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 16 — Don Asks Curt One Question
Don got to about three feet from us and started shouting at me. I was even more frightened than when I first saw him rushing toward me so I didn’t understand one word of what he was saying. Lawrence Wilde stayed next to Don and kept trying to get him to stop heading toward me, and Don kept ignoring him.
Kyle was standing in front of me and Mark moved alongside of him. Don tried to get around them but as he moved around me they moved to keep him from getting to me.
Don glared at Kyle. “Get out of my way. I need to talk to Curt.”
Kyle was very calm. I realized that this was his father. This was going to be very interesting.
“Don, there’s a keep-away restraining order against you. You can’t be within six hundred feet of Curt.”
“So now you’re a lawyer, is that it Kyle? Well, I’ve got a surprise for you. The court and streets around it aren’t part of the restraining order”
“Well,” Kurt replied, “I have a big surprise for you. In addition to the six hundred foot keep-away space, the restraining order also prevents you from having any contact with Curtis Fischer. You are now contacting Curtis Fischer and that means you are violating the terms of the restraining order. That’s correct, isn’t it Mr. Wilde?”
Damn, Kyle was good. Don actually looked concerned. He turned and looked at Lawrence Wilde.
“Is what he says true?”
“Yes, it is. You are technically in violation of the restraining order. I suggest that we leave immediately.”
“But all I wanted to do was ask Curt a question. One question.”
Now I was curious. “Let him ask me one question. I don’t promise to answer it, but he can ask. Then he has to leave, and if he does I won’t report that he violated the restraining order to the judge.”
Lawrence Wilde didn’t look happy, but he grabbed Don’s arm. “Alright, ask your question and then we leave, whether Curtis answers it or not. Agreed?”
“I agree, one question and we leave regardless of if he answers or not. My question is this, Curt, why are you treating your mother so badly? She’s upset and very sad about you moving out and not speaking to her.”
I sure didn’t expect that to be his question. I thought about it for a couple of seconds.
“I’ll answer Don’s question. She won’t believe me about what you did to me. I told her that a dozen times or more. I’m not going to move back to her house until she convinces me that she believes me, and not before. That’s my answer to Don’s question, and I don’t want to talk anymore about it before the trial.”
“You know Curt, you’re breaking her heart.”
“Just like she’s breaking mine. I told her exactly what you did to me. Until she says she believes me then basically she’s saying that I’m a liar. I’m not a liar, I’m not lying. You’re the one who lied to her about what happened. So this is between me and her. You have nothing to do with it. Now I think it’s time for you to leave.”
Don took a deep breath and turned to Lawrence Wilde, “Let’s go.” They walked around us and continued down the street toward the parking garage.
“Oh my god!” Mark exclaimed, “I thought he was going to attack you right here on the street in front of the courthouse. I was freakin’ scared, I can tell you!”
“Me too. But Kyle, you were fantastic. You were so calm. When did you read the restraining order to be able to tell him that he can’t come near me even if we’re near the courthouse?”
“I was pretty sure he wouldn’t do anything to me. And I know him better than you, Curt. I had to live with him almost all my life. I am his adopted son.” Kyle grinned. “I didn’t read the restraining order. I remembered that the judge said the six hundred feet part. The other part was in the restraining order my mom took out to keep him away from me and from her. I just figured that the same thing’s in yours.”
He broke out in a big smile, and I busted up laughing. “You are too much. You are too clever by half, sir.”
Kyle looked confused. “What the hell does that mean?”
“The ‘too clever by half’ part?” I asked. Kyle nodded. “I have no idea. It was something my dad — my real dad — said when someone did something or said something that was kind of off the deep end.”
“Uh… I don’t think that’s what it means,” Mark said. “I think it means that whatever it was that someone said or did can’t be trusted to be correct. Like they’re overconfident, or pulling an answer out of their butt.”
“Oh. Then I apologize, Kyle.”
“Why apologize? Mark’s definition is exactly correct. I pulled that out of my butt. It’s something that I remembered and didn’t know if it’s true or not. I still don’t know if it’s true. Maybe Don’s attorney used that as a way of getting him away from you. I think that’s a good probability. We’ll have to ask Mr. Williams about it. Hey! Curt, are you going to tell Mr. Williams what happened?”
“Absolutely. Don’t you think that I should?”
Kyle grinned. “Absolutely.”
Mark added, “Me too.”
“Well, what was it we were going to do before we were so rudely interrupted?” Kyle asked.
“We were going to get something to drink. Except Kyle. He wants a burger, so we’d picked McD’s,” Mark replied.
“Then McD’s it is.” I headed toward the corner where the McD’s was located. We got there and all three of us decided to get something to drink and to eat. I got one of those shaker salads, a Caesar, with iced tea, Kyle got his cheeseburger and a Coke, and Mark got Chicken McNuggets and a Coke.
I paid and we sat down at a table away from the counter. I sat and slowly rotated the cup my salad came in, staring at nothing. All I could think about was the look on Don’s face as he came toward me, and that I was stuck standing on the sidewalk in that one spot and I couldn’t have moved if my life had depended on it. I remembered thinking as I watched him rushing down the sidewalk toward me that my life did depend on moving, on getting the hell away from him, and that I just couldn’t. I’d been more scared than ever before in my entire life. Even more than when he’d attacked me.
I got the shivers, then the shakes. I tried to pick up my iced tea and dropped it on the table spilling the contents all over the three of us. Shit! Then I started to cry, and I couldn’t stop.
Kyle rushed around the table and sat next to me. He pulled me into a hug, and Mark came around and started rubbing my back. The people working the counter must have been freaked out because the manager came over and I heard him ask Kyle what was going on. Kyle told him that I was having a panic attack because I’d been threatened by a man on the street and it had been very frightening. I heard him ask if he should call an ambulance or the police and Kyle told him that wasn’t necessary, that he’d try and talk me down and would it be okay if we sat there until it was over. He said yes, and called a girl over to wipe up the spilled iced tea.
All of this went on in the background, almost like it a dream. Kyle kept telling me that everything was okay, that Don was gone, that we were safe here in the McDonald’s, that he and Mark would protect me, and that they were there for me.
I finally came out of my panic attack. It seemed like hours, but it was over in about ten minutes. When I could talk I looked at Mark then at Kyle.
“I feel really stupid for going off the deep end like that, guys. I’m amazed that you two had the cojones to stand there in front of me protecting me. He could have slugged you or something.”
Kyle squeezed my shoulder. “I knew he wouldn’t do anything to you or to me and Mark. There were too many witnesses starting with his attorney and people who started to come from across the street, but they stopped when things calmed down and they saw you two were just talking and then Don left.”
“I’m glad you were convinced about that. I sure wasn’t.”
There was a shadow and we looked up. It was the manager, and he looked relieved.
“Are you okay now, guy?”
“Yes, thanks. Sorry I messed up your booth.”
“No problem. I see your food is cold so here’s a gift card for five dollars for each of you. You can use it now or any time you come back. I was in Iraq so I know about panic attacks. If you know the guy who harassed you, I recommend that you go to the cops about it. That way you’ll get over what happened faster. My name is Bob Lyons. You’re welcome back any time.”
“Thanks, that’s real generous of you and we appreciate it a lot,” I told him. Kyle and Mark nodded their agreement.
“Okay. You take care of yourself, and if you feel another panic attack coming on get some professional help.”
“I will. Thanks for the advice.”
“We better get back to Beth Wolman’s office,” Mark said. “Are you going to tell her what happened with Don?”
“I’d rather wait and talk to Mr. Williams first.”
“Then I think you should phone him before we get to her office.”
“That’s a good idea. Let’s sit on that bus bench and I’ll call him now”
I called Mr. Williams’ cell number. He was very upset after I told him what happened, with Kyle and Mark both taking my phone and adding what they had seen and experienced.
“Curt, I want you to go to Beth Wolman’s office but don’t tell her anything about what happened with Don yet. I’m going to leave right now and I’ll meet you there. I’ll think about it and what we might do on my way over.”
“Guys,” I said to Kyle and Mark, “Mr. Williams is coming over to meet us at Beth Wolman’s office. He doesn’t want us to say anything to her until he decides what to do.”
Mark looked at me in my eyes, then down to my hands. They were shaking.
“You’re still freaked about what happened, aren’t you.”
“Yeah. I don’t feel safe, and I know that there’s no reason not to right now, here, in this place.”
Mark turned to Kyle. “How did you know Curt was having a panic attack?”
Kyle took a deep breath. “When I got back home after having been in that First Brethren Journey Camp in Wisconsin, I started having panic attacks. So I know exactly what they are like for the person having them and the symptoms like shaking and crying and…” He stopped talking for a bit. “Anyway, Mom sent me to a counselor who specialized in helping kids who have panic attacks as the result of something traumatic that happened to them. The counselor I saw was great, and he helped me understand what caused my attacks and that I shouldn’t be ashamed that I had them.
“Curt, you probably feel embarrassed that you had your attack, that crying is something only little kids do, and that you should have been able to stop it from happening. Am I right?”
I looked at him, and I’m sure my eyes were bugging out. “That’s all true. How did you… oh… you had the same thing. But I don’t need a shrink!”
“Curt, you need a counselor to help you through this. It’s not just what happened with Don today, it started when he beat you up. You never realized that you were on the verge of having panic attacks until you saw him being aggressive today and that brought it all back in your mind.”
“So I should see one of these counselors?” I guess Kyle could see from my expression exactly what my opinion was of that idea.
“Yes. And you and I are going to talk to Mr. Williams about it so he can find a counselor and schedule an appointment for you.”
“Would you go with me?”
“Sure. I can’t be in the session with you, of course. But I can go with you to the office and be there to talk about it after the session.”
I took a deep breath. “Thanks, Kyle. Having someone who’s gone through it will be a big help.”
“You’re welcome, Curt.”
Mark looked at his watch. “Time to head back to Beth Wolman’s office, guys.”
We sat in the reception area reading magazines while we waited for Mr. Williams. He arrived about five minutes later and talked to the receptionist for a few seconds.
“Hi, guys. Come with me, we’re going to meet in one of the conference rooms.”
We sat down and Mr. Williams looked at me. “What happened, Curt?”
“Beth Wolman said we had time to get a Coke. When we came out of the building and started up the street toward the McDonalds, I saw Don and his attorney walking down the street towards us. Don saw me and started walking toward me real fast. Mr. Wilde kept trying to stop him but he just kept coming. I was so scared that I just froze. Kyle and Mark saw that and stood in front of me blocking him to protect me.”
“What happened then?”
Kyle and Mark described what happened next, including how Don said he only wanted to ask me a question, and I said okay one question that I didn’t have to answer and he’d leave. Then I told about Don’s question and my response.
“He asked me why I’m treating my mother so bad by not talking to her, and that I was breaking her heart. I answered that she didn’t believe me when I told her what he did to me. I said that she was breaking my heart by not believing me when I told her how he’d attacked me, and until she did that then she was saying that I was a liar. I’m not lying and I’m not a liar. I told him that it was something between her and me and it was none of his business and I wanted him to leave and he did.”
Mark added something I’d forgotten. “Curt, you also told him that if he left then you wouldn’t report that he violated the restraining order.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.”
“There’s one other thing that happened,” Kyle added. I put up my hand to stop Kyle from telling Mr. Williams about my panic attack, but he shook his head and continued. “We ended up going to the McDonalds and Curt had a panic attack. I know what they are because I had them after I got back from the Brethren Journey Camp where Don took me. That’s the place where they were supposed to make me straight. Mom took me to a counselor who specializes in kids who have panic attacks. It really helped me, and I think Curt needs to see that kind of counselor.”
Mr. Williams asked me, “Do you agree, Curt?”
I took a deep breath. “Yeah. I don’t want to ever have a panic attack again. It was very freaky and frightening and embarrassing. If Kyle and Mark hadn’t been there to help me I don’t know how I would have been able to come out of it.”
“Now, let’s talk about what Don did to you. Even though he was in an area excluded from the restraining order, technically he was in violation. The restraining order explicitly prohibits him from having any direct contact with you.”
Mark and I started laughing, and Kyle sat there looking very smug.
“What?” Obviously Mr. Williams had no idea why we would be laughing.
“Kyle lied to Mr. Wilde by telling him that he’d read the restraining order and it said what you just told us,” Mark told him. “But Kyle never read it, he just guessed that would be the way it was worded. That’s what’s so funny. Either Mr. Wilde believed Kyle or didn’t care and was using it to get Don away from Curt.”
Mr. Williams looked shocked. “You lied to an attorney? Do you realize that he’s an officer of the court? You can’t lie to an officer of the court, Kyle. You could be arrested!” He couldn’t keep a straight face and started laughing, and we were laughing along with him.
“I have to give you credit, Kyle. That was very clever. My guess is that Lawrence Wilde actually realized that you had not read the restraining order. But Don wouldn’t have known that, and you were talking to Don, right?”
“Right. Anything I can do to send that bastard to prison I’ll do. And if it’s when I’m not on the witness stand I’ll even stretch the truth, like I did an hour ago.”
Mr. Williams looked at the three of us. “The only thing that disappoints me is that Curt promised Don and his attorney that he wouldn’t report this violation of the restraining order. We can’t send him back to jail to await his trial on Tuesday. On the other hand, we don’t want to give the defense any opportunity to delay the trial. So it’s probably a good thing. Now, we cannot tell Beth Wolman about what happened. She would have to arrest Don and put him in jail without bail until the trial starts. So please don’t say anything about this to her or anyone else. There are four of us who know about this incident and that’s already too many. It would be easy to make a mistake during your deposition so be careful.”
We all agreed.
“Alright, let’s return to the reception area and see if Beth is ready for one of you.”
Actually, Beth was more than ready. Mark’s grandmother was sitting in the reception area and Beth was pacing looking at her watch.
“Where have you been? You three kids were supposed to be back in a half hour. You’re fifteen minutes late.” She did seem a bit pissed, to put it mildly.
Mr. Williams explained. “I’m sorry, it was my fault. I needed to talk to them about something and lost track of the time.”
“Alright, alright. Sorry for snapping at you. Let’s start with Kyle. Come on into the conference room and we’ll get your deposition finished.”
When they left I looked at Mr. Williams. “Shouldn’t you be in with Kyle while he’s giving his deposition?”
“No, I’m not his attorney. I’ll be in with you when you’re deposed, Curt.”
“So I’m left on my own too?” Mark asked.
“Now, Mark,” his grandmother told him, “the deposition is very easy and you wouldn’t need anyone in there with you. However, since you are a minor and I’m your guardian I’ll be in there with you, though I won’t say anything.”
“Aw, I was just kidding,” he replied.
Kyle’s deposition took almost a half hour, and Mark’s took about twenty minutes. Now it was my turn. Mr. Williams and I followed Beth into the conference room. There was a woman sitting there with some sort of strange machine sort of like a typewriter with a lot fewer keys.
“This is a stenotype machine and Alice is a stenotype recorder. We take an audio tape of your deposition, and Alice records what she hears. If there’s a question about either transcript it can be compared to the other.
“Now, are you ready to get started, Curt?”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake
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