© 1998 Robert M. (Bob) Leahy
2110 E. Crosby Road
Carrollton, TX 75006
(972) 416 - 6098
Against the Wall
The beat up Chevy was already in front of the apartments when Nolan reached the street on Wednesday morning. Welch reached over and pushed the door open for his friend. "You runnin' late this morning?" he asked as Nolan climbed into the seat.
"I don't think so," Nolan replied, pulling the sleeve of his jacket back and checking his watch. "No. You're early. It's just now seven fifteen." He looked over at his friend and noticed the shirt and tie. "What's up with that?" he asked with a wave toward Welch.
After he put the car in gear and pulled away from the curb, Welch answered, "The funeral's this afternoon. Don't you remember?"
Nolan bowed his head. "Guess I forgot."
"So I guess you're still not planning on going?" Welch asked.
"Look. Nobody blames you. It was an accident."
"I know that," Nolan snapped. "But I can't go. I can't look at Mrs. McAfee. Not after what happened."
Welch said nothing.
"Besides, how do you think she'd feel when someone points me out to her? And someone will, you know. This is her time to say good-bye to her husband. I don't need to be there and complicate the picture. I'd feel terrible if she were more upset because I was there. And it's not like I can ask her if it's all right to go."
"I guess I understand that," Welch replied. "But I really think you would feel better if you did go. You need to say good-bye, too. And toÖwellÖyou knowÖ." His voice trailed off.
"Yeah," Nolan replied after a long delay. "I know. And I willÖsomeday."
There were only about three hundred students who stayed at Parkview High that afternoon. Kevin Nolan was one of them. He sat along the windows in the second-floor study hall where he stared out at the brewing storm on the western horizon. It was several minutes before he realized Mr. Hanson stood next to his desk.
"Are you okay, Master Nolan," the bespectacled English teacher asked.
"Yes, Sir," he replied with a quick glance up at the teacher. "I think so."
"It's been rough on you the past few days," he said.
Nolan didn't look up. "A little."
"I read your essay," Mr. Hanson said. "I didn't grade it."
"I won't until you tell me you want me to," he continued, pushing at his glasses.
"I'm not sure I know what you mean."
"I'm not going to grade it unless you want me to. If you want to rewrite the essay, you may."
Nolan stared out the window again. "When do I have to decide?"
"I don't want to rush you," the teacher replied. "How about letting me know by the end of next week."
"Sure," Nolan replied. "And thanks."
"Don't thank me yet, Master Nolan," he said. "Think about what you want to do. Take your time to decide."
"I will." Nolan watched as Mr. Hanson walked back to the front of the room. Don't thank me yet, reverberated in the boy's head. Think about what you want to do. Was he trying to tell me something? Nolan wondered. Is he telling me I should have thought about what I wanted to do before? The teenager shook his head as he stared at Hanson, now sitting at the desk in the front of the room. What did the teacher mean?
Wednesday evening, Lt. Bagwell asked Nolan to take a drive with him. The police officer was waiting for him outside the apartment building when his uncle dropped him off after work. "You doin' okay," he asked the boy as he swung into the passenger seat.
"Yeah. I guess."
"Larry Hargrove, the owner of a liquor store in Lewisville, says he's seen you in his place."
"Yeah, I was in his store. I made a delivery for the diner the other night."
"Thatís not how he tells it. Says he had to run you out of there. That you tried to buy some beer from him with a fake ID."
"He gave the videotape from the surveillance camera to one of the TV stations. It looks like heís pushing you out of the store, handing you your money back."
"That sonofaó" Kevin stopped.
"Are you mad because you got caught or are you mad because he made you look bad?"
"I just made a delivery for the store. I didnít buy any beer. Honest. I didnít. And Uncle Jerry will have a receipt for the dinner,"
"Believe it or not," Bagwell said after a moment, "I believe you. But someoneís gone to an awful lot of trouble to make it look like you do drink and that you apparently drink quite a bit."
"But I donít."
"So," Bagwell continued, "who do you think is behind it?"
Nolan said nothing.
Bagwell continued to challenge Kevin for additional information, but the teenager refused to talk anymore. When he let the boy out in front of his apartment about ten minutes later, he caught the boy's arm before he climbed out of the car. "Iím really trying to help you."
"I know," Nolan replied before slamming the door. Then the teenager ran inside without looking back.
Police continue to question students at Parkview High School who may have attended a party with the driver involved in the fatal accident at the Crest View Mall construction site last Friday night. Edward McAfee was dead at the scene. The driver, a minor whose name is not being released at this time, was apparently under the influence at the time of the crash.
Many of those who have been questioned refused to talk to our reporters. Others refused to talk on camera. One girl, who refused to be identified, said she only saw the teenager carrying around a coke can.
A few classmates were willing to talk on camera. One of those is senior, Butch Kramer. "I donít know what he was drinkin,í but he was plenty drunk. He passed out in the corner of Steveís garage. Thatís all I know."
We will carry more of our interviews tonight on the update.
Thursday morning, Mike Burns and Rebecca Fergusson moved over, making room for Kevin Nolan at their table in the high school cafeteria.
"You donít look too good," Burns said.
"Donít feel even that good," Nolan said, trying to smile. "I didnít sleep too well."
Tim Welch, who had stopped in the lavatory, caught up with Nolan. "Itís awfully quiet around here today."
The small group nodded in agreement.
"The few people who were talkin' stopped talkiní when I came by."
"Happened to me, too," Nolan said. "And, after I walked by a group, I could feel everyone turn to watch me as I walked away. Iíll be glad when this whole thing is over."
"Whatís takiní the police so long anyways?" Burns asked. "I mean, if you wanna talk about it."
"I don't know anything," Nolan said.
"You know they got you drunk," Welch replied.
"Well, that explains a lot. ĎCause we knew you didnít drink. So it didnít
make much sense to say you were under the influence when the accident happened," Becky said.
"Do you know who got you drunk?" Burns asked.
"No," Nolan said.
"I still canít believe you went to that party," Welch said. "Thereís no way I would have gone to anything Steve Hargrove was part of."
"Thatís pretty easy to say when your car ainít being threatened and youíre not even asked to go in the first place," Nolan snapped. "Sorry, Tim," he added a moment later. "I guess I am losiní it."
Welch slapped Nolan on the back and smiled.
On the way out of class, Mr. Parrish asked Nolan to stay behind. Everyone who walked by him as he stood by the door gave him a sympathetic nod. No one spoke. The quiet twisted in the teen's stomach.
"Kevin," Parrish said, after the door closed. "I didnít want to say anything in front of the others."
Nolan stared down at his feet.
"I was told before class that a Lieutenant Bagwell would be waiting for you when the period was over." Parrish half-reached out, but stopped short of touching the young teen. "I donít know what he wants," he said. Then he turned away.
By the time Nolan entered the main corridor, the hallway was nearly empty. He walked the length of the hall, feeling his feet get heavier, heavier. It took him several minutes to get to the end of the building. When he opened the door to the office, Ms. Kelly motioned him to a chair. Kevin sat down and waited.
About five minutes later, the principal, Mr. Gates, came out of his office and crossed over to the teen. "You can go into my office now, Son," he told Nolan. "He wants a word with you in private."
When Kevin entered the office, Bagwell motioned for him to close the door and into a chair. "You okay?" the lieutenant asked.
"Well, itís pretty clear that someone put something in your coke. But no oneís admitting anything. Everyone agrees that all you asked for was coke."
"I told you," Nolan replied.
"I know. And, like I told you the other night, I believe you. Now, maybe you can help me out. If anyone who was at the party asks you what you were drinking, you ask them if they saw anyone add anything to your coke. You donít have to do it. But it might help. If someone does admit to something, you call me right away. So far, we havenít made much progress on this thing."
Nolan said, "Okay." He remained in the chair.
"Thatís all I wanted to tell you," Bagwell said.
Nolan half-smiled before getting up and leaving. He went out the door by the main office and walked to the front of the building, looking for the yellow Beetle his cousin was driving. He was surprised to see Butch Kramer sitting on one of the benches by the drive through by the main entrance.
"How yaí doiní?" the blond-haired senior asked.
"Hargrove didnít hurt yaí none in the can the other day, did he?"
"I donít know why he was so mad. I tried to tell him talkiní to the police was no big deal."
"Nobody likes talkiní to the cops," Nolan said.
"Guess not," Kramer agreed. "So, the cops still got your car?"
"Yeah," Nolan replied. "Canít get it back until they get the case wrapped up."
"What do you think theyíre lookiní for?"
Nolan dropped his backpack on the sidewalk at his feet. "How should I know?" he snapped. Calm down, he told himself. "Look, Iím sorry," he went on. "Iím tired of answering everybodyís questions.
"Well, thatís the way it is. I know somebody spiked my coke. I don't suppose you saw anything?"
"No. But I donít see what the big deal is, anyway. What if you had somethiní to drink?"
"Well it is a big deal because I donít drink."
"Come on. Itís not like you were gonna drink and drive. You were gonna stay over nightójust like the rest of us.
"You just donít get it, do yaí? None of you guys do. Itís not that I donít drink and drive. I just donít drink. Period."
"Okay. Okay. So you donít drinkÖ."
"Thatís right. I donít drink. So somebody deliberate put something in my coke to get me drunk," Nolan said.
"Maybe they werenít tryiní to get you drunk," Kramer said.
"Then why spike my coke in the first place?" Nolan asked.
"So what do you know about it?" Nolan asked, stepping closer to the older boy.
Kramer did not respond.
Nolan walked down to the end of the bench and leaned against the red brick wall. He pulled out his pack of gum and unwrapped a piece. "You know what the worst of it is? It's whatís happening to my mom."
"What?" Kramer asked.
"Oh, nothiní," Nolan said. "I was just talkiní to myself. Guess Iím goiní crazy."
"You said somethiní about your mom?"
Nolan studied the older boy for a moment. "You really want to know?"
Kramerís smile disappeared. "Yeah, I think so."
"I donít ever talk about it much. Itís not like itís anybody elseís business. But after my dad was killed by a drunk driver, I promised him on his grave that I would never drink alcohol. I made that same promise to my mother. And now someoneís made me break that promise. And every time Iíve looked at her the past few days, I see that doubt she has in her eyes. Did I drink something or not? Did I willingly drink something? And I canít handle the feeliní I get that she thinks the answerís yes. It just tears me apart."
Kramer was silent for a moment. "When did it happen?"
"Five years ago."
"Sorry, Man. I didnít know."
"Why would you?" Nolan asked. "Happened before we moved here. And Iím just a sophomore. Why would any senior know anything about me?"
Kramer said nothing.
"Sorry," Nolan said a few moments later, eyeing his ride pulling into the front lot of the school.
"Talkiní so much. None of this is your problem."
"No," Kramer said. "Itís okay."
Nolan got into the car. Kramer was still sitting on the bench when the yellow Beetle pulled out of the lot.
That night, when Nolan pulled up in his uncle's car behind the apartment, Bagwellís car was parked under the carport. The lieutenant rolled down the window and called to the teen, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Look," Nolan said. "Iím tired. And I have homework to do."
"I know, Kevin," Bagwell said. "I know. But itís important."
"What do you want to know?"
"Get in the car where we can talk," the lieutenant said.
"I need to check in with my mom."
"Already did," Bagwell replied. "Come on. Get in."
Nolan looked at the lieutenant for a moment before rounding the car and climbing into the front seat. "So what do you want to talk about?"
Nolan did not reply.
Bagwell pulled away from the apartments and headed north. "How well do you know him?"
"I donít. Not really. Until the first part of last week, I donít think I ever even talked to him."
"But you went to a party at his place last Friday."
Bagwell glanced at the teenager in the mirror. Nolan slouched in the seat and stared out the window, "SoÖwhy did you talk to him last week?"
"He wanted me to drive him someplace. Told me he liked my car."
"Where did he want to go?" Bagwell asked.
Nolan didnít answer.
"Where did he want to go?"
Still no reply.
"Look, Kevin," the lieutenant began, "I am trying to understand what went on here. But youíve got to help me."
Nolan didn't say anything for a long time. "I know you already know where I went. Tim Welch told me he told you. So why don't you just ask me why I took him to buy beer?"
"I wanted you to tell me."
"Okay. I told you. I took him on a beer run."
"Hargrove told me a different story. He said you just drove around."
"Then thatís what I did."
"Are you afraid of Hargrove?" the lieutenant asked.
"What do you think?"
Bagwell turned the car onto MacArthur. "Look, I promise you he wonít know what you told me."
"It doesnít matter. If you ask him any questions, heíll figure Iím the one that made you suspicious. No. Iím not going to say anything else. I canítóunless youíve got him locked up for good."
"He said he thought you were drinking at his party. He never saw you put anything in your coke. But you had trouble talking. And you passed out."
"I already told you that."
"I just donít know what I can say that will make you understand how important it is that you tell me everything," Bagwell said.
"I canít say anything. I gotta live with him while you try to figure out what happened. And I donít know what happened. Iíve said all Iím gonna say."
Bagwell started to say something, but stopped.
"Can I go home now? Iíve got homework to do."
"Okay. No sense both of us wasting time," Bagwell said. He drove the teenager back to his apartment, dropping him at the back door.
"I heard they're gonna make you go to drug counseling," Mike Burns said the next morning. Becky Fergusson sat next to her boyfriend as usual.
"I don't think so," Nolan replied. "The cops know someone got me drunk. Why would I need counseling?"
I told the guy you didnít drink. I even told him that somebody got you drunk. He said it wouldnít make any difference."
"Well that sucks," Nolan said.
"Any idea who did it?" Burns asked.
"No. One minute I had a coke. Then I was eating some fried peppers. I remember I had one in each hand. I donít know where my coke went. Then, I got my coke back from somewhere. My mouth was so burned out by the peppers, I couldnít even taste it. I wouldnít have known if it had anything in it. I donít really know if anybody actually took my coke from me or not. I may have just set it down somewhere."
"Whyíd you even go?" Becky asked.
"I was afraid he might do something to my car if I didnít. You know what they say about him. Heís mean. And I didnít want him to be mad at me."
"But whyíd he even ask you?" Becky wanted to know.
"He told me he liked my car. Thatís how it all got started."
"It all sounds strange to me," Burns said.
"To me, too. But itís too late to change anything now," Nolan said.
Tim Welch walked up a moment later. "Saw the red Beetle. How's it drive?"
"About the same," Nolan replied. "Hey, thanks for the rides this week. I may need a few more before I get my car back."
"No problem," Welch said. "Hey, I didn't see any of you guys at the game last night. You really missed one. We won by six. They blocked a point after or it would have been seven. Some guy ran right over Hargrove to snuff the kick!"
Burns was about to say something when the bell rang.
(end of part five)
Revised text placed on
The Leprechaun News WebPages
16 July 98