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I hope you enjoy this story.
© Miguel Sanchez 2003 - 2004
A Day of Reckoning
I couldn't see a thing for several seconds then I spotted Jay heading towards the main gate. I put Apollo into a full gallop and went towards the tree line hoping to cut the running child off. I was closing the gap but then lost sight of him again. I had to slow down when I heard Jay shout, "Conner stop! Please come back."
I heard Jay yelling at him while I was coming up to the gate. I swear he was galloping in slow motion. I heard Jay yell once more just as I reached the fence. Conner stopped suddenly then he turned and looked at us.
We both hollered for him to come back and then he went to turn around but in doing so, he stepped into the road into on coming traffic. A car that couldn't stop immediately struck him and the thud was sickening. I quickly hopped the fence while Jay grabbed his phone and pressed the button saying, "Pop we need the emergency bags and call an ambulance. Ronnie, please take the others back to the house until one of use comes there."
I ran up to him and quickly assessed him. Jay came up behind me as I said "Hold his neck so we can log roll him onto his back."
As soon as we got Conner on his back we heard a siren. The officer had brought Pop and the gear out to us and blocked traffic so we could work. Jay assessed his breathing and determined he needed to be intubated. He quickly got a breathing tube into his trachea and connected him to an ambu bag with oxygen. Pop began squeezing the bag while Jay assessed his breath sounds. He said, "Marco, I know I'm in his trachea but I'm not getting any breath sounds."
I hooked him up to an ECG monitor and then felt his ribs. I felt a possible broken rib over his left lung. "You need to put a chest tube into the left side to drain the air out. I know this isn't the best place to do this but we have no choice."
I started large bore intravenous lines on him while Jay put the chest tube in him. Once that was in place, he was getting some oxygen but his condition is very critical. Pop was breathing for him and watching the monitor when I heard him say, "Marco, he's arresting."
Jay quickly started administering medications when I started CPR on him. I started compressions and once Jay had the drugs on board, I told him to prepare to shock him. "Jay, set for 250 joules. Clear and shock."
Jay shocked him and Pop said, "We have a pulse."
At that point, we heard a siren getting louder and louder. I was never so glad to hear an ambulance in my life as I was then. The rig stopped by us and the paramedic came over saying, "I hope you have a good explanation for all this."
Pop looked at him and said, "They're surgeons and he's their patient. Marco, he's arrested again. Start CPR."
The paramedic started compressions and Jay started giving him another round of drugs. Once they were on board, I grabbed the paddles and prepared to shock him again. I set the defibrillator to 350 and prepared to shock. I hollered, "Clear!"
I shocked and Pop said, "No conversion. He's now in V fib."
Jay set it to 400. "Clear!"
Pop shook his head and the paramedic went to restart CPR when I just shook my head no. Conner was in asystole so I decided to call it at that point. I looked at my watch and said, "Time of death, sixteen forty-three."
I pronounced my first child dead. The paramedics disconnected the monitor and took care of everything for us.
As soon as I walked away from Conner, I went over to the woods and proceeded to throw up. This was the absolute worst part of my job. Suddenly, I was filled with total rage and I wanted the one person responsible for this child's death. I turned walking towards the gate when Pop stood up and grabbed me by the shoulders pulling me into his chest where I just started crying.
I cried for about fifteen minutes then I went over to the police officer and asked, "Do you still have that court order?"
He handed it to me then said, "I never meant for this to happen Doc. I have two children myself."
I looked at him and said, "I know officer, you were just doing your job and you did wait to see if we could get questions answered before taking the boy. Right now, there is something I need to do."
I turned and went in the gate then mounted Apollo. I took off into the woods and the officer said, "I wonder where he's going in such a hurry?"
The three of them stood there for a few minutes when Jay said, "Oh shit, I think I know. I bet he's heading for Conner's stepfather's place. I just hope Marco doesn't lose his temper."
"Come on guys," the officer said heading for his patrol car. "We better get there before he does."
I let Apollo run fast and free. I hadn't given him a good run in a long time and it gave me a chance to think about what I was going to do to that piece of work when I got there. I slowed him down and he quickly crossed the low end of the lake. Once on the other side, I took off for the stepfather's place at full gallop.
I saw him sitting at the picnic table with what looked like a beer. I had given serious consideration to running him over but deep inside, I knew that wasn't the wisest thing to do. I brought Apollo to a halt then said, "Hey dip wad, do you still want to see your stepson?"
He laughed at me and said, "Yeah, as a matter of fact I do."
I jumped down off Apollo's back and walked over to him. I grabbed him with both hands by the front of his shirt raising him to his feet. I looked him in the face and said, "You'll be able to see him in about two hours, but he's not at the home at the present time."
"Oh," he said. "Just where is he?"
I threw him back into his chair just as Pop and the others arrived. "Thanks to you he's in the hospital's morgue. You tried to force him to come back to the place he feared and he ran off. He was so upset that he stepped into the road not knowing where he was and he was struck and killed by a car. I just hope you're very happy because you haven't seen the last of me."
"Marco back off now!" Pop yelled.
The prick stood up and said, "It's a good thing I don't hold grudges. I'm sorry about the kid. I'll go and identify him later."
I jumped up on Apollo's back and said; "Don't bother. We have legal custody so that's our responsibility."
I turned around and rode off sending dust and dirt all over him. I snickered as I rode back to the lake. I looked at my watch and saw it was too late to confront the judge but I could still phone Judge Gordon. I slowed Apollo down and crossed the lake then just let him walk as I thought about how to tell the boys their friend just died.
As I pulled up to the house, I saw the Hummer that Gwen used to take Mike to school. I also saw the officer's car leaving so I knew Pop and Jay were back as well. I went inside and they were all sitting around the table and she was visibly shaken. She gave me a hug and I joined them to figure out how to tell the boys.
We decided how we were going to do it when Ronnie came in with all the boys. I was going to be upset but it saved us a trip over to the house to talk with them. They came over to where we were sitting then Eduardo asked, "Marco, where's Conner?"
I didn't know how religious the boys were so I didn't want to use the `he's in heaven' line on them. "Go on into the living room and sit down and I'll tell you what happened."
The boys huddled together and I ended up with a lap full of Tito and Tommy. I took a deep breath and said, "Conner heard some things that weren't totally true. He thought he was being sent back to his stepfather's house. We were going to call the judge that let him stay here to find out if it was really true when he got scared then started running again."
Mike asked through Tito, "Did he die like my parents did?"
There was no getting around this and I couldn't lie to them. I could see them tearing up as they seemed to know what I was going to say. I looked at Mike and said, "Yes son, he did."
Jordan asked, "Was he in any pain?"
He was unconscious when we got to him. "No son. He wasn't."
They all got up and one by one, they came and hugged the adults and went outside to be with each other. We thought it best to have some of the boys here tonight so there would be adults in case they started needing to talk so Eduardo, Kevin, Stevie and Ruben would sleep in their rooms. I would put Tito and Tommy upstairs so Jay and Ronnie could use his room so there would be plenty of other adults for my gang.
Dinner was a somber affair without much talking or eating going on. After everyone had what they wanted, the adults went into the living room while the boys wanted to stay with themselves. Pop looked at us and said, "Tomorrow I'm going to drive into town and see Judge Gordon. I spoke with him earlier and he wants to see the order for himself. He told me he was going to make some phone calls himself to see if he could get to the bottom of this. He said he's been seeing some irregularities but couldn't go into details."
Gwen looked at us and said, "I'll call Alex in the morning and see if there is anything she can tell me. She's like I am in that she cares for the kids first, everything else is secondary."
In the rec room, the boys were talking amongst themselves. Kevin was shaking his head saying, "Man I just wished he hadn't freaked. Eduardo and I told him no one would let anything happen to him."
Carlos spoke up saying, "I know sometimes it's easier said than done dude. When I was on the street, I had people tell the others and me that but when the cops came along, all bets were off so we just learned not to trust anyone. This is the first time I feel totally safe but Conner had only been here just over one day so he was still learning to trust."
Eduardo looked up and said, "I know and I'm sure going to miss him."
The boys cuddled together and started to doze off. We had talked until dark then decided to check on them. We all started looking when Gwen said, "In here guys. I think you should look at this."
There were eleven boys huddled together on the floor sound asleep. We talked for a few minutes and decided to just let them sleep right there. Pop and Gwen went back to the main house. They would keep the phone close to their beds in case we had a large crisis tonight.
I was just about to climb into bed when Eduardo and Kevin appeared at the door. I made the mistake of stripping before getting under the cover so there I was in my all-together standing before them but I decided not to make a big deal about it. "What's up boys? Do you guys want to talk for a bit?"
Eduardo jumped onto the bed and held his arms out to me. Kevin followed suit and there I was with my nephew and his boyfriend in my arms holding them close. "Can we sleep with you tonight Uncle Marco?"
I looked into their longing eyes and said, "Sure you can. Go to the bathroom and come on."
Eduardo scampered into the bathroom when Kevin said, "You look hot Marco. Sometimes I wish I was a little older."
Before I could answer, he had removed his clothes and ran to the toilet where I heard the sound of water hitting water. Eduardo came out wearing just a smile so I climbed in bed and quickly had a boy under each arm. They cuddled close then Eduardo said, "It's so sad that Conner is gone and we didn't get the chance to help him more. I hope he is at peace now and he's with the trio's parents. I can feel him in my heart and he seems to be telling me he's really alright now."
I was moved by what Eduardo said. I wasn't the most religious of people but I did believe in heaven. I just couldn't think Conner would be any other place but there.
I woke early to find two other boys had joined us during the night. Tito and Tommy had crawled in with us and I must have been so out of it I never felt them. I slid out of bed so I wouldn't disturb them so I could take my morning pee. I looked in where Jay and Ronnie were sleeping and found they had Ruben and Stevie with them. I looked in the third bedroom and there were five boys sleeping soundly. Mike, Tim, Jordan, Carlos, and Emilio were all huddled on that one bed. I couldn't see their heads so it was impossible to tell who was who amongst that mass of arms and legs.
I grabbed my robe and clean clothes and went upstairs to take a shower so I wouldn't wake everyone. When I was done, I went to the kitchen so I could have my first cup of coffee. I looked at the clock and it read six fifteen. I told the staff I wanted breakfast ready for eight with everything that happened yesterday. I knew everyone would be very hungry but they also seemed to be all very tired.
I sat and drank my coffee and soon I had a lap full of naked little boy. "Morning Uncle Marco," Eduardo said. "Did you sleep well last night?"
I kissed him on the forehead then said, "Yes I did little one. I don't mind you being nude upstairs but please not around the other staff."
He sniffed and smelled food cooking then he turned bright red and ran for my bedroom. He screamed, "Oh man! I hope they didn't see me."
I laughed when I saw his bare fanny wiggling as he ran. I think that was the best lesson I could have ever taught someone without trying. I looked at the clock and it was now seven thirty. One by one, the semi-awake boys were making there way down to the kitchen followed by two not so awake adults.
I looked at Jay and Ronnie and said with a smile, "Well, good morning my brothers. Did you sleep well?"
Ronnie scowled saying, "Well if it isn't little Mary Sunshine? We did but my stomach and bladder woke me but not in that order."
I couldn't help but laugh when I heard that. I looked up and five boys came slowly into the dining room. Jordan walked past me without saying a word and fixed himself a cup of coffee. If I hadn't known better, they were acting like they all had a wild night of sex.
I had to remind them that they weren't properly dressed so they scooted down the hall in their underwear so they could get clothes on. I would have given them some extra chores for not remembering but this was a special situation I hope we never have to go through again. After breakfast we had Jordan watch the boys while we went to the main house.
Pop was in the office when we got there and Gwen was on the phone too. I got myself some coffee while we waited for them to join us. I was hoping that Pop could tell us something because my mind was having thoughts I really didn't want to think about. I still remember the shit my brothers and I went through and what I did bringing Tito here.
Pop came out and said he had a meeting with Judge Gordon in an hour and asked if any of us wanted to go with him. I knew if I heard anything like I did yesterday I would get totally pissed so he said, "Marco, if you come with me you have to promise you will keep that hot blooded temper of yours under control."
Looking at my feet I mumbled, "Yes sir, I promise. I just hope this isn't Recife reincarnated."
"I know we all hope that son," Pop said fixing a cup of coffee. "The only way we're going to find out is to hear what Judge Gordon has to say."
I scooted over to the house and made myself presentable for meeting Judge Gordon. I hurried up but still had to run because Pop was in the Hummer and ready to leave without me. "Hey Pop, wait for me," I said running flat out.
I saw the brake lights come on and I saw him motion for me to hurry up. I hopped into the front seat and he said, "Nice of you to join me."
I turned red and just sat there. Damn, I hate it when he gets me like that and I don't have a come back. The drive into town wasn't bad until we hit the downtown area. We did manage to find a parking spot close to the courthouse so it wouldn't take forever to get there. It was a warm and humid day and I didn't feel like being out there in a suit and tie.
We found the judge's chambers and knocked on the door. A deputy sheriff opened it and Pop said, "Drs. Miguel Sanchez and Marco Cortez to see Judge Gordon. We have an appointment."
He held the door leading into the judge's office where we met the man for the first time. He was about twenty years younger than Pop but in many ways, these two guys were a lot alike. His mannerisms and no nonsense way of saying things made me take an instant liking to him. The judge looked at Pop and said, "Did you remember to bring that order with you? If you didn't, don't worry about it. I can get a copy with the clerk of his court."
Pop reached inside his jacket and produced that piece of paper. He handed it to the judge and I swear I saw his blood begin to boil. I couldn't hold my curiosity any longer. "What is it, Your Honor?"
"I'll have his ass for this," Judge Gordon growled. "He had to have known the child was in foster care and that I'm the only person in this county that places children there."
Pop looked at the judge and said, "I'd like to have a few words with him also. Why would he allow a man who has been charged with child neglect visitation until those charges have been cleared?"
"That's a good question Miguel," the judge said. "I'm not buying he didn't know the guy was out on bond either because he held the hearing. I'm tempted to go and see him. I'm going to bring charges against him for malfeasance and allowing a person out on bond for child neglect contact with the minor."
Pop decided to see if he could get in to see the district court judge. He said, "Before you do, let me confront him."
"I don't think that's wise," Judge Gordon said. "He could spill his guts to you then swear you were acting as an agent for the court and have everything he said not admitted into evidence."
The judge pushed a button on his phone and the deputy came in. He handed him a piece of paper and the man turned and left. A few minutes later Sam Thomas came walking in. He looked at us and said, "Hey guys, what are you doing here?"
The judge filled him in then handed him another piece of paper. Sam's eyes got big as I said, "I think this is one arrest you're going to like."
"Well it's about time," Sam said. "I hate going into his court. I've had more cases dismissed than I can count. That's why I make more felony arrests than most detectives because they have to go into superior court instead of the district court. Even when I've got all my ducks in a row, he finds a way to acquit them or dismiss them out right."
This was something I wasn't going to miss. Sam turned to leave and I were on his heels like a puppy going for a treat. Pop looked at me ready to speak but I beat him to the punch. "I'm going to behave myself Pop. I want to see this guy dismiss his way out of this."
Judge Gordon said, "I know he's going to be released on his own recognizance or on a very low bond but at least he will be off the bench and I can have his place searched also. I'll do a full investigation to see if anything else turns up. I'm really sorry Conner's dead Miguel. If he had more to do with it than just issuing the visitation order, I will hang him out to dry."
Sam went down to the District Court and showed the warrant to the bailiff. He wrote a note then went to the judge and handed it to him. The judge called a recess and stormed into his chambers. I followed Sam as if I was a fellow officer into the judge's inner sanctum. Steve said, "Judge Palmer Williams, I have a warrant for your arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak with an attorney and to have him present during questioning. If you cannot afford one, an attorney will be appointed for you at no charge. If at any time you are answering questions, you may stop. Do you understand what I have just informed you?"
"What are the charges, officer?" the judge spat.
"Depraved indifference to human life," Sam said.
"What?" the judge said. "I didn't kill anyone."
"No," Sam said looking at the judge. "Not directly you didn't. But the order you signed sending him back to his stepfather, the man accused of neglecting him, did. The child got scared, thinking he was being sent back to his father, is what caused him to flee in panic. In that panic he tried to run away and he stepped into the highway and was struck and killed by a car. That's just for starters, sir. Now turn around and put your hands behind your back. I have to cuff you."
I could see great joy in Sam's eyes as he put the cuffs on this man. I so hoped he would be severely punished for this. After Sam had him cuffed, he was led out into the hall where Pop and Judge Gordon were standing.
Palmer Williams ran towards Judge Gordon and said, "What's all this about Al? Why did you sign that warrant?"
"If I have to explain that to you Palmer, you've got no business on the bench," the senior jurist said.
"I'll have these charges dismissed and will be back on the bench by morning," the cuffed man spat.
"Oh no you won't" Judge Gordon said. "A copy of this is being sent to the State Judicial Review Board. You will not be allowed back until you have been cleared of all charges. You may clear yourself of the criminal charges, but there is one you will not. That is, why you signed an order sending a child for an unsupervised visitation with a man accused of neglecting him, a man that had no legal standing with the child in question. He was no longer his legal parent as he was divorced from the child's mother. Get this man out of here Detective."
I was laughing inside. It was good to see justice start to be done. His Honor was taken to the police station booked and questioned. He talked with detectives and made statements but nothing to implicate him. After lunch he went before a fellow judge for a bond hearing. The charge was a serious felony but considering he was an officer of the court, bond was set at fifty thousand dollars.
Since this was an individual with means, he was able to bond out. Sam started his investigation with the help of two other detectives. Sam Thomas was a top juvenile cop. He cared about the kids and would sink his teeth into a case when he felt the person was guilty. If he thought the latter was true, he'd stop at nothing until he had all the evidence he needed to make his case stick.
Sam got a search warrant for Williams' house and they didn't really find anything except for two computers. Sam knew computers but only knew how to use his at home. When it came to searching one and looking for hidden files, he didn't know which end was up. So he called a friend of his with the Department of Public Safety, Technology Division. They had the technicians and specialists who could do this sort of thing. His friend said he would come and pick the machines up but it would take four to six weeks to totally analyze them.
Sam talked with the district attorney and said the superior court was backlogged and the earliest the case could be heard was seven to eight weeks so everything would be fine. A juvenile detective was also assigned to follow the suspect and see if there was anything out of the ordinary or otherwise suspicious he did in his daily activities.
On the way home, we
stopped by the morgue and identified Conner. For two doctors, this was the
hardest job we'd ever had to do. The morgue staff had cleaned him up but he
still looked a mess. I talked with the coroner and asked if he would check him
out completely from head to toe. I guess I wanted to know if his stepfather or
that other bastard had done anything to the boy. I was hoping he Hadn’t because
he truly needed to be at peace. Since we were listed as Conner's attending
physicians, the coroner would send us a copy of the autopsy.
Back at the ranch, Pop and I filled everyone in on the day’s activities and I could tell this made the boys happy because someone was going to be held accountable for Conner's death. I think this made them feel that he didn't die in vain. I spoke with Jay and Ronnie and I found out they had been restless all day and really didn't want to eat or do much of anything. This changed when several boys came up to me and said, "Marco, do you know when dinner is, we're hungry."
`Ah yes,' I thought. `Things were getting back to normal.'
I looked at my watch
and dinner would be ready in less than an hour. I had them occupy themselves for
a while then get washed so we could all eat. Everyone was chipper and happy
while eating. The boys were constantly looking around at each other smiling or
nodding at each other. I knew these guys were up to something but I didn't have
a clue. Mike and Tim had that look in their eyes that seemed to tell me they
were up to no good.
After dinner I decided to take a shower and remove the layers of sweat, grime and filth that had accumulated today. After setting the water temperature, I got a clean towel then stripped putting my robe on to cover my body. I set a pair of clean boxer-briefs on the bed along with a pair of shorts and tee shirt to relax in for the evening.
Pop and Gwen had decided to come over to visit since Steven, Angel and Angela popped in to check on their lost child. Now mind you, I had no idea there were any females in the house, let alone my niece. Cutting the water off when finished, I reached for my towel and it had somehow disappeared off the closed toilet seat. I stepped out of the shower and saw Tim standing in the doorway holding it. Thinking nothing of it, I decided to give chase and make him pay for his little indiscretion. I took a step towards him and he took off running. He closed my bedroom door behind him so I had to open it in order to continue giving chase. That was until I took about three steps out of my room and heard the loudest wolf whistles and catcalls any one could imagine.
The first thing I heard was, "Nice body, Uncle Marco."
Not knowing exactly what to do I froze in my tracks and tried to cover up as best I could with just my hands. I realized the voices I was hearing were behind me so I figured that was what I should cover first until I heard another voice say, "Hey there stud. You're hot, how about a date?"
I looked up, now many shades of red out of being totally embarrassed and see Angel and Gwen staring at my manhood which, at this time, was trying to play turtle. I tried to retreat into my bedroom only to find that Mike had been hiding inside and had closed the door and locked it preventing me from entering when I heard a little voice in the background cry out, "Oh Daddy, how could you?"
Trying to keep what little of my dignity I had remaining, I reached over the ledge of the door and got the little emergency key and opened the door where I commenced to tickle Mike until he wet himself. There was still a lot of commotion going on so he was able to scoot upstairs without anyone seeing him.
By this time, I was almost completely dry from the little joke played upon me. I got some more clothes, put them on and then tried to make a better entrance. I knew by tomorrow, Jay and Ronnie would have herd of my performance so I knew I was going to be ruefully ribbed. I looked to my left when Angela jumped into my arms saying, "Man, it's really a shame you're gay. You're a total hunk."
I turned red again then said to her, "Well darling, I'm glad you like what you saw but you'll meet a great guy someday and you'll find him just as much a hunk."
When everything had settled down, my brother Steven and his family gave their condolences of Conner's death. All the boys came in and Jordan, acting as spokesman asked, "Can we have a special funeral for Conner?"
I hadn't really thought that far ahead but it was a wonderful idea. I looked at him and asked, "Is there something in particular you'd like to do?"
"Well," Jordan started. "There were some things from our parent’s funeral that we liked. I remember some of the songs. I just wish we knew more about Conner. I thought he was a cool kid from what little time he was here."
"Why don't you go and come up with things you'd like and we can get it put together," I said looking at all the boys. "It's going to be several days before he will be able to be buried."
I'm glad they didn't ask why because I wasn't sure how I would explain what an autopsy was and why they had to do that to him. The adults had a nice time relaxing and talking. Ronnie and Gwen made some wonderful snacks then we got into a game of rummy that lasted until almost one in the morning.
Steven looked at his watch and said, "Oh man, look at the time. You guys need to get the boys in bed and we need to get a little girl home."
Angela heard that and said, "Aw Daddy. I've only spent the night here once."
I looked at her and said, "Ok sweetheart, Carlos and Emilio have moved upstairs and this bedroom is open now so you can stay. I'll give you one of my tee shirts to sleep in. Come and help me get the guys into bed, then it's your turn."
"Thanks Uncle Marco," Angela said hugging me tightly.
We got the boys into bed without to much difficulty. My three big ones carried the smaller ones to their rooms while Jay and Ronnie got Tito and Tommy tucked in downstairs. Before they left, I put a note for the kitchen staff and had them plan on brunch at eleven, as I knew no one would be up before ten. I asked Gwen if she still wanted to be a house parent or if we should have interviews. My house was full now so house two would be getting used next and we needed to be ready when they started arriving.
Friday afternoon I got a call from the coroner telling me Conner's body would be released on Monday, probably after lunch. I didn't know a funeral home and we needed to buy a cemetery plot. Gwen said social services normally took care of burying foster children but I didn't want Conner just stuck in the ground somewhere then forgot about. She said she would call Alex and coordinate things. Angel said the foundation would buy a nice plot and headstone with Conner's information on it. Gwen said she would let Alex know this and the money they would pay for the plot could just be donated to the foundation in Conner's name.
The next thing was to figure out if we should make this totally religious or non-denominational. We didn't know what religion he was so we had to guess. The area was majority Baptist but I wasn't comfortable with them so I decided to have a Catholic priest preside. Gwen called and asked the pastor at her church and he said he would have a small service at the funeral home then do the burial rights. The funeral would be Wednesday at ten.
I was very impressed with what the boys came up with for Conner's Memorial Service. Pop contacted Sam so he could pull some strings so we could find out the date he was born. All we knew was he was fifteen and none of the boys had a clue to anything more. Kevin gave me his impression but that was from strictly sexual rather than factual information. I had to fight to keep from laughing as he told me this because it was all done very matter of fact.
The boys were slowly getting back to normal but Wednesday would take its toll very quickly. I called the university and had Mike call the ranch. He was able to come home for the funeral and stay the remainder of the week because it was considered a family emergency. When Gwen pulled in with him, he got out of the car and hugged me tightly with tears in his eyes. He said, "Do me one favor please Marco. Find out who caused this to happen and make sure he never does it again."
I told him that was already happening. I felt this was important so his death wouldn't be in vain. I also told him the judge that started this was under arrest and would go to trial in a couple of months. This information appeased him and he took his bag over to the house. All the boys quickly surrounded their unofficial big brother.
It was nice to have Mike back home. He gave me the freedom to have some time to myself so I could think. Mike was putting some of his clothes away when he came to me with Conner's wallet. I opened it up and looked inside to see if there was any useful information. I found a school picture of him and I got a wonderful idea. I called the boys down and asked them if they would have a problem if his picture was hanging on the wall and the house renamed The Conner Harris House.
The boys thought that was a perfect way to remember him so I took the photo over to the computer and made two eight by ten enlargements and hung one on each floor. I had his photo added to his obituary and that came out in Monday's newspaper.
At the service, many of his friends from school attended. They were all shaken when they learned how he died. The priest held a wonderful service and Jordan read the eulogy. At the cemetery, I got to see the headstone for the first time. It read, "Conner James Harris, Born February 18, XXXX, Died August 7, XXXX, A great friend that will be missed by all he knew."
After the priest blessed the ground and said his final words, each person took a handful of dirt and tossed it onto the casket. The last two boys were Kevin and Eduardo. They were the last to have personal physical contact with him and they were really taking this very hard. On the way back to the cars, they finally broke down and had to be carried. Ronnie grabbed and held onto Kevin while Jay got Eduardo. I was just about to get in when a young man came and asked to talk with me. Sam was standing beside me and the boy just started telling me everything.
It seems this young man used to visit Conner all the time until his mother left. His dad had turned mean then weird things started happening. He'd been away on vacation for the last three weeks and didn't know about Conner living at The Ranch. Last night about nine, he decided to go see him again but there were about five cars there and people were coming and going about every twenty minutes or so. Before he left, he saw a car with a young kid in it drive up and he got the opinion the kid really didn't want to be there.
Sam asked if he could tell what was going on and he said he couldn't because the blinds and drapes were pulled on all the windows. He had to hide in the bushes as the man pulled the boy into the house. He thought he heard the boy crying but wasn't sure because the man was cussing at him. As soon as things were quiet, he ran home.
We thanked the young man for telling us what he saw and Sam told him it would be best if he didn't go back over there again. The boy said he wouldn't and we let him go on back to his mother so they could leave.
The cars had left so I rode back with Sam. We talked about what all this could mean. Sam thought it could be an old fashioned nip joint. He explained that there were places that sold illegal booze, some of which is homemade and not very safe. With most places allowing liquor by the drink, places like this were rarely heard of. Sam decided he'd get a few state troopers and some local officers to stake the place out and see just what was going on. There was an area in between our properties where they could park their vehicles and they would stake the house out. They would try to get an undercover officer inside to see what is going on.
I thought it was a real good idea. I wanted to be there but I knew with DPS there, they would get upset and I didn't want Sam to bear the brunt of them being pissed so I decided to stay away and let him fill me in later. About half way back, Jay called me and said he needed to sedate Kevin and Eduardo and they were in his room at the main house. I informed him that that was fine then Jay told me he'd keep an eye on them until they woke up.
Sam dropped me off at my house and I went to check on the others. Mike had got all the boys out of their good clothes and they were all sitting in his room talking. I decided to let them continue and I would take a shower. Before I left, I told them about Kevin and Eduardo and although worried, they realized they both needed rest. After I showered, we went and had a light lunch of sandwiches, chips, salads and sodas.
Mike, Jordan, and I took the boys to the lake so they could unwind and swim. Tim was able to take his splint cast off but I warned him about not roughhousing with the others. Emilio was enjoying his time in the lake. Carlos was with him and helping him exercise and further strengthen his legs. I was about to splash Tito when I felt someone jump on my back. I began to spin around when I heard Carlos giggle. I laughed back at him saying, "Oh, you like to blind side me?"
"Only when I can get away with it" He said as he spun around and looked into my face. "I'm glad I got to come here and you are like a father to us all. I don't know if I've told you this but I love you Marco."
I smiled at him and said, "I love you too Carlos. I love all you boys very much. Now let me see you swim."
Carlos hopped off my waist and began to swim using his legs more than his arms. I was very impressed with how his legs were improving. We were about to come out when I heard a voice say, "Uncle Marco, Uncle Jay needs to see you now please. Why can't I swim with you?"
I looked at her and said, "If we come out now, you will see more than you might want to sweetheart. Go and tell Uncle Jay I'll be right there. As to you swimming here, the next time we come, the boys will wear trunks and you can join us. When it's just the boys, we prefer to skinny dip."
Angela got back on her bike and went to tell Jay what I'd told her. Since there weren't two adults there with them, we all had to go. When Tim got dried and dressed, I got his splint cast back on and we went back to the main house. When I entered, Jay told me the boys were awake and Kevin wanted to talk with me.
I went in and sat with them and they were both still groggy from the sedative Jay had given them. Kevin looked at me and said, "I'm sorry but everything just got to me."
I hugged him saying, "You have both been through a lot so you have nothing to be sorry for. I'm not upset and the others are just worried about you both."
I cuddled with them until they both fell back to sleep. I went out and filled Jay and Pop in on my chat with Sam. Pop didn't know what to think but he had heard of the illegal drinking establishments. I went back to the house and grabbed a quick shower before dinner. The staff made fried chicken for dinner along with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, biscuits and home made apple pie for desert.
After dinner, everyone came back over for another great time of family socializing. We got back into another card game when my cell phone rang about nine. I answered it and Sam was asking Jay, Pop and I to get over to where they were. He wouldn't go into details about what was happening so I told him not to move anyone.
We stopped at the main house, grabbed the emergency bags and then hurried over to Conner's old house. When we got there, it looked like a blue light special going on at K-Mart with all the police cars there. When I walked into the house, it was like something I had never seen before. Pop even had to cover his mouth at what he saw. Jay ran over to the couch and saw a naked boy of about thirteen that looked like he was in the ozone's.
"Pop, Marco, come here," Jay said. "What do you make of this?"
Pop looked at the boy and just said, "Rohypnol, looks like he's still under the effects too. Jay, get a blood sample quick to see if we can catch it still in the blood stream. Then put a Foley in him so we can contain his urine."
I knew of that drug but never seen its effects before. I heard Sam say, "Marco, come here quick."
I ran upstairs and there was a boy about twelve in the same condition as the one downstairs but he was hemorrhaging badly from his rectum. Sam said an ambulance was on the way. I quickly got two large bore intravenous lines started to keep his fluid volume up. When I turned around, I saw the perp in custody. When I set eyes on him I was ready to kill him. I said picking him up by the shirt, "Well, well if it isn't our sorry assed judge. Get this odor out of my face now before I throw him out the window."
A state trooper took him out of the room while I packed the boys rectum in hopes of controlling the bleeding. I heard the sirens of the ambulances and I was glad because he needed surgery quickly. The crew put the child on a heart monitor before transporting him. Jay carried his boy to the ambulance and gave them the blood sample and told the paramedic what drug to have the lab look for.
In the other four rooms there was a boy in each; all under the influence of the same drug. We got blood and catheters placed in them but they really didn't need hospitalization. Sam called Judge Gordon and explained the situation and he signed orders placing them in our permanent custody. I called Ronnie and Gwen to bring a van each with them so they could be taken back and brought to the dispensary.
Pop and Jay rode with them and I looked at the people in custody. Police officers also went with them to properly collect and preserve each and every piece of evidence so it would be sure to be admitted in court as evidence.
The officers had all the suspects sequestered in one room so we could take care of the injured boys first. One by one they were led out and they were a who's who of the area. The first one out was Conner's stepfather, George Farmer. It seemed he was the leader of this little house of horrors. Then there was Palmer Thomas, the soon to be former district court judge. There was also a big named pediatrician, a new car dealer, a pharmacist, a writer, and several others.
When the police did a search of the house, they found videos of hundreds of people who have repeatedly raped and abused these and several other boys. We had rescued six boys but we later learned there were four others. They also found hidden a large stash of cash and a supply of the Rohypnol.
I went over to the dispensary and helped Pop and Jay get the boys settled into the dispensary. They had fluid lines established and all we could do was let the drug wear off. We sent Pop home for the night and Ronnie stayed at the house with my gang. Pop took Ronnie outside and explained what happened to him. Gwen walked with Pop back over to the main house and they knew it was going to be another rough night.
Soon the boys started coming around from the rohypnol and they were in discomfort from the rape. They all seemed to know what happened to them but didn't know why they were feeling so doped up. Jay and I introduced ourselves to them and also told them they would be living here now. One of them asked if they had to stay in this room and we all laughed at that and just said no. We also explained why they felt the way they did.
Jay said, "This is a place where kids can come and live without fear of any kind. We're both doctors and just so you all know, I'm gay. I have a husband who works here too and he's a great cook. There are ten others who live here and they too are gay. If you are or aren't, it's ok. No one cares and you will fit in. The one thing we ask here is if you aren't gay, we will not tolerate name-calling or fighting. Are there any questions or something any of you would like to say?"
A boy named Corey said, "I know all the guys here and we are gay so that's not a problem. Is that hunk over there gay too?"
I looked at him and said, "Yeah dude, I am. Are you trying to hit on me?"
"Well dude," Corey started saying. "If you were a little younger, I would."
"Oh man," I said with a smile. "Shot down by a teenager. That's all right son, I have a son and a house full of boys I take care of. You'll get to meet them in the morning if you're well enough."
Jay went and got some pain medication for them then we went around and gave them each a hug and told them we'd be here with them if they needed anything. We then crawled into a bed and tried to get some sleep.
To be continued