Dorothy Salisbury Davis

The Scream

Sally had called him a 'mother's boy' when he wanted to leave the party at eleven. It hurt and angered him, but what angered him most was that he hadn't left right then. He stayed on, as though that was going to change her feelings toward him. She'd turned her attention to guys he didn't even know and didn't think she did. She said she'd hitch a ride in one of the other cars. Now he was really late. He drove up the ravine trail furiously, scattering stones and gravel, ripping through the bramble. Midnight wasn't late for that gang, even on a school night, even though they'd lost the beer to the cops who had intercepted them on the way down. He had an old-fashioned mother who pretended she wasn't a single parent. Sometimes she told people her husband was away on business. But sometimes, when she and David were alone, she would call him the man of the house and say how much she depended on him.

As soon as he cleared the park drive he opened up the Chevy. He'd got in the habit of worrying about his mother when he didn't get home on time. This angered him, too. What he worried about was her worrying about him, and it made him feel tied up. Or down. He kept flooring the accelerator until he turned off the highway onto a two-way shortcut via the old County Road.

He thought of Sally and the guy who'd been trying to make out with her when David took off. He was a wimp. David hated him. Sally seemed to like wimps. She had an overload of energy and breasts like ice cream cones. He hit top speed again. Nobody used the County Road except the locals. With not a car in sight, he reached into his breast pocket and fished out the orange packet. He rolled down the window thinking, One more for the road: His joke on himself. He had yet to use one of the damn things in a real situation, yet to suggest to Sally or any other woman that he had one in his pocket. He threw it out against the wind and felt immediately that it might have blown back into the car. He glanced around. In less than a breath of time he turned back to the road. A car, dead ahead, no lights, had stopped half on the pavement, half on the shoulder. He swerved across the middle line, then, starting to careen, he let the wheel take control. The Chevy swung back and he saw the woman coming around from in front of the parked car. He saw her scream. Didn't hear it. Her face, the mouth wide, seemed to zoom at him. He pulled the car away from her and fought to control it by acceleration. The woman flung herself against her car, sandwiched between it and the Chevy when he passed. He got command, his hands frozen around the steering wheel. He was faint with fear, but he hadn't hit her. He was sure of it. He would have heard something, a thump, a noise, something, if he had. He was sure of it. He did not stop.

* * *

'Davie, is that you? Are you just getting in?'

'I've been downstairs for a while,' he lied. He squeezed the words through a dry, tight throat.

'Then you should have finished your studies before you went out. 'I know.' At her bedroom door he said, 'Good night, Mother.'

'I need a kiss,' she said, and when he brushed her forehead with his lips, 'Now I'll be able to sleep.'

He drew the door almost closed. The cat wriggled through and followed him down the hall. It wove itself between his legs in the bathroom and then rubbed against him when he sat on the edge of his bed to take off his sneakers. As soon as he removed one, the cat jumped it and worried its head into the toe.

'Allie, it stinks!' He buried his face in the crook of his arm. 'Like me.'

He woke up before he finished the Our Father. In the next second the spiraling plane would have hit the ground. He lay, abruptly wide awake, knowing what he had dreamt, and wondered why he had not been scared. He'd felt calm and oblivious to the other passengers, who were also about to die. 'Forgive us our trespasses…' Suddenly he remembered the face he'd kept seeing while he lay in bed last night, unable to fall asleep, the scream he couldn't hear. If he looked at the wall now he would see it again. If he closed his eyes he would see it. He wrenched himself out of bed. Every bone in his body ached. Every muscle was taut.

His mother called to him from downstairs wanting to know if he was up. She had called him before and he had fallen back into sleep, into the dream. He leaned over the banister and shouted down that he'd be ready in ten minutes. In the shower he told himself that he must go back to where it happened. What good would it do now? He couldn't have hurt her. She'd have been scared, fainted maybe. But how could he not have hurt her? With him going at that speed, the wind could have pulled her to him. But he'd have known it, felt it. And if he had, wouldn't he have stopped? He had not stopped. That was why he had to go back.

David resembled his mother. He was slight, with straight, tawny hair, very blue eyes. The sharp, delicate features made him feel that he looked like a choir boy. He'd got in the habit of pulling down the corners of his mouth. Tough guy, his mother said of it once, which was exactly what he wanted. The one thing he didn't want now was his mother getting a good look at his bloodshot eyes. 'I had an awful dream before I woke up,' he said. It might explain or distract.

She sat, her chin in her hand, and watched him pour milk shakily into his cornflakes, not seeming to notice anything different in him from other mornings. She was dressed for work, waiting for her ride to arrive any minute. 'Want to sort it out?' she said.

'I was going down in a plane crash. There were lots of people screaming, but I wasn't scared.' He'd made up the screaming part. He couldn't remember them screaming.

'What else do you remember? Little things,' she coaxed. She liked to interpret his dreams for him. She had done it since he was a little kid, a game he kind of liked.

Now he wished he hadn't mentioned this one. 'I woke up before we crashed.'

'If you weren't scared, what were your feelings?'

He shrugged. 'Like, philosophical. I said the Our Father.' He pushed away from the table. 'Mom, I got to go. Professor Joseph always calls first on the kids who come in at the last minute. We call him Sneaky Joe.'

'You miss your father. That's what your dream's about.'

'Yeah.' He got up. The cornflakes barely touched, he put the dish on the floor for the cat.

'Why don't you write and tell him that, Davie?'

Again he shrugged.

'I know you could tell him things you don't tell me,' his mother said.

'Okay, Mom. I'll do that.' He was desperate to get away from her. He couldn't even manage the usual peck on the cheek.

'Are you going to be all right to drive?' she called after him.

'Why not?' Each day he drove the twenty miles to St. Mary's College, picking up two classmates on the way.

'You're jittery. You're working too hard. You ought not to work late at night. Your sleep's important, Davie. You're still growing.'

'Yes, Mother. Yes!' If only her ride would come. He wanted to call his passengers and tell them they had to get to school on their own that morning. It would commit him to going back there.

She called after him: 'I have pot roast in the Crock-Pot if you'd like to bring someone home to dinner.'

He was shocked at the scratches on the fender and the door when he first saw the car in daylight. It must have happened eoine down or coming up from the water's edge. Going down, he'd been concentrating on Sally's hand getting nearer and nearer his thigh. And then the sheriffs patrol had stopped the three cars and confiscated the beer. The cops had made them get out of the cars, and they asked each one if they had any joints or other dope. They hadn't searched anybody. Sally said afterward that if the deputy had laid a finger on her, her father would have had his badge by morning. Some of the other boys went to St. Marys, too, which had turned coeducational recently. Like him, they were day students, but they were upperclassmen. One of the deputies had flashed his torch in David's face and then asked to see his driver's license. He couldn't believe David was a college student. Sally tittered. She didn't say it then, but later-mother's boy. He took a chamois to the scratches and

Вы читаете The Scream
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату