Operator: Part Fourteen of Angel
“ . . . it's so hard to control
there's this feeling in my chest
lump in my throat
knot in my arms
i feel disappointed
i've been manipulated
maybe that's why i feel this way
they convinced me to do something i said i wouldn't
he said he wouldn't . . .”
After two nights, and a half a day, his mom called to tell him he had to go home. I was sad to see him leave but, in another sense, I was relieved. I felt like I had been putting on a different face while I was around him. What I was doing to Macy was a different thing all together. After Sam and I had our initial conversation at the dinner table, we didn't bring up our exes anymore. So, at least I didn't have to lie to him again. Even though I felt like that's what I was doing every moment we were together. But, I know if I had told him, he would have given me the same look that Carol had. Or something similar and just as pitiful.
My new bed was soft and warm. It hugged me when I lay upon it. Macy had bought a duvet filled with down. It was as white and clean and comfy as the pillows, which were so plump and squishy that I wanted to drown in them. When I'd asked Macy why she'd bought them for me, she'd replied, with a shrug, she's always wanted a bed for this room.
I lay in the dark, staring at the ceiling. The events of the night before trickled through my mind. My fingers traveled down the sense-trail, grazing over my nipples and down further, past my navel. Sam had turned me over and lifted me up, so he could kiss me there. I could feel myself swell. I can't even begin to describe the delicious feeling that spread through my body. Under the covers, I brought my knees to my chest. I could still feel him sliding in and out. I'd never cummed without touching myself before. Afterwards, he spooned me and kissed my neck and whispered soothing words in my ear.
Afterwards, I lay there, panting, tingling all over with just the memories. I rolled over. My back felt cold. My bed felt empty. Funny, it hadn't been a big deal until I was finally ready to sleep. The jeans I was wearing that day hung across from me, on the back of the computer chair. I could see the note Sam slipped me (with the number to the phone in his room) sitting on the computer desk. There was another note right next it. When I had found it, I wondered what it was. But when I unfolded it, I found Cole's hand-writing.
I should email him, I thought.
I threw on my gym shorts and padded over to the computer. I watched the “Loading . . .” bar slide across the screen. In the kitchen, I heard the stove click on. A pot was being placed on the burners.
Cole sat staring at his empty inbox. God, this was such a regular occurrence that it began to hurt. He'd tried willing Adam to email him, to no avail. He wished, prayed and begged for the email, to no avail. And Adam was so close to writing it that Cole found it even more frustrating. Whether or not he could sense that the email was going to arrive-- which might explain why he had been glued to his computer-is anyone's guess. But the frustration came more from his refusal to believe (or even to think) that Adam wouldn't contact him. They'd shared so much in that one night. Cole couldn't deny the spark that he'd felt, the kinship . . . .
Macy sat silently, in the kitchen, staring out into space. A lazy coffee maker spat noisily into its spittoon. She looked up suddenly, as Adam opened his door quietly to peer out at the source of the noise. Poochie, who had--until then-- been sitting beneath the kitchen table, came towards Adam, wagging his tail.
“Oh,” Adam said, “You're awake.”
“So are you,” Macy replied.
She couldn't sleep. Adam's arrival and his subsequent trysts had provided more time for Macy to worry. Jack hadn't called back. And the dream that Adam had. Helen had said it could be a sign of post-traumatic stress. She said that, from what Macy had told her, she was almost certain that's what caused the night terror.
Macy was beginning to build a case. Adam had been abused all through childhood and up to the point that he ran away-because of unknown circumstances. But what happened that night? Bringing Helen into the mess by asking her advice wasn't helping things either. Well, the advice was great; but Helen was a mandated reporter. She told Macy she wouldn't go to the CPS right away, but it had to happen sometime. It was Helen, not Macy, who brought up the idea that, perhaps, something very terrible had happened at home. Something like death. For, if Adam hadn't run from the beating he was receiving (which were very horrible, Macy saw the stains on Adam's body from the messes his father had made), what would he have run from?
It had been on the tip of Macy's tongue, and shoved into the back of her mind. But it stared at her, still. Whispering and planting silent screams of logic inside an otherwise quieted and subdued mind. Sooner or later, Adam would have to come clean. He knew it was true, but it was too scary to look in the eyes; even though it was in front of him, staring with teeth like the jagged rocks at the bottom of a precipice.
Cole just sat there, with his face in his hands, feeling pull of the whirlwind that surrounded him. The invisible drain he seemed to be on the outside of, ready to slide into. He knew what Adam was going through was hard. He just didn't know that he would soon become a part of the script.
Jack sat inside the living room, putting together pieces of a puzzle. Macy had called three times in the last week. Adam was missing. No one had found either Eve, or Scott. No word from anyone else. He was fired, and Adam's school thought they were on a vacation. They were away to attend a family wedding. None of Adam's friends knew where he was. Jack told me that he would find Adam.
But the more he sat there, the less was getting done. But we really didn't have to look that hard. We knew where he had ended up. We could tell by her voice. Jack always knew when Macy was hiding something. He couldn't help but feel a little bit like the seeker, sneaking up on Macy, hiding, unsuspecting and totally susceptible. That night, he loaded up his truck and set off for Pennsylvania. That was the night Sam met Adam.
I sat down across from Macy. The light from the overhead ventilation unit on the stove dimly outlined the objects around us, and spotlighted the pot of coffee. Macy looked at me; or more correctly, she looked through me. She seemed to consider me then. But I could tell she was sifting through me and what had been going on. I could tell she was close to asking me. This was the look she'd be wearing lately. It was a look of contemplation. The look of a cool detective slowly putting the pieces together. I could hear Detective Colombo tell me the gig was up. Except that it was Macy, with Detective Colombo's voice.
“I'm having a hard time piecing together what happened on the night you ran away.” She told me.
My heart began to race, “Oh.”
“I can't get a hold of your father or your mother.” Macy told me. “I've left a few messages, but none of them have been returned. I've even tried calling at different times of the day.”
The coffee was ready and she poured herself a cup. “I'm sorry, did you want a cup?”
“No, thanks,” I stood. “I'll just get some water.”
While my back was turned to her, she popped the question. “Why do you suppose no one is answering the phone at your house?”
“I don't know.” I turned the cold-water knob and began to fill my glass. He's probably coming here, I thought.
She stirred in sugar, from a jar on the table, and cream from a crate beside the jar. Macy watched me sit across from her again. I took deep gulps of water. My heart was beating so hard I thought it would fly out of my chest. No cliché intended.
“Adam,” Macy began, “I know something happened the night you ran away. Don't get angry when I tell you that I've been talking with Helen-don't worry, Sam doesn't know. She thinks what happened that night, when you were in a panic, was the result of something that happened in your home. Would that be a safe assumption?”
No comment. “Maybe.”
“Helen says that what happened that night was congruent with the symptoms she's seen in kids who've been mistreated, like you've been.”
I took another sip of water. Macy just stared at me, coolly.
“Now, I don't want you to tell me something you don't want to. And I definitely don't want to try and force you into telling me something that isn't true. But, Helen is a licensed therapist.” Macy wanted to make sure we were on the same page. “Do you know what that means?”
“Not really,” But I didn't even want to see eye-to-eye; much less share a book with her.
“That means that she's a mandated report. She is required by law to report child abuse to the Child Protective Services.” Macy took another sip from her coffee cup.
I felt indignant, all of a sudden.
“Like I said,” She continued, “I don't want to force you into telling me something that you don't want to. But, you have to realize, Helen can only wait for so long. She thinks all of this hush-hush around why you're here may have something to do with a little more than just beatings. Helen thinks that, maybe, something happened that made you leave suddenly?”
Scott appeared next to her. It was how I remembered him. Not some sort of gross, sci-fi idea of what someone looks like decomposing. I looked away. I couldn't look at him in the eyes.
“My dad's an asshole, that's all.” My mom's words were coming out of my mouth. “Nothing happened, really.”
But Macy wouldn't give up the fight. And Scott was still sitting next to Macy when I looked back. Therefore, I looked into my water glass.
“Do your parents know you're here?” Macy asked.
“No,” I brushed a hand across my throat, there was a knot forming there.
“So you left without telling them?”
She studied me then. She's probably planning her next move. I'd read somewhere, about interrogation techniques. This wasn't too far away from them. I'd never heard of anyone using the undead as persuasion before. But there's a first time for everything.
“What happened the night that you ran away?”
Scott stared at me. His eyes were pleading. What a terrible figment of my imagination. I was going crazy. I had to be. This had to be a bad dream. I took another gulp of my water. But the fucking lumping in my throat!
“I don't want to talk about it, Aunt Macy.” I coughed.
“Adam,” She looked at me. Her eyes made me feel old. Her eyes told me that she had been there too. But she could never be here.
“Adam,” She said, “I'm trying to help you.”
I looked at Scott. I couldn't dishonor him. His parents needed to know. For gods' sakes, his mother practically took me in. He would haunt me, I knew. If I didn't tell Macy, he would make sure I would.
“I know,” I told her, “But I'm scared.”
“What are you afraid of, Adam?”
“He could come looking for me.”
Macy put her mug down in mid-sip, “Whom?”
“My dad,” I told her, “He'll try to kill me.”
Macy brushed through Adam, pulling her laptop towards her, and making Scott disappear in a cloud of mist. When she sat straight up again, there he was, in the same place. Still watching, like he'd never even disappeared. Like he'd never even left.
I miss you, Scott.
I miss you, too, Adam.
“What makes you think he'd try and kill you?” Macy asked.
“He killed Scott”
“He killed Scott.” I told her, “And I think he killed mom. But I don't know. I tried calling mom too, but no one answered. I called during the day, when she would be watching her soaps. But no one answered. She would've have answered, Macy. I just got the answering machine. I didn't want to leave a message, so I just hung up.”
She began to type furiously on the laptop, “Have you tried calling any other times?”
“No,” I said. I felt guilty for not calling again, for not trying to make sure that everything was all right.
“How did your father-how did he kill Scott?”
The memory flooded back. All that I had, at least. The first punch. The crunching sound Scott's face made. But I couldn't remember anything else. Just . . . leaving. Mom gave me money to go. “He hit him.”
She clarified, “Jack beat him?”
“Yeah,” I took another sip of water.
“How did you know Scott was dead?”
After it was finished, I looked down upon him. He was in the bath tube then, curled into a ball. I could tell he wasn't breathing. Blood was coming from anywhere. It was Scott. I knew it was. But I couldn't accept it.
“That's not Scott. That's not Scott.”
But who else could it be? He wasn't breathing. I check his pulse myself. I don't know where I found the courage. I don't know what dad was doing. But it had all stopped. And then I heard dad from behind me.
“You should go now,” He said.
And then I left.
“I checked his pulse.” I told her.
“Was he breathing?”
My Scott curled and whimpering in the shower, as Dad beat him to death. He gave his life for me. There is no glory in death. And there is never any dignity. No matter what you think. Death is death. And you're always cut open and shoved into a freezer afterwards. Or being shorn of all your clothing to be loaded into a stretcher, naked and suffering. No, there's no dignity in that.
Replaying the events was re-living them. Macy looked on as my lower lip trembled. The knot went away then. And Scott looked thankful, under his mourning disguise. It was I who was mourning, not him. He was never even there.
Sam held me close while Helen and Macy made the phone calls to the proper authorities. He tucked me into bed that night, and hugged me. I went to sleep right away. I'm sure more happened. But I was too exhausted to stay with it. I was glad that Helen brought Sam.
In the morning, they would tell me that the CPS had been called, and the report had been made. Sam rubbed my shoulders as I sat at the table with them all. Helen and Macy coddled me. They all did. I felt fragile. Not just because they were treating me like I was, but because I really felt like I was in danger of spontaneously breaking. I still felt out of control. I asked them if they had found my father or Scott, or my mom. But they said they didn't know. A police officer would be coming later to ask me more questions.
They mentioned something about going back to Los Angeles for a trial or something and I freaked out. When I woke up, sunlight was streaming into the room. I could hear Poochie barking in the hallway and the door opening. Sam wasn't by me.