A Mississippi River Romance - Part 6

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A Mississippi
River Romance

It's Okay...Really!

by Andrea Lena DiMaggio
bells i heard so
long ago seem
crystal hymns and songs I've never known
where ivy grows and stone gives way
a locket lost and a love that faded away
the broken hearts are soon to mend and
every scar of streets and where I've been

Romance Along the Mississippi

Previously...at the Magliano home…

“I don’t know who I am anymore. I mean…I told you and Mommy that I like boys…am I supposed to like girls? Am I even a boy? What am I supposed to do…when they were here…When I ran away?” Miri nodded her head in encouragement as Jerry continued.

“I wanted to crawl into a hole and die, Mir….but part of me…wanted to stay. I’m so fucked up, sis. I don’t know what the fuck I am.” He looked away, embarrassed.

“You…liked him….right?” Miri thought of her own attraction to Vinnie and laughed to herself.

“What’s so funny?” Jerry say, almost indignant.

“O, Jeez Jer…lighten up…” She started to giggle. Jerry tilted his head in puzzlement.

“Jer…Remember when me and Violet Rubio stopped bein’ friends back in eighth grade?” He tilted his head again, straining to recall what his sister meant.

“We both had a crush on David Goldberg…the kid in the next neighborhood who used to skateboard over here?” He nodded, remembering the red-haired kid from two blocks over.

“Me and Vi fought over him for a week or so and then figured out we were much more important to each other than any boy ever would be? Ya know?” Jerry didn’t know.

“Well…” She started to laugh once again.

“I never thought that my next biggest rival for a boy would be my own….sister.” She poked him in the ribs and put her hand to her head as if to flirt. She expected Jerry to feel odd, but he went further and burst into tears.

“Jerry…it’s okay…I mean it…If you like him…that’s cool…that’s way cool, ya know?” She hugged him and smiled and then put her head on his shoulder and squeezed. He couldn’t see the tears streaming down her cheeks. It wasn’t easy to give up on a boy she had just met and fallen for, but if anyone was worth losing a boy over, it was Jerry.

“Now…uummm would you like to take a walk? Just outside and just down to the corner and back. If anyone stops us and you feel bad I can just say you lost a bet with me over the Rams game last Sunday…okay? But Jerry…if someone stops us or we run into someone and you don’t feel uncomfortable? That’s way cool, okay?”

He nodded reluctantly. Part of him wanted to pull all of Miri’s clothes off and hide in the bathroom, but a little bit…maybe a big bit of him wanted to go outside where he would be free.

“Okay…sis.” He said softly as he climbed off the bed.

“Okay,” Miri said in return. She grabbed his hand and kissed his cheek.

“For luck!” She said and they both smiled at each other and laughed softly as they headed out.

St. Luke’s Urgent Care Center ER Waiting Area, Kirkwood, Missouri…

like the sweetest nectar
the softest breeze
my heart it melts with all the beauty it sees

and highway diamonds lead to empty skies
our fears dissolve in every silent car ride

A tall blond woman of about forty-five or so approached Julia, who sat in the center section of chairs in the ER waiting area. Rick sat next to her, but Danny was over by the vending area pacing nervously.

"Mrs. Pearson? Hi, I'm Dr. Lundquist. Your son is out of surgery and in recovery. He's still under the anesthetic, so you won't be able to see him until we get him upstairs. He's had a really bumpy ride, Ma'am.' She glanced quickly at Rick before returning her focus on Julia.

"Whaaa....what happened?' She looked up into Dr. Lundquist's eyes, which seemed to sparkle.

"He's got a gastric ulcer and several small ulcers in his esophagus. The bleeding came mostly from his stomach. We were able to stop the bleeding and repair the damage, but frankly I'm surprised he lasted this long without any medical attention." Julia winced at the last sentence. Rick squeezed her hand. There was plenty of guilt to go around for everybody, even if her denial had fueled the family's inaction.

"We did an exam, Ma'am, and I...." She stopped speaking, noticing that Julia seemed to be overwhelmed by the information.

"Go ahead....in fact, can you step over by the vending area and speak to my brother. I'll stay with my mom. I'm her oldest son and Danny there is the middle son." She nodded and walked over to Danny and touched him softy on the arm.

"I'm Dr. Lundquist, Mr. Pearson." Danny turned and smiled, but it was obvious he had been crying.

"I was just telling your family that your brother is going to be alright. I need to discuss this, and your mother is okay with me talking with you about it. Your brother had more than just the ulcers we found when we examined him. I'm sorry to bring up such a delicate subject at this time, but you need to know." Her expression seemed to ask for permission to continue. Danny spoke.

"You...you found...he's been....hurt." Danny couldn't bring himself to talk about the abuse, but Dr. Lundquist picked up on his anxiety.

"Both physical and sexual....I'm sorry." She frowned and looked over at Julia, who was crying into Rick's sleeve.

"I wouldn't bring it up at this point except for that he's a minor, and we've got to report this.

"There's ....." Danny whispered the remainder of his question, causing Dr. Lundquist to tilt her head.

"Yes...how did you...do you know what...." She looked at him, wanting to be kind and understanding, but she needed answers. Danny looked over at his family and used his eyes as an indicator before looking down at himself and nodding.

"You and your other brother?" She asked softly, but her face was starting to turn color. Danny nodded once again while tears streamed down his face. Dr. Lundquist looked at him and only just then did she notice the prosthetic leg. She shook her head.

"Mr. Pearson, I'm going to have to report this to social services. Do you know who did this to your brother?" She asked only as a formality; it was highly likely that whoever had molested Vinnie had abused the other two brothers. Danny nodded, and his face twisted ever so slightly.

"Someone will likely be over to interview you and your family this evening. I am so sorry you and your family have had to go through this. I'd like to see your brother in my office for a follow-up unless insurance considerations dictate otherwise, okay. Mr. Pearson???" Danny stood and stared blankly for a moment before responding.

"Yes...a follow-up...I'll make sure that takes place. When can we see Vinnie?"

"He's in recovery, and then he'll be taken to CC for at least 24 hours. When he's settled in you'll be able to see him. I'll talk to the charge nurse about letting someone stay with him. Mr.Pearson?” She put her hand on his wrist.

“I’m sorry to bring this up…does your brother confide in you? I gathered from your reaction that you and he are close.” She looked over at Rick and Julia before continuing.

“Has he said anything recently to you about…the abuse?” She breathed out a sigh.

“No…not really…he goes to a therapist, Dr. Megan Phillips…she was concerned about the ulcer, you know? But she didn’t say anything about the other thing.”

“I’ll get her name on the release of information form…Mr. Pearson?” She shook her head. Danny’s eyes widened in concern.

“What…what’s wrong?” Danny knew the answer to the question even before the words left his mouth.

“I’m sorry to say that the physical evidence seems to point to recent activity…someone is abusing your brother…I am so sorry.” She frowned and shook her head. Danny shrugged his shoulders as if to say 'these things happen,' even though they both knew that was not true. He nodded.

"Thank you for saving my brother." Danny smiled and wiped the tears from his eyes with his hand. He noticed that Dr. Lundquist was staring at his prosthetic leg.

"A...Afghanistan...IED...3rd Marines..." He was almost embarrassed until she took the clipboard she was holding and hit her left leg, which sounded with a decidedly plastic-like thud.

"Iraq...first Gulf war...grenade in med tent...7th Marines...." She smiled with that kind of smile that only folks can smile if they've been through the same thing...known the same loss or pain; a too sad commonality. She grabbed his arm.

"Mr. Pearson...you are going to get through this...you will bring your family through this, right?" She smiled and added,

"Booyah, Marine.....Semper Fi!"

"Semper Fi,” he said with more energy than he had displayed all evening. He smiled and swallowed hard, wondering how he would keep the latest information from Rick.

where wonder holds are turned so tight
hearts ablaze our only ray of light

The Magliano’s neighborhood….about the same time…

Two girls stood at the end of the block, facing back toward their house. The older wore a charcoal grey hoodie over blue jeans and black low-heeled boots. He sister wore nearly an identical outfit, save for the black hoodie with the gold "Mizzou" emblazoned across the front. Both girls wore knit green wool berets, and their makeup was minimal, age-appropriate for two nearly-fifteen year old twins.

"See...that wasn't so bad, was it? Miri laughed softly. It had cooled a bit and nobody was on the street at dinnertime anyway. Jerry laughed nervously.

"So far...so...." He shook his head and stopped suddenly, noticing a figure approaching them from across the street.

"Hey...Miri...wait up." Violet Rubio yelled as she dodged a slow moving mini-van that had just pulled up to the crosswalk.

"Oh...damn...Don't say anything, I'll do all the talking." Miri said with a wave of her hand to Violet.

"You don't have to tell me," Jerry said, pulling his hood over his head.

"Hey, girl." She waved as she reached the sidewalk. Miri tried to play it low key.

"Hi Vi!"

"Hey...your mom said you were out walking. I need the assignment for Chem on Tuesday. Oh, hey Jerry...nice makeup." She didn't mock or laugh; her voice sounded way too sincere for Miri.

"What...her...no, this isn't Jerry...this is my cousin....Marie."

"Oh, jeez, Mir...that's so fucking lame...." She laughed and walked up to Jerry, pulling his hood back off his head.

"See...what did I say...Jerry...relax....you look just fine." She leaned close and kissed him on the cheek, half-whispering,

"If I weren't going with Monica Forte I'd snap you up myself. Hey...this is the 21st century, right?" She hugged him quick before turning back to Miri.

"Like I said...I need the Chem homework...call me later, kay?" Miri stood silent until Violet spoke again.

"Listen...if I didn't know your family, I would never have guessed, you know? I won't say a word, Mir...Promise!" She hugged Miri and kissed her once before running off across the street and down the block.

"Sacred Feces, Jer!" Miri said, trying to be glib, but the shocked look on her own face mirrored the startled fear etched across Jerry's face.

"I want to go home now." Jerry said quietly as Miri looked down the street following Violet's path with her eyes. Nearly a minute passed before Jerry spoke again, much louder this time.

"Miri....I want to go home...NOW!" Miri turned to watch her brother walk quickly back up the block toward their house.

"Oh...okay." Miri said weakly before shoving her hand in her hoodie pockets as she walked slowly back to the house. One last glance down the block to see Violet turning the corner to run to her own
home followed by a look at her brother walking up the steps of their porch.

"Holy Shit!"

Violet Rubio’s home...a few minutes later...

“Did you catch up with Miri?” Violet turned and nodded.

“She was out walking with her brother. She thinks I just want the Chem assignment.” Violet laughed softly.

“Well, it’s mostly right...we are wondering about chemistry, for sure.” Violet looked over at her sister Cindy and smiled.

the time of my life
the time of my life
the time of my life
the time of my life
let it all begin again

Next: Reckonings!

The Time of My Life
Words and Music by
The Traveling Wilburys
(George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison,
Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan.)
As Performed by
Jenny Lewis and
The Watson Twins

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