Janie Lawson was screwed.
The plus sign on the Clearblue Easy pregnancy test sitting on the tan bathroom counter by the sink was only getting darker.
"Christ on a cracker," she said.
What was she going to do? She was only sixteen. Her father was going to kill her when he found out. She took in a deep breath and held it watching herself in the mirror above the double sink. She laid her hand on her chest. Everything began to look unreal. She felt herself fainting. She released the breath.
She charged out of the bathroom and broke for the white front door in the living room. Her brother, older by one year, Robby lying on the couch watching Word Championship Wrestling rose up at the commotion.
His curly red hair stood up on both sides of his head making him look a bit like Bozo, the clown.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where do you think you're going?"
"The store," she blurted.
Robby sneered, "What's the deal?"
"I need a Coke."
"Is there a sale or something?"
"Shut up, needle-dick-bug-fucker."
Robby's grin broadened, "Dad said that we ain't supposed to go out when he's working."
"You breathe a word of it to him, and I'll make sure he knows all about what happened to his whiskey. If you really piss me off, I'll make sure to throw in the part about your quality time with his nudie magazines."
He looked she punched him in the gut, "How would you know?"
She gave him a smug look, "You talk to yourself when you're spanking it. I'm thinking about spreading that around school."
"I'll fuck you up in ways you ain't heard of."
She folded her arms, "We can avoid all that if you'll just keep your mouth shut."
She turned for the door, "I'll be back."
"Hey," he said.
She spun around and glared at him.
"Get me a Mr. Pibb, will ya?"
"Whatever," she said and stormed out the door.
"And a bag of Doritos," he called after her.
She stopped in her tracks and made a choking motion with her hands. Then she proceeded to her Nissan Stanza.
Lakewood Village Superette was basically a little convenience store. Janie's dad told her that it was once a General Store back in her great grandfather's day. It had been made over numerous times. At present, it was an Exxon station with a square roof of wooden shingles with a seventies-era Coca-Cola sign mounted atop announcing the name of the business.
Janie jumped out of her Stanza and marched straight over to the payphones. She inserted a quarter in the slot and then dialed the number for Daisy's house.
The phone rang twice before Daisy's mom picked up.
"Is Daisy around?"
"May I ask who's calling?"
She heard the phone go down on the little end table, her Mom kept the phone on in the living room, and in a moment, Daisy picked up in her room.
"Hang on a sec, this is real bad. I want to make sure your mother hangs up."
"Daisy, I've got a huge problem, and I don't know what to do. But you have to swear that you're not going to tell anyone."
She imagined Daisy lying on her belly in the bedroom with her barefoot swinging in the air and rolling her eyes.
"No, no, no! This is major. If I tell you this, you have to promise on your mother's grave. If this got out, this could ruin my life."
"Oh, take a breath, Drama Queen."
She heard Daisy sigh, "Whatever."
"I got up yesterday and barfed all over my rug. I got sick again after lunch, and I puked again after supper."
"Stop sticking your finger down your throat, stupid."
"No, it's not like that. I got up this morning and puked again, so I got one of those tests."
"Multiple Choice, True-false, or fill in the blank?"
"You know what I mean."
"What kind of test was it?"
Janie glanced to her left and right to make sure no one that she knew was standing within earshot.
"A pregnancy test."
"Oh shit! You're not. . . ."
Janie nodded as if Daisy could see her, "Yes, I am."
"What do I do?"
"Jesus, I don't know! I'm sixteen!"
"God, why is this happening to me?"
The smug sound returned to Daisy's voice, "Do you want me to draw you a picture?"
"This isn't funny," Janie snapped.
She heard the sound of Daisy's bedsprings creak as she rolled over, "Get another pregnancy test. I've heard those things are wrong sometimes."
"I dunno, maybe?"
Janie caught a glimpse of herself in the chrome surface of the payphone face. Her face was long and distorted. She looked terrified.
"What if I am?"
"Who's the lucky guy?"
Janie sucked her teeth, "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Because he'll have to pay for the abortion if you're pregnant, or else he'll have to pay child support for the rest of his life."
Janie looked down at her flip-flops and took a breath. This next part was going to be really embarrassing.
"I'm not sure."
"Oh, my God! That's so. . . ."
"Shut up football slut! It was a party. I was drunk."
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"No. There's a guy taking me out on a date tonight."
"You know that guy that plays for Schizoid at The Black Box?"
"His name is Rhett?"
"Oh, yeah! Rhett Mueller. He goes to Lakewood Village High. He's rich. Wait, you're going out with him?"
She nodded, "Yeah."
"If you're pregnant, don't tell him. Make sure that you get some bootie, and wait a few days. Then you call him and tell him that you're pregnant. His Dad is like this big deacon at the First Baptist Church. He'll pay for an abortion, and no one will ever know."
"Either that or drop out of school, be humiliated, disinherited, homeless, and strapped to a kid for the rest of your life."
"You think that'll work?"
"Yes, just don't tell anyone."
Relief swept over Janie. She saw her shoulders slump in her reflection in the chrome face of the payphone as the tension evaporated.
"I guess so. Don't tell anyone anything!"
"Of course not."
Janie hung up.
When she walked back through the door of her house, she found Robby sitting at the oak kitchen table looking proud of himself. She crossed the living room, passed through the cased entry into the dining room, and sat his Mr. Pibb and bag of Doritos in front of him.
"That'll be four dollars," she said.
Robby grinned at her, "Like hell."
"Fine," she said, and she picked the Mr. Pibb and the Doritos back up.
Robby laughed, "And while you're headed back there, you might as well take this thing with you."
She spun around and stared at him. At first, she thought he was holding some kind of strangely-shaped magic marker, but her eyes swelled when she realized that he held her pregnancy test.
She snatched it out of his hand, "Excuse me? Where did you get that? Did you get your hand pregnant?"
"It was in the damn bathroom right after you left."
She gave him a devil-may-care look, "It's not mine."
"Nobody else's been here."
"What about Daddy?"
Robby gave her a loud visceral laugh, "Yeah, that's it. Daddy done went and got himself pregnant. Wonder if it's gonna be a boy. I'd like to have me a brother."
Janie turned toward the hallway to head to her room.
"I guess I should just ask Daddy who's pregnancy test this is."
She stopped in her tracks.
She turned around and gave him a tired look, "What do you want?"
Robby grinned, "To see your preppy, fair-haired ass burn for being the fuck-up that you really are."
"What do you want?" She repeated.
Robby shrugged, "You could start by giving me my goddamn Mr. Pibb and Doritos."
She passed them over.
He took them from her. Sat the Doritos on the table and unscrewed the lid from the Mr. Pibb, and then he took a big swig of the Mr. Pibb and followed it with his loudest "Ahhh," sound.
"You breathe a word of this, and I'll tell Daddy all about his pornos, what really happened to that fifth of Gin that disappeared from the cabinet, and how that scratch got on the back of his tailgate."
Robby shook his head, "He ain't even gonna hear you after I drop the baby-bomb on 'em. So who's the lucky sombitch?"
Janie shuffled her feet, "Robby, I'm not going to have a baby. I'm going out with this guy, Rhett tomorrow, and I'm gonna get him to pay for an abortion."
Robby gave her an awe-stricken look, "You don't even know who the Daddy is?"
She gasped, "Of course I do. It's Rhett."
"Bullshit! You ain't never even been out on a date with that boy. Hell, you've been flopping around here for the last three months swooning at the thought of going out with 'em."
"I saw him last month at The Black Box."
"I was with you stupid. You hung out with 'em all of twenty minutes, and I was there the whole time."
She gave him a smug look, "You don't know everything."
Robby shook his head, "I know enough. You're gonna shake down this poor slob to get 'em to pay for your abortion. You're a real bitch."
"I'm done talking to you. Who is Daddy gonna believe? The fuck up who just brought home straight D's, and skips school all the time, or the girl with straight A's who never gets in trouble?"
"Get Daisy to put out for me, and I'll keep this to myself."
Janie spun around and gave him an incredulous look.
"I couldn't give a prostitute enough money to screw you, let alone the second most popular girl in school. I might be able to get her to go on a date with you, if you'll wear a bag over your head and not take her to a public place."
Robby grinned. He looked like an idiot. She wanted to tell him to wipe the stupid look off his face, but then she realized that was impossible.
"You get her to call me and tell me that she'll go out with me before Daddy gets home, and I'll keep my mouth shut. Hell, I might even help you get old Mueller to do the dirty with you."
Janie shook her head. She felt dirty, but she had no choice.
"Fine!" She said.
Then she turned back for her bedroom.
Janie's heart pounded in her chest.
She pressed the cordless phone up against her chest and gazed at the purple walls of her bedroom. She felt like she was going to throw up again.
She picked up the phone and dialed the number. It rang three times, and he answered.
"'Sup?" He said.
She rolled her eyes. The truth was that Janie hated teenage boys. They were faker than AstroTurf. She wanted to go out with Rhett, because such a move would bolster her popularity ten-fold even though he was an idiot just like her brother.
"Hey, you," she said.
"I was just thinking about you. I'm headed up to Woody's house for band practice, you wanna come?"
She forced a smile, "Sure!"
"We still on for tomorrow night?" He said.
"Absolutely. I was just calling to tell you that I've got a new outfit for our date. I think you'll really like taking it off."
"So when are you gonna be here to pick me up?"
"I guess, I can be there in about an hour."
"Okay, well I've got to get ready."
"See you at four."
She hung up, and then she dialed the number that she was dreading. Daisy had been her best friend since middle school. She knew all the dirt on her, and she was confident that she could get her to hang out with Robby. But she might mess up her friendship in the process.
It rang once before Daisy picked up.
"You still knocked up?" Daisy said.
"I really hope your Mom can't hear you."
"She's not here."
Janie cleared her throat, "I've got another problem."
"I was in such a hurry to get out of here and call you earlier that I forgot to get rid of the pregnancy test. Robby found it."
Daisy laughed, "Oh, you are so screwed!"
"Yeah, I need your help."
Daisy laughed again, "I don't know what I can do about this one."
Janie ground her teeth, "Robby will keep his mouth shut if you'll hang out with him one night."
"Are you nuts? He's more lame than a paraplegic. I wouldn't be caught dead with him."
Janie sighed, "You don't have to go anywhere. I'll rent a movie for you, and you can hang out here."
"Yeah, and then he goes to school and blabs to everyone."
"And you can deny it. I'll even get my college friend to get you some wine coolers, so that it will be painless."
"You're asking a lot."
"I'll get you a date with Kyle."
"You can do that?"
"And no one finds out at school?"
"Not a soul."
"I'll give him the phone, and you can work it out with him."
Janie opened her door.
Robby bounded through the hallway and stopped before her. She passed him the phone.
He snatched the phone out of her hand and paced off with it. Janie sighed with relief and sank down to the floor. Maybe this whole thing would work out after all.
(Coming soon, Part two)