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 42 — The Police Come Calling
We stood and stared at the police car parked in the driveway. Tom and I looked at each other.
Tom grabbed my arm. “We should go in and find out why they’re here.”
I hesitated. “No! We shouldn’t go in,” I said. “That lawyer guy, Colton Brown, and that guy you slugged, maybe they’re trying to bring charges against us. Let’s get out of here.”
“Good idea, Curt. They’re more likely to be after my ass, though, not yours.”
“It doesn’t make any difference who’s ass they’re going after, We should stay away until we know what’s up.” I pointed up the sidewalk towards downtown. “Let’s go this way so we won’t pass in front of the living room windows. That way they won’t see us in case they’re in the living room and are looking outside.”
We walked north on Penrose and continued walking until we got to the strip mall that has a Starbuck’s. We went in and ordered a couple of Frappuccinos and sat down at an inside table to drink them.
“I’m going to call your house, Tom. I want to find out what’s going on, and it’s better if you don’t make the call.”
I dialed and Mrs. W answered.
“It’s Curt. We saw the police car in the driveway. We’re at Starbucks. If they are there to arrest me or Tom, don’t say either of our names. Can you tell me what’s going on?”
“No, I haven’t talked to Virginia about the barbeque yet,” she replied.
I knew that we were in trouble. “Are they there to arrest me or Tom?”
“I’ve decided to skip her first suggestion and stick to the second. Because it’s needed tomorrow it’ll be easier to make.”
“Okay, I understand those two guys are trying to have Tom arrested and the cops are there to take him in. Are they going to have a police car watching the house, doing surveillance?”
“I don’t know if she’s going to be there. You know her grandson is in town and he might be staying with her.”
“Okay, you don’t know about surveillance, and we’re to go to Mrs. Hutchins’ house and stay with her. Is there anything else you can tell me?”
“No, I can’t think of anything else to bring to the barbeque. So, I’ll see you there tomorrow. Bye for now.”
“Bye, Mrs. W. Thanks for the info.”
I took a deep breath. “Tom, she talked to me as if I was one of her friends. She said the cops are there to arrest you. She said to go to Mrs. Hutchins’ house and stay there. She doesn’t know if there will be a police car watching the house. I think we should get going in case those police decide to leave and drive past where we are.”
“Okay,” Tom said, “let’s double back by turning right at Walnut, then right at Oleander. We can go all the way to Pauley that way then turn right and we’re there.”
“Let’s do it.”
It took us about fifteen minutes to get to Mrs. Hutchins’ house using the route Tom suggested. It also meant we didn’t have to pass by my mom’s house, a good thing. I didn’t want to take the chance that she’d see me and I didn’t want to talk to her right now. We had too much on our minds.
Tom rang the doorbell, and Kyle opened the door.
“Hi. Come on in. You guys out for a walk or something? Or is it that you missed us?”
“We need to talk to Mrs. Hutchins about something. Is she home?”
“Sure.” He led us into the living room. “Grab a seat and I’ll get her. She’s in the backyard watering plants. Mark’s upstairs studying for a quiz and finishing up some homework.”
After a few minutes Mrs. Hutchins walked in and smiled.
“Well, hello Tom and Curt. I’m surprised to see you so soon.”
“We’ve got kind of a problem,” Tom said, “and my mom said we should come here to hide out.” He grinned.
She sat down across from us. “To hide out? What in the world would make you need to hide out?”
“It’s complicated,” he replied. “Curt can probably explain it best.”
I gave an abbreviated version of the explanation I gave for Mr. Williams about what the two guys did to us at Los Arcos High and how they resisted arrest too. Then I explained how we saw a police car in the driveway at Tom’s house, and I called Mrs. Williams and she pretended she got a call from a friend. I found out that the police were there to arrest Tom for attacking one of the guys, and that we should come to her house.
“Well, you’re certainly welcome here for as long as you need. I’ll be fixing dinner is a little while. We’re having spaghetti so there should be plenty for you two as well. Do you think you’ll be able to go home later, after the police leave?”
“We don’t know,” Tom replied. “It depends on if they post a police car outside our house or not. I think my mom or dad will call me here after the police leave.”
“We don’t know if Tom’s dad was home when the police were there. They might be waiting for him,” I added.
“If they do have a police car on surveillance then we can’t go back,” Tom told them. “If that happens, would it be okay if we stay here?”
“Of course! You might have to double up, but I’m sure we can accommodate the two of you.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Hutchins,” Tom said.
“Do you think they’ll actually park a police car outside your house?” Kyle asked. “That seems a bit excessive even if they said you started the fight, Tom.”
“Yeah, I agree. Curt took a couple videos that show what happened and how they resisted arrest. You want to see them?”
“See what?” Mark asked as he walked into the living room. “Hi, guys.”
“We have videos of what happened that Curt took. Of course, you don’t know what happened, so let me explain,” Tom replied.
Tom more or less duplicated my abbreviated description of what happened at Los Arcos High and the police waiting for him to come home.
“So, it you want to gather around I’ll show you the videos on my cell. You’ll have to get close because the screen isn’t very big.”
“Let’s copy the videos to my laptop. I’ll go get it. Send them to me as an email attachment. You ought to have my email address.”
I took out my cell and checked my contacts. “Yes, I have your email address, the Gmail one, right?”
“That’s it,” he replied. “I’ll be right back.”
I emailed Mark the first and third video files.
He returned in about a minute with his laptop.
“Check your email. You should have my message with two video files.”
“Yup, they’re here. I’ll open them from your email.”
Tom told them about the police car in his driveway when Mrs. Hutchins dropped us off at his house, and how I thought they might be there to arrest me, and how I called his mother and what she told me, including to come to Mrs. Hutchins’ house. Mark brought up the first video. It was very clear on his laptop’s larger screen than on my cell, and the audio was little low but okay. Tom and I narrated how the confrontation got started as he showed the first video. After some questions and answers he showed the third video and they sat and watched the two guys resisting arrest.
After the videos finished, Mrs. Hutchins surprised us.
“I just realized that I know that man, the one who threatened you as the police led him off the tennis court. And I recall his name, it’s Colton Brown. When Mark moved in with me I needed a lawyer so I could become his guardian. That man is a lawyer. I got his name from a legal referral service, a service I’ll never use again. I found him rude and — what’s the word — supercilious. At the end of our initial meeting, which fortunately was short and didn’t cost me anything, I thanked him and said I needed a lawyer who had more extensive experience to establish me as Mark’s guardian. He accused me of wasting his time. I replied that it was mutual and walked out.”
I grinned about how she put that sleazebag lawyer down, ‘it was mutual’.
“Yeah, that’s him,” I said. “He’s a real piece of work.”
“Wow,” Mark said, “that’s interesting. And it’s an amazing coincidence that this same lawyer shows up at school and gives Tom and Curt a pile of cra… uh… well, you know what I mean, grandma.”
Mrs. Hutchins smiled. “Yes, I know exactly what you mean, Mark, and I agree with the sentiment. I’m surprised that he would attempt to leave and tried to fight with the policeman and ended up being handcuffed. That can’t help his case when he goes in front of a judge. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about what happened to you two today?”
Tom and I shook our heads and said, “Uh uh.”
“Then why don’t I get dinner ready. Mark, can you set the table in the dining room, please?”
We sat down to dinner. Mrs. Hutchins’ spaghetti was great. She made some garlic bread that had a lot of cheese on top, It was real different and real good.
After dinner I sat at the kitchen table wondering why we hadn’t heard from Mr. Williams. Tom sat down across from me.
“Curt, do you think we should call home and see what’s going on?”
“I’ve been wondering about that too. Seems that it’s taking a long time for your folks to get rid of those policemen. Maybe we should call. But let’s wait a while. It’s only six thirty. Let’s wait until seven. Come on, let’s go in the living room and see what Mark and Kyle are watching on TV.”
We joined them and the four of us watched a rerun of one of the old Law and Order shows. About fifteen minutes later we heard the phone ring, and a couple minutes later Mrs. Hutchins came into the living room.
“Tom and Curt, come into the kitchen. There’s a call from Tom’s father for the two of you.”
We hurried into the kitchen. I noticed that Mark and Kyle stayed in the living room; I appreciated that they recognized that we were taking a private phone call.
Tom held the phone so we could both hear and talk to Mr. Williams.
“Hi, Dad,” Tom said. “Curt’s listening in with me.”
“Hello you two. First, the police left and there’s no surveillance, in other words they aren’t parked outside. Second, I got in touch with Beth Wolman. Even though it’s Saturday she went to Judge Rossini with the videos and she got the arrest warrant quashed. I’ll go into the details when you get home. So, you two can come home and neither of you will be arrested or questioned by the police. Now your mom wants to talk to you.”
“Did you have dinner with Mrs. Hutchins?” Mrs. W asked.
“Yes,” Tom replied. “She made spaghetti and it was excellent.”
“Then come on home. I know your father has more to tell you about what happened today.”
“Okay. Bye, Mom.”
“See you two when you get home. Bye.”
Tom hung up the phone.
“Mrs. Hutchins, the police thing is over and we can go home. We’re not in trouble, and the arrest warrant has been quashed. Thanks for dinner. It was great.”
“Yes, thank you,” I added. “Your spaghetti and the garlic cheese bread were excellent.”
“Do you boys want a ride home?” she asked.
“Thanks,” I replied, “but it’s only ten minutes from here. After eating so much, the walk will do us good.”
“Well, if you’re sure….”
“I agree with Curt,” Tom said, “we like to walk. We walk to school every day from my house, and getting home from here is shorter.”
We said our goodbyes and headed for home. When we got there Mr. and Mrs. Williams were waiting in the living room.
“Tom! Curt! I’m so glad to see you!” Mrs. W stood and rushed over to us as we walked in. She hugged Tom then hugged me. “We were so worried that the police would arrest you, Tom.”
“Well, they didn’t so I guess it’s taken care of. Right, Dad?”
“Come on and sit down and we’ll talk about it and update you about where it is now and where it’s probably going to end up,” Mr. Williams said.
Tom and I sat down across from Mr. and Mrs. Williams.
“So, Dad,” Tom said, “what is going on?”
“On Friday Brian Cooley filed a police report that Tom attacked him. Colton Brown is his attorney. He went to Judge Rossini and filed a complaint against Tom for assault and battery. The judge issued an arrest warrant and turned it over to the police department. He did it even though, in my opinion, he didn’t have sufficient evidence other than the statement of Colton Brown to prove the charges.
“The police that were here wanted to bring Tom in for questioning. Even though it’s Saturday, I phoned Beth Wolman at home and told her about the incident, and that Curt had taken a couple videos showing what happened. I explained that Colton Brown went to Judge Rossini and got an arrest warrant for Tom for assault and battery. She phoned Officer Flores, one of the two officers who arrested Brian Cooley and Colton Brown. He confirmed that he had the two videos that Curt gave him, he forwarded them to her. Remember that it’s Saturday and not a work day, Beth met with Judge Rossini and showed him the videos. He withdrew the complaint against Tom and cleared the arrest warrant. I appreciate how she went out of her way to resolve this matter.
“On Monday Beth will go before Judge Rossini with the arresting officers. Officer Flores will ask the judge for arrest warrants for Brian Cooley and Colton Brown. These arrest warrants will be based on the videos that Curt took and the arrest reports submitted by Officer Flores and Officer Jackson confirming that Brian Cooley attacked Tom and that both men resisted arrest.
“Like I told you yesterday, there could be a trial but more likely they will ask for a plea bargain for a reduced sentence since neither Tom nor Curt was injured. More likely it will involve community service. When I talked to Beth I suggested that the community service be to clean the quad, the cafeteria, and the bathrooms at Los Arcos High every Saturday.”
“And when they’re finished with that they can come here and mow our lawns, front and back, every Sunday,” Tom said. That made us all laugh.
“Tom, you really want those two guys around here on Sundays?” I asked.
He tipped his head to one side and rolled his eyes up like he might actually consider having them do the mowing, a job usually done by a gardening service.
“Nah, I guess not. Still, thinking about being able to sit on the front porch and the back deck and make derisive comments about their poor quality workmanship mowing the lawn makes me happy. But you’re right, Dad, I don’t want them anywhere near me or Curt.”
I busted up laughing. “Derisive comments and poor quality workmanship? Where’d you pick that up?”
“Hey, I watch TV and I read and I remember the occasional amusing repartee. Unfortunately, I seldom have the opportunity to use such quips.”
“Just remember that part, Thomas,” Mr. Williams said.
“And what part would that be, pater dear?” Tom responded. I found it hard to keep from laughing.
“The part about seldom having the opportunity to say any of those phrases, to which I’ll add ‘pater dear’ as well. Understand?”
“Yeah, Dad. I was just pulling Curt’s leg.” Tom saw his father’s expression. “And maybe yours too, but just a little.”
“Mr. Williams, I have a question, if it’s okay,” I said.
“Sure, Curt. What’s your question?”
“Did you find out anything about this Colton Brown guy, the lawyer?”
“Not a lot. I checked the Bar Association directory and there wasn’t much. He lists himself as a general legal practitioner. I checked a couple of the finder services and he seems to handle more divorce cases than other types of law. I checked his address and his office is in Martinez.”
“Well, we found out something interesting. When we went to Mrs. Hutchins’ house she was curious why we were there. We told her about what happened and showed her the videos, and she said she met with Colton Brown to see if he could help her get guardianship for Mark. It didn’t go well because he didn’t have enough experience doing guardianships, and he yelled at her for wasting his time. She told him it was mutual. ‘It was mutual,’ that is really funny.”
“Why did she pick him, Curt?” Mrs. W asked.
“She got his name from a legal referral service. She said she’d never use that service ever again.”
“Since we’ve been speaking about legal stuff,” I said, “Mr. Williams, have you heard anything more about when the judgment in Don’s case will be decided, and when the sentencing will happen?”
“I haven’t heard anything more, Curt. I still think it will be wrapped up by the third of August.
“Well, this has all been very interesting,” Mrs. W said, “but let’s talk about tomorrow. What are you boys planning to do tomorrow?”
Tom and I looked at each other, and we both shrugged our shoulders.
“We haven’t talked about anything yet, Mom. Maybe go to the mall with Mark and Kyle, see a movie or something. Or play video games here. Or go swimming and visit the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Larkey Park. Actually, the museum is a good idea. I don’t think Mark or Kyle would have been there. What about you, Curt? Have you been to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum?”
“Yeah, but that was years ago when I went on a school trip in like the fifth grade. We also went to the model railway club that’s in the park and that was a lot of fun. I think any or all of that is a great idea. You know, we could walk there from here, then go into town after and have something to eat.”
“I’ll phone Mark,” Tom offered, “and see if they’re interested. What time do you want to leave?”
“How about eleven. That way we can stop downtown on the way and have some lunch, then go to the Lindsay and the model railway place. It’s going to be a hot day so we should bring our suits and maybe we can go to swimming and then head home. Let’s leave our options open.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
We got up and said good night to Tom’s folks and went upstairs to his room. Tom called Mark. I only heard one side of the conversation, of course, but it sounded like they thought our suggestion for what to do and that they’d meet us here at eleven. So our Sunday plans were finalized.
Mark and Kyle arrived just before eleven. Tom’s folks had gone to church and weren’t back yet, so he wrote a note saying we’d left and would be home before dinner. Tom and I had day packs with bottled of water and some trail mix for snacks.
As we got close to downtown, Tom made a suggestion about where we could go to lunch.
“I think we should go to Lettuce,” he said, “their sandwiches and soups are awesome, especially the BLT. And it’s only a few blocks to the Iron Horse Trail where it goes through Civic Park. We can walk over and take it to Geary then to Larkey Park. That way they’ll see part of the trail.”
The rest of us agreed, so that’s what we did. After placing our lunch orders and paying, we pulled two of the outside tables together and concentrated on our meals for a few minutes.
“So,” I said, “what do you think about our suggestions for what we can do today?”
“I’m especially interested in the wildlife museum,” Kyle replied.
“Me too,” Mark added. “Let’s go there first. How long will it take to walk there?”
“About an hour,” Tom said. “We can walk up Civic and go to Civic Park and take the link to the Iron Horse Trail. We would branch off at the Contra Costa Canal Trail, and take it to where it crosses First Avenue, and turn off there. The Lindsay Wildlife Museum is on First Avenue at the west end of Larkey Park. Using the trails is a nice way to walk there, better than walking on city streets.”
“You seem to know how to get there,” Kyle said.
“I looked it up on Google Maps. Neither of you have been on any of the trails around here, right?”
Mark and Kyle said they didn’t know that there were walking trails here.
“There are at least a couple hundred miles of trails in the county,” Tom continued. “The best ones are where they go through the Regional Parks and the ones in Mt. Diablo State Park. Those are real hiking trails, mostly dirt. What we’ll be taking today are walking trails that are paved, mostly asphalt. Besides walkers like us there’ll be lots of people on bicycles and people walking their dogs. Maybe some skateboarders and inline skaters, too. The trails we’ll be using go behind houses and businesses, and through some of the city parks. There’s a tunnel under the freeway and traffic signals where the trails cross streets. The Contra Costa Canal Trail follows an actual canal. It will have water, but not a lot now because this is the middle of summer. It gets full in months where there is a lot of rain, and it’s exciting to walk along side it and see the water rushing downstream.”
We had a fantastic day. Mark said he would like to do more walking and hiking, and Tom described the hiking trails that he liked the best. Kyle didn’t seem to be saying much. I wondered if he was feeling sort of left out, and thinking about how he’d have to leave to go home and back to school soon.
“When do you think you’ll go home, Kyle?” I asked.
“I talked to my mom last night and she said I should plan on going home the first Monday in August. I hope there’s a decision about Don by then, but I guess when that happens it doesn’t really make any difference whether I’m here or back home, I’ll hear about it.”
Mark grabbed Kyle’s shoulders and they stopped and faced each other. “I’ll miss you, Kyle. I think of you like you’re my brother. The house is going to seem empty after you leave.”
“You’ll be going to school full time and making a lot more friends, Mark. Curt and Tom are good friends and Parker is going to be your boyfriend. When I get back to Niles West High I still won’t have any gay friends and I’ll have to stay in the closet and make sure I don’t do or say anything to be outed. You guys live in a great area where gay kids are accepted in your high school. I’m sorry I have to leave. But I miss my mom and sister, and it’ll be good to get home.”
“Tell your mom you want her to move here,” Tom suggested. “Use the better weather card. You never can tell, maybe she’ll do it.”
“I don’t think so. Mom got the house in the divorce and enough money that it’s paid for. Melissa has lots of friends, so even though she hates winter weather it’d be tough for her to leave. I don’t know, maybe I can come back next summer for a visit. I’d really like to do that.”
“I’d like that, too,” Mark said. Maybe your mom and sister could come out too. You can stay with Grandma and me. There’s enough room, and I’m sure Grandma would say it’s okay.”
Kyle seemed happier than he’d been earlier. We got to the Williams’ house so Tom and I said goodbye and Mark and Kyle continued to Mrs. Hutchins’ house.
Mr. and Mrs. Williams wanted to know what we did so I told them that we had lunch at Lettuce and how, in my opinion, they had the best BLT that I’d ever had. Tom told them how we walked on the Iron Horse and Contra Costa Canal trails and because we weren’t in a hurry it took us about an hour and a quarter to get to Larkey Park from downtown. I told them what we saw at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, including an eagle with a broken wing, a bobcat, a mountain lion cub that had been abandoned, a family of raccoons, and a possum and her babies. Tom told them about the model railway club and all of the model trains we saw, and how we’d thought about swimming at the Larkey Park Pool but it was filled with little kids so we decided to walk home. We used Buena Vista Avenue because it’s shorter than using the trails. Doing that meant it took us less than an hour to get home.
After dinner I went upstairs to do some more studying. I knew we’d have a couple snap quizzes this coming week in addition to the test that we were told to study for. After about an hour Tom came in and flopped down on my bed. He wore his boxer briefs and a T, the one that read ‘Your Boyfriend Thinks I’m Hot’. I looked at him and stretched.
“How’re you doing?” Tom asked me. “You think you’re going to do okay on your exam?”
“Yeah, I think I’m going to do okay. Better than okay. You have any ideas about what to do this week?”
“No. How about you?”
“Well, there’s a hell of a lot happening.” I began mentally checking off everything that would happen over the next few weeks.
“We’re waiting for Don’s verdict. We’ll find out if the plea bargains by Lee Ramsen and his dad have been finalized. We have the whole Colton Brown and Brian Cooley thing and what’s going to happen to them. Kyle will be getting ready to go home next week.
“On Monday afternoon I see the counselor about my relationship with my mom, and that ties in to whether I should move to my mom’s house and if so when, or stay here. That’s a serious decision that I’m going to have to make soon. Your parents have to be part of the decision process, too.
“I’m going to make an appointment to see Ray’s dad to find out about switching to a waterproof cast. My Algebra 2 class is almost finished. School starts in a few weeks, and my cast is going to come off right around then. I have to get a permission slip from the doctor so I can skip PE when school starts for however long the doctor says, probably the rest of this year.
“We have that website that we talked about with Laura that her dad is going to back with the money needed to get it going and Laura’s cousin Gary is going to help design the site.
“You’re going to work on getting your dad a smartphone, and get a new smartphone for yourself.
“Besides all of that, there’s the question about Mark and Parker and will they become boyfriends, and,” I grinned, “there’s the question about you and me, about us officially becoming boyfriends.”
“Check this off your list,” Tom said. “There’s no question about it, we’re officially boyfriends. Now add this to your list. I want us to start sleeping together, beginning tonight, and every night while you’re still living here. Because you’ll probably be moving back to your mom’s house, sleeping together is something that I think is very important for us to do now and we won't be able to do it after you move home. So do you agree, and when will you be ready to come to bed?”
We stood up and I kissed him. “I agree. Give me fifteen minutes to get ready for bed and I’ll see you in your room. How’s that?”
It turned out that what Tom said we should do, we did. So I mentally lined out that last item on my list indicating that it was complete.
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