“Mistakes Were Made” – Part Two
I have to admit – I didn’t expect to see a guy’s son do a B&E on his father’s home, but that’s what it was. I’d handcuffed the kid to the door of a car that cost more than I’ve made in my entire life. I hope he doesn’t scratch it.
The kid had a scowl on his face for me. He also had the start of a decent black eye and a lump on his skull where I whacked him. Hey! You pull a knife on me I’m not going to pour you a cup of tea.
The Old Man, Van Swearigin, wasn’t looking too happy either. I was beginning to think that Charlie was what they call a “Problem child,” and that he’d worn steel bracelets before. He may have been no more than 17 years old, but that knife of his made him as old as Cain.
“What’s up, Pop?” The kid had a permanent sneer going for his father.
“Charlie, what’s this all about?” His voice was strained, but controlled. “Looking to hotwire one of the cars for a little ride?”
Charlie looked up at his father from the garage floor, but said nothing more. He yanked at the cuffs like he could break loose that way.
The Old Man looked at me, but said nothing. I think he was embarrassed that I was there and seeing inside his less than perfect family.
“How have you been, Charlie?” he asked his son. “Do you have a job? Making ends meet?”
His kid is sitting on the floor of a garage, handcuffed, with a black eye and a knot on his skull and he asks him if he’s paying his gas bill. Some family. The kid kept yanking at the bracelet.
“Get this off of me and I’ll get out of here so you can go back to bed. I won’t bother you anymore.” He said “bother you” with a real sneer. Any kid of mine talked to me like that and I’d… Yeah, fat chance of that.
The two of them just stared at each other for a minute and then the Old Man turned to me.
“Cut him loose. Your name is Tim, right? There’s no point in keeping him down there.”
I told Charlie to scoot back. I didn’t want him trying to bite me or anything while I was getting back my cuffs. Those are mine. I had to pay for them. He did what he was told. I think he knew that if he got stupid on me that I’d rearrange his teeth. I don’t care if his old man was standing there or not. As I gave him back his hand he mumbled, “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” I whispered back. “Let’s not do this again sometimes.”
Cut loose the kid stood up and dusted himself off. He ignored the little beating I’d given him like it happened every day. Without another word he headed for the door. His Old Man looked older than he did a few minutes before.
“Son… Charlie…Can I help you? Can I give you anything? Anything at all?”
Charlie stopped, one hand on the door, and looked back at his father.
“No.” was all he said. He looked over at me. Gave me a little nod, a gesture of professional courtesy. Opposite sides in the same game. He was already a crook and I represented the Law, the Society that fought back. “No,” and he was gone into the dark.
We all stared at the door for a second then Van Swearingen turned his attention to Marty who was looking as uncomfortable as a mink coat on a wire hanger.
“Marty, get out of here. I don’t want to see you here again. I will be talking to your father about this. He needs to do something before you end up dead or in prison.”
I cut in.
“For you, kid, prison would equal dead. You wouldn’t make it through the first night. They’d eat you alive.”
The Old Man nodded and Marty began to cry like a baby. That’s what he was.
“Get off my property, Marty. If I see you here again…” He let the rest of his sentence be written inside Marty’s head.
The kid ran through the door and disappeared.
The two of us just stood there in the night. Van Swearingin spoke first.
“And you. I expressly told your agency that I wanted no guns. It’s a good thing you had one though. He would have cut you to the bone.”
“Sir, I’ve been carrying a weapon for a few years now, mainly an M-1 or a .45. I’d feel naked without one.”
“I understand. I was in the last war. That’s why I hate them.”
He started for the door. Tonight was over. He had his hand on the doorknob when he stopped. Without turning to look at me he gave me an order.
“By the way, Tim – you’re fired and be back here at Noon. You’re my new head of security.”
To be Continued