Thank you for visiting Book Club Mom’s Friday Fiction. Below is Chapter 31 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 31 – “I’ll Call You When It’s Over”
On Saturday, I tried to warn Jimmy about Stu, but Jimmy was already so nervous about the robbery on Sunday that he wouldn’t listen. “I already know Stu can’t be trusted,” he told me. “I don’t care about him and any new schemes he’s got. I just want to be finished.” We were standing in Jimmy’s kitchen and his hands shook as he wrote something on a pad. “Here,” he said, tearing off the sheet and handing it to me. “Hold onto this. It’s the combination to the safe I have and directions where to find it. If I get arrested, use the money that’s in there to get me out.” I was trembling, but I kept telling Jimmy to relax. He was getting fired up, talking non-stop, worrying out loud, and running through a list of things that could go wrong. I’d told him that Dad and the police had it all figured out, but now my own thoughts were beginning to muddle. All I could think of to say was not to worry and I said it again and again. I don’t think Jimmy was listening.
Dad told me I couldn’t go down to Philly. He told me to stay home and he promised to call as soon as everything was taken care of. I didn’t like his plan. I had thought I’d be there the whole time with Dad, making sure Jimmy was protected. “Look Jessy, you came to me and I went to the police. It’s out of your hands now. Your job is to wait at home. I will call you when it’s over.”
The plan was for Jimmy to head down to the city at 11:00 pm with Stu, Gene and their friend. Dad’s office was on the twelfth floor at 16th and Market. Two weeks earlier, he had arranged for Jimmy to get a temp job there and Jimmy had learned the ins and outs of the building. Dad gave him an extra key card to enter the building after hours.
On Sunday, Jimmy picked me up at noon and we took his truck up to St. Peter’s Village. We climbed onto the rocks and sat, watching the water rush past us. The day was perfect for everyone except us. The sun was warm on our faces and the water swished over the rocks, making them sparkle. White fluffy clouds drifted in a beautiful blue sky. If only we could enjoy ourselves. If only we could do this tomorrow when it was all over.
I was nervous too. I wanted it to be over. I wanted Jimmy to be cleared. I wanted to hear Dad tell me everything was alright. It had been five days since my last medication. That was the longest I’d gone since I’d been seeing a doctor. I looked over at Jimmy and I couldn’t tell if he was shaky too, or if it was just me. He was babbling, I thought. Or maybe I wasn’t listening carefully enough to follow him.
I centered my eyes on him, my trick to look like I was paying close attention. I don’t think Jimmy noticed, but I heard him say, “Jes, I don’t think I can go through with this. I mean, now Stu wants me to go there separately, says he and Gene and the other guy are going to meet me there. What’s that about? I don’t want to do that. He thinks it’s safer for me to go in first. I feel like he’s setting me up, like they’re not going to show or something. Like I’m going to get caught and Stu’s going to be sitting at home and laughing his ass off at his stupid little brother.”
“Jimmy, what are you saying?” I was so confused. I hadn’t heard this new plan and I was worried that Dad wouldn’t know about it.
“Haven’t you been listening to me Jessie? I’m saying that this whole shitty plan is changing by the minute and Stu’s telling me I’m the one who has to go in there. I don’t want to do it, Jes!”
Jimmy drove me home and we sat in his truck in front of my house. I told him that Dad was going to call me when it was all over. I felt like we had both been talking to different people the whole afternoon. I looked at Jimmy and his eyes were wild and I focused fiercely on those brown eyes thinking I’d get a sign from him that everything would be okay.
“Come here,” he said and he pulled me across the front seat. And then his lips were on mine and I felt the fire between us that had been missing, the heat that gave me ground. Jimmy’s words were still spinning in my head, but my body was still, my mouth on his, our bodies pressed. We were holding tight to each other and it gave me strength.
“Is anyone home?” he asked me. His voice was hoarse, his eyes were still fierce, needy. “No,” I answered. “Mom’s away until tonight.” We went into the house and closed the door and Jimmy pushed me against the wall. His arms pulled me to him and I couldn’t move my mind and my body fast enough, to feel his hands, to touch his body. We were the two of us, trying to grasp as much as we could get a hold of and I felt like Jimmy was doing just what I was trying to do, to feel this fire, to center ourselves, to confirm that everything was the way it should be.
We made love on my bed and we stayed there until the sun went down. It was dark when Jimmy got up. “I have to go,” he whispered. “I will call you tonight if I can. If I can’t I’ll call you in the morning as soon as I can.”
“Call me no matter what time it is, Jimmy. Call me. I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll come to your house if you want. Just call me.”
To understand what happened next is to pull yourself out of one story and step into an entirely different one, to take all the things you thought were true and real, and reverse them or erase them and to stand there in utter disbelief, running through what you thought were facts about yourself and about the people around you.
I couldn’t reach Dad before he’d headed down to Philly. I’d wanted to tell him about Jimmy going there alone. I was afraid of this new plan. I sat at home and waited in a numb and frozen state, not moving from the chair next to the bed in my room, the bed where Jimmy and I had just made love, the bed that had brought me back to a clarity and a reality that I felt I had a right to.
Jimmy went to Philly. Dad told me he had driven his truck right down to 17th and Market, had found a parking space right on the street, and had walked right up to Dad’s office building, used his key card and took the elevator right up to the 12th floor. Dad was watching and the police were waiting for Jimmy and his brothers to break the law.
Dad and the police waited two hours for Jimmy to come out. The police were positioned all around and inside the building and no one except Jimmy had entered. What was Jimmy doing in there? They all wondered.
At 1:30 in the morning, Jimmy shuffled tentatively out of the building, alone. Dad was sitting in a car near the entrance and Jimmy was crying, shouting loudly, and screaming “Stu, you were supposed to be here. You set me up. You set me up to get caught!”
Dad wanted to help, he said. He told me he wanted to help the boy his daughter loved. So he opened his car door and stepped out onto the sidewalk and called out to Jimmy.
Jimmy was so startled that he turned and screamed at Dad. The police, who were watching, jumped into action, afraid that Jimmy had a gun.
They came from all different directions and surrounded Jimmy and told him to get down on the sidewalk. They handcuffed him and frisked him and didn’t find a gun, but they kept him like that and by then Jimmy was sobbing, yelling things in between and telling them first he was so hot, and then that he was freezing cold.
I was sitting in the chair next to my bed while this was happening and I didn’t even know that the boy I loved had his face pressed against the concrete sidewalk and was telling everyone he was hot and cold at the same time.
Dad told me that the police got Jimmy on his feet and tried talking to him, but he couldn’t say anything that anyone could understand. Dad and the police were so surprised at the way things had unfolded and they had no idea what to do about Jimmy until Dad finally said, “Hey, this is my daughter’s boyfriend. I’ll take him home.” The police didn’t have any reason to arrest Jimmy since he hadn’t walked out with any computer equipment and his brothers and their buddy had never shown up.
The police un-handcuffed Jimmy, went back to their cars and drove away, leaving Jimmy crying and trembling. Dad helped Jimmy over to his car. Jimmy was sobbing and saying things that didn’t make sense. Dad guided Jimmy into the passenger seat, buckled him in, closed the door and together they made their way over to the Vine Street Expressway and onto the Schuykill and finally home to Jimmy’s house.
Dad called me at 3:00 am from Jimmy’s house.
“Jessie, Honey. I’ve got Jimmy here and it’s all over. He’s not feeling well, so I’m going to get him to bed. He’s not hurt, he’s safe and you don’t have to worry about the police. I’ll call you in the morning and explain everything.”
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”
Chapter 26 – “Who Asked for Help?”
Chapter 27 – “You’ve Done Enough”
Chapter 28 – “The Plan”
Chapter 29 – “Who Says I’m Not Okay?”
Chapter 30 – “What’s so Great about Balance?”
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