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 40 — Ramsens’ Plea Bargain

We met Tom, Mrs. Hutchins, Mark, and Kyle in the hall outside the courtroom.

“So, is the trial over?” Mrs. Hutchins asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Williams replied. “Now we wait for the Judicial Panel to make their decision. Judge Young will then announce when the court will be called back in session so the judgment can be read. He will also announce when the sentencing hearing will be held. Judge Young will make the sentencing determination and announce it at that hearing.”

“So it really isn’t over, is it,” Kyle stated.

“That’s correct if you consider the entire case. We’ve completed the trial phase. The judgment phase and the sentencing phase are pending.”

“How much longer before that’s finished?”

“It could be as soon as one week, it could take considerably longer depending on Judge Young’s case backlog. However, since Lawrence Wilde requested that the trial be fast-tracked I think it will be completed by the end of next week.”

“Good,” Kyle said. “I really want to be here to see Don sentenced.”

“When do you have to be back at school?” I asked him.

“August twenty-seventh.”

“I think the case will be wrapped up and you can head home before then.”

“Can I be at the sentencing hearing?”

“Yes, unless the defendant is a minor, sentencing hearings are open to the public. My guess is everything will be over by a week from Friday, that’s the third of August.”

We arrived at Mrs. Hutchins’ house and they got out. Mark stuck his head in the passenger side window after closing the car door. “You guys want to hang for a while?”

I looked at Tom and raised my eyebrows.

“Sure,” he said. “I think that’s a good idea. Dad, is it okay with you?”

“Mark,” Mr. Williams asked, “is it okay with your grandmother?”

“Yeah. I asked her and she said yes.”

I saw Mr. Williams look at Mrs. Hutchins who stood next to Mark, and she smiled and nodded.

“Okay,” Mr. Williams told Tom and me, “just be home by six so you can get ready for dinner.”

“We’ll be home by six, Dad,” Tom said to Mr. Williams. “I’ll set an alarm.” He pulled out his smartphone. “We’ll leave at five forty-five, okay?”

Mr. Williams said that would be okay, and Tom and I got out of the car. Mr. Williams drove off and we followed Mrs. Hutchins into her house.

“Why don’t we sit on the patio in the back yard,” Mark suggested. “It’s a nice place for us to sit and it’s not near the house so what we say will be private.” That’s what we did, sitting at the picnic table on the patio, Tom and I on one side and Mark and Kyle on the other.

I watched Kyle as he sat with his eyes cast down for a while. Then he looked up and turned to face Mark. He had a bit of a grin, but he looked sad.

“I’m going to be glad to get home, but I’ll miss all of you a lot. I’ve had such a great time while I’ve been here. Mark’s become my brother. Curt and Tom, you’ve become my best friends. Something else, I’ve been able to be out and it doesn’t make any difference to the kids I’ve met here. That’s so different than my school at home where so many kids seem to be homophobic bullies. I don’t get hassled, but that’s because I’m in the closet and the door is closed so tight that no one knows I’m gay.”

“Things aren’t a hundred percent perfect here,” I responded. “But they aren’t bad. I know a bunch of gay kids at Los Arcos and they never talk about getting hassled. It’s sort of a takeoff on that series of anti-bullying ads that have been on TV, ‘It will get better’, and I think what we have will get better and better. Do you agree, Tom?”

“Yeah, I do. Mark, you’re taking summer classes at Los Arcos and you’re new here. Do you have an opinion based on what you’ve seen so far?”

“I do. I came out at school and the reaction was like, ‘Hey, that’s cool.’ Some of the girls tried to set me up with guys they know who are gay.” He grinned. “Like Laura setting me up with Parker.”

“How’s that working out?” I asked.

“Nothing to tell. It seems like I’ve been hidden away in the courthouse ever since I met Parker at Laura’s birthday party. All we’ve been able to do is talk on the phone in the evening.” Mark blushed. “He asked me out on a date tomorrow night.”

“Man, that is so cool,” Kyle said. “I’m sort of jealous. I’ve never gone on a date with a guy. In fact, never with anyone, guy or girl.”

“Neither have I,” Mark said. “I’ll tell you all about it when I get home from my date.”

Tom chuckled. “Including all of the steamy parts?”

“It’s not going to be like that, dufus! Parker and I are going to walk to the mall and we’ll have something to eat, then we’re going to a movie. Then we’re walking home.”

“Are you going to kiss him when he gets you home?” Tom persisted.

Mark blushed again. “I hope so.”

I reached across and bumped fists with him. “I hope so too. You guys make a cute couple.”

“How about you, Curt? How’s your love life? Are you and Laura an item?” Kurt asked me, then he grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.

“No, Laura and I aren’t an item. That would be… difficult. We’ve known each other like, forever. We’re more like brother and sister. Getting… uh… involved could mess up our friendship. I think that’s the most important thing for the two of us, and we don’t want to mess things up and lose it.”

Mark looked at me then at Tom. “How about the two of you? I see the way you look at each other. I’d say you’re close to being a couple. Are you?”

“Uh…” I said, not knowing what else to say.

Tom nudged me. “Is this private, just between the four of us?” he asked, pointing to Mark and then to Kyle.

“Of course it’s private,” Mark replied.

“I agree, it’s private,” Kyle replied. “Who would I tell? The three of you are the only people I really know here, and I’ll be out of here in a couple weeks.”

“Well, then,” Tom turned to me and continued, “I’d say yes to what you asked. I think Curt is the hottest guy I’ve ever met. He’s cute, he has a great ass, and I’ve fallen in love during the two weeks that he’s been living with me and my family.”

I took a deep breath. I needed to because I’d stopped breathing when I realized that Tom planned to out us to Mark and Kyle and then told them. I reached over and took his hand, then looked across to Mark and Kyle.

“I’ve fallen in love with Tom. He’s handsome, has a wonderful smile, is smart and athletic, and is so freakin’ sexy! And talk about someone with a great butt!” Tom reached around me and pulled me into a hug. Then he kissed me, on the lips. Mark and Kyle applauded. I blushed, big time.

“Ah, Curt’s blushing,” Mark joked, “that’s so cute!”

“Tom could be blushing too,” Kyle added, “but it would be hard to tell. I think his totally sexy dark complexion will cover up anytime he’s blushing.”

“I can tell when he’s blushing!” I said.

“No, you can’t!” Tom said.

“Yes, I can!” I said.

“Aw, their first fight,” Kyle kidded, “and we get to see it. Jeez, where’s my camera when I need it?”

“No pictures! No pictures!” Tom and I said simultaneously. We all busted up laughing.

“I noticed,” Kyle said, “that Curt said Tom’s got a great butt. But I think what he’s packing on the front side of his butt is even better.”

“Yeah,” Mark added, “Tom’s got a great package.”

“Hey!” I shouted, “What Tom’s packing in his package is mine alone to look at and unpack. Keep your eyes to yourselves.”

 “So, speaking of what Tom’s packing, when are you guys going to do the nasty?” Mark asked.

“Are you going to tell us when you and Parker do the nasty?” I asked.

“No!”

“Then you know the answer to your question. We’re not going to tell you.”

Kyle bumped Mark’s shoulder and stage whispered, “You’ll be able to tell by just looking at their expressions.”

“I don’t think so,” Tom said. “We’re real good about hiding things like that from others. We get lots of practice by hiding it from my folks. Now my lips are zipped.” He pretended that he had a zipper on his lips as he pulled his fingers across.

Again Kyle stage whispered to Mark, “Oh! They’ve already done it!”

“And assuming we did, you never figured it out, did you!” I told them.

“Nah, they didn’t do it. Curt’s ‘assuming we did’ really means ‘for sure we didn’t.’”

“I think you’re right, Mark,” Kyle replied. “They look too innocent. They probably don’t even know what to do. Or how to use their equipment.”

That got all four of us laughing.

“Is anybody thirsty besides me?” Mark asked.

We all agreed that something to drink would be excellent.

“I think my grandma made some lemonade. We’ve got Coke too if you’d prefer.”

We all agreed that lemonade would be excellent.

“Come on, Kyle. Give me a hand and we’ll bring out the lemonade and glasses.”

“Tom and I will give you a hand too,” I offered.

The four of us went inside and put ice into four glasses, and brought them out along with a big pitcher of lemonade.

We sat around talking about school and what classes we’d be taking, which classes we liked and didn’t like, our favorite and most disliked teachers, homework and tests, how our football teams would do. Tom, Mark, and I were especially curious about Kyle’s high school. None of us had attended a school in the Midwest like Niles West, and we were interested in hearing about it.

The alarm Tom set for five forty-five went off, playing Maroon 5’s One More Night.

“Okay, time for us to take off. Thanks for asking us to hang with you two, and for the lemonade,” Tom said.

“What are you guys doing tomorrow?” Kyle asked.

“I have some Algebra 2 homework to do and I need to study for a quiz,” I said. “When that’s finished I don’t have anything else.”

“I don’t have any homework and no quizzes to study for,” Mark said.

“I’m available,” Tom said.

“Let’s talk later, say after dinner, and see what ideas we can come up with for tomorrow,” Mark suggested.

We agreed, and helped Mark and Kyle bring the glasses and the now empty pitcher back in the kitchen, then Tom and I left for home. That made me think about what ‘home’ meant for me. I had a home with my mom, and I’d left after we’d been fighting about whether Don had really attacked me or not. I’d been sharing the Williams’ home and it seemed like I’d been there for a couple months instead of a couple weeks. I needed to talk to Mr. Williams and probably with my mom about moving back or staying put. That thought surprised me, thinking that maybe I’d prefer to stay with the Williams. Then I realized why. I’d be living with Tom, something I also realized that I wanted. I loved Tom, and he said he loved me, too. Damn, life could be complicated.

<<<--->>>

Tom and I got home, the Williams’ home, and as soon as we walked in Mr. Williams got up from where he’d been sitting in the living room.

“Curt, I need to see you right away. Let’s go into my office so we can talk undisturbed.”

Once we were in his office and seated, he started.

“Curt, Beth Wolman called me about an hour ago. She wants us to assist with a plea bargain meeting they’re going to have with Lee Ramsen’s stepfather. The meeting will be tomorrow at nine in the morning. I have two questions. Are you willing to assist in this meeting, and if so can you be ready to leave by eight thirty tomorrow morning?”

“I’m not sure how I’d help in a plea bargain meeting. First, I don’t know much about what they are and don’t know anything about how they work. So what does Beth Wolman want me to do at this plea bargain meeting? Second, did they find Lee Ramsen’s stepfather? Third, what’s Lee Ramsen’s stepfather’s name?”

“Very clever, Curt. You didn’t answer my two questions, and asked three of your own. Okay, I’ll answer your questions. First, I have no idea why Beth Wolman wants you at the plea bargain meeting. Second, Lee Ramsen’s stepfather agreed to meet with Beth Wolman when he learned that the District Attorney wanted to talk to him. And even though you didn’t ask the related question, I’ll tell you that I don’t know where he’d been or how he learned that the District Attorney wanted to talk to him. Third, Lee Ramsen’s stepfather’s name is Carlton Ramsen. Lee was three years old when his mother married Carlton Ramsen, and he was given his stepfather’s last name. Now, I assume you’re prepared to answer my questions?”

I felt embarrassed, but just a little bit. “My answer is ‘yes’ to both of your questions, I’m willing to help with the plea bargain. Now I have another question. Since Beth probably needs me there because I was a victim of Lee Ramsen’s testimony in court, does Beth also want Tom at the plea bargain meeting?”

Mr. Williams laughed. “Yes, Beth wants Tom at the plea bargain meeting as long as, like you, he’s willing and can be available to leave at eight thirty tomorrow morning. I’ll speak to him separately. I wanted to know if you would agree to be at that meeting before I talked to Tom, and I’ll talk to him when we’re finished. Did you have any other questions?”

“Yes. I saw my mom after the trial ended. She said I could come home, to move back to her house. I’m not sure about that. So, if I wanted to stay here for a while longer, could I do that? I mean, would it be okay with you if I stayed?”

“Yes, Curt. However, you need to know that since you’re a minor your mother can get a court order to have you return based on parental rights.”

“But you arranged for a protection order. Isn’t that still in force?”

“Possibly. It could be interpreted as remaining in force through Don’s sentencing hearing. Why do you want to stay here, Curt?”

“I’m not sure I can get along with my mom if I just move back in with her. I’d like to spend some time getting to know her, finding about what she currently thinks about what Don did to me, sort of work up to moving back home, you know?”

“That sounds reasonable, Curt. To do that you’re going to have to come up with a story that makes sense and that she’ll accept. You can run it by me first and I’ll tell you if I see any inconsistencies. Okay?”

“Yes. Thank you, that’s okay.” I replied.

“Now, why don’t you get back to whatever you were doing and I’ll find Tom and talk to him.”

“Okay, will do. I think he’s in the family room reading.”

I got up and went upstairs to my room and closed the door. I felt tired, so I laid down on my bed and I guess I fell asleep. Sometime later I felt someone shaking me. I woke up and opened my eyes. Tom stood looking down at me and grinning.

“Hey, Curt. Why don’t you straighten up your bed-head and wash your hands and we’ll go down to dinner. Okay?”

“Okay. Thanks for waking me, Tom.”

“See you downstairs.” I watched him walk out of my room. That made me think about two different things at the same time. First, I loved the way Tom looked, especially from the back side. That boy is so hot! Second, I had to come up with a way to convince my mom that I should stay with the Williams, that this should continue to be my room, while I see if I can get along with her.

I grinned. Put those two things together and it’s easy to see the real reason I wanted to stay with the Williams. It didn’t have anything to do with getting along with my mom. Staying with the Williams would make it easier for me and Tom to mess around… ah, to hell with using a euphemism! It would make it easier for me and Tom to have sex. I laughed as I got up and headed for the bathroom to clean up. Now all I had to do is convince my mom, and Mr. and Mrs. Williams, that staying with the Williams for a while would be best and have a really good explanation why that would be best.

Mrs. W made meatloaf for dinner with mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots, and a big green salad with tomatoes and bacon bits and ranch dressing, and as usual it was delicious.

After dinner Tom and I sat down with Mr. Williams. He wanted to talk about the plea bargain meeting tomorrow morning.

“At nine we’re going to meet with Beth Wolman. She’ll describe the plea bargain process and who’ll be involved. She’ll tell us what the prosecutor is willing to offer Mr. Ramsen, and why. Then she’ll tell us why she wants you two to be present and what sort of assistance she expects from the you to contribute.”

“Does this plea bargain have something to do with how Mr. Ramsen and Lee were bribed?” I asked.

“That’s my assumption, but we’ll know more in the morning. Which reminds me, I suggest that you set your alarms for seven thirty. That will give you enough time to get ready and have breakfast so we can leave at eight thirty.”

We agreed about the time and left Mr. Williams’ office.

“What do you want to do, Tom? Let’s see, today’s Thursday, so what’s on TV? Not much, except for reruns, as usual?”

“That’s the trouble with TV during the summer. There’s not much worth watching.”

“Like, there’s nothing worth watching. Just baseball, and I don’t like watching baseball on TV.”

“How ‘bout shooting some hoops?”

“Works for me.”

So that’s what we did. The combination of hand-checking and bumping against Tom made me feel… tense. Being tense would have been okay if we’d been somewhere other than the basketball court in the Williams’ back yard. I started watching Tom’s expression instead of just his body moves when he had the ball. He seemed tense too, and like me not from the game.

After the next basket Tom made I grabbed the ball and just stood under the hoop holding the ball tight to my chest.

“What?” Tom asked.

I grinned. He walked up to me and put one hand on the top of the ball.

“We through?” he asked.

“I think so. Don’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“Let’s go inside. To your room?”

“Yeah!” Tom smiled, put his other hand under the ball and I let it go. He took the ball and tossed it into the storage box by the back door. We walked in and said ‘hi’ to Tom’s folks as we walked through the family room.

“If we have to get up at some ungodly hour in the morning, we’re going to shower and crash,” Tom told them.

“Sounds like a good idea, guys,” Mr. Williams said. “We’ll see you in the morning.”

“Goodnight, Tom, Curt,” Mrs. W said.

“Goodnight,” Tom and I said simultaneously. That made me and Tom laugh, also simultaneously. I bopped him lightly on the shoulder.

“If you guys need a job when you get to college, consider going out for stand-up comedy,” Mr. Williams joked.

“Yeah, Dad, I’ll remember that,” Tom responded as we headed upstairs.

Once we were upstairs I turned to go into my bedroom. Tom grabbed my arm. “Uh, uh.” I knew what he meant and I let him lead me into his bedroom and he closed the door after us. He pulled me into a hug, and after a few seconds he let me go. He stepped back and grinned.

“Can I assume that our agreement has been satisfied?”

That confused me. “What agreement?”

“That we wouldn’t mess around until after the trial is over. In my opinion the trial is over. Therefore the terms of our agreement have been met. I don’t want to wait any longer. I want to go to bed with you, Curt. I want to mess around. With you. Tonight. In my bed.”

“Okay.”

I don’t think I ever saw Tom with such an intense smile. I saw it mirrored in his eyes which absolutely sparkled and in his teeth which reflected the last bit of mid-summer sunlight coming in his bedroom window. I thought about those things and how much I loved him. Yeah, I loved him.

I stepped up to him and placed my right hand on his chest above his heart. I could feel it beating rapidly. “I love you, Tom Williams, with all my heart and being.”

“Curt, you always know the right thing to say.” He reached in and kissed me on my lips. I kissed him back, and this kiss lasted maybe ten seconds. Just a kiss, lips only.

“We need a shower, Tom,” I told him.

We got undressed and showered together. I had a plastic bag around my cast, and Tom made sure he didn’t bump it and that it didn’t get any water inside. We washed and rinsed each other’s bodies and hair, and after we dried each other.

We got into Tom’s bed, me on his left to protect my left arm and to protect him from being banged by my cast. He turned off the light on the nightstand next to his bed. We lay facing each other and I reached over and held his arm, then leaned in to whisper in his ear, “Did you set your alarm, Tom?”

“Oh, man, sometimes you can ruin a moment.”

“Sorry, Tom. I think it’s better to get all of the housekeeping stuff out of the way so we won’t forget something that’s important that would come back later and bite us in the rear end.”

“You’re right. We have to get up at seven thirty, right?” He set his alarm then snuggled against me.

“I love you, Curt. You love me too. Jesus, that is so perfect. God must have looked down and made sure we got together. I’ve never loved anyone like this. It’s so perfect.” He kissed me, and I returned the kiss.

“Let’s continue from where I interrupted us,” I suggested. That’s what we did.

<<<--->>>

The alarm woke us at seven thirty as planned. Again, we showered together, mainly to wash the left over sticky residue from the night’s activities off our bodies. After dressing we headed downstairs for breakfast.

Mrs. W greeted us. “Good morning, boys. How are you this morning? Did you get enough sleep?”

“I feel great, Mrs. W,” I replied. “I got enough sleep and I’m ready for the plea bargain meeting this morning.

“I’m fine, Mom,” Tom replied. “Mostly I’m hungry. What’s for breakfast?”

She laughed. “You’re always hungry, Tom. I figured that you two and Tom’s father should have a good breakfast this morning before heading out. I have scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and homemade biscuits with marmalade. How’s that sound?”

We told her is sounded great, and we dug into a great breakfast.

“Where’s Dad?” Tom asked.

“He’s on the phone in his office. He said that he had a couple calls to make. He’s eating his breakfast in there.”

Mr. Williams joined us for more biscuits, sausage patties, and coffee. His coffee smelled great.

“Mrs. W, may I have a cup of coffee? It smells so good.”

“Certainly, Curt. Would you like milk or sugar?”

“Just black, please.”

I drank my cup of coffee, and it tasted as good as it smelled. I decided that this is something that I could get used to. I guess liking coffee is part of growing up.

<<<--->>>

We arrived at Beth Wolman’s office about ten minutes early. There were no donuts. The receptionist apologized, saying the person who brought the donuts each day hadn’t arrived yet. I turned and looked at Tom.

“Sorry, Tom. I know you were looking forward to having a donut.” I started to laugh.

“You laugh too soon Curt, the donuts have just arrived.” He pointed at the entrance door. The donut delivery person walked in with four boxes and continued to the break room.

“I guess you have the pick of the litter, right, Tom?”

“Either of you want one too?” he asked me and his dad.

“Your mom’s breakfast was enough for me,” I replied.

“No thanks,” his dad replied.

We sat in the reception area waiting for Beth Wolman. Tom quickly finished his donut, a maple bar. I have to admit that it looked good, but I really was full from breakfast.

Beth arrived at five minutes after nine. She greeted us, “Hi guys.”

“Becca,” she said to the receptionist, “please take our three guests into the small conference room.”

We sat in the conference room for a few minutes then Beth joined us.

“Thanks for agreeing to assist me with the plea bargain for Carlton Ramsen. Let me give you some information about why we’re going to work out a plea bargain with him, and why I’d like Curt’s and Tom’s agreements so I can proceed.

“We tried to contact Carlton Ramsen and were unable to do so. We were concerned that he’d left the area. At the same time we made some decisions about Lee Ramsen. First, we decided that we wouldn’t prosecute him for lying on the witness stand because his testimony had been redacted by Judge Young. Second, not knowing where to find his stepfather we were concerned that Lee might be at risk of being abused, so we placed him in protective custody under the auspices of Child Protective Services.

“We worked with investigators from the Sheriff’s Department to try to find the person who bribed Carlton Ramsen and Lee Ramsen. We were stymied because the primary witness to the bribe, Carlton Ramsen, had gone missing. We were surprised yesterday when Carlton Ramsen contacted us. He’d just returned from a trip to Sacramento where, he told us, he went to complete some personal business.

“His return, and his willingness to cooperate, solved many of our questions about the bribe. He told us that he’d received notice that his home would be foreclosed because he’d lost his job and got behind by three payments. He went to his only relative on the West Coast to ask for a personal loan about a month ago, and he was turned down. This week that relative contacted him and said that he had a proposition. He wanted Lee Ramsen to give testimony in Donovan Clarey’s trial that would show that Curt and Tom are gay. He worked with Lee and his stepfather to plan Lee’s testimony.

“Carlton Ramsen demanded that the money be paid up front, four thousand dollars to him and one thousand dollars to Lee. His uncle agreed, and brought two money orders, one for Carlton Ramsen in the amount of four thousand dollars and one for Lee Ramsen in the amount of one thousand dollars. His uncle purchased the money orders at a check cashing service in San Jose.

“Once he got the money orders, Carlton Ramsen took two actions.

First, he created a savings account at his local bank for Lee and funded it with the one thousand dollar money order. That savings account is in Lee’s name. Because Lee is a minor, Carlton Ramsen is shown as the trustee of that account. When that money order cleared it convinced him that the other money order, the one for four thousand dollars, would also clear.

“Next, he took the four thousand dollar money order and drove to the company servicing his mortgage. Their office is in Sacramento. He paid the three past due payments and the next month’s payment using that four thousand dollars plus most of the balance from his savings and checking accounts. The mortgage service company agreed to terminate the foreclosure process, and gave him a signed statement to that effect. He said where he and Lee live is the only house Lee has ever lived in, and he didn’t want to disrupt Lee’s life. Our concerns, and Lee’s as well, that Carlton Ramsen might be angry when he learned that Lee’s testimony had been proved false and that it had been expunged, and perhaps abuse Lee, are no longer an issue.

“So I know you must wonder, who is Carlton Ramsen’s uncle, the one who provided the idea for the false testimony, the one who directed Lee to talk to Lawrence Wilde? You know him. His name is Otto Vanvelick.”

Beth smiled and sat back after making that announcement

“I believe it,” I said. “And I’ll bet that he didn’t care if Don got off or not. He just wanted to get back at me and Tom. Am I right?” Beth nodded a Yes. “What a jerk. So, what’s going to happen with Mr. Ramsen?”

“He could be charged with attempting to present false testimony in a trial. That’s part of the plea bargain we’re going to discuss with him. The other part of the plea bargain is that he agrees to testify against Otto Vanvelick when he comes to trial for conspiring to present false testimony in a trial.”

“What about Vanvelick? What’s going to happen to him?” I asked.

“I’ll get to that in a minute, Curt.”

Mr. Williams asked a question. “What about the money, the four thousand and the one thousand dollar money orders he got. Will he and Lee be able to keep that money?”

“We’re including that in the plea bargain, we’ll agree to ignore those amounts. Actually, separating out the conspiring to present false testimony, Mr. Ramsen didn’t do anything illegal. He accepted the money orders in exchange for having Lee Ramsen offer to testify in court. Lee Ramsen did approach Lawrence Wilde with that offer, but there are no records of his testimony, so effectively that never happened. Since Lee offered to testify, the money was not accepted under false pretenses. It’s Mr. Ramsen’s money and Lee’s money to do with whatever they want. Mr. Ramsen used it to pay his mortgage and have a foreclosure terminated. Mr. Ramsen put Lee’s money in a trust account for Lee’s use when he goes to college.”

“So, why are we here?” Tom asked. “Seems you have this whole pleas bargain locked up.”

“You could sue Carlton Ramsen or Lee Ramsen or both in civil court for conspiring to give false testimony that besmirched your reputations and caused you great embarrassment. I’d rather you didn’t do that. Lee’s testimony is expunged, so you’d have a hard time pressing that charge.”

“I wouldn’t sue either Lee or his stepfather,” I said

“Neither would I,” Tom added.

I grinned. “I think letting the Ramsens keep the money is like sweet revenge for what Otto Vanvelick attempted to do, especially since Lee’s testimony was retracted and… what did you call it… oh, yeah, expunged from the transcript of the trial.”

Mr. Williams asked, “So, you want a signed document from Curt and a signed document from Tom that they won’t sue either Carlton Ramsen or Lee Ramsen for attempting to give false testimony, and those documents will be made part of the official plea bargain. Is that correct? And can I suppose that you just happen to have those documents available for my review as attorney in fact for Curtis Fischer and as a parent of the minor, Thomas Williams?”

Beth grinned, nodded, and pulled some papers out of her briefcase and handed them to Mr. Williams. “You read me like a book, Michael. So, do you agree with what these two fine young gentlemen say they agree to?”

“I would recommend that they agree and sign the letters which I will review and initial. I will then give each of them their copies which they can sign, if after reading the documents they still agree. For each of them it must be their decision.”

“Michael, you can use this conference room to peruse the documents. So, I’m finished here until you’ve reviewed the documents,” Beth said. “Does anyone have any more questions?”

“Uh… excuse me, Ms. Wolman,” I said, “I have two questions. What’s going to happen with Otto Vanvelick, and will we be in the actual plea bargain meeting?”

“Otto Vanvelick will be arrested on several felony charges. With the testimony of Carlton Ramsen, the provenance of the money orders, and the material provided for Lawrence Wilde, and the testimony of Mr. Wilde, Otto Vanvelick will face at a minimum a significant fine payable to the County Superior Court and the District Attorney’s office, a fine to cover the expenses of Lawrence Wilde and his firm relating to this situation, and a sentence in County Jail or State Prison to be determined by the court.

“The only people in the plea bargain meeting will be one of my assistants who’s a specialist in plea bargains, Carlton Ramsen, and the Public Defender assigned to assist Mr. Ramsen. I assume the plea bargain meeting will be completed quickly and to our mutual benefit.”

“Can we watch it, like through a one-way window like on TV?” I grinned.

“No, Curt. We don’t have rooms with one-way windows or mirrors or whatever. Those are interrogation rooms, and you’ll find them in the County Jail and the Sheriff’s headquarters. We don’t do those kinds of interrogations and plea bargains here in the District Attorney’s office. The plea bargain meetings here are almost always non-confrontational.

“So, I assume we’re finished. There are donuts in the break room if you’re interested.”

“Curt, let’s go get a couple of those donuts while Dad worries over the documents we’re supposed to sign,” Tom suggested.

“Sounds like a plan!” I responded.


[Continued]


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