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     As Hester had said the only way to her house from Gainesville was via surface roads. The Interstate made a bee-line from where they were to where they wanted to go but with no exit at the north end the highway proved a temptation that was out of reach.

     “You okay,” Bryan asked as they piled in Sandy’s car.

    “Yes. Yes,” she had said, starting her car and waiting for her mother to back out of the space and take point. “Shaky, scared, but okay. Thanks for being there.”

     “Every step of the way. You, me, Justice Jake? What more could you need?”

     “Support, understanding and to be wrong. But I know I’m not. All the signs are there. My lord! He’s branching out! ‘Suffer the children.’ Son of a bitch!” she screamed.

     Hester pulled to the street and waited for Sandy to get in line behind her. “Need me to drive?” Bryan asked.

     “No. Thanks. Sorry. This has been a long time coming and even though I hate him I can’t help but wanting to be wrong. I’m not, but I wish I was.”

     “I wish you were too, sweetie. Sorry. I’m here for you.”

     “I know. Sorry about being a douche.”


     “In the restaurant. Your age, your parents’ age? The assistant manager? I’m very proud of you just as you are, I just didn’t want to get side tracked. Or judged. I love you and I pray one day we will be married. Hey, it’s been what? Five weeks today, right? Want to get married while we’re here? Wouldn’t need to find your own place,” she answered with a wink.

     Bryan looked at her without answering and she said, “Joking. If things go as they have it would be nice to be engaged a year from now but I don’t think even I’m crazy enough to get married yet. But I wouldn’t ask if you’re not serious because it’s possible I might let common sense go out the door.”

     “I’ll keep that in mind. Do you have your mother’s address in case we get separated?”

     “In my phone,” she said. “Under, ‘Mom.’”

     “Got it. What are you going to do?”

     Newberry Road reduced from a six lane boulevard to a four lane soon after crossing under I 75 and remained the same for the distance they were on it. At the intersection of North West 143rd Street aka County Road 241 Sandy followed her mother north wondering when her father would arrive at home.

     “Me? Nothing. I just want Mom to know where the book with passwords is and how to log on and find files. I need her to see. God forgive me!”

     “Yeah. Wow. When I was out of high school a friend of mine- Kathy? –accused her father of molesting her. All hell broke loose.”

     “What happened?”

    “I don’t know except a huge rift in the family. I tried to show her support without taking sides, you know? Terrible for an outsider let alone the family.”

    “Oh, my. I can’t imagine. I wonder what will be worse, Kathy’s fate, mine, or Daddy’s?”

     County Road 241 was a two lane with a wide paved shoulder and they traveled due north another six miles until Hester put her right turn signal on at 112th Avenue, a scant 100 yards after the Interstate overpass.

     One hundred and twelfth Avenue had a much narrower shoulder but hosted many stately homes and Arthur and Hester Priam’s was one of the largest. Sandy followed her mother down the long asphalt ribbon that terminated in a circular drive in front of Priam Estates. “Wow,” Bryan said. “Not bad for someone with a meager pension.”

     “Yeah. Bullshit,” she responded as she circled around the drive, stopping just at the edge of the circle. “Well, Daniel. Into the Lion’s den.”

     “And tigers and pervs. Oh, my,” he said, unbuckling his seat belt and climbing from the car.

     Hester had parked her car in the four stall garage but had come back out through the still open garage door. “Okay. Okay. So. Oh. I should bring you inside. Okay,” she said.

     As they spoke a white Lexus SUV pulled down the driveway and stopped directly in front of Sandy’s rented Focus. “What in the hell is going on here!” Arthur Dinsmore screamed as he threw his car into park, flung open his door and stomped to the ground.

     “No, Arthur! No! I invited them!” Hester cried out.

     Hester’s explanation and Arthur’s exclamation did nothing to dispel his anger. He looked at Sandy, balled his fists and started running for her at a speed that was admirable for a man in his mid-sixties. “What in the hell is going on here!” he screamed, bringing his fists up as he came within striking range of Sandy, Bryan and Hester.

     The response he received was neither verbal nor expected. As Arthur pulled a fist back Sandy quickly and expertly delivered a spear hand jab to the man’s diaphragm, literally and figuratively deflating him on the spot. “I am not a helpless child! You are not bigger than me anymore! If you ever try to touch me again you’ll know what suffering is! Suffer the children unto me! Suffer the children unto me!”

     It took all of Bryan’s strength to keep her from continuing the attack without hurting her in the process. “Sandy! Sandy! Stop! Please! For the love of God! Right now it’s self-defense! Don’t touch him!”

     Sandy stood above her helpless father and looked first at her mother and then at Bryan. “You’re done, Arthur Priam. You’re done.” She whispered to him.

     Hester hesitated a moment and looked back and forth between her husband and her daughter. After a brief pause and a head shake she went to Sandy, took her hand and said, “I’ll move his car. You should go. I’ll call you later. I love you, Cassandra. I always have. Bryan, don’t let her drive. Go.”

     They moved down the driveway with Hester in the lead and Bryan holding Sandy’s elbow. Hester pulled the Lexus forward, turned off the engine and walked to the Focus where Bryan and Sandy waited. “’The truth shall set you free.’ I may need a Realtor soon. You take care of my daughter, young man. You be good to her.”

     “Yes, ma’am,” he had replied hugging her.

     Hester released Bryan and held Sandy for a long. Long moment. “I’m here for you, Cassie. Go now.”

     “I love you, Mommy.”

     “I love you. Go.”

     And they did.