By P. Berman & A. Hosack, & K. Hecht
Is he really trying to protect Claire? Can we trust anything he says? Now, on top of everything else, he is involved with drug dealers.
Mr. Carson was brooding, feeling helpless and angry. Claire had just finished reading out loud Larry’s letter urging her not to write him again. She had been gently crying throughout. Mr. Carson was trying to dissect everything Larry had said. Was he finally being honest with Claire about just how much trouble he was in? Did he really care about whether Claire and Davy were safe? Was he just involved in yet another major manipulation of Claire’s feelings so that she would welcome him back from prison?
Mrs. Carson was the first to find her voice, “Claire, I don’t know what to think. Larry says don’t write, so the drug dealers won’t come after you, but, if he hadn’t talked to them about you to begin with, they wouldn’t know you and Davy existed.” Claire sighed, “Yes, that’s true. But, he is trying to protect us now; he says he will explain everything when he gets out.”
No. No. No. I don’t want him coming back here. Not for any reason.
Mr. Carson wasn’t aware of it, but he was hitting his left palm with his right fist over and over. Mrs. Carson did notice. She went over to him and took both his hands in hers. “Now, don’t get all worked up dear,” she said. “We knew Larry would be coming back here. Even if he wasn’t coming to see Claire and Davy, he grew up in this town. Whether he is really worried about Claire and Davy, we can’t know. But he won’t be getting out of a jail for two more years. We have time to figure this out,” Mrs. Carson kissed him softly on the cheek- he looked up at her and smiled.
She is right. We can’t keep Larry out of town. Can we keep him away from Davy and Claire?
Looking up at Claire, he said calmly, “do you want him coming back to you?”
Do I tell the complete truth? Yes, I promised I would. They have been so loyal to me; they deserve the absolute truth.
“I still love Larry, but I realize that most of what I feel about him is for the love and partner I hoped he would be, not who he actually is. My Davy has nightmares because I let him meet Larry. It didn’t cross my mind that Larry would hit Davy or hit me in front of Davy. He hit me may times before. I guess I was just being stupid.”
“You were not stupid sweetheart. You were very young, and he was your only friend. You wanted love. Most kids have had several different friends before they become teens and want to date. Most kids get parents who show them how to relate to other people without violence- yours just showed you violence. We all need to have a lot of help learning to tell the trustworthy people from the dangerous ones.”
“I know now that he is dangerous- but it is still hard for me to fully accept it in my heart. Larry still seems so much safer than my parents; they were violent every day, Larry only hit me once and a while; I would never dream of bringing Davy anywhere near my parents, or Larry’s.”
“You are a very smart woman Claire, even without any help you know to keep Davy away from them. What do you think we need to do now, to figure out what to do? We can’t write Larry- so it has to be things we can do, independently of whatever he does,” Mrs. Carson said.
They are asking me what I think. They care about what I want. These are the people I need to fight for, not Larry.
Claire realized how deeply she had come to love the Carsons. How differently they thought of her. What would life have been like if they had been her parents? But then, she wouldn’t have her Davy. She wouldn’t give him up for anything- even to keep from having scars on her back. “Could we call Ms. Alexandra? I want to find out if there is a way to keep Larry away from Davy. She must know. It is her job to keep kids safe. She will want to keep Davy safe from Larry.”
“That’s a great idea Claire. Calling her never crossed my mind but she said we could still call her whenever we needed to,” Mr. Carson said. “You sound so confident Claire; it can’t be easy to recognize how dangerous Larry is, when you still love him; love is a very strong emotion. I am very proud of you that you are fighting for Davy’s right to have a safe life.”
Fighting for Davy’s right to be safe. Did he have the right to be safe? Did that give her the right to keep Larry away from his own son?
Larry was very smart, she had disappeared into foster care, her parents had no idea where she was, yet Larry had found, her. If she moved away, would he still be able to find her? Was there a way to protect Davy from him if Larry made the decision to track him down?
One of the most important lessons Claire had learned since she gave birth to Davy, alone in the hospital, was that she didn’t have to be alone. It was human to need help. She could turn to turn to other people, and some would be willing to help her. She still wasn’t sure in her heart if she and Davy had the right to be safe.
Do we have the human right to be safe at home? In our communities as we walk down the street or go to school? The National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence believes we do (www.npeiv.org).
It might help Claire decide if it was safe to have Larry in her life if she knew whether it was possible for him to leave the gang and stay out of it.
Like many other poor men, Larry had joined a gang because it increased his feeling of safety and provided him with a source of income to buy things he wanted. While in prison, the gang was keeping him safer. But, outside of prison, it would do the reverse. Gang membership would increase his risk for criminal involvement, violence, and early death. The following link is to an article that discusses might work to leave a gang safely and stay out of it: