DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.
Dad reacts badly
Mr. Kaylor stared at Garrison. The color drained from his cheeks, and his bluster disappeared as fast as the dew under a hot July sun.
"From what I hear," Garrison continued, "Friday drowned right out there in my pool. According to some people I've talked to, you might have had something to do with it. Is that why grandma and grandpa cut you off, Dad? Did Friday drown because of you?"
Mr. Kaylor licked his lips several times. Then, in a hoarse whisper, he asked, "How do you know about Friday? No one was ever supposed to know about Friday. Did Mrs. Stanford open her big fat mouth?"
He moved with a speed Garrison didn't expect and grabbed the boy by the collar. "How do you know about Friday?"
From behind his father, Garrison saw an attractive woman; he would have guessed mid-forties if asked, come up the steps.
"What's the big deal if your son knows about us getting married last Friday, Ross? Didn't we come here to tell him we eloped instead of having a big wedding?"
Garrison looked down into his father's horrified eyes. "Dad, I think my step-mother asked you a question."
Trina, Garrison assumed the woman was Trina, took in the scene, and asked, "What is going on between you two? Ross, why are you choking this poor boy? Let him go at once."
Garrison's father released his grip on Garrison's collar. The older man's shoulders sagged, and he took a wary step back from his son. Without looking at his bride, he said, "I asked you to wait in the car until I explained things to Garrison."
"You really should have stayed in the car, step-mom," Garrison taunted both Trina and his father. "My dad, your husband, has a lot of explaining to do. You see, about thirty-five years ago, my dad's date drowned in the swimming pool out in the back. It seems the truth was swept under the rug, and her death was ruled an accident. According to the reports, my father wasn't even here when it happened. As it turns out, his not being here may not be exactly factual, right, Dad?"
Trina's face drew so tight her makeup cracked. "What is he talking about, Ross?"
Mr. Kaylor shook his head violently. "Nothing. He's talking nonsense. Somebody's been putting ideas in his head. Probably the crazy old lady on the next street. She never liked me. She hated it when her niece started going out with me."
"What happened to the girl, Ross?" Trina demanded.
"I need to sit down," Mr. Kaylor begged. "I need a glass of water."
Trina looked up at Garrison. "For goodness sake, let your father come in and sit down. Get him a drink of water."
Garrison moved out of the doorway and pointed at the back of the house. "The kitchen's back there."
Trina put her arm around Mr. Kaylor and led him to the kitchen. He was mumbling incoherently the whole way down the hall. Trina seated him at a table in the kitchen and asked Garrison where the glasses were. He retrieved a tumbler from the cabinet and filled it with water from the refrigerator door's automatic dispenser.
Trina took the tumbler and handed it to her husband. Then she took a hard look at Garrison. "I think you better tell me just what is going on here. Your father and I came to see you and to share our happy news. Now, he's having a nervous breakdown or something. What did you say to him?"
Garrison sets Trina straight
Garrison ignored Trina's tirade and refilled his iced tea. "Would you like some?" he asked his newly minted step-mother.
"I asked you a question. I expect an answer."
"You marry my dad without me even knowing you were dating. The two of you show up here unannounced. My father starts trying to boss me around in my own home. Now, you want to demand answers from me. Yeah, no. This doesn't work like that. You're not my mother. As far as I'm concerned, lady, you're nothing to me. You’re just the stranger who married my father, who is practically a stranger to me. So, don't you DARE talk to me like I owe you anything. Don't you dare. Not in my house."
Trina shrank visibly in the face of Garrison's tirade. "I'm sorry. You're right. I should not have presumed to talk to you as if I know you. Please, Garrison, will you tell me what it was you said to put Ross in such a state."
Garrison drank from his tumbler. Trina waited patiently for an answer. When Garrison was ready, he gave her one.
"You know my father grew up in this house. He was an only child."
Trina nodded. "Yes, he told me."
"Did he tell you why my grandparents disinherited him?"
Trina shook her head. "Only that there was a falling out about the time he started college."
"Hm. Yes. My father and my grandparents had a "falling out" after a girl named Rachel Frieda McCullen was found dead in that swimming pool you see in the back yard. She was, at the time of her death, dating my father.
"The official story says she snuck onto the property one night when my father and grandparents weren't home, after drinking too much at a party, went for a swim, hit her head, and drowned. The official story says my father found her in the pool the next morning when he and my grandparents returned from an as-yet-undisclosed location.
"I have strong reason to believe the official story is not accurate."
Trina looked out at the pool, then at Mr. Kaylor, and then down at her feet. After a moment, she looked up at Garrison. "What do you think happened?"
Mr. Kaylor confesses
Before Garrison could speak, Mr. Kaylor stirred and sat up straight. "I'll tell you what really happened."
Garrison and Trina stared at Mr. Kaylor in disbelief.
Mr. Kaylor took a long drink from the tumbler of water by his hand and began.
"It was a long time ago. Thirty-seven years. I never thought I'd have to think about it again.
"I met Friday at a party on a Saturday night two weeks before I was supposed to leave for school at Georgetown. We hit it off right away. When I learned she lived in Alexandria, I thought it was fate. We'd be able to see each other after I went off to school, and she went home from visiting her aunt. Friday's aunt was Mrs. Stanford." He turned his gaze to Garrison. "You already knew who she was, didn't you?"
The question was clearly rhetorical, so Garrison didn't answer. Mr. Kaylor continued.
"What a week Friday and I had. We spent every moment together we could. I was the one who started calling her Friday. She didn't like the name Rachel and thought Frieda sounded like Friday, so it became my nickname for her.
"The next Saturday there was another party. We both had too much to drink. When it was time to go home, Friday followed me through the old gate. We messed around on a chaise lounge for a while. We'd have gone all the way if I hadn't had so much to drink. Instead, I passed out on the chaise. When I woke up a little while later, Friday was in the pool face down, just floating there. There was blood in the water, and she had a gash on her head. She must have tried to dive in and hit the side or the bottom or something. I panicked and ran inside and up to my room.
"Mrs. Stanford called just as I went into the house and asked if Friday, she called her Rachel, was with me. I told her I left Friday at the party. She scolded me for being an inconsiderate, irresponsible fool and hung up.
"I went on up to my room and lay awake all night trying to think of what I should do. In the morning, I got up and went outside. Friday was still there. My mother came outside right behind me. She liked to drink her morning coffee on the deck. She screamed and yelled for my father. He came running out.
Trina hears all she can handle
"I don't remember much about what happened after they found Friday. They told me to stay in my room and keep my mouth shut. All that day, I talked to detectives and lawyers. Mostly to the lawyers. My father's lawyers wanted to make sure I had my story straight. I never knew Friday came to our house. I never saw her in the pool. I left her at the party like I told Mrs. Stanford. I found her the next morning and was devastated.
"I don't know how the story of us not being home the night it happened got started or why is as believed. Too many people knew differently. Yet, it became the official story."
Mr. Kaylor raised his eyes to meet Garrison's. "You're grandparents went to their graves never having revealed the truth about the night Friday died. They always blamed me for besmirching the family name, though. It's why they cut me off after it happened."
Garrison leaned forward and said in a low voice, "So, Friday's drowning really was an accident. You couldn't have stopped it. Well, you could have if you weren't passed out drunk, but you didn't cause it."
Trina got up and walked out of the room. A moment later, the front door opened and closed.
"Are you going to go after her?" Garrison asked his father.
Mr. Kaylor shook his head. "I can't blame her if she wants nothing more to do with me. I'm sure learning all this has been a shock. It's been shocking to me reliving it all."
He drank the last of the water in his tumbler and held it out to Garrison. "May I have another glass of water, Son?"
Garrison managed a weak smile. He took the tumbler, refilled it, and gave it back to his father.
"Thanks," Mr. Kaylor said after downing half the water in the tumbler. "Confession is thirsty work."
He put the tumbler on the table and asked Garrison, "What happens now?"
Garrison's ready to reintroduce Freddy and Friday
Garrison shrugged and said, "I don't suppose anything official needs to happen. Friday's drowning was ruled an accident, and it was an accident. Some of the details might be wrong, but the finding is correct. I wonder if your confession tonight was enough."
Mr. Kaylor sat up straight in his chair. "Enough for what?"
"Dad, do you believe in ghosts?" Seeing the expression on his father's face, Garrison tried again. "Let me put it another way. Do you believe a person's spirit might linger on earth because something is holding it here, and until that something is made right, the spirit cannot move on?"
Mr. Kaylor shook his head and said, "I think talking about ghosts and spirits is a lot of nonsense, Garrison. Where are you getting this stuff?"
Garrison leaned forward in his chair. "Dad, aren't you curious how I found out about Friday, how I even know your special nickname for her? I even know she called you Freddy when you wouldn't let anyone else use your first name."
Mr. Kaylor swallowed hard. "There's no way you could know those things. How did you learn about them?"
"You're not going to believe me when I tell you," Garrison warned his father. "I met Friday last Wednesday afternoon. She was swimming in the pool, wearing a white bikini. She told me what happened."
Mr. Kaylor laughed. "Good one, Son. You almost had me there for a second."
Garrison's ears detected a sound out by the pool. "Come with me, Dad. I think there is someone here who wants to talk to you."
Mr. Kaylor shook his head. "This is crazy, Garrison. There's no one out there."
"Then it won't hurt to go out and see, will it?" Garrison challenged his dad.
"If it puts this nonsense about ghosts and spirits to rest, I'll go," Mr. Kaylor said. He got up from his chair and followed Garrison through the family room and out onto the upper deck.
Garrison's story continues in Chapter 29
- Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 29
Garrison's father finally comes face to face with Friday.
© 2021 DW Davis