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Chapter 16: Scene 59: Calling home


       After dinner, I walk through the parlor and tap on the glass door that opens into a little room Mr. Montgomery calls his office. "Welcome, John. Join me. What can I do for you?" He swivels around from the roll top desk and leans back in his oak captain's chair. His beard spreads out over his chest and his glasses slide down on his nose, making him look like some scary-movie Santa Claus. He tilts back in his chair. "You have some questions?"

       "No, I mean, I'd like to make a collect call home to my mother. I want her to know where I am."

       "I don't know about that. Let me look at the papers that fellow Jerry left with me." He thumbs through a file folder on the desk. Surprise. They have a folder on me here, too.

       "Here it is. Yes, you're allowed." He looks over his glasses at me. "Some boys can't contact their homes, you know." Montgomery dials and waits while the call goes through. Why doesn't she answer? Where the heck are they? Somebody should be in the house this time of night.

       Finally, Montgomery hands the phone to me. "A man accepted the call. You can talk for five minutes. No use tying up the phone or running up their bill." He walks through the open glass door and stands where he can still hear.

       It's Pete who answers. He yells at me. "That you, John?" He always talks too loud on the phone. He thinks he has to get his voice all the way to where the other guy's calling from. "You there, John?" he booms. "I don't know about accepting these charges. Your mom's not here. I suppose that means I have to pay for..."

       I break in. "Pete, you gotta listen to me. Where's Mom? Has something happened to her?"

       "She's OK. Far as I know."

       "I need to tell her I've been moved to a group home . It's the Montgomery place in Kenwood , a little town off I-5." I read off the address and phone number. "Pete! Are you there? Pete!"

       "Hold your horses. Looking for some paper and this pencil's busted." I hear him shuffling through stuff. "We thought we'd be hearing from you one of these days. Keeping your nose clean ?"

       "What about Mom!" Getting stuff out of Pete's like getting teeth out of a hen.

       "Yeah, about your mom. She don't live here any more."

       "She what?" I suck in my breath. "Where does she live? Where are Nick and Lori?"

       "She moved out. Left with baggage and both kids."

       "Left? Where'd she go? When did she...?"

       "Got married."

       "Married?" I flop down hard in Montgomery's desk chair. He sticks his head in and gives me a dirty look.

       Pete's rambling on. "Said she married that Ryan. The one over in Philmont County . Ran off just like she did the first time with your dad. Only this time, she's got two kids with her. Some honeymoon , I call it." He snorts so loud I hold the phone away from my ear. "I warned her, just like I warned her the first time, but did she pay any mind to ..."

       "Pete, where is..."

       "She'll come running back, though, mark my words. Just like before. And I'll tell her 'I told you so,' but it won't do no good, any more than it did before."

       "Pete! Tell me. Where is she?"

       "If I hear from her, I'll tell her you called."

       "Didn't she leave a message for me? How about a phone number?"

       "Nope. She said she'd call you later."

       "What's her address?"

ThinkLink: What do you think you would do if you were in Johnís shoes? What would be your biggest worry?

       "Address? She just said she'd send it later. Haven't got it yet. She tried to call you down at that forest camp , but no luck. If she calls me, I'll tell her where you are. Bye, kid." And Pete hangs up on me.

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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