A follow up story to Leaving the Amish,
another Just for Fun Fiction by C.J.
remember the Lord who is great and awesome,
and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters,
your wives and your houses."
Anna was lost in thought about how she wished she could go to high school, but felt she was probably too far behind. The ones her age were getting ready to graduate anyway. Eleanor had already told her that she would take her to the library so that she could study for her GED exam on the computers there.
Anna was wound up tighter than a top. The women had picked her up in front of the grocer's as bold as you please. She took a couple of deep breaths.
"Well, Anna," Aunt Ellie cackled, "what will you do with yourself, do you think?"
"I imagine I'll help you with your canning, and cooking and sewing. I also want to study to pass that exam, then it will easier to apply for a job."
"I do live a mile and a half out of town, but I'm sure something could work out even if it meant we needed to get a horse and a buggy."
"Oh, I want to learn to drive! I was hoping Aunt Eleanor would teach me."
"All in good time, Anna," her younger aunt laughed. "The young people at church like to get together often for fun. I'm sure you will enjoy getting to know them."
Anna chewed on her lip. She thought that the youth gatherings the Amish youth had were okay. Volleyball games and softball were fun, she guessed. But the last few times she was supposed to be at one of their singings, she'd sneaked away to other gatherings of Rumspringa Amish youth with Englischers. She'd even put on make-up and worn jeans and a tee shirt. They had turned on their car radios out in a field and danced. Now that was her idea of fun. It wasn't like she'd gone totally wild, just a little over the line.
She'd even let one young man kiss her. It made her face flame at the thought of it. The kiss had disappointed her though as his breath was rank with beer, and he'd been rough instead of the tender way she thought a kiss should be. After a moment she'd had to shove him away. Maybe some things weren't all they were cracked up to be. She sighed.
Aunt Eleanor looked at her in the rear view mirror but then looked away. Anna was sure she would have to be careful not to cross the line with these two. She never wanted to be sent back home even if it meant acting like a sweet Mennonite young lady. Still, her jeans and shorts were stuffed in the bottom of her bag just in case. Maybe sometime...
Sure enough, things fell into a routine, a very boring routine. It made Anna study all the harder. Passing her exam was her ticket to a job, to being able to move out on her own. Then her decisions would be all her own. Oh, how she longed for that day not to be accountable to anyone. She talked more to the old dog than to the two old ladies she lived with, her aunts. She just didn't care to talk about the same things they did, like quiltings, the preaching at church, the small town gossip. She mainly sat with them quietly sewing on her new dresses. Aunt Eleanor had let her pick appropriate material with pretty flowers and bought it for her. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate what these women were doing for her, it's just that she wanted to be independent.
Anna had her first dress done in time for church Sunday. It was exhilarating to think that she would not have to wear a plain dress ever again. She wished she could get rid of her kapp as well. Aunt Eleanor had made her a new one, the kind the women in this area wore that was a little different than the ones back home with the Amish. The day had almost been spoiled when she found that one of the other young women in church wore a dress made from the same fabric. Errgh! Now she hated that dress and would only wear it at home to do chores in. But the service was nice and short, not like the three hour ones she was used to suffering through. She had no idea what the pastor had preached on, even though it was all in English and not in German. It was because she was distracted by looking around at the young people in the small church. She caught a few boys looking her direction as well. One even winked!
After church, the young people surrounded her asking her questions. They invited her to join them that evening when they went out for sodas at the local drive-in restaurant. She was glad that one of the boys actually offered to come by and give her a ride in his car, a Mustang. It was the young man who had winked at her in church. He was kinda cute. At last she had something fun to look forward to.
Jimmy sat in his patrol car watching the church kids laughing and hanging out at the Lickety Split. He drank his soda slowly. Their fun looked innocent enough. He would more likely be pulling over a drunk driver leaving the bar, but the night was still young. He'd been busier than usual as the local deputies had been working with the county drug enforcement officers staking out a meth lab way back in the hills. Finally, arrests were made. All their hard work had paid off, and the scums were now behind bars. This was the first chance he'd had to be able to slow down on the job in a couple of weeks. He took a slow slurp of his root beer.
Suddenly, a girl caught his attention making him choke on his drink. After coughing, he did a double take. It couldn't be. He'd heard she'd just got married. But why did that young women look so familiar? The more he looked, the more Jimmy was sure he'd never seen her before. Yet, there was just something about her. He narrowed his eyes.
The girl was laughing with the Stoltz boy. The hair escaping from her kapp was lighter than Adelle's. And this girl was more petite, and a lot more flirty than Adelle had ever been too. He rubbed his chin thinking of the one that got away. It was a good thing he'd never let himself fall completely head over heels with Aunt Ellie's niece, well maybe he'd been just a little twitter-pated. If that Jed fella hadn't showed up when he did...nah, that was just wishful thinking.
A call came in on his radio. A cow was loose on the road just south of town. Now he had to turn into a cowboy and drive the road hazard back to its pasture. That's why he always kept a lariat in his trunk. He'd been a pretty good roper back in his rodeo days. He drained his cup making a loud slurping noise and tossed it into the trash from his window: score! He still had it even if he wasn't on a basketball court any more.
He hadn't been by to see Aunt Ellie for awhile, not hardly since her friend Eleanor had moved in to take care of her. She didn't need him to deliver Meals on Wheels anymore. But hey, couldn't a guy go see his gal once in awhile? He'd take her some flowers, real ones, not just weeds. They often had a day-old bouquet left at the grocer's he could buy and head out there after his shift was over the next day.
He leaned up against the door jam with his straw hat tilted back waiting for someone to answer his knock. But when it was that girl who opened the door, it made him straighten and almost stagger back. She looked more like Adelle up close, only prettier, which at one time he wouldn't have thought possible. He narrowed his eyes to glare at her. There was no way in a hound dog heaven, in a blue tic minute that he was going to fall for another one of Aunt Ellie's great-nieces. This one looked too young anyway. Besides, the way she stared at him with almost a boy-hungry look in her eyes, made him want to grind his teeth. Weren't there enough girls like that in the county without importing more?
"Who is it, Anna?" Ellie used a walker now, and he heard her clomping up. "Jimmy, I just about feared you'd forgotten me until I heard about that big drug bust that kept y'all so busy. So I decided to forgive you for neglecting me."
He stepped carefully around the girl and gave Aunt Ellie a kiss on the cheek. "Brought something for my gal just to show I didn't forget you."
"You're too good for this old woman, Jimmy, but I'm loving every second of seeing your face. I bet you can't guess who this young lady is!"
"I bet I can, and I think her name is Trouble," and he winked at the old woman who cackled.
The girl had gasped then pouted. But he whipped out the bouquet for Aunt Ellie turning his back again on the pretty gal. "It was the last one they had. Wish it was a dozen roses, but hopefully daisies will cheer you up just as well."
"O lands sakes, Jimmy, if that don't beat all," Eleanor laughed. "Here, let me put those in a vase for you. You sure do know how to put Aunt Ellie in a good mood."
Aunt Ellie was already clomping as fast as she could go back to her chair, her throne as Jimmy liked to call it. The girl sat perched on the edge of the sofa, so he found a chair to sit in as far away as possible in the little room.
"Well, let me introduce another great-niece, Jimmy. This is Anna. As you probably guessed, she's Adelle's younger sister."
He glanced at her then away. He didn't care if she was cuter than a girl oughta be, he wasn't interested. These Amish turned Mennonite girls were not his type. He'd dated a few Mennonite and other church girls to keep his mother happy, but then gave up. For awhile he'd been going into the city to meet girls his friends wanted to set him up with. They were too fast and all apart of the bar scene that he wanted nothing to do with. They weren't his type either. He saw enough of that seamy side of life as a deputy.
He'd had a front row seat to the bar across the street from his Uncle Sid's gas station for as long as he remembered too. At least Sid was maintaining his sobriety now better on his own. Jimmy wasn't his constant babysitter anymore though the man had gone back to chain smoking. Jimmy never claimed to be a miracle worker.
"So, Jimmy tell me the news of the neighborhood. I already heard all about the big drug bust from your mother. She's so proud of you, you know."
He grinned. He did love his mama. "Well, we caught Old Man Peters out gardening in the nude again. I don't know if he's getting senile, or if he just likes to shock his neighbors." The girl Anna giggled. He scowled. Aunt Ellie was just giving him her rapt attention. "Then a raccoon got in the grocery store over the weekend. Since it was closed on Sunday, they didn't discover the damage until this morning. What a mess! It's amazing the trouble one critter can cause in such a short amount of time. The Pearsons think they lost another goat to that mountain lion. I checked out the tracks and called fish and game. That's under their jurisdiction, but I hope the parents keep a tight leash on those little Pearson kids until they can hunt it down. Unfortunately, I had to lock Elmer back up for beating his wife again. She refused to be taken to the clinic, but I took pictures of her bruises just the same. Let's see..."
"My goodness, I didn't know a fella could gossip worse than a whole room full of women at a quilting bee. I'm surprised you let him go on like this, Aunt Ellie."
Anna acted all astonishment, but he knew that's all it was, an act. Jimmy whipped his head around to that niece and stared at her hard enough for a scorching. What business was it of hers to try to give him a set down.
Aunt Ellie only laughed. "Why for crying out loud, child, without a newspaper, a telephone or a television how's a body supposed to know the goings on? Jimmy's always been good about keeping me up on things. Don't let her stop you, Jimmy. You were just getting started..."
"Nah, that's about all." He yawned and stretched. "I'm all for getting some shut-eye now that my shift is over." He gave that saucy girl a side glance, "I hope I don't have to report any goings-on about some girl with that Stoltz boy though. It's a good thing this town has eyes everywhere. There's no such thing as keeping anything a secret for long around here, that's for certain." He at least got a little satisfaction at hearing the girl huff as she got his meaning. And he would too: he'd catch her quicker than catching flies on a frog's tongue.
With that he took off his badge, put it in his pocket and kissed Aunt Ellie's cheek one more time. "You take care, little lady, and don't get too rowdy with that walker-thing thinking it's your dancing partner or something." He winked and let himself out.
He loved hearing that sweet lady's crackling laugh as he walked out the door. It did his heart good. She'd been the one who had stood closest to his mom when his dad had run off with the preacher's wife. The woman had brought over more casseroles and pies than they could cram into their freezer. Ellie had held his mom as she cried herself sick night after night. Then she never forgot the boys and would read them a bedtime story every night before she went home. He'd adopted her as his own grannie from that time on. But as for her great-niece, now that was a different story. As much as he loved Aunt Ellie, he wouldn't stand for any matchmaking machinations, not even from her. Nope. He was staying as far away as he could from that pretty young thing.
What he didn't figure on was constantly seeing that girl whenever he turned around. If she was walking into town along the dusty road, he didn't stop to offer her a ride. If she was riding with the Stoltz boy in his Mustang, he'd tail them into town. If she was at the grocery store, he'd turn and leave, sometimes forgetting his groceries in his cart. If she was at the library, he'd just drop off his book and not look for another though he'd paused long enough to look over her shoulder to see what she was doing on the computer. It was that exam. Good. Maybe she'd get a diploma, get a job, and move out of Aunt Ellie's, maybe even move out of the county. Now there was a cheerful thought.
The problem was, she was causing a traffic jam in his head making all other lines of thought stop with her, the way she laughed, the way she looked in her cotton flowered dress walking barefoot from the mailbox, the way she twisted her hair with her finger, the whisps that fell from her kapp as she leaned over the computer in the library concentrating with her lips in a pout. The way she sat too close to the Stoltz boy just about drove him crazy. It seemed like the summer scene was the gathering at the drive-in for sodas, not just on Sunday nights, but almost every night of the week. She was always there sitting on a bench by that young man laughing at his jokes and smiling while Jimmy watched from his patrol car. When the boy'd reach to hold her hand, it made him grind his teeth. She was nothing but a flirt rolling her big green eyes up at him. Sometimes she'd look over at Jimmy in his patrol car and glare back at him.
"I swear, Aunt Ellie, that deputy is stalking me."
"I know you don't swear, honey, but I don't even care for that expression. As a matter of fact, there's not enough room in our little county to keep from looking into everybody's business. Besides, that's what he's paid to do. In fact, you can't hardly blame a young fella for keeping his eyes on the prettiest thing he's seen come around since your sister was here. He'd been pretty taken with her too."
"What? Adelle? He liked Adelle?"
"Every since the night she rode in late on the bus and was stranded at his Uncle Sid's gas station. He was her knight in shining armor coming to her rescue bringing her out to my place."
"Well, he wouldn't do that for me, I'm certain. He acts like he can hardly stand me," she groused.
"Oh honey, what's that saying once burned twice shy, or something like that. He's just afraid of a cute little ol' thing like you," Aunt Ellie cackled.
"What makes you think so?" Anna twisted her kapp string.
"Why the way he wouldn't hardly look at you when he was here. He's running more scared than a dog from a rabid cat. Besides, his mother says he can't stop talking about you, how irritating you are showing up here with the Stoltz boy and there with the Stoltz boy. He thinks you are running into him on purpose..."
"Of all the insufferable, conceited..."
"You can't tell me you didn't notice how handsome the man is, or how nice he looks in his uniform or his jeans or..."
"Now I know you're just egging me on, Aunt Ellie," and Anna grinned along with Aunt Eleanor.
"You are a bad, bad woman for trying to be a matchmaker again, Ellie. Aren't you ashamed of yourself?" Eleanor laughed.
"I've just been praying for my Jimmy for so many years. Who am I to say that God doesn't have some special purpose in all this, Anna being here and all."
Anna walked back to her bedroom rolling her eyes, "Oh, Aunt Ellie, I had no idea you were such a romantic. I bet you have some paperback romance novels stashed around here somewhere. Besides, the Stoltz boy is more my type."
"I hope not. He's known to be a bit on the wild side with a girl in every hill and holler in the county. Be careful with that one, Anna."
"How do you know this stuff, Auntie? No, don't tell me, Jimmy told you."
"No actually, he told his mother who told me, but you were close," and she chortled.
Anna just shook her head and went in to her room where she lay on her bed to think.
"Does Tim really have other girlfriends? Does he kiss them too?" she whispered to herself. It wasn't that she was all that taken with the guy, it was just that he had a car, and was happy to pick her up all the time to take her where the youth hung out in town. He promised to take her to a real party this weekend too. But her thoughts wouldn't stick to the boy any better than an old Bandaid to a new wound. He was a boy, not graduated yet from high school whereas Jimmy was a man, a handsome but intolerable one at that. She wondered how Adelle had attracted him while she didn't. A pang of jealousy shot through her.
But the real question was, would she risk everything by going to a forbidden party? If she was found out, she'd be sent home. Anna gritted her teeth. If that happened, she'd run away. As grateful as she was to her aunts, she couldn't be all they hoped she'd be. The Rumspringa parties back home had been a lot of fun. Maybe this one would be even more so.
Anna was wearing cut-offs and a tank top under her dress. Flip-flops were in her large purse. As soon as Tim picked her up at her mailbox, she took off her kapp, let her hair down and began unbuttoning her dress.
"Hey there, that's what I like to see!" he whistled and kept glancing at her instead of the road.
"I've got on my other clothes underneath, you idiot. Watch where you're going," she glared at him.
"You can't fault a guy for looking. And you're a looker alright. I like all that leg showing with your shorts too. I haven't seen you out of your good-girl Mennonite dress before. I think we are going to have some real fun tonight!"
"What is the plan, I mean, what will they be doing at the party?"
"Oh, there's a firepit to roast hot dogs and marshmellows. Then we'll drink all the beer we want, some'll be doing a little dope smoking, but I'm looking forward to just you and me having fun..."
"You won't drink too much though, right? You'll still have to drive us home afterwards. I told my aunts not to wait up, but they still want me home by eleven."
"In your dreams, sweetheart. I'm not going to let two little old ladies dictate to me how much time I'm allotted to have fun. No sirree, and remember you're with me. There'll be plenty of guys hitting on you tonight that you haven't met before. I wouldn't trust any of them to take you home though without trying something, so you'd best stick with me."
Anna chewed her lip. This wasn't going to be like she thought. She'd expected Tim to respect her wishes but it didn't sound like he cared much. This might be her ticket right back out of Mapleton, clear back home. It was enough to make her stomach hurt just thinking about it.
She tried again, "If I get to their house too late, they'll probably send me back home away from here, so I hope..."
"You can just go around and slip in your bedroom window in back and pretend like you've been there all night. They won't catch on. You worry too much. Relax."
Anna looked out her window noticing how far out in the country they were going. Tim turned on a dirt road called Elvis. She thought that was a funny name way back here in the middle of nowhere. Soon Tim was parking in the midst of mostly pickups. Music was blaring. She expected to see people dancing, but they seemed to be more interested in drinking. Anna saw several couple making out right there in the open, for goodness sakes. Her eyes were as big as saucers.
"Come on, Anna. Let's go have fun," and he winked at her. "Stick by me, and you'll be alright."
Tim seemed to be the youngest by far. Most of the crowd were older. Like he said there would be, guys were oogling her. She grabbed Tim's hand and held on for dear life. He went over to an ice chest and pulled out two beers and handed her one.
"No thanks. Do they have a Pepsi?"
Tim scoffed. "Of course not. Here, take it."
She did, popped the top and pretended to drink. The taste made her shutter. She never had understood how anyone would like the taste. They must be desperate for the buzz. When he wasn't looking she spilled some out acting like it was an accident. Tim was already on his second and they had only been here ten minutes. He was practically guzzling his.
"Why don't you go over there and get us a couple of hot dogs and bring them over here. There's the sticks to roast them on. I'll hold your beer."
She shrugged and wove her way through the crowd. A time or two, guys tried to grab her acting overly friendly in a drunk way, but she was able to pull away. As she got the hot dogs, she glanced back at Tim. He was putting something in her can. That scared her like nothing else ever had. She hurried back determined not to take another sip. She wasn't stupid.
"Here's the hot dogs. I'll hold the drinks while you put the dogs on the sticks." He grinned at her extra big. She didn't like the look in his eye.
"Sure, sweet thing," and handed over the cans of beer.
Anna could tell which was hers by the weight of what was left after spilling it half out. She switched the cans as she gave him his back. He leaned over to kiss her. In fact, he forgot about the hot dogs and pulled her to him kissing her. She tried to stop his hands from roving and pushing him away.
"That's enough, Tim! I'm not like that."
"We'll see," he grinned at her again with a gleam in his eye.
She began roasting the hot dogs in the fire pit trying to ignore him. He'd slid down onto the ground with his back against the log where they sat. He'd finished her drink and was popping open his third. At this rate, she'd be driving back home even though she'd never had a lesson yet from Eleanor. Just thinking of her aunt made her groan. How had this gone so badly? She took the hot dogs to the table and put the works on them. By the time she carried them back over to Tim, he was snoring. She sat down forcing herself to eat her hot dog while staring at the fire. Couples all around her were being so embarrassingly amorous that she was disgusted. She wanted to go home.
Anna heard Tim's phone ring and saw it sticking out of his jeans pocket. She pulled it out. He never stirred. It was a kid from youth group asking where he was. They were hanging out at the usual drive-through food joint. How she wished she were there instead of here.
The mosquitoes were really bad, so even though it was hot, she put on a long sleeved shirt.
A guy sat down by her and said, "Whose dog is this?"
"Yours if you want it. Obviously he's not going to be eating it," she said pointing over to Tim who was leaning back with his mouth wide open sawing logs.
"Hi, I'm Dan. What's your name? I haven't seen you hear before."
He sounded like he had gravel in his voice. This guy wasn't the most handsome man she'd ever seen, but looked a whole lot better than Tim right now. "I'm Anna," she offered.
He scooted over until his leg was brushing up against hers. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"Not unless there's a Pepsi or a water."
"Nah, sorry, but there's a lot of brands to choose from," and he started naming off quite a few.
"What are you doing hanging out with this idiot anyway? If you want to have fun, you've got your man." Though his grin seemed friendly enough, Anna was not about to trust a stranger about now.
"I'm just going to wait until he wakes up. I think he slipped something in my drink, so I switched it on him, and now he's the one sleeping. It's the last time I'll ever hang out with him, that's for sure."
"Hey, why don't we get out of her and go somewhere a little quieter, just you and me."
Dan tried to put his arm around her, but she shook him off. He was no small guy. His arms were more muscled than her stepdat's who worked all his life doing the hard labor of farming. This guy probably lifted weights. He just put his hands down around her waist then not taking the hint.
"Hey, I'm not interested, okay!" she protested jumping up.
"Maybe I am though," he stood and tried to pull her into a kiss. She couldn't break his hold, so she stomped on his toe.
He let her go laughing. "I like 'em feisty. Listen, I'm going for another drink, but I'll be back. Don't let any other guy take my place."
As soon as he left, Anna felt in Tim's pocket for his keys. When she found them, she ran and locked herself in his car with her heart pounding. These weren't teenagers but grown, burly men. What was Tim thinking bringing her here? What was she thinking coming with him? She sat in the driver's seat and studied the dash and wondered which was the brake and which was the gas petal trying to decide if she could drive the thing. She saw Dan looking around for her so she ducked down out of sight.
It was so hot in the car that she felt the sweat dripping after five minutes. Anna cracked the window open just a little, not that it helped much except to let mosquitoes in. When she couldn't stand it anymore, she rolled the window down a little more and went back to slouching down.
She about screamed when someone knocked on her window. It was Dan not looking as happy as he'd been. She'd heard alcohol made some people sloppy happy while others it turned mean. Dan looked like he was the mad mean kind.
"No thank you." She kept her eyes glued to the phone and even acted like she was on it for a minute."
"This old rust bucket can't keep me out." His massive paws started pushing the window down. Much more and he would have his hand inside to unlock the door.
Anna called 911. "Yes, I'm somewhere out on a dirt road called Elvis and a big guy is scaring me right now breaking into my car..."
He reached in and pulled open the door handle after unlocking it. Then he grabbed her around her arm and jerked her out.
"Hey, that hurts! I told you I don't want to hang out with you."
He just pushed her up against the car and penned her there crushing his lips against hers. She was not strong enough to push him away, so she just cried out a prayer and hoped God was faster than the sheriff. It was obvious that the guy wasn't going to stop, and she began to cry.
"Miss, miss?" The dispatcher was still on the phone clutched in her hand.
She was able to yell a feeble, "Help!" before he forced himself on her more. She didn't have a prayer, figuratively or in any other way, except she began hearing a siren in the distance. It was getting louder.
She finally was able to push him off enough to say, "I called 911. That's them, so let me go!"
"Well, you can just come with me then. There's a back way outta here."
Anna turned into a wildcat then and began fighting him with all she had, kicking and biting, and stomping on his feet. He twisted her arm until she could barely breathe as he pulled her through the randomly parked pick ups. He picked her up like she was nothing more than fluff and pushed her into the cab and was holding her back with one hand while climbing in and shutting the door, only it didn't shut.
A deputy pulled him back out and spun him around, "You're under arrest."
Anna slid over and opened the far door and peeked over the bed of the pickup. It was Jimmy.
That's when Dan started swinging.
"Anna, call for backup!"
She realized she was still holding the phone, and it was still on. "Did you hear that? He needs backup!" Anna only thought she was crying before, but now she was into ugly sobs. Dan was hitting Jimmy and hard. So far he'd got in his own punches, but he couldn't stay standing for long. She didn't realize how quickly a fight could be over if one went down. Suddenly she was mad! Anna started looking in the bed of the truck and saw a hammer. She climbed in over the tailgate and went over where the men were still struggling, hitting each other with that sickening sound, and grunting. As soon as Dan staggered to brace himself against the pickup before launching back into Jimmy who was swaying, she landed a good one with the hammer. He dropped into a pouf of dirt. She'd knocked him out.
"What'd you do, Anna?" Jimmy was holding himself up against the truck now. A couple more sheriff cars were pulling in and people were scattering including the crowd that had circled around to see the fight.
"I guess I hit him harder than I thought. Are you okay? Is he? Did I kill him?" Anna swallowed hard.
"I've been better, but are you okay,...did he, did he hurt you? And what were doing hanging out with him anyway? And no you didn't kill him, but he'll have a massive headache when he wakes up." He was starting to glare at her out of the eye that wasn't swelling shut. He bent down and put cuffs on the big guy just in case he woke up too soon. "What were you doing hanging out with this guy anyway? He's got a rap sheet longer than you are tall. He was one of the meth lab suspects we were looking for. He's probably on meth now is why he was acting so crazy with you."
"I didn't, I mean, I came with Tim, but he passed out over there. I switched the drinks on him after I saw him put something in mine. Evidently, it worked to put him to sleep instead of me."
Now she was crying tears of shame more than fear. "I didn't know it was going to be a party like this."
Another deputy walked over and asked, "How old are you?"
"She's seventeen," Jimmy answered for her. "Underage."
"I didn't drink, honest!"
"We'll have you take this Breathalyzer test just the same. Climb down and stand over here by me. Looks like Dan was working you over good, Jimmy. I can't believe you stayed with him that long, pal. Good job. How'd you knock him out?"
Jimmy coughed and came away with blood on his hands where his mouth had been cut. "Umm, she hit him with a hammer. It did the trick."
The deputy's head swiveled back around like someone spinning a globe. "You knocked him out?"
Then he started laughing. He bent over holding his stomach and then had to hold onto the side of the truck to keep himself standing.
"Hey, aren't you supposed to be giving her a test right now?"
"Yeah, right. Okay, George Foreman, breathe into this." He keep chuckling so that he almost did not hold it still enough for her to do what he asked. "Are you the one who called 911? Was this guy bothering you?" The officer had his pad out ready to take notes.
Just then Dan was waking up woozy. He still made it to his feet madder than a bull when he realized he was handcuffed and standing in front of two sheriff deputies. So he tried to glare her down as he let out a string of expletives that she'd never heard before. It left her blushing. The deputies muscled him over and pushed him none too gently into the squad car. Then they both returned.
"As I was saying, do you want to press charges, young lady?"
"Yes, she does," Jimmy answered for her. "I came on him attacking her and she was obviously trying to fight him off. It's a good thing that I had heard about the party and was staked out at the turn-off to ticket drunk drivers when they left the party tonight. Otherwise..."
"Yes. I do," Anna said, hitting the hammer into her palm and staring over her shoulder back at Dan. "And I want to press charges against Jimmy Stoltz too who put something in my drink. It obviously was a date rape drug because he's still over there sleeping it off after I switched the cans without him knowing it."
The deputy raise his eyebrow and looked at Jimmy who nodded tight-lipped. "The Sheriff will just have to deal with it, even if it is his son."
Anna gasped. "I didn't know."
"It'll be harder to prove that charge unless we can get enough evidence from the can. I'll go get it. When you're done here, I'll take Anna home. I know where she lives."
"I'll bet you do, you lucky dog."
"That's a little inappropriate tonight, Aaron."
He looked chagrinned over at Anna. "Sorry, miss, no offense, it's just that..."
"Just take her statement. I want to get out of here. You can take Dan in and I'll get Stan to take Tim in to book him. It's a good thing he's under eighteen is all I've got to say."
Jimmy stalked off. The crowd had evaporated. The other deputy was throwing water on the fire. Ice chests were left everywhere as well as dozens of hot dogs and the fixings. She saw Jimmy point to the sleeping Tim, saw the shock on the deputy's face and the reluctance to be the one to take the kid in.
"Are we done here?"
"Yep. Looks like this little lady is as sober as a choir boy and has managed to round up two offenders in one fell swoop."
Anna realized she'd be home by eleven, but not the way she'd planned at all. It was all about to hit the fan, and she had the feeling that Jimmy was about to plug in the fan."
It was silent in the squad car. She felt sick about the beating he'd taken and couldn't look at him.
The lights were still on in the house when they pulled up.
"I'll get you ice for your, um, face as soon as we're in the house."
"You just do that, then sit right down, and we'll have this out with the aunts. I knew you were trouble the first time I saw you and wondered what on earth Aunt Ellie brought home. I must admit, you were fighting like a wildcat back there. Just no spitting and clawing against those two sweet little ladies sitting in there. They don't deserve this, and I don't want it killing Aunt Ellie. I might try to put a little spit and polish on the story for their sake, not yours, by the way. I'd like to spare them as much as I can."
He was putting heaps of burning coals on her head speaking so nice and quietly. Anna was used to her step-dat's angry yelling. She was swallowing down shame until it made her want to throw up. She nodded with her head down unable to look at him.
"As I'll ever be."
"Lord be merciful, what happened to you, Jimmy?" Aunt Ellie tried to get up out of her chair three times but had to sink back and stay there.
As promised Anna went into the kitchen and made an ice pack for him then braced herself to walk the plank where the alligators were swimming below.
Jimmy glanced over at Anna and sighed. "Your niece had a little problem tonight. Instead of going to the youth group outing, she let Tim take her to a different kind of party. When things got out of hand, she was smart enough to call 911 for help. Fortunately, I'd gotten wind of the party, though I had no idea she was there or I would have gotten there sooner. Anyway, Tim fell asleep and some bad guy decided to try to make unwanted advances. That's about when I arrived and the two of us had a little go around. The short story of it all is that two young men are in jail tonight because of her, one of which had outstanding warrants for his arrest. I think that about sums it up. What do you say, Anna?"
"Thank you," and she finally looked Jimmy in the eye, his one eye that was still open and not covered with an ice pack. He was and would forever be her hero. "And I'd also like to say, 'Bad company corrupts good morals,' will be my theme verse for quite awhile."
The aunts had not made a sound as Jimmy spoke. They looked back and forth between them. Aunt Ellie wiped away a tear and finally said, "Jimmy, dear, you are the best and bravest. Thank you for rescuing my great-niece."
Aunt Eleanor looked a little madder, enough to make Anna cringe in that it reminded Anna of her stepdat, Eleanor's brother when he got angry.
"I know I deserve any discipline you could give me, but I just beg you not to send me home. Anything, anything but that."
Aunt Ellie narrowed her eyes and looked her up and down saying, "Uh-huh. Those are kinda skimpy shorts, young lady. What kind of message were you trying to send to those young men? I know, I know, it doesn't account for their actions. They were dead wrong no matter how you looked. But you'll be serving some community service beginning in the morning making and baking meals and such for Deputy Jimmy here. Then we'll go from there after Eleanor and I get our heads together. You might owe your life to this gentleman here."
"I know. I know. I prayed, but didn't know how God could answer in time. But He did by having Jimmy near by before I ever called. Thank you again, Jimmy. It was wonderful what you did for me tonight, and I'll never forget it."
Something shifted inside, and Jimmy wasn't quite sure what it was as sore and bruised as he felt.
"Do you need to go the E.R. to be checked out Jimmy, for cracked ribs or bruised kidneys or something?" Aunt Eleanor asked.
Anna stared at him fearfully as if he was about to break. "No, but I think I'll get off from work early tonight and go home and get in a hot tub and pop a couple of painkillers. Well, I guess that wraps it about up tonight." The look in Anna's eyes grabbed at his heart. It made him hope she'd learned a lesson. She'd been one foolish girl. Thank goodness she'd grabbed Jimmy's phone and called when she did. He shuddered to think what could have happened. Anna walked him out to his car.
"I'm really sorry for all the trouble and pain I caused you tonight, Jimmy. Truly I am. I think I learned something the hard way. Maybe I'll get smarter now."
"I hope so. I must admit, I hated seeing that big beast attacking you like that. It made me feel crazy in my head. I'm glad you're okay." He stroked her cheek then jerked his hand back as if it were in hot coals of fire. "Well, goodnight."
On his way to his apartment he just realized what Aunt Ellie had said. She had told Anna she was going to begin by making him dinners. Jimmy laughed. If he knew Aunt Ellie, soon his freezer would be filled. Food was the answer to nearly all problems in her book. He took a deep breath then let out a long sigh. It also meant she wasn't going to send Anna back home. He scratched his head on that one not knowing if he was glad or sad.
Short stories tend to make for quick courtships. This was an especially hurried up story since I accidently published it when it was only half-done. So I might have set the record on a couple falling in love in this one and not developed the relationship to a great extent! If not love at first sight, it was love at a second look.