Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Going Under, Page 39

Georgia Cates

Page 39


  She bit her lip, then said, “Claire, what do you want me to do?”

  “I want you to do whatever it is you’re willing to do for him, whatever it is your conscience tells you that you must do,” I pleaded with all of my heart.

  Something I said spoke to the humanity in her and I felt my heart begin to beat out of my chest when she said, “I need to talk to your dad about this. I can’t make a decision like this without him. ”

  I ran to her and threw my arms around her, squeezing her tightly. “When will Dad be home?”

  “He told me he would be home for dinner, so I suspect within the hour, but you know how an hour can turn into two or three with your dad. ”

  I spent the next two hours pacing the floor waiting on my dad to come in from work. When he finally walked through the door, I propelled myself on him, wrapping my arms around him. “Well, what have I done to provoke a reception like that?”

  I looked up with tears in my eyes and he said, “What is it, Claire?”

  My mom called out from the other room, “Claire, let your dad get in the door and we’ll discuss everything over dinner. ”

  I backed off my dad and let him close the door from the garage. Although I was dying to tell him everything, I didn’t say a word because my mother had told me to wait.

  I anxiously helped my mom prepare our plates and we sat down at the dining room table. “Well, the two of you have me a little nervous about what’s going on. ”

  My mom started, “Claire brought some things about Jessie to my attention today I was unaware of, but I’m going to let her tell you the whole story. ”

  I started at the beginning and told my dad everything I knew about Jessie since my mother was still bound to not talk about him or his situation. I started with his childhood and the incident that killed his mother along with him almost being killed. I told him about Harley and Ozzy and how wonderful they were thanks to the raising they had by Jessie. I concluded the story of Jessie’s life with his current situation and how he would be dead before graduation if we didn’t do something to help him get away from his grandmother.

  My dad looked shocked by the details of Jessie’s horrific life. “Claire, your mother and I need to talk about this without you. Go upstairs and we’ll call you down after we’ve made a decision.

  I went to my room and paced the floor. Five minutes turned into twenty and twenty turned into sixty. Before I knew it, I stood in the middle of my bedroom floor ready to have a full blown panic attack when my mom came to my door and said, “You can come down now. ”

  I inhaled slowly and deeply because I thought I might be ready to pass out, but I followed my mom down the stairs and sat in the chair across from my parents sitting on the couch.

  I heard the thudding of my heart in my ears and it almost overpowered the sound of my dad’s voice, but I managed to hear, “This was a hard one for us to make a decision about. Jessie’s life has been an utter tragedy, but we see so much potential in him. He’s highly intelligent and athletically gifted and we have no doubt he will go on to do great things if he is given half an opportunity. Now, here comes the hard part. ”

  I felt my heart stumble as I waited to hear the part I didn’t want to hear-the part where they told me they couldn’t do anything to help him.

  “There is no debate about the need for him to leave the home of his grandmother and it needs to be as soon as possible. The debate comes in on what we do with him once we get him out. Helping him get a place to live by himself doesn’t seem like the right answer because we have some concerns about how passionately you feel about him. We can tell you to not go see him all we want, but in reality, that’s not going to happen because we know you love him. We think putting him in a place with no adult guidance could be setting you both up for a situation you aren’t ready to handle. You’re not adults, even if you think you are, and you’re not ready to make adult decisions about having sex and we know that’s where it would lead if you were given the freedom.

  I felt myself turn every shade of red as I listened to my dad talk about Jessie and I making the decision to have sex. This was soooo not what I was expecting to hear from them.

  “We’ve debated back and forth about it, but we have both come to the conclusion that Jessie will come here to live on a temporary basis until we can make more permanent arrangements. ” I realized I had been holding my breath-for way too long and I gasped as my dad continued, “We can better control the privacy between you by having him here, but there will be conditions, as you would guess. Under no circumstance will there be any hanky panky in this house. This is about helping Jessie be safe, not about moving him in here so you play footsie under the table or even much more than that. If we find out there has been any inappropriate contact between you, he will have to leave immediately. ”

  I got up and ran to my dad first. I threw my arms around him and said, “I understand. ” I looked at my mom and knew what a huge deal this was for her to let go of everything she knew about Jessie. “Thank you, Mom. I will never forget this as long as I live. ”

  I turned back to my dad and said, “I want to go get him now. ”

  My dad smiled because he was humored by my urgency, but he didn’t understand the dire straits of Jessie’s situation. “Claire, it’s almost nine o’clock and we need to talk to him about this first. We can’t just show up on his doorstep and tell an eighteen year-old boy to pack his stuff because we’re there to rescue him. ”

  “Yes, we can. I promise you he will leave tonight because he wants out of there so badly. ” I started to cry because I felt the urgent need for Jessie to be out of that dangerous place. “Please, Dad. What if something happened to him tonight? You didn’t see how bad he was beaten last night. It took more than fifty stitches to put his head back together. You know more than all of us how bad it had to be for that many stitches. ”

  When he looked like he was thinking it over, I struck again with, “Please, Dad. I won’t sleep tonight anyway knowing he’s still in that place. ”

  My mom nodded, giving her approval and my dad gave in. “Okay, but you’re not going out there by yourself. I’m going with you. ”

  I was flooded with relief. “Thank you. Thank you so much. ” I went to grab my phone as Dad got his keys.

  I tried to call Jessie several times as we drove to his house, but couldn’t get him. “I’m not getting an answer. I hope that isn’t a bad sign. ”

  My dad didn’t say anything and I nervously began to pick at my freshly manicured nails. My dad reached over and grabbed my hand to stop my nervous fidgeting. “It’s going to okay. ”

  I wouldn’t relax until I saw Jessie safely out of that drug house.

  We pulled up and Jessie’s truck was in the yard, so I relaxed a little because I knew I had at least found him. I looked at my Dad before we got out and I couldn’t begin to tell him how grateful I was and what it meant to me for him and Mom to help Jessie like this. It was more than I could ever hope for.

  “Thank you, again. ”

  He squeezed my hand and said, “Come on, let’s go save this boy you love. ”

  We got out of the car and walked up the steps to the trailer’s front door where I knocked loudly. As we stood there waiting, I begin to feel something wasn’t right. I knocked again and said, “Jessie, it’s Claire. ”

  When he didn’t come to the door, I had an impending feeling of doom. Something was definitely off about this. “Something’s not right, Dad. He didn’t answer his phone and not he’s not coming to the door. ”

  I walked over to the window and tried to look in, but I was too short to see over the piece of furniture pushed up against the window. “I can’t see anything. ” I reached for the doorknob, but my dad stopped me.

  “You can’t just go up in there. There could be a reason he isn’t coming to the door,” he suggested, but I knew Jessie wasn’t in there with another girl if that was his

  He leaned around me and peered in the window and I saw his eyes grow large. He ran for the front door and tried to turn the doorknob, but it was locked. “What is it, Dad? What do you see?”

  “Stand back, Claire,” he said, as he gently pushed me away from the door and kicked it several times.

  “What are doing, Dad?”

  The last kick sent the door crashing in and my dad ran inside. I followed behind him uncertain of what it was I’d find. Jessie was pale and laying on the floor in a pool of blood. We were too late. He was already dead. My mind immediately began to deny it. He wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be because everything was about to work out for us.

  My dad leaned over him listening for his breath and feeling for a pulse. “Call 911. Now. ”

  I reached for my phone and dialed the number with shaky fingers as I watched my father perform CPR on the boy I loved. Nothing was happening. He wasn’t waking up. He wasn’t moving at all. Virtually, he was dead.

  It seemed like an eternity before the ambulance arrived and my dad moved out of their way as they moved in with a monitor. They applied the pads to his body and watched for any cardiac activity. When they announced he had none, I lost my breath.

  The harder I tried to breathe, the less air I seemed to catch. I could hear my dad telling me to slow my breaths down, but I couldn’t and my body only tolerated it for a minute before it gave way and I collapsed to the floor, everything going black because the boy I loved was dead.


  Three Years Later


  As usual, I was running late. I looked at my watch and saw I was supposed to be at my parents house in thirty minutes for the birthday party while I stood in the sporting goods store without a clue what I was going to take as a gift.

  I pulled out my phone and chose the contact at the top of my favorites list. When I heard the voice on the other end, I said, “Hey, I’m running late as usual and I need help picking out gifts. Any suggestions?”