I could say that I went right home after my drugstore shift
and told my parents about Donald. I'd like to believe I would
have, if either of them had been there, but I'm not sure.
Sometimes just deciding to do something, especially if the
decision has been difficult, makes me feel as if I've already
accomplished whatever I'd decided to do. In this instance
I didn't get a chance to find out whether I'd have acted on
my decision or not since the only person at home when I got
there was Donald.
My mother had left me a note saying she'd had to go into work
early since the day shift person had come down with the flu
and that my dad had a hauling job that would keep him out
from late afternoon until after midnight. Donald was quite
pleased with himself and told me not to bother cooking his
dinner as he had his wheels and wanted to head into town since
there was no one home to stop him.
"You need to eat," I scolded.
He grinned. "I'll get pizza or a burger. It'll be nice
to be out of the house after dark. I feel as if I've been
a prisoner since I got busted."
I resisted the temptation to tell him that if he got busted
again he'd be a prisoner for real. Instead I followed him
out the door to look at his new vehicle. Only it wasn't anywhere
I could see it.
"So where do have the new wheels?" I inquired.
He turned and look at me as if I were crazy. "You don't
seriously think I'd leave the thing where dad could see it,
do you?" he asked in a tone shot through with incredulity.
"My God, Lisa, you really haven't got a clue, have you?"
"So what's the point of having wheels if you can't keep
the car here to use?"
He laughed. "It's just over at Jordan's," he replied
Jordan was his best friend and a near neighbor. If Donald
went along the road, he'd have to walk three miles, but cutting
across the fields, the trek was only a little over half a
"Does Jordan's dad know you have your car there?"
He snorted. "Half the time Jordan's dad doesn't know
his own name. Of course, he doesn't know."
Brendan Lewis, Jordan's dad, was an alcoholic whose wife had
left him, taking her twin son and daughter with her when they
were toddlers. She'd remarried, but her husband didn't really
want the kids from her first marriage, so she'd shipped them
back to their father, who loved them when he was sober enough
to remember who they were.
Donald had always spent as much time as he could at the Lewis'
place playing with the twins when all of them were still kids.
Now that they were grown it wouldn't have surprised me to
learn that Jordan was involved in Donald's drug dealing. Whatever
Donald did, he did or at least wanted to do as well.
Brenda, named after her father and his favorite child, merely
had an enormous crush on Donald and was willing to grant him
any favors he asked for. Even mom and dad had noticed and
were worried that he'd end up impregnating and having to marry
Brenda because she was so willing to do anything he wanted.
What they didn't know was that Donald's interest in Brenda
wasn't that kind of interest. What he valued above all else
was her uncanny ability to copy. She'd written him many a
note getting his absences excused when he'd cut classes. All
it took was his handing her a shopping list that mom had tossed
in the trash, and she produced a perfect facsimile of mom's
Even I was impressed by Brenda's incredible eye for detail
and her extraordinary coordination. I just wished she'd used
her considerable talent in some other way. Needless to say,
mom and dad had no more idea of what Brenda was doing than
her own father did.
So I wasn't at all surprised to learn that Donald's car was
stowed away somewhere on the Lewis' property. He wouldn't
tell me exactly where, and I didn't press him. I wasn't that
eager to know.
"Go back in the house. It's cold out here," Donald
ordered me. He was right. I hadn't put on a coat when I followed
him outside and with my sweater on over a turtleneck I was
"Don't be too late," I called out after him.
He just shook his head and waved. I watched him take the short
cut behind the barn and disappear. Then I walked back into
the house and put on water for tea.
It took me a few minutes to warm up. I stood by the stove
and watched the kettle start to steam. Once the water was
ready and I'd made myself a small pot of tea, I sat down at
the kitchen table. I wasn't hungry, but I knew I ought to
eat. Instead I sipped my tea and wondered if Donald would
really come home before the curfew that applied to all drivers
under eighteen. He had until one in the morning.
I sat for almost an hour and then decided I was hungry enough
to eat some bread and left-over meat loaf. After that I'd
study for my psychology test.
I must have been sound asleep when Donald got home because
I didn't hear him or my father climb the stairs. I'd studied
until close to eleven and then gone to bed. It was all I could
do not to search the bathroom and Donald's bedroom to see
if he really had gotten rid of the jar full of drugs. I restrained
myself, afraid he'd come in while I was going through his
stuff Besides, he could have hidden the stuff somewhere outside
the house or even taken it with him in his new vehicle.
I wondered how long it would take for his secrets to be discovered.
Someone was bound to see him driving around town and tell
dad or mom. As for his other secret, I shuddered to think
of what might happen when that was discovered. With that thought
in mind that I feel asleep. It was still there when I awoke
the next morning. The other worry on my mind was my psychology
final. It was scheduled for Monday, the evening after the
pen club party. Although I'd studied, I wasn't sure I was
really making progress. Of course, if I decided it was too
hard to face Jason and Diana at the party, I could always
use my need for last minute cramming as an excuse for staying
Dad wasn't around when I went out to do my morning chores,
and I wasn't sure he'd made it home the night before. I knew
Donald had come back because his dirty socks were on the kitchen
table. I sighed and removed them. After I put out breakfast
dishes and put the coffee on, it was time for me to head to
work drags on forever, especially when I have a lot on my
mind. However, my morning at the bank seemed to fly by. A
lot of customers meant that I didn't have time to worry, and
that was good. Some people were coming in to deposit Christmas
bonuses, though I noticed there were fewer than last year.
And many were coming to draw the last of what they had left
in their Christmas club accounts. It was the height of gift-buying
I studied through my lunch hour and then finished my shift
at the bank. My supervisor said the bank manager had some
good news for me and told me to see him at the beginning of
my shift tomorrow. I knew this meant a promotion, but I was
not about to quit my job at Hightower's until it was official.
The sky was already starting to get dark by the time I headed
over to the drugstore. I was five minutes early, but Ernie,
the day clerk, was already waiting to leave. "You're
late!" he growled, pointing at his watch, which he always
had set seven minutes ahead. I grinned at him and pointed
at mine. "Still five minutes to go," I announced
loudly, so everyone in the store could hear. Mrs. Harvey,
the pharmacist, smiled broadly at me. She didn't like Ernie.
"Nice of you to show up early, dear," she said just
as loudly. I smiled at her and locked my tote bag into the
drawer under the cashier's counter. Ernie snorted and left.
Hightower's wasn't quite so busy as the bank, but there were
a few customers wandering around at the start of my shift.
Jerome Finch, the only male nurse in the hospital's emergency
room, greeted me with, "That pregnant girl was discharged."
He shook his head. "A shame to see one so young."
He paid for a bottle of shampoo and a small package of breath
mints and left with a friendly wave.
As the hours of my shift ran down, fewer customers came into
the store. I checked the stock, re-stocked a few items, and
dusted the book rack. I was just beginning to re-organize
the two shelves of greetings cards at the front of the store
when a customer came in. She was about my age, tall and thin
with a noticeable cleft in her chin. I'd never seen her before,
and she stood out because she looked Chinese.
"Hi," she said in a pleasant tone of voice but without
smiling. "I need to get some contact lens cleaner. I
forgot to pack it."
I could have just pointed her in the right direction, but
since the store wasn't busy, I said, "Follow me,"
and led her to the right shelf.
"I can't believe I was so careless," she mumbled.
"Might as well have forgotten my birth control."
I wasn't sure I'd heard right, but that's what I thought she
"Are you visiting?" I asked.
She nodded, peering at the selection of contact lens solutions
on the shelf. "Yes, it's school break and my boyfriend
wanted me to meet his mother." She shook her head. "His
mother is fine, but that grandmother of his is a monster."
I reeled. Could this be Diana? I took a good look at her peering
at the shelf. "You aren't, by any chance, Jason Hardy's
new girlfriend, are you?" I asked, surprised at my directness.
She looked up, perplexed. "How did you
began, but I interrupted her.
"I'm Lisa Dunn," I said, leaning back on my heels
to watch her reaction. Had she ever heard of me? Would she
be embarrassed? Defensive? Smug?
She grinned at me and extended her hand. "You're Lisa?
Wow! I really wanted to meet you. I've heard so much about
you from Jason."
I was surprised at the sincerity and warmth of her voice and
the look of respect that went with her words. She didn't seem
to be uncomfortable at all. Didn't she get it?
I looked her over appraisingly. "So, you're my replacement,"
I said. "Well, I guess Jason could have done worse."
She seemed surprised at my tone and that I didn't shake her
"It would have been nice though if you'd waited to move
in on him until the two of us had broken up."
She looked stunned. "What?" she mumbled. "Jason
always called you the girl he used to go out with back home.
I shrugged. "Forget it. It's not your fault."
"But I feel terrible," she said and seemed to mean
it. Her grin had been replaced by a look of chagrin.
"Well, we never broke up. Of course, you might say that
I should have realized Jason would date someone else once
he left, but it would have been nice if he'd told me."
I said all this while re-arranging the bottles of contact
lens solution that she had picked up and put back down on
"Nice?" she repeated. "NICE! Of course he should
have told you. I don't know what he could have been thinking
of!" She sounded truly perturbed and so outraged on my
behalf that I almost wanted to let her off the hook. Her,
but not Jason.
"Well, I guess guys just don't think about those things,"
I said, wishing she'd just pick a bottle and pay for it so
I could stop trying to figure out the right thing to say.
"You aren't still
," she caught herself not
knowing what to say and then chose her words carefully, "
to him, are you?"
"Attached?" I repeated a little mockingly. "You
mean, am I pining away for Jason?"
"No," I said, and it was true. "I am just offended
at his behavior and appalled that I could have thought so
highly of someone who could treat me like that."
She grinned. "Well, that's good to know. Not because
I think it makes his actions any better but just because
well because it wouldn't be good if you were all down about
I waited. She seemed to want to say more but hesitated and
tapped one of the bottles of contact lens cleaner in a rhythmic
"Yeah, well, that's how it is, I guess," I said
She pursed her lips for a second and wrinkled her nose. "You
know, it would be really nice if the two of us could manage
not to let this stop us from getting to know each other."
Getting to know each other? I had no clue what she was talking
"I write children's books," she said. "And
I need someone who can illustrate them. Jason said you did
great drawings of animals, plants, and kids. I was going to
ask if I could see some of your work."
I stared at her blankly.
"Of course, if you didn't want to have anything to do
with me because of Jason, I'd understand. I'd feel really
bad about it, but I would understand." She sighed. "I'd
try to anyway. But really, I wasn't that interested in coming
here to meet Jason's mother, though she seems very nice. I'm
just not that serious about him. But when he said he knew
a girl who had great talent as an illustrator, well, that
really caught my attention." She smiled a little shyly.
"I hope you'll think about what I said."
She picked up a bottle of contact lens solution and held it
out. "I'll take this one," she said.
I took it from her hand and led her to the cash register.
She paid me, thanked me, apologized again for her part in
what Jason had done, and was gone, leaving me chewing on my
thumbnail in total bewilderment at the strange turn events