Reposted from The Dreaming Tree: The Story of Audrey Moore
Nigel Stern yanked the round tab on the rolled down blind in his son’s room so that it snapped and recoiled loudly. The small room flooded with the mid day sunlight and Malcolm cried out and retreated farther under his covers like a vampire.
“It is eleven o’clock. Get up and do something productive.” Nigel barked. “Maybe you can tackle a few of those scholarship applications you keep missing the deadline on. God I’m getting too old for this shit.”
Malcolm was Nigel and his wife Valerie’s youngest. He had been a bit of an accidental afterthought in their child rearing plans. Their daughter Celia was 19 years older than her brother and worked as a physician in a small family practice in New Teasdale.
Malcolm’s reply was feeble and muffled “Dad, I had a late night. I don’t work today. Can a guy sleep in on his day off?”
Nigel exhaled loudly and then pulled back the covers. When he saw his son’s face he gasped and yelled “What the hell happened to your eye?!”
Malcolm sat up slowly and touched his obvious shiner with the tips of his fingers and then winced “I walked into a door….”
His father folded his arms and rooted his wide stance as he shook his head “Oh really? What’s the other door look like? Where was this?!”
“For fuck’s sakes Dad! Dave and I got pulled into a fight at the Hartwell.” Malcolm retorted.
Nigel threw up his hands and rolled his eyes “Dave, of course it was Dave. It’s always Dave!”
“It wasn’t our fault! Three guys were kicking another guy’s ass – a little guy too. One of them was ready to cut him.”
His father looked pained “Jesus Malcolm! You’re lucky they didn’t cut you then. Did anyone call the cops?”
Malcolm rolled his head side to side on his neck and rubbed the back of it where Nigel could see more bruising “I dunno. I don’t think so. It was fast and I was a bit drunk….”
“Did you drive home?” Nigel asked worriedly.
“Gimme a fuckin break! No I didn’t drive, Dave did. He didn’t even have time for a whole beer before it all happened. We went to watch the game, not fight anyone. They weren’t from around here.”
“Get dressed. I’m taking you to Celia before I go back to the office. I just came back home to grab a document I forgot this morning.”
Malcolm protested “I’m fine, just a few bumps….seriously.”
“You will go see your sister at the clinic with no more arguments.” Nigel left the room before there was time to even consider a rebuttal.
As he re-closed the small brass latch of his leather briefcase the doorbell rang. Nigel’s expression became grave as he opened the door.
A vaguely familiar officer from the Strange County Sheriff’s Office squared his shoulders and hitched his belt slightly as he made his request. He recognized Nigel from his firm’s presence in the town immediately “Mr. Stern could we have a word with your son Malcolm?”
Nigel’s briefcase fell to the floor with a soft thud. It was becoming a long day.