Here’s Chapter 22, something I finished a couple of days ago. This is part of my new accountability project. I’ll post a sample here of what I’m working on, somewhat regularly.
While Sophie was getting Sally, I called 911 and told them a boy had been hurt bad and that we needed an ambulance and then I got distracted. Pete’s face reminded me of something so horrible I couldn’t go any further. His glazed look, the blood coming out of his nose and mouth, reminded me of a day ten years before.
When I came to, before anybody had come to my rescue, I was strapped in the back seat of the family car. The roof was crumpled and had pinned Sophie in an awkward embrace. I looked to my dad, who had been driving. His head lolled to the side, his eyes open and glassy, blood dripping out of the corner of his mouth. Just like Pete. I couldn’t see my mother’s face, but since the car had come to rest against a light pole that had forced its way a foot or two into the car right where my mother was sitting, I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to.
In the silence that followed my call with 911, while I waited for Sophie to return, hopefully with help, I sat in the car and watched my family and prayed. I struggled against the seat belt but gave up when I realized the seat in front of me had been pushed back, pinning my legs down. I wasn’t going anywhere until somebody came to rescue me. So, I prayed some more and screamed for help.
I remembered it all again. Sitting on the porch next to Pete, waiting for help to arrive. I wanted to scream, but I didn’t know how to pray anymore. Prayers come so easy when you’re ten and you want to believe. They’re much harder to come by when you’re twenty and life has dealt you a bad hand or two. I wasn’t so sure anymore there was a god that answered those kind of prayers. I screamed silently anyway, while seeing my father’s face in Pete’s. I waited.
Even when Sally and Sophie got back and Sally took charge, I remained in between the past and the present. Until Sophie suggested Officer Mooney might have gone to arrest Pete’s dad.
“Why?” she asked
“Because I didn’t tell 911 what Pete said.”
Sophie just stared at me. I could feel the anger coming off of her in waves. I could smell it, like her hair was singed. She pushed her body up with her hands on the wheelchair’s armrests and I thought that her anger had cured her paralysis and she was going to walk to me and pummel me. “Why not?!” she blasted at me before settling back down, still paralyzed.
How could I get her to understand? My fear had driven me to years of half measures. Torn between doing what I thought was right and the fear of something bad happening again, I could take a step or two in the right direction, but then I would be thrown back by hesitation and uncertainty.
It’s how I justified letting go the kids who shoplifted. I made my feeble attempts to stop them so I could sleep at night, but I let them go. So I could sleep even better. My fear drove me in so many ways. Talking to Sophie about her choices, but not forcing better choices on her. Getting custody of her from our aunt and moving back to Northville, but then doing little more to make our lives better.
Then, when one kid stopped and forced me to take action, look what happened. I fell in love with the idea that Pete was somehow going to make everything better. In those quiet moments at the Dime when the store was empty and silent and Old Man Mooney was asleep in his office, I imagined he would fall in love with Sophie and they’d be together forever. That somehow I could let go of my worry. Good things could happen, too.
Yeah, right. Good things can happen. I didn’t think having Pete lying on my porch, bleeding and in shock, helped me overcome my anxiety. It only made it worse.
“He didn’t want me to. You heard him.” See what I had done? Another half measure. I called 911 because I needed to – like telling a shoplifter to stop – but didn’t tell them what Pete had said about the cause. He had his reasons and I was going to respect them. Otherwise, maybe it all, as bad as it was, could get worse.
“Sophie, I’m sure she had her reasons,” interrupted Sally. “Besides the ambulance is almost here. What’s important right now that Pete get to the hospital. We can worry about his dad later.”
She was right, the siren was much closer. “I don’t know the reason, but Pete doesn’t want them to arrest him . . .” I started to say before Sophie interrupted me.
“But the man’s a monster if he could do this to his own son. He needs to be arrested!” Sophie was bouncing up and down in her chair, practically spitting as she spoke.
“I think that’s Pete’s decision,” I whispered. “Don’t you?”
“What? No.” She stopped bouncing. “Maybe.”
“There’s more here than we know about, Sophie.”
“I don’t know,” she replied, wiping her eyes with her hand. She was crying, something I hadn’t seen for a long time. It hit me that she might have found somebody in Pete. A boy she cared about, who now lay on our porch grievously injured.
I rose and walked to her, wrapping her in my arms. “I don’t want to jump off this ledge unless Pete says its okay.” I shushed Sophie and held her as the ambulance, with its sad, wailing siren, pulled up in front of the house.
The paramedic in the passenger seat was out and halfway to the porch before the ambulance had stopped rolling. The driver turned the siren off, but the lights kept flashing, blues and reds in a kaleidoscope kept washing over the porch, the neighboring houses, and the people who started streaming out to see what was happening.