Sorry this is late. I blame it on technological difficulties.
To end this lackluster year of 2014, I give you the final chapter of More Than I Can Chew. I might write an epilogue, but only if this chapter gets enough hate that writing an epilogue is the only way to stop the death threats. (Also: no death threats!)
Click here for the last seventeen chapters. Enjoy.
Kathy was the first person to call 911, and the paramedics came about six long minutes later. James was still alive at this point; still coughing and gurgling up blood; no one in the room knew what to do. They asked us to clear the room when we got there, which we did. Kathy and I helped Adrien upstairs and left him sitting in the truck where he was being cared for.
According to the paramedics, James wasn’t going to die. He was, however, going to be breathing through a tube for a while and wouldn’t be able to talk too well. Adrien, meanwhile, didn’t have a concussion, and his nose was only sprained. I didn’t think it was possible to sprain your nose, but that’s what they said, and I assume they knew they were talking about. But the bigger thing we had to worry about weren’t the physical effects; apparently Adrien was in shock. Almost murdering someone can do that to you, as it turns out.
With both James and Adrien under medical care, that just left me, Sean, Kathy and Fiona sitting on the porch, contemplating the events of the day. Somehow it was only four thirty in the afternoon.
“This was so stupid,” said Fiona, after a short silence. She was crying, yet neither me nor Kathy or even Sean made an effort to comfort her. In fact, both Sean and Fiona were making a conscious effort not to talk to even acknowledge each others’ existence, leading me to wonder exactly what went on in the phone call between them. Meanwhile, Kathy was busy calling Mom and Dad, trying so very hard to get a word in.
“. . . Mom, just— Mom. Do you want to know where we are or not?” There was a pause, and Kathy reluctantly filled her in on the current situation, being cut off every few seconds as she continued to yell at her. To Kathy’s credit, she managed to stick through the entire conversation without hanging up once. She even got all the vital information through: Adrien was being taken to the hospital (“He’s going to be fine,” Kathy said over and over again, though Mom kept interrupting her with questions and demands to talk to him herself), and Kathy offered to drive me either to the hospital or back home, depending on what Mom thought was best. Except Mom didn’t trust Kathy to drive me anywhere, instead deciding that Dad would drive me to the hospital and that Kathy could just “go away.” Her words.
“Fucking gum,” she said afterwards. I muttered in agreement. Hard to believe someone almost died because of a fight over gum.
“So, what do we tell them?” said Fiona, as the paramedic truck drove off. In a few minutes all of our parents would come over, along with that detective and maybe a few policemen. I wasn’t sure exactly.
“We could say it was an accident,” I said. “That we were all just hanging around in your house and Adrien accidentally shot James in the neck. Teenage recklessness, or something.”
Kathy shook her head. “That doesn’t explain Adrien’s injuries, or James’. Or yours.”
“Okay, how about this: Adrien and James’ got in some sort of argument, they started fighting and I tried to break it up for a few seconds. After getting punched in the face a few times, I gave up, and then Adrien somehow accidentally shot James’ in the neck.”
“Okay, but they’re also going to be questioning you about the kidnapping incident. What do you say about that?”
“That I have no idea about any of that.”
“Okay. . . and what about the ten thousand dollars worth of gum?”
“I don’t know anything about that either,” I said. “I was suspended for selling a few packs, but I never made ten thousand dollars worth of it. That’s just ridiculous.”
“Okay,” said Kathy. “What else are we forgetting?”
“They’re going to ask what James was doing at my house to begin with,” said Fiona, quietly. “My parents will, at least. And no matter what you say, you can’t count on Adrien or James saying the same thing.”
I sighed. “What if we just told the truth?”
Fiona looked disgusted. “What? No!”
“Not the whole truth, anyway. Not the parts that could get us in serious trouble. Speaking of which, how involved in that kidnapping were you, exactly?”
“It was all James’ idea.” She refused to make eye contact with any of us. “I just told him to find out where you hid the money and the gum, and he said he’d handle it. I didn’t think he’d actually drive a van onto school grounds or anything. Why would I agree to do something like that?”
“Assuming James doesn’t die,” said Kathy, “he’s not going to go along with that.” Fiona sighed, looking down at her feet. It was quiet for a few seconds.
“Who owned the van?” I said suddenly. “The van they drove onto the school yard.”
“Diesel, I think.”
I smiled. “Then we have our scapegoat. Everything was Diesel’s fault. He drove the van into the school, organized the kidnapping and stole all of my money. He also beat up Adrien and shot James in the neck. Then immediately after shooting James in the neck, he took the money and left.”
“Yes,” said Kathy. She was getting excited, all of a sudden, like she would back in her younger years when she was planning one of those crazy stunts she liked to pull. “You, Adrien and James tried to stop him from taking the money, so he beat up all of you and took it anyway. He’s big enough to pull that off, right?”
“Yes,” I said. “I thought he was an adult the first time I saw him.”
“So where does that leave me?” asked Fiona. All things considered, she seemed surprisingly accepting of this whole plan. I guess she realized she wasn’t in any position of leverage.
“It was all Diesel’s idea, and anything you did, he forced you into it,” said Kathy. “That’s what you say, okay?” Fiona nodded.
“Anything else we’re missing?” I said. “Any loose ends, or anything?”
“The BB gun,” Sean said, startling me. I’d almost forgotten he was there.
“I’ll take responsibility for that,” I said. “I took it from my neighbor’s house without his permission.” Sean nodded. I looked out at the three of them to see if there was anything else that needed to be said. Nothing.
“Well,” Kathy stood up. “My mom wants nothing to do with me at the moment, so I’ll drive over to the hospital. Let Adrien in on it all before they get to him. Sean, want me to drive you back to your car?”
“Yes, please.” Sean got up and followed her back to the car, not looking at Fiona at all. The two of them left, leaving Fiona and I alone on her porch, both savoring these last moments before our parents came and we’d have to deal with the actual consequences of the last six hours.
“Sean broke up with me on the phone,” Fiona said, quietly. “You told him what I did?” She didn’t say it in an angry, accusing way; she was just curious.
“He was with me when I found out. You okay?”
She shrugged. “We were barely dating, anyway.”
I had no idea what that was supposed to mean, but I didn’t press. “You think this whole idea will work?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
Well that type of attitude won’t do. “I think we have a good chance. James will live, Adrien never meant to kill him anyway, and it’s not like any of us are going to press charges. And I’m sure you know this already, but you’re an amazing liar. You’ll be fine.”
For once she seemed hopeful, which surprised me. I didn’t think she’d actually buy into my drivel. Maybe it wasn’t drivel after all.
My parents’ car pulled into the driveway, followed by a police car. When he stepped out I could see it was that detective guy, Roy Thompson, the guy who suspected me of selling drugs. I couldn’t wait to see his face when he found out that everything that happened today—from the kidnapping to the possible manslaughter to the multiple break-ins and the excessive violence, was all because I decided to sell some gum.