“I told your mother you were staying with us.” Mrs. Hill told me at dinner. I looked at her and then at her daughter, Katy. I’d been staying with them for two weeks, ever since I skadoodled from the sanitarium my dad had stuck me in. Mrs. Hill, the sanitarium director had sort of helped me get out by happening to mention some maintenance on the facility the offered an exit. She and my mother had been friends for a long time, which was probably the reason her particular clinic was chosen for me. “Your mom has been concerned not knowing where you are and whether you are alright. I just couldn’t keep her in the dark anymore. She was too upset.”
“I understand. Thanks for covering for me. I’ll get going and find somewhere else to go.” I said. I wasn’t angry about this, in fact, I felt kind of shitty about how my mom was probably feeling.
“Not so fast. We talked about things for a while and she’s happy you’re out. She didn’t like the idea of you being in an institution. Your mother doesn’t think you have mental issues, she thinks of you as rambunctious.” I laughed at that. “She told me that your father had decided this and said that when your father set his mind there was no changing it.”
“I don’t understand why she stays with him. He’s such a jerk. Cheats on her, orders her around like she’s a seaman on a ship he captains.”
“She loves him, and you know your mother is a very devout catholic. But that doesn’t mean that she agrees with everything he thinks and does. And, she loves you very much too. Adores you, in fact. What I’m getting at is that she’s not going to tell your father that she knows where you are.” said Mrs. Hill.
“So, I can stay?”
“Well, no. I have certain rules I have to follow and I’ve already broken too many. I could lose my job for what I’m doing.”
“How could anyone find out? Mom isn’t going to say anything, none of us,” I waved in a circle, “is going to talk.”
“Your father has called in the police. You’ve been committed and are, at the moment, considered an escaped mental patient capable of doing harm to yourself or others. The police are going to investigate and they could well show up here. I’d love to help you a little longer and give you time to make a plan, but I can’t afford the risk. Do you see?”
I said I did. “I’m really grateful, Mrs. Hill. I’ll get going in a little while. It’s not like I have to pack or anything.” Very true. I had the clothes on my back.
“I think the morning will be soon enough. You think about where you’re going from here and we can send you off with a good breakfast.” she said. I thanked her.
Later, I had a brainstorm. I had a good friend, Doug, who lived in Wilton. I called him and filled him in on what had been happening. He got the Hill’s number from me and said he’d call me back in a few and went off to talk to his parents. Doug’s mom and dad liked me. Doug was a kid who was skinny and shy, and was a magnet for hazing. I got a kick out of a lot of the same things Doug did, and we’d hang out a lot when I was home from boarding school. When I went to school locally, we were almost inseparable. About fifteen minutes later Katy answered the phone and handed it to me. She looked a bit nervous. “It’s for you. It’s a man.”
“Bob! Hi, it’s John Pearsall, Doug’s dad.”
“Sure, Mr. Pearsall. How are you?”
“Just fine. But it sounds like you have your hands full.” I admitted that yes, I did. Doug’s dad knew and understood the relationship between my father and I and he wasn’t a big fan of my dad. Especially the hitting stuff. “Dougie asked if you could stay with us for a while. We think that under the circumstances, that it would be a good idea. You’re one of Dougie’s best friends and we think well of you, so we can’t have you out like some kind of animal trying to survive.” I kind of thought that was an overstatement, but then again I wasn’t going to argue. We made arrangements to meet the following morning, Mr. Pearsall saying he would pick me up before he went to the office. He was a lawyer and a rather successful one at that, and didn’t punch a timeclock.
I told Mrs. Hill and Katy what I’d arranged, and they seemed relieved that I wouldn’t be out on the street or something. We spent our last night watching Dragnet, The Untouchables and Peter Gunn and eating popcorn. In the morning I had breakfast, and got hugs from both Mrs. Hill and Katy and I set off to meet Mr. Pearsall at the Rexall drug store as arranged.
“Do you have any money?” asked Doug’s dad. I told him no, I was broke. He reached into his pocket and peeled a few bills from a fold. “Here’s fifty-one dollars.” he said. I told him I couldn’t take his money and that he was already helping enough. “Just take it.” he said firmly. “Now, give me a dollar.” I looked at him, confused, but handed over the dollar bill he had handed me with two twenties and a ten. “Okay, you have just hired yourself a lawyer. Representing you in the matter of your commitment. What that does is give you –and me some protection under the law, although I doubt that will be a problem. There’s no reason the police will be looking for you in our neighborhood or home, anyway.” He drove me to his house and Doug and his mom came out to meet me in the driveway. Doug punched me on the shoulder and his mom gave me a peck on the cheek. Mr. Pearsall got back in his car and drove off to work and Mrs. Pearsall, Doug and I went in the house.
to be continued…