I would like to commend Steve and all the other fellows that are keeping Justin's site open. Very admirable of you, guys.


Chapter 10

by JWSmith

George Merrill was a tall man with wide muscular shoulders and narrow hips. His immaculate expensive suit fit him like a model's. He wore Cowboy boots that gave him even more height than needed to tower over most other men. His head was crowned by a mane of steel grey hair. His piercing blue eyes missed nothing when he looked at a person. He sat at the long table ion the left side of the court room. Bobby sat between him and Jim. There was a smaller table with a single chair front and center and an exact mate of the long one on the other side of the room. The two long tables were angled so everyone could see everyone else. At the other table sat Mrs. Sharpe from Child Services. She had two assistants with her. Nathan also sat at that table. There were a few chairs lined up behind them against the wall.
The court clerk came in exactly at two o'clock.

"Please rise for the honorable Judge Gonzales."

They all rose as Judge Gloria Gonzales came through the door in front of them. She was a diminutive lady in her late forties, with a pile of shiny black hair, touched with a sparkle of white, piled on top of her head. She wore a smart taupe skirt and matching jacket with a deep purple silk blouse. She wore an invisible sign around her neck that clearly stated: "Don't mess with me."

"Please be seated." She said, as she sat behind the small table in front of them. "This is an formal hearing to establish legal custody of Robert Dwayne Baxter Jr." She looked at Mr. Merrill. "George, it's a pleasure to see you, although I'm surprised that you are in my lowly courtroom."

"It is my pleasure to be in your court, Judge, I am representing these young men because I feel they are part of my extended family. Nathan," he nodded toward him at the other table, "and my daughter grew up together. Now that he has taken Jim as his partner I've adopted him, too. I guess that will make Bobby my son, too, if Jim is given custody of him."

Bobby grinned. It felt good to know that he was loved and accepted by yet another person. Nathan and Jim both blushed a dark red. Jim looked at Nathan with accusation blazing in his eyes. Nathan knew Jim was thinking that he had outed them to George. He shook his head and mouthed, "Later." Nathan couldn't believe that George had just outed them to the court. As he looked around no one looked shocked or even surprised. As Jim thought about it, it made him feel good to be accepted like this.

"Well, it looks like we won't be worrying about financial support, however, Mr. Baxter, I do require your financial statement for the records."

"Yes, Ma'am, I have it here."

Jim stepped around the table and handed it to her. He eyes widened as she glanced over it. She looked at the social worker and then back at Jim and the occupants of his table.

"Mrs. Sharpe has already given me your histories, and your statements to her have been corroborated. She and I have already conferred on this matter. I also have before me psychological profiles on both Robert and James Baxter from Mr. Taylor who works with Child Services. I have studied both of these thoroughly. I would like to visit with Bobby before making my final decision. So, while Bobby and I go into my---"

At that moment the double doors at the back of the room burst open. Marti Baxter swept into the room. Marti stood five feet ten inches tall in her three inch heels.

She wore a short red skirt that stretched over her ample ass; it missed covering her knees by a good four inches. A frilly sheer white blouse barely contained her voluptuous bosom. Her long curly bleached blonde hair showed black roots at the part on the top of her head. An overweight perspiring man, who looked like slept in his suit, carrying a beat-up briefcase, followed her into the room, looking like he wanted to be somewhere else. Everyone turned to see who had interrupted the proceedings. Bobby gasped, "Mother!" Marti's gaze swept over everyone in the room. It landed on Jim. She headed towards him.

"You goddam queer faggot how dare you try to take my son away from me and turn him into a queer cocksucker like you." Her voice dripped with venom. Bobby dropped his head to the table and covered it in embarrassment. Jim blanched at the vituperation.

With the first words out of Marti's mouth, Judge Gonzales was pounding her gavel calling for order in her court. Marti ignored her. Finally the judge stood up.

"Madam! Shut up!"She raised her voice a decibel.

Marti looked surprised that anyone would speak to her in such a manner.

"Now that I've got your attention, identify yourself to this court and explain your purpose and your right to be here." The Judge sat down settling her ruffled feathers.

Marti looked disdainfully at the Judge. "I am Martina Mendoza Baxter. Bobby is my son and I've come to take him home with me before you give him to this queer bastard."

"Mrs. Baxter, I am warning you one time only. You will not use any more foul language in my court room. Nor will I abide your --- attitude. You will sit down and keep your homophobic mouth closed until you are asked to speak. If you disobey me, you will be immediately escorted out of my courtroom and directly to jail. Am I understood?"

Marti nodded. Judge Gonzales stared directly at her

"Mrs. Baxter, you will answer me verbally and show the proper respect."

"Yes, your honor, I understand." Her words were clipped.

"Good. Now sit down, and we will continue." She paused a moment gathering her thoughts, as Marti scurried to sit in a chair against the back wall.

"Mr. Baxter," The judge looked at Jim. "Do you wish to file suit against Mrs. Martina Baxter for the vicious verbal assault that we all just witnessed?"

Jim considered the question as he turned and looked back at Marti. He had never liked her. He felt the only reason she had married Robert was for the social status. She had the look of a cornered feral cat. He looked back at the judge.

"Ma'am, at this time I don't think I will, however, if she attacks me again, or Bobby, I won't hesitate to file suit."

Judge Gonzales nodded. She turned to the social worker.

"Mrs Sharpe have you or your staff interviewed Bobby's mother in this matter?"

"No, ma'am, We made three attempts to make an appointment for an interview, but each attempt was thwarted."

"Mrs. Baxter, if you want any consideration in this hearing you will stay and answer any and all of Mrs. Sharpe's questions while this court is in recess. In view of the animosity you have shown in the last few of minutes, I don't not want you to go within fifty feet of James Baxter. Bobby, while your mother is being interviewed I would like to visit with you in my chambers, please. All others please leave the room and be back here in exactly forty-five minutes."

She stood and motioned for Bobby to accompany her. Jim ruffled his hair and gently pushed him towards the Judge.

"She's on your side, Bobby, relax and be open with her."

Jim turned and followed George as they filed past Marti without looking at her. Marti's eyes traveled up and down George Merrill with unconcealed lust He ignored her. Her look turned to hatred and disgust as she glared at Jim. Nathan watched Marti. He wanted to jump up and go with Jim, but he was required to stay and listen to this interview.


Judge Gonzales led Bobby to her chambers. The guard followed them into the room and stood at attention just inside of the closed door. The judge motioned toward a big high-backed club chair.

"Sit down, Bobby, make your self comfortable."

She turned to the guard, who was require by law to be in the chamber since Bobby was a minor.

"Bill, sit down and relax, we're going to be here a while."

She sat opposite Bobby in an identical chair. She studied the young man for a moment before she spoke. Bobby in turned studied her. He decided that he liked her and that he could trust her.

"Bobby, I want you to know that I am on your side. I want to do what is best for you. I've studied Mrs. Sharpe and Nathan's record thoroughly. I admire you, Bobby. You're a strong young man and you deserve better than you've gotten in the past. Tell me, do you like living with Jim? Does he treat you well?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I really like living with Jim. He, and Nathan talk to me like a grownup, and still let me be a kid."

"Would you describe your experience living there?"

"Sure. It's grand. Jim has this great big old house with four bedrooms. Jim's is right at the top of the stairs. My room is at the far end of the hall and I have my own bathroom, so I have plenty of privacy. I can play my music loud and he doesn't hear it too much. At least he hasn't complained. First thing Jim did when I went to live with him was to take me shopping for furniture and stuff. I even have my own computer and Gameboy. And bunches of games to play on it. Jim told me that even if I don't get to stay with him that they are mine to keep."

I understand that you see Nathan everyday. How are you doing with that?"

"Nathan's the coolest. He lives right next door. And he comes over for coffee every morning. He and Jim spend a lot of time together. But when I'm there they always include me in their conversations. They make me feel that I am really part of a family."

"Bobby, I know you've seen and done a lot of things that most kids your age don't ever have to go through. Do you understand the relationship between Jim and Nathan?"

"They are gay. They really love each other. You know Jim went through the same things I did, with my dad. He still has problems dealing with it, too. Nathan is working with him just like he does me."

"Have they made any sexual advances to you?"

"No way. I would've run away again if they did that."

"But they do show affection."

"Sure, they both give me lots of love. I wish my dad could have given me hugs like they do. I almost call them Dad sometimes."

"Do they show affection to each other in front of you?"

"They're always hugging and kissing, but not like sexual. I walked in on them in the kitchen one night when they thought I was watching TV. They were smooching. They got real embarrassed and Nathan went home. I felt ashamed that I had interrupted. Jim spent the night sitting in the kitchen. I know it was because of the shit that my dad did to him. Oops. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to use that word."

"It's okay, Bobby. That's a very good word to describe the things you dad did to you two."

"Well, it took a lot of talking with Nathan to get him back on track."

"Bobby, tell me about your mother."

Bobby hung his head for a minute. When he looked up at the Judge there were tears running down his cheeks.

"I don't remember her ever hugging me. She always patted me on the head, like I was a pet or something. She has never said that she loves me. I don't think that she knows how to love anyone. She seems to hate everyone. I think she even hates herself."

Judge Gonzales nodded.

"So I assume you want to stay with Jim?"

"Please, Ma'am. I want that more than anything. My grand parents are to old to take care of me. Besides, they blame me for the things my dad did to me. They hate Jim, too. Jim's the only one that has ever loved me. Him and Nathan. Please, let me live with them."

"Bobby, I won't promise, but it looks very promising that you will. Are you ready to go back into the courtroom and finish this?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I ready."


One of Mrs. Sharpe's assistants stood and placed a chair on the opposite side of the table. Mrs. Sharpe turned in her chair and asked Marti to please be seated in the chair. Marti walked over to the table and looked at the single chair and then at her lawyer.

"Your gentleman friend is free to go get a cup of coffee." Mrs. Sharpe said.

"He is my legal representative." Marti chopped the words out.

"He will not be needed here. You may dismiss him, Mrs Baxter."

Marti motioned with her chin for him to leave. She sat down. The man looked relieved to go. Marti glared at Mrs. Sharpe. Mrs. Sharpe ignored her as she perused the papers in front of her. After a couple of minutes, Marti gave up and looked at the other people seated at the table. The two assistants she found uninteresting, But the big blonde man sitting at the end of the table quietly observing, disturbed her. She found him very attractive, but he made her feel uneasy. Her glance kept going back to him. His expression didn't change. He just impassively looked at her as if she were a specimen on a tray waiting to be dissected. She squirmed under his gaze.

Finally, Mrs. Sharpe, cleared her throat. Marti turned her attention back to her. She was no longer feeling belligerent and defiant. Mrs. Sharpe gave her a tight little smile. Marti mentally cringed. This was not going to go well for her.

"Mrs. Baxter, when was the last time you saw your son?"


As the doors to the court room closed behind them George slowed his stride to allow Jim to walk beside him down the wide corridor.

"May I buy you a cup of coffee, Jim?"

"That would be good, thanks." Jim thought that a shot of hard liquor was more what he wanted just then.

When they had their coffee sitting in front of them at a table in the cafeteria, George looked at Jim who was studying the texture of the Formica tabletop.

"I guess I kind of outed you boys a while ago, didn't I?"

Jim glanced up at him and back at the table.

"Yes sir, you did. I can't believe that Nathan told you about us without discussing it with me ."

"He didn't tell me, Jim. Actually you both did."

Jim looked up with raised eyebrows.

"Hey, actions speak louder than words. The way you two look and act toward each other makes it very obvious to me that you are in love."

Jim frowned. "Are you saying we are acting like a couple of fags?"

"Far from it, Jim. You are both very masculine men. Nobody would ever know if they weren't aware of what to look for. I had actually been told by my daughter a couple of weeks ago, right after she met you, that Nathan had finally found his man."

Jim Blushed again. "He told Susan that?"

"No. She surmised it by the subtle interaction between you two."

"I guess we'd better be more careful around other people."

"No need for that. Ninety-nine out of a hundred people would never see it."

Jim sipped his cooled coffee and thought about Nathan. George brought him back to the moment.

"I think Bobby is very lucky. He will benefit greatly by your and Nathan's guidance. He needs it. He needs lots of love, too."

"Do really think that Judge Gonzales will give me custody?"

"I don't think there is any doubt. His father is in jail waiting trial. His mother basically abandoned him three years ago. The last thing they want to do if it can be helped, is to put a child into the foster home program."

"What about Marti showing up? She is his mother."

"She has already muddied what slim chance she had by antagonizing the judge." George looked at his watch. "It's time to go back in."


When Jim entered the courtroom He immediately noticed that another table had been brought into the room. The three longer tables were placed in a semi-circle facing the smaller table at which Judge Gonzales had sat. Marti and her mouthpiece sat at the new table next to Jim's. He said a silent thanks when he saw that Marti was not seated where she would look directly at him. Nathan and Mrs. Sharpe and her assistants were already in their seats. Jim and George sat where they had before. The small door behind the judge's table opened and a deputy escorted Bobby to his seat between George and Jim. As he passed Marti's table he kept his eyes straight ahead.

Judge Gonzales entered and everybody sat back down. She sat and arranged the papers on her desk. She looked at Mrs. Sharpe.

"May I have your records of the interview with Mrs. Baxter, please."

An assistant rose and handed them to her. She turned to Nathan.

"Mr. Taylor may I read your notes also."

He handed them to her. She read for several minutes as everybody sat and watched. She turned to Marti.

"Mrs. Baxter." She paused. "Are you aware that your exhusband, Bobby's father, repeatedly molested him sexually?"

Marti blanched. She looked at the judge and then at her attorney, who stared at her. She turned back to the judge.

"Answer my question, Mrs. Baxter. And remember this a court of law."

"I-I--Bobby told me one time that his father had hurt him. I thought he meant that he had been spanked--or something. I can't imagine Robert doing something like that."

"You never thought to ask how he had been hurt?"

"Aaaaaaaah---- No ma'am. He was holding his rear end. Like I said, I thought he had been spanked."

"I see." She studied the papers in front of her. She looked back at Marti.

"I suppose you never thought to question why his attitude and behavior toward you changed so radically?"

"I just put it to his becoming a rebellious teenager."

"When you decided to send Bobby to live with his father, after your divorce, what was Bobby's reaction."

" He refused to go. He ran away."

"And you never questioned why your child was acting like this?"

"I just figured he was being rebellious. I was trying to get my career on track and he was distracting me."

"Are you telling me that your career was more important than your child?"

"No, Ma'am, but I had to make a living for us since Robert had left."

The judge started searching through the documents in front of her. Selecting one, she perused it and then looked up at Marti.

"This document indicates that after your divorce Robert not only paid you a generous alimony and child support, he also continued to make your car and house payments." She looked up at Marti.

"Yes, ma'am." Marti looked nervous as she confirmed what the judge said, but offered no comment. The judge waited a moment to see if anything more was forth coming.

"Mrs. Baxter, your lifestyle wasn't diminished. Why did you decide to seek a career other than staying home and caring for your son?"

"I am still young. I couldn't just sit at home and go to seed."

The judge stared at her a moment.

"I see." She paused. The seconds past into a minute and the minute snailed by. "Mrs. Baxter, if I give you custody of Bobby what are your plans for him?"

"Now that I am working, I can afford to send him to a nice private school in Sacramento."

"Tell me about this school."

"It is an all boys school that promotes discipline and academics."

"This is a military school?"

"Yes. Yes, it is."

"It is you opinion that Bobby needs the strict discipline that this school would provide?"

Marti stared at the judge.

"Is this your opinion."

"When Bobby lived with me he was unruly and rebelled all the time. Now when I try to talk to him he ignores me. I am his mother and he acts like I don't even exist. And-- and he had terrible grades, too."

"Why do you think this is?"

"He needs to be taught to be obedient and to show respect for his elders."

"I see. Mrs Baxter, I see many children and young people every day. I found Bobby to be one of the most mature polite young men I have ever met. As to his grades, he was at the top of his class before his father started abusing him. I am sure that in the right atmosphere he will excel again. I do not agree with you that a military school is the thing for Bobby. He needs to be in a nurturing loving home where the adults will give him the love and guidance he needs. Mrs. Baxter, I want you to think about this next question. I want you to be honest with yourself. I don't want an answer. Do you love your son?"

Marti paled. Judge Gonzales nodded to herself as she noted Mart's reaction.

The Judge bowed her head as paused again in thought. She raised her head and studied the three primaries before her. She bowed her ahead again and closed her eyes as though she were praying. Gloria Gonzales was praying, as she did each time she had to make a decision about a child's life. She raised her head and looked at Bobby.

"Bobby, I think you are a very admirable young man. You have experienced crimes against you that no one should ever have to experience, and even though you do have emotional scars, they will eventually heal, you are level headed and quite mature mentally and emotionally. I am giving James Baxter legal custody of you until your eighteenth birthday."

Bobby grinned, and hugged Jim. Jim was all smiles too as he hugged Bobby and kissed the top of his head. Marti turned a dark red in her fury at this decision.

" I want you to show me that I am right in doing this. I understand you are already registered for school. Montelinda High School is one of the best academic centers in this state. I think you will do well in meeting the challenges it will present. Make the best of it, Bobby."

She turned to Marti.

"Mrs. Baxter, as I see it you basically abandoned Bobby three years ago to pursue a career. Bobby would certainly not get the care and nurturing or the psychological counseling that he will need in a military school. I grant you visitation rights with the stipulation that Bobby agrees to see you. Bobby is fifteen. I think he is old enough and mature enough to make that decision. The visits will be conducted under the guidance of Bobby's psychiatrist, Mr. Taylor. Good luck with your career."

The judge turned to Jim.

"Jim, you have been handed a huge responsibility. You and you solely are responsible for Bobby's welfare for the next three years. With Nathan's help I am certain that Bobby is in the best of hands. May God bless and assist you."

And then to the social workers.

"Mrs. Sharpe, may I commend you and your group for doing an excellent job once again. This hearing is adjourned."

Nathan stood up.

"Excuse me, Judge Gonzales, may I have a word with you before, Mrs Baxter leaves the room?"

Marti was just pushing back her chair to stand. She froze on hearing her name.

"Of course, Nathan, how may I help you?"

Nathan approach and spoke to her in a low voice. Marti stood up clutch her purse, looking impatient The Judge looked at her as Nathan spoke. She nodded as he finished. She turned to Marti.

"Mrs. Baxter, Mr. Taylor has reminded me of your continued antagonism and prejudice towards Jim Baxter. I am issuing an order that you are not to come within five hundred feet of him. You are to have no communication with him at all. There are dire penalties if you disobey this court order. If and when you visit your son it will be under the watchful eyes of Mr. Taylor, who is Bobby's court appointed Psychiatrist. Am I understood?"

Marti glowered and nodded.

"Yes Ma'am, You are understood."

She turned and looked at her attorney and then marched out of the court room. There was an audible sigh of relief as the doors whooshed closed.