The Castaway Hotel: Book 5

Chapter 22: Confronting Problems

At the end of March, my two college boys came home to celebrate Easter with us. The holiday fell early this year, with Good Friday on the 29th and Easter on the very last day of the month. Not only that, but Passover and Easter also coincided this year, so their campuses had scheduled a few days off from classes, so those who were inclined could observe their chosen religious holiday. It was nice to have them home again, but Frankie and Dustin became upset when they discovered what had happened to Trey, because we hadn’t shared this information with them previously.

Although Trey’s injuries had mostly healed by this time, except for his broken rib, the bruises were still somewhat noticeable, even though most of the swelling had gone down. Both Frankie and Dustin quizzed him about what had occurred and what we had done about it, so Trey and I took turns filling them in. However, they didn’t seem satisfied that what we’d done was enough. Especially Frankie. I guess he still felt a twinge of guilt about his attack on Trey, back when he first joined the family, and I think he looked at this as a chance to atone for that transgression.

We explained to him that even offering the reward had done little to discover the identity of the attacker. It was believed the boy didn’t even attend our school, because no one had come forward. The only link to him was the two boys who seemed to be his buddies, but they both claimed they didn’t know his name and had only just met prior to the incident. Even though we doubted their veracity, there was no evidence available to prove they were lying to us.

Although Frankie and Dustin were as frustrated as we were, they understood we had done as much as we could, but they still couldn’t help feeling there must be something else we could try. In order to get their mind off of the attacker and get in a better mood for Easter, the boys decided to go to the mall Saturday afternoon, to do some shopping and just hang out together. As they were walking around checking out the sights, Trey suddenly froze and wouldn’t move. When the others asked him what was wrong, all he could do was lift his arm, point his finger and whisper, “that’s him.” As luck would have it, Trey had spotted his former attacker.

Frankie and Dustin wanted to race over and confront the boy, but Shannon was able to keep them from running off by mentioning he knew who the boy was. “He’s one of the boy scouts who harassed me at scout camp the last time I went,” he announced. “Don’t tell me he’s moved here too!”

No one knew the answer to his question, but they quickly made an educated guess, once they saw whom he was with. One of the boys with him were a friend of the scoutmaster’s son, the one who had attacked Shannon nearly a year before, and Trey quickly pointed out they were also the same pair who was with this kid when he was attacked. This made my sons realize the boys had been lying about not really knowing him and the attacker was either a friend or relative of one or both.

Frankie and Dustin continued to watch the others for a few minutes, to see what they were up to, and then quickly talked things over with their brothers and discussed what they were going to do next. As the trio began to move away, Frankie followed behind them closely. He wasn’t worried about being spotted, because he didn’t think any of the boys he was following would recognize him. The rest of my sons followed a short distance behind Frankie and remained far enough away so they wouldn’t be seen or recognized by the group they were following. They certainly didn’t want to spook them at this point. They kept up this game of cat and mouse for nearly an hour before the other boys left the mall, and my boys kept following them – even out into the parking lot. Once they were away from the buildings, Frankie made his move and approached the trio, as they made their way to their car.

“Hey,” Frankie yelled out to the kid who had attacked Trey, “I hear you think you’re pretty tough. How about trying your hand with me? Let’s see if you can take someone who’s ready for you, without giving you the chance to attack them from behind.”

The boy turned and was shocked to see the well-built Frankie staring him down, but he still had enough bravado left to reply. It appeared his confidence came from the fact that there were three of them and only one of Frankie. “Look, man,” the boy told him, “I don’t know who you are and I really don’t want to fight.”

“Why? Are you a coward?” Frankie egged him on. “Do you only attack those whom you don’t think can defend themselves?”

“Look, man, I really don’t know what you’re talking about,” the boy replied, while looking a little nervous.

“I’m talking about you beating up one of my brothers just because he’s gay,” Frankie informed him. This caused the boy’s mouth to immediately drop open, now that he had finally put two and two together.

“You mean you have a brother who’s a fag?” the boy blurted out, before he had a chance to think about what he was saying.

“Look, asshole,” Frankie told him, emphatically, while glaring at him as he did so. “I don’t like your smart mouth and I don’t want to hear any more of that kind of shit coming out of it, unless you plan on backing it up with your fists.”

The boy looked back at him for a second, before he responded. “Hey, there’s three of us here and only one of you, mother-fucker,” he announced defiantly, looking from side to side, at each of his companions.

“Not exactly,” Frankie announced, causing the boys to wonder what he was talking about. By the time he figured it out, the other boys had been able to come up from behind and surround the trio. Suddenly, the bully and his two friends found themselves surrounded AND outnumbered.

“I know you know at least one of my brothers,” Frankie said mockingly, while pointing at Trey, “but now let me introduce you to some of the others.” The boys looked around very nervously now, knowing they’d been played to perfection. While they were looking for any opportunity to get away, Frankie ‘introduced’ some of the others to him, more precisely Dustin, Danny, Brandon, Shannon and Nick, and then Frankie got in that kid’s face and started to make his next point.

“Unless you’d like to finish this now, I’ve got some advice for you,” he offered, while poking his index finger quite firmly against the boy’s chest, in an attempt to see if he could provoke him into action. The boy was either too scared to respond or didn’t like the odds this time, so he just stood there and took the abuse.

“The next time you attack one of my brothers,” Frankie continued, “or anyone else for that matter, I’m going to find you, rip your balls off and shove them down your throat, before I dance on your skull. Do I make myself clear?”

The boy nodded, but Frankie wanted to embarrass him further in front of his friends and make sure they all knew their friend wasn’t really as tough as he’d like them all to believe. “I’m sorry,” Frankie mocked him, “but I couldn’t hear what you said. I could only hear the rocks banging around in your empty head. What was it you said?”

“I said I understand,” the boy repeated a little louder, while looking totally embarrassed.

“You understand what?” Frankie continued, not wanting to let this opportunity slip by.

“I understand what you’re going to do to me, if I fight any of your brothers,” the bully replied, timidly.

“You called that a fight?” Frankie sneered. “I heard you punched him from behind and kicked him like some girl. Is that true?”

By now a bunch of school age kids had begun to gather around them, curious to see what was happening. This only added to the boy’s embarrassment, but played right into Frankie’s hands. “Well, not exactly,” the boy stated, trying to save some face.

“Then what exactly did you do? Did you hit him from behind or not?” Frankie pressed.

“Well, that only happened because he turned around,” the boy responded.

“Yes, he turned around,” Frankie agreed. “He was walking away from you when you sucker-punched him, right?

“If that’s what you say,” the boy tossed back, somewhat nonchalantly.

“It’s not just what I say, it’s what happened,” Frankie shouted back. “Isn’t that so?”

“I guess,” the kid responded, meekly.

“And you kicked him like a little girl after that, didn’t you?” Frankie persisted.

“I kicked him like a kick boxer or someone who knows karate,” the boy replied, trying to make it sound better to those listening in.

“Oh, really?” Frankie challenged. “Would you like to demonstrate those moves on me?”

“Uhmm, not really,” the boy replied, doing everything he could to prevent having to fight Frankie.

“Why not?” Frankie sneered. “Is it because you don’t really kick like a kick boxer or someone using karate?” Frankie taunted. “I think it’s because you kick like the little pussy boy you are – one who can only attack those he knows are weaker than him.”

The boy was turning red now, because he realized Frankie wasn’t going to let this drop.

“I’m willing to bet it’s because you weren’t actually kicking like a kick boxer or someone using karate,” Frankie pressed on, “but instead was kicking like a little sissy or some girl in a cat fight. I’m surprised you didn’t try to scratch him too.”

By now, Frankie knew he definitely had the upper hand, so he just kept ragging on this kid and egging him on. In fact, he even went a step further and began to push him, trying to get him to react. “Admit it,” Frankie jeered, “you’re just a little pussy-boy, aren’t you? And you can only beat up on people who are smaller or weaker.”

“That’s not true,” the boy insisted.

“Okay then, come on and show me what you can do,” Frankie challenged him again, before shoving him backward, but the boy somehow managed to keep his balance and merely continued to back away from his tormentor. One of his friends made a move to step in and help, but Dustin got in his way and let him know he’d have to get past him first. The young man wasn’t about to tangle with the larger Dustin and backed off immediately.

“Either fight me here and now,” Frankie screamed, “or admit to everyone that you’re just a little pussy-boy.” By now, the people in the crowd were snickering and even laughing out loud. Hearing this, the boy glared at them, while at the same time wishing Frankie would just go away. He knew that wasn’t about to happen, so he struggled to decide what he was going to do. After looking at Frankie and his muscular build, he concluded he’d get his ass kicked if he tried to fight, so he decided to just wait him out, but Frankie was being uncooperative.

“Well, which will it be?” Frankie asked him again, only this time much louder. “Are you going to fight me or admit to everyone that you’re just a little pussy-boy?” The kid just glared at Frankie, but didn’t make a move. He knew Frankie wasn’t going to let this drop until he was beaten or humiliated, so he quickly considered his options. In the end, he determined he wasn’t ready to get his ass kicked, so he chose the other option.

“I guess I’m a pussy-boy,” he whispered, barely audibly. However, his two friends heard him and his simple pronouncement shocked them completely, while Frankie and my other sons gloated over his admission.

“What was that, I don’t think we all heard you. Squeak up,” Frankie goaded him even more. He was going to make this boy say it loud enough for everyone to hear, to humiliate him even more than he had embarrassed Trey.

Unable to believe that Frankie was going to make him say it again, only louder this time, the boy just stared in his direction for a few seconds, unable to respond. Sensing Trey’s former tormentor’s uncomfortable predicament, Frankie merely glared back, before flashing him an evil grin.

“Well, which is it?” Frankie repeated.

You could see the boy biting his lip, trying to decide if he wanted to fight instead, but eventually he decided against it. “I’m a pussy-boy,” he said a little louder.

“So, you’re a pussy-boy,” Frankie announced in his loudest voice, pausing to let the full impact sink in, both for the bystanders and the boy himself. “So, pussy-boy, are you going to promise me to be a good little pussy-boy and not pick on people weaker than yourself any more?” Frankie’s voice was dripping with sarcasm as he said this.

“Yes,” the boy responded in a normal tone of voice, but Frankie decided not to push him further. He knew he had already sufficiently belittled him in front of his friends and the other students who had stopped by to witness this spectacle.

“Okay, pussy-boy. Run off with your pussy-boy friends and behave,” Frankie told him, while sounding more like a mother telling her two or three year-old child to play nice. The effect wasn’t lost on anyone. The boy and his two friends looked equally embarrassed now, although the other two had only been implicated through their friendship, but each of them realized they were going to have a tough time living this down. However, they were all happy they were getting out of there and quickly made their way over to their car. Hurriedly, they climbed inside and then sped off, since they wanted to put as much distance between them and the Curries as they could.

Some of the bystanders began to whistle, clap and cheer as the boys drove away, and Trey and the others went over to congratulate Frankie for the marvelous show he had orchestrated.

“Thanks, bro,” Trey told him succinctly, but the words weren’t really necessary. Any observant bystander could easily read the admiration and thanks etched upon Trey’s face.

“No, problem, little bro. I owed you that one,” Frankie replied, drawing a puzzled look from Trey. After thinking about Frankie’s comment briefly, he began to absorb the implication of Frankie’s remark.

While that was going on, the others took their turns congratulating Frankie too, as Dustin went around asking some of the other bystanders if they knew the boy’s name. Although he didn’t get the antagonist’s name, he did learn the names of his two companions, and someone else told him he thought the bully was an out-of-town cousin of one of the other boys. Dustin thanked those who had provided him with this information and then went back to share it with the others.

Once everyone had stopped patting Frankie on the back, they listened to what Dustin had discovered and then headed home to share this news with me. I got a full recounting of this story when they got back, with different boys adding their own touches to the retelling. I thanked Frankie for sticking up for his brother, even though I hoped it wouldn’t mean further retaliation from the other side somewhere down the road. However, Frankie quickly assured me that wouldn’t happen.

“Dad, that kid was so scared he was nearly pissing himself today,” he told me. “He doesn’t want to see me again, so he’ll leave Trey and the others alone now.”

“I hope you’re right, but I’m glad we’ve also discovered who he was,” I announced. “I’ll call the police and give them the two boys’ names and let them get the attackers name from them. Once they give me that information, I’ll notify the school about his identity. They might not be able to do anything to him, except file their own charges for criminal trespass, but they might be able to put some pressure on the other two. That should help to close this episode for the time being.”

The boys all went their separate ways now that this had been settled, but I think they all felt a little bit closer to each other than they had before. They made a statement today, as a family, and let the others in the area know the Curries would stick together, no matter what. It was a reassuring gesture for all of the younger boys, since they now understood their brothers had their backs covered, and a major statement to the community. Not only would my boys protect each other, but they would also consider a similar attack on other weaker members of society the same way as if it had been made on one of them. It was quite a powerful statement to make.

Since Easter is considered a time for hope and new beginnings, this also gave Trey a chance to start over after his attack. He was no longer scared to go on with his life, especially since it was also readily apparent that someone would be keeping a watchful eye on him in the future. He would continue to do his research at the library, but from that point on one of his other brothers would just happen to have something to work on there as well. Funny how that works out, isn’t it? Trey understood what was happening, but didn’t think any more of it, other than his brothers cared about him and were doing their best to protect him. They all understood this and it became just another unspoken family truth.

That Monday, I got a call from the police telling me the identity of Trey’s attacker, so I relayed his identity and that of his two companions to the school. Although the high school principal didn’t know the boy who had done the fighting, he did recognize one of the other names. That young man had been in trouble before, for various infractions, but the third boy had never been involved in any disciplinary problems.

I then asked him what actions he anticipated taking against them, to see if I agreed with his decision. He replied that since the other two hadn’t actually done anything, there was nothing he could do to them, but he would file a formal complaint on the third boy and would do as much as the law allowed.

A short time later, I received an additional call from the high school principal. “Josh, I’ve learned some more information,” he announced. “Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the boy who attacked Trey had come in that very day to enroll for the remainder of the year. It seems he’d been sent to live with his aunt and uncle, after the cops busted his father for D.U.I. His father was a repeat offender and looking at prolonged jail time, and since the boy’s mother had died a few years earlier, he had no other option but to send his son to live with relatives. As I understand it now, the boy was brought to live with his aunt and uncle the previous weekend, but took a few days getting acclimated to the area, before coming to enroll. I also suspect his cousin or the other boy was the one who filled him in about your family and that’s what led to the attack. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize his name sooner and piece this together for you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I told him. “You can’t be expected to remember the name of every student in your school, especially those who have just enrolled.”

He thanked me for my understanding and informed me he’d investigate the situation thoroughly, so he would be able to determine how best to handle the incident. I told him I was sure he would and then returned to my own thoughts about the matter.

After school, Trey finished gathering the rest of the background information he needed in order to begin writing his play. A few days later, he handed me a rough draft of the first act, which he had just completed. I proofread it for him and made a few comments and suggestions about problems I’d noticed, and then gave it back to him, so he could make whatever changes he felt were needed. It was going to be a very long and time-consuming process, so it was good he had gotten an early start on it.