The exit into Gloucester off Route 128 twirled like a breeching tarpon. When Archer was growing up her only awareness of Gloucester was the image of a fisherman in a yellow rain coat selling fish sticks. She never ate frozen fish sticks. She blamed it on her mother who never served them. Archer came from a long line of fish haters. Her line preferred cow.
But they loved lobster. Archer ate her first lobster at the Yankee Clipper in Worcester when she was six years old. It was one of her earliest memory. She was so proud when she sat at the wood table covered with the day’s newspaper with empty bowls eagerly awaiting the discarded pieces of shell, metal crackers ready to crush and crack, and her father ordering a two pound lobster for himself, a one and a half pounder for her mother and a one pounder for Archer. Archer beamed, keenly aware she was in the midst of a rite of passage. No more sitting at her mother’s side on the hard wooden bench, waiting to be fed pieces of white lobster meat drenched in butter barely hanging on a tiny red pitchfork, butter dripping off her mother’s fingers. Archer was finally getting her own lobster. She adored the smell of the hot butter, always asked for an extra monkey dish. She loved when the waitress wrapped the bib around her neck, covering her new dress like a graduation gown.
Little Archer had treasured that first moment when she dipped the luscious meat into the hot butter, then licked her fingers like her mother always did. But the best part, the absolutely most awesome amazing part of the whole thing, she only had to ask her daddy to help her crack the claw one time.
Rory refused to eat lobster. He said he couldn’t eat anything that watched him while he ate. Archer offered to take the meat out of the lobster or to have the restaurant serve the lobster without the shell, but the damage had been done. Once a lobster had looked at him with its deep black eyes, Rory could never eat one. He wouldn’t go with her to have lobster either. He said it made him too sad.
In Gloucester, the congested street wound past restaurants and gas stations, souvenir stands and whale watching booths. Archer slowed as the road snaked around a lawn mower shop, lawnmowers evenly lined up on the sidewalk. She regretted Rory wasn’t with her. He would love that store. Would probably talk the ear off the guy behind the counter as he announced his grand plans to solve the world’s problems by building the perfect energy-efficient lawn mower. Her heart swelled for her son. He was simple in the most complicated way. Or maybe he was complicated in the most simple way.
Archer parked in front of the police department located just a few doors from the lawn mower shop, unsure what to think about Rory, unsure what to think about anything. She stared ahead, prepared herself for the interrogation by the police officer. Would she tell the truth or perpetuate Trish’s lies? What would be best for Rory? Archer shook her head, knowing she was probably the last person on the planet who knew what was best for Rory.
She sat for awhile, then pushed open the car door and made her way into the police station, having made a decision. Rory wasn’t getting in trouble because of Trish. It was enough he was being blamed for the stolen car. It was time for Trish to take responsibility for her actions. And Archer wasn’t bailing her out. She had parents. It was their job. Not hers. Besides, she could only parent one difficult teenager at a time. She definitely wasn’t equipped to handle two.
The next chapter will be posted tomorrow.
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