Curt's life takes a turn that he never expected, and he realizes that it's because he forgot something that didn't seem important at the time. He also discovers that others have forgotten things that are important and that turns out to both help him and hurt him.
Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with abuse.
Chapter 11 — Donís Lawyer Messes Up
We left the conference room and said our goodbyes to Beth Wolman. Mr. Williams hung back to talk to her so we waited in the elevator lobby. The five of us were standing sort of bunched up facing the elevator door. Sort of stupid to be looking at the elevator, we hadn’t pushed the down button because we were waiting for Mr. Williams. I turned. Mark was standing behind me, and Kyle was standing next to him.
“Mark, Kyle and I and my friend Tom are going to San Francisco tomorrow. Why don’t you bail on your classes and come with us?”
Mark started laughing, then so did Kyle.
Of course, I asked “What?” and Kyle pointed at me and mouthed the word ‘bail’. I was still clueless for about five seconds, and then I realized what they were laughing about.
“Shit! …Uh, sorry about that…” I started to apologize to Mrs. Hutchins and Ms. Campbell, but I saw them holding back their laughter and when I looked at them they started laughing too. I rolled my eyes and started to turn back to look at the elevator.
Mark grabbed my arm. I turned and looked at him, and he stopped laughing. “I’d love to go to San Francisco with you guys. I can get out of another day of school.”
He turned to look at his grandmother, and she smiled and nodded.
“Cool. And you can consider this an English lesson, Mark. The lesson is that many words in English have different meanings. Like ‘bail’. Look it up. There’s going to be a quiz tomorrow.” Now it was my turn to laugh, and I did.
“Touché, Curt,” he replied. “But it was still funny.”
“Okay, okay, I agree that it was funny. Now we have to decide what time we want to leave tomorrow morning. I recommend that we go after morning rush hour. BART is way crowded with commuters before about nine-thirty.”
“That works for me,” Mark replied. “You said you’re staying at Mr. Williams’ home. Can I walk there from my grandma’s house? It’s next door to your mom’s house, Curt.”
“Sure. It’s only ten minutes. How about you, Kyle?”
“I’m a long way from where you live. Aunt Lauren, could you drive me to Mr. Williams’ house in the morning?”
“Unfortunately, I have a meeting in San Jose tomorrow morning.”
I looked at Kyle and got an idea. “Maybe Kyle can stay over at Mr. Williams’ house tonight and tomorrow night. He’s about Tom’s size, so he can borrow some clothes. You can meet up at the bail hearing on Wednesday.”
Ms. Campbell replied, “We’ll have to talk to Mr. Williams about that, and see if he agrees. It’s his home.”
“If that won’t work, he can stay at my house,” Mrs. Hutchins offered, “though I don’t think any of Mark’s clothes are large enough to fit Kyle.”
“He could still borrow some from Tom, or maybe even something of mine might be large enough to fit.”
We heard Mr. Williams and Beth Wolman coming out of the conference room. Beth returned to her office and Mr. Williams joined us.
“Mr. Williams, I have a favor to ask. Mark, Kyle, Tom, and I are going into San Francisco tomorrow morning. Mark lives next door to my mom’s house. Ms. Campbell has to go to San Jose tomorrow and can’t drive Kyle from Pleasanton to meet us. Could he stay over at your house tonight and tomorrow night?”
“You’re using the guest room, Curt. That means he could use a sleeping bag and he can bunk in either your room or Tom’s. What about clothes?”
“I figure that he’s almost Tom’s size and a bit bigger than me, so between the two of us we should find things we can loan him.”
“When we get back to my house you’ll have to make sure Tom’s okay with the clothes plan, and you’ll have to work out the sleeping arrangements. Otherwise it’s fine with me.”
Mark looked a little disappointed. Maybe he thought since they lived close to Mr. Williams’ house and had room that it made more sense to have Kyle stay at his grandmother’s house. That was okay with me. I turned to Mrs. Hutchins.
“Mrs. Hutchins,” I said, “Kyle would probably be more comfortable if he stayed at your house, if you have room and it’s okay with you and Kyle. Mark said it was okay with him. That way he wouldn’t have to use a sleeping bag on the floor at our house.”
“Of course, it’s alright with me. We have a nice guest bedroom that Kyle can use, and it has a private bathroom.”
Kyle grinned. “Sure, that’s fine. All I’ll need are some clean briefs… or boxers. Oh, and a couple of clean T’s.”
“I can get those for you,” I replied.
I could tell from Mark’s expression that he was very happy. Maybe he had been lonely. He was new in the neighborhood and going to summer school it would make it hard to meet and get to know kids in our neighborhood. And Kyle was all set with a place to sleep and some clean clothes and a nice guy to hang with tonight.
The elevator arrived and I guess because of the time a lot of people who worked in the building were leaving to go home and they were standing behind us. Despite the crowd, we were all able to get on. Most of the people on the fifth floor weren’t so lucky. Nor any of those on the fourth, the third, and the second floors. There simply wasn’t any more room.
The two people on the fifth floor who were able to cram themselves into the elevator shoved Mark back. Mark was pushed against me, Mark’s backside into my front side, and I was pushed against Kyle, my backside into Kyle’s front side. I was like a hotdog inside of a bun made by those two other guys. It was… well, sort of strange and sort of exhilarating and sort of… well, picture it. Mark’s butt was pushed hard into my uh… personal area, and my butt was pushed hard into Kyle’s.
I started to laugh, then Kyle and then Mark were laughing too.
Finally the elevator got to the first floor. It seemed to take forever, probably because we were crammed in so tight. When the door finally opened the man and woman who were in front of Mark almost exploded out of the elevator, actually bumping someone who was standing waiting to get on. When we exited I realized it was Don’s ‘former’ attorney, Mr. Davidson. He did not look pleased.
He turned and shouted, “Why don’t you fucking assholes watch where you’re going!” to the two who had bumped into him. The woman just kept walking, but Mr. Davidson shoved the man as he started to walk away. As soon as he was shoved he turned around and Mr. Davidson said something I couldn’t hear. By then we were all outside the elevator, and the rest of the people who had exited seemed to stick around to see what was going to happen.
“If you’d like to come down to the Sheriff’s office, I’d be more than happy to have an in-depth discussion with you.”
“I’ve had enough of this!” Davidson shouted back. You apologize or I’m filing a complaint! What’s your name?”
“I’m Sheriff Anthony Ralston.”
I saw Mr. Davison’s face turn white, and he started to sweat, just like during the bail hearing.
“Uh, sorry, I didn’t recognize you, Sheriff.”
“Why don’t we go down to my office and we’ll see about filing a complaint.”
“No, no! That won’t be necessary.” He stepped back and put his hand back against the edge of the elevator door to keep it from closing. “Sorry for my outburst, but I have an appointment with the District Attorney in a few minutes. I just didn’t want to be late.”
The Sheriff walked toward the elevator door which caused Mr. Davidson to step inside. The Sheriff joined him in the elevator, and I saw him reach and push one of the buttons. The door closed and I saw the green ‘Up’ arrow light up.
As we walked outside I asked Mr. Williams, “Who is Sheriff Anthony Ralston?”
“He’s the elected County Sheriff, the head of the entire Sheriff’s Department. He’s someone who you never want to have as an enemy, and I can’t believe Davidson didn’t recognize him. This is not going to help any appeal he planned on making to the D.A.”
I started giggling. “Davidson really seems like a dufus.”
“That’s a good way to put it, Curt.”
When we got outside Mr. Williams began talking with Mrs. Hutchins and Ms. Campbell, so Kyle, Mark, and I stepped away.
“You guys ready for a guided tour of San Francisco?”
They said ‘yes’ together and grinned.
“Since you’ve never been to San Francisco, I think the first thing we’ll do is take one of the paid guided tours. That way you’ll get a feel for the city. We’ll eat lunch after and do some unguided wandering on our own. How’s that sound?”
Kyle smiled. “That’s great. The only other states I’ve been to, besides Illinois, are Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. And it was only the Upper Peninsula part of Michigan, and only one time.”
“That’s the part of Michigan that sort of sticks into Wisconsin?” Mark asked.
“Yeah,” Kyle replied. “What’s amusing is that no part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula actually touches the rest of Michigan. If it wasn’t for the Mackinac Bridge you would have to take a boat or drive all the way around through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to get there. The Upper Peninsula also has a long border with Canada, but again no part of it physically touches Canada because it’s all water, Lake Superior. The only place it physically touches is Wisconsin, which pisses off a bunch of people in Wisconsin who think it should be part of their state.”
Mark poked me in my right arm. “I hope you remember this geography lesson, Curt. There’s going to be a quiz on Friday.” He busted up laughing.
“Uh, Mark, that was funny but not that funny.”
“Oh, yes it was. I actually have a quiz in World Geography on Friday.”
I guess it was pretty funny, but you probably had to be there to see the delighted expression on Mark’s face. Kyle just rolled his eyes and smiled.
“How about you, Mark. Have you done much traveling?” I asked
“I’ve never been outside of California and Nevada. That’s pretty lame, isn’t it.”
“I don’t think it’s lame,” I replied. “The only other state I’ve ever visited is Nevada. My dad and I used to go skiing when I was a kid, and we’d go to some of the Nevada ski resorts, like Incline Village.”
“You ski?” Kyle asked me.
“Yeah. I like cross country skiing best. Downhill is okay, but usually it’s crowded and it costs a mint for lift tickets. Do you ski, Kyle?”
“Yup. My mom took me to Christie Mountain after Don was out of the picture. She loves skiing and did it before she got married, but Don hated the snow so we’d never go. She’s the one who taught me how to ski.”
“My dad, my real dad, not Don, loved to ski. Mom was like Don, she hated snow and cold weather. She loved going to the beach, which I like too. But I like skiing too.”
Mr. Williams finished talking about whatever it was that he was talking about with Mrs. Hutchins and Ms. Campbell and they came over and joined us.
Mrs. Hutchins told Kyle, “Kyle, you’re staying with Mark, and Curt will loan you some clothes. You should change out of what you’re wearing so it will look alright on Wednesday. Have fun in San Francisco tomorrow. I’m going to head home now.”
We all said goodbye to her, she hugged Kyle, and left.
“Kyle, why don’t you come to Mr. Williams’ with me and Tom and I will get you some clothes. Then we’ll walk to Mark’s with you and hang around until dinner. If that’s okay with you, Mrs. Hutchins.” She nodded a ‘yes’. “Then tomorrow morning you and Mark can walk to Mr. Williams’ house and meet up with me and Tom and we’ll walk to the BART station.”
“Sounds good,” he replied.
Mark added, “I agree.”
Mrs. Hutchins asked, “Curt, do you and Tom want to stay over for dinner tonight?”
I looked at Mr. Williams and he shrugged his shoulders and nodded. “Sure, that sounds good. I’ll check with Tom.”
“Be careful, Andrea. Tom eats enough at one meal to feed an army for a week,” Mr. Williams added.
“I’m used to that now that Mark moved in. He has a hollow leg. No, two hollow legs. I had forgotten how much teens eat. I enjoy watching him eat because he seems to enjoy my cooking. It’s nice to have someone to cook for, instead of just me.”
Mark grinned and purposefully licked his lips. “Grandma is a great cook. Much better than my mom was.”
I think Mark realized that he said more than he planned, but I just ignored it, and so did Kyle.
“What do you boys like? Is there anything you don’t like?”
I said, “I like almost everything, except liver. I love veggies, lots of veggies. I supposed that I could be a vegetarian without a lot of effort. But I like meat, too. Except for liver. No liver, please.”
Kyle laughed. “Sounds like Curt’s like me. I like everything too, except liver and other innards. I don’t like Brussels Sprouts or lima beans. Anything else is a ‘go’ for me.”
“Well, you two boys are certainly like Mark. Not picky at all. You’ll be a pleasure to cook for.”
“Let’s head out of here. The traffic will be heavy if we wait much longer. Let’s see, I’ll take Curt and Kyle, and Andrea you’ll take Mark, and we’ll all just go to our respective homes. Curt, you said you, Kyle, and Tom will walk over to Mrs. Hutchins’ house and you’ll have dinner there, correct?”
“Yes. I still have to ask Tom, but once I say the word ‘eat’ or ‘food’ he’ll be heading out the door for Mrs. Hutchins’ house.”
“Andrea, is there anything that I can contribute to the meal? Soft drinks, for example, or anything else?”
“No, I’m well stocked with everything. Would you and your wife like to tag along with these teens and have dinner with us? I think that would be very nice. And if you have any other children at home, they are invited as well.”
“Well, that’s very nice of you to invite us. I’ll ask my wife when I get home and give you a call. And we only have one child, Tom.”
So we left for our ‘respective homes’ which I thought sounded rather lawyerly.
When we got to Mr. Williams’ house Tom, as usual, came running down the stairs.
“Hi, Curt! You’re back. Hi, Kyle!”
“Tom! Stop running down those stairs!” his mom hollered from the kitchen.
“Yes, Mom!” he called back.
“So, when’s the bail hearing going to continue? Is Don going to be stuck in the hoosegow?”
“The bail hearing,” I replied, “is held over until Wednesday. At least we hope it will be Wednesday. Don’s attorney was more or less removed by the judge.”
I started telling Tom the story about what happened to Mr. Vanvelick and to Don’s attorney Mr. Davidson. Kyle added his very funny mimicking of Mr. Davidson’s antics. The best part, in my opinion, was how Mr. Vanvelick lied that he had been in my house in the kitchen and saw me fall down the stairs and break my own arm was ripped apart by the judge because you can’t see the stairs from the kitchen. Then Vanvelick said Mr. Davidson paid him to say what he’d said. Then the judge had Vanvelick arrested and invited Mr. Davidson into his chambers. We finished by describing how we saw Mr. Davidson when we were leaving Beth Wolman’s office and the hassle he got into with the Sheriff of Contra Costa County.
Tom was laughing during most of what we described, but I know he liked the parts about Vanvelick the best. “I hope that shithead Vanvelick rots in jail. He’s a racist homophobic bastard.”
Finally we were finished telling about our day.
“Now, I have something to tell you that you’re going to like. Tom, Kyle is staying at Mark’s grandmother’s house tonight and tomorrow night. His grandmother, Mrs. Hutchins, has invited all of us to dinner tonight, including your folks.”
Mrs. Williams had walked into the family room and heard what I said.
“Does Mrs. Hutchins know how much food Tom can consume at any one meal?” She was grinning.
“Aw, Mom, I’m just a growing boy and I need my fuel.”
“Yes I guess we took on that burden when we decided to bring you into this world. My only question is where do you put all that fuel you consume?”
“It’s used up from all of that studying I do. My brain uses a lot of fuel. It’s very taxing, you know.” Tom grinned, and his mom shook her head, but she was grinning too.
“Hey, Tom. Can we go up to your room?” I asked. Tom nodded, turned around and bounded up the stairs. Kyle and I followed him, but at a definitely more decorous and sedate speed. He was waiting for us when we got to his room.
“Kyle needs to borrow some clothes for tonight and tomorrow and tomorrow night. I don’t think I have anything that’s his size, mine’s all smaller except maybe a couple of T’s. Maybe you have something that would fit him? Maybe enough boxers or briefs and T’s for three days, and something to wear when we go to San Francisco tomorrow. For the bail hearing on Wednesday he’ll wear what he’s wearing now.”
“Sure. T’s and boxer briefs are in the top two drawers in my dresser. I have some jeans in the closet.” Tom looked at Kyle, sizing up his height. “Let’s stand together and look in the mirror. Okay, what size jeans do you wear?”
“Um… 31 waist 32 length. I think.”
“Okay, I’m a 32 waist and 33 length, but I buy a 33 waist because I like them to sag on my hips. You’ll have to tighten up a belt so they don’t fall off. Wait… I have some older jeans, they’re a bit worn in the knees and the butt. They might fit you better.”
Tom rummaged around in his closet and came out with three pair of jeans. One had torn knees, so he tossed them aside. He handed the others to Kyle. “Try these on for size.”
Kyle pulled off his shoes and undid his belt. Then he stopped and looked at me and then at Tom.
“Uh… is it okay if I change in here?”
Tom replied, “If you’re not going to get completely naked, it’s okay. If you’re going to get completely naked, it’s okay but I want to get my camera first.”
I laughed, and so did Kyle. He pulled off and folded his khakis and laid them on Tom’s bed. Then he checked out both pairs of jeans, and tried on the pair that looked the newest.
“They feel pretty good. How do they look?”
I pointed down and rotated my finger, and Kyle slowly rotated 360 degrees.
“I don’t know,” I said, “the butt is pretty big on these jeans.”
Kyle’s eyes got big and he twisted his head around trying to look at his butt. Then it dawned on him what I meant, and he busted up laughing. I could barely keep from laughing, and tried to have a serious expression.
Tom stood there looking at Kyle’s backside, trying to see what I meant. After a few seconds of Kyle’s laughter he got it too. He turned and glared at me.
“You asshole! I do NOT have a big butt. These jeans fit Kyle just fine.”
I shook my head, unable to suppress a grin. “But that must mean that Kyle has a big butt too.”
Kyle thought that was hilarious, and both of us were laughing. I guess Tom didn’t think it was as funny as I did, because he jumped me, pushing me onto his bed.
“Big butt, huh. Well, I’m gonna make you take back that big butt thing you said. He had a leg on each side of me, and sat down on my thighs. I knew exactly what he was going to do. He was going to tickle me. I’m very ticklish, especially my armpits and my sides and my stomach and… well, just about everywhere. I slammed my right arm tight against my side, but I realized that with my left arm in a sling there was no way to stop Tom’s assault.
He had this really nasty grin, and reached down and started to tickle me on my left side. I reached my right arm around and tried to pull off his hand, but he began tickling me on my right side. I twisted and bucked and tried to get away, but he had me and I knew it.
I was laughing so much I could barely talk.
“Stop… stop… please!”
“Take the butt thing back!”
“I take… it back,,, you… don’t have… a big… butt.”
He was working both sides, then switched and pulled my right arm up and began tickling my armpit.
“Really? Say really!”
“Rea… really! Stop!”
He kept up the tickling.
“I didn’t HEAR you!”
“OW! Oh, ow, my left arm! Oh god, it hurts!” I let out a couple of sobs, and that made Tom stop his tickling assault.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake
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