Mothers and Daughters
Copyright© 2017 by Lazlo Zalezac
Monday morning, Otterly left for school at her normal time. She and Rick were walking together, while holding hands. Both of the teenagers were extremely nervous, and rightfully so. Rick had been beaten the previous Saturday night, with the result of having two cracked ribs, a broken nose, and both eyes blacked. Otterly had been dragged off by the attackers who intended to rape her. Any sane person would be nervous after such an experience.
The boys who attacked them had been caught, but the likelihood of them taking revenge was high. Bullies are that way. They tend to punish their victims after getting caught, even if it was because of their own stupidity. However, the boys were still in jail awaiting a hearing that morning, so the chances of anything happening this particular morning were slim to none.
Rick and Otterly kept looking around trying to spot anything that might be out of the ordinary.
Otterly said, “I don’t like being exposed like this.”
“I don’t either. I wish Mom would have driven us to school,” Rick said.
“I don’t know why our parents were so insistent that we walk to school. It’s not like Mom or Dad to act that way.”
“They’re usually pretty protective of you,” Rick said.
“That’s what makes this so strange.”
He looked around, “Shouldn’t Digit be around here somewhere?”
“Mom said that they were keeping him at home.”
“This is so unlike them.”
Back at the house, Sherry and Alex were watching the television. The screen was split into four separate images. Two of the images showed Otterly and Rick walking down the street. The images showed them from the front and the back. The other two images were of the two ends of the street.
Alex said, “Wow. They are really nervous.”
“I feel so sorry for them. We should have given them a ride to school this morning.”
“You know why we’re doing this.”
“I know, but ... It’s just that they’re so scared.”
“Our plan appears to be working. They sure are looking around at everything.”
“They are definitely alert.”
“They haven’t noticed the robot eagles, yet.”
“No one thinks to look up,” Sherry said.
The views on the screen shifted when the eagles changed locations. It was a smooth transition without any loss of coverage.
“How’s the charge?”
“All of them are fully charged.”
“That’s good. I told you it would work.”
“Inductive charging. That was a brilliant idea.”
“Thank you,” Sherry said.
On the street, Otterly said, “Mom and Dad said the two boys are still in jail. They won’t be in court until later this morning. They’ll probably be released on bail.”
“My Dad said that the boys would probably be suspended from school for two weeks. I guess that means we won’t have to worry once we get to school.”
“Maybe our parents are right. We’re worried about nothing,” Otterly said, although she felt that there were good reasons to be worried.
They walked another fifty yards without talking. Each looking from side to side for anything that might be a threat. Occasionally, one of them would look over their shoulder to see if anyone was behind them.
Rick said, “Do you know what really bugs me?”
“I can’t believe that they thought they could get away with it. I mean, we were ten feet from the gym door. There were people everywhere who saw them do what they did. How in the world did they think they could get away with it?”
“I don’t know. They almost did.”
“They were nowhere close to getting away. They didn’t even complete their crime before they were caught. Sure, they assaulted me and kidnapped you, but the crime they wanted to commit was rape, and they didn’t get there. Even if they had completed the crime, we knew who they were, and there were witnesses.”
“You’re right. It doesn’t make sense.”
“It doesn’t make sense; unless they believed that even if caught, there would be no consequences,” Rick said.
“That’s a horrible thought,” Otterly said.
Rick said, “Our parents are smart, and they’ve probably figured this out. So, if they know these guys don’t care if they are caught or not, why would we be put out here with no protection?”
“I don’t know.”
The two teenagers walked to school. They looked over their shoulder the entire way there. It was not a pleasant trip.
Back at home, Sherry and Alex continued to watch the teenagers make their way to school. It was almost a relief seeing them reach the building.
“I feel so bad watching Otterly be so scared. I must be a bad mother to put her through this.”
“You’re a good mother. She needs to do this.”
Sherry said, “Mom thinks I’m a lousy mother.”
“She thinks that I should be more involved in Otterly’s shopping,” Sherry said.
“By that definition, your mother was a lousy mother. She takes no interest in your visits to the Mega-Computer Store.”
“She’s at school now. It’s bedtime.”
Several hours later, Sherry sat in the chair looking across the table at Alex. He was looking back at her. There wasn’t really anything to do. All of their current projects were basically finished.
Sherry said, “We’ve had sex three times, today.”
“So what are we going to do now?”
“We could have sex again,” Alex said, grinning.
“That’ll get us to noon.”
“You’re out of thongs.”
“I’m out of thongs.”
“We could go shopping for more thongs.”
“That’ll keep us busy until noon.”
“We could go through housewares and see if there are any new gadgets to take apart.”
“That might be fun.”
“That would get us through today. What we really need, is a project.”
“We’ve got a dog. We’ve got a bird. We’ve got a lawnmower. We’ve got a smart house. We’ve got smart programs. What else would you like?”
“I don’t know.”
“How about we revisit the vibration-based fault detection program? I’m sure that we could come up with some improvements.”
“We’ve got teams of software engineers working on that.”
The two of them sat there looking at each other for five minutes.
“Let’s go to the bedroom.”
As is the nature of time, it passed. Before they knew it, it was afternoon, and school had ended for the day. Sherry and Alex watched the television screen that was showing Otterly and Rick walking home. The two teenagers were still walking nervously, and looking around for anything that might endanger them.
When the teenagers were about two blocks from home, Sherry said, “It’s time.”
“Let me grab the leash.”
Rover’s head perked right up on hearing the magic word, ‘leash.’ He ran over to the door and started jumping up and down. Digit joined Rover at the door. It didn’t take long for Alex to put the leash on Rover.
Walking in a direction that would intersect Otterly’s path home, they strolled along at a nice leisurely pace. It was a cool afternoon with a very light breeze. The dogs, real and robotic, were doing what real and robotic dogs do during an afternoon walk. Rover was moving along with his nose to the ground smelling everything. Digit just walked along with his head up, alert to his surroundings.
Glancing around, Sherry said, “It really is hard to spot them.”
“I was just thinking that.”
“There’s Otterly and Rick, now.”
The two young people were holding hands. Otterly was glaring at her mother and father. She hadn’t appreciated having to walk to and from school, feeling so frightened. She had an expression on her face reminiscent of having bitten into a lemon.
“I say! Otterly doesn’t look happy to see us.”
“No, she doesn’t. I think she’s a little upset that we didn’t take her to school, or pick her up, after cheer-leading practice.”
“You’re probably right,” Alex said.
The couple stopped, and waited for Otterly and Rick to approach. It was interesting that rather than walking slowly while watching their surroundings, the young couple was marching directly at them.
Upon reaching them, Otterly said, “Tomorrow, you are driving us to school.”
“I was scared to death walking to school.”
“Why?” Sherry asked.
“There are two crazy guys that want to rape me. I’m pretty sure they are out of jail right now.”
“I know that, but why were you scared?”
“Mother, don’t you get it? It’s dangerous for us to be walking without any protection.”
Waving a hand dismissively, Alex said, “There was no danger. You were more than protected.”
“No, we weren’t. We looked everywhere for Digit and the drones. Digit was nowhere to be found and there weren’t any drones.”
“Digit was with us, and half of the drones were undergoing self diagnostics.”
Otterly was getting angry. She couldn’t believe her parents were so unconcerned about her safety.
“Grandma is right. You and Dad are not all there.”