twenty minutes between Diana's departure and closing time
I decided I would indeed see her again and show her my sketches.
Why not? She had been much nicer than I could ever have expected
and it felt wrong to blame her for Jason's behavior. In the
back of my mind, I thought it likely that Diana would need
my company during her stay with Jason's family. Though Amanda
and Jason were decent enough people, I could not imagine a
young Chinese-American woman comfortable in a home where Lore
Harnisch popped up daily to insult her and no one had the
backbone to do more than say, "Mother, please!"
or roll his or her eyes in exasperation.
I had heard Jason's grandmother hold forth on every racial,
ethnic, and religious group in the country of which she was
not a member, and her comments were truly offensive. She made
Mike McLaren seem like a paragon of openness by comparison.
I was sure that a dirt farmer's daughter would start to look
good to her as a Jason's girlfriend when compared with someone
from a different race. I have to admit that I was surprised
at how much I looked forward to allying myself with Diana
and taking on the old woman.
Partly too, I was flattered by Diana's response to me. And
she had impressed me with the way she'd announced that she
wrote children's books, as if she had a whole string of publishers
lined up and waiting to put out her work as soon as she found
an illustrator. At the time I thought her certainty was mostly
bravado, but I liked it. It seemed so powerful.
So between feeling as if Diana needed me and admired me, I'd
taken enough of a liking to her to overlook the fact that
I'd been thinking of her for quite a while as the girl who
stole my boyfriend. And I admit that in the back of my mind
I hoped that my befriending her would send a message to Jason
as well, though I had no idea what kind of a message I wanted
that to be.
I was still on edge about how to tell my parents about Donald's
drug dealing, but I felt so much more settled in my mind about
Jason and Diana that I was in a good mood when I got home.
I should have known better than to expect it to last.
When I walked in through the front door, I hung up my coat
and walked down the hall towards the kitchen. That's where
I usually found a note from my mother telling me how much
of dinner she'd made and what else I needed to do that evening.
Sometimes I found my mother herself, usually dressed for work
and in a hurry to leave. But this evening she sat at the kitchen
table, a cold cup of coffee in front of her. She was dressed
in the old sweater and stretchy pants that she wore to clean
house. And she had an unlit cigarette in her hand. The house
didn't smell of smoke, and I was glad because my mom had quit
smoking shortly before Donald was born, but I wondered why
she was holding that cigarette, staring into space.
"Mom?" I said tentatively. "Is something wrong?"
She turned her head and looked at me almost as if she didn't
know me. Then she took a deep breath and said very clearly,
"I hope you're proud of yourself."
As was so often the case when I was being blamed for something,
I had no idea what I was supposed to have done. In the past
I'd often reverted to a childish whine of "what did I
do?" when spoken to in that way, but this time I didn't.
"What happened?" I asked.
"Donald was arrested again," she replied, glaring
at me, "for driving around in the stolen car you gave
him the money to buy. How could you. Lisa? What were you thinking
I resisted the temptation to laugh out loud since I was as
likely to buy Donald a car as I was to fly under my own wing
power. I shook my head. "I never gave Donald money for
a hamburger, let alone a car."
"Well," she said briskly, "that's not what
he says. If you didn't give him the money, where did he get
I took a deep breath and spilled the beans, "Drugs,"
I said. "He's been selling drugs."
She shook her head. "That's just ridiculous," she
insisted. "He doesn't even use drugs. He swore that to
me. He was just naïve enough to hold something for one
of his friends, that's all. He didn't know he had drugs."
I made eye contact with her and held it. "Mom, he uses
and he sells."
She shook her head more violently this time and went back
on the attack. "You know that we need money and that
your father wants to limit Donald's access to those rotten
kids he likes to hang around with. How could you do it, Lisa?
How could you be so thoughtless?"
I knew it was time to change the subject and get some real
information. I'd noticed when I walked up to the door that
the truck was missing and had assumed my father had gotten
another hauling job, but now it seemed more likely he'd gone
to get my brother out of custody.
"Did dad go down to the juvie to get Donald?" I
She shook her head. "Second offense. He's at the police
station being processed for jail. Seems a shame at sixteen.
But you know how it is today."
I wondered, not for the first time, if Donald had really gotten
rid of all the drugs he'd kept in that Crane's jar or if he'd
just told me that to pacify me and get me off his back. If
the police had found him transporting illegal substances in
a stolen car, he'd be in real trouble. I was pretty mad at
him for claiming that I'd given him the money for his car,
but I felt sorry for him at the same time. He'd wanted wheels
so badly, and when he finally got them, they were hot and
landed him in jail. I wondered if he'd told the police I'd
given him the money or just my parents.
My mom kept sitting at the kitchen table, just staring at
turns out into space and over at me.
"Did you get someone to cover for you at the home?"
She nodded. "Syl said we could trade off on the weekend.
She needs to go down to Texas to see her daughter."
"Well, maybe you better try to get some sleep,"
She shook her head and pouted. "How can you think I'd
sleep with my baby in jail?"
"Well," I said, "I need to work tomorrow and
I have a test to prepare for, so I'm going upstairs."
"Do what you want," she mumbled.
room I stared at my textbook for a few minutes and then gave
up. I paced for a while and then went out into the hall where
the phone was and dialed Miss Carswell's number. There was
no answer and she didn't have her answering machine on. I
really wanted her advice, but since I couldn't reach her,
I had to make my own decision. Before I could think too much
or talk myself out of taking action, I found the number for
the police station.. I would see if I could catch my father
and find out exactly what was going on. I didn't want to tell
him about Donald's drug dealing over the phone, especially
not when he was at the police station, but I would let him
know there was more to the story than what Donald was telling
I dialed, but the officer at the desk told me my father had
left for home.
"Did my brother, Donald Dunn, go with him?" I asked.
The officer shuffled some papers and then laughed. "No,
your brother is spending the night with us. Bail will be set
some time tomorrow morning."
"Uh, could you tell me exactly what he's charged with?"
I asked hesitantly.
"Operating a stolen vehicle while under the influence
of an illegal substance, namely marijuana," the officer
replied. "I think your brother has a substance abuse
problem. And he really shouldn't go off and buy himself a
car without making sure the seller really owns it. Kids!"
I finally recognized the voice on the other end of the line.
"This is Officer Searle, isn't it?" I asked.
His younger sister had graduated when I did, only from the
high school in town instead of the county high school. I knew
her because she sometimes subbed at work when one of the tellers
"Yes, it is," he replied with a chuckle. "And
you're Lisa, right?"
I nodded, then remembered that he couldn't see me. "That's
"Well, your brother should not go telling tall tales
about your financing his purchases."
"Oh no!" I moaned. "I'd hoped he'd only said
that to my parents."
The voice on the other end was kind. "No, he was very
eager to claim you'd helped him out so as not to have to explain
to your father where he got the money. Your father didn't
believe him, and neither did anyone here. But he sure has
a friend who's a good forger."
"He had your signature on the vehicle registration form.
It was nearly a perfect match to the one you have on file
at the motor vehicles registry, but not quite. If he'd tell
us who did it, things might go easier with him. He hasn't
been charged for that yet. But he will be if he doesn't identify
I groaned again. Probably he'd given Brenda something that
I'd signed, not expecting the signature to be scrutinized
"Thank you, Officer Searle," I said, eager to get
off the phone before I gave him Brenda's name.
"You're welcome, Lisa," he replied, and I hung up.
almost midnight when my father came home. I had tried to study
and ended up napping, but the sound of my mother yelling at
him downstairs woke me.
"What do you mean, they wouldn't release him? You just
left him there to rot in jail? What kind of father are you
I heard my father grumble something in response, but I couldn't
make out the words. I knew I really didn't want to get in
the middle of their argument, but I felt that I had to go
down and find out what was going on and fill my father in
on what I knew. Since I'd fallen asleep with my clothes on,
it didn't take a minute for me to get downstairs and into
the kitchen where my mother still sat where I'd left her.
My father stood by the stove, watching a pot of water boil.
Usually my mother had coffee or tea ready for him when he
came home, but this time he was on his own. He turned quickly
when he heard my footsteps. I walked over to him and gave
him a hug, which seemed to surprise him.
"I'll make your tea, dad," I said. "Why don't
you sit down?"
He nodded and seated himself at the table but as far away
from my mother as possible. He just kept looking at me with
a perplexed expression on his face.
"I didn't give Donald money for his car," I said,
"but he did tell me he was planning to buy one. I didn't
know exactly what to do because the money he was using was
money he'd earned by selling drugs."
My mother sprang up. "That's a lie, Lisa," she shouted.
My father just grunted. "I figured as much," he
said under his breath.
"I should have said something to you right away as soon
as I found out," I continued, "I realize that now,
but I was trying to protect everyone, you, mom, Donald. I
found an old jar with drugs and money in it in the bathroom
a few days back and confronted him."
My mother put her hands over her ears and stood up. "I
won't listen to this," she shrieked. "Donald needs
defenders, not accusers."
My father stood up and took her by the shoulder. "Go
to bed, Ruthie," he said firmly. "I need to talk
My mother shook her head, but he propelled her gently towards
the stairs. "Yes, Ruthie, you need to sleep."
She kept shaking her head all the way up the stairs.