Matthew Scarpa is a screenwriter and student at Full Sail University. His stories have been published in The Scarlet Leaf Review, and he enjoys writing, reading, and studying children's cartoons, to prepare himself for his dream job at Cartoon Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichardScarp or his blog at msscreenwriting.blogspot.com
The Ride Home
“I’m sick of your shit, Tyson.” Glass crashed against the kitchen wall as cups sailed through the air.
“And I’m sick of you, Miranda. Get the fuck out of my house.”
“Your house? I’m the only one who worked for the money to pay for this, you get out.”
More fights. Always more fights. Ever since mom had re-married, she’d been at her wit’s end, and I could tell it was getting old fast. I’d been just making sure my little brother stayed away from everything that had happened. It seemed like it was time to take him for an ice cream.
“Tyler,” mom said, as if on cue. “Can you take Nick out for a while?”
“Yeah, sure thing.” I snagged the keys off the hook and went to go find my little brother. He was in his room, playing with Legos, like any ten-year old should be. He shouldn’t be dealing with this, especially at his age.
“Oh hey, Tyler. Look what I made.” He held up a monstrosity of bricks that looked like it should’ve been too heavy to stick together, but somehow it did, and he was proud of it.
“Nice work, little man,” I squatted next to him and rifled through the bin of plastic bricks. “Hey, what do you say we go get some ice cream? That sound good buddy?”
“Oh boy, that’s the third time this week, can I get chocolate this time?” He asked, oblivious.
“Sure thing, Nick. Anything you want.” I stood up and Nick followed suite, running downstairs and out to the old Cadillac parked out front. I followed, giving my mom a concerned glance as I left, but her eyes said the same thing they always did; I know, but what else can I do?
In the car, Nick asked the question I’d always dreaded hearing.
“Mommy and Tyson fight a lot. Is that… is it my fault, Tyler?”
“No, no way Nick. Mom and Tyson, they’re just stressed out all the time. Don’t you ever think this is your fault.”
“Oh, okay.” Silence hung in the car for a few moments. “Can I help?”
I looked at the innocent little face in the rearview mirror, his round cheeks and eyes bright with hope. “Yeah, you might be able to buddy, why don’t you call mom and ask her what flavor ice cream she wants? I bet that would cheer her up,” I said, fishing my phone out of my pocket and passing it to him.
I heard the ringing from the front seat: once, twice, then the answering machine. “No one picked up, Ty,” Nick said, passing me the phone.
“Well then let’s get home quick, so we don’t keep her waiting okay?”
Nick nodded as we pulled into the Baskin Robbins parking lot.
About thirty minutes later, we were headed home, with ice cream headaches but happy faces. As we turned down our street though, both melted away. Police cruisers and an ambulance were outside our house. In the back of one of the cruisers was Tyson, handcuffed and furious. In the ambulance, was my mother.
I brought Nick to my next-door neighbor, then followed the ambulance to the hospital. The entire drive, my hands were white from how hard I was gripping the steering wheel. I met one of the nurses outside mom’s room.
“Is she going to be okay,” I asked.
“She will, dear, but she’ll need to heal for a while. Whatever happened, she got hurt really badly.”
Whatever happened, my ass. I know what happened. Tyson happened, and he blamed it on a burglar. Turns out though, he had a good enough lawyer to at least get him out of the cell for the night, and he headed back home. I made a mad dash to beat him there.
My dad left me a box, roughly three pounds, and small enough to fit under my bed, that I had to dig out. When Tyson got home, I was waiting for him, parked in the old Cadillac out front. I wanted to catch him before he stepped foot back inside, and lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait long.
“Hey, Tyson,” I said, sticking my hand in the box.
“Oh great, what the fuck do…”
He trailed off as he saw the old nineteen-eleven my dad gave me. He made me swear to never use it unless mom or Nick were in trouble. Well now they were.
“Oh, you think you’re so brave huh? You think you’re going to stick up for yourself, that you’re that tough?” His voice shook. I held the gun, just like dad taught me: two hands on the grip, arms outstretched but flexible, eye on the target. Dad told me to never aim a gun at a person, but I wasn’t. I was aiming at a pile of garbage as I pulled the trigger.