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 29 — Lunch with Laura
Monday morning after breakfast Mrs. W asked us about Mark.
“I can take you to the hospital to visit Mark if you’d like. That way you can find out if he’s been told when he’ll be coming home.”
“We could go with Mark’s grandma if you’ve got something to do today,” I suggested.
“She phoned this morning and she’s already at the hospital. She and Mark are waiting for the doctor’s report. I don’t mind driving you. I can go shopping after I say hi to Mark and Mrs. Hutchins. You can come back with Mrs. Hutchins or call me and I can pick you up.”
“That sound good, except we have to back here before twelve thirty ‘cause that’s when Laura is going to pick us up for lunch,” Tom reminded me.
I looked at my watch. “It’s nine fifteen now, so that should give us plenty of time to see Mark and get back here in time to meet Laura.”
We got to the hospital at nine forty-five and Mrs. W found a space on the first visitor’s level in parking garage. We took the elevator down to the skybridge level and walked across to the hospital.
“Remember,” Mrs. W said, “call my cellphone number and I’ll come pick you up. Better call me by eleven thirty so I can pick you up and get you home before twelve thirty. I’m going downtown and to the Plaza to do a little shopping, and it might take me a bit to get back to the car and then to the hospital.”
“Okay, will do,” Tom told her. “I’ll set the alarm in my cell for eleven thirty. Have fun. Oh, Mom, one thing. Don’t buy anything for me, okay?”
“Because I’m not going to be with you, and I want to be with you when you buy me clothes.”
“You don’t trust your mother?”
“No, it’s not that. It’s just that I want to pick out my own stuff.”
“Alright, I won’t buy you any clothes.”
When we got to Mark’s room the doctor was there talking to him and Mrs. Hutchins, so we walked to the waiting area and sat down where we could watch the door to Mark’s room and see when the doctor came out. It didn’t take too long, less than five minutes, so we walked in to find Mark laying on his bed trying to pull his socks on without much success.
We said ‘hi’ to Mrs. Hutchins, then Tom and I walked over to talk to Mark.
“How you doing, guy?” Tom asked.
“Good, good. I’m being sprung this morning. The doctor wants me to take it easy today, ya’ know, sit on the sofa and when I’m tired go to bed.”
“Do you still have a headache? I asked.
“No. I’m not sure if it’s the pills the doctor gave me, or if it’s gone away on its own, but I’m sure glad it’s gone.”
“Do you have more you can take when you get home?” Tom wanted to know.
Mark reached over to the tray table and looked at a pill bottle. “Says there are ten in the bottle, ‘Take one every four hours for headache.’ So this is a real headache pill, not a general pain pill like Ibuprofen.”
“If they work, that’s great,” Tom added. “You need a hand getting dressed?”
“Yeah, if you don’t mind. My headache might be gone but for some reason I’m a little woozy. There’s a bag next to the chair with the rest of my clothes.”
I was closest so I turned and got him the bag.
“Grandma brought me my clothes, but luckily Kyle selected them.”
“Where is Kyle?” I asked.
“He went down to the cafeteria to get something to eat and bring back some coffee for Grandma when the doctor showed up to talk to us. You must have just missed him. He should be back in a few minutes.”
“I said in a whisper, “Do you want me to ask your grandma and Mrs. Williams to wait outside?”
Mark grinned. “I don’t care. If they haven’t seen it before they won’t know what it is, and if they have they won’t be interested.”
Tom and I busted up laughing. “I gotta remember that one,” I said.
“Me too. That is funny!” Tom added.
Mrs. W overheard our conversation. “Well, Andrea, I think it’s time for us to wait outside in the lounge. We don’t want to embarrass Mark.”
Mrs. Hutchins agreed, and they left Mark’s room, closing the door after they left.
Mark sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. I saw him close his eyes and brace himself by putting his hands palm down on the mattress.
“You okay, Mark?”
He opened his eyes and shook his head. “Yeah, I just sat up too fast. The doctor said the pain pill I’m taking might make me light-headed if I moved too fast. I guess he was right.”
“Okay, let’s get you out of this stupid hospital gown thingy,” Tom said. “Can you stand up without someone having to hold you?”
“I think I need someone to hold me. How ‘bout both of you?” He wiggled his eyebrows at us. “Curt can hold me in my special place.” He started to laugh.
“I’m glad you think it’s so funny,” I said. “What I’ll do is squeeze your special place and raise your voice about two octaves. Permanently! Besides, Parker wouldn’t approve, would he?”
“Spoilsports! No one can take a joke around here.” He stuck out his bottom lip like he was pouting, then he laughed and so did Tom and I.
“Okay, let’s get your sorry butt off the bed and turn sideways,” Tom commanded. “I’ll untie the gown thingy and Curt, empty that bag of clothes on the bed so Mark can pick what he wants to wear.”
I saluted Tom, “Yes, sir!” and put the bag on the bed and opened it.
I watched Tom try to untie the knot that held the hospital gown at Mark’s neck. Somehow he succeeded in making a bow and single knot into a triple knot, and pulled it so tight he couldn’t undo what he had done.
“Want me to give it a try?”
“Hell yes. If you can get this undone without cutting it off I owe you a milkshake at The Creamery. If you can’t, then you owe me. Deal?”
“Deal. Let me at this.”
I nudged Tom so he’d get out of my way and studied the knots he’d created. I grabbed the two ends closest to the knots and twisted one then the other of them and at the same time pushed in toward the knots. After a few seconds I had enough of the two ties loosed at the knot to grab and gently pull the two ends out. I did the same with the other knots which took a lot less time, then pulled the ties open. I checked the knot at the waist, a bow and a single knot. I guessed that they used this way of doing it to keep the ties closed. I undid the knot and untied the bow.
“Done deal.” I turned and grinned at Tom. “Chocolate milkshakes made with chocolate icecream are my favorite.”
“Damn, you’re good, Curt. How did you figure out how to do that?”
“I had to double-tie my tennis shoes. I learned how to do it so I could untie them fast. But until then I struggled and learned a few tricks. That’s what I used to untie the knots at Mark’s neck, one of those tricks.”
“Speaking of Mark’s neck, guys, I’m getting cold. How ‘bout getting out of my way so I can get to my clothes and get dressed?”
I moved out of his way. “Sorry, Mark.”
From where I’d dumped the bag of clothes onto his bed he selected a pair of boxer briefs. With Tom holding his arm and me holding the boxer briefs on the floor, Mark was able to step into them and pull them up.
“You don’t have to watch, you know.”
“Oh yes we do,” Tom replied. “We’ve got to make sure you don’t fall down and hurt yourself. Your grandma would never forgive us.”
With our assistancec Mark finished dressing, but he had problems with his socks and shoes. Bending over seemed to make his dizzy.
“Sit down on the bed. I’ll put your socks and shoes on you,” I told him.
“Thanks, Curt. I guess I’m still under the effect of those headache pills.”
“I think you’d better talk to the doctor about how many to take. They seem to be very strong and you don’t want to have another fall,” I told him as I finished tying his laces.
“I’ll go get my mom and your grandma, Mark,” Tom said as he stepped out of the room.
“I wonder where Kyle is. It’s been a long time since he went to the cafeteria,” Mark said.
“Tell you what, I’ll go to the cafeteria and see if I can find him.”
Kyle walked into the room. “Find who?”
“Find you,” I said.
“Did you get coffee for my grandma?” Mark asked.
“Yes, and I gave it to her. She’s sitting in the lounge near the nurses’ station with Tom’s mother. She said to tell you they’ll come in in a few minutes.”
“Did you see Tom?”
Tom walked in. “I heard that. They have been dutifully advised. After which I went to take a leak. You’d be amazed at what the bathrooms here are….”
“Tom!” Mark interrupted, “You were supposed to tell my grandma and your mom that I’m dressed and ready to go.”
“You know that you can’t go anywhere until an orderly brings up a wheelchair to take you out of the hospital,” I said.
“Fugget it! I can walk out on my own.”
“No, you can’t,” Tom told him. “It’s hospital rules to prevent an accident and the hospital getting sued. You were taken out by wheelchair, weren’t you, Curt?”
“Yup. A free ride, hospital room to curb,” I said. “And just with a broken arm, not a concussion.”
Tom continued, “They wait for your transportation to come around to the pickup area at the front of the hospital. Once it’s there and you lift your butt off that wheelchair they don’t have any responsibility any more. You can fall down and bust your head open on the sidewalk and then what you are to them is another emergency patient. Ka-ching! Ka-ching!”
Mark’s grandma and Mrs. W walked into the room.
“Well, it looks like you’re ready to go home, Mark. I’ll check with the nurse and find out when they’ll be here with the wheelchair.” Mark’s grandma walked out of the room.
“Mrs. W, it looks like you didn’t do any shopping.”
“I guess I got sidetracked, didn’t I?” She laughed. “I guess I like talking more than shopping.”
Mark’s grandma came back. “The man with the wheelchair is on his way, he’ll be here in a few minutes. Do you have everything, Mark?”
“Yes, gran’ma, This bag has the things I was wearing when I came to the hospital. The other bag has the clothes Kyle brought me, except for what I have on.”
The orderly with the wheelchair showed up and we walked out with Mark as his grandma got the car. After saying goodbye we walked to Mrs. W’s car.
“Can I drive, Mom?”
“You know that you can’t drive with anyone under twenty in the car until you pass your test, and even then there has to be a licensed driver twenty five or older in the car.”
“Maybe Curt can walk home. Huh, Curt, huh?”
“I don’t think so. By the time I’d get to your house Laura would have come and gone. Without me there wouldn’t be a lunch to go to. Without me, then no lunch for you, either. So if you want to go to lunch we have to get home at the same time and on time.”
We got in, with me in the back seat and Tom riding shotgun in the passenger seat next to his mom, and we headed home; that’s to the William’s home which continued to be my home as well.
“I’ll never get to drive! I’ll be a decrepit old man of thirty and still won’t know how to drive.”
“Tom, I’ll be able to drive you wherever you want to go when you’re in your decrepit thirties. And that will be way in the future when I’ll almost be in my sixties,” Mrs. W told him with a big grin.
Tom turned around and looked at me. “See what I have to put up with, Curt?”
“I see you trying to pull your mother’s leg with no success. So she got you good. You need to bow to her superiority to show your respect.”
“I can’t bow when I’m riding shotgun. Mom will slam on the brakes and I’ll smash my head on the dash and get a big bump on my head and have a concussion and I’ll have to go to the hospital and I’ll miss the start of school.”
“Tell you what,” Mrs. W replied, “I’ll take a raincheck. You can do your bowing and scraping before dinner tonight.”
“I won’t need any dinner tonight. We’re gonna have a huge lunch today, courtesy of Laura Rosas. So we’ll have to put off the bowing bit until sometime later, like next year.”
“You won’t need any dinner tonight? I doubt that!” I said, and busted up laughing right along with Mrs. W.
Mrs. W glanced at Tom and shook her head. “Thomas Williams, that’s an impossibility. You’ll come home after lunch and have a snack and then have a full dinner.”
“Hey, I said I won’t need any dinner tonight, not that I wouldn’t want some dinner tonight.”
“Alright, that’s better. For a second I wondered who had kidnapped my son and presented us with a doppelganger.”
By then we had arrived home. We walked in and I checked the time, ten o’clock on the dot.
“I’m going to change my shirt. I’ll be down in a few minutes,” I said.
“I’ll go up with you,” Tom added.
When we got to the door to Tom’s room he asked, “Do you think I need to change?”
“If you mean to go to lunch with Laura, then the answer’s ‘no’. You look fine.”
He grinned. “Really? I look fine?”
“Yes. And sexy,” I called out as I went into my room and closed the door.
I took off my shirt and T and put on a new T and shirt. I liked the color combination, a bright yellow T under a shirt with an orange, yellow, red, grey-blue, and white stripe pattern with different width and color stripes going in different directions. Laura had given to me for my birthday last year, and I figured that wearing it would let her know that I wasn’t pissed at her any more.
I stuck my head in Tom’s room. “You ready to go?”
He was standing in nothing but his bikini briefs, the white ones, his back to the mirrored closet door, his torso twisted around so he could see himself.
“Curt, you think I’m getting fat?”
“Jeez, not that again! Tom, you are exactly the right size for someone in your shape.” I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t start laughing.
“Thanks. I always think about me getting fat when Mom starts in on how I eat….”
He paused and turned to look at me. “You bastard!”
I starting laughing and ran out of his room to my room, followed closely by Tom. He grabbed me and dumped me on my bed.
“Hey, don’t get my shirt messed up! It’s one Laura gave me for my birthday. And you’ve gotta get dressed.”
By then we were both giggling like a couple of elementary school kids.
“I thought I’d go this way.” He put his hands on his hips and did a spin, ending up facing me. He pushed his crotch out to emphasize his parts. “How do I look?”
“Your awesomeness is unsurpassed, good sir. But I think you’d cause a riot if you walked into the restaurant dressed like that.
He looked at his watch. “We’ve got a ton of time. It’s only twenty after ten, and you said Laura would pick us up at twelve thirty. I feel like lying down and taking a nap.”
He flopped onto my bed next to where I sat watching his little show.
He looked at me. “You better take that shirt off and hang it up until we leave. That way it won’t get wrinkled.”
“Okay, that’s a good idea.” I took off the shirt and hung it over the back of my desk chair.
“Close the door too, please.”
“I don’t want Mom to see me in my skivvies.”
“Oh. As if.” I got up and closed the door.
“As if what?” he asked.
“As if she’d see anything she hadn’t seen before, like every time you’re in your swimsuit.”
“True that. But still, that’s different than me wearing my bikini briefs. Shows a little more than a mom should see.”
“Okay, what’s with this as if?”
“As if there’s anything for her to see, you being a grow-er instead of a show-er.”
“I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.”
“Wait a minute, just wait a minute! What’s this grow-er and show-er stuff? I never heard that. What’s that mea… oh, no you don’t! You’re saying I’m tiny down there until… oh, you are in so much trouble!”
“Why? That’s a compliment, man. You’re like a doubler or tripler. Of course, I’ve never seen it measured, but I’m sure you’ve done that. So, don’t you agree?”
Tom was looking at me. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No. How about answering my question, don’t you agree with me?”
“Huh. I’m gonna need to do some serious measurements. Which I’ve never done before.” He turned to face me and grinned. “Want me to do it now?”
“Eww. In your own room, I hope!”
“What do you mean, eww? There’s no eww going down here. It’s wow! That’s what’s going down. WOW!”
“I’ll take your word for it,” I responded. “Now, we have about an hour and a half. Let’s take advantage of it and take a nap.”
“Sounds like a plan. Why don’t you set your alarm?”
I pulled my cell out of my pocket and set the alarm to sound at noon.
Tom leaned over and kissed me on the tip of my nose, and said, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” then he chuckled. “That’s what my mom used to say to me when she’d put me down for a nap.”
“Mine too,” I replied. “Did she kiss you on your nose too?”
“You got it, man.”
“Yeah, I did, didn’t I.”
“G’day to you, too.”
My cell played Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends, my alarm ringtone. I woke and stretched, feeling a bit sore from lying in one position on my back for an hour and a half. I discovered the reason for my ache. Tom had rolled almost on top of my right side and had his right arm wrapped around my waist. I squeezed his leg where it pressed against my right hand.
“Wake up, Tom. Time to get ready. Laura will be here in about a half hour.”
Tom rolled off me and yawned.
“Man, I needed that.”
He yawned again, loudly this time, and that made me yawn too.
“Okay. How about getting up so I can get up too.”
He got up and put his hand out. I grabbed it and he pulled and helped me get off the bed and stand in front of him. Then he grabbed me in a hug, around my waist and with our crotches pushed together. He stood there, grinning, and rubbed against me side to side.
I started laughing. “You’re incorrigible, Mr. Williams.”
“Nope, I’m just a sex fiend.”
“Well, Sir Sex Fiend, get thee to your room and get dressed! We’ve wasted five minutes here and you’re still almost naked.”
“Go. Get. Dressed!”
He saluted then walked out of my room. I went to the bathroom to clean up and do a little adjusting, then came back and put on my shirt. I checked myself in the mirror. I looked okay, except for my hair. I went back to the bathroom and played with it for a while with less than stellar results, but good enough. The weatherperson had predicted today would be warm, in the mid-eighties, so Laura would probably have the windows open and anything I did to my hair would be undone before we got to the restaurant.
Tom had made it downstairs before I did.
“Hey, Curt. I hope Laura didn’t forget she’s gonna pick us up.”
“It’s not twelve thirty yet, so she’s still got a few. Why would she forget?”
“I don’t know. Things just seem off today for some reason. Maybe it’s Mark trying to bash in his head and us seeing him in the hospital. I thought he reacted a little funny. Did you notice anything, Mom?”
“No, I can’t say that I did. But remember, I don’t know Mark very well at all so I’m not sure how he did or should react.”
“I think I’ll give Kyle a call and see what he thinks.”
“Jeez, Tom, you’re starting to sound paranoid.”
He did a speed dial on his cell.
“Uh, hi, Mrs. Hutchins. This is Tom Williams. Is Kyle there?”
He turned to me, “Kyle’s there.”
“Hey Kyle. Say, did Mark seem okay at the hospital today?”
After a pause he continued, “I thought he seemed a little different… yeah, that’s probably it, the concussion and his headache, and the meds the doc gave him… Glad you’re there to help out. That really worked out for Mark and for Mrs. Hutchins… Okay, later, man.”
He ended the call.
“Kyle said he thinks Mark seemed sort of out of it, but that’s probably because of his accident and the meds.”
“Yes, we heard that part, Tom,” Mrs. W said, “I agree that it’s good that Kyle is there to help out.”
We sat quietly for a few minutes. I thought about Mark and how lucky that Kyle was staying at Mrs. Hutchins’ house. They seem to have become good friends, like brothers who don’t argue a lot, and that’s cool. I guessed that Tom and Mrs. W were thinking about Mark too.
The doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it,” Tom said. He returned with Laura and her mother.
I stood. “Hello, Mrs. Rosas, thanks for offering to drive us today. Hi, Laura, thanks for treating us to lunch.”
Everyone else did their ‘hello, how are you?’ bit, and after we just stood there looking at each other. Laura seemed tentative. I guessed that she wanted to give me and Tom hugs because that’s what she usually did when we saw each other. So I put out my right arm and she hurried over to me and we did a three-quarter hug, avoiding my left arm in its cast.
She whispered, “Thanks, Curt.”
I didn’t know why she’d be thanking me, but I whispered back, “You’re welcome.”
She walked over to Tom and gave him a big hug, then she hugged Mrs. W.
After the love fest, she grinned. “I’m hungry! El Ribolo calls. Vámonos, muchachos! Let’s go, guys!”
It’s about a half hour drive to Clayton. On the way I got the third-degree from Mrs. Rosas, and Tom got it as well.
“So, Curt, since you and Tom will be tied up with Laura at the restaurant, I’m going to chat with the two of you on the way there. Let’s start with Curt. What have you been doing this summer besides the trial and what led up to it?”
“Not much since then. I’m taking Algebra 2 this summer. I used to go to the class at Los Arcos, but I couldn’t do that with my arm and my bruises and the bail hearing and the trial, so the school is letting me take it online now. That’s pretty easy, almost better than being in class ‘cause I can go faster than the class.
“There were two big things I did. The first was to go into San Francisco with Tom, Mark, and Kyle. We did the normal tourist things, including taking a city tour in one of those open-top English busses. That was a lot of fun, and it was the first time Mark and Kyle had ever been in San Francisco. The second and the best was, of course, Laura’s birthday party which was fan‑tastic. Other than that I haven’t been able to do much because of my broken arm.”
“When is that going to be healed?”
“The doctor said I can probably have the cast off six weeks after it went on, so that’s still four and a half weeks from now. That’s the last Friday in August. Sort of seems like forever.”
“You’ll be able to go to school when it starts?”
“Sure. I’ll have to be real careful I don’t bash my arm into something, or get knocked down.”
“I’ll be his escort,” Tom added.
“Can you do that, Tom? Won’t that interfere with some of your classes?”
“No problem. I already talked to Mr. Scott, he’s one of the vice principals. He said I will get a temporary permission slip to escort Curt until he has the cast off and has use of his left arm. Besides, school starts on August 23 so it’s only for one or two weeks.”
“What else have you been doing, Tom? Are you taking a summer session class too?”
“No, I’ve been taking it easy. Before Curt got beat up we’d shoot baskets and play horse almost every day, and hang out and listen to music and just talk, you know? So now I’m on my own shooting baskets. There aren’t any other kids who go to Los Arcos who live near us, so to play horse I’d have to go somewhere that has courts. Curt and I still hang out and listen to music and talk.”
“Laura says you play on the football and baseball teams. Will you do that next year as well?”
“Baseball yes, football no,” Tom replied. “I want to concentrate on my studies so I can get into Cal or Stanford. Both football and baseball are huge commitments, so I talked to my counselor and my folks and decided I can keep baseball as long as games and practices don’t take too much time away from my classes.”
“Laura says you guys are best friends.”
“Yeah,” Tom replied, “we’ve know each other for years, since middle school. When we met we clicked, and we became BFFs.”
“Best friends forever. That’s a long time!”
“Yes, it is,” I replied. “But there’s something else that makes Tom and me best friends. It’s that we think of ourselves as brothers. Neither of us has brothers or sisters, so we fill that part for each other. The good thing is because we weren’t raised together like real brothers we never had to go through the sibling rivalry and fighting thing like real brothers we know.”
“Your father is Curt’s lawyer, Tom. How does that work out for you?”
“It doesn’t make any difference at all. The big difference is that Curt is staying with us and our bedrooms are just across the hall from each other.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Oh, no, not at all,” Tom replied. “How about for you, Curt?”
“Nope, no problem for me, either. In one way it’s a lot better than when I lived at home. If I need to talk Tom’s right there, across the hall.”
“I understand the trial starts tomorrow, Curt. How are you feeling about that?”
“Fine. I can hardly wait to be a witness and give my testimony.”
“Tom, will you be called as a witness?”
“Well, I wish you both the best of luck. I’m not sure what it would be like to actually be on the witness stand. Probably not like what we see on TV.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Rosas,” Tom and I said at the same time, which made everyone laugh.
“I noticed something that I think is because you two are living together now,” Mrs. Rosas added. “You’re more like twin brothers. The way you said ‘thanks’ to me shows that.”
Tom and I looked at each other and grinned.
“That's cool,” I said. I nudged Tom, “Do you agree?”
“Yeah, I agree except for one little thing.” I wondered if he would say it's because he's black and I'm not, but he said, “I'm a lot taller than Curt.” All four of us laughed.
When we arrived at the restaurant Mrs. Rosas’ friend was there already, and we were introduced. The host seemed to recognize both Mrs. Rosas and her friend and chatted with them as he took them to their table. He returned and seated the three of us at the other end of the restaurant. “Your mother asked me to seat you as far apart as possible, Miss Rosas. Is this booth acceptable?”
“Yes, Jorge, this is good.”
“Enjoy your meal,” he said as he returned to his station by the entrance.
“Man, this is one cool place,” Tom commented. “The way they painted the walls and ceiling, and how they have pictures and serapes and Mexican hats everywhere for decoration.”
“Do you eat here often?” I asked. “The host knew your name.”
“My folks like to eat here at least a couple times a month. I come along, otherwise I’d have to fix my own dinner and I’m a terrible cook, and mostly because the food here is great.” She leaned in toward us and whispered, “It’s better than my mom’s!”
We laughed, then Tom asked, “Is the food here really good? Better than La Salsa?”
“You can’t compare El Ribolo with a fast food Mexican place. For what it is, Las Salsa is good. But the food at El Ribolo is outstanding. I’m sure you’ll love it.”
“What are your favorites here?” Tom asked.
Almost as if saying that had caused it to happen, the waiter appeared at our table and handed us menus. He announced the specials. One of them, chiles rellenos made from pasilla peppers stuffed with rice, lamb, and veggies in a spicy tomatillo sauce, sounded great. I love spicy food, Mexican the best, and I never got it at home or when we went out because my mom doesn’t like spicy food. I like chiles rellenos, which around our area seemed to always be stuffed with cheese. Having them stuffed with something more interesting was unusual and sounded much better than the cheese kind.
After taking our orders the waiter brought chips and salsa and what we’d ordered to drink. For me, a Coke is perfect with Mexican food. Laura had mango lemonade and Tom had raspberry lemonade.
We munched chips and salsa while we waited for our meals. Tom and I didn’t say anything, waiting for Laura to start the conversation.
“So, what’s going on with the trial, Curt?” she asked.
“Well, like I told your mom it starts tomorrow. I don’t have a clue what to expect. I’m supposed to meet with Beth Wolman tomorrow morning at nine. Beth is in the District Attorney’s office and she’s the prosecutor on this case. Mr. Williams knows her and she seems to be on the ball. The trial will start at ten.”
“Do you know when you’ll be called as a witness? Will Tom be called?”
“I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow will be more preliminary stuff.”
“I’m on the witness list,” Tom said, “so I expect to be called to give testimony. I’m looking forward to it. I’m a key witness because Don claimed that Curt hit him with his baseball bat but Curt had traded it to me for a CD, so Don flat-out lied about that. I want to nail that bastard.”
“It seems like this trial is happening real fast,” Laura said. “Don’t trials usually take a long time to get going? I hear on TV about someone whose trial is just starting and what they did was like a year ago, or even longer.”
“True that,” Tom responded. “That seems weird to me too. I heard my dad say it was very strange.”
“Yeah, Mr. Williams told me that Don’s new attorney wanted to fast-track the trial, and thats why it wont have a regular jury. I didn’t even know that it could be done this fast. Like Tom, Beth Wolman also thinks it’s weird. We found out that Don’s attorney does corporate law, not criminal cases. It’s very weird why Don would pick someone who isn’t an expert in criminal defense, especially when it’s a kid who’s the victim. Another thing, if theyd waited my arm would have be out of this cast. Now the judge can see that my arm is really broken. He'll also see the bruises on my face and my chest. Thats all proof of what Don did to me.”
“Do you have any idea how long the trial will last?”
“Again, not a clue. I supposed it could be over in a couple days or could drag on for a long time.”
“What happens if it drags into next month and school starts? Would they keep you out of school?”
“No, I think once my testimony is given I wouldn’t have to be in court no matter if it’s now or after school starts. Of course, if I can I want to be in court to hear everything that goes on.”
“You could also be called back to be cross examined,” Tom reminded me, “but they could make a special accommodation to fit it into your school schedule. Anyway, school doesn’t start until the twenty third of August, that’s almost a month from now. This isn’t murder or something else that would take a long drawn-out trial, and theres no jury that would have to deliberate for days or weeks. My guess it’ll be over in a week or two, tops.”
“Man, I hope you’re right,” I said.
“Me too,” Laura added. “Good luck, Curt. I hope Don gets nailed for what he did to you.”
Our lunch arrived and we spent our time concentrating on eating. The food was fantastic, as good as Mrs. W and Laura said it would be. My chiles rellenos were the best Id ever had, and Tom loved his five item special. Laura had a Mexican chicken salad because shes on a diet, but she said she loved it and I guess she did because she ate every bite.
Our conversation moved to things like Laura’s vacation trip, what we thought our sophomore classes were going to be like, if the football team would be good or not so good this coming season, if Tom would miss playing football, if my broken arm bothered me much, my summer session online Algebra 2 class, what we thought the new healthier menu at the cafeteria would be like, which of her birthday gifts were Laura’s favorites, what friends at school had been doing this summer, the normal topics teens discuss.
After we finished lunch Laura grinned. “I have a surprise for you, Curt.”
“And what’s that?” I responded carefully. I didn’t need another of Laura’s surprises like when she said that I’m gay.
“Sara talked to her brother Gary. Remember, he’s the one who’s a computer science major at U.C. Davis. Anyway, they talked about your idea for a gay teen exchange on the internet, and he loves the idea. He talked to his dad, and his dad talked to my dad, and they all think it’s a fantastic idea. My dad and Sara’s dad are willing to form a company and back the planning, marketing, and development costs so it can get started. Isn’t that fantastic? They want to meet with you and Gary as soon as you have time after the trial, and talk about getting started on documenting the concept and figuring out how it’s going to work. Isn’t that fantastic?”
“You’re not kidding?”
“No, I’m definitely not kidding. My dad would like to talk to you and Mr. Williams this coming weekend just to make sure you’re on board with this idea, and to negotiate the terms of a contract and a partnership agreement with you.”
Laura was sort of bouncing up and down on her chair. I could tell she was very excited by this idea.
“Next weekend is okay with me. I’ll have to see when Mr. Williams will be available, and Tom, will you be available?”
“Well, yeah, but I don’t know why I should be there since I didn’t contribute anything when you guys talked about it at Laura’s birthday party.”
“You’re there because I want you there. You’re real level-headed and you can spot problems in the design before I would be able to.”
“Okay, then I guess I’m in.”
“And you too, Laura,” I added.
She smiled, jumped up, pulled me up out of my chair, and hugged me. “Thank you, Curt!”
She sat down and so did I. Then I suddenly realized something Id forgotten about. Im still a minor and cant sign contracts. Mom would have to do that for me. Trouble is, Mom and I arent really on good terms yet. Thats a problem Id have to fix, and fix it fast so I can sign on to be partner in this new company.
Thanks to Anthony Camacho for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake
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