved me in your own way. And I loved you in my own way too. Only a devil would treat you the way Pete treated you. He tried to kill you. We’re going to make sure he’s found and arrested and sent to prison for the rest of his life.”
He wiped the tears from his face with his sleeve, then started to tell her the story of his life starting from the day when Pete beat him and threw him out of his own house, to the current day.
He ended his story with something he wasn’t sure she’d approve of. “I don’t know what you’d think about it, Doris, but I’m gay. I have a boyfriend. His name is Greg. He’s wonderful. You’ll like him when you meet him. And I want him to meet you. So it’s important that you get better. I’ll be back to visit you another day, soon.”
He squeezed her hand, and he was certain that he felt her squeeze back.
Dave had stepped away and was talking to a doctor. Jay stood and walked over to join the two men.
“Doctor Knapp, this is Jay Oron. Doris is his stepmother.”
“Jay, I saw you talking to your stepmother. Thank you for doing that. We’ve seen patients recover more quickly when their family would sit and talk, telling them about what they’ve been doing, just the way you did.”
“I squeezed her hand, and it felt like she squeezed back.”
“Well, that could certainly be a positive sign. Will you two be able to come back and visit at another time?”
“Yes, I’m sure we’ll be able to do that,” Dave replied. Now I’d better get Jay home so we can have dinner and he can do his homework. He has school tomorrow.”
Jay didn’t say anything at the start of their drive home.
“Are you okay, Jay?” Dave asked.
Jay looked at Dave and nodded. “Uh huh.” Another lie, but anything else would make it sound like he was weak. “I’ve just been thinking about how we can help the police catch Pete. You know, Bob Porter is like a neighborhood watchdog. I’d like to call him and ask if he saw anything around the house the past few days. I don’t think Pete has anywhere to live except the house.”
“Okay, we’ll phone him right after dinner.”
“I’d love to get back at that S.O.B. for him beating on me and trying to kill Doris.”
When they got home Beth and Greg wanted to know about Doris. They were shocked when Jay said that she was in a coma then described the big bandage around her head, the number and color of her bruises, and how she needed a breathing mask.
Because it was late Beth decided it should be a pizza and salad night. The pizza was from the freezer, and the salad was made from ingredients in the refrigerator. They sat down and ate their dinner and talked about school.
That was fine as far as Jay was concerned. He didn’t want to continue to talk about or even think about Doris and Pete. When he did it made him sad and it made him mad. Madder, even, than he had been when he saw Doris in the hospital. He didn’t like the things he thought about. Like getting a gun and killing Pete. He knew that he would never be able to do that. But he could make sure the police arrested him. A good place to start would be to contact the officers he and Greg met when he reported Pete’s abuse.
After dinner Dave and Jay went into Dave’s office. Greg begged off because he still had homework to finish.
Jay dialed Bob Porter’s number.
“Mr. Porter, it’s Jay Oron. I don’t use Jaydon any more, so please call me Jay. Anyway, is it okay if I put this call on the speaker? I want my guardian, Dave Cameron, to listen in.”
“Fine with me. And I like Jay better than Jaydon. I think it’s a better fit for you. What can I do for you, Jay?”
“Have you seen Pete at the house this week?”
“I haven’t actually seen Pete, but I saw lights on in the house. So someone with a key must have been there. I assume it wasn’t you.”
“No, it wasn’t me. I haven’t been back to the house since the day you helped me get into my bedroom.”
“I didn’t think so. Anyway, I called the police and reported it. My guess is they haven’t done anything about it.”
“Mr. Porter, this is Dave Cameron. Do you know when you saw the lights on in the house?”
“I do. I wrote it on the calendar I keep in the kitchen. Let me get it.”
After a short delay he returned to the phone.
“It was Tuesday night. It was around eleven o’clock.”
“What time did you call the San Bruno police?”
“As soon as I saw the lights.”
“Thanks, Mr. Porter,” Dave said. “If you see lights, or Pete or his black SUV, please be sure to call the police. And I’d appreciate it if you’d call me, too.”
“I certainly will do both. What’s your phone number?”
“I’ll give you my cellphone number.” He read the number and Bob Porter repeated it.
“She’s in a coma and has a serious injury to the back of her skull,” Dave replied. “I talked to the doctor at the hospital and he said her condition is listed as serious.”
“I hope the police catch up with that guy. They better be careful at the hospital. I think if he tried to kill Doris, he’s the kind of guy who would try a second time.”
Dave looked at Jay, who was scowling.
“I’ll discuss that with the San Bruno police when I call them.”
“Good. Anything else I can do?”
“That’s about it for now,” Dave said. “Thank you for the information. It’s going to be very helpful.”
“I’ll say goodbye then, Dave, and to you too, Jay.”
“Goodbye, Bob.” Dave ended the call.
“Now we’re going to call the San Bruno police and ask them why they haven’t done something about Pete Medrano.”
Jay looked at the clock on Dave’s desk. It was eight forty-five. “Isn’t it too late to call?”
Dave looked at the clock. “You’re right. I’ll call in the morning. You’ll have to go to go to school, but I don’t think it’s necessary for you to be on that call. I’m going to do three things when I call them. First, I want to know what they did after Bob Porter told them someone was in the house Tuesday night. Second, I want protection for Doris at Bayside Memorial Hospital. Third, I want protection for you at Aston High. Can you think about anything else?”
“Nope. That seems to be a comprehensive list.” Jay grinned about using a ‘big word’ in his reply.
Dave laughed and shook his head. “You are a trip, Jay. I like having you around and I’m glad that Greg likes having you around, too.”
Pete drove up to the house on Fleetwood Court. Deciding that he no longer needed to hide his car a couple blocks down Fleetwood Drive. He pushed the button to open the garage door, but it didn’t work. No matter how many times he pushed the button the door stubbornly refused to open.
“Fuck!” Pete growled. He pulled into the driveway and got out of his SUV and slammed the door as hard as he could.
That noise attracted Bob Porter’s curiosity. Mr. Neighborhood Watch, as his neighbors liked to call him, went to the kitchen and looked out the window. He saw Pete’s black SUV and Pete walking up to the garage door and trying to open it from the outside. He immediately called the San Bruno Police.
“San Bruno Police. How can I direct your call?”
“I was told by Officer Baker to call if I saw Pete Medrano.”
“I’ll connect you with Officer Baker.”
After a delay of about thirty seconds, Bob guessed it would be unlikely that Officer Baker would be in the office. But he guessed wrong.
“Officer Chris Baker. I was told you have information about Peter Medrano?”
“Yes. This is Bob Porter. I live across Fleetwood Court from the house where Doris Oron-Medrano lives. You asked me to call if I had any information about Pete Medrano. He just pulled into the driveway of the house at 149 Fleetwood Court and has entered the house.”
“Thank you, Mr. Porter. My partner and I will call on Mr. Medrano at that address in a few minutes.”
“Be sure to be careful. He can be violent.”
“Thank you for that information, Mr. Porter. Since you believe he can be violent, please remain in your home.”
“I will. You can be sure about that!”
After ending the call, Bob realized that it was likely that Pete would be arrested. Finally. He phoned the number that Dave Cameron had given him. It was picked up by his voicemail.
“Dave, this is Bob Porter. Pete came back to the house. I called the police and they said they’d be here in a few minutes. Just wanted to let you know.”
Pete was calling the police too.
“San Bruno Police. How can I direct your call?”
“I just got home from a trip and discovered someone must have broken in to my house, and my wife isn’t here even though her car is in the garage. I’m concerned. She’d been having problems with my stepson and he can be violent. Can you send a policeman as soon as possible?”
“What is your address?”
“149 Fleetwood Court in San Bruno. It’s the yellow house on the corner.”
“Just one moment, please.”
Pete didn’t like to wait for anything, but he didn’t have any choice. He sat at the kitchen table with his cellphone held to his ear and with his right hand drumming the top of the table in frustration. Finally someone came on the line.
“We’ve dispatched a patrol car to your location.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you.”
He ended the call and laughed about the way he had thanked the cops. Now he had to get his story right. His wife Doris was missing. His worthless druggie stepson Jado was missing. A big section of carpet in the living room was missing. The coffee table was missing. The most important thing was he wanted to find out where Doris was. That should do it. Now he had to put on a sad and angry and worried face for the cops. He went into the bathroom to practice his look in the mirror. The problem was he kept laughing at his image. He finally slugged himself in the cheek to get more into the mood. Satisfied, he went into the living room to wait.
While he waited he thought, ‘Now I’ve got that little shit Jado. He won’t know what hit him when the cops go looking for him so they can arrest him for attacking Doris.’ His plan two was on the way to getting everything taken care of. Except for Doris. ‘That’ll be taken care of next time I visit her in the hospital.’
About two minutes later Pete saw the flashing lights of a police car in front of the house, and he went to the front door.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Bad Boy Gone Good
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