Prose Header

Pushed to the Limit

by Bonnie Gibson

Table of Contents
part 1

Chapter One

“She’s leaving again,” Tom Weaver said to his wife Betty as he looked toward his neighbor’s house. “She’s not taking the kid either. I swear this younger generation is going crazy. I’m calling the police.”

“Hold on now, Tom,” Betty said. “You don’t know if the child is at home or not.”

“Oh he’s home,” Tom said. “I can feel it. I’m going over there.”

“Do you think you should get involved?” Betty asked.

“Get involved,” Tom shrieked, “we’re already involved when we see a mother leaving her four-year-old child at home alone. No telling when she’s coming back. Stanley is trying hard to make a living for the family while in the military and serving his country all at the same time.”

Tom and Betty Weaver had been married for fifty-three years. Every afternoon they’d sit out on the porch in the swing after supper and relax. They had done this every afternoon since they had gotten married, save for a few times for sickness and travel. The old porch swing had been repainted many times.

They still lived in the same house they took up housekeeping in when they were married. The front porch had to be repaired several times due to age. They had remodeled the inside of the house after thirty-five years to make it more up-to-date.

Tom was a retired schoolteacher. He had taught high school for thirty years before retiring. He had a heart for children. All the students loved him. He had what you call a tough love for students. He made them mind and loved them all at the same time. Students respected Tom. He had shared with Betty so many times how a student had a problem and would come to him for help. He was always there for them, no matter what the problem was.

Betty was a homemaker. She left the money making up to Tom. She loved being at home and doing for her family. She’d always thought it important to be at home with her children. She had plenty to keep her busy with keeping the house, being a member of several clubs, and helping out with things at school that involved her children. They raised three children, a boy and two girls. Each had finished high school and gone on to college, and had families of their own.

Tom and Betty were good parents, always putting their children first.

Tom walked across his yard, opened the gate, and walked over to his neighbor’s house. He tried to see into the windows but couldn’t. As he walked closer to the back door he could hear muffled crying sounds coming from inside. “I knew she left that kid,” he said. He went up to the back door and reached for the doorknob. The door was locked. He called out to the child. “Are you all right, young man?” he yelled. “Billy.” Still all he could hear was sobs coming from inside.

Tom knew he needed to get to the child. He went around to the front door. It was locked also. He had a decision to make. Either call the cops or break out a window and go through. He decided to try the window. He went back to his house to get a ladder. “Tom, just call the police,” Betty told him.

“Betty, if I call the police the child may get taken away from them. Stanley Sims is a good man. I’d hate for them to take his child. I knew I should have told him the other day when I suspected that she left Billy by himself. Now she has done it again. I just wish I had gone over there that day. No telling what that child went through before Stanley got home that night. He was probably scared out of his little mind.”

“I know,” Betty said. “Just do what you have to. I’m going with you.”

Tom got the ladder and went back over to Stanley’s house. He put the ladder on the windowsill. “I really don’t like this Tom,” she muttered.

Just then she heard the sobs of the little boy coming from inside the house. “Never mind what I said, Tom, get in there to that child.”

Tom opened the screen with his pocketknife and tried the window. It was unlocked. He slowly opened the window, calling out to the boy. “I’m coming in to help you, Billy. This is Tom from next door. I’m not going to hurt you.” Tom made it into the house and listened to see if he could tell where the boy was. Everything was quiet.

“Billy,” Tom yelled, “where are you son?” He heard more sobs and followed them to the bedroom closet. The door was locked from the outside by a latch. Tom opened the latch and slowly opened the door speaking gently. “Billy don’t be scared now, it’s me Tom.”

As he opened the door he saw the little boy crouched down in the corner of the closet. His face was red and his eyes were full of tears. “Come here Billy,” Tom said, reaching out his arms. Billy ran into Tom’s arms. Tom hugged him and picked him up. He carried Billy to the window and told Betty that he had found him. “I’m bringing him out the front door,” he said.

Betty made her way as fast as she could around to the front of the house, climbed up the steps reaching her arms out for Billy. He ran to her as Tom put him down. “Take care of him Betty. I’m going to put the screen back on the window and put my ladder up.”

Betty took Billy to her house and washed his face. She tried to calm him down. She had plenty of experience with children. She took him out to the front porch swing and they both sat down. She pulled Billy up to her and kept her arm around him. Tom came around the corner and joined them. “Are you all right little man?” Tom asked. Billy just nodded his head. “Are you hungry?” Betty asked. He nodded again.

“Tom, I’m going in to fix him a sandwich. Do you like peanut butter and jelly?” Betty asked him.

“Yes mam,” he answered. Tom looked up and smiled at Betty. She walked on in the house to fix Billy a sandwich.

Chapter Two

Brenda Patrick runs out the front door of her house, grabs her pompoms from the porch swing, yells bye to her mom, and runs down the steps into the driveway. Her best friend, Cindy Fletcher, is picking her up for the homecoming ball game. They are both cheerleaders and have been looking forward to the night.

“Come on, Brenda, get in. This is the game we’ve been waiting for,” Cindy yelled out the car window as she and her mother pulled up in Brenda’s driveway.

Brenda jumped into the back seat of Mrs. Fletcher’s car. “How are you, Mrs. Fletcher?” she asked.

Mrs. Fletcher turned to look at Brenda, saying, “Fine Brenda, and how are you tonight?”

“Great! Looking forward to the game. Can’t wait for the dance afterward!” Brenda answered excitedly.

“I can’t wait to hear the band! You know how hard it was to get the Solid Stones don’t you?” Cindy announced.

“I know,” replied Brenda, “It took forever to get them booked.”

“Two years to be exact,” Brenda stated.

“Don’t you just love their new song, Don’t let me fall in love with you?”

The two girls began singing. “Don’t let me fall in love with you, I can’t take it if you don’t love me too. I have loved and lost before so I can’t take it anymore, don’t let me fall in love with you.”

“That’s a long way from what they used to sing at our school,” Mrs. Fletcher told the girls in a laughing manner.

“Oh yeah! What did the bands play then Mom, Walking to School in the Snow?” The girls began giggling and looking at each other.

“Well no, we had good songs. We had Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and a lot of other good singers; we just couldn’t get them to our little school. We had to play records on an old phonograph.” Mrs. Fletcher said, smiling as if she were back at her high school dance.

Perryville High School was just around the corner. Mrs. Fletcher turned the car into the parking lot and said, “I’ll be back to get you girls a little before twelve tonight. You’d better be ready.”

“We’ll be ready, Mom,” Cindy said. “We’ll find you — you won’t have to come in after us.”

Mrs. Fletcher dropped the girls off at the school entrance. They excitedly crossed the campus and emerged onto the football field where the other cheerleaders had gathered. They had both longed to be varsity cheerleaders since elementary school. Now their dreams had come true and they were enjoying every minute as they cheered for the players coming onto the field. “GO BULLDOGS!” they yelled.

The ball game began and the girls quickly got into the cheering routine. It was a close and exciting game. Both teams scored one touchdown and an extra point each. The girls were getting a little worried over the score. Finally the Bulldogs made another touchdown and an extra point. The game was looking much better. The cheerleaders could relax a bit and start enjoying the fans.

Cindy looked into the stands at all the people, amazed at everyone talking among themselves. One man was yelling at the coach. He stood waving his hands as he spoke. A rather large lady with a large hat obstructed the vision of a young man that was seated behind her. It looked as if he were trying to get her to remove her hat so that he could see the game better. Cindy could tell that the lady didn’t want to accommodate him. Her eyes skimmed across the crowd. Quickly she took a step back with her eyes. She noticed a young boy looking straight at them. At a closer look she realized he was looking right at Brenda.

“Brenda!” Cindy gasped, “Who’s that looking at you so hard?”

“Where?” Brenda asked.

“Over there,” Cindy said. “Look up in the stands, on the fourth row. He’s looking straight at you.”

“Oh my goodness, he is, isn’t he.” Brenda admitted as she finally found his face in the crowd.

“Yeah,” Cindy said. “He’s smiling at you now. He’s good-looking too, Brenda. You’d better smile back at him before he thinks you’re stuck up.”

“No problem there,” Brenda said as she looked up at him and gave him one of her best smiles.

“I wonder who he is,” Cindy asked.

“I don’t know but I think I’m about to find out,” said Brenda, “He’s coming this way.”

“Break.” Cindy yelled to all the cheerleaders.

Cindy was the head cheerleader and she knew that her friend wanted a minute to talk to her new admirer. She was also very curious about the new guy. Who knew, she thought, it might not work out with Brenda, and he sure is cute. She and the other cheerleaders walked over to the drink table for some water. They chatted for a few minutes to give Brenda a chance to get acquainted.

“Hi,” said Brenda as the young man approached.

“Hello there,” he said. “Good game isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess,” she said. “It was close for a while but I think we’ll win. What’s your name?”

“Billy Sims,” he replied. “What’s yours?”

“I’m Brenda Patrick. It’s nice to meet you. I saw you smiling at me from the stands.”

“Yeah, I was wanting you to notice.” he said.

“I kinda had that one figured out.” Brenda suddenly became bashful, looking down at the ground to keep from looking Billy in the eye.

“Yeah, I guess you did,” Billy replied.

“Where do you go to school?” Brenda asked, looking back up at him.

“Oh I’ve already finished,” Billy answered.

“That’s great.” replied Brenda, “I wished I were finished, I mean, I’m enjoying school and everything but I just can’t wait to get out and get a job and be on my own.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Billy said. “I was the same way; I couldn’t wait to get out, get a job, and buy me a car.”

“Oh, so you have a car? What kind do you have?” Brenda asked.

“I have a Mustang.” Billy replied proudly.

“ That’s great,” Brenda said.

Brenda saw Cindy and the other girls coming back to the cheering section. “OOPS, times up, I’ve got to get back to my cheering now. We’re having our homecoming dance tonight, you wanna come?”

“Sure thing,” Billy said as he turned to go. “I’ll wait for you over by the gate.”

“Okay then,” she said, “I’ll see you there.”

The cheerleaders returned and Brenda watched as Billy climbed back up the steps to where he had been seated. Cindy asked, “What’s his name?”

“Billy Sims,” Brenda answered.

“Where is he from?” Cindy asked.

“I don’t know, I forgot to ask,” Brenda said laughing. “He’s meeting me after the game by the gate.”

“What about Skip?” Cindy asked.

“Oh no. How could I have forgotten about Skip?” Brenda asked, frowning. “Well, I didn’t tell Billy that I’d be his date, I just asked if he wanted to go to the dance.”

“Same difference,” Cindy said. “Boy, are you in hot water now.”

“I’ll figure something out,” Brenda replied “After all, Skip and I aren’t going steady, you know.”

“Yes, I know,” Cindy said. “It’ll be okay. Let’s just focus on getting these boys pumped up enough to win this game now; we’ll talk about the dance later.”

“Okay,” replied Brenda.

“Two bits, four bits, six bits a dollar all for bulldogs stand up and HOLLER.” screamed the cheerleaders.

The crowd roars as the cheerleaders do a cheer. The Bulldogs are still ahead. The score is still14 to 7, and it’s the last quarter, three minutes left in the ball game. If the Bulldogs can keep the Tigers from scoring another touchdown, they just might win this homecoming game.

The Tigers have the ball and are lined up for a pass play. The quarterback rolls out to the left and throws hard. The ball shot out like a bullet and is grabbed by the wide out. He’s running hard and fast. The crowd is screaming as he gets closer and closer to the goal line.

“GET HIM, GET HIM!” Yelled the cheerleaders.

A six-foot, two hundred fifty-pound tackle grabbed the wide out and flung him to the ground with a crash.

“Wow, that was close,” said Cindy. “I thought he was going all the way.”

The Tigers made one more effort to gain yardage but failed. They had to punt the ball. The bulldogs regained the ball but couldn’t make any yardage. They had to punt to the Tigers one more time. The punt was good, traveling a long way. A Tiger running back caught the ball and headed for the goal line. “5 yards, 10 yards, 15, 20, he’s going all the way. Nothing can stop that boy now; he is too fast,” came the voice over the loud speaker. “Touchdown!” yelled the umpire with this hands straight up over his head.

“Oh no.” Brenda cried. “All they need is the extra point to tie us and we’ll go into overtime. That’s gonna make our dance start even later. We have to be home by twelve.”

“Maybe they won’t make it.” Cindy said.

“Block that point, block that point,” the cheerleaders yelled as the kicker was getting ready to try for the extra point.

The ball went up and number 23 of the Bulldog team leaped high into the air and barely touched the ball with the tip of his finger, just enough to send the ball spinning to the ground; time was up. The game was over. The Bulldogs had beaten the Tigers 14 to 13.

Cheers went out from all the Bulldog fans. Some of them ran out onto the field to greet the ballplayers. All the ballplayers were giving each other a high five and hugging. They had won their homecoming game.

Brenda tried to reach Skip to congratulate him but the crowd was too large. She decided to wait until she got to the dance. She was getting more nervous by the minute about meeting Billy by the gate. She knew that she wanted to get to know him better but was worried about what she was going to tell Skip. As she walked toward the gate Cindy came up beside her and asked, “what are you gonna do?

“Do about what?” Brenda asked smiling at Cindy.

“You know good and well what I mean, about two dates.”

“Well right now I’m going to go over and show Billy where the gym is while Skip is changing out of his ball uniform. I’ll tell Billy that I already have a date but I will dance with him and that I’d like to get to know him better.” Brenda said.

“Sounds good to me,” said Cindy, “it might just work.”

“It has to,” Brenda said. “I don’t know what it is about this Billy, but I’m already drawn to him. Maybe love at first sight?”

“Just be careful okay,” Cindy said. “You can never tell about a person.”

“Okay Mom,” Brenda said sarcastically.

“Ha ha ha,” Cindy giggled.

Brenda walked over toward the gate to find her new friend. There were so many people she had to push through the crowd to get to the gate. “Excuse me,” she said to several people. She got a glimpse of him through the crowd.

Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2006 by Bonnie Gibson

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