Madman on a Drum

Madman on a Drum by David Housewright

Book: Madman on a Drum by David Housewright Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Housewright
Tags: Mystery-Thriller
what she meant and I was reminded of yet another aphorism, this one more recent: Girls just wanna have fun.
    Mrs. Thomforde pulled out an empty chair and said, “So what brings a nice boy like you to the East Side?”
    â€œIsn’t this where all the good-looking women hang out?”
    The girls liked that answer, and it occurred to me that if I were into sexagenarian romance, I could have made out like a bandit.
    I sat in the chair and asked, “So, did anybody win any meat?”
    Turned out that Ruth won a five-pound package of New York strips that she expected her husband to ruin. “He’s awful. Burns everything. I say, ‘Let me cook the steaks.’ Oh, no, grilling’s a man’s job. He’ll turn these steaks into charcoal, wait and see.”
    The girls all nodded in understanding. They had known each other for decades, knew each other’s families as well as they knew their own. The general consensus was that Ruth’s husband could screw up a ham sandwich.
    While they were telling me this, Mrs. Thomforde rested a hand on my forearm. “You brought a friend,” she said.
    â€œActually, she brought me.”
    â€œGood evening, Mrs. Thomforde,” Karen said.
    â€œWhat do you want?” Mrs. Thomforde asked. I noticed she didn’t offer Karen a chair.
    â€œI’m looking for your son.”
    â€œWhy? Is he lost?”
    The girls all thought that was a pretty witty reply until Karen said, “Yes, he’s lost, and if I don’t find him soon, he’s going back to prison.”
    â€œOh, Jeezus,” said Ruth.
    â€œMay we speak privately?” Karen asked.
    â€œWhat is it?” Mrs. Thomforde gestured at the other women. “You can speak in front of my friends.”
    Karen said, “Scottie is late reporting back to the halfway house. Several hours late.”
    â€œYou’re going to send him back to prison for that? Scottie is a good boy.”
    â€œMrs. Thomforde, everyone in a halfway house program is treated as if they’re incarcerated in jail. If they’re not where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there—”
    â€œYou saying that Scottie broke out of jail? That he’s a fugitive?”
    â€œIf I don’t find him soon, he’ll be treated that way.”
    â€œWhy can’t you people just leave him alone?”
    It was the same question Joley had asked, and it made me angry. I tried not to let it show.
    â€œMrs. Thomforde,” said Karen. “The way the system works—”
    â€œThe system, the system. I hate the system. The system put a seventeen-year-old child in prison for a crime he didn’t even commit. He didn’t shoot that cop. That other boy shot him. The cop wasn’t even hurt that bad. Only they punished Scottie for it, and see what’s happened? Do you see? His life was ruined, that’s what happened. The system—”
    â€œMrs. Thomforde,” said Karen.
    â€œâ€”is terrible. The system doesn’t work. Now you say that Scottie’s run away—”
    â€œI didn’t say that.”
    â€œWouldn’t you run away, too, from such a system?” Mrs. Thomforde glared at Karen; her mouth was twisted with fury. “He wouldn’t be running away if he was living at my house. None of this would happen if you let him stay with me. I thought you were going to let him stay with me?”
    â€œThat’s what I thought, too,” Ruth said. The girls were listening intently.
    â€œI don’t see how that’s going to happen now,” Karen said. Her frustration was palpable; whatever empathy she felt for Mrs. Thomforde had been left at the curb. “After this incident…” Karen shook a finger at the older woman. “When he was furloughed to your home the last time, he didn’t stay there the entire weekend like he was supposed to. Did he?”
    â€œHe certainly did. He was in

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