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 34 — Getting Ready to Testify
I guess I must have been very tired because I slept soundly and deeply. I had some dreams, though. In one I was asleep in a room. There were people in the room whispering and joking. I couldn’t make out most of what they were saying, but I remembered someone whisper that I was cute which made me pull the covers up over my head. Later I had another dream where someone said Tom and I looked like we were trying to turn ourselves into a pretzel.
Finally I heard the clock radio start playing Green Day’s Oh Love. That sure as hell woke me, and I tried to reach over to slap the off button. Nothing happened because I couldn’t get my arm free. It took me a minute to figure out what was wrong. I was all twisted up in the sheet and blanket. Then I discovered that my arms and legs were all twisted up with Tom’s. Somehow I didn’t have anything on, and neither did Tom. We were sort of touching each other’s dangly… well, mainly each other’s no longer dangly anything. Definitely not dangly, no, not at all.
Alex Clare’s Too Close came on and made me feel all cuddly. I suddenly realized what I felt with my hand. My eyes popped open and I found myself staring into Tom’s deep brown eyes. Listening to the appropriately titled Too Close, he moved his head until our lips touched in a light, soft kiss. Oh. My. God! It felt so good, all the way from my lips to my toes, then bouncing back up and stopping somewhere in my middle. I didn’t have any opportunity for further consideration because Tom pulled his left arm out from between us and pushed it under my neck, held the back of my head with his left hand, and pulled our lips together. I closed my eyes and we kissed. Passionately. A major lip-lock, while Grouploves’ Tongue Tied played from my clock radio. That was so ridiculously appropriate!
My brain began to process what was going on. Our state of undress. Our twistedness. Our non-dangly bits. Tom’s eyes. Tom’s lips. His hand on the back of my head. His kisses. The music. Wait a minute. The music. Something was wrong with the music. The music would absolutely never be this appropriate. This must be a dream. So when Imagine Dragon’s It’s Time started playing I knew I was dreaming. A wonderful dream, but still, just a dream.
I started to pull away from him, trying to get up. Tom pulled me back.
“Where are you going, Curt? Don’t go.”
He pulled me back against his body. He had his right arm over me and held me tight with both of his arms. He leaned in and kissed me again, then pleaded, “Don’t go. You don’t know how long I’ve wanted us to do this.”
“It’s just a dream, Tom. I’m dreaming.”
I looked at him. He looked… confused. “You’re not dreaming, Curt. This is real.” He pulled me to him and kissed me again.
“Oh. My. God!” I mumbled through our kiss. “It is real.”
Tom pulled back and started laughing. “Man, Curt, when you go to sleep you really go to sleep.”
He kissed me again, then pulled me tight against him and began rubbing my back with both of his hands. It was like a massage, a sensuous massage. It felt wonderful.
I shook my head. “But what about the music, Tom? No music could match what we were doing unless it was a dream.”
“The clock radio. The music on the clock radio. Green Day’s Oh Love, Grouploves’ Tongue Tied, and all the other songs.”
“Curt, the clock radio hasn’t come on.”
“What time is it?”
“Ten minutes to seven.”
“What the… I don’t freakin’ believe it!”
I realized what happened. I dreamed the music. Everything else was real. For some reason I felt embarrassed. Very embarrassed. I looked at Tom and grinned.
“I was asleep, wasn’t I.”
“Yup. I undressed you and you never knew it. Slept right through it. Had to lift your butt up to get your boxer briefs off. Had to pull you so you were sitting up to get your T off. It was way fun! Except for getting your T over your cast. That was difficult with you asleep.”
“Why did you undress me? Why are you undressed?”
“I wanted to touch you, to feel your body against mine. You snored through the whole thing.”
“I don’t snore!”
Tom busted up laughing. “Oh, you so do snore, Curt.”
“Wait a minute. We were touching… each other’s….”
“Yup? That’s all you can say? Yup?”
“Yup!” Tom busted up laughing. “And you’re changing the subject from your snoring.”
“I don’t care about the snoring part. I’ll even admit to the snoring part if I have to. I want to know why you were touching my… you know!”
“Because it felt good? Because you were hanging on to mine?”
“I wasn’t… oh… was I? I was, wasn’t I.”
“You know we weren’t supposed to do anything until after the trial. What happened to that?”
“You started it.”
“I started it? How do you figure that?”
“I woke up around six and you were hanging on to me. You know…. So you started it. It felt good. Really good. So I decided to play a joke on you and I undressed you.”
“Then you got undressed.”
“Then I got undressed too. Then we cuddled together. Then my folks looked in and saw us. They sort of joked about it. Then they left and closed the door.”
“Oh my god. Wait, why did they come in because I closed the door when I came in to take a nap.”
“The door wasn’t closed.”
“Yes, it was closed. I said that I closed it. I remember very clearly doing that.”
“I opened it.”
“You opened it? Why?”
“Because I had to get up to go pee, and I forgot to close it when I came back to bed.”
“So did you folks see us… naked?”
“Yes and no. Yes we were naked, no they didn’t see us because the sheet and blanket were all twisted around us and they couldn’t see anything. I think.”
“You think? Oh my god, we’re dead!”
“Nah. I’m just pulling your chain, Curt. I know they couldn’t see anything. Other than the two of us all twisted together. Dad said it looked like we were trying to be a pretzel.”
“Oh, shit! I remember hearing that. Okay, let’s step back. We weren’t supposed to do anything until after the trial.”
“We didn’t? I think we did. Like touching and hanging on to each other, kissing each other. Those are all a ‘we did’ in my opinion.”
“Curt, Curt, Curt! We didn’t DO anything with each other. Just a little touching and a few kisses.”
“Really? Just that?”
The clock radio picked that moment in time to switch on and we heard Linkin Park’s The Catalyst. I started laughing, and lost it for about thirty seconds or so.
“What!?” Tom asked.
“That song. The Catalyst. It’s perfect. You’re the catalyst, Tom. That’s you they’re singing about.”
Tom looked at me and grinned. “I’m the catalyst, ‘eh? I like that. I like being the catalyst. And next time it’s going to be after the trial is over and we’re going to lock the bedroom door and I’m going to be the catalyst and we’re going to do it, Curt, uninterrupted!”
“I would prefer that you don’t use that phrase, Curt!” Tom parodied his dad.
That got both of us laughing, and we got up.
“Jeez, Curt, what’s that on your shoulder?”
“What?” I twisted around to see what Tom meant.
“Let’s go in the bathroom. We can open the medicine cabinet so you can see your shoulder reflected in the mirror over the sink.”
I could see a big dark bruise on my shoulder. It had several colors, red, maroon, purple, and yellow. It looked worse than the bruises on my chest and my eye. In fact, the bruise on my eye had almost disappeared.
“How’d you get that, Curt?”
“I must have hit it on the edge of the table before my arm did. I didn’t realize that it looks so bad.”
“That’s good, Curt.”
“Another bruise to show the jury.”
“To show the Judicial Panel.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot.”
“Anyway, Tom, you’re brilliant. Your dad’s going to love this bruise, and so is Beth Wolman.”
It was time for us to get dressed so we did, Tom in his bedroom and me in mine.
I expected a lot of kidding when we got downstairs, but there wasn’t any. A couple grins, but no kidding. That was very cool of Tom’s folks to not embarrass us any more than we were embarrassed already. At least not any more than I was already embarrassed.
For dinner Mrs. W had spaghetti with lots of veggies mixed into the sauce, and a salad. It wasn’t light, but it wasn’t real heavy either. It was delicious, and I told her so.
After dinner Mr. Williams and I went into his office to review today’s proceedings, as he called what happened in court, and what it would be like when I’d give my testimony and be cross-examined tomorrow.
“Well, Curt, what did you think about what happened today in court and in the meeting with Beth Wolman?”
“Most of the court proceedings were boring. The Judge made a funny comment in turning down the Defense motion for Summary Judgement so Don would go free. He said, ‘I’m denying this motion without comment,’ but that sure sounded like a comment. I thought that was pretty funny. Then the defense motion to close the courtroom during my testimony so my injuries could be shown to the Judicial Panel with privacy to protect me because I’m a minor. What a crock! I want everyone in the courtroom and news reporters and photographers to see my injuries.
“Okay, let me think about what else. I guess nothing else is important except Don’s attorney trying to get rid of Judge Carmichael from the Judicial Panel. That’s a biggie, I think.”
“You’re correct about that. Mr. Wilde made a serious strategic error when he or his staff didn’t adequately research Judge Carmichael. Now he wants an exception to allow him to remove Judge Carmichael.”
“It seems to me that Don has a problem picking his defense attorneys.”
Mr. Williams chuckled. “I can definitely agree with that, Curt.”
“So, let’s assume Mr. Wilde doesn’t continue to try to get Judge Carmichael off the Judicial Panel, and Don’s trial continues tomorrow. Will I be called to testify?”
“Yes, I think you will be the first Prosecution witness. Or, maybe Tom will be the first witness and you’ll be second.”
“Will I have to show my bruises?” I grinned. “Will I have to get undressed?”
“What should I wear?”
“I suggest that you wear a shirt that will be easy for you to remove without any assistance.”
“Wouldn’t it be more effective if someone had to help me? If I can undress myself then I won’t look as injured. I can’t put on or take off a regular T-shirt, so I’ve been wearing old fashioned undershirts because they don’t have sleeves. What if I wear a T? A baggy one, one of Tom’s, for example, that someone has to help me take off.”
“And who do you suggest would help you?”
“It can’t be Tom, though that’s who I’d pick. But he’s a witness. So is Mark, and Kyle. How about you? You could help me take it off. You’re my attorney.”
Mr. Williams sat and thought for a few seconds.
“Why do you have to remove your T-shirt? You can show the bruise on your chest by pulling up the shirt.”
“That won’t show the bruises on my shoulder.”
“Bruises on your shoulder? I don’t remember you saying anything about any bruise on your shoulder. Which shoulder?”
“My left shoulder. When I hit the table I think my shoulder hit it first, then I sort of bounced and when I fell on the floor my arm hit the edge of the table and that’s when it broke. I forgot about my shoulder until this morning. Tom noticed it. It looks worse than my chest.”
“Can I take a look at it now?”
I slipped off the short-sleeve shirt I had on, then pulled off my V-neck undershirt. I turned around so Mr. Williams could see the back of my left shoulder.
“That looks terrible, Curt. Does it hurt?”
“Nope. It just looks really bad.”
“What about if I press on it?” Mr. Williams pressed on my shoulder.
“OW! Yeah, that definitely hurts.”
“Let me take a couple pictures of it, okay?”
He got out one of those thin little compact digital cameras and took several flash pictures of me and my shoulder.
“Turn around so I can see your chest.”
I turned to face Mr. Williams, then I looked down at my chest.
“That looks bad, but as I remember what it looked like before, now it looks like it’s getting better. What’s good is that there’s still a lot of color in that bruise. Let me take a picture of your chest bruise.” He took a couple pictures.
“That’s why I want to show my shoulder, because it’s worse than my chest. And it does hurt if I try to lift my arm.”
I lifted my left arm and grimaced when I moved it so it was higher than my shoulder.
“If I move it any higher my shoulder hurts worse, but still not as bad as how much my forearm hurts when I raise it higher. Pressing on my shoulder, like you did, hurts the worst.”
“What T-shirt do you want to wear that will require assistance?”
“I’ll go get one of Tom’s extra-extra-large ones when I get dressed in the morning.”
“Alright. Do you have any more questions about your testimony tomorrow?”
“Yes. What kind of questions will the Defense ask me?”
“They will certainly ask you about your relationship with Don. Things like did Don ever mistreat you, was he friendly, did he ever do things with you like a father, did you resent him marrying your mother, did you refuse to recognize him as your father. They will probably ask you if you’re gay, if you’ve ever had sex with another boy, if you’ve ever had sex with a girl. They’ll ask you about your relationship with Tom. They might ask you about what happened with Mr. Vanvelick, and why you and Tom were hugging. They might ask why you moved out of your mother’s house. Remember, most of their questions will be stated so you must give a yes or no answer.”
“All of those are easy. But what if they ask the question so I can’t give a yes or no answer?”
“Remember what Beth Wolman told you, if you pause, shake your head, that shows you can’t answer the question and she will try to raise an objection.”
“Should we practice? You ask me some of the questions and I answer them?”
“No, I don’t want to coach you at this point. That’s up to Beth Wolman. I think you’re smart enough to answer both the Prosecution and Defense questions. Just answer truthfully. One caution, don’t get angry. The Defense might try to get you riled up. Also, you don’t have to answer instantly. Wait a couple seconds to think about the question and your answer. If you’re confused by a question, ask that it be read back. The Defense might try to ask loaded questions like ‘Do you still have sex with other boys?’ If they do ask that kind of question the Judge might admonish the Defense attorney, and if he doesn’t then Beth will object to the question.”
“Whoa. Giving testimony does get complicated.”
“Yes, it does. Any other questions?”
“Uh… one more thing, off the subject. You and Mrs. W saw Tom and me in bed this afternoon.”
“Don’t worry about that, Curt. Tom came to me and told me what he did and that he did it as a joke. You must be a very deep sleeper for Tom to be able to undress you without you waking up.”
“Yeah, I guess.” I grinned. “You know I’ll get him back for this. It’ll be something just as funny. Or probably even funnier.”
“Just promise that it won’t make a mess, Curt.”
“It won’t make a mess, I promise. And it won’t be until after the trial is over.”
“Okay, thanks. Any other questions? Are you ready for court tomorrow?”
“I don’t have any other questions. I am very ready for court tomorrow.”
“I guess that’s it, then. We’ll leave home at eight forty-five and meet with Beth Wolman at her office at nine o’clock. We’ll walk over to the courthouse at around nine thirty or nine forty-five.”
“Will Tom be coming with us?”
“Yes, of course. Since he’s a prosecution witness Beth or one of her staff will talk to him about his testimony and what to expect. Mrs. Hutchins, Mark, and Kyle will also be there like they were today.”
“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow morning. I’ll be down for breakfast at eight.”
“Goodnight, Curt. Sleep well.”
“Thanks. You too!”
I decided to read, so I went upstairs and opened my laptop. There were some books I’d downloaded to my Kindle app that sounded interesting. A science fiction novel I’d gotten as a free download, 5 Minutes, was pretty good. I’d already read the first eight chapters. I opened the Kindle app and it automatically opened to the beginning of chapter nine, right where I left off. The location showed that I’d read sixteen percent of the story so far. Tom walked in and sat on the edge of my bed.
“What’re ya reading, Curt?”
“A science fiction story, 5 Minutes.”
“What’s it about?”
“Well, I’ve really just started it. I’m where Princess Marielle and her ship Pegasus, which is an intelligent ship with an AI, anyway they just exited a wormhole called The Canal. They’ve entered the Milky Way galaxy and are headed to Earth to save it from being destroyed by Princess Marielle’s mother.”
“Man, that sounds way weird and complicated too.”
“I know. It’s complicated but so far it’s interesting and there’s a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, so I always want to read more to find out what happens. I don’t think you’ll understand it from me telling you about it. You’ll have to read it yourself.”
“Okay, maybe. When you’re finished let me know if you liked it and maybe you can send it to me to read.”
“Okay, will do.”
Tom got up. “I’m tired. I’m gonna hit the sack. See you in the morning, Curt.”
“See you at breakfast, Tom.”
He yawned and left for his room.
I propped up the pillows against the headboard, slipped off my shoes, sat up on my bed with my knees bent upward, propped my laptop against my thighs, and started reading.
I slept without any weird dreams, and when my clock radio turned on I listened to the R.E.M. track It’s the End of the World As We Know it (And I Feel Fine). That song always makes me smile so that’s how I got up, smiling. I headed to the bathroom to take a shower and shave, even if I didn’t really need to shave, and to brush my teeth. I wanted to put on some cologne, but not a strong scent like Axe. I remembered getting a spray bottle of cologne for my birthday. I looked in the drawer where I’d put the bathroom stuff I’d brought from home. I found the cologne. Man, what a weird name, ‘Ed Hardy’. I sprayed a bit on my finger and sniffed it. I liked the scent, so I sprayed just a little on my chest and neck and rubbed it around.
I put on my boxer briefs and stepped into Tom’s room. I didn’t see him, so I called out, “Hey, Tom?”
“Yeah?” I heard from his bathroom.
“Can I borrow one of your extra-extra-large T’s?”
“Sure. What color?”
“Do you have white?”
“No. The closest to white I have is yellow. Or tan. Check ‘em out for yourself. They’re in the second drawer down in my dresser.”
I opened the drawer. It looked like the only three colors he had should be named bright, intense, and vibrant. I laughed.
Tom walked in from his bathroom and stood next to me, also in boxer briefs. He started rooting around in the pile of T’s in his drawer. He pulled out a light tan colored T and held it front of his chest.
“How’s that? I think it’s the closest thing to a not-bright color that I have.”
He handed it to me. I walked to his mirrored closet doors and held it in front of my chest. “Perfect. It’s exactly what I want to wear for court today. Let me try to get it on.”
I couldn’t put it on myself. Tom walked over and helped me get it over my left arm and my cast.
“Curt, you’re never going to get this on and off yourself. You should wear….” He stopped talking when he saw my grin. “That’s why you want one of my oversize T’s, isn’t it? You don’t want to be able to take it off yourself in the courtroom. Oh, clever, clever!” He started to laugh, and so did I.
“Yup! That’s exactly why I want it. Your dad’s going to help me take it off.”
I looked at the T in the mirror. It looked like it hung about half the way down to my knees.
“This T looks like I’m wearing a dress.”
“That’s ‘cause it’s an XXL-Tall pocket T and you’re not as tall as me.” Tom grinned. “You need to tall up, Curt!”
“Tall up?” I chuckled and stared at Tom. “Like exactly how am I supposed to do that?”
“Eat more meat.”
“I eat lots of meat.”
“Not enough to get taller, though.”
“In just what medical reference book did you read that piece of nonsense?”
“Hey, I read it on Google, the fount of all knowledge. Google never lies.”
“You know, sometimes I worry about you, Tom.”
“So do I Curt, so do I.”
With that, and mutual laughter, I went back to my bedroom to finish dressing.
When I got downstairs Mrs. W looked at me. “Turn around, Curt. I want to check you out.”
I grinned and slowly turned around.
“You look good.” She stared at me for a couple seconds. “What are you wearing under your shirt?”
“One of Tom’s big XXL T’s. I’m wearing it so Mr. Williams will have to help me take it off when I show the Judge and the Judicial Panel my bruises.”
“They haven’t completely healed and disappeared yet?”
“The one on my left eye is almost completely gone. The one on my chest isn’t as bad as it was, but the one on my left shoulder is worse.”
Mrs. W walked over and looked at my left hand. “Your hand looks like it has a large bruise on the top. Be sure to point that out.”
Mr. Williams walked into the kitchen and asked, “What is Curt supposed to point out?”
“Look at his hand, Michael. It’s all bruised on the top, sort of purple colored.”
“You’re right. When we see Beth this morning we’ll make sure her list of your injuries includes the bruising on your hand. That’s probably caused by the severity of the break and internal bleeding.”
I felt a little embarrassed having them inspect me like that, but I knew how important it would be for the Judicial Panel to see results caused by Don’s attack on me.
Tom came downstairs and we all sat down and ate breakfast. We didn’t talk about much, mostly baseball and how the A’s and Giants were doing.
The drive to Martinez took longer than usual because of an accident on the freeway. Mr. Williams exited and took city streets to get there. That definitely took longer with all the traffic and signals just about every block. He still had his parking permit so we parked in the garage in almost the same spot as the day before.
“Tom and Curt, we need to choose which one will see Beth Wolman first. Do either of you have a preference?”
Tom replied, “Yeah, if I go first then I can split and walk around downtown and get to the courthouse just before ten. That way I won’t be stuck in the witness room for any longer than necessary.”
“That’s fine with me,” I added. “Mine will probably take longer anyway.”
When we got to the reception area for Beth Wolman’s office, Mrs. Hutchins, Mark, and Kyle were there already. We did our greetings and sat down. I looked at Mark. He didn’t look good.
“You feeling crummy, Mark?”
“Yeah. I have a major headache. Grandma took me to the Neurosurgeon yesterday after the trial ended and he prescribed some pain pills. The pharmacy didn’t have them so we picked them up at their Pleasant Hill store this morning on the way here.”
“Is it working yet?”
“I didn’t take one. When I talked to the doctor he said if I took it before my testimony today it might make me woozy and sort of out of it. So I’ll wait until I’m through today. Of course, I might not be called yet, so I’d have to hold off taking one tomorrow morning too.”
“Is there anything you can take in the meantime, like an aspirin?”
“I took four ibuprofen this morning after breakfast. They’ve helped a little. The doctor said not to mix meds so I won’t take any more ibuprofen today.”
Tom leaned over and joined our conversation. “Sometimes I get headaches playing baseball, like when I get hit in the helmet with a pitch or a line drive. Our trainer taught me a trick, and it might help you. If you rub lightly just in front of your ear and above your hair line you’ll feel a vein running vertically. If you rub your finger back and forth you’ll feel it sort of rolling under your fingertip.”
I watched as Mark tried it. “Yeah, I found it.”
“Okay, there’s one on each side of your head,” Tom told him. “If it’s the right side that hurts you can concentrate on that side, vice versa if it’s the left side. Or both sides if it’s all over. Anyway, once you’ve found that vein push on it and rub up and down, pressing hard. It’ll hurt, but after you’d rubbed it like that for a while and you stop your headache might be less, and maybe even gone.”
Mark followed Tom’s directions.
“Oh my god, that hurts! I can feel it in the back of my head and across to my right eyebrow and around my right eye. But it’s not like the headache, it’s like a good kind of hurt.”
He rubbed for a while more then stopped. He closed his eyes and sat still for a few seconds.
“That’s amazing. I can’t believe it. My headache is like ninety percent gone. Oh, man, what a relief.” He turned to Tom, “Doctor Tom, you are amazing. I’m cured, I’m cured!” Then he started laughing. “You’ll probably send me a bill now!”
“Nope. My ministrations are free. Would you like me to massage your shoulders? You seemed tense when we first saw you and a massage might help.”
“I vouch for Tom’s massages,” I said.
“Okay,” Mark agreed.
Tom walked Mark to a straight chair on the other side of the reception area. He had Mark sit facing the back of the chair and holding on to the top of the back. He stood behind him and started lightly massaging his shoulders. Mark started purring, just like a cat. After about a minute Tom stopped.
“Wonderful. Marvelous. Unbelievable!”
Mark got up and returned to the sofa where the rest of us were sitting.
“Now all I want to do is take a nap. Thanks, Tom. I’m for sure going to remember that headache cure you taught me.”
I decided I’d remember that trick too. I almost never get headaches, but knowing a way that might get rid of them immediately would be a good thing.
Beth Wolman and three of her staff walked into the reception area.
“Good morning. Let’s get started. Curt and Michael, you’ll come with me. Tom, you’ll go with Evan. Mark and Mrs. Hutchins, you’ll go with Carolyn. Kyle, you’ll go with Jeffery.”
Mr. Williams and I followed Beth into a small conference room.
“We’re meeting here so I won’t be interrupted by visitors or staff or by phone calls. This won’t take too long. Would either of you like a donut or coffee?”
I said yes to the donut, Mr. Williams said yes to the coffee. The receptionist brought in the box of donuts and a pitcher of coffee. Seeing the donuts changed Mr. Williams’ mind, and smelling the coffee changed my mind. We each had both a donut and coffee.
“Curt, here is a list of the injuries that Don inflicted on you when he attacked you on Friday, the thirteenth of July.”
“It was Friday the thirteenth? Oh my god, how could I forget that?”
“You didn’t remember that Don attacked you on Friday the thirteenth?”
“No. Really. And nobody said anything about the date since it happened, either. That is so perfect.”
“Well, it really doesn’t have anything to do with the trial, but it’s an interesting factoid. Is this list of injuries complete?”
“No,” Mr. Williams said. “There are two areas that aren’t listed. The first is Curt’s left hand.”
I took my left arm and the cast on my forearm out of the sling and held it out to Beth, supporting it with my right hand.
“That’s really quite a bruise. We don’t know if it happened as a direct result of Don throwing you into the end table, but it does show that the injury to your arm was significant. Michael, you said that there is another bruise that isn’t on the list?”
“Yes. The other is to the back of Curt’s left shoulder. He’ll have to remove his shirt and T-shirt to show you. Or, you can look at the pictures I took last night of the bruising on his shoulder and chest.”
“Let’s see the pictures you took.”
He took two pictures of each of my bruises out of his briefcase, one of me with the bruise where Don slugged me on my chest, and one of the back and top of my shoulder. He also had a close-up of each bruise. He handed the four pix to Beth. He’d printed them on letter size glossy photo paper in color.
“Oh, these are wonderful. With your permission I’d like to enter them as evidence at the trial, right after we have Curt take off his shirts.”
“How many copies do you want? I printed six sets of each. I want one set, one set is for Curt, and you can have the other four sets.”
“Thank you, Michael. These are an excellent supplement to seeing the real thing on Curt’s chest and shoulder. In a way they are better because of the close-ups that show so much more detail.”
I’m glad Mr. Williams printed a set for me. After the trial I want to show them to my mom. Maybe that’ll convince her that Don really attacked me.
“There’s one other thing,” I said, “the bruise around my left eye has almost completely disappeared. Is that a problem?”
“No, not at all. We have the hospital records to show your black eye and the bruising.”
Beth wanted to know if I had any questions about what would happen during the trial today. I did have one question.
“When will I be called to testify?”
“You are second on the list. Tom is first. He will be questioned about what happened with Mr. Vanvelick when the two of you were playing basketball in your driveway, right?”
“After Tom you’ll be called to testify. We’ll start by going back over what happened with Mr. Vanvelick. Can you summarize that for me right now?”
I told her how Tom and I were shooting some baskets. The ball rolled across the street and Tom went to get it. Vanvelick said something to Tom and Tom gave him the finger and came back with the basketball. When he got back he told me that Vanvelick called him the N-word and told him to go back to the projects where he belonged. He was really pissed about being called the N-word and he’s got a temper. It seemed he might go back and tell Vanvelick where he could go, or get into a fight with him. I grabbed him and held him and calmed him down. I said we should go in and have a meatloaf sandwich. Food always distracts Tom. So that’s what we did.
“Then Donovan Clarey came home. Summarize what happened then, Curt.”
I told her, “I had Algebra 2 homework, I’m taking the class this summer to get ahead on my math. I was in my bedroom, it’s on the second floor. I heard some talking and yelling outside and wondered what was going on, so I walked to my window and looked out. Don was in his car in the driveway. Mr. Vanvelick was talking to Don through the driver’s side window and pointing and waving his arms around like a windmill. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Mr. Vanvelick walked back across the street to his house and Don drove into the garage. I got back to my Algebra problems. Next the back door slammed, real loud. Don shouted, “Curt where the fuck are you?” and stormed up the stairs and down the hall to my room and slammed my bedroom door open. Turns out he actually broke the door. Anyway, I looked up and he’s got this furious expression and I start to ask what the problem is and he yells at me to “Shut the fuck up! Don’t say another fucking word!” So I ask him why he’s so pissed off and he’s shouting and calls me a “fucking little faggot” and I’m not going to take that, so I shout right back that I’m not a faggot and don’t call me a faggot. He hauls off and hits me on the left side of my face, right here. I point to where my bruise is. It hurt like hell. He knocked me onto the floor and almost knocked me out. He reached down and pulled me up by my belt buckle and threw me across my bedroom. The he pushed me downstairs and into the living room. I yelled at him, “Why the hell are you doing this to me?” He shouts “Shut up!” and is going to slug me again so I ducked and he missed. But he’s got the advantage and he slugs me in my chest, right here and I point to when he slugged me, right above my heart. He hit me so hard it knocked me into the end table. It’s got a thick glass top and a metal frame, and I sort of bounced off and when I came back down my arm hit the metal frame and I heard the bone in my forearm crack and it hurt so much that I screamed as I fell to the floor. I hollered at him that he broke my arm. Then he yells at me to get up off the floor and calls me a ‘nigger loving faggot.’ The worse thing is that he reaches down and grabs my arm where it’s broken and pulls me up. I was screaming really lound and crying from the pain, and I was screaming at him that it hurt like hell and he broke it and I need an ambulance and that he’s an asshole and just wait until my mom finds out. Then he says I’m just a pansy queer that can’t take a few bruises like a real man and I broke my own arm and beside it doesn’t look broken to him and he’ll take me to a clinic to have them look at it and I scream back that I’m not going anywhere with him and then the doorbell is ringing and there’s pounding on the door. Don goes to the front door and I hear him say ‘I’m sorry officers’ and I figure it’s the cops and I start screaming for help and that Don’s trying to kill me. Then I see this beautiful cop and he asked me if Don did this to me and I said ‘Yes’ but I can’t say anything else because the pain’s so awful and I pass out. Next thing I’m in the hospital and my arm is in a cast.”
“That’s excellent, Curt. Now, when you’re called to testify, I want you to say the same thing but say it more slowly. If there are any other details, include them.”
“No problem. I was summarizing like you asked for, and I was rushing it because I know we don’t have a lot of time right now. I think it will take me more than twice as long to tell what happened with Don.”
“What I'm going to do, Curt, is ask you a series of questions about each specific thing that happened that day. You can answer each question then stop, and I’ll ask you the next question. For example, ‘What were you doing that day, Curt?’ and you’ll answer ‘Tom and I were in my driveway shooting some baskets.’ Then I’ll ask, ‘What happened next?’ and you’ll answer ‘The ball rolled across the street and Tom went to get it.’ Then I’ll ask, ‘Did he come right back with the ball?’ and you’ll answer ‘No.’ Then I’ll ask ‘What happened next?’ and you’ll answer ‘The guy who lives across the street, Mr. Vanvelick, and Tom said something to each other.’ Then I’ll ask ‘What happened then?’ and you’ll answer ‘Tom gave him the finger and came back with the basketball.’ And so on. We’ll do it that way so you won’t forget anything, and so it’ll take longer and have more impact on the members of the Judicial Panel. How does that sound?”
“I like that a lot. Maybe I’m not nervous today, but tomorrow in the court when I’m giving my testimony in front of the Judges and looking out on all the people in the gallery, that’s going to be different and kind of scary.”
Beth smiled. “Very good, Curt. I want you on the stand as long as possible. Take all the time you need. Ask for a glass of water, stop and take a breath every so often, wipe a tear out of the corner of your eye when you relay the parts where he’s broken your arm and it hurt so much. You, Mr. Fischer, are an outstanding victim.”
I looked at her and shook my head. “I don’t want to be a victim. But since I am I want Donovan Clarey to get exactly what he should get for slugging me and breaking my arm.”
Beth didn’t have time to say anything because someone knocked at the door and opened it.
“Beth, it’s time to go across to the courthouse.”
“Thanks, Nancy.” She turned back to me and Mr. Williams. “Curt, Michael, are you ready to go?”
“Yes,” we both replied.
“Then let’s do it.”
“One question,” I asked. “Where will I be sitting until I’m called to testify?”
“You and Michael will be In the first row of seats in the gallery in back of the Prosecutor’s table.”
There were ten of us who left the District Attorney’s offices and headed across the street. The witnesses, Tom, Mrs. Hutchins, Mark, and Kyle, were directed to a witness room. Beth Wolman, Mr. Williams, and I went into the courtroom. The first row of seats in the gallery in back of the Prosecutor’s table were held for me and Mr. Williams. He leaned over and whispered, “The other seats are for the Prosecution witnesses after they’ve given their testimony.”
The trial started, much like it had the day before. Beth and three of her staff sat at the Prosecutor’s table. Don and Lawrence Wilde, his attorney, and two assistants for Mr. Wilde, entered the courtroom and sat at the Defense table. The Bailiff sat at the front of the court looking out at the rest of us. The court recorder sat facing the witness stand.
The Bailiff stood and make his announcement.
“All rise.” Everyone stood. “Hear ye, hear ye, the Superior Court for the County of Contra Costa is in session. The Honorable Judge Anthony Young presiding. All having business before this court, give attention and you shall be heard. You may be seated.”
Everyone sat down. The Judge banged his gavel.
“This is the continuation of the trial of Donovan Clarey for felony child abuse and child endangerment, held over from Tuesday, the twenty-fourth of July. If there are no motions, we will begin with the seating of the Judicial Panel.”
I think everyone held their breath to see if Lawrence Wilde would make a motion, but he didn’t.
“Since there are no motions, we will begin with the introduction of the members of the Judicial Panel, after which they will be officially seated.”
One man and two women entered the courtroom from what Mr. Williams had told me is the door to the jury room. For some reason I thought each of them would be wearing judge’s robes. But they weren’t. They had on business clothes.
Once all three had entered and were standing in the jury box, Judge Young continued.
“Please state your name and the city and county of your residence.”
“I am Judge August Carmichael, Clayton, Contra Costa County.”
“I am Judge Ann Rae, Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County.”
“I am Judge Evelyn Wood, San Ramon, Contra Costa County.”
“Thank you. Please be seated. The members of the Judicial Panel have been officially seated iudices.” Judge Young banged his gavel. Mr. Williams leaned over to me and whispered, “Iudices is Latin that means, in this case, ‘as the jury’. It also can mean ‘judge’.”
Judge Young looked at the Prosecutor’s table. “Ms. Wolman, please introduce the Prosecution’s case against Mr. Donovan Clarey in this matter.”
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