4:59 PM – 12 – busted

I have been grounded. I forget why I was grounded, but I am at home, bored, when a friend stops at my house to say hi.

“I can’t have anyone over. I’m grounded.”

“When will they be home?”

“Not for a couple of hours.”

“Come to Jenn’s with me.”

“I can’t.”

“Come on.”

I go out to the garage and wheel my bike toward the street. I know this is a bad idea. It is not going to end well, and I will get in trouble. But I cannot back down from the challenge, cannot be a wimp who stays inside and does not find out what will happen that afternoon.

We ride our bikes toward the condo complex, along the main road, onto the side street that runs through the Veterans Administration hospital. The men here are all mentally disabled. I am afraid of them sometimes, the ones who sneak out of the hospital and hang out at the supermarket, ogling women and talking to themselves.

We are riding past the golf course adjacent to the hospital when it starts to rain. I am in deep trouble now; my clothes will be wet, and my parents will find them and know that I left the house, unless I hide them somewhere after sneaking back in, and then I will lose a good pair of clothes.

We keep pedaling toward our destination. We are closer to Jenn’s now than we are to my house. By the time we get there, it is pouring. We are soaked. There is a message on Jenn’s machine from my parents. Has she seen me? They are home early. They are worried. They are thinking about calling the police.

I realize I am busted, so I call them and ask them to pick me up. I think my dad is tempted to let me ride home in the rain, but he agrees to give me a lift. We do not speak much in the car. I am dripping rainwater all over the seat. My bike is in the trunk.

I am grounded for a lot longer. I really do deserve it.

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