More Or Les Human

(Italicized from a prompt)

I used to be a friendly child. I would think nothing of stopping and chatting with neighbors on our block on the way home from school or back from the store to get milk. It is amazing how one incident with one person can change your perspective of all. When the nameless old man from down the street reached over his fence and grabbed my wrist like a snake snatching its prey I remember feeling sick to my stomach and the intense satisfaction in his eyes as he lifted me up with both hands so my face was even with his and then he kissed me on my mouth.

I never told anybody about that day. I was only eight years old but even at the age I knew what he did was wrong. I blocked the incident from my memory so I don't remember all the particulars except running from his yard as fast as I could. I'm not sure if he dropped me or put me down but I'm pretty sure "all" that happened was that he kissed me. I don't believe he molested me in any other way.

I avoided that end of the street at all costs after that fateful day. I refused to deliver the paper to that house when helping my older brother out with his paper route and one of the reasons I refused to take over the route for my brother when he got a job washing dishes at Johnny C's Diner was because I didn't want to have to deliver the paper to that house.

I always walked and rode my bike on the opposite side of the street even though some of my friends thought I was a weirdo for acting so strange. The house was well known for giving out good treats on Halloween but I never went near it no matter what costume I had on. As far as I was concerned, 27 Hillside Avenue was off limits, contaminated, perverted, and bad news even though it was a nice looking house with a wrap around porch, neatly kept yard and flowers on the porch.

I didn't know anything about the man who lived there and I didn't want to know. Thankfully, I never saw him after that one incident (not that I was looking) but I did see his green Oldsmobile in the driveway from time to time. Eventually, I learned through my brother that the guy was Mr. Prescott, a widower who worked at the bank. He was in his early sixties put I didn't need to hear anything else about him and every day I wished a 'For Sale' sign would pop up in his front yard. The house had to have at least three bedrooms in it and I couldn't understand what one old guy needed with such a large house. I kept hoping he'd either move or drop dead so I wouldn't have to think about – or worry about – him anymore.

By the time I reached junior high, I started hearing all the 'gay' talk – guys making fun of each other in the locker room and stuff – 'That's so gay' and 'What are you, a homo?' and 'That guy's queer' and all the other insults and razzing that went with being immature oversexed adolescents with foul mouths. Sometimes I wondered if I had some sort of 'gay streak' in me and that's why Mr. Prescott was attracted to me. He was probably a closet homosexual but in subsequent conversations with my brother and sister I learned that "You're either not gay or all gay" (according to my brother" and that "Old guys who do little kids are pedophiles not homos" (according to my sister) so I wasn't sure what to make of old Mr. Prescott down the street.

The incident, subconsciously, made me weary and I struggled trying to figure out if I was really heterosexual because of those doubts. I was afraid that a girl might find out I had a 'gay streak' 'cause I got kissed by a man once when I was eight years old and sometimes I overcompensated in the 'real man' department by trying to prove how sexual I was, even at twelve.

I kissed my friend Jazz McDonald's sister under the apple tree one summer night even though she was only ten years old and that made me panic thinking maybe I was a perverted pedophile too. I was happy to play spin the bottle, post office and other kissing games at various parties to prove my masculinity. I was happy to expose myself to Marcie Culburn behind my garage (on her dare) and I was eager to skinny dip with Frannie Franklin and her sister Becky in their backyard pool one night, partly so I could say "I see Frannie's fanny" but mostly to prove that I was a real man.

Those were regular adolescent experimentations but they didn't free me from my doubts and insecurities. The more I experienced any type of sexual encounter the more paranoid, doubtful, and confused I felt and that's why I stopped bothering to date. It created too much stress, anxiety, and uncertainty for me.

I also didn't trust adults in my life because of Mr. Prescott's betrayal. I blew opportunities for mentorship, guidance, coaching, support and tutoring from various teachers because I was afraid they might try to kiss me too. I shied away from my friends' parents and other older people in the neighborhood because I was afraid they'd find out my secret or try to violate me in some way too.

My resistance and reluctance to warm up with adult role models in my life earned me the reputation of being detached, impersonal, rude and disinterested but really I was just unsure, frightened, and paranoid. Unfortunately, most people over eighteen mistook me for an asshole and I guess I couldn't blame them. I was pretty messed up, confused and troubled so it was easy to understand why I escaped by starting to drink at an early age and I got drunk more than I should have, earning a reputation as a lush and a loser, especially when I acted like a semi-pervert with the girls whenever I was well lit.

By the time I was sixteen, I had burned a lot of bridges, ruined a lot of friendships, and was one messed up kid, all because some sick old geezer kissed me when I was eight years old, although I was in total denial about any of it ever happening (not that anybody knew anyway).
I went to Welton's party a few weeks before school ended sophomore year and, as usual, I got totally bombed. I don't remember much about what happened that night - it was all a fuzzy blur when I came to in the Emergency Room where they had to pump my stomach and put some stitches in my head. Apparently, after semi-accosting Louise Appleton in the kitchen, I stole Welton's mother's car and went for a drunken joy ride which ended when I totaled the mini-van. Cops said I was going 100 mph (I didn't even have a license!) when I sideswiped a tree, left the road and somehow missed several other trees while running through bushes, shrubs, mailboxes, a fence, and a couple of parked cars. Thank god for seat belts and air bags!
I got grounded for lifeand had to wear an ankle monitor while restricted to my house all summer. I lost my license (before I ever got it!) and I got fired from my job at Donovan's Department Store because I couldn't leave my yard! My parents hired a therapist to try to get inside my head. Chuck was a laid back and cool guy with long hair and an ability to relate to my age group and I didn't mind telling him of my woes (although I didn't mention the kiss). Chuck determined I was suffering from PTSD and depression although he wasn't quite sure what trauma I had experienced (I wasn't about to tell him). Once my family figured out that there was a reason for my acting out behaviors they were more willing to cut me some slack although I was still under house arrest through the juvenile court system.

I had plenty of tasks to keep me busy during my home confinement, including cleaning out the cellar and garage, painting the front porch, and scraping and painting the garage. Given my crime, I really couldn't complain about the punishment. When I wasn't slaving away, I'd sit on the front porch relaxing and watching life go by on the street in front of me. A few days after I started this routine, I noticed a girl I hadn't seen before taking walks a couple of times a day.

Before my fall from disgrace, I was forward and flirtatious with the girls, sarcastic and mean with my humor, and indifferent and detached in my attitude. Chuck got through some of my defensive walls and took away some of those shields but now I was left clueless when it came to interacting with girls on any level.

But this girl caught my eye. She was about my age and as tall as me. She had long brown hair with bangs and although I had yet to see her smile she was definitely cute if not pretty. Once I figured out her walking routine I perched myself on the bench my mother had by the flower bed along the fence that ran across the front lawn. I waited for the girl to pass by - I didn't say anything the first few times, but she noticed me sitting there and she'd glance at me out of the corner of her eye.

After about three or four days of this, I finally mustered the guts to say "Hey" to her as she passed by. She threw me a look but didn't say anything as she kept on walking. I said "Hey" three more times the next three times she walked by and finally, on the fourth "Hey" she stopped in front of the fence and looked at me as I sat on the bench.

"Hey," she said cautiously.

I stood and stepped to the edge of the fence. "Are you new around here?"

"I'm spending the summer with my grandfather," she said. "He had knee surgery and my Dad asked me to help out."

"So, you're not from around here?"

"Longview."

That was good (for me). Longview was about sixty miles away so hopefully this girl had no idea who I was or what my story might be. The situation offered me the chance for a fresh new start with a whole new game plan as far as how I related to and interacted with other people, which had been one of Chuck's goals with me.

"My name's Lester," I said. "But my nickname is Colorado."

"Where'd that come from?" She asked.

"I don't know!" I laughed. "But it's better than Lester!"

Actually I did know. Colorado came from some Western movie and my friends gave it to me (sometimes they called me 'The Colorado Kid') because it fit my reputation as a boundary pushing semi-criminal (at least in their eyes).

"I'm Flynn," she told me.

"Oh, is that a nickname too?" I wondered.

"No," she stated with a frown. "That's my real first name."

"That's different," I replied, trying to cover my social gaff. (Maybe I should just stick to my usual one liner come-ons).

"Yes," she agreed. "But I like it."

With that she was off and walking and I was pretty sure she'd never talk to me again. I took a seat on the bench at her usual walk time the next morning and sure enough I saw her walking along the street as she always did around that time.

"Hey, Flynn," I said when she got close enough.

"Hey, Colorado," she replied, stopping at the fence.

"It's nice to see you," I let her know with sincerity.

She considered me for a moment. "Would you like to walk with me?"

"I'd love too!" I said happily, grateful for the invite. "But I can't." I bravely held up the ankle bracelet for her to see knowing it was going to be a make it or break it moment.

"Oh," she said with surprise.

"The NSA will come find me and send me to Gitmo if I leave the yard," I explained, trying to sound humorous.

"Oh," she said again, looking somewhat confused as I put my leg down. "I'll see you then," she said as she walked off and I had the feeling I'd probably never see her again. I was The Colorado Kid, after all, the ankle wearing juvenile delinquent.

Later, I was on a ladder on the side of the garage scrapping away when I heard a voice.

"What'd you do to earn the bracelet?"

I was surprised to see Flynn standing at the top of the driveway peering at me. It wasn't her usual walk time and the fact that she actually came into my yard caught me off guard.

"Stupid stuff," I mumbled with embarrassment.

"Well, everybody does stupid stuff," she replied with a shrug. "Is that why you're scrapping the garage?"

"Among other punishments," I acknowledged, stepping off the ladder and looking at her. "You sure you want to be hanging around a known criminal?"

"I'll take my chances," she smiled.

I wanted to hug her for her willingness to take a gamble with me.

"I wish I could leave the yard," I said. "I'd take you to a ball game at Beano Field, lunch at Johnny C's Diner, and for ice cream at Red's Tastee Freeze."

"I've been here before," she said. "On visits. This is my father's home town. I've been to those places."

"I never saw you before," I said.

"I'm usually with the family," she explained. "This is the first time I've been here on my own."

I took a seat on the back porch steps and Flynn joined me.

"What color are you going to paint the garage?" She asked.

"White again," I sighed. "My mother won't go for anything more hip."

Flynn laughed. "White will look fine," she said.

"We used to go to the Longview Zoo when I was a kid," I revealed. "It's a nice town."

"I like it," she said. "And the zoo is fantastic, isn't it?"

I told her about my family – how I was the youngest of three siblings. My brother was off in the Army and my sister had moved in with her boyfriend a few months earlier so I was the only one left at home. My father was a salesman and my mother a secretary so I was home alone during the day.

Flynn told me that her father was an executive and her mom was a hairdresser. She was an only child and her Dad thought it would be good for her to spend 'quality time' with her grandfather as he recovered from his knee surgery. She really didn't have to do that much – cook him his meals, keep the house clean, run errands, so she had plenty of time for herself because the grandfather was pretty independent and liked to do his crosswords and watch television.

"So you like to the take walks?"

"Gets me out of the house," she said. "I walk around the bock. Or down to Fontaine's (Family Grocery) for some groceries. The other day I had a milk shake at Johnny C's."

"You haven't met anybody else?" I asked, worried that if she ran into somebody who wasn't confined to his yard she might stop paying attention to me.

"Not really," she replied. "I'm not really looking to do that," she added.

"How come you stopped to talk to me?"

She shrugged. "I don't know," she admitted, as she stood. "It's almost lunch time. I have to go make my grandfather his sandwich. Maybe I'll come back when he's napping this afternoon."

"I'll be here," I said, gesturing toward the garage. "Scrapping."

Flynn smiled and headed down the driveway and I watched her until she disappeared behind the house. I had never had a normal conversation with a girl that didn't involve innuendo, flirtation, or flat out rudeness so this was all new with Flynn, actually talking to her about normal stuff and just being a regular guy (with an ankle bracelet).

And so our routine developed during the next few days. Flynn would stop by and chat with me while I worked. Small talk conversations about the news or sports or whatever was going on. Her routine at her grandfather's was pretty boring so she didn't have a lot to offer about her life there and there wasn't a lot going on at my house either so I wasn't sure what we were supposed to talk about other than our schools and some of our friends. Flynn told me about her last boyfriend who broke up with her when he found out she was going to Hillsboro for most of the summer.

"He didn't like being alone so he found some new girl to hang out with," Flynn sighed. "I thought that was kind of selfish of him."

"If he wasn't willing to wait for you he wasn't worth waiting for," I replied, secretly pleased that she didn't have a boyfriend.

Flynn asked if I had a girlfriend (I didn't, of course) and I wasn't about to tell her about my past sins and foolish behaviors that were crude, rude, perverted and not very nice. I knew she would probably leave if she found out that I exposed myself to Marcie Culburn, skinny dipped with the Franklin sisters, accosted Louise Appleton, and was a drunken jerk to about every girl in town.

The only hope I had with Flynn was to follow the advice Chuck had given me: just be myself. No come-ons. No smart remarks. No sexual flirtations. Just be me – before I was kissed by a man when I was eight years old. I used to be a friendly child. I would think nothing of stopping and chatting with neighbors on the way home from school or back from the store.

I appreciated that Flynn never brought up the ankle bracelet or asked me what I had done to be stuck in the yard. I wasn't even sure if I liked her calling me Colorado since that name no longer seemed to fit. Of course, Lester was the worse name ever and I didn't want to be called that either, so I told her about the nickname I used to have as a kid – my brother used to call me Buddy and I always liked that.

"Buddy's better than Colorado," Flynn agreed. "But what's wrong with Les?"

"Because of 'I'd rather be more than Les,'" I replied with a sigh. "That's what I used to get growing up."

Flynn smiled. "Okay, Buddy it is!"

Flynn came into the house a few times for a soda and once to use the bathroom. I never took her upstairs to my room because some not very nice things happened up there a few times with various girls, but we would hang out in the air conditioned den on the first floor and talk and it was very nice. My biggest fear was that some girl I violated would find out Flynn was hanging out with me and tell her about my scandalous past but Chuck told me that I had no control over what other people said or did and that when the time was right I might be able to come clean with Flynn about some of my mistakes.

What started out as my worst summer ever had turned into my best summer ever and I had Flynn to thank for my new outlook. She was the best thing that ever happened to me and even if it was only a summer (non) romance I was grateful for her company and friendship. My summer of confinement had turned into a summer of freedom, discovery, redemption and hope, a new start with a new person and even if I returned to Hillsboro High in September with the baggage from my past chained to my ankle I'd still have the promise of this summer to get me through those tough times.

I'd like to think that I was Flynn's 'buddy' and that her summer in Hillsboro was an enjoyable one too because she met me. I remember the exact moment when I realized I had discovered new meaning of my life. Flynn and I were sitting on the couch in the den cooling off and drinking a soda when she reached over and brushed the hair out of my face. She saw the fresh scar from my accident and without saying a word she leaned in and kissed it softly, affectionately, warmly, and compassionately. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life and I knew I had found somebody special and important to my life.

One afternoon Flynn was sitting on the bench with me in the front yard enjoying each other's company when my mother came home from work. I figured now was as good enough time as any to introduce the two women in my life so I walked Flynn up the driveway and met my mother near the back door.

"Mom, this is Flynn who is staying with her grandfather this summer," I said.

"Ah, yes, Abner Prescott's granddaughter," My mother said with a warm smile, greeting Flynn with a friendly handshake. "Nice to meet you, Dear."

But my head was spinning and my knees may have actually buckled. "Wait," I said, feeling like somebody had punched me in the stomach. "You're old man Prescott's granddaughter?"

Flynn gave me a funny look. "Yes, why?" She asked.

"Ah….um…..er…..nothing," I said, feeling nauseous.

"Les, are you okay?" My mother asked. "You look pale."

"I'm…..ah….f…fine, Mom," I said. "Anyway, I'm glad you finally met Flynn."

I put my hand on Flynn's shoulder and walked her back down the driveway, wondering if I was walking her right out of my life.

"Anyway," I said awkwardly. "I should probably go clean up for dinner."

"Sure," Flynn said, searching my face for clues. "Is something wrong?"

"No, of course not, everything's fine," I lied, smiling bravely. "I'll see ya."

"Okay," she said softly before heading down Hillside Avenue and it occurred to be for the first time where she had been coming from every day all summer: 27 Hillside Avenue, the pervert's house!

I had fallen in love with the pervert's granddaughter!

I stumbled up to my room wondering if Flynn knew her grandfather was a pervert. No, of course not, how could she possibly know that? And how could I possibly tell her? Either she would call me a sick disgusting creep liar or I would ruin her relationship with her grandfather.

Chuck could tell something was wrong the next morning as soon as he walked through the door to my father's study where we met twice a week for an hour or so. Since Flynn came into my life he had been cheering me on and giving me pointers about how to be just a normal regular guy around her but now I had reverted back to the usual moody moron I had been when he first met me.

"What happened?" Chuck asked, taking a seat in the chair behind my father's desk. I was sitting on the couch with my arms folded across my chest, sulking.

"Nothing," I mumbled.

"You and Flynn have a fight?"

"No," I grumbled.

"You make a pass at her that went wrong?"

"No, nothing like that," I groaned. "I didn't revert back to my pervert self if that's what you're thinking."

"Well, something's bothering you," Chuck observed.

"Maybe I've got cabin fever," I said with annoyance. "Maybe I feel like a captive." I lifted up my leg and pointed at the ankle bracelet.

"You were fine with all this just a few days ago," Chuck remarked. "Something must have happened to change your attitude."

"I'm fine," I insisted.

"How long are you going to carry your secret, Les?" Chuck wanted to know.

"I don't have any secrets," I snapped.

"Of course not," Chuck said with a sigh. "Listen, you're a good kid. You've done a good job getting your life back on track. Whatever it was that sent you down the road of self-destruction doesn't have to beat you if you don't let it. And the best way to take care of it is to be honest about it."

"There's nothing to tell."

"There's nothing to be ashamed about," Chuck told me. "You didn't do anything wrong. It wasn't your fault."

"Look, you can't try to analyze me if you don't even know what's going on," I said with annoyance.

"I know enough to know you're hiding something, denying something, running from something," Chuck replied knowingly. "You saw something or did something or had something happen that is buried deep within your psyche and unless you release it from your soul it's going to continue to haunt you, taunt you, and mess with you."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I snapped.

"Nothing is too difficult to work through," Chuck told me. "It just starts with you coming clean."

"Everything's fine," I replied.

"Yes, I can see that," Chuck remarked sarcastically as he stood, gathered his papers and left the den.

How was I supposed to tell Chuck I got kissed by an old man pervert and now I was madly in love with the pervert's granddaughter?

I didn't feel like doing anything. I went back upstairs to my room and lay on my bed feeling defeated and angry. Nearly nine years had passed since that awful day but it felt like it just happened yesterday.

The doorbell rang downstairs but I didn't have the energy or emotion to get off the bed to answer it. I knew it was Flynn and I just couldn't face her right now. I went to the window and watched as she walked down the front sidewalk and disappeared down the street.

I was still lying in my bed bumming out four hours later when the doorbell rang again and I ignored it again, knowing it was Flynn. But then I heard the front door open and a few minutes later there were footsteps on the stairs and, after a delay as she found her way around, there was Flynn sticking her head through the open doorway of my bedroom.

"Are you sick?" She wanted to know.

"No," I said, surprised to see her standing there like that.

"What's wrong with you?" She wanted to know.

"Nothing," I lied.

"Aren't you going to paint the garage?" She asked.

"Eventually," I groaned.

She stepped into the room and took a seat on the end of my bed, studying me for a long time.

"Do you know something about my grandfather?" She asked cautiously.

"What!? No! Why would you ask something like that?"

"Well, judging from your reaction, I would guess that you actually do know something about my grandfather," Flynn sighed.

"I've never even met the guy," I said defensively (which was technically true).

"So why did you freak out like that yesterday?" She demanded.

"I didn't freak out," I insisted.

"Oh," she said, nodding her head. "I see."

Now I was greatly confused. Why would Flynn ask me if I knew something about her grandfather unless she knew something about her grandfather? But if I said something to her about her knowing something about her grandfather then she would know that I knew something about her grandfather and I just didn't want to go there, especially if it turned out she really didn't know anything about her grandfather. I certainly didn't want to be the one to tell her.

"Did you ever have a memory that you weren't even sure was real or not?" Flynn asked after a long moment of silence between us.

She was looking out the bedroom window and not even at me.

"Maybe," I said tentatively.

"Like maybe it was a dream or something and you've confused it with real life?" She asked

"Yeah," I admitted.

"That's what it's like for me with my grandfather," she said, turning her head slowly to me. "It's hard to know if I imagined it or it was some sort of dream or if it actually happened." Her voice was shaking. "Do you know something about my grandfather?" She asked again, almost desperately.

"Maybe I imagined it too," I whispered.

Flynn's eyes filled with tears. "I've hesitated to say something because of my own shame and embarrassment," she revealed. "And, besides, how can I do that to my family?"

"You think they wouldn't believe you?" I asked with surprise.

"Of course they'd believe me," Flynn said. "But it would ruin all of us."

"Instead of just you," I replied.

She sucked in a deep breath. "Whatever anger and outrage I feel I've pushed down deep inside me leaving me sad and depressed."

"But you're not wearing an ankle bracelet or seeing a therapist," I remarked.

"No," she admitted as she slumped down on the bed and moved up on it so she was behind me lying on her side as I lay on mine with my back to her. She placed her chin on my shoulder and wrapped her arms around my waist. It was the closest we had been to one another.

"I'm smart intellectually but I lack self-confidence and self-esteem," Flynn told me. "I have a difficult time fitting in and I'm sensitive to criticism. I used to be enthusiastic but now I seem to have an excuse for everything, plus I accommodate the needs of others' to my own detriment."

"I think you're wonderful," I said.

"My relationships have suffered because I find it hard to really trust people," she revealed.

It was like I was listening to myself. I rolled over and stared at her with fascination.

"I sort of lied about my last boyfriend," Flynn told me. "He didn't dump me because I came here."

"Why did he dump you?"

"Because I wouldn't have sex with him," she sighed.

I didn't say anything as I studied her face and she looked deep into my eyes.

"What do you know about my grandfather?" Flynn whispered one more time.

I swallowed dryly and then unloaded my deep dark personal secret for the first time ever.

"When I was eight years old I was walking past your grandfather's house," I said. "I dropped something – a piece of paper or candy – I forget what, exactly. I was standing by the fence getting ready to pick it up whena big arm reached over the fence and grabbed my wrist, lifting me up so my face was even with his."

"It was my grandfather?" Flynn asked.

I nodded my head yes.

"What happened?"

I chewed on my lip for a moment.

"Buddy?" Flynn urged.

"He kissed me on my mouth," I mumbled.

Flynn's eyes went wide. We stared at each other for a long moment.

"I'm sorry," I sighed.

She put her hand to the side of my cheek. "You didn't do anything wrong," she said gently and now I felt my eyes watering up.

"I've felt guilty for years," I admitted.

"Me too," Flynn revealed.

I peered into her eyes. "What did he do to you?"

She looked down but I put my finger under her chin and lifted her head up so I could see her eyes.

"You didn't do anything wrong either," I assured her.

"It feels like I did," Flynn told me, wiping tears from her eyes. "I've always tried to keep my distance from my grandfather but he would give me slobbery icky kisses and whisper things to me that weren't very nice."

"What's the memory you think you have?" I asked delicately.

"I was around eight too," she said quietly. "I was asleep and there was a presence in my room. I was lying on my stomach so I never really saw his face but he had his hand down the back of my pajamas and he was rubbing my rear, and maybe farther."

"Oh, Flynn," I sighed.

"I could smell him, hear his breathing, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't a dream, and now that I know that something happened with you I know it's real," Flynn said. She looked into my eyes. "Thank you for telling me. I feel better now."

"Me too," I admitted with surprise. "Like a huge secret burden has been lifted off my shoulders."

"Yeah," she agreed.

"Chuck thinks I should tell," I said.

"You told him?"

I shook my head no. "He knows something happened to me though. He says the only way I can find my own path of healing is to come clean so I can discover a renewed sense of integrity and self-respect. He says I can either be consumed by resentment and bitterness or I can choose to accept my experience and become a better person because of it."

"You're the first person I've met who could possibly understand how I'm feeling," Flynn said, sitting up on the bed and wiping the tears from her eyes.

"I guess," I agreed.

"So," she said, gesturing to my ankle bracelet. "Are you trouble?" She was smiling when she said it though.

"Not anymore," I said, honestly. I looked into her eyes again. "I've done some stuff I'm not very proud about though, Flynn," I told her openly.

"With girls?" She guessed, sadness in her voice.

I nodded yes, feeling shame and guilt. "I wish I met you a long time ago," I said.

"Maybe we were supposed to meet now," Flynn replied.

"Maybe," I agreed. "But why would you come back here if you knew your grandfather violated you?"

"I didn't want to let my father down," Flynn sighed. "Besides, he can't get around on his crutches so I'm relatively safe. I lock my bedroom door. And I'm out of the house most of the time. Why do you think I was out walking so much?"

"Oh," I said, feeling so sad for her. For me too.

"Maybe you should call Chuck," Flynn suggested, sucking in her breath.

"Are you sure?" I asked nervously.

"We are only human in the end," she told me.

"More or Les," I joked.