Mitch was trying to figure out how to get eight thousand dollars together without his father knowing.
He could call in a few favors, but even if they all cashed in, he’d only have about a thousand.
He could rob a store or gas station, but they probably didn’t have enough in the drawer. He’d have to rob several in one night. Leaving a trail like that would surely get him busted.
He ran through several scenarios, even pawning some of his things or cashing some of his savings bonds. But those were too obvious. His Dad would hear about the bonds from the banker and anything of worth would be missed.
If he did all of these things, he’d probably get enough, but it would take fabrication of stories, covering his tracks, beating up a few people and he didn’t have that kind of time.
Then he remembered a guy he met at the wild party. His name was Duane. He sported a leather trench coat and drove a Lexus. He hung out at this club called Indigo and parked in alleys. Duane knew how to make money. Mitch needed him.
Mitch went low key, riding his bike all over town. He waved at the old men in front of Lucy’s Diner. He helped a kid return his library book in the oversized return bin. He casually checked every alley around town.
He finally saw a black Lexus parked in the shade at the back of the park where reportedly the gays met at night. He rode up and stopped, hearing a faint bass thumping inside, he tapped the tinted glass. The window rolled down a crack and a cloud of smoke billowed out.
“I need to talk to you.”
“Duane don’t talk.” The window started rolling back up.
“Please! Duane! I need to make some quick cash!” The window stopped. The door opened.
“Dude! Stop yelling, and get in! Now!”
Mitch climbed in. It reeked of pot. Duane drove toward the park exit, looking frantically around. When they were out of danger he calmed. “You want a hit? It’s premium stuff. Home grown I hear.”
“No. I just need to make quick money.”
Duane chuckled, “A magician don’t tell his secrets.”
“Look, I’m in deep. I need a lot of money, and I need it quick. I came to you because I heard you deal in this kind of thing.”
“Deal? You heard what exactly?”
This was an interview, and Mitch did not want to mess this up. He went for flattery.
“I heard you are the best at what you do.. that you are the go-to man. If anyone needs something, they go to you.”
“And so here you are.”
“Here I am, and I want to work for you.”
He considered this. “As it turns out I have received a business proposition, but my face is too well known in the area, you know. I could use a fresh one.”
“I’ll do it.”
“Man, you are desperate! Meet me at Cypress and 6th at 9:30 tonight.”
He let Mitch out at the park entrance. He walked to his bike and wondered what exactly he had gotten himself into. He just employed himself to work for the shadiest character in the whole town probably doing the shadiest work in the whole town.
And for what?
For the rumor that his one-night-stand was pregnant. Suddenly he knew what he must do.
He pedaled to the Arnold’s farm. The lights were on inside, making it look like a Christmas card in the waning light. He knocked on the storm door. A woman answered with slightly graying hair and a curious, surprised grin.
“May I speak with JoAnn?”
“Um, one moment.” The door closed and reopened a little while later when JoAnn slipped out. She pulled it closed behind her. “Mitch! What are you doing here?”
Mitch pulled her around to the side of the house. “Are you spreading rumors that you’re carrying my child?”
“No! I haven’t told anyone!”
Mitch grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. “Don’t lie to me!”
“Stop! Only my Mom and Cal know, I swear!”
“Oh that’s not all who knows! Who did you tell?!” Mitch raised a fist in the air.
“Get rid of the child if you know what’s good for you!”
“No!” JoAnn’s face contorted in anger and rage, she yanked herself from his grip, rammed an elbow into his stomach and shoved past him.
Mitch decided not to pursue her, when he saw her mother on the porch watching them.
“You leave my girl alone, ya hear?!” She shot a round from a rifle into the air. JoAnn passed her on her way into the house. Mitch jumped on his bike and pedaled off fast, spitting gravel behind his tires, leaving the whole mess in the dust.
One thing was certain, JoAnn was pregnant. He still didn’t know if she was keeping it, but he wasn’t going back there to ask. That meant the Sheriff’s accusations were still valid, and so was his debt. He had to pay up the eight thousand or be charged with rape.
He didn’t even know what Duane was going to ask him to do or how long it would take.
His family was home when he arrived. He quickly showered and tried to forget about the trauma of the day and not to worry about tonight. He seated himself at the dinner table and placed his napkin on his lap.
“How was your day, son?” his mother asked casually.
“Fine. I went for a ride around the park.”
“Yes, old Mr. Sherman said you waved at him today.”
“How was your day, dear?” the conversation turned to the Mayor and Mitch chewed his steak slowly while his stomach turned nervously.
At 9:30 Duane stopped at the corner of Cypress and 6th where Mitch was waiting in an oversized hooded sweatshirt. He climbed in the car.
“Dude, lose the hood. You look like a dealer! You trying to get yourself arrested?”
“Sorry,” Mitch mumbled and took off the sweatshirt.
“Here’s the deal. Wait one block down from Violette’s on Elm. You’ll sell these little blue pills to the sorry asses who can’t get it up, but want to so they can get with Violette’s girls. you know what I’m sayin’?” Mitch smiled nervously and nodded as he took the pills and hid them in his pocket.
He got out at Elm and ducked into a shadow. It wasn’t long before a skinny, middle aged man with a greasy comb-over approached, looking over his shoulder every two seconds.
“Yo.” Mitch tried to sound thug, like Duane.
“Here’s the cash, man, give me two. I’m seeing Lolita tonight!”
Mitch didn’t want to to know about Lolita, and he quickly made the exchange, retreating to the shadows as the man popped a pill and walked away.
Mitch heard the scuffle of shoes and he stiffened, ready for his next customer. He stayed in the shadows though, in case it wasn’t a customer. The footsteps stopped and there was an eerie silence before the man spoke.
“I’m here for the Viagara.”
Mitch’s blood ran cold. He knew that voice. It was his father! He stayed in the shadows and tried to make his voice gruff, to diguise himself.
“Uh, how many?”
“One dozen.” Mitch blinked. He was glad the man couldn’t see his face. He shook out 12 pills, easy since his hands shook anyway. He waited until the man presented the money, like Duane had instructed him, though how he remembered to do so was a miracle.
Then just like that, his father left. Mitch nearly sunk to the ground from the shock. Then he began to wonder where his dad was going, home or to Violette’s.
He followed, moving quickly from shadow to shadow. The Mayor made sure the coast was clear, then boldly entered Violette’s.
Mitch closed his eyes to hold back sudden tears of rage and disappointment. He desperately wanted his hoodie back. He couldn’t deal anymore tonight. His eyes were full of tears and he just ran home. He ran past the part where his legs screamed in protest. He ran past the part where his lungs threatened to come out of his chest. That pain was nothing compared to the loss and anger he felt.
He ran up to his room, threw himself on the bed, and wept. When he could cry no more, he curled up in a ball and closed his eyes, trying to sleep, but his thoughts kept him awake. He couldn’t tell his mother. He’d never be able to look his father in the eye again. He’d never have a normal dinner anymore.
He decided he needed to talk to someone. But who? Who could he trust with this? He wanted to be near people whose lives were as messed up as his was right now. His friends would never understand. As far as he knew, only one person was feeling this low, and that was JoAnn.
It was late, past midnight. What if he sneaked over to her house? Could he wake her alone? Would she let him in? He’d have to try.
The farm house was dark at 1AM. Curiously, the hot house was lit, a small sliver of light shone under the door. Mitch hid his bike and after gazing into dark windows, decided the bedrooms were upstairs. He climbed the trellis and found JoAnn’s room by the rockstar posters and antique dolls staring blankly at him from a shelf. He tapped the window glass until she woke.
“What are you doing here?!” She looked alarmed and angry.
“Calm down, Shh! I need to talk.”
“Dad will come out of the hot house any moment!” JoAnn had no choice but to save herself by letting him in.
“Look, I know you probably hate me, but my life is way worse than yours right now.”
“How could y..”
“My Dad just took Viagara and went to Violette’s.”
“So? Everyone knows he’s been cheating!”
“Sure, small town.”
“Like everyone know your Dad sells pot.”
“He does not!”
“He’s drying it right now out in that hot house!”
“Everyone knows!” Mitch eyed her, willing her to see the truth.
JoAnn sighed. “Okay. Let’s talk.”
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