And there he stood, in the doorway, egging me on to go out for a night on the town with him. Happily I agreed and I quickly gathered my belongings, shoving them into my purse followed by hurrying into the bathroom to comb my hair. He was busy talking to my mother while I got ready, and my father had just pulled in the driveway from work. Everyone liked my boyfriend Howard, he was the typical nice guy handsome, and quiet. He had that strong presentation about him, and he never ended a conversation without a laugh. He always looked tired, however never gave me a dull moment while I was around him. Howard was always over my house, he liked my parents. I’d oddly scarcely went to his house over the nine months we’d been going out, and most of the time his parents weren’t home.
Today was my birthday and all I asked for was a nice dinner. I don’t really want anything. Coincidently, I shared the same birthday as Howard’s little brother, so this was the second birthday meal he was having today. My parents told me that they’d cook me up whatever I wanted, but hesitantly, I refused and decided to go downtown with Howard instead. My parents didn’t mind though, they knew Howard would take care of me.
We decide on a nice sushi restaurant near a bowling alley where we hung out with our friends on the weekends to bowl. Since it was a Wednesday night however, there wasn’t too much bowling action, but the restaurant was unfortunately busy. It was expected though, the sushi was the huge rave in our town and there were many regulars each night. I had gone there numerous time before and enjoyed the sushi more and more each time I went.
After twenty-five minutes of waiting a thin, young, red-headed boy sat us at a table near the window, which was nice. I think Howard told him it was my birthday when I had went to use the restrooms. There wasn’t much to see out the window though. The restaurant was in a plaza so all you could see was the parking lot, but it was better than sitting in a cramped booth in the back.
He told me that I could order anything on the menu, however I’m not like that. I ordered a favorite of mine that wasn’t unreasonably priced, and he ordered the same and said we could share his meal if I finished and still wanted more. Like usual, it was delicious and we both finished our meals. Well, I finished my meal and then willingly helped Howard finish his.
On the way home we stopped in at the local bakery shop and he bought me my favorite cookies, peanut butter and M & Ms. However while I was ordering, I saw him on his cell phone. I watched as his expression turned grim. He approached the cashier and promptly paid the young girl.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing Janelle, you got the cookies you like?” he replied.
I knew he was lying when he tried to change the subject back to my cookies. I asked again.
“Howard, what’s wrong!” I reiterated.
“Janelle, I have to run home. I’m really sorry. Would you mind walking home without me?” he asked.
“Sure it’s fine, is everything alright?” I answered.
“Everything will be just fine.” he returned.
“Happy birthday Janelle, I love you.” he said with a reassuring smile.
He gave me a kiss on the forehead and walked out the door quickly. Outside there were young children running around with cookies in hand. I looked around for Howard, but he was nowhere in sight. I walked out of the plaza that the bakery was in and started down the main road. It’s was summer time and 6:00PM so the sun was still setting. I walked past the general store and onto a connecting road which was a shorter way to my house. As I came onto the road, something startled me. It was Howard running the other way through yards while jumping fences at a blistering pace. He was face away and didn’t see me, though he was much to concentrated on sprinting than to look back over his shoulder.
Curiosity filled my mind. What had caused out date to end so abruptly? I decided to follow him.
It was quite difficult to keep up with him while keeping a fair distance between the two of us so that he wouldn’t see me. When he hopped fences, I took the long way around. He was in far better shape than I was. Finally he arrived at his road. I crouched behind a bush by a tattered old stop sign as Howard approached his house carefully. Once inside, I pushed up further into his neighbor’s yard behind their tall oak tree. After a moment, I knew I needed to get closer to observe anything clearly, so I quietly approached the house anxiously and carefully, peering into the dinning room window .
Howard entered the foyer of the house and haste-fully moved through the dinning room towards the staircase leading to the second floor. A hand firmly grabbed his forearm and pulled him back abruptly.
“Where the hell have you been?” yelled Howard’s father.
Howard could smell the stagnant aroma of alcohol on his breath and feared for the worse.
“Sorry Dad, I was out with Janel…” he was cut off.
“The hell you were, you’re just like your brother, useless.” he exclaimed.
His father held up his other hand, which had a belt in it and snapped it against Howard’s neck causing his legs to give way beneath him.
Howard held his neck with one hand and looked up at his drunk father, cringing.
With all his strength he pulled free from his father’s grasp and raced upstairs.
He ran up to his little brother’s door and banged on it harshly.
“Nicolas, Nicolas! It’s me, open up please!” he cried.
The door opened and Howard almost fell into the room.
Immediately he turned around and slammed the door shut, locking it.
“Nic, are you alright?” Howard asked.
His little brother had multiple rash marks on him, on his thigh, his arms, and even a small one on his face. It looked like he was traumatized, still holding his open cell phone from when he called Howard. Tears ran down his face as he ran over to his older brother.
“It’s alright bro, it’s cool.” Howard assured him.
“We have to leave now though.” he whispered to Nicolas as he heard footsteps on the wooden upstairs floor.
“Out the window and onto the porch roof. Let’s go!” he told his little brother.
Nicolas nodded and wiped the tears from his eyes.
Howard quickly opened the window and looked outside. Nicolas went out first followed closely behind by Howard. As Howard’s feet finally go through the old window, he turned when he heard fists pounding at the room door. The banging grew louder and louder, but he ignored it and moved along. On top the porched rooftop they went following it around to the side of the house where a dense pine tree grew. Using it as somewhat of a cusion, they took turns dumping down through it, letting the thin branches absorb most of the fall. Scratched, but on the ground, they both headed across the driveway. Behind them they heard screams from their father as he has broken down the door and was shouting at them through the open window.
“Over here!” waved Janelle worriedly, catching the attention of the escapees.
“Janelle, what are you doing here!” yelled Howard.
“I’m sorry Howard, I followed you.” Howard stared at her, while supporting Nicolas.
“So I guess you saw what happened…?” he asked sadly.
“Yeah, that’s so horrible. Why didn’t you tell me about your father?” she said as they continued to run down the street.
“I… couldn’t Janelle.” he responded.
“Can we stay at your place tonight?” he asked.
“Of course, let’s go.” she answered sharply.
The three figures made their way across town to where Janelle’s house was.
When they arrived at her house, her Mom, who was reading on the front porch, dropped the book and rushed over to the limping brothers. Inside she attended to Nicolas’s bruises and rashes, while Janelle looked at Howard’s. Janelle’s father was on the phone with the police as he keenly kept an eye out the front door. Eventually his fear came true. Howard’s father came roaring down the street in his pick-up truck. He parked it haphazardly in the driveway and got out. Janelle’s father held his hand up signaling them to stay there. He stepped outside, closing the door securely behind him.
“Is this the Evans house?” he screamed.
Mr. Evans stayed calm.
“Don’t play games with me, where are they? I know they’re here!” screamed Howard’s father.
“You have no business here.” Mr. Evans retorted.
At this, Howard’s father became furious and tackled his criticizer to the ground. Janelle, who was watching from the window was about to run out to her father when her mother pulled her back.
On the driveway they wrestled for a few minutes, grabbing each others clothes and throwing punches when they could. Finally a signal of hope pierced the ears of Mr. Evans, along with everyone else who waswatching. Sirens.
Two police cars pulled into the driveway with their lights blaring. A male officer stepped out of one cruiser, a female out of the other. The two officers quickly made there way over to break up the skirmish. They pulled Howard’s Dad off of Mr. Evans and cuffed him.
Mr. Evans slowly got up, wiping blood onto his arm from his nose. Without saying anything, Mr. Evans took one more glance at his shackled opponent before heading inside. Howard’s father looked almost sad now, bent over the hood of one of the cruisers while he was getting patted down. He looked as if he had finally come to the realization of all the terrible things he had done. Harshly they pulled him up from the hood of the police care and escorted him to the back seat.
For a good thirty minutes the female officer took statements from Mr. Evans, and eventually from Howard, Nicolas, and myself. I gave Nicolas one of my peanut butter M&M cookies and wished him a happy birthday. And that’s the first time I saw a smile on his face. My mother smiled back at him when she saw him smile at me. He joyfully ate the cookie showing the greatest satisfaction from it.
I went into the living room and found Howard lying on the couch with a pillow on his face. I knew he was crying. He heard my approach and tried to wipe away his tears and settle down. I knelt down on the plaid couch held his hand and gave him a hug.
“You’ll always have me, Howard.” I whispered.
I watched as his frown turned into a smile, a big smile that made me so happy inside. He gazed at me for a long while before his eyes became heavy and he fell asleep. I put my feet up onto the couch and lay beside him soon falling asleep as well.