“That was nice, a very pleasant evening,” she said.
“It’s not over yet,” he said with a grin.
“You old hound dog,” she said, patting his thigh as he drove.
He searched for any erotic undertones in her reply, and was sad when he couldn’t find any. He gave a soft sigh of resignation and moved on.
“My steak was great. Great. Most places don’t know what rare means anymore. And that scotch Michael suggested! Wow! It had that, what do you call it?”
“Peat I think.”
“Yeah peat,” he continued, “peaty, but what else? What did Michael say?”
“Something about chocolate. Whoever heard of chocolate in bourbon?”
“Not bourbon honey. Scotch,” he corrected with a laugh. “They don’t add chocolate flavoring or anything. It’s just a hint of it.”
“I don’t know. Bet Michael does. Never would have guessed it, but that brother knows his scotch,” he said.
“Oh come on. I can’t even call them brothers anymore?” he didn’t like how defensive he sounded. He thought about the scotch, and focused on his buzzed driving instead.
“It’s made from malt. Scotch is. It really isn’t that surprising,” she said.
“Oh come on. You know: malt liquor,” she laughed.
“I can’t call them brothers, but you can say that?” he was having fun again now. Surely she was as well.
She shrugged and giggled. “Lock me up,” she said. “Hey, what were you two talking about when Cheryl and I came back from the lady’s room?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, what were you talking about. Michael seemed- oh I don’t know- not mad really. He seemed… contemplative? But in a sad way. Maybe even a mad way.”
“The boys I think.”
“I know that. I mean what about the boys?”
“I was saying how lucky we all are. How lucky Tim and Drew were.”
“Like how lucky they are those officers showed up at the party. Our Timmy, he did the right thing leaving you know. Guess I should be proud he stood up for his friend. I just don’t want him getting mixed up in anything.”
“Well those others boys shouldn’t have said what they did about poor Andrew. He’s the only one in the school. It can’t be easy. And then to hear those things.”
“Well, what if the police didn’t show up? They may have got jumped. Or worse. Who knows?”
“So why did Michael look like that?”
“Look like what?”
“I thought you said-“
“Okay not mad,” she corrected, “just sad or whatever. He didn’t look like he agreed with you, okay.”
“Agreed with me? You mean he wanted the boys to get jumped? The police saved them!”
After a pause she said, “Cheryl said something funny as well.”
He gave her a “go on” look, and then swerved when he looked back at the road. That scotch was something all right.
“She was talking about all the things she hoped Andrew remembered.”
“Meaning she gives him ‘rules’”, she gave sassy air quotes with her fingers, “of what to do when police show up.”
“Rules? When the police show up where?”
“Anywhere, from what I gathered.”
“Well, Andrew, Drew, isn’t supposed to put his hands in his pockets.”
“His hands in his pockets? Why?” he tried to stop himself from doing ‘that thing’ with his eyes when he was perplexed. She hated ‘that thing’. He still held out hope.
“Beats me. I wanted to ask, but she just kept going. It was quite a list: don’t put your hoodie up.”
“Oh god,” he moaned.
“I know right. I thought we were over all that.”
“How long ago was that?” he asked.
“Years!” she said. “And it wasn’t even a cop that did it.”
“Those are their school wrestling hoodies. She won’t let him wear his wrestling hoodie?”
“She doesn’t want him to put it up when cops are around,” she said. “I still think it’s funny. Drew wrestling. You know it’s basketball season.”
“Wrestling and scotch. What kind of-“
“I know right,” she agreed. “But that’s not all: he has to keep receipts for anything he buys. Even if it’s just a pop or something.”
“Why? For taxes? Do they itemize their taxes? That’s not smart. I’ll talk to Michael about that.”
“Maybe they want to see what he spends his allowance on.”
“What does any of that have to do with the police?” he asked.
“Maybe she got sidetracked. They are strict. So many rules. Too many for high school boys if you ask me. You’ve got to give them room. Let them grow up.”
“I’ll talk to Michael. What else?”
“Oh god... what else? Oh! Drew has to have his ID on him whenever he leaves the house. Cheryl actually checks to see if he has it! Like at the door I guess.”
“That’s not that weird. What else?”
“There was more. Let me think.”
“Well, I can tell you some funny stuff.”
“Like what?” she asked.
“What Timmy told me.”
“What? Geez, out with it.”
“Timmy had Drew drive home. Timmy won’t drive when he’s been drinking. We did right about that. Well when the officers pulled them over when they were leaving the party, he said Drew was super nervous. But Drew hadn’t had a drop.”
“They always expect the worse. They just assume they know what the police will do.”
“Right. And I'm telling you, if the cops didn't stop them, those other boys would have followed. There would have been trouble.”
“It’s the media," she said.
“Here we go…”
“Oh shut it,” she playfully slapped his thigh. He smiled and hoped.
“I’m not saying the news is fake. I’m just saying they focus on certain things and get those people worked up.”
“So listen. Listen what Drew did. He put his hands on the dashboard and actually asked the officer if he was allowed to get his license out. He asked if they could get Timmy’s registration out of the glovebox, hands on the dashboard the entire time. Timmy was just busting a gut from how nervous he was.”
She just smiled. She loved her son’s laugh. It was nothing like her husband’s.
“Well here we are. Safe and home at last,” he said.
He put his arm around her hip as they walked in the door, trying to pull her into an embrace.
“Let’s not ruin a pleasant evening dear,” she said.