Sundays With Ingrid
Grampy lifted Ingrid’s bike into the back of the pickup—tossed it in, really, with an easy motion like a young man. They crossed the bridge, the river flowing fast beneath, black and ripply.
“Anyone ever warn you about falling in a pigpen?” Grampy said.
“And you’re how old again?”
Grampy shook his head. “Stereo medicine to give you pimples and not knowing about falling in a pigpen. This country’s in big trouble.”
“What happens if you fall in a pigpen?” Ingrid said.
Grampy turned onto 392, followed the river north. “Pigs are smart and always hungry, just like us. Only difference is they’re short.”
“You’re just trying to scare me,” Ingrid said.
“Wouldn’t do that, kid,” said Grampy. “Run that stereo thing by me one more time.”
Ingrid tried to think of the right place to begin. The answer came all by itself. “I got kidnapped, Grampy. But no one believes me.” The next moment she was crying, really sobbing like a little kid, out of control. Grampy looked over in total alarm.
Ingrid got it together.
“Uh,” said Grampy, “might find a rag in back you could wipe your face with.”
“I’m fine,” Ingrid said, and she wiped her face on her sleeve. Then, in a voice that sounded lower than her real voice, she told Grampy the whole story, leaving out nothing except the Ty part. Of course, the story didn’t really make sense without the Ty part, but maybe it wasn’t making sense to Grampy anyway. His face didn’t change from beginning to end, except for darkening when the name Kraken came up. Was he keeping up with the story? Did he believe her?
“That’s it?” he said, turning up the long drive to the farm.
“One thing I don’t get,” he said.
“How come you didn’t tell the cops about this motive?”
She glanced at him. Face still expressionless, but he’d followed the whole story. And his not getting just that one thing had to mean he believed her. She loved Grampy.
But what could she say? Ingrid made a tough decision, a decision that meant breaking her code, the code of kids in Echo Falls and maybe everywhere. “Promise not to tell?” she said.
Grampy shook his head. “That’s not a real question,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Because you’ll never get a real answer,” he said.
That rang like a bell in Ingrid’s head, completely true. “It’s about Ty,” she said, and gave up the rest of it. “So that’s why I can’t tell Chief Strade. Ty’d have to go to court. He’d be kicked off the team and maybe worse than that.”
“The law of the land comes first,” Grampy said. He drove past the barn. The little pig was in its pen, head poking out one of those round windows Grampy had cut, looking cute and harmless. “Except for stupid laws, of course,” Grampy added. “Goes without saying that family comes before stupid laws, and Ty getting in law trouble for these pimple pills would be stupid.”
“He just wants to be stronger for football,” Ingrid said.
“Football’s not his game,” said Grampy.
That pissed Ingrid off. “You’ve never seen him play,” she said. “He’s the only freshman on the varsity.”
“Doesn’t matter,” said Grampy. “If football’s going to be your game, you got to love to hit. Really love it, like the rest of the game is just an excuse. And that’s not your brother.”
Ingrid thought back to Ty’s games. Grampy was right. Ty was very brave about the hitting, but he didn’t love it.
“Wasn’t your father, either,” said Grampy, parking by the house.
“Huh?” said Ingrid. “Dad was the star of the team.”
“Because he was a real good athlete,” Grampy said. “Lots of athlete genes in this family, kid. But he wasn’t a hitter.”
“Did you tell him that?”
“Course not,” said Grampy. “What good would that do? Can’t make someone a hitter.”
“Did you play football, Grampy?”
Grampy, reaching for the door handle, got a faraway look in his eye. He nodded slightly.
“For Echo Falls High?”
“And after,” Grampy said.
“But you didn’t go to college, Grampy.”
“Hmmm,” said Grampy.
“What do you mean, hmmm?”
Long pause. “This is one of those things not too many people know about,” Grampy said. “Most likely none.”
“So I have to promise not to tell?” said Ingrid.
Grampy gave her a long look. “Too bad there’s not football for girls,” he said.
“Are you saying . . . ?”
“You’re a hitter, sure as shootin’,” said Grampy. “Takes one to know one. Come on in the house. I’ll show you something.”
From Behind the Curtain
Today at 1: Spencer Quinn, Cornerstone Books, Salem MA.
Tags: Echo Falls Series
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