Roger Thompson had completed his checklist. He’d learned from Jack Murphy, his friend and attorney, that the police sergeant seemed cooperative.
With his tasks out of the way, he knew it was time to deal with his wife, Natalie.
Natalie and Roger didn’t see eye to eye politically. Natalie described herself as a progressive. Even though they rarely discussed politics, Roger knew Natalie was politically active before they got married. She worked a lot of referendum campaigns in college and after. And she usually voted Democrat.
Roger, on the other hand, was a disinterested Republican. He voted Republican when he bothered to vote. Which was about once every four years. If he got around to it. He found Trump amusing and avoided conversations about the race.
Natalie and Roger did not talk politics with each other. They’d reached an agreement during the 2004 election to stop trying to convert each other. But that didn’t keep politics out of their home. Both Natalie and Roger dropped subtle hints about “the right way to think” to their son, David.
David was never much of a talker. Teachers had described him as “quite,” “studious,” and “sensitive.” He had a few school friends before fifth grade. But his best friend, Kyle, hadn’t been around in weeks. Maybe months.
David played basketball and baseball but wasn’t destined for a travel team in either sport. At least, he wasn’t the best player on his teams. But maybe eleven-year-olds haven’t reached their athletic peaks.
Natalie and Roger both saw that David had inherited most of his personality from dad. And, it turned out, most of his politics. But that could change over time, time. Who can tell with kids?
Roger shut the door to his office and walked toward the kitchen. He wasn’t hoping to find Natalie, but he knew he needed to.
“How’s David?” he asked his wife.
“Okay,” she said. She was emptying the dishwasher.
“I talked to Jack.”
“Are you mad at me?” he asked.
Bang! Natalie dropped a pot on the floor. “Why? What did you do?”
“Look. No, I’m not mad at you. I’m mad about all of this. The election. The school. All of it.”
Roger, being both an engineer and a salesman, weighed his options. “Well, I don’t think we can win a lawsuit against Trump and Hillary. And, besides, they didn’t give David a concussion. That was eight boys under the supervision of a school principal.”
Natalie went back to her dishes. “I know.”
“Do you think that Flanders woman and those kids should be disciplined?"
Natalie spun around. “Yes, they should be punished. If what David said is true, that woman should be fired. She should be banned from going within five hundred feet of a school or playground, like a sex offender.”
She returned to the dishwasher. “I just wish David would have thought about defending Trump. He should have known that would set people off.”
Roger began to wonder which team his wife was playing for. Was she blaming David for getting beat up?
“David did nothing wrong, you know,” Roger said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well, you’re starting to sound like you think he asked for it.”
Natalie stopped for a moment and looked out the window over the sink. “No. I don’t believe in violence. I love my son. I just wish he’d kept his mouth shut.”
His conversation with Natalie was going nowhere he wanted to visit, Roger walked quietly out of the kitchen and up the stairs to check on David.
“How are you today?”
“Good. Tired. Headache,” David said.
“I’m sorry, David. I wish I could have protected you from that.”
David lifted a corner of the washrag that covered his eyes. “I’ll be alright. Other kids have had worse. It’s part of growing up.”
David was just parroting Roger’s normal reaction to David’s setbacks, but Roger was proud to hear him say it, anyway.
“Has mom talked to you about the incident?”
“Yeah. She said I need to be more sensitive around oppressed people. She said Ms. Mateo was right. That saying Trump’s not a bad guy is a threat to some people, and they have a right to defend themselves.”
Roger’s heart sank. “What do you think,” he asked.
David squirmed in bed for a more comfortable position. Then he said, “I think people need to worry about their own actions more and about what other people say less.”
“Your mom loves you, David. She wants Ms. Flanders and those boys punished. Maybe that teacher, too.”
“No!” David said. “Ms. Mateo didn’t do anything. She pulled those dudes off me. She was only doing what she had to do. Don’t get her in trouble, please.”
Roger had been to Parents’ Night at the beginning of the year. He’d met all of David’s teachers. He hadn’t tried to picture them until David’s defense of Ms. Mateo, but now he remembered her.
“She’s the pretty one?” he asked.
David fought back a smile, but it broke through. “Yeah.”
Roger laughed. “Okay, so, did she really help you, or is she just too hot to rat out?”
David laughed. “No, she really helped me. And what she told me in class, she was reading straight out of some instruction manual. She told us the mock election was required by the school district and we had to vote.”
Roger wanted to ask more about Ms. Mateo, but he decided to ask something else instead. “So, why did you vote for Trump?”
“Because I like him. I think he’s funny. And I didn’t want to lie.”
Roger patted David’s leg and said, “I have to make a few phone calls, sport. Bang on the floor if you need anything.”
“Okay. Thanks, Dad.”
“I love you, David. I’m proud of you.”
to be continued
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.