“When a girl goes anyway after you tell her she can’t go, what do you do, sir, what would you do?” Mama asked.
“I would make her stay.”
“How? You can’t lay hands on her. You can’t chain her to her bed. Just how are you going to make her? Tell me because I would love to know,” Mama said and started to cry. I put my arm around Mama’s waist. My eyes teared up, too.
“Penny’s a handful,” I said, “She’s…a good person, she’s just angry at the world. When you feel like your mother and father abandons you for whatever reason, it tears you up inside. Then when teenage years hit, amplify those feelings a thousand times. You’re too old for adoption, nobody wants to adopt a teenage girl. That’s how it feels.”
Nobody said anything for a long time. I kept waiting for the detectives to say something or Mama to say something, but nobody did. Mama squeezed me tight and kissed the top of my head.
“Papa’s going to be home expecting dinner. I need to get home,” Mama said, “Can Penny come home with us?”
They said just a few more questions and they would let us know. The police detectives asked Mama a bunch more questions about names and addresses, and how we got word of what was going on here. They asked me what my doings was in all this and I told them about Billy and me and how Angel coerced Billy. I looked at Mama when I pronounced it and she nodded that I got it right.
They went and huddled with the rest of the police for a while then came back to Mama. The tall detective spoke to her. “I’m afraid that she is going to have to spend the night in Juvey. She’ll go before the Juvey judge tomorrow morning at the judge will decide her status. There was an assault here, and we are still working out the details of who did what. The DA may want to charge her as an adult with accessory. But for tonight, she’s coming with us.”
Mama’s shoulder’s slumped. She felt like a complete failure. She needed more hugs so I gave her more and she wrapped me up and sobbed. There wasn’t much to say to her to make her feel better, so I just hugged her. Andre came over had patted her back.
“There’s nothing more we can do here, Mama. Maybe you should go say something to Penny and then we can go home,” I said. She looked at me and smiled. She went over and asked to police officer if she could speak to Penny and he opened the driver door for her. She leaned in and I could see that Penny was in no mood for her, so Mama said thank you to the officer and we got in Andre’s car and went home.
Papa was home and was anxious to hear what all happened. Mama saw that the rest of the kids fixed some left-overs and some vegetables for dinner for Papa and them. Before I went down to my bed, I asked Mama if I could take the bus to see Billy in the morning and she said that was fine and she gave me a bus pass that she keeps for us, and five dollars for emergency.
It was Sunday morning and I rode the bus to the hospital. I had to change buses once. Having never been around in the city, I did good. The bus took me straight there and let me out in front of the main entrance. The map on the kiosk stand told me where the Emergency Room was and I took off that way. I wore a tank top and jeans today without a shirt because it was warm for this time of year. I carried my hoodie in case. The woman at the reception desk in the Emergency Room looked for a long time before she found Billy. They took him to the nursing tower, she said. She must have seen how puzzled I was because she came out from behind the desk and pointed down the hall and gave me some of the most confusing directions I ever heard.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” I said and took off in the direction she pointed.