Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 26 of Jessica. Jessica is nineteen-years-old and she is trying break the pattern of loss and unhappiness that has defined her childhood. What she wants most is to build a life with Jimmy, but Jimmy is trapped in a dangerous family dynamic. When she learns the truth about Jimmy, it’s up to her to save him. To do this, she must turn to the one person who has hurt her the most, her father. A series of events pushes Jessica beyond anything she can imagine and forces her to define happiness and love in a different way, and at a heartbreaking price.
Chapter 26 – “Who Asked for Help?”
It was after 5:00 when I left Dad’s office. It took the better part of the afternoon for Dad to come up with a solution. I sat, feeling helpless and young while Dad made phone calls to his lawyer and asked him countless questions about how to get Jimmy out of Stu’s robbery ring. The balance had shifted between Dad and me. I had used him by asking him for help, but I’d had the right, I felt. Now I was in trouble and he had taken charge. It seemed too fast, for him to have all the control, but I had no choice.
It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was the only way. If Jimmy set them up to break into Dad’s office in Philadelphia, with the police staking them out, Jimmy might have a chance at a lighter sentence. I had to talk Jimmy into trusting Dad and me.
I called Jimmy the next morning and told him I had some news and we met after work at his house. He said no one would be home and we could talk.
Jimmy grabbed a beer from the kitchen and we sat on the couch. He was shaky when he tilted his head back and took a long drink. I told him I had gone to see Dad.
“You what?” yelled Jimmy. He slammed his beer bottle down on the coffee table. The noise shook me and I was sure the bottle had broken. The force of his arm slamming the bottle down had a violent and careless motion to it and I wondered what would come next.
The night was already off-course. “What the fuck, Jes! Why would you go to him without telling me? You had no right to do that and now it’s like I don’t have a goddam choice except to do what he says. Did his lawyer already talked to the police? Why the fuck would you let him do that? And shit, Gene’s just as deep into this as I am and that’s Stu’s fault, not his. Gene’s only seventeen. I want this to all be on Stu, not on Gene or me.”
Jimmy finished his beer and grabbed a second one from the fridge. He twisted off the cap and threw it across the room.
“I don’t like it, Jes,” he said. “This is a crap plan! And our guy who takes all our stuff and unloads it, he’s not going to like it either.”
I didn’t care about the other guy, and I didn’t think it should matter.
“Well, why would he care where you go?” I asked. “It’s not like he’s going to have to deal with any of the stuff since the police will have caught you already.”
Jimmy was acting funny. “Well sometimes the other guy helps us if the job is big and I know Stu’s going to want him to help this time. He might not like it.”
I was getting frustrated. Jimmy was dragging his feet.
“Jimmy, I don’t care about that other guy. If we don’t get you out of this, you and I are always going to be stuck and who knows how long these break-ins can go on without you guys really getting caught without someone protecting you?” Nothing was going right.
“Jesus! Jes. Who says I ever wanted someone to protect me? Why the fuck did you go talk to your dad about me? I didn’t ask for your goddam help and how do you know you can even trust your dad? He fucking left you and he’s been gone all these years and you’re the one who looked for him and went to him. He wasn’t looking for a problem to solve.”
“But Jimmy, don’t you want to get out of this mess? Don’t you want to move out of here and away from Stu?” Then I stopped. Weren’t we working towards the same thing? Didn’t he want a life with me? I had been so sure of it. I hadn’t slept over at Jimmy’s house in almost two weeks. I was aching to get back to the core of our happiness. I knew he was feeling the strain of the break-ins, but if we could only think together, we could work our way through this. Jimmy looked down and away from me. My throat tightened.
“Jimmy, don’t you want that?” My voice was small, needy. I hated myself.
“I can’t think of anything except this, Jes. That’s all that’s on my mind. I have nothing else going on, no future, no fucking future. Just this shit-hole life. God, Jes! You’re asking me about our future and I’m on the verge of being arrested and maybe going to jail. Don’t ask me about anything, Jes.”
I sat, defeated and humiliated. Was I wrong to think that way, to remind Jimmy of what I thought we both wanted? Wasn’t it better to hang onto a future? To get strength from the same goal, to be together?
“Go home, Jes. I can’t think with you here.”
I left Jimmy’s house without saying goodbye. I felt the bitterness of rejection. It was Jimmy’s problem, no it was our problem. I had a solution and he cut me out.
Jimmy called me the next day. His voice was dry and unfriendly.
“I’ll tell Stu I know about an office in Philly, your Dad’s, that we can break into. I won’t tell him it’s your Dad’s office. He wouldn’t care anyway. He might even think that’s funny, us ripping off your Dad’s company. We’ll plan it out and then we’ll let your Dad know what we’re going to do.”
I felt a wave of relief and a glimmer of hope.
Jimmy hung up before I could tell him he was doing the right thing.
Thank you for reading – all comments are welcome.
Click below to check out earlier chapters.
Chapter 1 – “Jimmy”
Chapter 2 – “Stevie”
Chapter 3 – “A Photo and a Letter”
Chapter 4 – “The Life Within”
Chapter 5 – “Jimmy’s Truck”
Chapter 6 – “The Springs Diner”
Chapter 7 – “Dinner and a Game”
Chapter 8 – “He Made Me Nervous”
Chapter 9 – “I Called Dad on My Thirteenth Birthday”
Chapter 10 – “Connections and Time”
Chapter 11 – “The Reverse Apology”
Chapter 12 – “Empty Bedrooms”
Chapter 13 – “Job Description”
Chapter 14 – “The Car I Saw”
Chapter 15 – “It’s Not What You Think”
Chapter 16 – “A Different Route”
Chapter 17 – “Choosing Balance”
Chapter 18 – “A Mother Sees”
Chapter 19 – “Taking More”
Chapter 20 – “Robbing the Future”
Chapter 21 – “I Thought I Didn’t Need Her”
Chapter 22 – “It Was Up to Me”
Chapter 23 – “Separate and Icy”
Chapter 24 – “Striking a Nerve”
Chapter 25 – “Help Has Its Price”
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