Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake by Colin Kelly

Curt's life takes a turn that he never expected, and he realizes that it's because he forgot something that didn't seem important at the time. He also discovers that others have forgotten things that are important and that turns out to both help him and hurt him.

Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with abuse.

Chapter 14 — Donís Bail Hearing Part 2

I dragged myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of six in the a.m. and went to the bathroom. I stood looking at my image in the mirror. The bruise on my face was a different color, more purple and darker with some yellow and blue. Weird. I wondered what that meant. The bruise on my chest looked about the same as it had on Monday.

I slipped my left arm out of my sling. Strange how I’d become so accustomed to the cast and the sling. I could sleep and never move from lying on my back all night when normally I sleep on my left side.

I put a plastic bag over my cast and showered, brushed my teeth, and got dressed for the bail hearing. That sounded so bizarre. I’ve heard about getting dressed for some big deal like a wedding or to go out to eat in a fancy restaurant, but never to go to court. Of course, these bail hearings were the first time I’d ever been in court. I just followed Mr. Williams’ advice about what to wear. Khakis and a nice shirt, not jeans and a T. I looked okay, not too dressed up but not sloppy. I looked like the typical teenage guy in a picture in some magazine. Except one with his left arm in a cast and sling inside his shirt, and a big bruise on the left side of his face. And I’m not counting the big bruise on my chest.

I went down to breakfast. Mr. and Mrs. Williams were there eating bacon and eggs.

“What would you like for breakfast, Curt?” she asked.

“Just a bowl of cereal will be okay.”

“Nonsense. You’re a growing boy and you need protein. Especially today when your brain needs to be at its best for the court hearing. So bacon, eggs, and toast it will be. I have to keep you healthy!”

“No Tom yet this morning?” I asked, grinning. The alarm clock could be on the pillow right next to his ear and he wouldn’t hear it. I wasn’t sure if that was an advantage or not, but Tom sure thought it was. He’d told me that he’d trained himself to sleep through the alarm.

Mrs. Williams shook her head. “No. He’ll come down if and when he’s ready. He’ll find that he has to fix his own breakfast.” She didn’t seem totally pleased with Tom’s sleep habits.

Mr. Williams folded the newspaper he’d been reading and looked at me. “Are you ready for the bail hearing this morning, Curt?”

“I think so, Mr. Williams. It should be like the last bail hearing, except there shouldn’t be all of the drama we had on Monday with Mr. Davidson and Mr. Vanvelick, right?”

“Yes. We’ll leave at eight-fifteen and pick up Kyle, Mark, and Mrs. Hutchins. Beth wants to have a short meeting with us to fill us in on Lawrence Wilde, Don’s new attorney. What I found out is that he’s a criminal attorney from San Jose, that his firm handles mostly high-tech cases, and that’s about all. He seems like a rather strange choice for Don’s new attorney. Of course, Don picked Henry Davidson, so I assume we shouldn’t be surprised about any of his legal choices.”

“Will we have the same judge?”

“I checked the docket this morning and Judge Roy Everingham is once again scheduled for bail hearings today.”

I finished breakfast and put my dishes in the dishwasher, then went back to the table and started reading the sports section of the Times. A few minutes later my cell rang and I answered it. It was Laura. I got up and walked to the living room while I answered the call.

“Hi, Laura. How you doing?”

Good, Curt, good. How about you?

“Okay. I was surprised you didn’t leave your cell number.”

I lost my damn cellphone. I don’t even have a clue where. So my folks are down on me about that and they say I can get a free model but if there’s any cost I have to pay it. So I’m saving up to get another smartphone. It’s a real bother. Anyway, the reason I called you is that I saw a little item in the Blotter section of the Times yesterday saying that the bail hearing for Donovan Clarey was being held over. I remembered that he was your stepfather, and the item said it was for child abuse. I wanted to find out if you are okay.

“Yeah, thanks. I have a couple of big bruises, and a broken left arm, but other than that I am okay. The bail hearing is scheduled for this morning, and I’ll be there. I might be called. I don’t want him to get out on bail. He scares the shit out of me.”

How about your mom? Is she okay?

“I suppose. She can’t accept that he beat me up the way he did. We’ve had sort of a disagreement about it, so I moved out and I’m staying with Tom Williams. His folks have been great, taking me in and treating me great.”

Tom’s a nice guy. How’s it like living with him?

“Fortunately I’m staying in the guest bedroom, so I don’t actually live with Tom.”

You said ‘fortunately’. Why that?

“Tom snores. And he’s not the neatest guy in the world. And with my broken arm it’s better to be in a bed of my own so it doesn’t get bumped accidentally.”

Laura laughed. “Well, the real reason I called is to invite you to a party at my house on Saturday afternoon and evening.

I chuckled to myself, knowing what the occasion was, but asked her anyway, “What’s the occasion?”

My birthday, of course! You mean that you didn’t remember my birthday?

“Of course, I remembered your birthday.”

Then what is it?

“Hmmm… let’s see. You’re having the party on Saturday, so that means it must be on July… hmmm… July something…”

Stop! Just tell me what date my birthday is!

“Well, if you’re twisting my arm, which is broken if it’s my left arm that you’re twisting…” I heard Laura sort of growl, “so anyway, I’d guess it’s on the 22nd day of July, and you’re going to be sixteen years old and you think you’ll get your learner’s license on Monday. How’s that for remembering?”

Aww, Curt, you’re so sweet and so absolutely… right! Yes! I’m sweet sixteen on Sunday, and I’m throwing a party on Saturday to celebrate. Well, actually my folks are throwing the party so there’s no drinking or weed and no getting lit up. Still interested?” She laughed.

“You know I don’t do any of that shit. I’ve always been clean and I intend to stay that way. And your party sounds awesome, and yes, I will be there. What time does it start?”

About three in the afternoon. We’ll swim and lounge around, then Dad’s gonna fire up the old B.B.Q. and burn some burgers and sausages and chicken. Then we’ll have some music and dancing and maybe a little teeny bit of making out for those so inclined.

“And your folks are gonna be okay with the making out part? I can’t believe that.”

I mean a teeny bit, like cuddling and kissing. Nothing like doing the nasty. Get your mind out of the gutter, Curtis!

“Yes, Momma!”

Behave or I’ll have to send you to bed without any dessert.

“Ooo… is that an invitation?”

I should rescind your invite if you don’t play nice!

“I always play nice. I just like to pull your chain. Sometimes you are just soooo gullible, Laura!”

Hmph! Well, are you coming for sure?

“For sure. I’ll be there between three and three-thirty. Who else are you inviting?”

Well, as soon as I finish talking to you I’m going to call Tom and invite him. And all I can say about the others who I’ve invited is that there are about thirty so far. It’s going to be so cool!

“Say, can I ask if I could bring a couple of friends? They are involved in Don’s bail hearing. Mark Hutchins and Kyle Campbell.”

Oh, I know Mark. I’m taking geometry in summer school to get my grade up, and he’s in my class. He’s a real cutie with a hot bod. I don’t know the other guy, Kyle?

“Yeah, Kyle Campbell. He goes to Niles West High.”

You mean Niles like in Fremont?

“Nope. Niles West High School in Skokie Illinois.”

You’re shitting me. You want me to invite a guy who lives in Illinois?

“Yes and no. Yes, he lives in Illinois. No, I’m not shitting you because he’s here, staying with his aunt in Pleasanton for the summer so he can testify against Don. He’s Don’s adopted son from his first marriage. He’s a nice guy, but he’s gay so maybe you could invite a couple of gay guys to keep him and Mark interested.”

You said ‘and Mark’. Mark’s gay too?


Wow. Why do all of the cute guys have to be gay? Don't say anything about you being cute and straight, because I know that already. But it’s cool that Mark is gay. That’ll give me a reason to do some matchmaking for him when school starts in August. Kyle’s on his own. He’ll have to find someone in Illinois to give him a hand. But back to my party. Do you think Mark and Kyle would like to hang with Parker? He’s coming.

“Yeah, Parker’s cute and hes out at school so thatll make it comfortable for Mark and Kyle. Anyone else?”

Ray Curtis. He’s not out, but I have it on good authority that he’s gay.

“Who’s good authority?”

His sister Candice. Is that good enough authority?

“Maybe. Can sisters be trusted to tell the truth about their brothers?”

Well, I can be trusted to tell the truth about Pat. He isn’t gay, and he’s coming to my party.”

“He’s gonna have all the girls swarming around him. Poor guy!”

We both laughed. Laura’s brother is so cute I could almost go for him. Except I’m straight. And hes straight. Thats so sad.

“Okay, then it’s a deal. Do you want to invite Mark since you know him?”

Yeah. I’ll see him at school today.

“No, you won’t. The bail hearing is today and he’ll be there. Why don’t you phone him tonight?”

I don’t have his number. You have it?

“Yup. Lemme look it up.” I looked up Mark’s number on my cell and read it to her.

“Kyle’s staying at Mark’s during the bail hearing because his aunt lives in Pleasanton. You can invite him at the same time you invite Mark. If it’s okay, I’ll tell them about the party when I see them today.”

Yup, that’s a good idea, let them know I’ll call tonight. Well, let’s say goodbye now and I’ll phone Tom. Is he up yet?

“I don’t know. He wasn’t when you called. You’ll probably wake him up and make him pissed and his mom your friend.”

So sad. She’ll never know what I did for her. But it’s cool that I’ll get his lazy ass out of bed. For god’s sake, it’s almost eight o’clock and it’s a beautiful day outside. Anyway, I’ll see you guys on Saturday. Be sure to bring a suit.

“Hey, wait a minute. We have to wear suits? Is this some sort of formal thing?” I knew what she meant, but I really do like to pull her chain.

You know what I meant. Each of you needs to wear a swim suit.

“Aww, no skinny dipping?”

That’s up to you once you’re here. But if any of you want to survive when my dad sees you, then you’d better bring a suit and wear it in the pool at all times.

“Okay, just pulling your chain again. I probably won’t bring a suit because my broken arm is in a sling and I can’t get it wet. But I’ll see you on Saturday, for sure. Right now I have to eat something before we go to the bail hearing. Bye for now!”

She said “Bye,” and I put my cell in my pocket and checked the time. It was quarter to eight. I went into the kitchen and Mr. Williams was still there, reading the newspaper.

“Mr. Williams, there was an item in the Blotter in the Times about Don’s bail hearing being held over until today.”

“That’s interesting. I must have missed it. I’ll look it up on the Times’ website when we get back from todays bail hearing.”

“Do you think Don will get bail?”

“The term is ‘make bail’, and I think there’s a 50/50 chance. In other words, I don’t really have a clue. The county wants him out of jail because it costs money to house a prisoner. The District Attorney wants him in jail because he’s a menace to society and to you. They might let him out on condition he wears a tracking bracelet on his ankle, but that costs the county money though it’s a lot less than having him incarcerated. I have the paperwork all prepared to submit to the judge an application for a temporary restraining order for Don to stay away from you, where your living, your school, and where you travel to get to school and back. It also asks that all contact, whether by telephone, notes, mail, fax, email or delivery of gifts, is prohibited. That’s a ‘no contact’ provision. It asks that the court order Don to stop hurting or threatening you. I’ve also asked for a 200 yard ‘stay away’ zone, and that means Don could not come within 200 yards, 600 feet, of you or any place you are at any given time, or where are likely to be.”

“Why is it temporary?”

“A temporary restraining order means it will be in effect until Don’s trial is over. The alternative is a permanent restraining order that’s in effect until it’s rescinded by the court.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“You look worried, Curt.”

“Yeah, I am. It’s all coming down to what happens in court today. Then there’ll be the actual trial on the child abuse charge. When do you think that will be held?”

“Probably sometime in August or September. But I got the impression from Lawrence Wilde that he wants it sooner because he expects Don’s bail to be rejected. While I’m not so sure about that, I told him an early trial would be acceptable. We’ll see what happens. Beth Wolman may know something about the trial date. I’ll find out when I talk to her at the courthouse.”

The phone rang and Mrs. Williams picked it up in the kitchen. I could tell because I heard her talking. Then she called out, “Michael, it’s Beth Wolman for you.”

“Excuse me, Curt. I’m going to take this call in my office.”

I sat down and checked my cell for missed calls. There were none, so I put it away, and right then Mr. Williams came out of his office.

“Curt, Beth wants to see us as soon as we can get there. Would you phone Mrs. Hutchins and find out if Mark and Kyle can be ready in about fifteen minutes? And can you be ready in ten minutes?”

“Okay on Mrs. Hutchins, and yes on my being ready in ten minutes.”

I didn’t call Mrs. Hutchins. Instead I called Mark.

Mark here.

“Hi, Mark. This is Curt. Can you and Kyle be ready for Mr. Williams to pick you up a few minutes early, in about ten minutes?”

Sure. We’re ready now, so anytime is good. We’ll wait on the front porch.

“Great. See you in a few. Bye.”


I rushed into the downstairs bathroom to take a leak and wash my hands, and when I came out Mr. Williams was waiting.

“They’re ready to be picked up now. They’re waiting for us on Mrs. Hutchins’ front porch.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

As we walked out I asked him what Beth Wolman wanted to meet about.

“She met with Lawrence Wilde and wants to talk with us about that meeting.”

“That’s interesting!”

“Yes, it is.”

Mrs. Hutchins was waiting on the porch with Mark and Kyle. I figured that she would just say ‘hi’ but she got in the car with us.

“I decided I wanted to go, as Mark’s guardian.”

Mr. Williams nodded. “That’s a good idea, Andrea. You know Mark’s going to be on the witness stand during the trial.”

“Yes, I do. That’s one of the reasons it’s important for me to hear what’s being said about the bail hearing and about the trial.”

When we got to Beth Wolman’s office we had the normal ‘hello-how-are-you’ greetings then sat down at her conference table. Once again the view distracted me, but what Beth told us Lawrence Wilde wanted that sure got my attention.

“He told me that he wants to expedite the trial date, to move it as soon as a courtroom and judge are available. He told me that you said an early trial date will be acceptable. Is that correct, Michael?”

“Yes, it is.  Unless Don doesn’t get bail, I don’t understand why he wants to expedite the trial. I would think he’d wait to find out if bail is granted first.”

“I think what he did is check on courtroom and judicial availability. There’s a courtroom available on July 24th, and Judge Malcolm Fipps is listed as available. Judge Fipps has a reputation of being, let’s say, less than accepting of homosexuality. Still, there’s no problem because Curt isn’t gay. Is that correct, Curt?”


“You’ve never had sex with another boy? No experimentation when you were younger?”

“No, ma’am. No experimentation at all other than with my ri…”

Beth interrupted, “Okay, okay, too much information. No need to go into that. So, as I expected there’s no problem about Curt being gay. However, it might be that Mr. Wilde wants to have Mr. Vanvelick on the witness stand telling how he saw Curt and Tom in a gay embrace.” I started to object, but she raised her hand and stopped me. “And I know what it was about. Because of the early trial date it has to be decided by the judge. That means no jury. And he’s going for this particular date because Judge Fipps is available. What Mr. Wilde doesn’t know, and it isn’t my responsibility to tell him, is that Judge Fipps is most likely not going to be available for a trial starting on the 24th of July. I happen to know that he’s switching assignments with Judge Anthony Young so he can be with his wife who’s in the hospital. Judge Young has an opinion opposite that of Judge Fipps, if you know what I mean. And, if I can schedule the trial date and judge today, it will be a good thing. Even if Judge Fipps doesn’t make the switch, it’s to our advantage to have the trial sooner than later.”

Woof! This is really interesting how the different sides on a case work to get things going their way.

Mr. Williams was grinning. “I agree with the earliest possible trial date. Do you agree, Curt?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

“Then it’s about to be a done deal.” Beth turned to her computer and, after pressing a few keys she smiled. “Now it is a done deal. I’ll advise Mr. Wilde when we enter the courtroom.” She looked at her watch. “It’s only eight-thirty. How about I treat you to good coffee and excellent donuts? Wednesday is donut day around here. Follow me and prepare to be impressed.”

She was right about the donuts. They were outstanding and I was impressed, and so were the rest of our group. There were five two-dozen boxes to choose from, with about half the donuts left. I took a maple bar and discovered that it had cream filling. One was more than enough for me. I took a half cup of coffee, and like Beth said it was not great but it was good enough to go with the donut.

I decided that this was a good time to tell Mark and Kyle about Laura’s party on Saturday.

“Laura, a friend of mine — and you know her, Mark, she’s in your geometry classes this semester — anyway, she’s having a birthday party on Saturday afternoon and continuing until whatever time Saturday night. She’s going to call you, Mark, to invite you. Then she’ll talk to you, Kyle, and invite you too. It should be a blast. No booze, no weed, no drugs, if that makes a difference for either of you. Her dad’s going to barbeque burgers and hotdogs and chicken. They have a pool, so you’ll want to bring a swimsuit. There’ll be thirty or more kids, most from Los Arcos High but some of her relatives who don’t live around here. You two want to go?”

They both nodded and seemed excited about going to a party. I decided to play the gay card.

“One more thing, she’s invited Parker Evans who’s gay and out at school, and Ray Curtis who she says is gay but he isn’t out at school, but she says his sister tells her that he’s definitely gay.”

“That’s freakin’ total! Maybe I’ll finally get to meet another guy who’s gay and out. Is this Parker cute?” Mark asked.

“Absolutely. I think you’ll like him. He was in a couple of my classes last year. I don’t know Ray Curtis very well. He was in my World History class last year. He seems real quiet, but he’s cute too. I think Laura plans on outing him to the two of you.”

“That sounds like a bad idea,” Kyle said, “what if he’s not gay?”

“I’m sure Laura will be careful and introduce him to the two of you privately. And Laura says that Ray’s sister is positive that he’s gay. Anyway, it should be a fun party. So, are you two going to go?”

“Sure, I’m good to go,” Mark said, and Kyle added, ”Absolutely. I think I’ll need to go to a party once this bail hearing is over.”

Fifteen minutes before the bail hearing was scheduled to start Beth led us into the courtroom. Unlike on Monday, she had all of us sit together in the spectator section behind her table.

“I want Don to see you when he’s brought in, and I’ll be interested if he points you out to Lawrence Wilde.”

Beth seemed to be much happier today, maybe because of the donuts or maybe because she knew she had a winning hand and that Don would not be granted bail. I wasn’t so sure, but I acted like I was sure.

A tall, thin, very well dressed man with a full head of grey hair was sitting at the defendant’s table. I assumed he was Lawrence Wilde. There was a younger man sitting with him. I wasn’t sure who he was, but guessed he was an assistant. Beth’s assistant came in with a stack of folders, just like on Monday, and sat next to her. They chatted for a few minutes, then he handed Beth a folder and she started reading. He walked over to the defendant’s table and handed Mr. Wilde some papers and they had a whispered conversation, then he walked back and sat next to Beth Wolman.

Because of where we were sitting I couldn’t see the other people coming into the courtroom, so I didn’t know if Mom had arrived or if there were any others.

Just like last time, two policemen escorted Don into the courtroom to the table where his attorney was sitting. Lawrence Wilde stood and shook hands with Don. Then Don looked around and he saw our group sitting together. He sat down real fast, and started whispering to Lawrence Wilde. Every so often one or the other or both of them would turn around and look at us or other places in the spectator section. Beth watched that happen, and she had a whispered conversation with her assistant.

At almost exactly nine o’clock the Bailiff stood and everyone in the courtroom stood. The Bailiff called out, “All rise. Hear ye, hear ye, the Superior Court for the County of Contra Costa is in session. The Honorable Judge Roy Everingham presiding. All having business before this court, give attention and you shall be heard. You may be seated.” Those were exactly the same words he had said on Monday.

Everyone sat down. The judge banged his gavel.

“This is the continuation of the bail hearing for Donovan Clarey. Because Mr. Clarey has a new attorney, I will repeat some of my comments from the start of the prior bail hearing on Monday of this week. Most bail hearings are heard in joint case sessions. Because of extraordinary circumstances, this continuation of the bail hearing for Mr. Clarey has again been given its own session in today’s court calendar.

“The representative of the District Attorney’s office may state the charges against Donovan Clarey.”

Beth Wolman stood and read the charges from a sheet of paper. “Mr. Donovan Clarey is accused of physical abuse of a child, endangerment of a custodial child, gross battery upon a child, and resisting arrest. We plead the court to remand Mr. Clarey to the County Jail without possibility of bail until such time as his court case is held for him to answer these charges.”

“Thank you, Ms. Wolman. Mr. Clarey, will you and Mr. Wilde please stand. Mr. Clarey, you have heard the charges against you. You have pleaded not guilty in the prior session of this bail hearing. Do you wish to change your plea?”

“No, your honor.”

“Mr. Clarey, you may sit down. Now, Mr. Wilde, do you have anything new to say that is not part of the original statement of Mr. Davidson, Mr. Clarey’s prior attorney?”

“I have read the original statement of Mr. Davidson and at this time we wish to change the terms under which Mr. Clarey would be released on bail. Your honor, we have arranged for an expedited trial date for Mr. Clarey with the District Attorney’s Office and with Mr. Michael Williams, the attorney representing Mr. Curtis Fischer, so he can answer the charges against him. That trial date is scheduled for Tuesday of next week. Mr. Clarey offers to forego release on his own recognizance until that trial commences. Instead, with the cooperation of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department, Mr. Clarey agrees to be monitored through the use of a GPS ankle tracking bracelet. He further agrees to the terms of any reasonable temporary restraining order in the favor of his stepson, Curis Fischer. Further, Mr. Clarey is willing to be subjected to bail in an amount that is reasonable.”

I was stunned. Don wants out, but agrees to the ankle tracking bracelet and a temporary restraining order. I looked over at Mr. Williams, and he seemed to be as surprised as I was. Apparently others in the courtroom were surprised as well because I could hear people talking.

Judge Everingham banged his gavel several times, and the courtroom became quiet.


Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake

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