* * *
Richard tore up to Spearmanâ€™s house and dumped his bike in the road. Seeing lights on in the house, he ran up and knocked on the front door. Mr. Spearman answered.
â€œHey, do you know where Jill is?â€ Richard said.
â€œJust right over there,â€ Mr. Spearman said.
He gestured to the front room where Jill sat on the couch.
â€œIs she in her bed?â€ Richard said, breathing heavily.
â€œNo, sheâ€™s right there on the couch, Richard!â€ Mr. Spearman said.
Richard looked in. Jill was sitting on the couch with a book in her hand. She looked at Richard, turned her head away, and went â€œHmph!â€
â€œDaddy, no,â€ she said. â€œDaddy, heâ€™s not allowed to come in.â€
â€œIâ€™m not trying toâ”€â€ Richard said.
â€œI do not accept your advances, Mr. Messer. Heâ€™s been bothering me, daddy.â€
â€œIâ€™ve been trying to keep an eye out on you. Thereâ€™s been weird men walking around.â€
Mr. Spearman looked confused.
â€œThereâ€™s been someone walking around town late at night,â€ Richard said quickly.
â€œWhatâ€™re you talking about boy!?!â€ Mr. Spearman said.
Mr. Spearman was a big man. He wore coveralls, probably still from his work at a factory in Atlanta. A large, stinking cigar stuck out of one side of his mouth.
â€œIâ€™m just saying donâ€™t let anyone you know in,â€ Richard said.
â€œYou take me for some kind of dummy?â€ Mr. Spearman said.
â€œWhen I take advice from a 15-year-old boy comes â€˜round here mumbling stuff, I hope somebody shoots me in the head.â€
â€œWell, I can do that for you.â€
Mr. Spearmanâ€™s eyes opened wide and he grabbed Richard by his shirt, shaking him.
â€œRichard Messer,â€ he said. â€œDo not make me come over and talk to your daddy about you, all right?â€
â€œSorry,â€ Richard said. â€œSorry.â€
â€œI thought you were