Theresa and her two best friends reminisce about their youth when old friends and childhood flames, Wil, David, and Paul, return to the little town of Moonridge. The six friends reminisce about fifteen years earlier, when problems with their families and three bullies managed to fortify their friendship and change their lives forever. During their joyful reunion, they get to meet with the bullies: the sadistic Jordan brothers. Theresa and her friends have to close ranks in order to survive the present, while coming to terms with the dark memories associated with times past.
Dog Days of Summer is Book 1 in the Moonridge Memories series.
The week had been a long one for Theresa, having gone through a bad breakup and starting an arduous job working the loading docks at Allen's Appliance & Electronics Emporium. At the end of this particularly hellish day, her legs felt like jelly, and she could hardly muster the strength to make it up the cement stairs to her second floor apartment. When she reached her front door, she heard the telephone ringing from the other side.
"Shit," she muttered, fumbling with her keys. Over a dozen dangled on the ring, half of which she didn't even know what lock they opened. She finally found her house key while the telephone still beckoned. She entered the apartment, tossing her purse and keys on to the dining room table before picking up the cordless phone off the wall. "This had better be good."
"Uh, yeah, hi," the male voice said on the other end. "Is Theresa there?"
"Could be. Who's this?"
"Oh, hey, Theresa, it's David...Thompson."
Theresa slid down into a dining chair, shocked to hear that name. "David, hi. I just got home from work. What's up? It's been what, ten years since we've talked?"
"Give or take. I'm back in town--er, we're back in town."
"We? You and...your wife?"
He chuckled. "Not exactly. Wil and Paul."
"Oh! How are they? How are you for that matter?"
"Good, we're all good. You?"
Theresa kicked off her sneakers and propped her feet up on the adjacent dining chair. "Oh, I'm just great. Still stuck in Moonridge, life's just dandy."
David laughed. "Yeah, I never thought I'd be back here."
"Why are you?" She squeezed her eyes shut, brushing a long strand of her curly black hair away from her face. "I didn't mean to be so blunt."
"No, it's fine. Hell, I'm wondering myself." He laughed again, more weary this time. "I guess we got to thinking of old times."
"And here I am trying my damndest to forget em," she said. "A town this small though, that's nearly impossible."
"Exactly why we left in the first place."
"Yeah, well, that's the wise thing to do. Me, I'm still waiting for my ticket out of here," Theresa said, forcing a good-natured laugh.
"To be honest, it's not that much better out there."
"Oh, so there's nothing to look forward to," she remarked. "How comforting."
He laughed. "Sorry. It was a long flight, I'm just kind of tired."
"Oh, well, I won't keep you," Theresa said. "It was really good to hear from you though."
"Wait, Theresa," David said, "I didn't call just to shoot the breeze."
"We wanted to get together and hang out with you guys. That is...you're still friends with Beth and Donna, right?"
"Oh, yeah, of course," Theresa said. "I usually hang out with them on Saturday nights anyway, so if you guys are free tomorrow, we could meet up then."
"Sounds good. How about six o' clock at Carla's Diner?"
"Carla's." Theresa sighed inaudibly, remembering the long forgotten place. "Sure."
"Okay, great, we'll see you then."
"Okay. Bye, David."
She pressed the "Talk" button on the phone to disconnect the call. She set the receiver on the table and rested her head in her hands. Childhood memories flooded into her mind, as if someone had unplugged a hole in the dam keeping them at bay all these years. They were memories she was all too happy to forget, even if life-long friendships had forged then and still stood the test of time. Fading snippets from her youth played out like a movie trailer, but the summer of '83 was clearer. That time in her life she could remember all too well, like a scary movie she had seen a dozen times and tried so hard to desensitize herself from...
Theresa was twelve years-old during the summer of '83. She lived in a modest four bedroom, two-story home with her parents, John and Joanne, and her eight siblings. In such close quarters with so many kids running around, fighting and arguing became an everyday occurrence in the Jenkenson household. Theresa felt like she lived in a madhouse most of the time. She shared a room with her little sister, Brenda, who was ten at the time, and her adopted brother, Michael, who was eleven. Michael was biracial--half-white, half-black--and even though he was adopted, Theresa felt closer to him than most of her blood siblings.
Sharing a room beside theirs were the three eldest of the Jenkenson children: Whitney, sixteen and favored by their mother; Barbara, fifteen; and Michelle, fourteen. Down the hall, the three youngest shared a bedroom often referred to as the nursery: Kevin, six; Leslie, five; and Lindsay, four. Their parents' bedroom (the master bedroom) stood across the hall from them. The upstairs looked like a series of twisters had torn through it. Toys cluttered the hallway, scribbled crayon and magic marker stained the walls, and the overused carpeting had gone from a lush peach to a dull beige. In the children's rooms, the floor had vanished beneath piles of clothes, sneakers, toys, magazines, and other random paraphernalia, leaving little space to walk on. Since three kids shared each room, bunk beds had become a staple in the Jenkenson household. The basement even contained a backup set, just in case one broke.
As much as the second story was a disaster area, the first floor remained spotless in case of unexpected company. The living room, with the exception of an overused sofa, showed no sign that children even lived in the house. When Joanne ran errands, occasionally John would allow the younger children to bring their coloring books downstairs to the coffee table, while he watched television. However, as soon as Joanne's car pulled into the drive, they were to grab their crayons and coloring books and hurry them back to their room.
Theresa's mother was a stern, cold woman, who had her youth sucked away by marriage and motherhood--or so she always said. For as much as she favored her eldest daughter, she seemed to loathe Theresa even more. She never gave Theresa the benefit of the doubt, leaving her to be the scapegoat for her mother's verbal and physical abuse. This made Theresa rebellious from a young age and tougher than the rest of her siblings.
On a lazy Friday morning in the beginning of August, John lounged on the living room sofa. The CBS line-up of game shows ran on their console TV, starting with The New $25,000 Pyramid. Theresa sat slumped in the adjacent easy chair guzzling a can of Sunkist, while Dick Clark introduced the contestants. Joanne had left early to go to the grocery store, so Kevin and Lindsay, like clockwork, set up their coloring books and their 64-count box of Crayolas on the coffee table. Kevin did the brunt of the work, even opening Lindsay's coloring book for her and curling her fingers around a random crayon. Only last year, Lindsay's pediatrician had diagnosed her as being "mentally retarded" and advised John and Joanne to put her in programs for children with learning disabilities. Instead, they ignored it.
"Reesa," Kevin said, "she won't color."
"Just leave her alone, Kevin, she'll color when she wants to," Theresa replied.
A door slammed upstairs, and Barbara shrieked, "You bitch!" before running downstairs. "Dad! Dad! Guess what Brenda did!"
"Barb, can't this wait 'til a commercial?" John said.
She grunted, storming out the front door in a huff. After a couple minutes, she came back inside crying, Joanne's arm wrapped around her shoulders. In Barbara's hands laid some of the shattered remains of her cherished unicorn figurine.
"Brenda!" Joanne shouted from the bottom of the stairs. "Brenda, you get your ass down here right now!"
Theresa set her pop can on the side table and slithered down out of her chair to help Kevin and Lindsay get their crayons back into the Crayola box neatly.
"BRENDA!" Joanne roared. She released Barbara and marched into the living room. "What the hell is going on around here, John? I'm gone for an hour, and this place goes to pot! And what are these three doing coloring in here?"
"Relax, Jo," John said. "It's my fault. I told them it was okay."
"Relax? If I relaxed this place would turn into a zoo!" Joanne snatched the coloring books and crayons from the coffee table. "Say goodbye to them, they're going in the garbage."
"No!" Kevin screamed.
Joanne ignored him, marched down the hallway, and pushed open the swinging door to the kitchen.
"Dad," Theresa said, "don't let her do this to them. Please."
"Your mother's made up her mind. You gotta learn to pick your battles."
Theresa's lips curled. "Well, I feel right at home on the frontlines." She ran into the kitchen. "Mom!"
"Go away, Theresa."
"Mom, this isn't fair! They're just little kids!"