The bedroom door opened and I heard a scared voice say, “Dad, just let it go.”
He stood up slowly, his arm pushing off his bent knee with a sudden weariness. He sat on the creaking, sinking bed, still holding the gun with two hands, shaking it In the general direction of my ear. I wondered randomly how I could have been so thoroughly beaten by this old, out-of-shape man. My cheek was itching on the shag carpet but I didn’t move, not an inch.
“Go on now Clarissa, I’ve got this covered” he said, his voice quivering now too.
“Dad. I don’t want you to go to jail again” she said. “This kid is not worth it.”
He shook his head, “I can’t let him get away with this. He can’t come in my house and point a gun AT ME!” he suddenly shouted with spit flying out of his mouth. I couldn’t bare to watch it. “Rissa!”He said, looking confused, “Why did you say it was loaded, how did you know? Is this his gun, or your gun?”
“No its not mine dad, I just wanted you to be cautious.” I could tell she was lying. I wondered if he could. Then she switched it up, “Dad! I don’t want to go back to another foster family. What am I going to do without you again? I just came home!”
“You’ll be 18 in 2 weeks Clarissa, you can live here without me,” he said.
I lay there listening, my heart thumping with hope. Come on Rissa, you can do it.
“You can’t get your medication in jail, dad.”
“Yes I can.”
“Not the dosage you need, or want though, right Dad? I don’t want you to be in pain again.”
He looked conflicted, then he just stared at me, utterly confused, clearly trying to figure out what he was going to do with me.
“I’m not calling the cops” I said from his feet. I don’t want to be arrested for…” I tried to think of what I would be arrested for, “breaking and entering.”
“Or statutory rape” he said, still quivering.
“No, nothing happened. God! Do you think I could do anything to her or anyone with broken ribs? Look at me! I took one of your pills and went to sleep…I didn’t touch her!”
Then he really started shaking and turning a deep shade of red. I couldn’t tell if he was having a heart attack or if he was getting ready to pull the trigger. I closed my eyes.
“Go NOW!” he shouted. “Before I pull this trigger you disgusting little shit. Get out of my house and Get him out too.” He said, nodding in the direction of Chris on the floor. Then he started coughing like he was choking or something.
I scrambled up as fast as I could, my head swimming and I tripped over myself heading to grab Chris’s arm and yank him up off the ground. He held his belly and I threw his other arm around my shoulder and pulled him out of the bedroom, practically dragging him across the living room to the front door. After getting the door open with the blinding light spilling in, I turned back to see Rissa standing out in the living room next to her dad who was still coughing. She put her fingers up to her face in the call sign. I didn’t dare nod at her with him standing right there. I felt awful leaving her. It wasn’t right.
We went outside and I supported most of Chris’s weight through our bright, sunny trip down the street that was so quiet it seemed abandoned but for the cars. I was so desperate to get out of there that we got all the way to Chris’s van within seconds and he leaned against it, holding my shoulder to stand up. “We should go to the walk-in-clinic or the E.R. and get fixed up.” he gasped. “I can’t play tonight feeling like this.”
I took out an Oxycodone from my pocket. “I’ve got 3 of these” I said. “They work really well.”
“My label will kill me if I take someone else’s pills. Everything I do right now is being watched. Just take me to the clinic on Dixie Highway across from Flagler Hospital so I can get some legal drugs. I can’t drive though.”
I wondered if he even realized just how close he was to being dead back there. Now he was wondering what his label was going to think? He was nuts.
I helped him over to my truck and said, “How are you going to explain all this to your label?”
“I don’t know, asshole.”
I went to get my keys out of my pocket then suddenly remembered I gave them to Rissa. Then I looked up to see her running down the road towards me really fast, “GO GO GO!!!” she shouted. Then she scrambled to unlock the passenger side, pushed Chris in and all the way onto the middle console and hopped in next to him, slamming the door. She leaned over to open my side, stuck the keys in the ignition and turned it. “Hurry up!” she screamed at me. I ran around the truck and jumped in, and took off with the pedal to the floor to see her dad almost catching up until we left him far behind on the road. I looked in the rear-view mirror to see him kicking the side of Chris’s van with his foot. Rissa laughed “Oh my god!!!” she screamed.
“Now what are you going to do with her?” Chris said, holding his belly with his head back against the dividing window.
He was right, I was now aiding and abetting a runaway. She looked at me and smiled almost maniacally, high on her adventure and put her arms around my waist to hug me as I drove.
“Don’t even touch me,” I said. “Seriously, Rissa, don’t fuckin touch me.”
She drew away from me looking surprised and hurt and I said, “Well, until you are 18 next week. Then, you know…” and I saw Chris roll his eyes as we headed off towards the bridge to the mainland.