C H A P T E R     F O U R
BEHIND THE CURTAIN*

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      After school Isaac stayed, hanging out with a couple of his friends.

      “Hey guys I’m going to walk home, see ya tomorrow.” Isaac was seventeen and had received his drivers license but hardly used it. His family only had one car and his father never let him use it. He didn’t have enough money to buy his own car or pay for insurance so he only got to drive when his friends let him barrow their cars or when he went out with Cassandra who had been surprised with a brand new Eclipse by her father on her sixteenth birthday.

      “Okay, bud.”

      “Do you want me to give you a ride?”

      “No, the longer it takes the better.” Isaac started home.

      He had traveled home walking the four blocks to his small one level house. It was purchased on Eve Avenue, in the low maintenance part of the town.

      Isaac tried staying away from home as much as possible, hanging out with friends and with Cassandra. His home life had been eventful to say the least. His mother was always gone. Working as a dancer slash waitress at the local bar in town called “Electric T’s”. Isaac had no brothers or sisters and raised himself receiving little help from his alcoholic father who didn’t have a job and laid around the house all day.

      Isaac quietly turned the knob to his front door peacefully stepping inside and gently closing the door behind himself. He didn’t want to attack his fathers attention. He softly stepped trough the hall until he treaded on a squeaky floor board.

      “Isaac! Is that you?” His father hallered through the house.

      Isaac froze.

      “Is that you Isaac?”

      Isaac turned around and walked to the living room where he knew he would find he father. His father sat on an easy chair with it folded out and his feet propped up. His head was leaning on the back of the chair and a cheap can of beer in his left hand. The remote control for the television was placed on the right arm rest with his hand covering it. In front of him was a nineteen inch color television with its volume muted.

      “Yeah, its me dad.” Isaac stood in the door way not wanting to get to close.

      “Go get me another beer. This ones done with.” He took one last gulp and bent the can in half throwing a perfect dunk into the trash can that was filled with aluminum beer cans across the room.

      “Sure.” Isaac left the door way headed for the puny yellow kitchen. He stepped inside constricted by painted cabinets and handy appliances. He reached for the handle to the refrigerator pulling it open and peering inside. All that appeared was beer cans and a loaf of white bread. He tugged on the meat compartment drawer finding and empty twenty-four pack of sliced Kraft cheese.

      “Man.” He whinned to himself. His stomach was growling and he had to make dinner. “What am I going to eat?”

      “Isaac!” His father yelled making Isaac jump slamming his head into the top of the refrigerator when he stood straight. Isaac grabbed a beer and trotted to his father. His father forcefully grabbed the beer from his hand. “Its about time. Now go to your room.” His father swatted him away.

      Isaac walked back down the squeaky hall way and into his room shutting the door behind him.

*****

      Cassandra and Dale drove up to an elegant hotel on Harding Avenue. They parked in the parking structure on the second level. Cassandra got out of the car straightening her black velvet knee high dress.

      “Now when we get in their lets act civilized, shall we?”

      “What do you think I’m going to do? Run around like a monkey or something?”

      They both stepped into an elevator pushing the eighth floor button.

      “No, I’m just saying that this is my job and very important to my career.”

      “I know.” Cassandra stood in front of her father checking out his navy blue suit. She lifted her hands up to his tie and straightened it.

      “Thanks.”

      The elevator door slid open and Dale held out his arm for Cassandra and she slipped her arm in his. They walked down a wide hall and then into a large ballroom type dinning area.

      As soon as they stepped in they were bombarded by tons of prestigious middle aged men with pretty young women hanging from their forearms. They all held small champagne glasses in there hands two thirds filled with yellow bubbly and flung it around as they gestured.

      “Mr. Stone, nice of you to come.” A tall man held out his right hand.

      “Wouldn’t miss this.” Dale took the mans hand in his and they politely shook. The couples eyes finally wondered to Cassandra smiling as if to congratulate Mr. Stone for snagging a sixteen year old. “And this is my daughter, Cassandra.” Dale added.

      “Ahh, yes I remember you from the last dinner party we had. You’ve grown.” The man held out his hand and Cassandra took in in return. “Mr. Shivers.”

      “Nice to meet you gain, Mr. Shivers.” Cassandra had been well polished. Since she was five her mother and father had taught her the rules and regulations of being in the presence of high class, even if she was the exact opposite. Nobody is better then anyone else but when your with people that think they are you had to act the same.

      Mr. Shivers smiled with the rest of the employees and started to head to the next man that stepped through the threshold. “See you around Mr. Stone and Cassandra. Make yourself at home.”

      “Thank you.”

      Cassandra and Dale stood for a minute smiling at all he successful wealthy people until they all scattered leaving a way to roam the massive dinning room. They started to venture around the room finally finding a table that had a Mr. and Miss. Stone name tag.

      “Looks like our table.”

      “Yep. Do you know what are having tonight?”

      A short portly man that stood next to them just so happened to be listening to the conversation and decided to answer the question. “Chinese food.”

      “Thanks Jack.” Dale said as the man walked off.

      “Chinese? You can’t eat Chinese food.” Cassandra stood besides Dale.

      “Well I guess I can go ask the chef if he uses MSG in his food. I’d hate to have an allergic reaction and have you drive us home in the dark.” Dale place his hand on Cassandra’s shoulder.

      “Yeah, have them make you something else if they do.” Cassandra followed her father to the back in the kitchen.

      “Why couldn’t I be allergic to pollen like normal people? They put MSG in everything.”

      Dale and Cassandra sat at the large table with the rest of the people. They had been served there food which sat before them. Everyone’s plate sporting the same meal except Dale who was given plain white rice instead.

      Mr. Shivers stood from his seat that was conveniently situated in the middle of the spacious room. He then clicked his fork against his wine glass and cleared his trout.

      “I would like to thank everyone for coming tonight.” Mr. Shivers began. “And I’m not going to pester you lovely people with another one of my long drawn out lectures so EAT UP!”

      Cassandra was glad she didn’t have to sit through on of Mr. Shivers’s lengthy speeches. It would make the night go a little faster. But she still felt out of place and bored out of her mind. All she did was sit there listening to things that hadn’t made any since to her.

      “Here Dale. Have a drink.” Mr. Shivers handed Dale a glass of Champaign. Dale took it willingly.

      “Dale do you think you should be drinking that?” Cassandra was concerned. He quit drinking. He wasn’t supposed to touch the stuff.

      “Cassandra its fine.” Dale sucked the glass dry. “This is a company dinner I can’t refuse if the boss hands me a drink.

      Cassandra looked at her father in disbelief as he downed another glass of wine. “I think you’ve had enough Dale.” Cassandra started to grab his glass from his hand. He jerked it back from her setting it down beside his plate.

      During the night Dale’s glass went from empty to full a few more times.

      “Thank you all for coming. It was a blast. See ya all later!” Mr. Shivers said good bye to his employees and took off down the hall.

      Dale and Cassandra left down the same hall after collecting their coats.

      “Dale, I think I should drive us home.” Dale took out his keys.

      “No its too dark.”

      “But you’ve been drinking.”

      “I’m find, okay.” Dale bellowed.

      “All right.” Cassandra reluctantly climbed into the car.

      Dale started the car and they sped out of the car lot and down the street. A red light shone above but Dale zoomed through it.

      “That was a red light.”

      “Where?” Dale didn’t look too concerned.

      “The one you just passed.”

      “Oh.”

      “Watch out!” Cassandra yelled s her father just missed a passing car. The person honked their horn and flipped them off. Dale just chuckled continuing on his way home.

      Despite his drunkenness they made it home safely.

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