The Lisa Series
The Lisa Series
By the time Lisa was seven and her sister, Jean, was twelve, they were orphans. Jean was sent to live in upstate New York on a farm their grandparents owned. Lisa stayed on Long Island with an elderly aunt and uncle. When she was fourteen, she was raped by her older cousin who died a month later in a car accident. At the age of fifteen Lisa gave birth to a son whom she named Richard. She and the child were then sent to the grandparent's farm where they stayed for the next thirteen years. When I met her, she was twenty-eight and Richie was thirteen. I fell in love with her immediately. Within two months we were married. She and her son moved into my apartment on Long Island, and for a year we were very happy. This story begins early in February, the year after our marriage, and ends thirty days later. Although I will tell it, this is Lisa's story.
Our apartment complex includes a clubhouse with a gym. I had finished working out, taken a shower, and was crossing the lobby of the club when someone yelled, "Hey, Billy!"
It was a big guy they called Frank. He had been providing the local teenagers with alcohol and generally making a nuisance of himself. He'd recently started a fight at a club dance and sent three younger men to the hospital. Several women had issued complaints about his suggestive remarks and obscene language. It was clear that residents tried to avoid him. He had never spoken to me before, so I was surprised he knew my name.
Coming over to me, he clapped a huge hand on my shoulder. His dark eyes quickly glanced around the room and, seeing no one, he led me to a corner by a coffee table. He pulled up two chairs and motioned for me to sit. When we were both seated, he leaned over the table and asked in a low, guarded voice, "You got a kid named Richie?"
"Yes," I said, "I mean he's my wife's son. His name is Richie."
"I seen your wife around here, you know, lots of times." He shook his head. "She's a good looking woman but she looks like a kid herself."
"She was only fifteen when..."
Frank interrupted, "Well, this boy of hers is in some trouble." He looked around the room again and leaned closer, "Serious trouble, but I can help."
"What kind of trouble?" I knew Richie wasn't very bright, but he was a good kid, really a nice boy; quiet, shy, polite never wanting things, never complaining. I liked him. His mother was devoted to him. They were very close, more like brother and sister than mother and son.
"Big trouble," Frank repeated, "but I can't tell you here. I think you and the kid's mother...what's her name?"
"Yeah, you and the mother better come to my place. Say in an hour. She home? The kid's mother."
"Yes, but what...."
"You just bring her over, Billy. It's apartment J-14. You know, the 'J' section behind the pool. Number 14. I'm Frank Racene."
"Well," I started to protest, "can't you just tell me?"
"No, I can't. See you there in an hour," he said. "Don't say nothing to the kid." He rose to leave. I watched him move across the room. He was surprisingly quick and light on his feet for a man his size.
Lisa wanted to rush over to his place as soon as I told her about our conversation, but we waited until the hour was almost up. Frank greeted us warmly and ushered us into a living room cluttered with worn and soiled furniture. There were stains on the walls and carpet. Stuffing was visible through a tear in the couch. The place smelled of fried onions and stale cigarette smoke.
We sat on the couch while Frank eased himself into a chair opposite us. I hadn't noticed before, but he was very pale, hi