Enduring on the Lake

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chapter 22


“C’mon, let’s go find Zane.” 

“No. He’ll just think I’m being a baby … or telling stories so I don’t have to do something I don’t want to.” 

“Give him a chance.  Zane seems like a reasonable person, certainly deals fairly with me and there’s been a few times I haven’t exactly been as polite and nice as I should have been.  As a matter of fact he seems to know just the right thing to say to help me jump start my commonsense when it wants to go on vacation.  So … I think he’s worth a chance.  Don’t you?” 

“I … I guess.” 

That’s when I looked over Max’s head to see Terrance come stumbling down the hall in a rush.  “Yo Max, there you are son.  We need to get or we’re going to be late.” 

Max almost panicked and ran but instead he stopped behind me.  I reached into my sweater pocket and took hold of the nail file I carry.  Daddy had made it and given it to me when I started classes at the university.  It really was a nail file – something I needed because my nails tended to split and snag on things – but it also had a sharp point and made a good defensive weapon. 

I told Terrance, “We need to go talk to Zane first.” 

“No!  We need to leave now.” 

As calmly and reasonably as I could I said, “No Mr. Slowthower, I’m sorry.  But Max is not leaving with you.” 

Keeping Max behind me we started to back up towards the door we’d come through.  When Terrance rushed forward I pushed Max out and through the door and then slammed it shut.  I had no idea what I was going to do but I knew that Max would run to Zane and that he’d be safe. 

“You can’t keep me from my son!  He’s mine!” 

“He isn’t your son.  You’re just the sperm donor.  If you wanted to be a father you’d get off the drugs and fix whatever your damage is.” 

“You’re an uppity bitch, just like Jake said.  That you need lessoning.” 

“Let me guess.  Jakey-poo is one of those perverts on the Lodge side of the lake.  Which one?  The one lost in the 70s or the new guy?  Oh, and for the record?  The cops already know about their sick habits and are keeping an eye on them.” 

“You don’t know nothing.” 

“I know enough to know you are just as sick as they are and you’ll sell Max – or any other kid for that matter – to them at the cost of your life.  I’ve seen what that does to people.  It ain’t happening to Max.  Absolutely the total end to this discussion.” 

“You … you are making up lies.  Impugning my reputation.  You are also interfering with parental custody.  I’m going to swear out a complaint against you.” 

“One, they aren’t lies.  Two, it is impossible to impugn a reputation like the one you have.  And three, you haven’t got any parental custody because you lost your parental rights when Max was adopted by Annie’s mother.  Four?  Do you really want to start this fight?  Because I will give you one.  Whatever it takes, I’m on Max’s side.” 

All of a sudden Terrance’s eyes got all big and round and I was thinking booya for my big and bad self only I was unceremoniously picked up from behind and then set down outside the same door I’d pushed Max through.  I was blinking at the closed door trying to figure out what had just happened when someone tapped my shoulder. 

“Your mouth is hanging open.” 

I tried to look all innocent.  “Oh … uh … Lawrence … Uncle Red.  Hi.” 

They both snorted.  Lawrence muttered, “Please let them have enough self-control that I don’t have to get a call on a domestic here at church.” 

“Oh no … I was trying to keep Mrs. Slowthower and Mrs. June …” 

“Girly Girl, who do you think told them boys to go fotch ol’ Terrance to the back door and see him on his way?   I think Birdy has finally decided that though she loves her son she has an obligation to her grandson.” 

It took me a moment to remember that Mrs. June’s first name was Birdy but it didn’t help much with my overall confusion.  “So … er … they believe Max?” 

“Zane was already on it and Lawrence here had placed a call to have someone drive by that place on the lake when Max comes running.  They thought he was having an asthma attack the way he was wheezing but Zane must have understood enough and so did the two ol’ gals.  They told the boys to fotch him out of the church and they weren’t particular where he went but it best be far and away from Max.” 

Lawrence finally asked with a sigh, “I gotta ask, are you carrying?” 

“Carrying what?” 

He looked at me, then looked some more and then slumped his shoulders.  “Are you telling me you don’t have a gun on you?  And exactly what did you have that you were going into a standoff with a potential problem like Terrance?” 

Guiltily I slowly pulled the nail file from my pocket.  “Daddy made it for me.  Please don’t take it.” 

“A … a nail file?” 

“Yes Sir.  My nails chip real easy and …” 

Uncle Red said, “Hush up Girly Girl.  You put that right back in your pocket and you don’t say what you might or might not have been going to do with it.”  He sighed again.  “I’m going to have to mention this to your father.” 

I nodded.  “I’m going to that’s for sure.  Who would have thought there would be perverts living in Harmon of all places.  Do they own that house they are staying in or are they caretakers like me?” 

Uncle Red says, “Well aren’t you cool about it.” 

“No sir, I’m red hot.  I’ve seen what those type of people leave in their wake and it ain’t happening to Max and that’s final.  I know I’m in trouble but I’d do it again … and again … and again.  He’s my friend.” 

Suddenly a small buffalo – or at least it felt like one – smacked into me from behind.  “Geez Max.  I know I occasionally act like one, but do you think I look like a crash dummy?” 

He wouldn’t turn loose but turned mean eyes towards the two men I was with and I knew I needed to calm him down.  “Yo Max.  Actions have consequences.  I chose to do what I did.  Look at me if you are mad, not at them.  They’re doing their job.  C’mon look at me.  It’s all right.  And it’s gonna stay all right, even if things get a little crazy.  OK?” 

“They’re going to take you away.” 

It was Lawrence who drawled, “Boy, what gave you that kinda crazy idea?” 

“You’re going to call her dad and he’s going to get mad and make her leave.” 

I finally got Max to let go enough that I could draw a full breath.  “Whoa there.  Give my dad some credit.  He’s a class act and the real deal.  Sure he’s going to get mad.  Probably some at me but mostly at Terrance.  And he’s right to be mad.  I did something stupid.” 

“Stupid?” 

“Get that out of your mind Max.  It wasn’t stupid about me trying to protect you.  What was stupid was that I didn’t have a clue how I was going to do it.  Terrance may be a meth head but he’s more than a little unbalanced and definitely bigger than me … at least in height and reach.  I should have run out that door with you.  That was the smart thing.  Instead I let my anger make me stupid.  I have a feeling Zane is going to read me a righteous lecture too.  And he’ll be just as right as Daddy will be.  My head is for something more than a place to stick my hair.  I didn’t use good sense and only did half of what I should have done.  I could have gotten hurt and that would have hurt you more than you already are hurting.  You get what I’m trying to say?” 

He wouldn’t answer but I could tell he was thinking about it.  I saw Max’s grandmothers talking to a man I knew was a church elder.  He was nodding and the woman with him gave them both a hug.  They were about to come over but Zane got there first.  As soon as he opened his mouth I said, “I’ll take the lecture but you can do it in private.  I’ve made enough of a public spectacle of myself.  And Max doesn’t need to get riled up any more than he already is.  Max why don’t you …” 

“No.” 

“Beg your pardon?” 

“No,” he repeated and refused to let go. 

Mrs. Slowthower Sr. and Mrs. Slowthower Jr. followed Mrs. June into the middle of things weren’t quite sure what to make of Max.  It was Max’s … well his mother but grandmother too … who said, “Wellllll, Max if you want to stay with Sydney you can but you need to let her deal with a few things.  Zane for one.  Your brother is about to pop his cork.” 

Zane growled, “Mom …” 

Mrs. June put her two cents in and said, “Sydney, I am sooo sorry.” 

She looked like she wanted to cry but couldn’t find the water to waste on her son.  I told her, “It’s not your responsibility Mrs. June.  Terrance has issues and is choosing not to … uh … deal with those issues in a constructive way.  I’m sorry that I usurped you ladies’ authority over Max.  I … I think I’ve just gotten a whole lot attached to him.” 

Mrs. Slowthower Jr., who always struck me as a kind of wishy washy woman, looked at me deeply then nodded.  “Whatever it is I approve.  You understand Max.  That’s what he needs.  He don’t get enough of it at home.  Max, let’s go get Sydney and Zane a plate of food because if we don’t get over there right quick they aren’t going to get nothing.” 

Max relented but still objected with, “But …” 

“Zane isn’t going to eat her or drive her off.  He just needs to say his peace before his ulcer starts acting up.” 

All of them left and feeling like there was something strange going on that I didn’t understand I looked at Zane and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “You have an ulcer?” 

“Yes,” he bit off.  “And Mom is right … I am going to … I … Dammit, what were you thinking?!” 

I saw Uncle Red and Lawrence walk off looking satisfied.  Instead of answering Zane directly I told him, “Don’t curse in church, it’s rude and kinda blasphemous.  And leave me some skin, I’m gonna need it when Daddy finds out.” 

Zane’s eyebrows came down and he gave me a hard look.  “You are not going to make me feel sorry for you, not even if you cry.” 

“Just because you caught me in a couple of weak moments does not mean that I cry all the time.  I know I messed up, I’ll take what’s coming to me.  Besides, I have enough self-respect that I don’t want people feeling sorry for me for anything.” 

“Listen you …” 

“No, you listen … or I mean I’ll listen in a few minutes when you really get started.  I’m serious, I don’t need you to start feeling sorry for me; I’ve got enough problems as it is.  You go ahead and vent and rant and whatever else you need to do so you’ll feel better.  Then I’m going to call Daddy before he hears from too many other …” 

I winced as my phone vibrated hard.  When I saw who it was I sighed, “Too late.” 

2 comments:

  1. Very good thank you, for some reason I can't comment on your main blogg :( now. I wanted to tell that pad looks great.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Kathy great chapter, great story.
    Is there a way to comment on your main blogg? If there is could you please let us know how Thanks.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete