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 24 — Don and Vanvelick Again
“Let’s head up and ask Laura. She should be able to find out if Don’s on the list or if he crashed the party,” Tom suggested.
“Okay, let’s do that. I want to know what the fuck he’s doing here.”
“Curt, we don’t know if that guy is really Don or someone who looks like him.”
“It’s Don all right. I recognize the shirt.”
“You recognize the shirt he’s wearing? How’s that?”
“I bought it for Don for Christmas. It’s a really expensive shirt that was on sale at Donatello’s. It was a closeout. It cost me a month’s allowance. Fifty bucks. I’ve never seen that shirt anywhere else, or anyone else wearing it. Don said it was his favorite shirt.”
“Oh. Well, there’s Laura. She’s looking this way.”
I gestured for her to come over and talk to us.
“Hi, Curt. What’s up?”
“See that guy sitting at the end of a row, about six rows down?”
“Yeah. Who is it?”
“It’s Donovan Clarey. My mom’s husband. My supposed stepfather. The guy who attacked me and beat me up and put my arm in a cast. I want to know how he got in. Was he on the invitation list or did he crash the party. Do you know how to find out?”
“Damn right I do. Let’s go talk to the security guy at the front gate.”
Laura started downhill and I followed, and so did Tom.
“You don’t have to come with us, Tom. Laura and I can find out what he’s doing here. Stick around and listen to the music.”
“I’ll be able to hear these guys wherever we go. Anyway, I want to go with you to check on Don. That’s more interesting than sitting here watching some guys from school play bad Indi rock.”
I grinned. “Thanks, Tom. I’m glad you’re coming along.”
The two of us followed Laura around the outer perimeter of the property. I was impressed. The route she took bypassed anywhere where Don could have seen us.
When we approached the front gate Laura waved her hand motioning us to stay back while she talked to the head of security. We couldn’t hear what was being said, but I could see that Laura was very pissed. She pulled out her cell and talked to someone and put it back in her pocket. She said something else to the security guy, then turned and waved to us to join her.
“Curt and Tom, this is David Cooper our head of security. He says one of his guards gave him a note from my dad asking to add Donovan Clarey to the guest list. I just talked to Dad and he says he did no such thing. He’s on his way down here now.”
Laura turned to David Cooper and started asking him questions.
“Who’s the security guard who gave you the note?”
“Charles Masters. He’s standing over there by the entrance.”
“Okay, when my dad gets here he’s going to want to ask him where he got the note. Can you have him come over now so he’s here when my dad gets here? Oh, here he is now.”
Mr. Rosas joined our group.
“Sure.” David Cooper turned and waved in the direction of the guard, then called out to him, “Hey, Charlie, can you join us for a couple of minutes?”
The guard joined us. “What’s up, Dave?”
“You gave me a note this afternoon from Mr. Rosas. The note says a name should be added to the guest list. Who gave you that note?”
“Let me think. It wasn’t Mr. Rosas, or Mrs. Rosas, or Laura.” He stopped for a few seconds, thinking. “It was a man who came up to me. He said Mr. Rosas gave him the note to give to me.”
“Did that man come from the grounds, or from the outside?”
“From the grounds, from that direction.” He pointed toward the caterers’ tent.
“Can you remember his name? If he was a caterer or anyone else working here today he would have had a badge like the one you’re wearing.”
“I remember, his name is Daron Burger. I remember it because he’s a caterer and his last name is Burger, like hamburger. It stuck me funny.”
“Thanks, Charlie. What I’d like to do is go with you to the caterers’ tent and the two of us will look for Mr. Burger.” He turned to Mr. Rosas. “I think it’s best if Charlie and I go to the caterers’ tent by ourselves. We don’t want to have a large group of people descend on him.”
“I agree,” Mr. Rosas said.
I was antsy about that, but I could see why they wanted to do it that way. We watched David Cooper and Charles Masters walk to the caterers’ tent and enter it. After a couple of minutes they walked out with a man who looked familiar. Then I recognized him. I pulled Tom around the corner of the house so we couldn’t see them and they couldn’t see us.
“Tom, that’s old man Vanvelick. The son of a bitch changed his name to get in here. He must be working for one of the catering companies.”
“I don’t fucking believe it!”
“You don’t fucking believe what?” It was Laura who joined us.
“That’s Otto Vanvelick, my across the street neighbor when I was living at home. He’s the one who testified for Don at the bail hearing and lied to the judge about what he saw me doing to Tom.”
“Oh my god! You told me about that. Stay here. Don’t come out until I come to get you. Just stay here and listen. Agreed?”
“Yeah, I agree,” Tom said.
“Okay,” I said.
We listened to the conversation, but couldn’t see stuff like the expression on Vanvelick’s face. David Cooper was the one who asked Vanvelick questions.
“You gave this note to Charlie to give to me. Right?”
“The note reads, ‘Please add Mr. Donovan Clarey to the guest list’ and it’s signed ‘Mr. Rosas’. You told Charlie that Mr. Rosas gave you the note.”
“Mr. Rosas, did you give this note to Daron Burger?”
“Absolutely not. I’ve never seen this man before.”
“Who’s this Donovan Clarey guy?” David Cooper asked.
“He’s my neighbor. He asked if I could get him in so he could hear the bands. I guess I shouldn’t have.”
“No, you shouldn’t have. I’m going to make sure you’re fired immediately.”
“This isn’t Daron Burger,” we heard Laura say, “but I know who he is. This is Otto Vanvelick. He used a false name to get a job with the caterer.”
We heard Mr. Rosas, and he sounded very pissed. “I’m going to call the police. David, please hold this Mr. Vanvelick. Now, who’s this Donovan Clarey?”
“Curt!” I heard Laura call me. Tom and I walked around the corner and joined our happy little group. Well, happy except old man Vanvelick who looked like he would upchuck any second now.
David Cooper called one of the other security guards over and told him to hold Mr. Vanvelick until the police arrived. When he was brought past where we were standing he gave me a dirty look. I scowled and shook my head, then turned away.
“Mr. Rosas,” I said, much calmer than I felt, “Donovan Clarey is the guy who beat me up and gave me this broken arm. He’s married to my mother, and is supposedly my stepfather. I have a keep-away restraining order against him. He can’t come within 600 feet of any location I would reasonably expect to be frequenting. I want to call the police and have Don arrested for violating that restraining order.”
“He could claim that he had no way of knowing you’d be here, Curt.”
“My opinion is that he’s here because he knows that I’d be here. My mom knows that, and she probably mentioned it to him. Anyway, I don’t care about any of that. I am going to report it to the police.”
I took out my cell and called Officer Brady. I’d put his number on speed dial. It rang four times and the phone was picked up.
“Officer Brady, how can I help you?”
“Officer Brady, this is Curt Fischer. Uh… do you remember me?”
“Absolutely, Curt. How are you?”
“Feeling a bit tense. I’m at a friend’s birthday party and Donovan Clarey is here. He is not an invited guest, and almost all the invited guests are kids my age. He has a…”
“Yes, I know, there’s a keep-away restraining order against him. He can’t come within 600 feet of you. Is he within 600 feet of you at this birthday party?”
“This is a pretty big place, but I don’t think there’s anywhere here where he could be over 600 feet from me. You remember Mr. Vanvelick?”
Officer Brady snorted. “Yes.”
“He let Don in. Vanvelick used a fake name to get a job with one of the caterers, and forged a note that he gave to security that said Mr. Rosas — that’s Laura’s dad, it’s Laura’s birthday party — anyway the note said Mr. Rosas wanted Don to be added to the guest list. That’s not true because Mr. Rosas doesn’t know Don. But because of the note he got added to the guest list and they let him in. He’s still here, sitting listening to one of the high school bands that’s here putting on the entertainment.”
“What’s the address?”
“433 Bonneville Drive. It’s at the end of the cul de sac.”
“I’ll be there with another officer in less than ten minutes. Stay away from him.”
“I will. That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.”
“You said there’s security there?”
“Yes. The head of security is David Cooper.”
“Tell them that if Donovan Clarey tries to leave, they are directed to restrain him.”
I grinned. “Okay, will do.”
“See you in a few minutes, Curt.”
“Thanks, Officer Brady. Bye.”
“I just talked to Officer Brady. He’s on his way here with another officer. He said they’d be here in about ten minutes. He told me to tell you that if Donovan Clarey tries to leave you are directed to restrain him.”
“Let’s try to avoid any confrontation,” David Cooper replied. “If you’re the ones who he will recognize, I suggest that you stay here. Is there anyone else at this party who he would recognize?”
I answered, “Yes, his son is here as a witness against him. Laura, would you get Kyle and bring him here using the same way you brought us so Don won’t see him?”
“Yes, I’ll do that right now.” She left, in a hurry.
We stood around not talking, just waiting. In my case, it was nervous waiting. After about five minutes Laura returned with Kyle. He looked around at the security guys and Mr. Rosas. He looked worried.
“Laura said you needed to see me right away, Curt. What’s the problem?”
“Don’s here, in the audience. Tom recognized him. We’ve called the police since he’s violating the restraining order.” I told him the whole story about the note adding him to the guest list and old man Vanvelick.
At this point I was exhausted from being nervous and stressed. “I need to sit down. Can I use one of those chairs?”
“We have a bunch of folding chairs. Charlie, will you get enough for everyone to sit?” David Cooper asked.
“Sure. Be right back.”
He was right back, and we were all able to sit down. Tom sat on my left and Laura sat on my right. Kyle, Mr. Rosas, and David Cooper sat across from us. Laura took my right hand.
“Try to calm down and relax, Curt. Let our security and the police take care of this. You really look stressed.”
“Laura, is there somewhere I can walk to and see where Don is sitting without him seeing me?” Kyle asked.
“Sure. Follow me.”
“I just don’t get it. Why would Don risk violating the restraining order by using some strange deception to get into your party? And using old man Vanvelick to pass a fake note from your dad? It just doesn’t make any sense. What or who is here that he would want to see? Was it to spy on me? Or Kyle? I just don’t get it.”
“I agree with you, Curt,” Mr. Rosas said. “I certainly didn’t include any adults on the guest list other than our relatives and immediate neighbors. I would not have added Donovan Clarey to the list under any circumstances. My concern is for my guests, almost all of whom are teenagers.”
Kyle and Laura returned. “It’s definitely Don,” Kyle said.
David Cooper stood up. “I have a suggestion. When the police come I think only Curt should be visible to Donovan Clarey. The rest of you, except for Curt and Mr. Rosas, should go inside the house and remain there until I advise you that the situation has been resolved.”
“I agree with Mr. Cooper,” Mr. Rosas said, “I assume there’s no objection.” No one objected.
I looked at my watch. Officer Brady said he’d be here in about ten minutes and that was twelve minutes ago, but I knew how long it took to get from the police department building downtown to the part of town where Laura lived. It could be done in ten minutes, maybe, at two a.m. when there wasn’t much traffic. Even though this was a Saturday the traffic on Ygnacio Valley Road would keep them from getting here even if they used their siren. So maybe another five minutes.
David Cooper looked at me and grinned.
“Wondering why it’s taking so long, Curt?”
“Not really. I know at this time even on Saturday there’s lots of traffic on Civic and on Ygnacio. Maybe they’ll be here in fifteen minutes, maybe twenty.”
“I agree with you. I hope they don’t use their siren.”
“Yeah, me too. That’d make the crowd rush down here to see what’s going on.”
“What I’m going to suggest to the police is that they let me find Donovan Clarey and ask him to come with me, that someone’s asking for him. Hopefully that will prevent a scene that would attract people.”
“Cool. I like your suggestion. I think Officer Brady will like it too.”
We continued to wait. I sat in a folding chair, and David Cooper stood to one side. He turned toward the driveway, and grinned.
“The gendarmes have arrived!” he announced.
I stood and turned, and saw Office Brady and another officer approaching. No sirens, so that meant no crowd coming to see what was going on. David Cooper walked down the driveway to meet Officer Brady. They talked for about a minute, and Officer Brady nodded his head. They all walked up to where Mr. Rosas and I were standing, and David Cooper continued up the walkway to the back yard.
“Hello, Mr. Rosas. I'm Officer Brady with the Walnut Creek Police Department. Well try to make this as nondisruptive as possible. I understand its your daughter’s birthday party.”
“Yes, it’s her sixteenth birthday party. Thank you for making this nondisruptive. I appreciate that, and Im sure Laura will as well.”
Officer Brady turned to me and smiled. “Hello, Curt. It’s nice to see you up and about. David is going to request that Mr. Clarey join him and return here.”
“I know, he told me he was going to suggest that when you got here. We didn’t want a bunch of kids coming down here to see what’s going on.”
“I have a few questions for you, Curt. First, when did you arrive at this party?”
“I guess it was sometime before one-thirty this afternoon.”
“When did you see Donovan Clarey, and where did you see him?”
“I guess it was maybe a half hour ago. He was sitting on an end seat in the Bowl, that’s where the bands are playing.”
“Did he see you?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“Where were you when you first saw him?”
“Tom, Laura, and I were on our way to find a place to sit at the top of the hill above the Bowl where the first band was setting up to play. Tom Williams recognized Don and pointed him out to me. Then Laura led us down here going around the edge of the property so Don wouldn’t see us.”
“Curt, can you think of any reason for Don to be here?”
“I’d like to respond to that question too,” Mr. Rosas added. “The guests here are teenage friends and relatives of Laura. We did not invite any adults other than a few relatives and our immediate neighbors. We definitely did not invite Donovan Clarey, and would not have agreed to a request from him to be a guest at Laura’s birthday party. He used subterfuge to get in. A caterer, going under a false name, passed a note to one of the guards stating that Donovan Clarey be added to the guest list. That note was forged with what was purported to be my signature. That caterer is Otto Vanvelick, and I think you’re familiar with him, Officer Brady.”
“Yes, I know of him. Is he still here?”
“Yes. He’s inside enjoying my hospitality. I want him arrested and I will press charges.”
I saw David Cooper and Don walking towards us in the distance.
“I’m going to move to where Don can’t see me. Maybe only Mr. Rosas should be out where Don can see him. Then Officer Brady and I can come out.”
Mr. Rosas stood waiting for David Cooper and Don with his arms crossed. I moved around the corner of the house, like I’d done before with old man Vanvelick. Officer Brady joined me where I was standing.
We listened to Mr. Rosas and David Cooper talking to Don. More like interrogating Don.
“May I have your name, please?” Mr. Rosas asked
“You were added to the guest list. How did you get an invitation to Laura Rosas’ birthday party?”
“A friend of mine said he could have me added to the guest list. I just started at the Kimberly Aikens Agency. We’re an insurance company that specializes in musician’s insurance. Dionysis and Keriolis Music are among my clients. This was the only opportunity I’d have to hear Dionysis play since they’re leaving Monday morning for a tour on the East Coast.”
“Who told you they could get you added to the guest list?”
“Otto Vanvelick. He’s a manager for Bluebird Catering.”
“Curt, come here please.”
I walked around the corner. Don looked totally shocked, like he’d see a ghost. I think he really didn’t know I was a guest at the party.
“Did you know Curtis Fischer is at this birthday party?”
Officer Brady joined us.
“No! If I had, I wouldn’t have come. I asked my wife, Curt’s mother, what Curt was doing today and she said he was going out with some friends. Honestly, I didn’t know he’d be here. There’s a keep-away restraining order against me and I would never violate it. I was here to listen to Dionysis play.” He pulled a business card out of his pocket and handed it to Officer Brady. “You can ask Tony Gering, the manager of Dionysis. He knows me.”
Officer Brady asked, “Why didn’t you ask this Tony Gering to have you added to the guest list?”
“I did. But you don’t know rock groups. These guys don’t pay attention to anything except their next performance. Especially a group like Dionysis that’s just having their first CD released. I usually have a beer with Otto Vanvelick on Thursday nights at the Peasant Girl Grill. I mentioned that Dionysis was playing at an event tonight and he asked where and I gave him the address. He said his company was doing the catering and he knew Mr. Rosas and he could get me added to the guest list. I got here at about four o’clock and my name was on the guest list so I came on in and sat down to listen to the bands, mainly Dionysis. That’s the truth, officer, I swear.”
I saw Mr. Rosas nod his agreement. “It’s my opinion that band managers are all unreliable.”
I looked at Officer Brady. “I think Don is telling the truth. This is another fuckup caused by old man Vanvelick.”
“I agree, Curt. I think if Don leaves now we can forget about this incident.”
I saw Don’s expression. It was like a kid opening a Christmas present and finding a lump of coal.
“If it’s okay with Mr. Rosas and Officer Brady I don’t see a problem with Don staying to listen to the bands, as long as he leaves as soon as Dionysis finishes their set.”
Don had the strangest expression, like he couldn’t believe what I said.
David Cooper supported me. “I think it’s okay. We’ll keep an eye on Mr. Clarey and make sure that he leaves as soon as Dionysis is finished playing.”
“Mr. Rosas?” Officer Brady asked.
“I have no objection. My company organized Dionysis’ tour, and I know the Kimberly Aikens Agency provided the insurance policies for the tour.”
“All right, then I guess we’re in agreement,” Officer Brady said. “I want a statement from you, Mr. Clarey, about how you arranged to get your name on the guest list so we can determine what we’re going to do about Mr. Vanvelick. I want you in my office on Monday morning at nine sharp. Agreed?”
“Yes, agreed.” Don pulled out a smartphone and I assumed he added the appointment to his calendar.
“I’ll escort Mr. Clarey back to his seat.” With that David Cooper and Don walked back toward the Bowl. ‘We the Mighty’ was just finishing up their set, and Dionysis would be coming on to start their set.
I turned and saw that Laura, Tom, and Kyle had come around the corner and were standing in back of me.
“Are you fucking crazy, Curt?” I could see that Tom was not pleased.
“Okay, hear me out. First, I totally believe his story about Vanvelick getting him on the guest list. Second, he can’t do anything to me here. He’s being watched too closely. He thinks I hate him, and I do. So I figured, here’s an opportunity to mess with his head. Do something nice for him. I think it blew his mind.” I grinned.
Tom popped me in my right shoulder. “Jeez Curt, you can be one nasty piece of work sometimes.”
Mr. Rosas grinned. “I agree.”
“I work on it, but I’m far from perfect. I need more practice.”
“Speaking of far from perfect,” Officer Brady interjected, “Where’s Otto Vanvelick? He has a date with a jail cell. Though first I’ll need your complaint written and signed, Mr. Rosas. If you want you can come down to police headquarters and we can take down your statement, or we can do it here.”
“I’d appreciate it if we could do it here. I’d rather not leave my daughter’s birthday party.”
“Is there a private room where it can be done?”
“Yes, my home office. You can follow me.”
Mr. Rosas and Officer Brady left and entered the house.
“What do you want to do, Curt?” Kyle asked.
“Let’s go listen to music. Dionysis should be starting their set now. Let’s go to the top of the hill where we were originally headed.”
Dionysis was really good. They played some pieces that they wrote, and popular songs by a lot of other artists. Their lead singer, Gavin Baird, has a fantastic voice with a really wide range. All of us enjoyed their performance, and luckily they played a bunch of encores to the unanimous approval of the audience.
Laura poked me in the ribs.
“Oh, give me a break, Curt. I barely touched you.”
“I’ll show you the bruise tomorrow. It’s going to be all black and blue and red and purple and yellow and look horrible and be really, really painful.”
“Well, with this massive injury you just endured, I assume you won’t be able to walk down to the barbeque grills and get some dinner.”
“Well, remember I said ‘tomorrow’ so I should be able to go down and get something to eat now.”
“You’re funny, Curt.” Laura leaned over and kissed me on my cheek, then she stood and held out her hand to help me up. Hey, I needed her help because it’s hard to get up when you sitting on the ground and you have a broken arm in a cast.
“You guys want to join us and get something to eat?” Laura asked.
“What a great idea!” Tom replied, and Kyle, Sara, Mark, Parker, and Ray all agreed. There weren’t a lot of people lined up so we were able to get our burgers, sausages, and chicken right away. I took three pieces of chicken, some potato salad, green salad, and two pieces of cornbread. We all walked over to the picnic tables and sat down. Laura was on my right and Sara on my left, Tom was at Sara’s left, and Kyle, Mark, Parker, and Ray were sitting across from us.
We sat and ate and talked and joked.
“Laura, this is absolutely the best birthday bash I’ve ever been to,” I told her.
“Thanks, Curt. I had a great time, and it’s because of all the great people who came to help me celebrate turning sixteen. Like you, Curt. Especially you, Curt.”
“Especially me?” I was surprised.
“Yes,” she whispered, “especially you. In fact, I’d go after you if you weren’t gay.”
“What!?” I shouted. “You have got to be kidding!”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake
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