“Jeff! It’s three o’clock in the morning! You were supposed to be home by one!”
“Yeah…sorry about that, we jus didn’t see what time it was, you know? But hey, isss all good. I’m a gradunate! With honors ma…jush got a little carried away with the cela….celibru….you know, the parting.”
“Oh my God! You’re drunk. Again! Where on earth did you guys get alcohol this time? This isn’t funny Jeff! Boy, you better straighten up and look at me! Forget it! You’re too wasted to understand anything I say. Go to bed, I’m sick of looking at you!”
“Ma, isss not that big a deal.”
“Not that big of a deal?! Damn it, do you know what kind of trouble you could have gotten into? And I bet Todd managed to supply the alcohol huh? Jeff, stand up! I’ve worked damn hard to make sure you had opportunities and a chance to go to college so you wouldn’t have to work so hard to get somewhere like I did. Now here you are on the verge of throwing it away. Colleges don’t offer scholarships to felons and that’s what you’d be if you had gotten into an accident tonight!
Every time you get around Todd you end up in some kind of mess. I’m surprised either one of you graduated what with all the trouble, but that’s it. You will not spend any more time with him you hear me? You’re going to spend your last summer with a nice job. Something to put a little extra money in your pocket when you leave for school”
“Oh so now you want me to work? Thasss funny. I gotta whole summer to juss chill out and thasss what I’m gonna do. Jus chill out and get my mind right for college. I’m not gonna do anything shtupid, so just relax, ma. I got this.”
“Don’t you walk away from me Jeff! Come back here, we’re not through with this!”
But what could she have done? She couldn’t make him get a job. She was just going to have to trust that her boy wouldn’t get himself into any serious trouble.
That argument seemed like eons ago but it had only been a few weeks. Jeff, Jr. hadn’t lived up to his promise to not do anything stupid. In fact, the gun in her lap was proof that he had indeed sunk to the lowest levels of stupidity he could find. Life and death levels of stupidity.
Sade’s mellow voice broke into her thoughts again, “Didn’t I give you all that I had? I gave you all that I had inside, and you took my love, you took, my love”
She had given Jeff, Jr. all she could but it hadn’t been enough. Here she was with a last chance to live up to her responsibility as a parent. She still believed how his life turned out would always depend on her. What she did to him, for him, about him. She knew she had to make things right. She was still his mother and she would do whatever it took to get him out of this mess.
The cops couldn’t be right about what happened. When they showed up on her job, she was sure they were there to tell her Jeff, Jr. had been involved in an accident. That he was hurt, but would be okay and she could visit him in the hospital right away. Instead, once inside her office with the door closed for privacy, they informed her that there had been a shooting a couple of nights ago. There was reason to believe Jeff, Jr. had been involved. They were very nice about it, all reassurance that he was only wanted for questioning and he would be treated just fine if he turned himself in. She wasn’t even sure Todd and Jeff had been at the party they were talking about, let alone that her Jeff was capable of pulling a trigger. There was no way that Jeff fired the fatal shots into that crowd of kids that left one boy dead and two others in critical condition. Her son was going to college damn it!
She had left work shortly after her chat with the police. She wanted a chance to talk to Jeff face-to-face. Of course, he wasn’t home when she got there. She could have called him and told him the cops were looking for him, but she didn’t. If he didn’t know, then he couldn’t be guilty, she convinced herself. She was unaware of the nervous rhythm her heart had assumed or the real reason she decided to clean his room right then.
“I’m just keeping busy until he comes home and we can talk. This will all blow over like it did before.” The lie didn’t sit very well, but it provided enough of a sedative effect to blind her to the growing fear. She was well on her way to putting the whole thing out of her mind, until she found the gun underneath a pile of clothes, presumably the ones he had worn to the party, at the bottom of his closet. Whether he pulled the trigger or not, he was indeed involved.