Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake by Colin Kelly

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 13 — San Francisco Tourists

Mark finished his story about what happened to him and why he was staying with his grandmother. Tom shook his head. “Your story is amazing, Mark. In fact, all three of you guys had it rough. I just sail through life and nothing bad ever happens to me. I’m freakin’ lucky.”

“What happened to you is amazing,” I said. “Mark, you were also very lucky. What if you hadn’t found that job?”

“I’m not sure. I saw other places like the Goodwill store that had jobs posted, but I probably couldn’t have gotten a job there because I was only fourteen years old. I think I was lucky working at the bar. And getting paid good money. And free meals.”

“What did you do as kitchen help?” Kyle asked.

“I loaded the dishwasher and ran it, washed the pots and pans, and put everything away. I kept the coffee filters filled and ready to put into the coffee pots. I helped the cook, and even cooked things like burgers and pancakes when the place got busy. I’m sure no cook, so I watched Ramon cook and just followed what I’d seen him do. I guess I did okay because nobody ever complained. Even though it was a bar, the restaurant part got a lot of business. I never went out into the bar or the restaurant, and never handled the beer or liquor. My boss told me that he didn’t want the liquor license people to see a kid where the booze was being served or stored.”

I saw Mr. and Mrs. Williams drive up. “Tom, your folks are here.”

We waited for them then walked with them into Mark’s house.

Dinner was very good. Mrs. Hutchins made a beef stew that had lots of veggies and was delicious. For dessert she’d made two apple pies, from scratch. She had vanilla ice cream to go with. I love apple pie, and hers was outstanding. When we were finished I was stuffed.

“That was a great meal, Mrs. Hutchins. Thanks,” I told her.

“You’re welcome, Curt. Now, why don’t you boys go upstairs and Mark can show Kyle where he’ll be sleeping.”

We did that, and Mark apologized to Kyle on the way upstairs.

“You’re going to be in the guest room. The style is a bit little old lady. Sorry about that.”

When we got to the room and Mark turned on the light Tom started to laugh. “A bit little old lady? I’d say one hundred percent little old lady.”

“Come on, Tom, don’t rub it in. I’ll only be here two nights and it’ll be fine. Better than being in a sleeping bag on your bedroom floor, I think,” Kurt replied.

“Hey! There’s nothing wrong with my floor. And you wouldn’t have to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor. I’ve got a queen size bed and you could bunk with me.”

Now I laughed. “If you could sleep at all through Tom’s snoring!”

“Hey, I don’t snore!”

“Yes you do, Tom. Remember that I bunked with you when I first stayed at your house. It was a good thing that I was taking pain pills that put me to sleep and I didn’t hear you, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep at all.”

“Huh! Here I offer Curt the opportunity to share my portion of the family abode and all I get are lies about my snoring.”

“Maybe next time, Tom,” Kyle stated.

Kyle put the bag of clothes he borrowed from Tom next to the bed and we went to Mark’s room. It was sort of messy, with stuff on the floor and covering his desk.

“Excuse the mess. I’m trying to rearrange stuff in my dresser. It’s not very big, so Grandma got me some stacking boxes so I could put what I don’t use very often in the closet. You guys want to play a game, or watch TV, or something?”

“How about TV. Glee will be on in a few minutes.”

So we sat and watched Glee. When it was over I yawned a couple times.

“Man, I’m tired. We’re going to be getting up early. I think I want to hit the sack.”

“Me too,” Tom added. “Let’s go down and see when my folks will be leaving.”

They were ready to go, so we rode back to the Williams’ house with them. When I got to my room I checked my voicemails. One was from Mom asking me to call her, so I deleted her missed call. The other voicemail was from Horton and Wilde, an attorney’s office. They wanted me to phone Lawrence Wilde as soon as possible, and they left a cell number. I’d ask Mr. Williams about that in the morning.

Now I got to the missed calls. One of them was from Rich Osborne, a guy in my Algebra 2 class, another was from Laura Rosas. The others were all from ‘unknown’ numbers so I deleted them.

I called Rich. He said the teacher asked him to tell me the assignments for the rest of this week, so I wrote them down and thanked him. I called Laura and her mother said she was at Brittany’s house and she’d tell her I’d returned her call. Funny she didn’t leave her cell number. Whatever.

I took a deep breath and phoned Mom. She told me that Rich Osborne had left a message for me with my assignments for the week. I let her read the list, and it was the same as what Rich told me. Regardless, I thanked her for taking it down for me.

“How are you doing, Curt?” Mom asked.

“I’m very tired. Today’s court session wore me out.’

She laughed. “Me too. I was just getting ready to go to bed.”

I decided to ask her about the attorney who’d left me a message.

“Do you know who Lawrence Wilde is? He left me a voicemail message.”

“No, I don’t. He also left me a message. I just deleted it. He’s probably one of those ambulance chasing attorneys out to drum up new business.”

“I don’t understand how he got my cell number. I have it set as private so no one can look me up. In the court records I’m listed with your home phone number. Could he be connected with that Harvey Davidson, Don’s former attorney?”

“I never thought of that. Can you give me his phone number and maybe I will call him now. The message said that I can call him at any time.”

I gave her the number and we said goodnight. Strange, and maybe nice, that I’m talking to her without getting pissed and us yelling at each other.

After that I was in bed and asleep by nine thirty. When my radio alarm came on at seven I realized that this had been the first night where I couldn’t remember having any dreams, and especially not having any nightmares.

When I came down for breakfast Mr. Williams was eating some toast.

“I got a voicemail message from this law firm, and so did my mom. I haven’t called them back. I figured it would be better if I checked with you first. Mom thinks they’re ambulance chasing attorneys.”

I handed him the note with the phone number and names I’d written down last night.

“I’ve never heard of this attorney or this firm, Curt. You did the right thing. I’ll phone him later and let you know what I find out.”

“Thanks, Mr. Williams.”

Tom came down and we had bowls of cereal with blueberries for breakfast.

Mrs. Hutchins picked us up at seven forty-five as promised, and drove us to the BART station. It was crowded, as I expected. Neither Kyle nor Mark had a BART card, so we walked around to the ticket office and they bought student Clipper cards that were good on BART and Muni as well, the same as the ones that Tom and I had.

We swiped our Clipper cards as we entered the station and took the escalator to the platform level. It was 8:10 a.m. The overhead train arrival time signs read:

Daly City Train 5 min
SF Airport Train 10 min

“We can take any San Francisco train, no matter where it’s terminating.” I pointed to the train arrival time signs. “Both of those trains go to San Francisco, and it takes about a half hour to the Embarcadero station. That’s the first station in San Francisco and where we’ll get off to catch the tour bus. The tour is on a double-decker bus and we can get off at any stop and get back on another bus any time we want. If we stay on the bus the tour takes about an hour and a half.”

“Sounds good, Curt. Is one of these two trains going to be less crowded?”

I looked around the platform. There were quite a few people with suitcases or duffle bags.

“Yeah. The Daly City train. All of these people with suitcases probably are waiting for the airport train, and they take up more room so that train will end up being more crowded. Jammed, actually.”

Tom laughed. “Like the Daly City train won’t be crowded.”

“Sure it will. But we won’t have as many suitcases and other big stuff in the aisles.”

“I’ll bet those guys down there with bikes will be getting on our train,” Tom countered.

“Sure they will. But not in the car we’re waiting for. You’ll see.”

The Daly City train arrived and we got on. There weren’t any seats, but standing on a crowded BART train is half the fun of the ride to San Francisco. Hey, we’re teenagers and stuff like that is fun for us.

We talked and joked about the crowded car we were on, how the train sometimes rocked and shook, the people riding in our car who were strange looking, but only when they were far enough from us not to hear, what we were going to do when we got to the city, the best places for us to eat lunch, the aquarium and natural history museum in Golden Gate Park, and Chinatown where we’ll have dinner and which Chinese restaurants Tom and I know about, and then take BART home.

We got off at the Embarcadero station and took the exit leading to Market and Main. Then we walked three long blocks to the Ferry Building, and went to the ticket booth and bought our tickets. They were $27.99 each, and Tom said his dad gave him money to pay for them for all four of us, and no arguments. No one argued. Tom handed us our tickets, and we waited for the tour bus. A little sign had the times the bus arrived and left the Ferry Building, and the next arrival would be at 9:15. It pulled up at 9:17. We waited for people to get off who would take a brief tour of the building, which has mostly places to eat, and fancy food and wine and antique shops. We got on and went to the upper level because it would have the best views.

After a few minutes the bus driver honked the horn and more people started getting on the bus. A pretty young girl with a microphone came to the upper level and started telling us what we were seeing as we pulled away and our tour started. The tour was okay, it’s one of those mostly drive-past tours where there aren’t very many stops, just the scheduled ones that last about five or ten minutes. Still, it’s a good first tour for newbies to San Francisco like Mark and Kyle.

At our first stop we saw Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a museum with edgy contemporary art and music, SFMOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Jewish Contemporary Museum. Tom and I both like going to art museums and we’ve been to all of these. San Francisco City Hall is where the Los Arcos senior class had their Graduation Ball last year, and from the pix I’ve seen it was fantastic. I hope we have it here when I’m a senior. Civic Center also has the Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, the Asian Art Museum, and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium where concerts by famous rock groups were held and still are.

We drove through Chinatown, getting a glance at the Chinese shops and restaurants along Grant Avenue. We stopped at a fortune cookie factory and were able to buy bags of them. We found out that fortune cookies aren’t known in China, they were invented in San Francisco Chinatown. It was right next door to a tea shop so I bought two tins of jasmine tea. At the top of Telegraph Hill we saw Coit Tower with its great views of the city. We stopped at the top of the Crookedest Street and were able to look down and watch cars driving down from where we were on Hyde Street at the top to Leavenworth Street way down at the bottom. There is no way that a bus could drive on this street, it’s too narrow and the turns are too tight. I’d love to drive it, it would be a blast. Someday I will, once I’m old enough to get my driver’s license and can afford to buy a car. Good luck for that!

Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 were a blast. When the tour bus got there we decided to get off and wander for a while. It was fun looking at the sea lions resting on the docks at Pier 39. They completely took the docks over, and none of the fishing boats that used to be there were able to use them any longer. Some of the tourists watching them were sure they were an exhibit, but Tom explained how they could swim away any time they wanted, and did parts of the year. Pier 39 also has an aquarium with an area that made it seem like we were walking under the ocean. The octopus exhibit was the best. We had to laugh at this one little octopus that stuffed himself or herself into a glass jar with only the tip of one tentacle sticking out. Maybe it wasn’t worth the $16.95 admission, but Tom paid and it was fun regardless.

We walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf and saw the crab pots with whole crabs being cooked. We got crab cocktails from this guy who seemed to be giving larger portions. They were great, especially since we were hungry. We wandered through the Maritime Museum. The old radios and radar systems looked totally ancient. They used vacuum tubes instead of transistors or integrated circuits, and one of the radios still worked and was tuned to the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service. We went out onto the pier where we saw the USS Pampanito, a submarine that was in duty in World War II. We took a tour and went on board. Oh my god, it’s so tiny and cramped inside! They must have made sure the crew members were all short and skinny. We learned that the Pampanito made six patrols in the Pacific during World War II during which she sank six Japanese ships and damaged four others. We also learned that the ship is named after a variety of the pompano fish.

We spent about two hours at Fisherman’s Wharf then caught the 1:00 tour bus back to the Ferry Building and got off. It was 1:15 and definitely time for lunch.

“What do you guys want for lunch? There are tons of places to eat lunch in this part of San Francisco.”

“What about right here, in the Ferry Building?” Tom asked. “There’s a burger place at the north end that’s pretty good. Anyone for burgers?”

We all agreed that burger would be the way to go. We walked into the Ferry Building to the part called the Ferry Building Marketplace and continued down the hall. We passed a little shop that sold that Italian gelato and Mark stopped to look at the display of flavors they sold.

“We definitely have to come back here after lunch. This place has fantastic looking gelato and I want some of that tangerine sorbet. I love the flavor of tangerines and almost never get them.”

Tom agreed, “Sounds like a truly excellent idea. But I want the double dark chocolate gelato. Mmmmm… dark chocolate!”

Let’s see what they say after they have burgers, fries, and a shake for lunch,” I whispered to Kyle. He laughed and nodded.

The burger place has a huge red neon sign that reads “EAT” and there was a line to get to the counter to order and pay. We all got burgers and whatever. My bacon cheeseburger was good, and my espresso bean shake was excellent. We shared two orders each of regular fries and onion rings. The onion rings were excellent, the fries were okay. I prefer the thin-cut kind, and these were the big steakhouse style fries. I was so stuffed after I didn’t want to move.

We decided to walk on the back side of the Ferry Building, along the wharf where we could see the piers where commuter catamaran ferries and tour boats that took tourist to Alcatraz and on bay tours. At the other end of the Ferry Building there’s a big farmers market with all kinds of veggies and fruit and prepared food to take home.

“How about your gelato, guys?” I asked Mark and Tom.

“You gotta be kidding,” Tom said. “I am so full I might not be able to eat dinner tonight. Well, maybe I can if we don’t eat earlier than six. Or maybe six-thirty.”

“Hey, we’re going to have Chinese for dinner. You know the old saying about Chinese food, a half hour after eating you’ll be hungry again!”

Tom looked at me. “Dufus! A half hour after eating, no matter what kind of food it is, I’ll always be hungry again.”

“Well, I guess that means you’ll be able to eat dinner tonight for sure.”

Tom just grinned and turned away, looking at a stall that had grapes and strawberries and other fruit.

Kyle poked me in my arm. “You two always like this?”

“Mostly. We’re best friends, we’ve known each other from the day we started the ninth grade at Los Arcos High.”

We headed toward the other side of the Ferry Building and Market Street.

Mark stopped and said, “Wait. I want my sorbet. Let’s go back, okay?”

“Sure. Tom might want a quadruple scoop. He’s probably hungry again, and especially for something sweet.”

“Let’s go,” Tom said. “I want some of that double dark chocolate gelato.”

So we re-entered the Ferry Building and walked almost all the way to the other end to the gelato shop. Mark ordered his tangerine sorbet, two scoops in a cup. Tom ordered three scoops of the double dark chocolate gelato in a waffle cone. Kyle ordered one scoop of blood orange sorbet in a cup. I ordered two scoops of triple espresso gelato in a cup. We walked outside and sat looking out at the bay and the boats coming in and leaving the docks. It was a beautiful day, warm in the high 70’s, and a clear blue sky.

When we finished we headed back to the BART station and used our Clipper cards to enter the Muni Metro level and take the next N Judah train to Golden Gate Park. It was about a ten minute walk from the 9th and Irving stop to the California Academy of Sciences. Tom bought the tickets, they cost $24.95 each and again, his dad was paying.

The building is fantastic. It has a living roof, planted with grasses and flowers. A docent greeted us when we got inside, and began explaining about the building. One of the coolest things is that the building is largest public Platinum-rated ecologically green building in the world, and also the world’s greenest museum. We thought that the way it’s insulated is very funny: the insulation material is made of recycled denim, mostly jeans.

Tom had to make a remark about that. He grabbed his jeans by the waist, “They better not try recycling my jeans. I’ve gotta wear them home.”

The docent came right back at him, “Hmm, those look pretty good. That’s exactly the brand we prefer to use. Now, where’s our insulation guy? He’s got the scissors, I think.” He grinned.

“Run, Tom, run!” I shouted.

“No way. I’m visiting this museum. What I’m saying is if I see any scissors I’m going to call 9-1-1.” He turned to the docent. “Got that, Mr. Docent?”

“Don’t worry. We only want well-worn jeans. Those are too new. Now, what I recommend is that you go to the rainforest first, go up to the top level and come down level by level. That will give you just about the best tour of the rainforest. You’ll be on the lower level, so I suggest you go to Steinhart Aquarium, then back up to the African Hall if you have enough time, and then at 4:30 finish off at Morrison Planetarium. Just allow enough time to get in line.”

So that is what we did. On our way to the rainforest we saw a terminal where we could check availability of the 4:30 Planetarium show and we reserved four seats. Cool. By the time we were finished Kyle had seen and taken pictures of enough butterflies to last him a year, we saw hundreds of colorful tropical birds including two toucans, we saw an aquarium that was much larger than the one on Pier 39 with a lot more fish, we saw penguins up close, we saw an albino alligator, and we saw venomous animals including a diamondback rattlesnake and black widow spiders. We got to the Planetarium in time and watched a show about the solar system and where it fits in our Milky Way galaxy, and where our galaxy fits in the universe. I wished it had been longer, it was so fascinating.

At 5:00 when the Academy of Sciences closed we walked back to the Muni Metro station and rode the train back to the Market and Kearny station. We walked up Grant Street and through Chinatown. We picked a restaurant out of what seemed like an endless number and had a fantastic dinner. I had to use a fork because I couldn’t use chop sticks in my right hand. It was hard enough using a fork right-handed since I’m left-handed, but I was actually getting used to it. Maybe I could become ambidextrous. The food was on the spicy side so I wondered how Mark and Kyle would like it, and they said they loved it. When we were finished there wasn’t anything left in any of the serving dishes or on any of our plates.

We walked from Chinatown to the Powell Street BART station and the ride home. Mark’s grandmother picked us up, and I gave her the tin of jasmine tea I’d bought her. Tom and I were at his house by nine. It had been a very fun, very long day, and both of us were totally exhausted.

We told Mr. and Mrs. Williams a little about our double-deck bus tour, and Tom and I gave his mother the fortune cookies we’d bought and the tin of jasmine tea I’d bought her in Chinatown. Tom started telling everything we saw at the Academy of Sciences. Mr. Williams whispered to me that he needed to talk to me about the bail hearing, so we left as Tom started to describe the colorful birds and butterflies we’d seen in the rainforest and went into Mr. Williams’ office.

“Curt, I phoned that Lawrence Wilde of Horton and Wilde. He’s Don’s new attorney, and he wants to talk to you. I told him I was your attorney and you asked me to find out what he wanted to talk to you about. He said he wanted to talk to you to schedule a meeting prior to the hearing. He wouldn’t tell me why he wanted the meeting, just that he wanted to do it prior to tomorrow’s bail hearing. I said you wouldn’t be available today because you’d gone out of town with some friends. He didn’t seem too pleased about that, and asked if he could meet with you prior to the bail hearing in the morning. I told him that would be inappropriate because you were being called to testify by Beth Wolman. That ended the call.”

“I wonder why Don’s new attorney wants to talk to me. After all, I’m Don’s victim.”

“My guess is that he doesn’t want you to oppose bail for Don.”

“No way I’m going to ever do that! What about the bail hearing, is it still on for tomorrow?”

“Yes, it’s scheduled tomorrow morning at nine. That’s early, so I suggest that you go to bed and get some sleep. You’ll have to be up by seven so you can get ready and have some breakfast before we leave.”

“Have you heard that anything’s going to be different about the bail hearing?”

“No, as far as I know everything is the same as it was on Monday, except Lawrence Wilde is Don’s attorney.”

“Is Ms. Wolman really going to call me to testify?”

“It depends, but I’d say that is probable, so plan for it to happen. Do you think you’ll have any problem if you have to testify?”

“No. I just want to be calm and ready when that happens. This will be the first time I’ll be face to face with Don since he was arrested. I’m going to think about what he did and that’s going to make me mad and I’ll do great on the witness stand. What about Kyle and Mark?”

“Yes, Beth said that they will be called as witnesses. I phoned Mrs. Hutchins and told her and we’ll pick them up in the morning.”

I took a deep breath. “I’m ready.”

“Good. Have a good night’s sleep, Curt. I’ll see you in the morning.”

I went upstairs, and as I passed Tom’s bedroom he saw me. “Hey, Curt. Fill me in about what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

“Your dad told me that I’m probably testifying at Don’s bail hearing. It’s at nine in the morning. I want to get to bed and go to sleep.” I yawned. “I am so tired!”

“Yeah, you definitely need some beauty sleep. You look like a basket case.” He grinned.

“We had fun today, didn’t we?”

“Yeah, it was fun. Ya know, we really deserved a fun day. Now you should get to bed. Goodnight, Curt.”

“Good night, Tom.”

I brushed my teeth, got undressed, got into bed, and that’s the last thing I remember until my alarm went off at six on Wednesday morning. I got nine and a half hours sleep but I felt like I could sleep for another eight hours.

As I stared at the ceiling I remembered something I’d almost forgotten, something I’d thought about after the meeting with Beth Wolman on Monday.

Yesterday we had Fun.

Today I will have my Retribution.

[Continued]

Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake


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