This story was submitted previously to another site. It has been "tidied-up" to clarify and correct minor shortcomings. There is no sex other than implied and that's what you'd expect from a scene set in the "uptight '50's".
Sometimes Kids shouldn't mess around with Grown-ups.
I'm not exactly sure why my mother and I were never close. I suppose it was because of how I saw her treat my dad. He was constantly being criticized from some sin or other; usually minor and often unjustified. It seemed like he had lived his whole married life in this state of harassment and I often wondered why he had married her when she was so obviously unhappy with him. I was born a year after their marriage and I was their only child. My mother was an attractive woman; now forty years old and as I looked at the early photos of her, she was a very beautiful young lady. Perhaps it was this physical attraction which captured my father; but whatever it was, the marriage had lasted a lot longer than the love. I had some dim memories of happy times when I was a little kid, but that was a long time ago. From the time I was thirteen, I was constantly expecting them to announce their divorce and yet it had never happened. I never got the sense that Mom wasn't angry at me, but that she was angry with everyone. I didn't have the courage to ask my father about their relationship. I was left to wonder on my own.
My name is Ron Francis. I'm sixteen and will be a senior in High School next month. I'll graduate with the '58 Class and with any luck, I'll be accepted at State and start working toward my college degree. My Dad is Sam Francis. I really like him. He's smart and knows a lot about the world and current events. He's a big help to me with my homework since he's also really good at math. My Mom is Helen Francis. I guess you've already got a picture of her. Both my Mom and Dad are what most people would call good-looking. I'm still growing I guess. I've been gaining some muscle since I joined the swim team and my girl friend says it's all in the right places. I trust her.
My father was a middle management officer in an insurance company and as such, made a decent income. Certainly enough that my mother didn't have to work and could stay home to look after me when I was young. After I reached fifteen, I wondered why she didn't get a job or volunteer, just to have something to do with her time. As far as I could tell, she didn't have any hobbies nor did she associate with many of the other neighborhood women. Since I was in school during the week, I wasn't really sure what she did with her days. On my summer vacations, I was lucky enough to have a job at the newest supermarket as a 'box boy'; helping people with their groceries and making the odd delivery on my bike. When I was old enough to drive, I used the market's van to deliver and I had lots to do, both on weekdays and on weekends. As a result, I didn't know how my mother spent her days during the summer months either.
I discovered my mother's secret quite by accident. It usually happens that way, doesn't it? I was delivering groceries to an ailing, elderly customer one afternoon and as I drove up to her house, I noticed a familiar car parked in front of the house next door. It was my mother's aging '49 Pontiac. I recognized the fender scrapes before I looked at the license plate for confirmation. I had no idea who lived at that house and after I delivered the groceries, I sat in the van, wondering who it could be. For whatever reason, I pulled out my notepad and wrote down the address with a big question mark beside it. I stuffed the notepad back in my shirt pocket and went on about my deliveries. I didn't think of the incident until that evening at dinner when my father and mother were talking.
"How was your day, dear?" my father asked as he always did.
"The usual." she said wearily. "I was home all day with not much to do. I just sat on the back porch in the shade and read for a while."
I looked up at her and couldn't see any sign that she was nervous or uncomfortable with his question, but I knew she was lying. I had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach and it didn't go away. After dinner, I was up in my room, sitting at my desk, wondering about mother's statement. I pulled out the notebook and wrote down the address in my school binder and wondered how I could find out who she was visiting. I remembered that the library had a reverse directory and I could look up the address and find out who lived there. I made a note to look up that mystery address at the first opportunity.
The following day, I made time at lunch for a quick trip to the library and looked up the address and I got a phone number and a name: Edwin S. Robinson. I had no idea whether that was the only person living there, but at least I had a name. What I didn't know was what to do next. Today was Wednesday. I had delivered my groceries to the house next door at 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. Perhaps with a bit of planning, I could drive by today at the same time and see if my mother's car was there again.
By changing my normal route, I was able to drive past the Robinson address just before 2:45 the next afternoon, but my mother's car was nowhere in sight. I wondered if my spotting her car on Tuesday was just a single incident. On Thursday, however, I was in our own neighborhood and I noticed that her car was not in our driveway when I passed our house just after 2:00. I looked at my delivery scheduled and with a quick revision, I headed back toward Tuesday's location and was surprised to see her car once again in front of the same house. I now had a mystery, but once again, I had no clue on what to do next.
Everyone needs someone to confide in. In my case, my girlfriend, Penny Lane, was the one person I could talk to about the strange occurrences I had observed in the past two days without everyone in town knowing about it. I forgot to mention; I live in a small town. Everyone knows everyone; or so they say. In fact, it isn't true. Either our town isn't that small or we don't socialize the way small town people used to, but I can't honestly say I know half of the people in this town; either by name or by neighborhood. True, there is only one high school and two Supermarkets and one Drive-In Movie Theatre, but still, there are lots of things about my town that I don't know. Penny (her real name is Peony) and I both were born and grew up here and we'll both be in the same senior class in school. We've been friends for as long as I can remember and over that last couple of years, we've started to see each other in a more adult way, I guess. She's a really good looking girl and I'm lucky I'm her steady boyfriend. She's also really smart, so when I need an idea, she's the logical person to ask. I don't know any grown-ups I could confide in; certainly not my mother and in this case, definitely not my father.
Penny and I see each other almost every day, so I didn't have to wait long to tell her what's been going on and ask her if she had any ideas about what to do next. She didn't disappoint me.
"Well, there's a couple of things we could try." she offered.
"Really? Like what?" I was surprised she was able to think of something this quickly after just having heard my mystery.
"Well, I could pretend to be doing a survey and could ask them some questions. Say I was with the newspaper and they wanted to know what people liked and didn't like in the paper. Then I could ask them how many people read the paper in that house and if they were male or female, adult or children; you know, the usual stuff." But there was a catch.
"When those people come to our house, my mother just slams the door in their face." I said solemnly.
"It's always a risk they won't answer, but if they do, you get some important information." she said brightly.
"Why are you doing the survey and not me? It's my problem."
"You don't know what they know about your family or you. Maybe someone has a picture of you. It's better this way." she said simply. "Why don't we get started and figure out what questions we need to ask?"
And so we did. Penny said she had learned something about surveys and how they are designed to get certain kinds of information without people really realizing it at the time. We spent about an hour coming up with the least number of questions we could to get the most amount of information. In the end, we had seven questions that would, she was sure, give us a lot of information about the Robinson household.
Penny said she would go around to the Robinson house at about ten the next morning. She thought that if there was a Mrs. Robinson, that would be the best time to talk to her. If there was no one home, she would go about seven that evening. But that was when I learned my part in the plan.
"Pete, I want you to be at that house by seven tomorrow morning. I want to know who comes out and when. If there are kids, they won't be off to school, but they may have a baby-sitter. I'm guessing the man of the house will leave sometime between seven and eight to go to work. If the wife works, she'll probably leave shortly after the kids are gone or maybe she'll even drive them. If she does, wait around and see if she comes home. Got it?" she asked brightly.
"Yah. I think so." All I had to do was think of a reason to be up and out of the house that early. I decided on a story about some inventory counting at the store before it opened. Penny approved.
.... There is more of this story ...