“Fuck!” – He said, hitting the wheel of the car repeatedly. “Fuck fuck fuck!” He turned the key again into ignition but the starter was not working.
“Shit…” – Alexis joined in, watching blankly the road. Her mind was already twisting and she had that familiar feeling of panic going up her spine. “You can’t start it anymore?”
“No. I don’t fucking get it! Two minutes ago it was perfectly fine. I only stopped to buy these shitty crackers so I don’t stink of booze and now the crappy thing won’t start…”
“Do you think it’s something to do with the engine? Or maybe an electrical circuit broke?...”
“How the fuck should I know? Look. The lights are working… How can this be happening? Why? It was ok a moment ago.”
He sighed, lied back in the seat, eyes closed.
“What the fuck am I gonna do? Damn fucking car!” He hit the wheel one more time.
Alexis kept silent. This couldn’t be happening to her. Everything was finely planned. Everything went ok, until this. As if she was doomed not to be able to have fun and have her father always find her.
“And there is no fucking car passing by either,” she sighed, trying to control her temper. “What about the guy with the gas station? Can’t he help?”
“I’ll go ask,” Alex said unbuckling his belt and getting slowly out of the car.
She remained inside, feeling quite helpless. If the circuit was cut or faulted in any way, there was no way they could get out of there without help.
Alex came back and slammed the door. “He doesn’t know shit about cars, it appears…”
“I don’t know. If I call the company to tow us, the car is on my Dad’s name and he’ll find out anyway. And we’ll be late anyway… and the car is missing. I’m in such big shit.”
He turned to look at her, while taking out his cell phone.
“Are you serious? You’re a girl. I think you’re worrying for nothing. Look, I’ll try to talk to my friend, maybe he can take his Dad’s car and come drag us out of this shit…”
He began searching for the number. His hands were trembling slightly but he was trying to control them, at least in front of her. This could not be happening. Not a second time in front of his girlfriend.
The phone started ringing and Alex almost dropped it.
“Who is it?” – She wanted to know, bending over his lap to look at the screen. “Fuck…” She went back to her seat, grabbing it tight with both hands, as if she was in a plane ready to crash. “Are you gonna answer,” she whispered.
“I don’t know…”
The phone kept ringing.
“What am I gonna say?”
“A lie. But please don’t get me in trouble,” she begged.
His shaky finger pressed the green key. “Hello?”
“Where are you?”
His mind cleared in an instant, as the surviving instinct kicked in. His friend, Alexis, was biting her nails, unaware of what she was actually doing. Alex looked at her, as if asking for moral support, but she wasn’t there. Her mind was as gone as his.
“Dad?... I’m gonna be a bit late tonight… I’m really sorry but…”
“Where are you?” The voice was that of someone who knew. And again, Alex could only picture his Dad arriving home early – for God knows what reason – and not finding the car.
“Around the city… I had to go check on a friend. Sorry.”
“Alex, don’t make me repeat this again, for your own sake. Where – are – you?”
Alex took a deep breath. He didn’t know what to say. She watched him turn white. And his voice trembled when he answered.
“I took the car out a bit.”
“I am aware of that. And so is Alexis’s father. So you tell me right now where you are, mister.”
“I can’t start the car anymore, Dad…” – Alex mumbled. “I’m so sorry. I swear it’s the last time it happens.”
“I’m next to the gas station next to our cottage.”
“Excuse me?” There was a pause and he could hear the heavy breathing of his father, trying to calm himself down. “Why isn’t the car starting?” – He asked patiently, after what seemed an eternity.
Alex rubbed his forehead. “Dunno. Everything died.”
“Is Alexis with you?”
Alex nodded, turning back to look at his friend with a strange and guilty look. Nooo-
“Yes, she is, Dad.”
“Put her through. Her father wants a word with her. And you, mister, don’t move an inch from where you are. We are coming to get you. You heard me? Stay inside and lock your doors.”
“Am I… in trouble?” – He whispered.
“Yes. Put Alexis on the phone please.”
It was getting dark outside.
“I can’t just sit here and wait,” Alex said.
“I would appreciate if you did, however,” Alexis said. “I’m in enough trouble already.”
“Sure you are,” he said, but as much as he wanted he couldn’t hide the sarcastic tone. “You know what? We’re gonna be just fine. We just need a very good excuse.”
Alexis sighed. She wanted to run. But this time, this time she simply couldn’t. He would find her again, and again, and again. There was no fucking way out. She just wanted it to be over.
“Did your Dad say anything about how he found out?” – She asked, trying to ease the bad feeling she had inside. She hoped – and how she hoped! – that Drew hadn’t found the doctor’s note.
For fifteen minutes none of them spoke. They both made plans on how to avoid the spanking. And what worried them even more was the prospect of the other one finding out that spanking was still happening in their house. They wanted to complain to each other, but their pride didn’t let them. They both played as cool as they could.
“I’ll probably get grounded for a month,” Alex said, finally. Mostly because he needed to get it off his chest – at least partially.
“Me too. He’ll be watching me like a hawk again, for God knows how long. Right when I was this close to winning his trust back!”
“Fuck! He’ll cut off my Internet.”
“And I won’t be able to go out anymore, not even with Lizzie. And I’ll be locked in the house doing chores and homework.”
“I had a baseball match next week. And I had tickets for the Yankees.”
Ten more minutes passed.
“Where do you think they are now?” – Alexis asked. It was taking too long. It was like being made to wait in the corner.
Alex shrugged. Then silence fell again, each one of them minding his own thoughts.
“Ok. I’m nervous,” Alex said again. “Let’s kiss.”
“Let’s kiss. It will ease the tension. I would say let’s make out or have a quickie but that would get us in trouble.”
“You are fucking out of your minds.”
“Why? Because I don’t wanna go nuts worrying about what will happen to us?”
“How can you want to kiss or make out now?”
“Hey, don’t blame me! It’s my hormones. Let’s try at least. C’mon.”
“Alex, I am in no fucking mood to fuck right now.”
“Not fuck. Kiss. C’mooon…”
She couldn’t help but smile. Alright, he was as nuts as she was. Maybe even more, but that was because of the hormones, as he had dutifully explained to her.
“It will release the endorphins so it will make us happier…”
“What? You are a doctor now?”
“No, but I read lots of crap while looking for diseases and some things stick to your mind, you know?”
Alexis thought for a second. What was the worst thing that could happen?
It was a bit awkward at the beginning, as if they were both testing the waters, seeing what everything’s about. Then again, the damn hormones took over them, and Alex soon found himself reaching for her breasts, and nibbling on her ear.
“Alex, stop it,” she whispered.
“We’re just kissing, relax,” he whispered, his heavy breath whistling in her ear.
“You’re touching my breasts,” she pointed out.
“Sorry.” His hand moved towards her nape, entangling slowly his fingers into her dark silky hair. His lips lingered on her neck.
“They might come any second now,” she whispered.
“We have time.”
Alexis was startled by the sharp light cutting through the darkness and invading the privacy of the car. She pushed him away fast. “Fuck. Stop it.”
The motorcycle stopped in front of their Ford Explorer Sport Trac.
Alexis tried her best to stop the tears forming in her eyes. It was going to be so embarrassing. “It’s my Dad. I am so fucking dead. Oh fuck… I am so fucking dead…”
“Try to calm down. It cannot be that bad…” – he patted her hand, but his own legs had frozen. He unlocked the doors and stepped out of the car, slowly. He had no idea what he was going to say.
Drew propped the motorcycle his, eyes searching for his daughter: he spotted her - she hadn’t run yet, which was quite an achievement.
Alex had remained rooted next to the car’s front door, unable to move. He sunk again his hands in his pockets, eyes cast down, teeth gritted. Jack covered the distance between them in two steps. Oh, God, just let him slap me and finish the rest at home. The slap did not come though; Jack only grabbed his arm, dragged him and pushed him over the hood of the car in one second, then, without Alex having time to realize anything, a rain of swats landed on his ass. And before he had time to protest, the same firm hand grabbed him again bringing him to his feet. “Get your ass in the car. Back seat. Now!” His face was scarlet when he got on. He could imagine what Alexis was thinking about him right now.
Watching Alex get spanked shocked Alexis a little, but she was more worried about her own ass. She knew her dad was pissed off. The little show had brought her back to reality, and the look on Drew’s face made things even worse. No. He cannot do the same to me. Not in front of Alex. Fuck no. She felt the urge to run – she couldn’t resist - but Drew seized her hand the instant her small body twisted to have a go at the marathon home.
“Alex, watch it,” he warned her in a low taking-no-nonsense-here tone.
“Let go of me.” It was the panic talking. “It’s not fair.”
“Do you want me to take your over the hood of the car next?” He raised his eyebrows. Her muscles relaxed. “I can’t hear you,” he said. Fuck you, she wanted to say, but she knew that would not be a smart move.
She shook her head, very aware of Jack’s and Alex’s eyes on her.
“Get in that truck right now, young lady, and sit your ass down right next to your friend, Alex. Don’t let me catch you moving a muscle! You’re in deep trouble. Don’t make me take my belt off right here – because you know I would. Now go on and march your sorry ass to the truck.”
She tried to protect her dignity by shifting on her heels, as proudly as she could, but she wasted no time getting back to the truck and climbing inside next to Alex. He didn’t say a word; didn’t even look up at her. She knew he was probably embarrassed, but her concern was that it would soon be her that was embarrassed.
“Sorry about that,” she said, understanding perfectly well what he was going through.
He only nodded. He had felt like a five year old. He would have preferred a slap. Even the belt. But not that. That had been the most humiliating shit that had ever happened to him.
“Do you think they know about school and… you know?…” – Alexis asked. Knowing someone else was in deep shit, just like her, had made her relax.
“I have no idea.”
They watched Jack and Drew working on the engine.
“My Dad will fix it. He’s damn good at this kinda shit.” – she said, with an odd proud feeling.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” – Jack asked, standing aside and holding the flashlight for Drew to see.
“Can fish swim?”
“Thought so. It’s quite odd how we met again. It was odd how we met in the first place, but this beats them all.” He paused. “Don’t worry, man, they didn’t do it.”
Drew looked up. “How do you know?”
“I know Alex. And you should know your daughter also. They ran after freedom, not to do other stuff.”
“I guess you’re right.” He sighed. “I don’t mind her doing it, I just mind her screwing her life up like I did mine.”
“Why did you smack him like that?” – Drew asked. “I have to admit I was surprised.”
“It was a warning. He was preparing to argue already. I didn’t have any intention of doing it, but I saw his attitude the moment I got off this bike – all cool, hands in his pockets, tightened jaws. Honestly, I just wanted to slap him, but then I would have gotten a bunch of protests. But that - that calmed him down instantly. Even face to face with me it would have been embarrassing for him. With your daughter around it was torture.”
There was an uncomfortable silence. Both of them knew all about physical punishment first hand, but they weren’t ready to talk about that again, not just yet.
“Yeah. I saw the look on his face afterwards. He didn’t know what hit him, really. It helped me handle Alexis tonight: she was scared shitless because of that –“ Drew paused. “Woah… wait a second! Look at this… Just as I thought” – He mused. “You have a starter plug problem, man... I think I can temporarily fix it but I don’t think it is safe to drive 80 miles home tonight.”
“Can you fix it just to get us to the cottage?”
“I’ll try… But then tomorrow we have to find someone to deliver a replacement. Have any tools at the cottage? For repairing cars and shit?”
“Bunch of them.”
“That’s good news… Maybe I can fix it when the replacement comes…”
How the fuck could a brand new 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac break like that? He had to seriously work his magic on it. It took him about ten minutes. “Can you start the car, see if it works?” – He asked Jack.
Jack passed him the flashlight. He found deep silence inside the car. Alexis had rolled on her side, knees up, head resting against the window. Alex had sunk back into the seat, so low he could not see his head, busily playing with his hands. He’s gonna blast soon enough, even before we get home, Jack thought, reading his silent language. He was sorry for Alexis and he felt it was all Alex’s fault. And his too, because he had trusted Alex in the first place.
The car started. Drew closed the hood of the car and came round to Jack’s window. “Help me with the motorcycle. Let’s put it in the back of your truck..”
Leaving the car started, he went to help Drew.
“We should steal the car,” Alexis suddenly said.
“Are you nuts? Where would you go?”
“You realize we are both under age and we might end up in detention for a long time? That would be ten times worse.”
“You are such a coward.”
“I’m not a coward. I know when to admit defeat.”
Drew’s head poked in from nowhere; he gave Alexis a long look, turned off the engine and took the keys. She raised her hands in the air, in agony, as if saying “now what?”.
“Don’t give me that look, you know perfectly well what!” – He said. “You might be fooling others, young lady, but certainly not me.” He slammed the door.
Alex ceased a smile.
“It’s not funny!” – she admonished him.
“Hell, it certainly is. And I thought I had problems. He doesn’t trust you not even with the keys in the car, two feet away from you.”
Which made her wonder. She didn’t protest this time, but she got an uneasy feeling about it. Drew didn’t trust her with anything anymore and that really hurt. Only now she had realized how it bothered her.
The discussion was interrupted by Drew who got in taking the wheel.
“We talked,” he announced, “and we’re going to the cottage. Jack is going to buy a few things to eat tonight. Tomorrow we’ll do some shopping. You two are not getting that easily off the hook tonight.”
“As if I ever did,” Alexis mumbled in the back.
“If I were you,” Drew said turning around and glaring at her, “I would watch it.”
She bit her tongue in time not to retort with an ‘or what’ – maybe because she didn’t want Alex to hear the answer. It was all about keeping up appearances.
Jack returned with the bags. He passed them to Alex, in the back.
“Have you told them?” – He asked Drew.
“Good. So they know we will be here all weekend, right?” The car started moving slowly, turning out into the road and bringing the two teenagers even closer to the dreaded lecture.
“Daad, tomorrow I have…” – Alex protested.
“You’re grounded. The only thing you will have for the next month is a lot of chores around the house and homework to catch up on. End of discussion.”
Alex sunk back in his seat, sulking. There was no dust or small rocks to kick with his foot, so he started repeatedly kicking the seat in front of him.
Jack gave him a few seconds to calm down then turned to him. “Stop it.” “Alex, don’t give me that look.” “Alex?!”
“Where do I turn?” – Drew asked, as he reached a small dusty road on his right side.
“Sorry. Not this one, the next one.” – Jack pointed out.
As the car turned again on the familiar road, Alexis grabbed her boyfriend’s hand in anticipation.
“We’re sorry,” she mumbled from her place, praying to all Gods that this might help in any way.
Drew didn’t comment.
“Dad? I’m sorry.”
Drew parked the car, ignoring her. “Out. Both of you.” – he said instead. “Alex”, he caught her wrist before she could get out, “I am warning you now: I don’t want to hear any bullshit or lies anymore tonight. And certainly no tantrums. If you know what’s good for you.” She was angry because her apologies had fallen on deaf ears, so she fought to free her hand. “Whatever,” she said, running for the house to catch up with Alex. Somehow she felt safer in his presence.
~End of Part 4~