I look at the haggard face of my wife. She’s as scared as I am. Travis has been gone for three days. No phone calls, no messages, he doesn’t answer his cell. Nothing.
“He’ll come back, Stacy.”
Shaking her head, “That’s only half of it, and you know it. I can’t believe you left that brochure out.”
Flashing, “It was in my den. He’s not allowed in there and he knows it.”
“He steals, Trevor! He drinks, does drugs, you know the list. Borders don’t mean anything to him. We lost the element of surprise, and who knows when, or if, he’s coming back. This is our last chance with him, Trevor. We can’t mess this up. Not this time.”
“You don’t think I know that? I screwed up, alright?”
“No, it’s not alright. This is too important.”
Stacy looks at me with sudden suspicion.
“You didn’t…leave that out on purpose, did you?”
“I don’t…know…I know what he’s about to go through.”
Stacy’s face softens and her eyes well up. She walks toward me, placing both hands against my shoulders and looks me directly in the eyes.
“I know you do. But, it’s necessary. This can’t be about you and your mom. It’s about us, our family, our son.”
Hitching, “I know that.”
“How can you do this, Mom? I’m your son!“
“I know who you are, Trevor. And I know what you are, and where you’re headed. This is all I have left.”
I stare at her in wonder. She looks the same as she always has, rail thin, stringy brown-grey hair, wearing her same ratty, pink robe, her cross hanging from her neck from that thin necklace. She looks the same, but now she’s a stranger. She’s not my mother. No mother would do this. No mom would send her kid to military school.
As I’m about to be forced into that blue van, “Trevor, someday you’ll understand.”
Snorting, “Sure, Mom. When I’m older, right?”
Tears stream down her face, her right hand grasps that cross, “No. When you’re a parent.”
The sound of a thump at the door brings me to reality. I hear cursing and the fumbling of keys. The door turns, I hold my breath, unsure of what I’ll see. I close my eyes as his condition is instantly clear.
The same clothes from Wednesday morning, dirty, bloody, torn. Bloodshot eyes, tussled hair, a black eye. Travis looks up, takes a few seconds to focus.
Whispering, “Mom, Dad, I’m sorry. I promise-“
I shake my head, “Don’t. Travis, just don’t. I’m sorry too.”
I nod at Stacy. Sobbing, she walks to the living room shade and pulls it up. The signal. Four car doors slam. Footsteps running up the driveway. Dawning horror on Travis’s face.
“Now? You’re still doing this? Boot camp? How-“
I stride up to him, my hands on his shoulders, “We have to, Travis. There’s nothing else we can do for you. It’s this or jail.”
Stacy whispers through tears, “Or worse. We love you, Honey. But-“
Travis shoves me away, as the door bursts open. Four men in matching Kelly green tee shirts take flanking positions around our son. He is forcibly dragged out the door and down our driveway.
Stacy and I hold each other in our front yard. Before they pull out, I signal for the driver to stop. Travis’s window slides down.
“Son, one day you’ll understand why we did this. We love you.”
Derisive snort, “Love you too, Dad. And I understand plenty. I understand you’re pathetic. Get me outta here.”
As we pull away, I refuse to look back. I catch her reflection in the rearview mirror. For a second I see a change, her spine is no longer straight, her shoulders sag, her face buried in her hands. She disappears.
I collapse to my knees in our yard, dew seeping through my pants. I bury my face in my hands and wail. Stacy hunkers down and holds me. We stay that way until we’re numb.
Slowly, I rise, pull my car keys from my pocket and head to the garage.
“Where are you going?”
I stare through tears, “I’ll be back by noon.”
Stacy nods and heads into the house.
Three hours later, I stand at her doorstep, waiting. I hear the sliding of slippers, the unlocking of the deadbolt. She cracks the door and gasps.
“Trevor! Are you okay? Are Stacy and Travis okay?”
My chest hitches.
“Mom, I understand now.”
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