When I was about 15 or 16 I went to a school dance in Cloverdale. Cloverdale has a population of about 3000 (or it did at the time) and was the very definition of “Podunk”. I had been invited there by a girl named Stephanie, who I was fairly certain was going to let me fuck her. This being about all the motivation I needed to venture 3 cities away to the boondocks of Cloverdale, away I went.
Summer was about to start. The weather, always a little warmer in Cloverdale anyway, was balmy but not terribly unpleasant. Stephanie told me that her and several friends were all going to the dance, and that we were going to leave early, get drunk and then crash at her mom’s house. It sounded like a plan to me.
We arrived at the dance about 8pm and made our way to the front door. I stopped when I saw my old school friend John who had moved up this way. We talked of whatever it is 16 year old boys talk about, firecrackers, guns, vaginas, and liquor, in a very serious sober tone, as if these things were not only common, but sacred. As John and I caught up on being adolescents, I started to hear shouting near the door of the gym where the dance was held.
Kaitlyn was sort of an ex-girlfriend, it’s a whole different complicated story to explain that, but basically we dated for about 2 months and she dumped me. We had sex once, and she had tremendous gravity defying tits that were firmer than any real tits had a right to be. She was also not a small girl. She was, cute, and sexy, but she also had broad shoulders and had an inch of height on me. In all fairness, she probably could have kicked my (or your) ass.
Well Kaitlyn decided, by Cloverdale rules, that I was off-limits to her friends, which unbeknownst to me, included Stephanie. So she stopped her at the door and started threatening to “Kick her fucking whore ass all over the baseball field.”. Sure the energy of having two attractive girls fight over me was a bit of a rush, but I quickly realized that Stephanie was my better chance of getting laid tonight and almost guaranteed to lose, as she was “slender” and “soft” in a very different way that Kaitlyn was “firm” and “dangerous”. I quickly put a stop to everything by apologizing for no reason whatsoever, and in the confusion… dragging Stephanie away with 5 friends in tow.
We were young and energetic and didn’t let this get us down, we merely opted to up the timeline on our “Get Drunk and Fuck Around” plan. Her friend magically came up with a huge gallon bottle of Black Velvet™ Whiskey and whispered conspiratorially
“We’re going drinking, down by the Crick.”.
About this time I started to feel like a bit of a hick, but shrugged and took it all good naturedly. We hiked for 30-40 minutes to a remote location at said Cloverdale Crick and settled down for some serious fuck-uppery. Being 16, horny and relatively invincible, I decided my first order of business was to show how well I can chug Black Velvet. Which come to find out, is fairly decently. We passed the bottle around several times and the 6 of us broke off into couples and commenced pubescent activities. Due to my uncanny good judgement, the whiskey reduced my shyness but blotted out most of my memory of the following hour or two. I loudly assured everyone that would listen that “Drank this shit all the time” and then settled down with Stephanie for some heavy kissing and under-the-shirt nirvana.
Some time passed….
As the giant bottle neared it’s final few inches of life, a bright flashlight suddenly sprang to life about 30 feet from where our group was congregating. Not sure at first who might be trying to blind us, we loudly and hilariously called the owner of the flashlight names like “fucker” and “you piece of shit” and asked repeatedly who it was. It turned out to be Officer Sendrick who had a reputation for being a hard-ass in that neck of the woods. He was largely unamused by our situation, age, and language.
He angrily dumped the whiskey out in front of us and started barking questions. Not being a local, sober, or sure if I was dreaming or not, I mostly stayed quiet. Eventually our angry law enforcer decided he’d heard all he needed to hear. Stephanie claimed we were all staying at her moms’ house and so we were packed into 2 squad cars and led to her suburban track home. The mood was tense and everyone was staring at each other, asking silently how bad it was going to be.
We arrived at Stephanie’s house and waited while the cop and her mother exchanged a few angry shouts, none of which concerned me. By this time my adrenaline was at a level reserved for racing horses on steroids, and I was wondering if there was ANY way to avoid having this get back to my parents. To make a long, and let’s be honest, drunken story short. We were informed that everyone could stay there and spend the night and that Stephanie’s mom would tell their parents the following day, except me. Since I have never met Stephanie’s mom, I’ll refer to her as “That fucking bitch”. So that fucking bitch said she didn’t know me and there was no way I was staying at her house. Stephanie was a trooper and pleaded greatly but alas, I was the only one shoved back into the squad car.
By this time it’s about 1-2am and I’m being hustled into the Cloverdale police station. I’m given a breathalyzer that shows that I am apparently made partially of Whiskey. Then placed into the cell they use as a drunk tank. The cop comes to inform me that they need to call my parents. The conversation went a little like this.
“We need to call your parents” Officer Sendrick says with barely concealed authority-based rage.
“Please don’t call my parents” I pleaded with barely concealed terror.
“We need to call or a Windsor Police Officer will have to go to your house and wake them up” he threatened.
Thinking myself clever, I gave them my personal phone number at home that just went to a machine in my room. They dialed 3 times and came right back to my cell.
Officer Sendrick was getting annoyed “We can’t reach your parents”.
“Oh well, I guess we’ll have to try again in the morning, they’re definitely asleep” I said with a glimmer of hope.
He shook his head, in a slow hope-destroying manner. “Nope, we’ll have Windsor PD wake them up”
I hurriedly gave them the right number, which also ended in failure. Eventually they were forced to actually have a Windsor cop beat on my parents door for up to about 10 minutes which woke up my parents, my sisters, the cat, a few of the neighbors and possibly Jimmy Hoffa.
As I lay in the cell, debating the positives and negatives of vomiting whiskey in a jail toilet, I was tersely informed that my father was on his way to get me. It being around 3am by this time. I slowly and methodically re-lived the better parts of the evening and prepared myself to die.
Not that Dad was a monster or anything, but he had a temper. He also got up at 5am to work and wasn’t adverse to a fairly severe beating if the circumstances called for it. My parents were also big fans of grounding. Judging by the severity of the whole situation, I figured I had roughly 7 lifespans of groundation and possibly 3-4 harsh beatings coming my way. That being the positive view. As it was also theoretically possible I would be killed out of hand or simply dismissed from the family in a field somewhere to wander the earth family-less.
All these possibilties and more went through my head, when I got up for the 100th time to look thorugh the tiny mesh-wire and glass window of my cell, down a long hallway to the outer door, where I locked eyes with my dad. From 100 feet away we both saw each other and sized up the situation. He looked tired, annoyed, I probably looked like the cover of a horror movie, or that famous “Scream” painting by Dali.
He exchanged some words with Officer Heartless-Bastard and then without a word, ushered me to the car. Back then dad was driving a huge old 68 Lincoln Continental which gave us about 30 feet to sit apart from each other in the front seat. While we sat on our separate sides of the car, with an ocean of patent leather between us, I couldn’t look at him, or say anything. I just stared out at the dark freeway, starting to see the first inklings of daylight creep over the horizon. I think I briefly fooled myself into thinking I was someone else, somewhere else, and this was a pleasant trip to somewhere other than hell.
A long time passed, it popped into my head that he had already had quite a drive to come get me. But I was too frozen with terror to mention it, or anything else. Finally after 20 minutes of dead silence he grunted at me.
“So, you were drinking huh? ”
I nodded, realizing that probably wasn’t enough, I swallowed my parched tongue and mumbled “Yup”.
“How much did you have?” he asked almost offhandedly.
I shrugged, and told him the number on the breathalyzer, the car swerved briefly. He just shook his head and kept driving. Another few minutes went by, and suddenly he got off the exit for Healdsburg. This was several miles short of our home destination and my body immediately tensed. Was this where the murder took place? Was this where Adam Aragon ended and a lengthy investigation into a violent crime began?
He pulled up to the Circle K, all with no words or explanation. He got out of the car. I waited.
I waited… Wondering if he needed rope or bungee cord, possibly some lye, a tarpaulin and a machete to finish the deed. He finally returned with some junk food, he handed me a small chocolate ding-dong and a carton of milk. He had a soda and some crumbly pastry. Not a word was spoken, he simply handed me the food, and continued driving. I tentatively ate the food and drank the milk, looking for every angle. A last meal maybe?
We approached the house, with about 5 minutes remaining on our drive and he said to me “Your mom’s pretty upset”.
“I know” I nodded sagely, she was likely quite upset.
He nodded too, “I’m pretty tired”. I nodded in return again, only grateful that this hadn’t turned to bloodshed yet. He continued on “I’m going to go talk to your mother, you just go in and go to bed okay?”
“Okay” I mumbled. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, my mind was still full of potential punishments and ways this could turn very bad for me.
“Also,” he cleared his throat “I beat the shit out of you”.
“Huh?” was my confused reply.
He spoke more clearly and precisely “I, beat, the, shit, out, of, you.”.
Still lost of a fog of Black Velvet™ and terror, I shook my head, confused. “What?”
He sighed and his eyes rolled back, he finally responded with “Don’t make me actually DO it” and slowly inclined his head, as if to say, are we catching on yet?
“Oh” I replied, suddenly the full realization hit me “OH! Yes, yes you did, beat the shit out of me”.
He sighed again and pulled into the driveway. We both got out of the car and he pointed to my room. Then stalked inside to tell Mom what happened.
I crept into my room, pulled back my covers and slipped into a troubled but grateful sleep. Still confused as to what happened. Later that day around 10am Mom knocked on my door. I sat up and said “Come in” putting an appropriately hang-dog look on my face.
Mom came in almost shyly and sat at the foot of my bed. She patted my leg and said, “Now I know your father was pretty hard on you” She inspected my face for bruises. “I’m sorry that it happened but you know that you made a huge mistake last night” I nodded, slightly puzzled at her conciliatory tone. Then it hit me… Dad beat the shit out me.
He didn’t of course, but he told Mom he was “pretty rough” on me and may have “gone overboard” on the beating and punishment. Mom was more scared about my wellbeing than the fact that I’d been brought home from a jail cell for drinking and debauchery. I affected a limp and sad expression for a few days. Mom gave me the bare minimum of punishment (grounded for the weekend) and basically treated me like a king for the weekend anyway. Dad covered for me, not only that, but he didn’t mention it again. I went from facing the biggest punishment of my teenage career to getting off totally free, aside from a hangover and the endless waves of fear I experienced. In retrospect, the fear and expectation were probably plenty of punishment enough, and my Dad probably knew that, no stranger to the mind-fuck was he.
But I’ll never forget, years later, even after he’s passed away and we had our share of anger and love since then, that time that Dad didn’t beat the shit out of me.