Wicked Good - Chapter Twenty-four
By AmyandJoanne on March 10, 2011
Archer hadn’t expected the Gloucester Police Department to be so modern. It’s brick and glass structure stood conspicuously among the neglected storefronts and homes she had passed since exiting Route 128. Its design was likely intended to instill confidence in Gloucester’s law enforcement personnel and assurance to the community. Archer felt little of that confidence as she passed The Policeman’s Prayer and entered the building. She approached the officer encased behind thick, smoky glass; wishing there was a prayer for Rory.
“May I help you?”
Archer saw the officer’s outline through the glass but could not see his eyes. She needed eyes to talk to. Instead, she looked at the sign on the window. We will provide service with understanding, response with compassion, performance with integrity and law enforcement with vision. She hoped so. She and Rory would need all of it, extra too.
“My son is here. Rory Falcon.”
“Have a seat, ma’am.”
Archer remained standing. The last thing she wanted to do was have a seat. Have a drink. Have a vacation. Have a new life. But have a seat, no. Her legs whirred like one of Rory’s lawn mower engines. She was anxious, antsy. She paced, counting her steps, one, two, three, four, five steps forward, one, two, three, four, five steps back. Repeat. She wanted to get Rory and go home.
The woman who entered the waiting area was dressed in civilian clothes. Pleated pants, a silk shirt and Ugg boots. Not an acceptable combination in a city like New York, but expected in New England. Her hair was cropped short, her face round and girlish. As she got closer, Archer saw the lines around her eyes. They were probably the same age, both in their early forties.
“Detective Ellen O’Neill,” she held out her hand.
“Archer Falcon, Rory’s mother.”
“Come this way.”
Archer followed her through a door and past a maze of cubicles to a conference room. The smell of new carpet and fresh paint made Archer want to sneeze.
Trish sat at a long table, staring at a uniformed officer whose scowl suggested he was frustrated by her lack of cooperation. Trish had the hood of her sweatshirt pulled deep over her face. Rory paced around them, adjusting the buds in his ears and playing with his I-pod. He ran to Archer when she entered the room.
“Did you see the fisherman patch on their uniforms? That’s the same fisherman on the box of fish sticks,” he laughed. “I don’t like fish but maybe I’d like fish sticks. Think you can buy some for me?”
“Sure,” Archer looked at Detective O’Neill, hoping she was getting a picture of what Rory was like.
“We haven’t charged them with anything yet.” Ellen was brusque. “We need to confirm their story. She doesn’t have a driver’s license or any other identification. The car is registered to Gus White in Corinna, Maine. We haven’t been able to reach him. Can you confirm this for us?”
“Gus is Trish’s uncle,” Rory said. “He lets her use the car.”
“Wait,” Archer held up her hand to get Rory to stop talking. She turned to Ellen. “May I speak to Rory alone, please?”
Ellen nodded, pointed to a small room. Archer walked in. Rory followed.
“What were you doing?” Archer whispered through gritted teeth.
“I want to meet my birth mother and find out why I’m messed up. Trish said she’d take me. Trish told me that she and her mother both like to dip French fries in their milkshake. I want to see if Kitty likes noodles with olives and ketchup like I do. And,” he paused, “I want to find my birth dad.”
A lead ball fell from Archer’s throat to her stomach. Her heart ached for him. She wanted to set him on her lap and rock him until their hearts were mended. “Trish doesn’t have a license and whose car is that?” Archer tripped over words like she stumbled over parts and components on Rory’s bedroom floor. She didn’t know how to confront their broken hearts.
“I wasn’t driving,” Rory said.
“I don’t care. It was stupid to get into the car with her and . . . “
“You weren’t going to take me.”
“How do you know?”
“Cause you keep avoiding it, like I’m not going to love you anymore.” His eyes filled with water. “It’s not about you, Mom. It’s about me. I need to find out…” He stopped.
“…why I am the way I am?”
“Rory,” she sighed, “you have Aspergers Syndrome. You know this.”
“I’m not some retard.”
“I know you’re not.”
He paced, made one tight loop around the small table then looked at her. “I know all about Aspergers. I’m socially awkward, abnormally hyper-focused and have poor communication skills. I get frustrated easily and sometimes over-react.”
She stared at him, stunned. He had actually been listening when they met with the psychiatrist who had explained the syndrome four years ago. Archer remembered the bald, congenial man seated behind a desk, Archer and Wayne in the over-sized Queen Anne chairs and Rory intent on a Rubik’s Cube Grandma Rose had sent him. But Rory had actually been listening. That was more then she could say about Wayne.
“I’m the one taking medicine twice a day,” Rory said. “I’m the one in special classes. I’m the one who the other kids laugh at. What about them? Who diagnosed them when they lit my locker on fire? Who’s going to tell them to go on meds when they make fun of Trish in gym class because of the bruises on her back? And where do I belong?”
Rory looked at his hands. Together, they watched them shake; a side effect of one of his medications. Archer took his hands in hers and felt their vibration. They were puppy hands, thick, meaty and warm. She wanted to take his pain away, if only she knew how. Like that day on the plane when she first took Rory home, she became overwhelmed by a feeling she would do anything for him. He pulled away, paced around the table like it was the school track.
“Rory,” Archer said, “I have to tell the Detective the truth. Trish doesn’t have a driver’s license. She could have killed you both, again.”
He looked at her, his face contorted with anger. “If you do that, you will never see me again.”
“I know what’s best. Trust me.”
“You don’t know shit,” he shot back. “You don’t know anything about what it’s like to be me and Trish, to be all fucked up like I am or to be beaten the crap out of like she is.”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you think I fucking mean? Her mother beats her. That was what Trish was doing before she came by the house last night. She was getting beaten up. Look at the bruises on her back. I oughta’ kill that bitch. Ask Trish. God, you’re so stupid. I’m fucking outta here.”
“Wait. I need to think. Please.”
As an attorney, she could make a decision in an instant. As a mother, she never knew the right thing to do or say. Rory waited impatiently by the door.
“How do you know it’s her uncle’s car?” Archer asked.
“She told me.”
“And you believe her?”
“Let me call her mother,” Archer said.
“No, you can’t do that.”
“I either do it or I tell the police she doesn’t have a license.”
He tossed her his cell phone.
“What’s this for?” she asked.
“You’re so stupid. For her phone number, of course.”
She tossed the phone back to him. “Find me the number and then wait outside.”
He scrolled through his address book, pressed a couple of buttons and tossed the phone back to Archer. As he left the room, Archer heard the phone ringing.
“What?” The woman’s voice on the other end was agitated.
“My name is Archer Falcon. My son Rory is friends with Trish. Are you her mother?”
“Yeah but Trish ain’t home right now. I don’t know where she’s at.”
“She’s with me. Trish is safe and…”
“Tell her to get her ass home. Her Uncle Gus is fit to be tied. He called the police. Serves her right. He told her that’d happen if she took his car again. And who are you?”
“Archer Falcon, Rory’s mother.”
“That retarded kid she hangs out with? What a loser.”
Archer took a deep breath. “My son is not mentally retarded. He has a form of Autism.”
“Don’t you want to know if Trish is okay?”
“Oh, she’s okay. But she won’t be once she gets home. Tell her that.” The woman hung up.
Archer steadied herself on a chair. The detective opened the door.
“The car belongs to her Uncle Gus,” Archer said.
“She doesn’t have a license, right?”
Archer sighed. “Has Rory done anything wrong?”
“Other than lie to us about his girlfriend, I don’t think so. He’s seems like a good kid. Doesn’t stop talking but it’s a lot better than the girl who won’t say a word.”
“You know I’m a lawyer.”
Detective O’Neill looked as if she had been slapped in the face. “No, I didn’t.”
“Why are you holding them?”
“They were in a stolen car. I have a call into the Bangor Police Department but no one’s gotten back to me yet. I can’t release them but there are no juvenile holding facilities here. We send our juvies a few miles away to …” Her phone rang. “Detective O’Neill,” she said then turned away.
Archer thought about the outstanding charges in Bangor against Trish and Rory. Campbell must not have entered them on the national computer bank. Otherwise, the detective would have picked up on it. The kids would already be on their way to juvenile detention.
"Did you say Margaret Warren?” Ellen asked into the phone.
Warren? Like Kitty Warren, Rory’s birth mother? Archer tried not to seem interested in the detective’s conversation.
“Who found her?” Ellen asked. “Where?” She paused, then “All right, I’ll be right there.” She turned to Archer. “I have to go. Don’t leave town. I need to talk to those kids.”
The next chapter will be posted tomorrow.
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