Read Tools of Ignorance: Lisa's Story Online

Authors: Barbara L. Clanton

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Tools of Ignorance: Lisa's Story (7 page)

Why are you lying to me?”

Lawrence Jr. opened the front door to let them in.

Lisa put Bridget down.

“Here I am.” Bridget hugged her big sister.

“Oh, geez. I thought you ran off to join the circus.” Lisa heard her mother on the phone in the master bedroom. “Oops,” she whispered. “Mama’s on the phone, so let’s be quiet.”

Her mother said low into the phone, “Billy, I don’t—Okay, sorry. William. I don’t think it’s a good idea right now. You agreed to wait until—No. No, I don’t.”

Lisa walked by the open doorway on the way to her room. Her mother saw her and said, “Billy, I can’t talk about this right now. No, I have to go.” She hung up the phone and looked at her daughter. “How’s Marlee?”

“She’s fine.” Lisa gestured toward the telephone. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, yes.” Her mother waved in dismissal at the phone. “Don’t worry about that.”

Lisa wanted to ask her mother who she had been talking to, but Lawrence Jr. tugged on her shirt. “Can we go to the playground? Mama said she’s had enough of us.”

Lisa stifled a laugh. “Sure, give me a second to get ready, okay? In about five minutes?”


The phone rang, and her mother sighed again. Lisa wondered if it was that same Billy person calling back. She headed toward her bedroom to let her mother answer the phone in private.

“Lisa?” Lisa’s mother called out. “It’s for you.”

“For me? Who is it?”

Her mother shook her head.

Lisa took the cordless phone and said to Bridget, “Go play transformers with Lawrence Jr. for a minute.” She put the phone to her ear and said, “Hello?”


“Sam?” Lisa went to her bedroom and closed the door.

“Yeah, it’s me. We’re at a parking area on C.R. 62.”

“Are you okay?” Lisa sat on the edge of her bed.

“Me? I’m fine. Susie’s out walking. She’s crying her eyes out, and I have no idea why. She won’t talk to me. She kept banging the steering wheel and then she pulled into this parking area.”

“She was pretty upset when you guys left.”

“I know. Oh, crap, she’s coming back. Hey, can I come over later?”


“Yeah. In about an hour? When Susie drops me off, I’ll jump in my car and turn right back around.”

You will?
“Uh, yeah, sure. Yeah.”

“Quick give me your address. I’ll use my GPS.”

Lisa rattled off her address, and Sam repeated it twice. “Crap, I gotta go.” She hung up.

Lisa flopped back onto her pillows. Sam was coming all the way back from East Valley just to see her. Maybe Marlee getting hurt wasn’t such a dark cloud after all.



Chapter Six



Second is Way Better



LISA PUSHED BRIDGET on the swings while Lawrence Jr. climbed on the monkey bars. Lynnie sat on a bench by herself reading a novel about magic cats. Lisa whirled her head at the sound of a car. The driver was a middle-aged woman, not Sam. She wished she knew what Sam’s car looked like, because it had been over an hour since Sam called. Luckily Lisa could see both the road and her house from the playground, so she wouldn’t miss her.

“Higher,” Bridget squealed, and Lisa obliged by giving her sister a bigger shove.

“Me, too. Me, too.” Lawrence Jr. hopped on the swing next to Bridget.

“You guys are going to wear me out.” She alternately pushed Lawrence Jr. and then Bridget.

Another car drove by. Lisa’s heart jumped when she saw Sam in a red convertible with the top down. Lisa waved, and Sam pointed to the playground indicating she’d meet her there.

“Hey,” Lawrence Jr. said, “keep pushing.”

“Sorry.” Lisa pushed him again.

The convertible pulled up to the playground, and Lisa grabbed the chains of Bridget’s swing and pulled her to a full stop.

“Hey guys, my friend Sam is here. Let’s go say hi.”

Lawrence Jr. leaped off the swing at maximum height. “Oof,” he grunted when he landed on his rear end.

“Lawrence Jr.,” Lisa scolded. She helped Bridget off the swing and ran over to him. “Are you all right?”

“I’m okay.” He sprung to his feet. “I timed it wrong.”

“I’ll say,” Sam said, and Lisa jumped. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Lisa put a hand to her heart. “That’s okay. Dealing with these guys, I’m usually ready for anything.” Lisa almost melted in the light of Sam’s blue-gray eyes, her long blond hair loose over her shoulders.

“These are relations, I presume?”

Lisa laughed. “Yes.” She brushed Lawrence Jr. off. “You guys, this is my friend Sam.” She leaned closer and whispered, “Is that short for Samantha?”

Sam nodded.

Lisa tapped her brother on the head. “This is Lawrence Jr.”

“Please to meet you, sir.” Sam stuck out her hand, but just as he was about to grab it, she pulled it away and said, “Too slow. What d’ya know?”

Lawrence Jr. giggled. “Do it again. Do it again.”

Sam put her hand out and yanked it back just as Lawrence Jr. was about to grab it.

“Me, too.” Bridget pushed Lawrence Jr. out of the way.

“Okay.” Sam put her hand out. Bridget reached for it, but Sam pulled it away at the last second. Sam laughed and turned to Lisa. “And who is this?”

“This is Bridget.” Lisa put both hands on Bridget’s shoulders. “Bridget, say hi to Sam.”

“Hi, Sam.” Bridget put her hand out for another shake. This time Sam shook Bridget’s hand and arm vigorously causing Bridget to giggle.

“C’mon,” Lisa said, “they’ll have you at this all day if we don’t go now.”

“Okay. How far is your house?”

Lisa pointed. “Fifth one on the left.”

“I think we can fit the four of us in the Sebring.”

“How about five?”

“Five?” Sam raised an eyebrow.

Lisa nodded and pointed to Lynnie sitting on the bench thoroughly engrossed in her book.

Sam nodded. “Five it is.”

“C’mon Lynnie,” Lisa yelled over. “We’re going home.”

Lynnie didn’t move.

“Lynnie, c’mon. My friend is here, and we have to go.”

Once again Lynnie didn’t acknowledge Lisa’s existence, so Lisa walked over letting her shadow fall across the book.

“What?” Lynnie snapped and looked up at her sister. “I’m reading. Mama said I could.”

“I know, but my friend is here, and we have to go.”


Lisa looked heavenward for a moment. Why did Lynnie have to be a pain in the butt in front of Sam? She sighed. “You can read at home. I’ll make sure Lawrence Jr. stays out of your room, okay? I’ll set him and Bridget up with a DVD or something, okay?”

Lynnie seemed to consider it. “Okay.” She stood up. She looked at Sam and said, “Is that Tara?”

“What? Tara? Where did you get that idea?” Lisa had never talked about Tara to anybody, and definitely not to her sister. She must have overheard a phone conversation or something.

Lynnie shrugged.

“That’s my friend Sam.” She motioned for Sam to come over. “Sam, this is my sister Lynnie.”

“Nice to meet you Lynnie.” Sam stuck her hand out.

Lynnie politely shook Sam’s hand and headed toward the playground gate.

Sam raised an eyebrow. Lisa shrugged and whispered, “I think she’s got middle-child syndrome or something. I don’t know.”

Sam nodded, and they headed to the car. She opened the passenger door and pulled the front seat forward. “Okay, everybody, hop in.”



AFTER SAFELY SECURING her siblings in the house with her mother, Lisa got back in Sam’s convertible. “This is a nice car.”

“Thanks. My parents bought it for me when I got my permit last year, but I have to pay the running expenses like gas, oil changes, maintenance—that kind of stuff. So where’s this famous bowling alley of yours?”

“Valley Lanes? Okay, go out here.” Lisa pointed the way out of her neighborhood toward the main road. “Go left on C.R. 62, and then I’ll guide you once we get closer.”


“So, how’s Susie?” Lisa wasn’t sure how much Sam knew about Susie and Marlee’s relationship.

“Honestly, I don’t know.” Sam signaled left and then pulled onto the two-lane highway. “She wouldn’t talk to me. She dropped me off without a word and then sped away. Something happened in Marlee’s room, that’s for sure.”

“They were, uh, they were becoming good friends.” Lisa didn’t elaborate.

“Yeah, they were.”

, Lisa thought,
neither of us is saying it. Maybe she doesn’t know anything. Or maybe she thinks I don’t know anything.
“Maybe Marlee doesn’t want to have any more friends from East Valley after her trip to the hospital last night.”

Sam sighed. “Maybe. Do you feel the same way?” Sam kept her eyes focused on the road.

“No,” Lisa said simply. “I think I can stand to be around a few East Valley Panthers.”

Sam smiled. “Good.”

Sam pulled into the parking lot of the bowling alley and found a spot near the door. They rented shoes, found bowling balls, and made their way to lane twelve at the far end of the alley.

Lisa pulled on the rented shoes and was self-conscious of her size ten feet compared to Sam’s size sevens. She tucked her sneakers under the bench and sat at the scorer’s table. “What should I put for your name? Sam or Two?”

Sam laughed. “Marlee calls me Two because I play second base, so put Two for me and C for you.”

Lisa nodded and typed it in. “I put you up first, Two.”

“That suddenly sounded really silly.” Sam grimaced.

Lisa laughed. “I know. Let’s stick with Sam.”

Sam nodded in agreement and then grabbed the electric orange ball she had selected. She took her approach toward the pins and tossed an unglamorous gutter ball.

Sam turned around and grimaced. “Maybe we should have practiced first.”

“Hey, nothing says I’m gonna do any better, eh?”

Sam smiled, and Lisa wasn’t sure, but she thought maybe Sam blushed. Sam hadn’t changed clothes since Marlee’s house, and the red, white, and blue bowling shoes looked totally out of place with her white Capri’s and salmon silk shirt. Lisa felt underdressed in her blue jeans and retro red v-neck Adidas shirt with three white stripes on each sleeve.

Sam knocked down three whole pins on her next ball. “At this rate, I’ll have a thirty by the time we’re finished.”

Lisa laughed and got ready for her first throw. The ball hit the one pin dead on and sent it and the other nine pins flying. She couldn’t help her smile when she turned around.

“Nice strike.” Sam held out a fist for Lisa to punch. “God, you’re strong.”

Lisa felt her face get warm. “Thanks.” She sat down at the scorer’s table, and Sam got ready for her next turn.

Lisa took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart and wondered what she was doing at the bowling alley with a girl she hardly knew. Lisa threw a thumbs-up when Sam knocked down five pins, but then she took a quick breath and pledged,
I will take this one slow. I will not fall in three minutes like I did for Tara.

Sam pointed to the pins. “Hey, look at that.”

Lisa had been too busy trying to stay sane that she hadn’t noticed Sam’s spare. “Geez, are you some kind of bowling shark?”

Sam waggled her eyebrows. “Actually, no. Bowling, skiing, ice skating—I suck at those. Softball, tennis, golf, and ping-pong I’m good at.”

Lisa wondered what else Sam was good at.

After Sam’s brief moment of greatness, her bowling skills deteriorated again to gutter balls and low pin counts. Lisa won the first game easily by a score of 130 to 65.

Sam sat next to Lisa at the scorer’s table. With a shaky hand, Lisa hit the buttons to start a second game. She knew she should stand up, grab her ball, and start the next game, but she couldn’t bring herself to move.

Sam asked, “You, uh, want to get out of here?”

Lisa nodded and took a slow breath.

“Okay, I’ll go pay. Think of somewhere we can go to, uh, talk.”

Lisa nodded again. She groaned as soon as Sam left. She was already breaking the promise she’d just made to herself.

Lisa directed Sam to the Clarksonville County Community College softball field. She’d thought about going to Lake Birch, but Marlee said she and Bobby used to go there, and she didn’t want to think about Marlee.

The softball field was located in a remote back corner of the college campus. The field and parking lot were surrounded by a thick oak forest. No other buildings could be seen from the lot.

Sam pulled into a parking spot at the very end of the lot facing right field. “Nice spot,” Sam said. “It’s pretty secluded.”

That’s why I chose it.
Lisa felt a rush of heat run through her.

Sam turned off the engine, undid her seatbelt, and swiveled to face Lisa. Lisa tried to swivel as well, but got caught on her fastened seatbelt.

“Oh, geez,” Lisa sputtered and undid the belt. She turned to face Sam. “So…”


“Here we are.” Lisa looked down at her hands.

“So, uh, you have a lot of brothers and sisters.”

“Just the three.” Lisa laughed. “But, it feels like an army sometimes.”

Sam chuckled. “I don’t have any.”

“You’re an only child? I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah. Just me.”

Lisa couldn’t imagine being the only kid in a family. Actually, she had been the only child until she was six and then Lynnie came along, but she barely remembered that time. “Do you get lonely?”

“Sometimes, but I don’t know anything different actually. I spend a lot of time with Helene because Daddy’s got his meetings, and Mother’s got her committees.”

“Who’s Helene?”

“Helene’s my nanny.”

Lisa laughed. “You have a nanny?”

Sam smiled. “Well, she’s not really my nanny anymore. She lives with us, and she’s sort of our housekeeper, cook, and, um, well I guess she takes care of everybody. Mom, Dad, me.”

“Oh, so she’s everybody’s nanny.”

Sam laughed and tapped the console between them. “Yeah, I guess she’s the nanny for the whole Payton Family.”

“Payton? That’s your last name?”

Sam nodded.

Lisa grinned, but then shook her head. “Samantha Payton, I hope you’re not a serial killer or something, because I don’t know anything about you. I don’t even know what grade you’re in.”

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