When you’re a teenager it’s easy to be led astray. What’s hard is getting out of a bad situation.
Mature or distressing themes and strong language. This story deals with issues that are, unfortunately, true to life for some teens.
In keeping with our policy of not running from real life issues, we are hosting Bad Boy Gone Good with this advisory.
Saturday morning Greg bugged Jado about going to the police.
“The cops and I aren’t on speaking terms.”
“I’ve got Officer Lowenthal’s card. He’s a nice guy, you said so yourself. Let’s give him a call.”
“Today’s Saturday. He probably doesn’t work today.”
“Stop making excuses. Let’s call his number and see if he answers. If not, we can leave a message that we want to talk to him.”
“Okay. You make the call, okay?”
“Okay, but you’ll have to get on the phone with him too.”
Greg keyed Office Lowenthal’s phone number in his cell’s dialer pad, then clicked on the speaker. When the call was picked up they had to listen to a bunch of stuff like, ‘If you know your party’s extension you can dial it at any time,’ followed by a list of various departments with numbers to key in to go directly to that department‘ and ‘If this is an emergency hang up and dial 9-1-1.’ When he heard ‘Investigations Unit’ Greg saw that was the department name on the Officer’s card.
“San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, San Carlos Police Bureau. How may I direct your call?”
“I’d like to talk to Officer Carl Lowenthal,” Greg said.
“May I tell him what this call is about?”
“Yeah. This is Greg Cameron. Officer Lowenthal said I should call him.”
“Thank you. I’ll put you through to his line.”
Then they had to listen to some lame ‘waiting on hold’ music.
“We’ll probably be picked up by his voicemail,” Jado said.
“Yeah, probably. It is Saturday. He’s probably at home and he’ll call us back on Monday. I’ll leave him a message that your stepfather beat the hell out of you and you want to make a complaint. And we’ve got pictures to prove it. And that you’re staying at my house so he can call me. I’ll leave him my cell and home numbers, and that he can call anytime.”
“This is Officer Carl Lowenthal. How can I help you?”
“Uh… oh, hello.” It surprised Greg that Officer Lowenthal picked up the call. “This is Greg Cameron. Do you remember me? You talked to me and Jado Oron at St. Mark’s hospital. Uh… Jado’s stepfather beat him up pretty bad and he’s at my house in San Bruno. I took pics of his cuts and bruises, they’re all over his body. We want to report his stepfather for child abuse and get some sort of stay-away order so he can’t get near Jado. His stepfather’s name is Peter Medrano. He lives at Jado’s house; that’s why Jado is staying with me, and his stepfather doesn’t know anything about me or that Jado is here.”
Greg knew that he’d probably said too much too fast, but he’d never reported something to the police before.
“Should we be talking to you about this?” he asked.
“Is this related to the incident that put you two into the hospital?”
“Yes. That’s why Pete attacked Jado.”
“Where did this happen?”
“At Jado’s house in San Bruno.”
“This has to be handled by the San Bruno Police Department. I know the officer there who handles child abuse cases. Because of the connection to the drug incident, I want to be there when Jaydon and you meet with Officer Daniels. Let me give her a call and we can meet the two of you at your house. I have your address. Are your parents home, Greg?”
“No, they’re in Toronto on business. It’s just me and Jado who are here.”
“Is it okay if I put you on hold while I try to reach Officer Daniels?”
Officer Lowenthal set up a time to meet at Greg’s house at about one fifteen and they arrived at one fifteen on the dot. Greg led them into the kitchen and they sat around the kitchen table.
Officer Lowenthal introduced Officer Daniels. Greg and Jado were both surprised that she looked so young.
“Greg and Jaydon, this is San Bruno Officer Patricia Daniels. She is in the Juvenile Department and handles child abuse cases. Pat, this is Greg Cameron and Jaydon Oron.”
They shook hands and sat down.
“Anyone want something to drink?” Greg asked. “There’s coffee, sodas, and water.”
“I’d like some water, please,” Jado said.
“I’d like a glass of water too, please,” Officer Daniels said.
Greg got the water and a ginger ale for himself.
The meeting went very well. Jado spent about an hour telling mostly the same story that he’d told Greg. Officer Daniels had many questions for Jado and a few for Greg. Greg showed them the pics he’d taken of Jado’s injuries, then copied them to two CDs which he gave to the two officers.
“What can we do to keep Pete from finding Jado and hurting him? Isn’t there some kind of stay-away order he can get?” Greg asked.
“I can have an emergency protective order issued against Peter Medrano stating that he cannot come within three hundred feet of you or anywhere you would be expected to be, like at school or here at Greg’s house.”
“Does that mean you have to tell Pete where I’m staying?” Jado asked.
“We can leave off this location, but if he finds out that you’re staying here it would be harder to prove that he violated the protective order.”
“I’d rather leave it off, and I think Greg would prefer that also.”
“Yeah, I would, too,” Greg added.
“Alright, I’ll file it with the court first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Do I have to be there?” Jado asked.
“No. This is an emergency order issued at the request of an officer from the police department. It’s only good for one week. You’ll need to file a request for a permanent restraining order. I recommend that you do so this week so you’ll be covered continuously. Do you have an attorney?”
“No. Do I need one?”
“It’s a good idea. You could self-file, but that’s complicated since you’re only seventeen years old. Could you afford an attorney?”
“I don’t know. Aren’t attorneys real expensive?”
“They can be. I think the rate here for a restraining order is around a hundred twenty to a hundred fifty dollars per hour. I don’t know how many hours it takes, but figure maybe twenty.”
“Jeez, that could be three thousand dollars. I don’t have that kind of money.”
“You can check LawHelp,” Officer Daniels said. “Their website is at www.lawhelpcalifornia.org. They can refer you to an attorney who would take your restraining order case on a pro-bono basis.”
“Yeah, I know what pro-bono means, it’s free. That would be great if I could find an attorney who’d do that.”
“Another resource is the Family Law Facilitator for San Mateo County. They can give self-help advice. Their office is in Redwood City. You can look it up on the internet. Another resource is the Victims Services Unit. You can phone them at… I have their number on my phone… okay, it’s 1-877-433-9069. There’s also Legal Services For Children. Their phone number is 1-415-863-3762. You can also contact the office of the San Mateo County District Attorney to see if they can give you a referral to an attorney who would take your case, also on a pro-bono basis.”
“Thanks for all that information,” Jay said.
“I wrote it down,” Greg added. “Jado, my folks are attorneys, just not the kind you need. When they get home we’ll ask them if they know an attorney who could help you.”
“That’d be great.”
“Okay, any other questions?” Officer Lowenthal asked.
“No, I guess not for now. You’ll let me know when the emergency restraining order has been issued?”
“Yes, I will,” Officer Daniels said. “We’ll also turn the information and pictures you’ve given us to the district attorney’s office so an arrest warrant can be issued for Peter Medrano.”
Jado thanked Officer Daniels for getting the emergency restraining order and for the information about getting an attorney who would handle getting a permanent restraining order.
Officer Lowenthal and Officer Daniels thanked Jado and Greg for the information they provided and for their cooperation.
It was after five o’clock when they left and Jado and Greg were worn out, especially Jado. Greg made ham sandwiches for their dinner and after they finished eating they each went to bed and both fell asleep as soon as they got into their beds. It had been a long and hard but very productive day. They both hoped Sunday would be as productive.
Greg woke early Sunday morning. He’d set his alarm for six o’clock so they’d be able to shower and have some breakfast and still be on time for him to watch for Pete’s SUV. Or Doris’s Prius if things didn’t come off okay.
He got up and stuck his head in the guest bedroom where Jado was sleeping.
“Hey, Jado, time to get up,” he said, loud enough that Jado woke up.
“Morning, Greg,” Jado said as he got out of bed. Greg was surprised to see that he had slept commando.
Jado walked to the door, and Greg stepped back.
“Should I use your bathroom again, or the one down the hall?”
“Down the hall would be best. That way we can both shower at the same time. We’ll grab some breakfast and be ready to leave by quarter to eight. There are clean towels and stuff in that bathroom.”
After dressing Greg sat down and checked his email. There was a message from his father:
Greg, the earliest we could get tickets is for Monday morning. We’ll leave Toronto at 8:30 on United Express flight 3626 to Denver, then United flight 1578 from Denver to San Francisco. We get in a few minutes after one, so we should be home by two.
See you then,
Greg and Jado sat at the kitchen table eating cereal and toaster pastries.
“My folks will be home at around two o’clock on Monday,” Greg said.
Jado looked worried.
“It’ll be fine. When they hear your story they’ll be on your side. Staying here won’t be a problem.”
“Okay, if you say so.”
“One thing, we’ll have to clean up our language when they’re around. No swearing, especially saying ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and ‘asshole’ all the time.”
Jado smiled. “I can do that. I’ve had practice because of Doris. She’s the same as your folks, ‘No foul language in this house, young man!’”
“And no more smoking weed.”
“I figured that’d be a given. I’m giving that shit up.”
There was a pause in the conversation while they ate their breakfast. Jado looked up and watched Greg as he sucked on his bottom lip.
Greg took a deep breath and asked, “You think this is going to work, getting your stuff?”
“Yeah, I do think it’ll work. You know, I’ve been thinking. I know where you live now. You’re actually closer to my house than I thought. It’s a straight shot from here to the intersection of Skyline and Westborough. It’ll be better to drop you off at the corner there instead of at the apartments. It will be easier for both of us. You can just cross the street and walk up Westborough and pick a spot where you can sit on the wall and watch cars coming out of Fleetwood. I’ll drive up Westborough and park in the back part of the strip mall lot. To get there’s a straight shot from where I drop you off. When you see Pete’s SUV call me, and we’re golden. If you don’t see his car by nine o’clock we’re probably fucked. Either way it’s a straight shot down Westborough for me to come and pick you up.”
Greg agreed with Jado. “Sounds good. I brought my tablet and my headphones. I’ll listen to music as I watch Fleetwood. I won’t miss any cars.”
“I don’t think there’ll be many cars coming out of Fleetwood this early on a Sunday,” Jado added.
“When I see either of their cars I’ll look at my tablet so they don’t get suspicious. After they’re gone I’ll call you. I’ll wait for you to pick me up.
“Okay, I’m ready.”
Greg sounded confident, but he didn’t feel confident. There were too many things that could go wrong.
Jado dropped him off, and Greg waited for the light to change before he crossed Westborough. He walked just past where Fleetwood dead-ended on the other side of the street and sat on the wall. He turned on his tablet and put on his headphones then picked one of his favorite playlists. He turned down the volume so it turned into background music. He picked the Kindle app and it opened to the story he’d been reading. He crossed his left leg over his right and positioned the tablet so he would see the Fleetwood intersection even if he was reading. He tapped the screen to see the time: eight seventeen.
That gave him an idea. He dragged the camera icon to the shortcuts menu at the bottom of the screen, replacing the messages icon. He tapped it to turn on the app, then clicked the video camera icon. This way he could take a vid of the car with two clicks. He switched back to the Kindle app and saw the time was eight eighteen. He took a deep breath and hoped that everything would work out okay.
Only seven cars had come up Fleetwood by eight thirty. Greg returned to his story. After about a minute he saw some movement up Fleetwood in his peripheral vision. He glanced up without moving his head. It was a black SUV. He clicked the camera icon and adjusted his position so the intersection and the SUV were clearly visible in the video window. The anti-shake feature kept everything in clear view. The SUV started to turn but had to wait for an oncoming car. Greg could see a heavy looking guy driving. His arm rested on the edge of the open window. He had a bunch of tats. A woman with blonde hair was in the passenger seat. Other than hair color he couldn’t see anything else of her. The SUV turned up Westborough and disappeared from the video window. Greg clicked the camera icon and selected to save the video in the photo gallery.
He closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. Worst case they had about twenty minutes to clear out all of Jado’s stuff and get out of there. He waited another minute. The last thing he wanted would be for Pete to see Jado’s car pulling out of the strip mall parking lot. This seemed to be the longest minute ever, but Greg decided he needed to wait.
Finally his self-imposed deadline passed and he pulled out his cell and clicked the icon to call Jado.
“What did you see?” Jado asked.
“A black SUV, a heavy-set looking guy driving, a woman with blonde hair in the passenger seat. I got the license number. It’s 2GAT123. I also have a video that shows the license plate and the driver.”
“Okay, that’s Pete’s car. I remember his license plate number because of the 123 part. The video idea was cool. I’ll be down to pick you up in a couple minutes.”
“Uh, Jado, I let a minute go by before calling you to make sure you didn’t pull out before they were long gone.”
“Smart idea. See you in a bit.”
Jado pulled up about thirty seconds later and Greg jumped in. They made a U-turn at Skyline and then a right onto Fleetwood. The house was two blocks on the right. Greg had never been in this neighborhood. It was alongside a short cul-de-sac that went up the hillside. Jado pulled into the cul-de-sac and parked.
“Let’s go,” Jado said.
“Wait. Let me go to the door and ring the bell. That way I’ll find out if anyone is there.”
“I don’t think we need to do that, but if you really want to, then okay. Wave to me if no one answers the doorbell.”
Greg walked down the hill and around to the front of the house. He walked to the front door and rang the doorbell. He counted to thirty, slowly. He rang the doorbell again, and this time he counted to fifty. Still no response. He walked back to Fleetwood then uphill to where Jado could see him and waved.
When they got back to the front door Jado pulled out his key.
“I didn’t think about it, but I suppose they could have changed the locks.”
But the key worked, and they entered the living room. Jado shut and locked the door, including the deadbolt. That way no one could enter through the front.
“I’m going to lock the deadbolts on the back door and the door into the garage. That way no one can get in while we’re here.
“Can’t they just unlock the deadbolts?”
“No. They don’t carry a key for the deadbolts. Besides, each lock has a different key, so they’d have to carry three keys. Weird, but that’s the way it was when my dad bought the house.
“Okay, let’s go upstairs to my room and get things packed.”
They got to the door to Jado’s room and he tried to put the key into the lock.
“Shit, it doesn’t work. It’s only going in about a third of the way.”
“Lemme see,” Greg said. He crouched in front of the door. “There’s something in there.” He pulled out his cell and scrolled the screens then clicked the flashlight icon. He held it so he could see into the lock.
“I think Pete must have put some Super Glue into the lock. We’re screwed. Your key is useless.”
“We need to cut a hole in the door so we can unlock it from the inside.”
“You have a saw? Like, something electric? My dad used a reciprocating saw once. It has a blade that sticks out and you can push it into wood or plastic and then cut a hole. I don’t think the hole would be very neat, though. The one that my dad cut into a flower box was sort of a jagged mess.”
“I don’t give a shit about that. Old man Porter, the guy across the cul-de-sac, is a nice guy. And he hates Pete. Lemme run across the street and see if he has a reciprocating saw we can borrow.”
Greg was nervous about staying inside the house by himself, and it seemed to be taking an inordinate amount of time for Jado to get that saw. Finally he heard Jado. He was talking to someone. The ‘someone’ was an older guy with grey hair, and he was carrying a reciprocating saw. He walked up and smiled at Greg. Jado introduced them.
“Bob Porter, this is Greg Cameron. Greg, Bob, my neighbor across the cul-de-sac.”
They shook hands.
“Okay,” Mr. Porter said. “Greg, if you’ll step away from the door we’ll see if we can cut a nice neat hole next to the door handle.”
“You don’t have to be neat,” Jado said.
“If you do things as neat as you can, it will work out better than if you make a mess,” Mr. Porter retorted.
A hole approximately two feet by two feet was shortly cut into the door. The piece that had been cut out had dropped into the room.
“Now, see if your key works, Jado,” Mr. Porter said.
Jado stuck his arm into the hole and felt around with the key until he found the keyhole. It took him more time to line up the key so it was upright and perpendicular to the lock. Then he pushed it in.
“There, I’ve got it,” he said.
It took a lot of force, but he turned the key and unlocked the deadbolt. After pulling his hand from the hole, he turned the doorknob and the door opened.
“Hey, Bob,” he said, “you’re a godsend! Thank you.”
“Any time, Jado. Especially if it’s a way I can screw that asshole Pete Medrano. I’ll teach him to screw up my truck. If you need a hand with anything today, just give me a jingle.” With that he took his reciprocating saw and left.
“Let’s get going,” Greg said. “We’ve lost a lot of time getting into your room. What do you want me to do?”
“How about you disconnect my PC and pack everything into a box. There are some boxes in the garage. Get a few of them — we’ll probably need more than one.”
“You locked the door into the garage.”
“I unlocked it when Bob and I came back.”
With a collection of boxes of varying sizes and a roll of packing tape, Greg walked over to Jado’s desk. There was a desktop PC with all of the usual accessories. Greg had expected a laptop.
“Jeez, Jado, who uses a desktop PC anymore?”
“Well, me for example. Just get everything disconnected and boxed. I’ll need all the cables, too. Leave the PC. It’ll be easy to put it in the car as-is.”
Disconnecting a desktop PC and its accessories turned out to be not all that quick. Greg spent a lot of time on his hands and knees in the dust under Jado’s desk unplugging cables and power cords, collecting them and neatly coiling them to keep them separated. Then he found a box for the speakers, a headset, the keyboard and mouse, and a graphics tablet. The desktop PC itself went on the floor in the back seat of Jado’s car, along with two printers. Greg wrapped the LCD display in a beach towel and it went in the car next to the PC. Then he boxed Jado’s stereo and its speakers and a clock radio.
“What do you use a graphics tablet for, Jado?” Greg asked.
“I do art drawing. You need a graphics tablet to do that. A mouse is useless.”
“So you’re an artist?”
“Uh huh. I guess. I’ll show you sometime.” Greg saw that Jado seemed embarrassed. “You wouldn’t think a pothead like me would be an artist, would you.”
“Being an artist is a good thing,” Greg said. “It means you have a talent and you should be proud of that.”
Jado shrugged his shoulders and grinned. What Greg said was a compliment, and he didn’t get compliments very often. It made him feel good.
After the computer equipment and stereo unit and speakers were loaded into Jado’s car, Greg helped box the books, CDs, and DVDs in the bookshelves that lined one wall. Then they emptied all of the clothes from the drawers in the dresser and the closet and put them in large black trash bags from a box in the garage. Jado took two camera bags with a 35mm camera, lenses, and flash equipment, and his backpack with his textbooks. He crammed another backpack and camping equipment including two sleeping bags, a two-man tent, and a camping stove into the back seat and trunk, wherever he could find room. Finally everything that Jado wanted to bring had been stuffed into the car.
They were ready to go. The trunk was so filled that it took three tries to get the trunk lid closed. The back seat was packed to the roof line. There were even three small boxes on the floor in front of the passenger seat that left barely enough room for Greg’s feet.
“You going to lock the deadbolts?” Greg asked.
“No, in fact I unlocked the one on the front door. The only things I’m touching today are mine, personally. I own the house so I can legally cut holes and take wherever I want. All the stuff we’re taking is my personal stuff. Did you see me taking pictures? I want to have evidence of the furniture in all the rooms in case that asshole Pete or Doris decide to begin selling things that they don’t own.”
As they drove out Jado honked the horn and Mr. Porter turn and waved.
“Good luck, guys!” he shouted.
Jado and Greg waved back, and they were on their way back to Greg’s house.
“We can put what you need for the next few days into your room, the camping stuff in the garage, and the rest in the fourth bedroom, temporarily,” Greg said. “Later we can sort everything and find a place for all of it.”
“Well, number one, I need my clothes. I’d say all of them, because they’ll be easy to sort out and organize. Then my computer, my books and all the stuff I need for school, my stereo and clock radio. Jeez, I’ve forgotten what we packed. Fuck, I’m too tired to think straight.”
“Jado, I think you’re tired and part of the reason for that is you’re probably depressed because of everything you’ve gone through.”
“How’d I deserve having you become such a great friend after all the shit I put you through?”
“Maybe I’m after your body?” Greg said, wiggling his eyebrows.
Jado laughed. “Only in your dreams, fucker! Only in your dreams.”
Greg grinned. “I’ve seen you naked twice. Sorry, but there’s nothing there I’d want to dream about.”
That made Jado laugh. It felt good to laugh. That was something he hadn’t done very often since his dad had died.
“I think we oughta put all this shit that’s on the bed somewhere else,” he said.
“I agree,” Greg responded. “Why don’t you set up your computer and stereo, and I’ll start putting your books, CDs, and DVDs in the bookcase. There might not be room for all of the books. We’ll have to get a larger bookcase or another one. What I’ll do is stack the ones that are left over on the floor.”
“Okay. Don’t worry about organizing stuff. I’ll do that when I have time.”
“When you’ve set up your computer let me know. We have high speed WiFi everywhere in the house. I’ll walk you through what you need to do to setup it up and I'll give you the password that you’ll need to connect to the internet.”
A few hours later they’d moved everything Jado needed into his room. Then they moved the rest to the other guest bedroom. Jado had organized those things so he could find what he might need. Being in Greg’s house felt weird, but nice. It felt comfortable. He felt more comfortable the few hours he’d been there than all of the time he lived with Doris and Pete, and that was in his house, the house that he owned. That was the next thing he had to sort out. Meet with that trustee and find out from an attorney about that self-determination thing or whatever it was that Greg talked about.
He felt very lucky that after being attacked by that fucking asshole Pete he didn’t come away with any broken bones or damage to any internal organs. He was still sore and had ugly bruises almost all over, and lots of cuts too. Maybe it would be a good idea to go back to the hospital and get checked out. Doris would have a shit hemorrhage when she got the bill from St. Mark’s. Screw her. That made him laugh. No fucking way! That was way too gross to even think about.
Greg had become his friend, a real friend, the first since his dad died. A real friend who he lived with now. A real friend, like a brother. He liked that idea. He’d never had a brother or sister. He wondered if Greg would ever think of him as a brother.
Jado thought about how he’d fucked up his life and almost fucked up Greg’s life as well. Maybe this was a turnaround and things would change. So far it sure seemed to have changed for the better.
As he stretched out on the bed he wondered what Greg’s parents would say about him moving in. That worried him. Greg seemed so positive about it not being a problem, and actually moving in all of his stuff seemed to make it permanent. But Jado had learned that being positive didn’t mean shit in the real world. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.
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