Excerpt from Road Salt

This is one of my favorite chapters from

Road Salt – Karla’s mom is pretty mad at her for walking out the door when she reminded her that she was grounded.

Hello – 911?

Mrs. Centon hollered, “Karla, you get back here right this minute!”

Karla ignored her and kept right on walking away with her friends. She yelled to her one more time only to see her break out into a jog with her friends and quickly disappear down the street.

Mrs. Centon fumed, “Not again, I will not let you get away with this again!”

Her daughter had done this to her just the other day. She had walked right out the door knowing full well that she was grounded and not allowed outside. Her room was where she belonged, working on her school work, not outside keeping company with hooligans.

“Walk out on me, will you, I’ll show you,” she continued to say. Her words slurred a little but she never took notice while she took another small sip of her scotch and tonic.

That child of hers had not been the same ever since they had moved here some two months ago. She had no idea as to why her daughter was behaving like this. Ever since that first week here, Karla had become rebellious and disobedient and her husband would do nothing about it. He was useless when it came to disciplining their child.

Where the hell was he anyways? Shouldn’t he have been home an hour ago?

They had moved here so that he would be closer to work, but still he was never home on time. Maybe he was keeping company with someone else. No, she shook the notion out of her head, that wasn’t like him. He was a very loyal husband unlike some of her friends’ husbands.

But the fact was, he was never around anymore. But she would deal with him later. Laurette had to do something about her daughter or she was going to get worse. What could she do, she wondered?

Then the idea struck her. She took one more sip of her drink and picked up the phone and dialed 911. It was answered almost immediately.


“Hello,” said Mrs. Centon. “I want to report a run-away.

My teenage daughter just ran away from home.”

“Maim’, this number is for emergencies only.”

“But this is an emergency. Did you not hear me? I said my daughter ran away from home.”

“If you wish to report a runaway teen then you need to call your local police station, Mrs. Centon.”

“What’s that? How do you know my name? I didn’t tell you my name,” Mrs. Centon slurred. She was bewildered over the fact that the operator knew who she was.

“Maim’, your phone number showed up on my caller id,” answered the operator, “and if you do not need emergency medical assistance then you need to hang up your phone. This line is for emergency use only.”

“Well, I never heard such a thing. Isn’t this the police station?”

“No Maim’…”

“Can’t you connect me to the police station; I mean you are an operator, right?”

“No Maim’,” answered the 911 operator, “we do not have the facilities or the equipment to forward phone calls for anyone.

You need to hang up so this line will be open to receive emergency calls, a life may depend on it May I reiterate this line is for emergency use only.”

Mrs. Centon was about to continue her argument with the operator when a rap sounded on her screen door. Instead of hanging the phone up properly she set the receiver down on the living room chair.

The 911 operator continued to say, “Maim’ I am sorry, you have left me no choice. I have reported your call to the police. They should be at your home within the next few minutes.”

Mrs. Centon forgot all about the phone. She could see the two police officers standing at her door looking in at her.

“Can I help you officer,” Mrs. Centon asked with a heavy slur. She held open the door allowing both officers to enter into her home.

While one officer questioned her, the other one crossed the living room to where the phone receiver was resting in the chair and hung it back on its hook.

“Ma’am, my name is James and this is Officer Theresa, what seems to be the problem here?”

“Well it’s about time you got here,” Mrs. Centon said as she staggered across the room to where her drink was setting on the end table next to her chair.

“I want to report a runaway.”

Theresa took out her pad of paper and began writing down notes as her partner continued with the questioning. At the same time she noted how intoxicated the woman seemed to be.

“Who is this runaway in relation to you,” asked James.

He moved closer to the woman and got a strong whiff of her breath and knew that they needed to handle this carefully.

“It’s my daughter Karla,” the woman fumed.

“Is it alright if we sit and talk,” asked Theresa. She could see that the woman was close to teetering over from her loss of balance.

Mrs. Centon sat down on the edge of her chair. She was still agitated by Karla’s disobedience and waved her hands about her in strong gesture.

James took a seat next to Theresa and continued on with the questioning.

“So how old is Karla and when did she run away?”

“Karla is sixteen and she ran away a little while ago.”

“Ma’am can you tell us what took place to make you think that your daughter ran away?”

“Well for one thing, she was with those kids…the ones I don’t want her around and she knows that she is grounded, but she left with them anyways.”

Theresa asked, “Did she take any of her belongings with her?”

Karla’s mom looked at the police woman strangely before answering.

Mrs. Centon scowled, “Are you implying that I am lying?”

The officers could see how agitated the woman was and knew that this was due to her high consumption of alcohol. It would be best for all if she could be left in peace to sleep it off.

Officer James scribbled a few more notes down on his pad.

“Tell you what Mrs. Centon, we will go and find your daughter and see to it that she returns home.

Can you tell us in which direction she went?”

Laurette stood up and swayed. She had to grip on to the edge of the arm of the chair to steady herself before she was able to indicate by pointing in the direction she had remembered seeing her daughter go, “She went down the street in that direction with her friends. I don’t know what is down there but I do know it is not the school or the Library.

Thank you officer…James,” Mrs. Centon leaned a little bit toward James so she could see his name on his badge. At the same time she glared at Officer Theresa. It irked her to have the woman question her on whether or not her daughter really ran away or not. Of course she ran away…

She waited for the two officers to leave. As soon as they were gone she locked the door behind them and staggered to the bed room. She could barely keep her eyes open and her balance was getting worse. She had to steady herself by grabbing on to any solid surface that was near her like the counter top in the kitchen and the walls in the hallway to keep her from falling down.

The bed was as comfy as it had been when she had awoken around noon time. Mrs. Centon nestled herself among the unmade sheets and blankets and fell fast asleep, never taking the time to change in to any kind of sleepwear.

Outside the house the two police officers walked back to their car. Many times they came across people who were under the influence just as Mrs. Centon was, so they knew they had to take care as to how they were going to handle the situation. Most likely she was making something out of nothing because of her intoxication. Drunks tended to do that.

“Let’s go pay Karla a little visit and see what she has been up to,” James said to his partner as he put the car in gear and drove in the direction toward the basketball court, “Hopefully she has been staying out of trouble since we last saw her.”

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