AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Joy Ride
by Deanna Rittinger

“Is this the Kennedy residence?”

“Yes” My voice, still groggy from sleep, croaked into the phone.  Donny, my husband, hadn’t heard the ring and still slept like the dead after his late night on the set.  He was a stunt man and often worked late on various movie sets.

“This is Detective Yu at the county sheriff’s office.  I have your daughter here.  I need for you to come and pick her up.”

“I am sorry; I don’t think I heard that right.”  The clock said it was 7:30 in the morning and I really wasn’t awake yet.  “Who is this again?”

“Detective Yu, Ma’am, there is no need to panic, but I really do need for you to come and collect her.” 

Adrenaline shot through my system, sleepy feeling gone.  What had that wild child gotten into now? 

Twenty questions popped into my mind and tried to squirm their way out of my mouth all at once.  I gasped like a fish and settled on “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”  Since I didn’t know enough yet to be worried I let Donny sleep.  The last thing I needed was for police officers asking for his autograph.  Being a stunt double for the stars was good for getting a nice table at that posh restaurant, not so good for this situation.

Ten minutes later, I was shaking hands with the Detective in the squad room, and shooting questioning looks at my daughter.  She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms with a great sigh.  I didn’t know enough yet to be mad or scared, so I straddled both emotions and shifted my weight between them like a man on third ready to steal home.  Lauren didn’t seem scared or hurt, so I was willing to let Detective Yu talk, while I flicked my gaze around the room, searching for Brenda, my sister, who supposedly had Lauren for the weekend.

Lauren must have read the expression on my face because she held both hands in the air as though I were a cornered animal and said, “Don’t worry Mom, Aunt Brenda will be alright, she just got all hysterical and they had to knock her out so she’d stop.  She’s with Uncle Harry in the ambulance.”

“Ambulance!”  I thought I already had enough adrenaline, but the news kicked even more into my system and I saw spots before my eyes.

“She was a very distraught and had to be sedated…”  Detective Yu began, but was cut off again by my daughter’s exclamation.

“She was hysterical, Mom!”  After they held her down and gave Aunt Brenda the shot, Uncle Harry punched the doc.”

“We have a doctor on call...”  Again, Detective Yu tried to speak.

”Well that sorta started riot and then Detective Yu slapped cuffs on Uncle Harry when he came after him for ‘layin’ hands on his wife’.  You know how Uncle Harry is when he’s worked up.  See, that’s when they fell and he hit his chin on the corner of that desk on the way down.”  Here, she took a deep breath from her rapid fire information and rolled her eyes.  “He shoulda let dad teach him how to fall.  I didn’t know you could bleed so much!”

My eyes now lighted on the wet spot with the yellow “careful of wet floor” tent sign, then circled back to Detective Yu who simply gave me a slow confirming nod.  “He assaulted an officer.  We aren’t going to press charges, but it was quite a scene to contain.”

“Now would be a good time to tell me what happened, Officer.”  My voice sounded bleak even in my own ears.

“Why don’t you have a seat and I will try.”

I didn’t feel like sitting at that moment, but my knees had begun to shake and I gratefully sunk to the chair, forcing them not to quiver in reaction.

“Apparently Lauren managed to drag her bicycle up the access ladder to the first big drop on the new roller coaster scheduled to open this spring.”   

I could clearly imagine her doing it.  Lauren is fearless.  She idolized her dad, and was already addicted to the spike of fear like him.

“Yes, and though we have two children who claim to have seen it, the odds are quite impossible that she actually rode the bike down.”

“Mom, it was the coolest thing ever!”  Laurens eyes had gone glassy with the remembered feeling of flying and I knew then that I’d lost my baby girl to her father’s world of thrill seeking.

“A Mrs.” He looked down at his notes.  “Crane, saw her dragging her bike up the ladder and went in the house to call 911.  By the time the dispatcher had calmed her down and taken her information, Lauren was back on the ground.” 

“Aunt Brenda and Uncle Harry came outside when the cops, ambulance, and fire trucks showed up.  If that old biddy hadn’t called the police, no one would have known!”

“Is she being charged with anything officer?”  I felt a strong desire to shake her silly.  I knew that when her father found out he would just encourage her by being …impressed or proud. 

“Just take her home.  Please, take her home.”  He was avoiding even a trespassing charge.  Clearly, he had had enough of Lauren and had no desire to make more reports on the consequences of her joy ride. 

“I can’t wait to tell Dad!”  Lauren said as we were driving home a few moments later.  She nearly vibrated with excitement.  “Won’t he be surprised when I tell him what I did?”

“Oh he’s in for a surprise all right,” I squared my shoulders at the thought of the confrontation to come.  “One big surprise.”


Deanna Rittinger has decided at 41 that what she wants to be when she grows up is an author.  In this way, her imagination can invite others to play with her.  After all, writing is such a lonely sport.  You can find her other stories on the web at Haruah, Long Story Short and Ultraverse.  Currently, she’s working on a paranormal thriller, her first novel.

Contact Deanna.