Robert

Robert

A Story by Tegon Maus
"

I tried to call back but no one picked up. Dread filled me as I raced to her house. A thousand different, horrifying pictures filled my head as my imagination ran away with me.

"

"Jack, please, it's Robert.  Please come," Connie wept as angry voices in the background grew louder and then the line went dead. 

I tried to call back but no one picked up.  Dread filled me as I raced to her house.  A thousand different, horrifying pictures filled my head as my imagination ran away with me.  All I really knew or cared was, Connie was in trouble and she had called me.

Built in the early fifties, having changed little since my youth, the small, California ranch house had seen better days.  A dirty, off white, with chipped paint, a dead lawn, trash everywhere and several broken windows, the house held all the outward appearances of abandonment.  In the driveway sat a gray, nineteen ninety-two Chevy van in much the same condition.  The Johnsons, eager to exploit Robert's good fortune and the possibility of a prosperous future had purchased it the year he made captain of the football team.

The front door flung itself open at the same moment I knocked.

"Jack," Connie wept, throwing her arms around my neck.

"What the hell's going on, Connie?" I asked, closing the door behind me.

"Henry," Robert called, running toward me, throwing his arms around both Connie and me. 

"So this is the big man himself," Connie's father said, his voice heavy with sarcasm.

Although it was now well past two in the afternoon, Gene... Mr. Johnson was dressed in boxer shorts, a food stained T-shirt, topped off with a worn-

out, plaid robe.  His unshaven face and unkempt hair gave the appearance that he had only woken up shortly before my arrival.

Sitting in an over-stuffed chair, surrounded by the litter of fast food wrappers, layers of old newspapers and empty beer bottles, Mr. Johnson sucked on a half empty bottle of the same. 

The television roared as Connie stood looking at the floor, rubbing her left arm repeatedly... Robert stood anxiously behind her. 

Her mother busied herself in the dining room folding clothes on the table, casting an unfavorable look in my direction.

"What's going on?"  I asked. 

No one spoke.

"Go on, tell him, Ms. Save-the-world," Mr. Johnson growled at last, taking another swig of beer.

"They want to throw Robert out of the house," Connie mouthed weakly, refusing to make eye contact with me.

"I don't understand... why?  What's the problem?"

"He's trouble.  That's reason enough," her father snarled, finishing his beer and tossing the empty bottle to the floor.

"Trouble?  What the hell does that mean?"

"Police here at the house asking questions, car wrecks, stolen toys, fights, blackmail, hospital bills up the a*s... there's no end.  It's just a matter of time and he'll be right back in jail."

"Robert did nothing wrong," Connie shouted.

"He's trouble and it's just a matter of time until he kills someone or worse," her father barked in return.

"That's stupid.  That's the stupidest thing you've ever said and you've said some pretty stupid things over the years," Connie shouted angrily.

"Don't speak to your father that way.  Who do you think you are?" her mother grumbled, turning to put her hand on her hip.

"She's Henry's girl, that's who," Robert interjected.

"Shut up, Robert, and who the hell is Henry?" Gene asked, cocking his head.

"I'm Henry," I said, stepping to stand next to his chair.  These people were pissing me off.

"I thought his name was Jack," her father bellowed.

Everyone, the four of them, started shouting at the same time.  I had never seen anything like it.  My parents never argued or shouted in front of me, let alone in front of a stranger.  I was confused, and terribly annoyed.  Connie deserved better than this.

"Connie, come live with me, bring Robert, I have plenty of room...  three bedrooms, two baths... It would be nice to have people in the house again," I offered. 

"She ain't going nowhere, she ain't one of your w****s," her mother spit, moving closer, folding her arms.

The yelling started again.

Mrs. Johnson moved to jab a stubby finger into Connie's chest, screaming in her face.  Robert huddled behind her, cringing at every angry inflection.

"Connie, what are you doing Saturday?" I asked.

The room fell silent. 

"I don't know," she answered, wiping the tears from her face.

"Then let's get married.  What do you say?" I asked. 

I have no idea why I said it but it felt right.  It was as if I had been waiting for this very moment to push me forward, giving me the courage to say what I really felt, to ask for what I really wanted. 

Robert's face filled with a huge smile as he rushed forward to throw his arms around me.  He stood to my left, his arm resting across my shoulders.  He slipped his left hand in his pocket and beamed at Connie.

To my shock, her father, still sitting in his chair, took my hand in his.  As I turned to him, tears ran down his face.  Blinking them away, he looked deep into my eyes.

"You know you can do better," he said, nodding toward Connie.

"Get your things, Connie... you too, Robert.  We're leaving," I ordered, yanking my hand free of his in disgust.

Robert bound down the hallway.  The sound of drawers being tossed to the floor and clothing torn from hangers and shoved into a plastic bag reached the living room almost at the same time as he did.

Connie hesitated, shifting her weight as if trying to decide what to do.

"I'm ready," Robert boasted, lifting his bag, bouncing up and down on his toes. 

"Connie," I said, holding out my hand to her.  My heart stuttered for a moment, fearful she wouldn't come with me.

"Connie, remember who you are."  Her mother's voice held a sudden mix of disbelief and concern.

"I know who I am.... I'm Henry's girl now, Momma," she answered, taking my hand.


© 2016 Tegon Maus



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Featured Review

Crikey - a kitchen sink domestic reality check from Mr. SF. A believable dose of blue collar Americana. At least nobody pulled a gun - which I was kind of expecting. Like your previous reviewer I wondered at the title - the eponymous character didn't seem to deserve his description.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Tegon Maus

1 Year Ago

Hi Wez... thanks for the read. As it turns out I write other things in addition to Sci-Fi ! You k.. read more


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Reviews

Crikey - a kitchen sink domestic reality check from Mr. SF. A believable dose of blue collar Americana. At least nobody pulled a gun - which I was kind of expecting. Like your previous reviewer I wondered at the title - the eponymous character didn't seem to deserve his description.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Tegon Maus

1 Year Ago

Hi Wez... thanks for the read. As it turns out I write other things in addition to Sci-Fi ! You k.. read more
The dialogue here is fast paced, realistic, readable and moves the story forward. That last line is full of promise, of another story to come.

I am curious as to why you chose the title? Have you considered exploring Robert a bit more. There were inconsistencies in him that made me wonder about him. Police and wild times, paired with hugs and an eager personality. Not that these may not work, they just point to another story. Finally, have you considered present tense? My brain wanted to read it that way, to be in the moment with you.

Thank you for sharing, it is an interesting piece with a wonderful ending,

Posted 1 Year Ago



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Added on September 4, 2016
Last Updated on September 4, 2016

Author

Tegon Maus
Tegon Maus

CA



About
Dearheart, my wife of forty eight years and I live in Cherry Valley, a little town of 8,200 in Southern California. In that time, I've built a successful remodeling /contracting business. But t.. more..

Writing
So alive ! So alive !

A Story by Tegon Maus