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faces of david
Daddy was out working on the car in the garage, Kayla was watching for David to come back, but didn't see him, and Puppy was all alone inside the shed. She kept wondering if Puppy was ok, if he knew he had to be as quiet as possible as long as Daddy was outside. He'd been doing ok for a few days now. She guessed he was smart enough to have figured out he had to keep quiet. And, she really didn't want to think about what Daddy might do if he found the dog there inside the shed. Just anywhere in the backyard, maybe behind the shed where Puppy had hid from her that first day she's noticed it, wouldn't be too bad. Daddy would be mad a dog was in the yard, but he wouldn't immediately suspect Kayla had anything to do with it. Inside the shed was different though. Inside meant someone had opened the door and put Puppy in there. True enough, it had been David that had opened the door and not Kayla, but that wasn't exactly better, as Daddy would be a whole lot angrier if he knew about David.
"Where is he," Kayla asked her empty bedroom. She looked at the clock and saw David had been gone for nearly an hour. He hadn't said where he was going. He hadn't even bothered to tell her he was going anywhere. If she hadn't happened to have been looking out her window right then--well, to be honest, that was about all she did since Puppy and David had arrived, if she wasn't outside with them--and hadn't seen David climbing over the back fence, she wouldn't even have know he was gone. The shed looked the same as it had the last few nights when Daddy was working in the garage. It looked still and quiet. Puppy was behaving nicely. Unless--God forbid--Daddy needed something out of the shed, things would be fine.
Daddy was still out there, lying halfway underneath his car, which sat halfway inside the garage, when Kayla finally saw David. He was crouched down on the other side of the wooden fence, near the shed. Sitting quietly. Of course, he was human. Kayla expected him to be smart enough to keep quiet.
"Kayla, honey, can you help with dinner?" It was Mommy calling from downstairs. Kayla looked again out the window, making sure Daddy was still oblivious to the dog and the man that had been staying in their backyard most of a week, then she turned away rather reluctantly and went downstairs to help Mommy prepare dinner.
After dinner was done, Kayla eyed the leftovers Mommy was covering in foil and putting in the fridge. She wondered if she snuck a pork chop or two off the plate, if anyone would notice. And, if they noticed, would they suspect she'd snagged them for Puppy and David, or would they just think she was a growing girl who happened to be hungry.
"Who wants ice cream," Mommy asked. Joe Jr practically squealed. "Well, looks like Joe Jr wants some," Mommy said, smiling. "What about you, Kay?"
Kayla really wanted to go check on Puppy, but ice cream did sound good. She nodded.
"Speak up, young lady," Daddy said. There was a bit of meanness in his voice. Kayla wondered if it had anything to do with those beers he had with dinner, and . . . Kayla looked at Mommy, remembering when she'd looked through the fridge and freezer earlier for anything she might be able to smuggle out back. "We don't have any ice cream."
"We're going to drive and get some," Mommy said, smiling like everything was just fine.
Daddy was still looking over at Kayla, the meanness that had been in his voice in his eyes now too. Kayla tried not to notice, smiled at her mother and said, "sounds good, I want some."
Mommy sent Kayla and Joe Jr to get their shoes. When they came back, she was leaned over, talking to Daddy about something. He pulled his wallet out of his pocket and slammed some money down on the table. Mommy picked it up and smiled at her two kids. "Let's go."
At the ice cream parlor, Kayla expected that they'd just be picking up ice cream and heading back home. But, that wasn't the case. When they went in, Mommy offered to get them sundaes, and told the two of them to get a table. Joe Jr, rather excitedly, found a nearby table and sat down. Kayla followed suit, but not with as much enthusiasm. She was wondering how Puppy was, how David was, whether or not Daddy suspected . . .
"Kay, help me carry these." Mommy was holding two sundaes. A third was on the counter. Kayla got up, hurried over, and Mommy handed one to her to carry. Back at the table, the three of them ate their sundaes. Joe Jr rambled on about something or other, but Kayla didn't pay much attention.
She did notice when Mr Lincoln, who managed the grocery store where they shopped, came over to the table and asked Mommy how Daddy was doing.
"Joe's fine," Mommy told him. Kayla wasn't as smart as she wished she was, but she could tell Mommy was trying to be dismissive. She'd seen Mommy do that a lot. Mommy didn't like talking about much of anything, but she especially didn't like talking about Daddy. Kayla wasn't surprised. She didn't like bragging to anyone about when she got punished either. "I heard about the store," Mommy said, blatantly changing the subject. "How bad was it?"
"Not too bad," Mr Lincoln replied. "Someone stole a couple bags worth of food, not even enough to fill a cart. It's a little weird though. I mean, security isn't too tight; it's a grocery store. We're not exactly the usual target for thieves."
"No, I'd suspect not," Mommy said. "Did anyone see who did it?"
"Evelyn thinks she got a good look at him, but James Briggs didn't seem to impressed by her description of the guy."
Kayla was still eating her sundae, but she was listening now, rather than ignoring them like she'd been ignoring her little brother's rambling. She knew Mr Briggs was a police officer, and Evelyn was that girl that bagged groceries. Somebody had robbed the grocery store. Kayla didn't like that idea. People who robbed stores were bad people. Even if they just took some food . . . She thought of David. He'd been gone a while earlier. And, he certainly needed some food and didn't seem to have any money. Had David robbed the grocery store? Did that mean he was a bad? Then what about me, Kayla asked herself. I've been stealing food from the fridge for Puppy. But, that was different, wasn't it?
She was trying to figure out if that was different or not when Mr Lincoln said goodbye, first to Mommy, then to her and Joe Jr, and left. She decided to risk something, and looked at her mother. "Is the person that robbed the store a bad person," she asked.
Lyla Sutton looked at her daughter for a few seconds then said simply, "thou shalt not steal."
"But, what if whoever it was was starving?"
"I'm sure the Lord would provide for him," Mommy said. "You still are not supposed to steal."
"But, what if the Lord hadn't provided anything?"
Mommy glared at her. Kayla didn't like that look. Daddy was upset with her a lot, but Mommy wasn't. Kayla didn't like it one bit. She diverted her attention and looked down at her sundae, then took a bite.
Kayla looked up from her sundae.
"Whoever robbed the grocery store was wrong to have done it. It's as simple as that."
"Ok Mommy," Kayla said. Then, she finished up her sundae, not too sure if she believed her mother's version of things.
On the way home, Kayla tried to think of some way to get out to the shed to talk to David. As nice as he'd been to her, that moment when he'd grabbed her and covered her mouth not counting of course, she wasn't entirely sure why she suspected he was the one that robbed the grocery store, but something just told her it was him. Just like, when they arrived home, something told her something was wrong, even before she noticed Puppy tied to the fence. She just sorta knew.
Seeing Puppy there tied to the fence, Kayla panicked a little. She held herself in check, with a bit of effort, so her mother and little brother wouldn't notice. She closed her eyes and opened them again, hoping the dog would be gone, that it was just a bad dream. But, Puppy was still there, tethered to the fence. Daddy had found him. Daddy was gonna be mad, real mad. Would he hurt her? Would he . . .
Where was David? Had Daddy found him too, Kayla wondered. For a minute, she wasn't thinking about what her father might do to her but what he might do, or might have done, to David. Even if David HAD robbed the grocery store, Kayla was sure he wasn't a bad person. She hoped Daddy hadn't hurt him too bad. She hoped he'd gotten away. She hoped Daddy just didn't even know he was there.
Mommy stopped the car in the driveway. Kayla noticed her looking at Puppy. Then, Mommy got out of the car and headed for the door to the house, shaking her head. Joe Jr got out, started to walk toward Puppy.
"Get away from that dog," Mommy said. There was anger in her voice that Kayla thought was usually reserved for Daddy. Well, it wasn't quite anger. It was something else. Kayla wished Mommy would say something else so she could be sure, but she almost suspected it was fear. But, what was Mommy afraid of? Daddy wasn't gonna hurt her. She hadn't been feeding Puppy. Kayla had. If Daddy hurt anyone, Kayla knew it wouldn't be Mommy. That thought brought tears to Kayla's eyes.
Joe Jr, glancing back at the dog a couple times, walked to the house and went inside. Then, Kayla followed. Mommy looked at her as she entered, glared at her like she knew all about Puppy and David and about that glass she'd broken before. It was her turn finally to be punished by Daddy, and for some reason, Mommy was mad at her too. It didn't make any sense. And that just made Kayla cry harder.
"Kayla," Mommy said, "go to your room."
"But . . . " It was pointless to argue. Kayla put her head down and went to the stairs.
"Joe Jr, you too."
Joe bounded up the stairs two at a time, passing up Kayla half way up. At the top, he turned around and looked back at his sister. For a moment, he looked like he might feel sorry for his sister, like he might ask her why she was crying and then comfort her in some way. But, he just looked at her, then turned and headed for his room.
At least he didn't smile cause I'm gonna get in trouble, Kayla thought.
She was about to actually just go to her room like Mommy had told her to do, when she heard the yelling start downstairs. Daddy was saying something about "that daughter of yours." Mommy was trying to say something, but he kept stopping her. Kayla sat down on the stairs and cried.
When Mommy came into the hall and started up the stairs, Kayla was still sitting there, her tears mostly dried, but not feeling any better. Daddy was done with Mommy; now it would be her turn--this thought made her start crying all over again.
Mommy stopped and stared at her, a sad look on her face. Something was wrong with Mommy's lip. It was sorta puffy, and it looked like it might be bleeding. Kayla opened her mouth to ask what happened, but Mommy stopped her. "Get to bed, Kay," she said, "now."
Kayla didn't wait for Daddy to come. She got up, turned, and ran to her room, got into bed without even changing clothes. She knew she might get in trouble for this last bit, but she didn't care. She just wanted to be tucked safely under the covers.
A few minutes later, as he usually did, Daddy appeared in the doorway to her room. Kayla was sure that this time he would come in. He would come in, and he would yell at her and he would make her cry, and he'd maybe even do to her lip whatever he'd done to Mommy's. She prayed he'd just stay there like always, do nothing, say nothing, then head to his room.
But, he decided to speak this time. The sound of his voice, though there was no obvious anger in it, scared her, made her start crying again. "That dog's going to the pound in the morning, Kay," he said. Kayla imagined what would happen to Puppy there, that he might be--she sobbed loudly--put to sleep, and almost didn't notice what her father said next. "You and I will have a talk when I get home from work tomorrow." With that, he turned and headed down the hall to his and Mommy's room.
Kayla cried harder. She thought she might never stop. Mommy's lip was hurt, Puppy was gonna be put to sleep, and all because of her. And, Daddy would make sure to punish her severely, she was sure.
It didn't even occur to her that Daddy hadn't mentioned David at all.
Kayla awoke to a sound she couldn't identify at first. Someone was tapping on her window. She sat up and looked, and there was David. He was on a ladder, Daddy's ladder. Daddy obviously hadn't caught him yet. That made Kayla grin and jump out of her bed and practically skip to the window. Maybe he hadn't been caught yet, but he was risking it.
She opened the window.
"What are you doing? If Daddy--"
David shushed her, his finger to his lips. "I just want you to know, you've got nothing to worry about."
"What do you mean?"
"Don't you worry about Puppy. No one's gonna hurt him."
"Daddy's taking him to the pound. He told me last night. And, they'll put him to sleep, for sure."
David shook his head. "They won't get the chance. I'll get him out of there."
Kayla thought of the grocery store, of David stealing food from there. "You gonna steal him like you did that food," she asked without thinking about it twice.
David looked a little dumbfounded.
"You did rob the store, right," she said.
David nodded. "We needed more food than you'd been getting us, and I haven't found a job or a place to stay in this town yet."
Kayla started thinking about the ramifications of what he'd just said. First of all, she'd been right. He HAD robbed the store. But, he still wasn't a bad person. He and Puppy were hungry. And, he was looking for a job or a place to stay? Was he staying in town? She grinned again at the thought and was gonna just ask him outright, when he spoke again.
"I'm not going to steal Puppy. I'm just going to go there and tell them he's my dog, he got away from me when I was walking him the other day. I can be pretty convincing." He smiled. He had a nice smile. "Now, I should get this ladder down and put away, or your father's gonna find me too," he said, and before Kayla could respond, he was climbing down already.
A little while later, when Mommy called her down to breakfast, Kayla thought she might have trouble hiding how happy she was. Until, that is, she saw the look on Daddy's face. Maybe Puppy was gonna be ok, but Kayla had to wonder if she still would be after Daddy got through with her after work.