Free excerpt from The Abandoned, available September 30, 2021
The ride home from the ER was uncomfortable. Dillon and his grandfather were in the backseat, but the former avoided eye contact with his elder. Dillon’s body faced his window, and he scooched himself as far away from Reginald as possible. Richard was responsible for his concussion and eight stitches, but right now the fire inside Dillon burned because of Reginald.
As the Lawrence’s were leaving the hospital Dillon explicitly said he wasn’t in the mood to talk. His family, relieved to be outside the confines of a heavily sanitized environment, abided by the silence Dillon demanded.
Dillon was infuriated with his parents for being bystanders to his grandfather’s antics. Reginald found his grandson to be an ungrateful piece of shit who possessed no drive. Heather fretted over the state of her family. Richard felt anxious about what the repercussions would be if members of the medical staff leaked out who they treated tonight.
Dillon, keeping his hand covering his mouth, mumbled, “I didn’t say anything about what happened, so at least you don’t have to worry about that.”
Heather whimpered at the sound of his voice. What he muttered broke her heart. Materialism disguised it, but their turmoil was no longer the family’s worst-kept secret.
Richard could no longer bear the silence. Once they turned onto Lawrence Drive, he said, “Dillon, I’m so sorry, son. I made a mistake. It was in the moment, and I didn’t want things to get worse. Even though they obviously did. You know I have never hurt you before and did not intend to this time. I’m so sorry.”
With the car in full auto-pilot mode, a watery eyed Richard turned around in hopes of catching any sign of forgiveness from Dillon. What exactly that looked like he didn’t know, but he hoped he would if he saw it.
“Yeah,” Dillon said just above a whisper.
Reginald rolled his eyes.
Knowing he wouldn’t get through to him by pressing too hard, Richard patiently waited for Dillon to elaborate. Dillon’s gaze remained out the window, pretending to peer down at the rocks poking out of the ocean even though the sun set hours before, and he had yet to remove his hand from his mouth. It was symbolic of holding back what he really felt. Avoiding confrontation was an easier route than addressing the quandary his family was in. This type of learned behavior was why dysfunction existed in the first place.
“Yeah, you forgive me?” Richard asked.
“Let’s talk about this at home,” Heather suggested. She continued, “Reginald, do you want us to pick up Wilford and take you back, or do you feel okay getting yourself back? It’s getting late.”
“I can press the right buttons. I’ll get the old man and be on my way once we get back.”
Reginald rounded up Wilford and left as swiftly as he could. When Richard’s and Heather’s awkward good-byes to Reginald were over with, Richard, Heather, and Dillon took their seats on separate pieces of black and gold furniture in their living room.
Dillon was the smuggest he had ever been with his parents, and the energy rubbed off on Frank and Finn. They appeared uneasy, constantly licking their lips and scratching themselves.
Dillon took it upon himself to break the ice.
“How can you let him be the way he is? Constantly racist. All the time. I’m sick and tired of his bullshit, and you never say anything, Dad. You don’t say anything to him. What if Moe was here and he heard that? Would you do anything then? What if he called him an infick to his face?”
Richard looked down at the ground, embarrassed with himself for his son’s priviness to his weakness: lacking the courage to stick up to his father. Richard didn’t set an admirable example for Dillon by failing to speak up for his beliefs.
“What about your new friend, Mom? What if Ariana was here and heard that? What if Ariana was an infick? But no, no one says anything. Everything’s always okay as long as it isn’t us getting shit on. It’s fuckin’ bullshit.”
Dillon had never spoken so vulgar to his parents before.
After the densest silence yet, Dillon’s voice cracked when he said, “Maybe no one does because then they get their fuckin’ head cracked open.”
Richard slapped his hands over his face and wept. Crying masked his inability to muster up an acceptable response. He was disgusted with himself and overwhelmed by the confrontation.
“When I go to my room at night it seems to be the best part of the night for you guys, so that’s where I’m going. You guys can drink and talk about whatever you two talk about to make it seem like you’re both happy. Infick free. Fuckin’ bullshit.”
Dillon stormed out with Frank and Finn not far behind.
After Richard regained control of his emotions, he straightened his posture and blankly stared straight ahead. He rubbed his eyes to dry them, but all that did was balloon their puffiness and further redden them.
“Where do we go from here, Richard?” his wife asked.
Any thoughts you want to share with Jake about this excerpt?