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© Miguel Sanchez 2003 - 2004
The Healing Begins
After breakfast, Jay and I took Jono to the police station so he could view the lineup. The whole process took about fifteen minutes. Jono picked out the man who he said raped him and the police thanked him for coming down. When we returned from the station, Pop and Mike were waiting for us. Jono went into the office and they closed the door.
A couple of hours later the District Attorney called telling us that there may not be a need for a trial. The person who did this has two prior convictions for violent crimes and this one would be his third strike. DNA evidence linked him to this crime so the man took a plea and it looked like there wasn't going to be the need for a trial. When Jono heard the news, he was very happy that he wasn't going to have to testify. Here was his chance to start living again.
After we returned, Jay and I stopped at the main house for a cup of coffee. Jono got a soda and asked, "Can I go over to our house and lie down and take a nap? I'm a little tired since I didn't sleep to well last night."
Jay and I looked at each other and just shrugged our shoulders. I looked at him and said, "Sure Jono, it's alright. I'll see to it someone comes and gets you for lunch."
"I know he didn't sleep that well last night bro but I hope he isn't going to start withdrawing from everyone," I said to Jay.
Swallowing a mouthful
of coffee he answered, "Marco, this is just the first day after a very traumatic
experience. I think a little withdrawing is in order. We've told him over and
over he did nothing wrong and it wasn't his fault. He needs time to himself and
to allow this to sink in and to have the rest he needs to do it. I'd be
surprised if he didn't do this for several days."
"Maybe you're right bro," I said to Jay, swallowing a mouthful of coffee. "I've never been through anything like he has and I must admit, I'm somewhat out of my league here. I think I'll go and talk to Pop. He's been around for a long time and I'm sure he can advise me on how to handle this."
"I don't know if I can remember it considering how long I've been around," Pop said as he came into the dining room.
"Way to go bro," Jay said through his snickers. "I love how you can fit your foot and whole leg in you mouth without choking."
"Thanks, I love you too," I said as I tried to get my foot out of my mouth. "I wasn't referring to you as old Pop, I just meant you've been around and seen a lot in your days practicing."
Pop was standing there giggling and said, "I know what you meant son and I just couldn't resist the chance to get a shot in at you. I think it might be best if I talked with Jono alone at first. I had thought of going into child and adolescent psychiatry but decided against it. If need be, I can get Mike to help with the sessions but I want to see if there are any other problems buried under the surface."
On his way over to the house, Jono was mulling things over in his mind about what had transpired over the last twenty-four hours. He went inside and realized he was really very tired. Once on the second floor, he started removing his shirt getting ready for a very well deserved nap. As soon as he entered his room, he saw Kevin sitting on his bed reading something very intently when he heard Jono enter.
The look that suddenly came across Kevin's face told Jono he was doing something he shouldn't. "Oh shit Jono, I'm sorry," Kevin started saying as he started folding the papers back. "I remade your bed because Tito and I slept here last night and I found these in between the mattresses when I tucked the sheet in. I don't know what all this is."
By now, Kevin was in tears. Jono walked over to him and said, "Come here buddy, don't cry. It's alright and I'm not upset."
"Jono, did all this really happen to you?" Kevin asked through tear-covered eyes as he hugged his friend tightly. "I can't believe you're still alive with all..."
"Shush now little one," Jono said wiping Kevin's eyes with his shirt.” Now, no one must ever know what is on that paper. Will you promise me Kevin?"
Kevin studied Jono's face after he asked him to promise he'd keep what he read a secret. He saw something in his face that begged him to keep his friend's secret. Kevin said, "Yes Jono, I promise I won't say anything to anyone unless you tell me first."
Jono yawned and slipped his jeans down his legs and off his feet as he said, "Thank you buddy. You'll know what this is all about soon but right now; I need a nap. I'll see you at lunch."
Kevin gave his friend a big hug and kiss before letting him get the rest he needed. He headed out of the door and downstairs then went outside to catch up with some of the others.
upstairs; Jono was pleased at himself that he was able to keep his secret safe.
He took the pages and folded them and stuffed them into his pants pocket and
laid his head down and went off to sleep.
Kevin went around and found the others in the stable. Eduardo saw the cute blond haired boy and went running over to him. "Hey Kevin," Eduardo said smiling. "Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you."
"Making Jono's bed," he said. "Tito and I slept there last night. I really didn't want to be away from him."
"I was worried about you too," Eduardo said looking Kevin right in the eyes. "I like you and I know you were upset. I wanted to call over to see if you were alright but Dad said you were busy and couldn't be disturbed."
"I wish you had," Kevin said. "I was and Marco helped but I would have liked it if you could have come over. Do you think you might be able to tonight?"
Eduardo smiled and said, "I'll talk with my Dad and find out but I don't think there will be a problem."
Kevin saw the others in the stable and asked, "What's everyone doing?"
Eduardo looked over his shoulder and replied, "Cleaning the stables. It has to be done once a week. Come on, everyone helps."
"Oh no, not me," Kevin said shaking his head. "I don't like horses. There is no way I'm going in there."
Eduardo got a wild grin on his face and said, "How about if I take your hand and show you around? The horses are in the corral and can't get back inside."
Kevin still had a look of apprehension on his face as he said, "I don't know Eduardo. I've never liked anything to do with horses. But maybe if . . ."
That was all the opening Eduardo needed. He took Kevin's hand and headed towards the stable. As they walked, both boys had smiles on their faces until they got into the stable. Kevin's nose wrinkled and he said, "Whew, this place stinks. An outhouse smells better."
Eduardo laughed and said, "It is a little strong in here but when it is clean, it does smell better. Would you like to go riding with me some time?"
"I don't know," Kevin said. "I've never liked horses. They scare me for some reason."
Eduardo went over and hugged him and said "its ok, I understand. Angela doesn't like horses either and when we go to the lake for swimming, someone is coming out in a vehicle so you can get a ride with them."
That statement got Kevin's mind working overtime. He said, "What do we do, stay in out trunks until we get back here?"
Eduardo went over and whispered into his ear saying, "We go skinny dipping." Kevin got a grin on his face and Eduardo took this opportunity to give him his first kiss, right on the cheek.
Kevin was beaming and he pulled Eduardo into a hug and said, "I didn't think you liked me?"
Eduardo looked at his friend when Kevin took the lead and kissed Eduardo flush on the mouth. Jordan came out of one of the stalls and whistled. Both boys stopped and turned red then Eduardo said, "I've seen you three kiss enough so I wouldn't be whistling, if I were you."
Jordan walked over to both boys and hugged them saying, "I think it's great you guys like each other, but Kevin I thought you liked Jono?"
"Nah, he's too old." Kevin said. "I'm only 13 and he's an adult. I don't know what it is but today he really gave me the creeps. It's like all of a sudden it's as if he's hiding something from me."
"He has been through a lot in the past 24 hours," Jordan said. "So he has a lot to deal with. It's going to take time for him to get over all that. Now come on, let's get this work done. If we get it finished before lunch, we can have the rest of the day off and Marco said we can go to the lake for a swim."
The boys went back into the stable and finished cleaning. Back at the main house Pop, Jay and Mike and I were sitting around the table talking about the recent events when the phone rang. I got up and went into the office and in a few minutes came back with a rather disconcerting look on my face. I went back over to my place and took a mouthful of coffee continuing to sit there in silence.
This continued for a few minutes when Pop said, "Are we all going to sit here like we're in a power failure or are you to tell us what the phone call was all about?"
"I'm sorry Pop," I said still very much lost in thought. "That was Agent Levy from Interpol. He's on his way here with two officers from Australia. They said they have some papers to deliver to us."
Mike looked at all of us and said, "I wonder what all this is about? Its unusual Interpol is involved just to bring papers. They could be faxed or sent via certified mail."
Pop took a sip of his fresh cup of coffee and said, "Well, I guess we'll have to wait until they arrive to see what they have to give us."
Tito came into the house and said they were just about finished cleaning the stable. I hollered, "Whoa son, that's far enough. Please take those coveralls and boots off."
"All right Dad," Tito said as he took the offending items off his body.
"Sorry Dad," Tito said. "I didn't think the smell was that bad but the stables were really filthy this week. I think you may want each person to clean his own horse's stall, as they need it. I think this way it will be easier on everyone."
I thought about what my boy had said and I had to admit it was a good one. I looked at him and said, "Son that is a very good idea. The boys that don't have horses may help if they wish. Please tell them to take their coveralls and boots off at the back door then wash your face, arms and hands before coming into the house."
Tito smiled and ran back out to tell the others about removing their outer garments and washing. Kevin was the first to shed his coveralls and just then he had his shirt off and began washing himself from the waist up at the water barrel. While Kevin was washing, Eduardo did the same. Soon all the boys were bare-chested and washing. Tito had brought a few towels out so they could dry themselves but they had paired up and were assisting each other with the process.
When everyone was clean and dry, they began heading for the house. Mike, Tim and Jordan were all holding hands and when our newest couple saw this, they followed suit. The others came up one or two at a time and patted them on the back. Even Tito gave them a hug and said something to them.
Kevin and Eduardo went into the kitchen to help bring the food out. Mike took the Hummer and went to wake Jono and get him for lunch.
Mike went upstairs and walked to Jono's room but when he got there, the door was locked. Banging on it, he got Jono's attention and he finally came and opened it. Mike looked at him and asked, "Jono, why was the door locked? You know that's not allowed."
Jono put his shirt on and just walked past him saying nothing. He stormed down the stairs and out the front door letting it slam behind him. Mike had to jog just to catch up with the teen and as before, Jono slammed the door on the Hummer.
Mike was a quiet and easy going individual but he hated being ignored when he spoke directly to someone. "Jono," he said. "I asked you a question before and I want an answer."
Jono glared at him and said, "I didn't tell you? Well then, I must not have wanted you to know."
Mike was totally confused at Jono's behavior as all he did was stare out the window at the short drive to the house. He tried to get him to talk but Jono refused to say anything. They were a couple of minutes away from the house when Mike looked at Jono and said, "I don't know what your problem is but there are people who care about you."
Mike pulled up to the main house and before the Hummer was in park or the engine off, Jono opened the door and hopped out. Pop was standing at the window and saw this. He wasn't going to allow any one to do things that were blatantly unsafe and he intended on telling him. He stepped out to speak to him but Jono just blew past and ignored him.
He walked in behind him and said "Jono, get over here now!"
Jono stopped and stared at him. He contemplated ignoring him but thought better of it. He walked over to Pop and just said, "Yeah, what do you want?"
I knew Pop didn't take kindly to people being rude to him and he said, "If I ever see you do that again, you will be walking every place you need to get to. Do I make myself clear?"
I think this was the first time Jono had someone get into his face but for a minute it brought him out of his cloud. He said, "Yes sir, I understand."
Kevin and Eduardo had just finished bringing the food out to the table as Jono took a seat away from the others. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was as if I was seeing a totally different kid. The boys noticed this and Jordan just sat there for a few minutes with his mouth hanging open.
The noon meal was eaten in almost total silence. After everyone had finished, I let the boys have the afternoon off to do what ever they wanted. Eduardo was the first to my side with an idea. He said, "Marco, can we go swimming at the lake. We can ride our horses and give them some exercise in the process."
I wasn't born yesterday so I knew what he had in mind. I looked at the boys and said, "Make sure you have towels and Ruben, Stevie is on his way so please get him a towel and saddle his horse for him, will you please?"
Ruben went into his room and returned with two towels and went out to the stables to saddle his and Stevie's horse. Jono got up as if to join the others and I said, "I think you better stay here. We have some things we need to talk about."
He just stared at me then turned to face out the window. I walked out to the stables to check on the boys before they left when I saw Steven drive up with Stevie. Stevie got out and bolted over to Ruben who was standing there with a huge grin on his face.
Turning to Steven I said, "It looks like he may have a close friend."
"We talked about this a few days ago," Steven replied.
"Are you telling me Stevie's gay?" I asked surprisingly.
"He's not sure," Steven said. "But he likes Ruben. He also told me about the circle jerk in the shower that took place a while ago and he said he couldn't take his eyes off Ruben. He also said they had talked and Ruben likes him too. Maybe they will just be friends, I don't know but he did ask if I would be upset if they fooled around. I gave him the same words Dad gave me when I was his age."
I'm standing there with my eyes about to pop out of my head while Steven is telling me this. I finally composed myself and said, "I'm always the last to know, aren't I?"
Steven laughed and said, "It would seem so, wouldn't it?"
I smiled back and said, "I know Ruben is a good kid so you don't have to worry about them forcing the other into something they don't want to do. I also know that intercourse won't be talked about for a long time."
Steven nodded his head then looked towards the road as a black limo drove up to the house and three people in dark suits got out and looked around. I looked at the visitors as Ronnie came over to us and said, "Hey guys, can you check the horses and see the boys off while I see to our guests?"
Ronnie and Steven nodded their heads as I turned and walked towards the men in the suits. The older looking of the three came forward and said, "I'm Sir William Levy of Interpol, and you sir are?"
I extended my hand towards his and said, "I'm Marco Cortez. I'm the Director of Child Services here at The Ranch. I understand you have some papers to deliver to us?"
Sir William nodded his head and said as I heard the phone ring, "Yes sir, that I do. Would you have some place we could go where we can talk in private?"
I headed towards the house and said, "Follow me." I headed for the office as Sir William and the other men were close behind. I went in and got the cordless as Sir William was telling something to the other two men.
I was listening to what was being said on the phone as Sir William came in and sat down in Pop's desk chair. I thought to myself `He wasn't going to be too pleased with his chair occupied by a stranger. Oh well, Sir William will just have to move his butt.' Gwen Cooper was telling me about a child a former co-worker from California and now in Texas she had told her about.
The child was 9 years old and was of Mexican heritage. He caught the child being molested but thought he was enjoying it. The father had beaten the child quite severely and was left with some nerve damage to his legs. I got what information she had and asked if her colleague would give us a call here as soon as possible. Gwen said she would and I hung up.
When I set the phone down, Sir William handed me a sealed manila envelope. When I opened it and took out the papers and read them, my jaw almost hit the floor. I was reading deportation orders on Jono. I looked at Sir William and said, "Just what the hell is going on? WHY is he being deported back to Australia?"
William looked at me and said, "All I can say is he is a material witness in an on-going investigation." I was getting mad. I had just gone through an ordeal with him I hope I never have to go through again. I looked at him and said, "I'm sorry but that answer isn't good enough. You are going to have to do some more explaining."
I looked at Sir William and saw he was giving some thought to what I just said. He cleared his throat and said, "Very well sir, I'll tell you this. We have an on-going investigation into the deaths of two individuals that Jono is more than a little familiar with."
I couldn't believe what I just heard. I said, "Certainly you don't believe he had anything to do with it, do you?"
"Right now I don't know what to believe," he said. "I've wanted to talk with him for the last several months but he's kept avoiding me. I'm not accusing him, nor am I clearing him. I have questions about this that I know he has answers to and I'm going to talk with him."
I thought for a minute and said, "We have plenty of room here and you can take as long as you need to interview him. I must tell you that he is under a physician's care for a very traumatic experience that happened just yesterday."
"I saw him sitting out there looking out the window," Sir William said. "Are you telling me he is under orders that he can't fly? If you are, I'm going to want him examined by another doctor."
"That's not what I'm saying," I said almost shooting daggers out of my eyes. "He was brutally assaulted yesterday and he is still in quite a bit of discomfort. If you are worried about the cost of lodging and meals that is not a problem, we have room here for all of you and you are more than welcome to dine here with us too. We have a fine chef on staff here."
"I'm sorry sir but that is not an option," Sir William said. "A deportation hearing has been held and the order has been signed. We have a plane standing by ready to take him back with us."
I was still not
satisfied by what Sir William was saying and I saw Pop come into the office and
take a seat. I started to say something but he beat me to it. Pop said, "I've
been listening to the majority of this conversation. Marco, there is nothing you
can do in this case about over turning the signed order. I don't know whether or
not he has anything to do with what has happened, but I do know he should go and
clear this matter up, once and for all. Running from a problem never solved it."
"Well," I said. "I guess we need to get his things packed since there is nothing more we can do for him right now. But I have a question for you, Sir William. You've had one of our resident’s deported based on speculation and theory on your part. What happens if he is cleared of all involvement in this matter? You have effectively created a persona non grata and for no reason."
Sir William looked at the both of us and turned away. Pop stood up and stepped outside the office and brought Jono's bags in and handed them to him. Pop looked at William and said, "I hope you can live with what you've done. If he is innocent, you could face an investigation yourself. I myself would like to see that happen. You knew he was here and you never tried to contact us to interview him. I have friends myself and I might contact them about your conduct. Now, take Jono and get the hell off my property."
We walked into the dining room and Jono was still sitting there looking out the window. As we went over to him he still had that same blank look on his face he came in with. "Jono you need to go with these men," I said. "They need to talk with you about something that happened and are sure you can help them. Just tell them the truth."
Jono stood and walked towards the door. He didn't even turn to look back at us. The two younger men gave Jono a quick patting down then they all got into the limo and left. We had no idea what to tell the others when they returned from their afternoon of fun. Pop and I went over to my house and stripped Jono's bed and remade it. On his desk there was a note. It read:
I knew someday this would happen. I was just hoping it would happen later then sooner. I don't know what happened but I'm sure I had nothing to do with it. Take good care of the others here. It looks like Kevin has a friend now and that's good. I was worried about him.
We wiped our eyes then
finished cleaning the room. While we were doing this I informed him about my
conversation with Gwen earlier and about the young man I was hoping I would get
the chance to operate on. Pop looked at me and said, "You realize that could be
a logistics nightmare?"
"I don't think so Pop." I said smoothing out the bedspread. "From what I gather this kid lives here in Texas. The only thing I don't know is where and if there is a hospital willing to grant us temporary privileges."
"That may not be necessary Marco," I heard a voice say. It was Jay standing in the door and he continued saying, "If the child is other wise healthy, we can bring him here and I can get you privileges at General and they have all the equipment we need. You know I like to examine and assess each patient for myself."
We quickly finished straightening the room and went back over to the main house just as the boys were coming back from their swim. Ronnie and Kevin pulled up in the Hummer as the others went to unsaddle their horses and cool them down. Kevin came running over and jumped into my arms saying, "Thanks Marco, we had a great time swimming this afternoon. Next time you need to go with us. It would be fun jumping off your shoulders like we did Ronnie's."
Ronnie was standing there turning the cutest shade of red I'd ever saw. He just shrugged his shoulders and went into the house to finish preparing dinner.
Once the horses were cooled down and brushed all the boys paired up and went into the house and decided to watch some television. No one seemed to notice the fact Jono was no longer there. I figured if they had questions, they would ask them in their own good time.
I had just opened a soda when I heard the fax ring. `That had to be information Gwen had told me about,' I thought to myself.
I took at few pulls
from the can then went into the office to see what had been sent. I took the
papers from the tray and began to look at them. Jay and Mike came in and stood
there while I read the papers. I handed the cover sheet and photo to them while
I read the medical information. I quickly scanned the other sheets then handed
them to Mike. I studied the medical evaluation further then handed them to Jay.
I saw a tear start to fall from Mike's eyes and I walked over to him and put my arm around his shoulder. He looked up at me sadly. "How can a parent do this to his child?"
"I know son," I replied looking at Mike. "For what it's worth, he is serving a very heavy jail sentence for what he did. I have it on good authority that there are others that know what he did and his life will be filled with misery."
After we had all read the papers, we decided to sit and talk about the prospect of a new resident. Since I seem to know the most, I led the discussion. "Our prospective resident is named Emilio Perez. He is nine years old and was severely beaten by his father. Since there are no immediate family members willing to take care of him, Social Services is looking to place the child with a long-term family but none are willing to accept him in his current condition. I think his nerve damage can be repaired but it may take several operations. He will need a place where he can be accepted for who he is while he recovers."
Mike asked a question while I was shifting to another page. "Is there a chance he maybe gay?"
I thought for a minute
and said, "I don't think anyone knows yet. He is only nine but from what his
social worker has surmised, it might be true because he never once complained at
the times he was fondled. Alex says here he said he even touched the other boy
and seemed to enjoy doing it."
Pop walked into the office and we handed him the papers on Emilio and he sat and read them over very carefully. It took him about ten minutes to read them then he looked at Jay and I and said, "I suppose you two are going to want to go and examine and interview this young man to see if there is anything you can do to help correct the nerve damage?"
Jay looked at his father and said, "You know me that well. I like to see for myself before I make any decisions one way or another. From everything I've read there is a good chance that we can repair the damage but it's going to involve several operations."
We all got up and headed for the dining room as I looked at Pop and said, "I think I'd like to give Alexis a call in the morning and see if I can schedule a time where Jay and I can examine Emilio and see if there is anything we can do for him surgically. Either way though, he is coming here as a resident because there isn't any place willing to accept him."
Pop smiled at the three of us and said, "I thought you would all feel that way. In case you're wondering, I'm letting you guys make more of the decisions as who comes here and who doesn't. I'm planning on taking a less active role here because I'm going to be looking at other areas where the foundation can be of assistance. This will mean I'll be travelling more so my time here will be limited. I have had three requests for assistance and I want to see if they meet the criteria. After that is done, I'm planning on going back into full time retirement. I want to watch these boys grow and become good young men."
To be continued