Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Before the Always, Part IV

The Warriors made a small comeback and won the game 10 to 3.  Jimmy trotted towards the locker room to get cleaned up.
“I made it,” Dale Brown said.  He was standing at the edge of the wall of bleachers.  Anita was standing next to him with a nervous smile on her face.  She hoped this encounter wasn’t going to be like the last time her son and husband talked about football.
“Not my greatest moments,” Jimmy grumbled.
“I noticed.”
Jimmy threw his helmet on the ground.  “Geez, Dad, just once I’d like a good game.  Nice try.  Something that would actually raise my self esteem a bit.  You got any of that in you?”
“I got out of the house, didn’t I?”
Jimmy scooped his helmet off the ground.  “Yeah, congratulations on that major achievement,” he snapped.
“Change the tone, young man.”
“I don’t have time for this.  I’ve got something I have to do.”
“What is that?  Practice more?”
“Dale-“ Anita chimed in.  “Stop.”
“Just look the other way, Dad.”  Jimmy met his Dad’s eyes.  “Look the other way.”
Jimmy ran into the locker room and looked around for Brett.  He wasn’t anywhere in plain sight.
“He left.  Grabbed his clothes and ran,” Stokes said when he noticed Jimmy looking around.  “Didn’t even shower.”
“Good.  I’ll track him by his smell then.”  Jimmy showered and changed into a pair of jeans and T-shirt.  He told Stokes to come with him and they walked out to his truck.
“Where would he go?” Jimmy asked.
Stokes threw his hands in the air.  “Ya got me, Brown.  Maybe at the pizza place.  Maybe at Jenni’s.  She’s having a party tonight.  Her parents are out of town.”
“Nah, that’s too obvious.  He’s probably lurking around here somewhere, just waiting.”
“Or he’s trying to score with some other cheerleader,” Stokes thought aloud.
Jimmy’s face twitched at the thought of that.  He pushed on the gas pedal and headed down the street to Jenni’s.  He got out and waited for Stokes to follow.
“I’m not going in there.  Jenni’s on the prowl and I don’t want any part of that.”
“Still?  Man, hasn’t she figured it out, yet?”
“Apparently not, Brown.”
Jimmy shut the door.  “Fine, you wait here.  I’m gonna go find him and throw him in the bed of the truck.”
“Don’t kill ‘em, Brown.  We still have two more games this season.”
“Not makin any promises, Stokes.”

Lydia sat on her bed in her room.  She hadn’t gone anywhere or done anything for a week.  The only place she felt comfortable was in her room with the door locked.  She had moved on from eating and getting angry to not eating at all and getting sick everytime she flashed back to what happened last Friday.  Her parents worried she’d never leave the house.
“Lydia?” her dad called from the otherside of the door.  “Can I come in?”
“Sure, Daddy.”  Lydia scooted herself up on her bed so she was leaning against the headboard and waited for her dad to open the door.
“You didn’t come down for dinner, sweetheart.”  Lt. Baker sat in the desk chair across from the bed.
“I wasn’t hungry.”
“Lydia, you need to eat.  Your mom and I are worried about you.”
Lydia crossed her arms.  “Would you want to eat if every time you thought about being attacked, you threw up?”
“Well, I probably wouldn’t have been a Marine if I did that.”
“Daddy, I’m serious!  I’m so angry about it, it makes me sick!.”
“Because.”  Lydia swallowed so her dad wouldn’t  hear the crack in her voice.  “Because I’m mad at myself for not doing anything sooner.”  She looked away and out the window.  “I couldn’t remember anything.  I felt stupid.”
“You were scared, Lydia.  You couldn’t think straight.”
“But, I just laid there and cried, Daddy.  I didn’t even think to do what you told me until he hit me.”
Anger flashed in Lt. Baker’s eyes.  “He hit you?  Why didn’t you tell me that?”
“I don’t know.  I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
Lt. Baker blew out a deep breath.  “What kind of boy would do that?”
Lydia shrugged and looked out her window.  Tears sat in her eyes.  “Not a very nice one.”
“Lydia, look at me.”
“No, Daddy.  You taught me to stand up for myself and I just layed there and cried. I let you down.”
Lt. Baker got up from the chair and walked over to the bedside.“Lydia Marie, you look at your Daddy  right now, young lady.”
Lydia slowly turned her body so she was sitting in front of her dad.  Her eyes met his.  “You did not let me down, sweetheart.You are a very smart girl and sometimes it takes a few minutes to react to a situation.  I don’t think any less of you because you didn’t act earlier.  You’re a tough girl, right?”
Lydia nodded.
“Tough girls don’t sit around for a week and sulk.  Tough girls get back to their day to day lives and you stand up to that boy.  No fear.”
“He’s gonna be at school, Daddy, lurking the halls.  I know who he is if I see him.”
“I think I can take care of that.”
“If I found out who he is, I might just have to burn off his pecker with the welding rod I have in the garage.”
“Daddy!”  Lydia blushed.
“Excuse me, sorry.” Lt. Baker cleared his throat.  “Your daddy still has a bit of a Marine mouth left in him.”
Lydia smiled.  “You kiss my mama with that mouth?”
Lt. Baker kissed his daughter’s forehead.  “Everyday.  How do you think you got here?”
“I prefer to think the stork dropped me off.”
Lt. Baker grinned and his eyes twinkled.  “It’s a good thing you’re pretty, little girl, because there’s not a lot going on up there is there?”  He tapped his temple still grinning.  He was playing around with her like he always did.  He’d never tell her she wasn’t smart.  She knew more than he did half the time.
Lydia threw her pillow at her dad.  He blocked it with his hands and it dropped to the floor.  “Not funny, Daddy!”
“See, you’ve still got some fight in you, Lydia.  Use it.”
Lydia crossed her arms.  “Fine.”
“Monday,sweetheart.  New week, new battle plan.”
Lydia mock saluted her dad as he walked out the door. “Yes, sir.”

Jimmy pulled into the Baker’s driveway and hopped out of his truck.  He looked in the back and saw Brett moaning with his head in his hands. “I think I’ve got a concussion, Brown,” he groaned.
“Good.”  Jimmy smiled at his handy work.  He found Brett at Jenni’s party hitting on Alexis, another cheerleader. Jimmy had gone up to Brett grabbed him by his neck and shoved him against the wall.  He had let his anger get the best of him. Brett’s head smacked the wall and he fell to the ground.  Jimmy pulled him up by his shirt and dragged him out to his truck.  Stokes got out of the truck and helped throw him in the bed of the truck.  Brett hadn’t made a sound until he spoke a moment ago.  
“When I can see only one of you, I’m gonna get you back.”
“Not waiting on that.”  Jimmy grabbed a tuft of hair and pulled Brett’s head up.  “Wait right here.  Don’t even think about getting out of the truck.  I’ll find you.”
“I feel like I’m gonna hurl.”
Jimmy sauntered toward the door.  “Not in my truck, you won’t,” he called back.  He knocked on the door and Lt. Baker answered.
“Lydia doesn’t feel like seeing anyone right now, Jimmy.”
“I’m not here to see her, sir.  I . . . uh. . . .” Mrs. Baker walked in the room and Jimmy struggled to come up with a  reason for Lt. Baker to follow him outside. “I think I may have someone you’d like to meet.”
Lt. Baker arched an eyebrow.  “Who would that be?”
Jimmy remembered what Lt. Baker had asked for a week earlier.  “Brett Warski, second string wide reciever.  His parents are Judith and Bill Warski.”
Lt. Baker turned to Michelle.  “Be right back, honey.”
He walked outside in his short sleeves and jeans.  It was bone chilling cold outside, but the heat of his anger kept him warm.  He walked towards the truck and saw a figure scooting towards the back window.
Brett looked over and saw the Semper Fi tattoo pulsing on Lt. Baker’s bicep.“Jesus, Brown, you didn’t tell me he could benchpress me.”
“Surprise.  Brett, meet Lieutenant Baker, United States Marine.  Retired.”
“Get out of the truck, son,” Lt. Baker ordered.
“No thanks.  I’ll take my punishment right here, sir.”
“Oh, that’s right, you’re second string.  Let me speak a little more slowly so you can understand.  Get-out-of-the-truck-now.  I’ve been giving orders for 20 years and I’m not about to have some low ranking scum be insubordinate towards me.”  He got in Brett’s face.  “Especially a teenage boy who can’t keep it in his pants when asked.”
Brett jumped over the tailgate and leaned up against the truck.  He wouldn’t make eye contact. “Look at me, son.  I want to see your eyes when you tell me what the heck you think you were doing when you attacked my daughter.”
Brett rubbed his forehead and smiled.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.  She was very willing.” 
Lt. Baker clenched his teeth.  The boy obviously didn’t know who he was messing with.  Lydia was his little girl, his only child. You didn’t talk like that about her to her daddy.  The boys at the base tried it once and he had gotten a strict warning from the higher ranks about how he handled the situation.  His only reply to the higher ups were “You don’t mess with the Lieutenant’s daughter.” 
Lt. Baker glanced down at his side.  His clenched fist stayed against his leg.  It was taking every ounce of self-control not to wail on this boy standing in front of him.  The boy thought he was pretty funny.  Brett had messed with the Lieutenant’s daughter.  He’d messed with the wrong girl.  Maybe he could get a rise out of this kid with a few questions.  After all, he was good with questioning.  It was part of his training.
“Do you have  sister?” Lt. Baker asked.
Brett shook his head.
“A mom?”
“Do you think she’d appreciate hearing that her son took advantage of a girl?”
“My mom wouldn’t give a rat’s right foot what I did as long as I stayed out of her hair.”
Lt. Baker looked over at Jimmy.  He still felt the urge to hit the kid.  He put a hand behind his head to keep his urges under control. “I can’t hit him, Jimmy.”
“I know that, sir.  I took care of that earlier tonight.”
Lt. Baker scratched his chin and looked at Brett.  “You’re going to go inside and call your parents.  Tell them to come over and we are going to have a talk.”
“You, you don’t n-n- need to talk to my parents.”  Brett stumbled to get the words out of his mouth.
“Go inside now!” Lt. Baker pointed toward the front door.  Brett dragged his feet as he slowly made his way to the door.   Lt. Baker looked over at Jimmy.  “Thanks, Jimmy.  You can go home now.”
“Is she going to be all right?”
“She’ll be fine, Jimmy.  She’ll be just fine once this is all over with.  Good night.”
Lt. Baker walked back inside while Jimmy drove away.  Michelle stood at the front door staring at her husband and Brett.
“What’s going on?  Who is this?”
“This is the guy who decided he wanted to force himself on our daughter.”
Michelle slapped Brett’s face before she even knew her hand had made that decision.  Brett rubbed his cheek. “Didn’t your Daddy ever teach you how to treat a girl?” she snapped.
“Shelly, I’ll handle it. Just keep Lydia upstairs.”  Michelle nodded and trotted up the steps.  Lt. Baker handed Brett the portable phone and waited for him to dial and ask his parents to meet him at the house.  When he was done relaying the address to his dad, he handed the phone back.
“Go back outside.”
“It’s cold, sir.”
“I don’t want you in my house.  My daughter is upstairs and quite frankly, I don’t trust you if I leave the room.”  Lt. Baker opened the door and shoved the kid outside.
A black car pulled into the drive and a man and a woman got out.  They were dressed in business clothes.  The man was talking on his cell phone and the woman clicked away on her PDA checking emails.  When they arrrived at the front door, they didn’t even stop what they were doing.
“I’d like to talk with you about your son,” Lt. Baker remarked.  “I’d appreciate it if you would listen.”
“We’re listening,” Judith Warski mumbled as her fingers furiously flew over the buttons on her PDA.
“Turn it off, Mom,” Brett asked.
Mrs. Warski looked up.  “I’m sorry.  When did you start telling me what to do?  I must’ve missed that memo.”
“I don’t see how you could?  You check your emails every two seconds.”
“For your information, young man, I’m working on a very important case.  I need to check my email from time to time.”
Brett looked from his mom to his dad.  “Get off the phone, Dad.”
Bill Warski held up his finger gesturing his son to hold on.
“Oh my gosh, this guy is about to kill me and all you two care about is your stupid cases!”
The Warskis looked up at the same time and stopped what they were doing.  “What?”
“Come inside, please,” Lt. Baker requested.  “We can talk about it inside if you’ll leave your work at the door.”
The Warskis turned off their phones and walked inside.  Lydia walked from the kitchen holding a glass of water in her hand.  When she saw Brett walk in, her face went pale and the water glass slipped from her hand and shattered on the floor.
“Daddy,”  her voice whispered.  “That’s, that’s-“
“I know, sweetheart.  Go upstairs.”
Lydia looked down at the mess she had made on the floor.  “I need to clean this up.”
“Don’t worry about it.  Just go upstairs, Lydia.”
Lydia nodded and stepped over the broken glass.  When she passed by Brett, he whispered something that was unintelligble to anyone out of earshot.  Lydia stiffened and then ran up the stairs.
Lt. Baker walked up closer to Brett.  “Don’t you dare say a word to her.  Don’t you even think about her and if I see those eyes follow her backside up those stairs any longer I’m going to poke them out with a pitchfork.  Is that clear?”
“Brett, what did you do?” Mrs. Warski asked.
Brett shrugged.  “I was just having a little fun.  I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Answer the question, Brett,” Mr. Warski ordered.  He crossed his arm waiting for his son’s answer.
“I may have uh, done something not very gentlemanly.”
“Don’t play the run around games with me, Brett.  I’m a lawyer.  Tell me what you did.”
“Okay, okay, I tried to have sex with her.”
Lt. Baker’s fists balled up at his sides.  “Tell them the rest.  I’m sure your parents the lawyers would love to hear what their law abiding son did.”
“Um, she didn’t want to?”
“And? Don’t leave out the part that makes me want to tear you apart limb by limb, young man.”
“I don’t remember.  I think I hit her.”
“You what?” Mr. Warski asked in disbelief.  “You think or you did.”
Brett scratched his head.  “Did. I did hit her.  She was screaming at me!”
“For  good reason, Brett Allen Warski.  You know better,” Mrs. Warski said.  She fell back onto the easy chair sitting behind her.  She rubbed her temples and closed her eyes.  “Brett, how far did you get?”
“I’d rather not say in front of you, Mother.”
“Fine.  I’ll rephrase.  At anytime were her or your clothes off?”
“No. Lord knows I tried.”
“Keep your mouth shut, Brett,” Mr. Warski warned.  “If her father hits you, I’m willing to look the other way.  Don’t get smart with us.”
Brett looked from his dad to his mom.  “Can we go now?  I confessed.”
“You didn’t apologize,” Mrs. Warski answered.
Lt. Baker looked at Brett’s mom.  “She doesn’t want an apology.  She hasn’t been to school in a week.  She’s sick to her stomach every time she thinks about what happened.  The only logical thing that seems reasonable to me is that this young man transfers to another school.”
“Not possible.  There’s scouts.  He’s got scholarship offers to think about.”
“He transfers to another school or I press charges.” Lt. Baker’s eyes bore into Mr. Warski.
Mr. Warski looked down at the floor.  “We’ll see what we can do,” he mumbled.

Lydia couldn’t stand the fact that he was actually sitting in her living room.  She had already thrown up twice just thinking about what would happen if everyone left the room and he snuck upstairs.  Before she came upstairs, he had told her that if he got in trouble with his parents for doing what he did, he’d be looking for her again.  And this time, he’d succeed.  Just the thought of that made her angry.  She was getting pretty tired of playing the victim and she knew she needed to do something to let him know that she wasn’t afraid of him.  She unlocked her bedroom door and made sure her mom didn’t see her before she barrelled down the stairs.  His parents and him were walking out the door.
“Wait!” Lydia yelled.  She stood halfway down the stairs.  Brett turned around and looked at her.  His parents kept walking.  She saw the evil grin from the other night and shuddered.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Lydia warned.
“What do you want?” Brett asked.  He stepped back inside and walked closer to Lydia.
“I want to know your name,” Lydia remarked.
“Brett.”  He stepped closer.  “Anything else you want?”  He ran his finger along the side of her face.  “I’d be happy to give you what you want.”
Lydia grabbed his finger and threw it away from her face.“Why?  Why did you think it was okay to do that?”
“I heard about you.”
“From where?”
“Around.  Not revealing my sources.”
She looked over at her dad.  His face was in an angry twitch.  She looked back at Brett.  “I’m not like that, okay?  I’ve never-I wouldn’t-.  Guys I go out with always want one thing from me and they get mad when they don’t get it.”
“You’re telling me.”
“For once, I’d just like a guy to be my friend and not want anything else from me.”
“Not the way you look.  That’s never gonna happen.”  Brett’s eyes gave her the once over.  She was wearing a tight fitting sweater and a pair of jeans.  Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail with a ribbon with the school colors on it.  Lydia wrapped her arms around her waist.  “Stop looking at me like that, Brett.”
“Stop dressing like that, Lydia.  Every guy on the team wants to know what’s under that sweater.”  He smiled.  “I almost was able to tell them.”
Lt. Baker took a few steps toward Brett until Lydia told him to stop.
“I’m not something you all just get to look at and lust over.  I have a brain and I have feelings.  If anyone on the football team was a real man, he’d step up and tell you all to leave me alone.  I’d appreciate it if you all would stop calling me names behind my back and leave me alone.  I didn’t do anything to deserve it.  And I didn’t do anything to deserve what you did to me.”  She walked a few steps closer to Brett.  “You hurt me.”
“Big deal. You don’t like any worse for wear, Lydia.”
Lydia’s hand flew across his face.  “I hate you!  You’re a stupid boy who doesn’t have any manners at all!”
“Fine with me.  I have to go to another school because of you.”
Lydia balled her fists at her sides.  “It’s not because of me, you idiot.  It’s because of you!  You thought it was okay to push me down on the ground and try to rip off my clothes.  You thought it was okay to slip your hand between my legs-“
“Lydia, that’s enough,” Lt. Baker tried to get his daughter to calm down.  Moreover, he didn’t want to hear the exact details of what happened to Lydia.  If he did, he might do unspeakable things to the teenage boy in his house.  He knew how to kill a man with his bare hands after all.    
“No, Daddy, it isn’t.  I want him to know that I’m not afraid of him. I don’t want him to go to another school.  I want him to have to go to the same school and I want everyone to hear what a distgusting excuse of a human being he is.”
“Jesus, Lydia, would  you like me to wear a big red A on my uniform, too?”
“Watch your mouth, young man,” Mr. Warski warned.
“No, I want you off the team like Jimmy wanted you in the first place.”
“Oh, I forgot your precious friend Jimmy.” Brett rolled his eyes.  “He wants what everyone else wants from you, Lydia.  Don’t think he’s any different.”
“You’re a jerk, Brett.  I’m glad your parents decided to stop having kids after you.  They probably took one look at you and decided you were going to be a screw up and didn’t need any more problem children.”
“Lydia Marie, apologize to the Warskis right now,” Lt. Baker’s voice boomed at his daughter.
“Oooh, somebody just got in trouble.”
“What are you? Five?”  Lydia sneered.  She looked over at Brett’s parents.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to bring you guys into this.”
“No harm done,” Mr. Warski said.  He looked at his wife.  “We need to get going.  I’ve got appointments in the morning.”
Brett walked back over to his parents.  “We’re not finished, Lydia.”
Lydia ran down the stairs and  yelled, “Yes, we are.” She slammed the door behind them and turned around to look at her dad.  His eyes were twinkling and the corners of his mouth fought back a smile.
 “You did good, sweetheart.”
She walked over and collapsed in her dad’s chest.  He wrapped his arms around her and held her.  He could feel her shaking.  “It’s all right, baby girl.  He’s gone now.”
“Why can’t I ever meet a guy like you, Daddy?”
Lt. Baker tipped up Lydia’s chin so he could see her face.  “You don’t know it, yet, but you all ready have.”