Wicked Good - Chapter Twenty-two
Archer loved to drive, listen to the radio, sing and wiggle in her seat. To her ears, she was in tune. But as Wayne liked to remind her, she was off-key. So when she was alone, she sang. Loud and proud. And to herself, she was perfectly in tune.
She loved all music except for the head-banger stuff that Rory favored. They did have some of the same musical tastes—they liked some of the same rap artists and R&B singers. But when Rory put on that awful music that sounded like a truck grinding its gears in reverse, she couldn’t relate. Likewise, he didn’t get her penchant for big-haired eighties rock ballads.
The highway was empty as she sped along, the speedometer teetering around eighty. She wondered what Rory and Trish were doing, wishing he would have answered her numerous calls to his cell phone just once so she would know he was okay. Was he hurt? He was usually cautious, she reasoned. The ride in the jeep had been an aberration. Atypical Rory behavior. But then again, he was almost sixteen with hormones raging. Wouldn’t he do things out of character just to please Trish? Wasn’t that typical behavior for a teenage boy?
She shut off the radio and tried his cell phone one more time. Right to voice mail. She sent another text. Waited. No response.
Archer tried to be positive. That’s what Kara would tell her to do. Imagine good things. Visualize Rory in a safe, comfortable place. Archer saw him in her cuddle chair, his long legs curled around the arm, in his lap a carburetor he had been tinkering with right before he fell asleep. But Rory wasn’t home. And neither was she. Life certainly was a highway. One she didn’t want to drive all night long.
She wanted to blame it all on Trish and her butterfly tattoo. Archer didn’t know much about Trish. Just that she lived in the trailer park off the ironically named Country Club Road. Archer couldn’t recall meeting Trish’s parents at any school events, around town, in the supermarket or at the transfer station. She only knew one thing about Trish—she had been suspended from school more times than Rory. That, and Rory was enamored by her. But what boy wouldn’t be?
Her cell rang. Finally. She didn’t recognize the number but knew the area code. Massachusetts.
“Hi Mom,” Rory sounded happy.
“Where are you?”
“What was the name of the lady who gave birth to me again?"
“Kitty. Rory, where are you?”
“It’s a good thing we don’t remember being born. That would be freaky—coming out of someone’s body, that’s totally weird, isn’t it? Remember when we saw that calf being born on The Discovery Channel? How come calves can walk right after their born but it takes humans like a year to learn how to walk? How come animals don’t crawl before they walk like we do? When did I learn to walk?”
“Rory, listen to me. Where are you?”
“With Trish and some lady police officer.”
“Trish drove into a ditch. We bottomed out. It was wicked cool. It’s gonna’ take a crane to get that car out of there. I bet the transmission is shot. I think I wanna’ learn how to fix cars. Can I do that?”
“Are you hurt?”
“Naw, we were wearing our seatbelts.”
“Where are you?” she asked again.
“In the back of a police car. The lady cop is taking us to the Gloucester police department.”
“Are you under arrest?”
“I don’t think so. We’re not in handcuffs or anything like that. She didn’t read Miranda to us. Remember when I was twelve and that old bag down the street accused me of stealing her lawn mower and the cop read Miranda to me from a card. I said it right with him. I knew it by heart but he had to read it from a card,” Rory laughed. “I didn’t steal that lawn mower, by the way.”
“I know. I’ve tried your cell phone a bunch of times. How come you didn’t answer?”
“I don’t know.”
“Whose phone is this?”
“The lady police officer’s. Wanna’ speak to her?”
“Yes. But Rory, wait. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, mom, I’m fine. We’re fine. Don’t worry. This is just something I have to do, know what I mean? I love you, mom. I really love you.”
“I love you too.”
“I’m making better choices.”
“I don’t know, Ror.”
“You have to trust me.”
“Running off with Trish is not making better choices.”
“According to you.”
Archer sighed. “Let me speak to the police officer.”
Archer heard muffled sounds, then a woman’s voice with a distinctive New England accent.
“Detective Ellen O’Neill,” she said.
“I’m Archer Falcon, Rory’s mother. Are they under arrest?”
“Not yet. I’m taking them to the PD to check out their story.”
“What have they told you?”
“The car belongs to the girl’s uncle and she’s borrowing it. She doesn’t have any ID but she says she’s sixteen and has her driver’s license. Can you confirm any of this?”
“I should be in Gloucester in about a half an hour. Can we talk when I get there?”
“Yes, ma’am. Do you know how I can reach any of the girl’s relatives? She said her parents died in a fire that also killed her little brother and her cat. She said she’s been living with you and Rory. Do you have legal custody of her?”
“Officer, can we please discuss this when I get there?”
“Thirty minutes, you say?”
“See you then, ma’am.”
Archer hung up, threw her cell phone on to the seat next to her. Life certainly was a highway, leading her off a cliff, head-banger music blaring off-key.
The next chapter will be posted tomorrow.
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