Chapter 15 – The Aftermath
“This is crazy,” I muttered, twisting in the cold metal chair. “We’re eighteen, we don’t have curfew,” I said, raising my voice so the desk sergeant could hear me.
He glanced up and smirked before returning his attention to the computer in front of him. I’d recognized him as one of my Dad's friends as soon as we’d been walked into the station and groaned. Would he call my dad? Could he?
The cop who had picked us up at The Lookout came back from some hidden office, papers in hand. “Okay…”
“Sir, as I tried to tell you, we’re both eighteen,” I interrupted him.
“I realize that. And while that excuses you from curfew, it doesn’t excuse you from counts of trespassing or public indecency,” he said, pulling a chair over to sit in front of the two of us. “Listen, this can go one of two ways. You can both stick to your ‘we’re eighteen and legal adults’ thing and be held here overnight. Or, we can call your parents and let this go with a warning as a ‘teen indiscretion’. But for that to happen, parents will be involved. Choice is yours,” he stood up and strolled over to the empty desk, leaving Erik and I to consider our options.
“My dad is going to kill me…” I whispered, leaning against Erik’s shoulder.
He responded by putting his arm around my shoulders. “Doubt it, he’ll be disappointed but he’s pretty tolerant.”
“How can you say that? He’s pretty much hated you for the last four years Erik.”
“He’s just looking out for you Gin, that’s what dads are supposed to do,” Erik said. “Let’s just make the calls and get it over with, far better than spending the night here.”
“Yeah, you're right,” I frowned and looked over toward our officer. He pointed at the phone on the desk when he saw me glance his way. With a heavy sigh, I pushed myself to my feet and pulled the jacket tighter around me as I walked over. “So how does this work?”
“Well that’s up to you – I could call your father and tell him what happened. Or you can, but I’d ask that you put it on speaker phone then, so I know you’re not talking to voicemail or something. Just depends on how you think he’d respond best.”
I looked back at Erik, who merely shrugged, and then back at the phone. “Probably better coming from me huh?”
“That’s usually the case, yes. Dial 9 for an outside line.” He held the receiver out to me and pushed the speaker button as I started to dial.
The ringing seemed to last forever, racking up my nerves with each ring. After a half dozen rings, Dad finally picked up. “Hello?”
“Um, hey Dad,” I said, gulping. I could feel the waterworks starting up and tried to stop them before Dad heard. Erik put a hand on my back, squeezing my side reassuringly.
“Ginny? Ginny, are you okay?” Fear filled his voice as his seemed to be assessing the situation.
“Yeah, I’m fine…” I choked the words out. “Well not. Not totally fine…” I looked over at Officer Denson. He nodded and tried to look comforting. With a deep breath I plunged forward, pushing the words out in one long, breathless stream. “Imatthepolicestationandneedyou.”
“Police station?!” Dad was shouting now, though more in fear than anger. “Ginny what happened?”
“Ginny! Slow down, I can’t understand you very well,” Dad interrupted my second stream of incoherent babbling.
I took a long, slow breath and wiped away the tears on my face. “We were at the Lookout, and we were…well…” I shifted from one foot to the other. Though Erik and I had been sleeping together for months, something I was sure my dad knew, I had not been put in the position of confirming it until now.
Thankfully, Dad seemed to put the pieces together without me saying the words. “I think I get it,” he said, his voice strained. “Have you been arrested?”
Officer Denson shook his head. “No…”
“I’ll be there soon.” Dad didn’t say goodbye or that he loved me, he just hung up the phone.
I replaced the receiver and looked over at Officer Denson. “Now what?”
“Now it’s his turn,” he pointed to Erik.
Erik looked down at his feet and shoved his hands in his pockets. I glanced back at him and chewed on my lower lip before speaking up, “well, Erik’s dad is…um…”
Officer Denson waited patiently, looking between the two of us. “He’s a drunken bastard,” Erik said bitterly, still looking down.
Denson, though startled, nodded. “You’re last name is Langston right?” He looked down at the paperwork to confirm, “so your father is Hank Langston?” Hank was a familiar face around here and known to everyone in the building probably. Erik merely nodded. “Okay, how about your mom?”
“She lives on the other side of the country. Don’t think she’ll be much good here,” Erik said.
“If she and Mr. Bartlett agree, he can ensure you get home tonight.”
“Yeah, like that’ll happen,” Erik muttered under his breath. “Fine, fine.” Like me, he punched the number into the phone and we all waited while the phone on the other end rang.
I cringed when Erik’s mom answered, her voice sounding sleepy and irritated. There was a three hour time difference between us, meaning it was about four in the morning for her. “Hello?!” she snapped.
“Hi Mom,” Erik said, rubbing his forehead with his free hand.
“Erik? Do you know what time it is here?”
“Yeah, sorry about that Mom. I wouldn’t have called but Dad is, well useless and…” Erik trailed off.
“What is it Erik? Spit it out already! Are you hurt? In some sort of trouble?”
“I’m at the police station. Gin and I got picked up after curfew for…” Erik glanced at me and grimaced before continuing, “public indecency.”
“Oh Erik! I cannot believe you’re doing this to me again…” Erik dropped his eyes and groaned as she berated him over the speaker phone about some prior incident. “You’re coming home; clearly your father is incapable of…”
“I am not,” Erik interrupted. “First off, I’m eighteen, I’d sooner move out on my own here. And besides, it was under your ‘care’ last time.” We all heard her sputtering a bit on the other line so Erik plunged on. “Look, if it’s okay with you, can Mr. Bartlett just take care of this tonight?”
“Fine, whatever Erik!” And the line went dead. Like Dad, she didn’t say goodbye or anything else. The difference was that I knew my dad would give me a hug before he punished me. He would tell me he loved me by the time we got home. Erik wouldn’t have either of those things.
Officer Denson looked uncomfortable as he placed the receiver back on the base. “Why don’t you two have a seat while we wait for your dad Ginny.”
I took Erik’s hand and intertwined my fingers with his as we waited. As much as I tried to ignore it, the suggestion that Erik had been picked up by the police before lingered in my mind. How did I not know about this? When had this happened? “Erik…”
Erik must have sensed what I was going to ask as he tensed up before turning toward me. “Yes Gin?”
“Why did she say again?” I asked. “What? Did you miss curfew or something?”
“Something like that,” Erik said, leaving the details out intentionally. He was no longer looking at me. “It was a couple summers ago and no big deal really.”
“Okay, then what happened?” I asked, trying to sound only casually interested. I would probably regret pushing the issue but I couldn’t seem to help myself.
“Why do you even care Gin?” Erik asked, irritation radiating from his body.
I shrugged and pulled away from him, “I guess I don't," I said annoyed. "I just figured that might be something you’d share with your girlfriend is all.” I crossed my arms across my chest and leaned away from him.
“Well we weren’t together at the time,” Erik said. "So you weren't my girlfriend." We were both silent then, neither willing to speak first and bridge the gulf between us.
The silence gave me more time to think than I probably needed. I didn’t believe that it was merely a matter of curfew or he would have said as much. So what had he been doing?
While all the scenarios ran through my mind, Erik was shifting and fidgeting in his seat. “It was the summer after freshman year. I was out with Val, we lost track of time just like tonight…”
“Val...” My stomach flipped at the mention of that girl. Though we weren't a couple at the time and it obviously wasn't like cheated on me, I still couldn't stop the surge of jealousy. “Just like tonight?”
Erik got quiet again. He didn’t need to answer my question and I’m not sure I really wanted him to anymore.
“Wow…well that’s just…I...” I trailed off, struggling to find words for the feelings I was having.
“Gin…” Erik reached out for my hand but I pulled it away from him. “Seriously Gin? We were broken up! It was nearly three years ago…”
“I know! I know that…I just thought…” I looked away from him, afraid my face would betray my anger towards him. I shouldn't be angry! He was right!
“What? What did you think?” Erik asked, snapping at me and jumping to his feet. He paced the small space between the desks, avoiding eye contact with me.
I pulled my legs up into the chair and hid my face in my knees. I couldn’t stand to watch him right now. I couldn’t be angry with him for something that happened that summer but I couldn’t deny the sting of betrayal.
We were still carefully avoiding each other when my dad came into the station. After glancing at me and glaring at Erik, he approached the desk and had a lengthy conversation with Officer Denson. “Well come on you two,” Dad said, after shaking the police officer’s hand.
Erik said nothing until we were outside the station. “If you could drop me off at Bellow’s, I need to see if my dad got home alright,” he said. “Besides, that’s where Gin’s car is parked.”
Though Dad was inclined to argue with him or lecture us for our actions, his lips became thin and he simply nodded. He slammed his door with more force than I was accustomed to and drove in utter silence.
The truck sat waiting for us with Mr. Langston still sleeping peacefully inside. How many hours had it been since we’d put him in there? I followed Erik to the truck door, aware of my Dad’s eyes on my back. Though I was still hurt, I didn't want to end our night on such a sour note. “I had a good time…up until that cops anyway,” I said with a light laugh.
Erik’s eyes were trained over my shoulder, no doubt looking at my dad. His lips were drawn tight and he pulled away as I reached for him. “Yeah well…I’ll see you later Gin.”
“Hey…can I get a goodnight kiss?” I pouted playfully, hoping to draw out the flirty side of him.
“Your Dad is watching. In fact, if looks could kill….”
“I don’t care,” I said as I wrapped my arms around his neck. “I want a good night kiss.”
The corners of Erik’s mouth turned up a fraction of an inch. “Oh fine, if you insist…” It was a brief kiss, in the grand scheme of kisses, but it was sweet and exquisite in that moment. “Now you really better go before he gets out of that car. Love you.”
“Love you too,” I said, smiling as I backed away from him.
When I turned around, Dad was scowling but I ignored it and focused on more peaceful moments. “I’ll follow you home,” he said tersely.
“I know how to get home Dad,” I said immediately, then wished I could call the words back.
“I will follow you home.” It wasn’t a suggestion or up for debate so I nodded.
As he wasn’t afforded the luxury of lecturing me on the drive home, Dad started in as soon as we both got out of the cars. “What were you thinking Ginny? Curfew is one thing…it’s Friday and you’re a senior, I could forgive that but nudity?”
“I WASN’T nude! What did Officer Denson tell you?”
“He told me enough. You certainly weren’t one hundred percent clothed…and what you were doing when he drove up…”
“We were completely alone until that point, there’s not even a house within a mile of the Lookout Dad,” I argued. I knew, even as I said it, that it was a foolish rebuttal and hung my head. “We were in the moment and just…lost track. Didn't you ever lose track of time Dad?”
Dad sighed, shaking his head, “well that may be so but you’re still grounded.”
“Dad! I’m eighteen – I think grounding effectively stops when one becomes a legal adult!”
“Well you still live here and my rules trump legal adulthood Genevieve. You broke curfew, you got picked up by a police officer while having sex with your boyfriend on someone else's property. I think that qualifies for being grounded for a few weeks. And your little stunt has nearly ruined a perfectly good evening for Jennifer and me.” His eyes trailed toward the house for a moment before snapping back toward me. "Now I want you to get cleaned up and go to bed – we'll finish this in the morning."
“Is she still here? Seriously?” My head was full of years of bottled up teen rebellion as I ran for my dad’s bedroom. I threw open the door and charged forward, looking for my former teacher. I didn’t have to look far as she was lying across his bed, with his robe delicately around her waist. “Wow…so did he do it?” I asked bitterly. I looked at her finger, hunting for the ring I’d seen on his dresser a few weeks earlier.
She held up her hand and smiled, perhaps assuming I'd asked out of genuine excitement. “I know this is all a shock for you Ginny but I really would like to be your friend.”
“My friend?! You’re my teacher! Teachers are not supposed to be friends with their students!” I hollered.
“Genevieve! That is enough! Go to your room!” Dad reached deep inside, pulling out the dreaded parent voice that usually left me obedient.
“Ugh,” I shoved past him. “Congratulations!” I shouted ingenuously as I stomped my way through the house like a spoiled child having a tantrum. Doors slammed in my wake but no one paid them any mind. When I threw myself on my bed, I regretted nearly every decision I’d made in the last two hours, from pushing Erik to answer for something that didn’t concern me to yelling at Jennifer and Dad.
I lay awake for over an hour, trying to make sense of my erratic behavior and figure out how to make amends. Simply apologizing didn’t seem like enough after so much angst directed at Dad but it was all I could really offer, other than my very best behavior.
After awhile, I got to my feet and walked through the upstairs to the balcony that over looked the pool. Dad’s bedroom lights were off thankfully. Across the yard, however, I could see Todd’s window glowing with life. I chewed on my lower lip and looked back toward Dad’s darkened room. He would never know.
Quietly, I slipped down the stairs and slid open the door. I darted across our pool deck and through Todd’s yard. Even though it was now after two in the morning, I hefted myself up the tree and rapped on his window. “Please be awake, please be awake…”
The blinds parted, revealing Todd’s eyes. I saw them light up on recognizing me and in a few moments he was pulling me into his room like old times. “Ginny? What are you doing here?”
“I needed a friend,” I said. He nodded and I fell into his open arms.