P U P P Y L O V E
~ 11 ~
Mrs. O’Connor walked into her house experiencing a muddle of conflicting emotions. She had trusted Kerry. Now it seemed her trust had been badly misplaced. What was so exasperating and disappointing was, he knew better! His dad had spoken to him about sex, and about sexual morality, before he’d died. Kerry had idolized the man and had honored him in thought and deed; sleeping with a girl at his young age, doing it deceptively in his room in her house — that was going against everything his dad had believed, stood for, and taught him. But Kerry had done it and deceived her. Had he been laughing at her behind her back? Did he hate her that much? Had he just been pretending to get along with her? Doc knew about it. Did everyone know except her? Was she the laughingstock of the town?
But the two of them were on good terms now! They weren’t fighting at all. Was that all fake? She couldn’t imagine that. She did know her son. He was all the good things Doc had said he was. She could hardly believe he was doing this. And for a long time? How could he have kept that a secret, having a girl in the house even when she was there?
But she had heard things. She’d chosen to ignore them. She now realized she’d chosen peace over the responsibilities of parenthood. She’d taken the easy road, not the correct one.
She didn’t know what was worse, the anger she felt toward him, or the disappointment, or her sadness.
She did know that it was going to be settled, right then. No more deceptions, lies, misconduct. No more sex! No more playing her for a sucker. If that meant going back to living in an armed camp, well, so be it! That was better than what they had now: an underage sex romp occurring next door to her as she naively slept each night.
Kerry was in his room, the door closed. She felt like barging in. She was about to, had her hand on the knob, when something in Doc’s tone of voice when he’d spoken to her came back to her. ‘…talk to Kerry… don’t scream, don’t accuse, don’t put him on the defensive…listen to him…listen to him…listen to him…’
Well, maybe that was the best
thing to do. She couldn’t forget their screaming matches, how neither of them
had given an inch, how awful that had been. If she’d learned anything from
that, it was that that was the wrong way to approach him. After all, what did
she want to get out of this confrontation? Did she just want to scream and yell
to get the anger out of her system?
It was the latter she wanted, and barging in yelling like a madwoman, especially if Lucy were in the room right now, would not accomplish that.
So, instead of turning the knob, she knocked.
Kerry came to the door, didn’t open it, and called through. “Yeah, Mom?”
“Please open the door, Kerry. We need to talk.” It took a major effort on her part to keep her voice calm. Inside, she was raging.
“Uh, I can’t open it right now. Why don’t you go into the living room or the kitchen. I’ll join you in a second.”
She couldn’t help herself. She said, sounding accusatory, “And why can’t you open the door right now?”
There was a momentary pause, and then Kerry said, “I’m 14. Moms shouldn’t see their 14-year-old sons naked. I just got out of the shower.”
“Oh.” Feeling slightly abashed, and realizing, suddenly, that Doc’s advice to listen to him, not to fly off the handle, made sense, she backed down. “OK, I’ll be in the kitchen.”
She sat down at the kitchen table. In only about a minute, Kerry joined her there. “What did you want to talk about, Mom?”
“Please sit down. What I want is to get the truth from you.” Oops. That wasn’t the way she wanted to start this. Doc had said not to put him on the defensive, and that’s what she’d just done. Why did she always have to let her temper control her mouth?
Before he could answer, but not before she saw the hurt in his eyes, she quickly said, “Stop! I said that wrong. This is hard for me. I need to know some things, and I’m angry, but I want us to simply talk, not shout. I’ll really try to keep my temper. So let me start again. I’ve noticed some things around here recently, and I’d like to ask you about them. I guess the place to start is with a question — have you had someone in your room that I haven’t known about?”
Kerry wrinkled his forehead. “No. Luke’s the only person who’s been here, and you like Luke. There’s been no one else.”
“So nothing’s been going on in there that I would get upset about?”
“Well…” He paused, then said, “That’s hard to answer. You used to get upset over just about anything. Now, since the time we agreed I could have my door closed, things have been better. I really didn’t know why you were so upset before, and so don’t know what would upset you now. I guess I can answer your question this way: I’m not doing anything in there that any other boy doesn’t do in his room.”
Mrs. O’Connor was getting frustrated. The urge to scream was almost uncontrollable.
She gritted her teeth. “I’ve overheard things. I found blonde hair on your sheets. And I went to talk to the doc. He told me some things. Things that upset me. I want to know about Lucy.”
Kerry’s whole demeanor changed in an instant. He went pale, and felt shaky. She knew about Lucky!
He’d known it would happen, sooner or later. But he’d been hoping so hard that their better relationship would mean something, that he’d be able to talk her into keeping Lucky. But he could see her anger, her pent up frustration. She knew, and she was mad about it!
Then he realized what she’d said. She’d said Lucy. Yes, the dog’s name was Lucky Lucy, but only Maryann called him Lucy. He’d never heard the doc use that name. Maryann, sure. She must have told her. It was just like her; everything had to be difficult with her. He’d introduced Maryann to the puppy that first day, saying, “Her name is Lucky Lucy, but I call her Lucky.” And she’d replied, “I like Lucy better. I’ll call her that.” And she had, ever since.
“Maryann told you about Lucy, didn’t she?”
“No she didn’t. Why do you think that? What, you think she’s jealous of Lucy and that’s why she’d have told me?”
“No. Why would she be jealous?”
“Because you’re sleeping with Lucy!” There. She’d said it. It was out in the open now. Let him defend himself!
Kerry was confused. “Yeah, but so what? Maryann doesn’t want to sleep with me! And she certainly doesn’t care if I sleep with Lucy.”
“Well, I care!” Mrs. O’Connor was now shouting, and had to calm herself, which was almost impossible to do. It was a struggle, but with the next words she spoke her voice lower, less frantic. “Doc said you weren’t sleeping with Maryann. He acted like the fact you were sleeping with Lucy was no big deal. I could have slapped him! He should have realized, if you’d sleep with Lucy, you could well sleep with Maryann, too. But he wasn’t bothered at all about Maryann liking you.”
“You spoke to the doc about me sleeping with Maryann?”
“Yes, and he said not to worry. That’s when he implied you were sleeping with Lucy. And I think I heard you the other night. Was Lucy here then? The night I heard giggling in there?”
Giving up, defeated, Kerry nodded. “Yeah, Lucy was here. She’s here every night.”
“What?! You’re sleeping with Lucy every night?!”
“Sure. Why not?”
“Why not?! WHY NOT?! You’re 14 years old! That’s why not! You’re too young to be having sex! You’re acting like this is no big deal, and it’s a huge deal! What’s wrong with you? You weren’t brought up to think sex was OK at your age! And here you’ve been having it for months, right under my nose?”
She didn’t stop there. She kept ranting, finally getting all the anger and disappointment out of her system. She didn’t stop, but Kerry stopped listening. He’d finally caught on when she started talking about sex. He’d thought she knew about the dog! But no, that wasn’t his mother’s problem at all. She thought he was having sex. Sex with Lucy. She thought Lucy was a girl!
Finally, seeing her exploding, realizing just how wrong she was, he couldn’t help himself. First he smiled at how silly the idea was of having sex with a girl, and of doing it in his bed right under her nose. Then, as she got even madder, he finally just burst out laughing. The louder she screamed, the harder he laughed. Finally, he couldn’t take any more and yelled at her, “STOP!” and he put up his hand like a stop sign.
She stopped, as much because she was out of breath as anything else. But while she was catching it, Kerry had the opportunity to speak. And, he did.
“Mom, you’ve got it all wrong. And I think the best way to clear things up is for you to meet Lucy. She’s in my room. Come meet her.”
“Yes.” He stood and walked away. All she could do was follow him. He got to his room and opened the door, swinging it wide. “Come and meet Lucy,” he said. “Everyone but Maryann calls her Lucky. If she really is lucky, you’ll let her keep living here.”
Mrs. O’Connor looked into the room. There, sitting on the bed, was the most gorgeous Golden Retriever she’d ever seen. It had large, brown, expressive eyes, a well-cared-for shiny coat of hair, and it’s tail was vigorously wagging.
“Mom, this is Lucy. Lucy, this is my mom.”
Lucy jumped down, came up to Mrs. O’Connor, sat before her and raised one paw. Mrs. O’Connor, surprised but charmed, reached down and took it, held it for a moment, and then turned and grabbed Kerry, hugging him to her as though she never wanted to let go.
They were back in the kitchen, both feeling much better. Lucky was sitting on the floor next to Kerry with her paw up on his leg.
“I’m so sorry. I should have trusted you.” Kerry’s mom was embarrassed and proud at the same time. “Part of my problem was, I was so sure I knew who you were, and having a girl in the house for sex just didn’t make any sense, didn’t jibe with the boy I knew. So I was confused, and it made me doubt both you and myself.”
“I probably should have trusted you, too, Mom. When we were fighting, well, that’s when I made the decision to keep Lucky a secret. But in the past few months, I’ve learned a lot. And one thing I’ve learned is you love me. I should have trusted that love and known you wouldn’t force me to abandon an animal I’ve learned to love.”
Mrs. O’Connor reached over and rubbed Lucky’s head. “She’s a beautiful animal. And I think it was trying to keep her a secret that made you change, and your changing resulted in my changing as well. We were both grieving your dad’s death and didn’t know how to get out of where we were. Lucky gave you a new focus, and that’s all you really needed.”
Kerry smiled. “I’m so glad I don’t need to hide her any longer. But she did accomplish a lot. Because of her I made a new friend, the best friend I’ve ever had. And I learned Maryann isn’t as bad as I thought, either.”
His mom grinned. “Doc says she likes you. Do you feel the same?”
“Yeah, I like me, too.” Kerry laughed. “But, if you mean do I like her like a girlfriend, no. I guess I’m not ready. Luke says it’s inevitable, that she won’t give up, and she’ll find ways to make me keep noticing her. I hope not. I like just being free to do what I want without a girl hanging around.”
Then he looked down and laughed. “Except you, girl. Except you.”
Kerry called Luke on the phone and gave him the news. Lucky was no longer a secret, and his mom had no problem at all with welcoming her to the family.
Luke had news of his own. “I talked to my dad. We had a serious discussion and I was able to say things I’d never said before. I told him I was 14 and it was time for me to begin making decisions about my own life. I said I’d still come to him and my mom for guidance, but I needed to be making some decisions myself.
“He asked what decisions I was thinking of, and I said I wanted to go to regular school this fall. I was tired of being home-schooled, that I needed to be with kids my own age.
“He said that they’d wanted me to lead a religious life, go into the ministry, and stay away from the temptations I’d find outside the church. I told him I knew that, but it was my life, not theirs. I said I’d had 14 years of growing up with their beliefs, and I wasn’t about to throw that all away. I believed a lot of the things they did, but it was time for me to leave the nest.”
Kerry chuckled. “I’ll bet that went over like a lead balloon.”
“He surprised me, Kerry. He said that he’d watched me, since I’d met you, and he hadn’t seen where associating with you had done me any harm at all. He said your thinking was much different from his, but it had made him aware that there wasn’t only one way to look at things. He said you may not have the same faith that he did, but that you were still a good person. Wild, independent, but good. He said being around you seemed to have made me a happier person, and hadn’t turned me into a wild, rebellious youth.
“I told him I was more likely to become one of those by being kept in the house all the time, by being too sheltered, and to my surprise, he agreed. So, bottom line, I’m going to be going to school with you in the fall. He says he’ll be paying attention, but if I keep going to church, keep my faith, and don’t do anything crazy, I can choose where to go to school from now on.”
Kerry gave a whoop of delight. This was turning into a really great day. All his problems were now gone. All except Maryann, and she was more nuisance than problem. And as long as he could keep her at arm’s length, even her being a nuisance was tolerable.
Kerry had to hand it to her, and to Luke for having predicted the future. Maryann had done her best to hang around. Every school dance so far, she’d invited him. Every school dance, he’d found a reason why he couldn’t go. Every football and basketball game, he’d gone with Luke; every game, she’d ended up sitting beside them. He was holding out, but it was getting harder.
The snow had come early this year, and finally Kerry had a way to get Maryann off his mind. He could ski again, and he spent as much time as he could on the slopes. Luke was still a beginner, but he was learning fast, and Kerry spent some time with him, but mostly, he skied on his own. He was good enough that he entered some competitions and had yet to fail to come in first in his age group.
Things were good in Kerry’s life. He was happier than he’d been since his father had died. So when Luke came upon him in the lodge’s dressing room where Kerry was dressing after having spent time in the sauna, he was very surprised to see Kerry with a long face, sitting on a bench, leaning back against the lockers.
“What’s wrong?” asked Luke, shrugging out of his ski attire, stripping down to hit the showers. “You look like you lost your best friend, yet here I am!”
He laughed, and Kerry couldn’t help himself. He laughed, too, then complained, “Hey, I was enjoying a good sulk here. How dare you cheer me up.”
“It’s in my job description,” said Luke, losing his briefs and wrapping a towel around his waist. “But what are you sulking about?”
Kerry grimaced. “Maryann! Guess who just signed up for ski lessons!”