We're in This Together
This story may occasionally include explicit depictions of sexual acts between consenting adult males. If you are underage or it is illegal to view this for any reason, consider yourself warned. If you find this material offensive, please leave.
This story is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people, living or dead, is entire a coincidence. As the author, I keep all rights to this story, and it cannot be reproduced or published without explicit consent from me. This work is copyright © 2017 by Steven Wells.
I love to hear any feedback you have, be it positive or negative. Send me an email with any comments or questions at MaWriterBoy@yahoo.com.
This is a sequel to my original story on Nifty.org, Sam and Chris. I have tried to make this a standalone story. I look forward to hearing from you.
"So, Sam," Tina turned to a different topic of discussion. "Why did you decide to return to town? I would have thought you were more suited to an urban environment."
"My husband Chris and I, along with my father and a few other people in the area, saw the potential of the area as more companies sought refuge from expensive large urban areas. We also saw a quality of life for our boys here we could never hope to achieve in a city. But, we aren't totally giving up on urban life. We have a condo in Chicago we will keep. The boys need to be exposed to things only a large metropolitan area has to offer, such as a vibrant art and music scene, community based programs, and other advantages of living in a city. Why did you decide to return?"
"We saw the opportunities here as businesses move in and grow," Tina explained. "We are, at the moment at least, the only security team in the area. Besides, Bradley wants a few kids, a dog, and a backyard garden. He's really a mild mannered guy—until he isn't."
"I certainly would like to remain on your side, Bradley," I said with a smile. "How tall are you anyway?"
"Six-seven," Bradley replied. "I find it hard to melt into a crowd of people. Here, at least, the crowds are smaller, and I have fewer reasons to melt."
I sat in my office on Friday morning reviewing résumés for possible website designers. So far, none in the `hire them on the spot' category, one in the `we'll need time to evaluate', and the rest, totaling about 20, in the `no way' category.
My phone buzzed and I jumped.
"What can I do for you, Clarise?" I asked.
"Someone who doesn't have an appointment is here to see you, Sam," Clarise explains. "He's First Lieutenant Kenneth Gardner."
"Really!" exclaimed. "Tell him I'll be right out."
I hurry off the reception area. I remembered Kenneth as a tall, rugged kind of guy. He's two years ahead of me in school. He's standing with his back to me talking to Clarise. He looked bigger than I remembered standing in the reception area in his dress blues.
"Kenneth Gardner!" I exclaimed. "How the hell are you?"
Kenneth turned to face me. He still had his megawatt smile and dancing eyes. He offered his hand, and I pulled him in for a hug.
"You're looking good, Kenneth," I said. "Let's head into my office to talk."
"Thank you for your time, Sam," Kenneth replied. "I know you're busy."
"Not a problem. What brings you back to town?" I asked as I offered him a bottle of water from the fridge in my office. He took it before answering.
"I'll officially be discharged next week," Kenneth explained. "I had some time I needed to take before the discharge. When I joined the Marines, I didn't expect to serve six years. But, I did. I never expected I'd come back to the hometown. But, I'm here!"
"My husband and I moved here after we graduated from college," I explained. "I never expected to be living back here when I went off to college. But, here I am. What can I do for you, buddy?"
"I'm looking for a job back here," Kenneth replied. "I need to be near my mother and father. My father has a health issue."
"I'm sorry to hear about your father," I replied. "What type of job do you want to find?"
"I don't know. I served in the special operations unit," Kenneth added. "I have some technical skills, but all of them relate to intelligence gathering. The Marines deployed me three times in Afghanistan. And I'm not a person who likes to sit at a desk."
"Explain something to me," I began. "What type of technical skills would be involved with intelligence gathering?"
"Our unit traveled with some extremely high-tech gear," Kenneth explained. "Ultra-sensitive satellite GPS, mapping systems, night vision systems, and others I can't talk about because of security."
"Do you know Tina Dressler?" I asked.
"Of course, she graduated with you, right? The Prom Queen," Kenneth replied.
"Yes," I added. "She and her future husband, both former Marines, formed a security company in town. You might want to talk with her. Unless, of course, you want to learn how to develop websites."
"I don't like to sit at a desk, remember?" Kenneth said with a smile. "I didn't know she moved back here."
"I hired her to work on a project for BuzzZone," I explained. "Here's her card."
"Thanks, Sam," Kenneth replied. "Do you remember my brother, Greg?"
"Of course," I replied. "He was two classes behind me. Why?"
"I don't want to bother you with other people's troubles, but I thought you might give me some ideas as to where I need to turn."
"Sure," I replied. "What's up?"
"I'm certain you can imagine a very shy kid growing up in the shadows of this older brother's macho, Marine image," Kenneth began. "My parents boasted about my accomplishments to anyone who would allow themselves to be captured. I've never heard them once talk about Greg in a positive way. It's always about his lack of confidence, his lack of motivation, his lack of social graces, and his lack of intelligence. I am trying to make up for my parent's outrageous behavior. He's a good kid. He needs a mentor."
"I would never have classified Greg the way your parents did," I replied. "Is he looking for work?"
"He has a job as a clerk in a hardware store," Kenneth continued. "He needs to be challenged. He's bright. He's creative. He's a fun kid. He just hasn't had a chance to find his spark."
"Have him call me to make an appointment," I suggested as I handed Kenneth my card. "I don't guarantee anything, but I'd really like to talk with him."
"I would appreciate anything you could help him with," Kenneth added. "I also think he might be gay. I don't know for a fact. Just a suspicion."
"Would it bother you if he were gay?" I asked.
"Absolutely not," Kenneth replied. "He's my brother. He'll always be my brother. I have decided I need to introduce my parents to my girlfriend. After they recover from the stroke I will have caused them to suffer, Gary will have no problems telling them he is gay."
"Why will you cause such a commotion introducing your girlfriend?" I asked.
"She is an Iranian-American who happens to be a Muslim," Kenneth replied.
"And you think your parents will have a problem with her having Iranian heritage or her religion?" I asked.
"I don't think so, Sam," Kenneth added. "I know so."
"And I thought Chris and I caused quite a stir!" I replied.
"I won't take up any more of your time, Sam," Kenneth said. "I'm grateful for your suggestion about me and equally grateful for your willingness to at least talk to Greg."
"I'm glad you stopped in," I replied. "Those of us who have returned to Mecca will need to stick together. Otherwise, we might all be run out of town."
"Thanks, Sam," Kenneth said as he left my office.
Chris and I arranged to meet for lunch at Mel's. I arrived just as Chris did. We both stepped through the door one after another.
"Hello, Mel," I said as we slipped past her while she spoke to another customer.
"I'll be right with you, guys," Mel said over her shoulder.
Chris and I settled into the window table we liked.
"How has your day been so far?" Chris asked.
"Peachy" I replied. "I had a visitor this morning."
"What may I get you?" Mel asked as she stood by our table.
"Two coffees and two specials," Chris replied. He smiled at me.
"I'm on it," Mel replied as she turned and walked away.
"Do I know this visitor?" Chris asked.
"Not yet," I replied. I explained the whole conversation I had with Kenneth, including the information about his parents, his brother, and his girlfriend.
"The Gardner family will be the talk of the town," Chris said with a smile. "They can take some of the pressure off us."
"Hopefully," I replied. "I also had a phone conversation with Tina and Bradley this morning as well. They want to continue the surveillance of Justin and his family until Monday at least. Maybe longer. They believe, based on some of the comments Justin's brother and step-father have made, it could be just a matter of time before they explode."
"Let's hope they just fade into the woodwork because they are too stupid to put two and two together," Chris added.
I could tell he was not a fan of the Broderick family.
"Any other news on the home front?" Chris asked with a smile.
"Funny you should mention home front," I began. "My mother called and invited themselves to our house for lunch after church. They want to speak with us about something. She was very secretive. I'm not certain what they want. It's not like my mother to invite themselves over. They would normally invite us over."
"Maybe they don't want you throwing their precious artifacts when you discover the real reason for their discussion," Chris said with a smile.
"I don't believe they really have an attachment to anything they own," I corrected Chris. "Things don't really matter to them."
"Then, why do they have two one-hundred-thousand-dollar cars, a huge house with columns in the front, and an ownership stake in practically everything in this town?"
"Most people in the town don't know they have an ownership stake in practically everything in this town," I replied. "But, I have no idea why they want to come to our house for lunch instead of theirs."
"We'll soon find out," Chris replied with a smile.
"How's your day?" I asked.
"I now understand what it means to be an outsider working his way in," Chris replied. "It seems a current teacher wanted to have my position, but the principal, Ms. Day, didn't hire her for it. Ms. Day hired me instead."
"Did anyone say why she didn't get it?" I asked.
"Apparently, Mrs. Antonio doesn't have the sunniest of dispositions," Chris began. "I've also been told she's an incompetent teacher who held onto her job by some unsavory behavior."
"What's the unsavory behavior?" I asked.
"She and the former principal had a relationship for several years," Chris replied. "From what I understand as of today, the former principal is the former principal because he was, as they say in the movies, caught with his pants down... Literally."
"I'll bet Mr. Antonio wasn't happy!" I replied.
"I haven't been briefed on the incident beyond what I've told you," Chris added. "Most of the scuttlebutt has come from teachers sympathetic to my being hired instead of Mrs. Antonio. Only one parent commented on the decision to hire me. The father planned to enroll his son in a private music academy if she were named music director."
"Lucky for us she didn't have a sunny disposition," I continued. "Otherwise, you'd be looking forward to being a house husband."
"I could handle staying at home with the kids," Chris replied. "Maybe you, Donny, Mathew, and Joshua wouldn't handle it, but I could."
"You might be right!" I added. "I need to run. I've scheduled a staff meeting after lunch. Suddenly, we're in the cybersecurity business. Who would have thought a celebrity website would be a target of hacking?"
"I don't know," Chris replied. "Maybe it's Mr. Antonio looking for information about his wife's affair. I need to run as well."
"So, what's the big news?" I asked after we had finished lunch with my parents. The kids, dogs, and cats deserted us in favor of a nap.
"It's not really big news," my mother began. "It's just a simple little thing we wanted to talk to you about."
"Okay," I replied knowing full well one of my parents would drop a bomb on the festivities of the day before the conversation is over. "Let's hear the little thing you wanted to talk to us about."
"We have two things to talk about," my father began. "I've been combing through several of your grandparents' papers. Most of them relate to some little purchase here and there. And, then a few days ago, I found this large file with information about an art collection that belonged to my grandparents—your great grandparents. They loaned a large collection of American Art to the Chicago Art Institute in 1970. So, it has been part of the museum's collection except a trust owns the artwork. We own the trust."
"How much is this art collection worth?" I asked.
"I spoke with the curator who manages collections owned by private entities last week," my father continued. "He needs to have all of the pieces reappraised. However, an appraisal of the collection about twenty years ago valued it at around $2 million."
"And now?" I asked.
"If it were just money, the collection would be worth over $3 million," my father explained as he handed Chris and me an inventory of the collection. "However, this is art. Some of it very sought after. We will know more once my curator friend has someone appraise it."
"What do we do with this newly discovered collection?" I asked.
"We could donate it to the Chicago Art Institute or some other museum," my father began. "Or we could keep it and put it in the museum you wanted to start with some of your grandparents' pieces. Or we could sell it."
"I don't believe we want to sell it," I replied. "Chris?"
"Ahm...," Chris began. "It's not my decision to make, but there are some very, very interesting pieces here. Do you want me to send this inventory to my grandmother?"
"I hoped you would volunteer to contact your grandmother," my father said. "We can use all the help we can get."
"Before it gets too late, we should move onto the next topic of discussion," my mother suggested. "Your father and I are writing a book together."
"Congratulations!" I exclaimed. "What's it about?"
"It's about your grandparents," my father explained. "I'll jot out the ideas, and your mother will string it together as a story."
"Terrific," I replied. "How realistic do you plan on making this book?"
"I found your grandparents' diaries," my father explained. "They are very descriptive diaries. They don't always tell a pleasant story. And it's not all about them. They left detailed accounts of many historic moments in the community."
"How detailed and what historic events?" I asked.
"Both of your grandparents kept newspaper clippings over the years, but they also added detailed descriptions of information which didn't make it into the papers," my father added.
"For example," my mother began. "We are still uncovering the facts, but we have found a long list of events tied to some of the most prominent families in town. One bastard actually made his family fortune on the backs of others who were not very well off to begin with."
"Your great grandfather started the bank because Mr. Adams, who owned the other bank, put the screws to several people who had loans with the bank," my father continued. "If someone missed a payment, Mr. Adams would take it to court to force the person who took the loan into default. Many people lost their homes or family farms. Your great grandfather saved several people from defaulting. Your grandfather continued the tradition."
"So you see, Sam," Chris added. "It was fortuitous of us to buy the bank. Your family has returned to its banking roots."
"What else have you discovered?" I asked, not knowing if I wanted to hear the explanation.
"We'll be getting a lot of shit on this next one," my father said. "Do you remember Douglas Battersby?"
"No," I replied.
"Douglas Battersby, it turns out, became the Mayor in 1964," my father began. "He had a wife with no children. He seemed to be the pillar of the community. Always involved in events around town. His wife apparently ran what we now call an escort service. Her girls—she only had four—frequently entertained some very important people in town, including the Reverend Jerry Rawlings, the minister of the First Baptist Church of Olney; Clyde Mortimer, the guy who owned the Cadillac dealership; Harvey Thomas, the hospital director; and, last, but not least, Jefferson Willard Wyman, the US Representative of this district."
"You know this how?" I asked.
"Your great grandfather and your grandfather were involved in most social organizations in the city," my father continued. "Your great grandfather started the tradition of keeping track of Mrs. Battersby's clients. Your grandfather continued the tradition when Mrs. Battersby transferred ownership to her youngest daughter, who became a hands-on owner."
"How did Mr. Battersby handle the news?" I asked.
"Apparently, he didn't really care," my father said with a smile. "He had a boyfriend on the side... a much younger boyfriend... a much younger blond, extremely handsome boyfriend. He wasn't in the closet, either. Mr. Battersby always brought his boyfriend to social events. His wife apparently busied herself with her business. But Mr. Battersby appointed his boyfriend to some very powerful committees. After Mr. Battersby decided not to run for Mayor, his boyfriend, Connor Wilson Alameda, Jr, ran for Mayor and won. And, in order to continue his legacy, married a rather plain woman, and they had two children. Gordon Wilson Alameda and Gloria Wilson Alameda. Gloria Alameda is Earl Broderick's mother."
"You've got to be fucking kidding!" I exclaimed. I looked around to make certain there were not boys hanging around. Fortunately, I was safe. "Did the Brodericks know his lineage include a gay man? His great-great grandfather was gay!"
"Why do I think there is more to this sordid tale?" Chris asked.
"There is, but you'll need to buy the book to find out!" my mother replied.
"We might need Tina and Bradley on full-time retainer!" Chris added.
"You will have a couple of years before you need to worry about security," my mother replied. "Simon and Schuster gave us a two-year time-frame plus a very nice advance. They also plan some major marketing prior to the book release. Your father and I will be doing a fair amount of traveling before the book is released."
"Oh!" my father exclaimed. "We almost forgot. We're building a new house in town."
"You're what?" I exclaimed.
"We're building a new house," my mother continued. "We bought the two houses next to my mother's house and on the other side of your house."
"What will you do with the old one?" I asked.
"Organic Farms bought it for an executive retreat facility," my father explained. "They will also rent it for functions."
"Oh...," I replied. "Peachy keen. We'll be living almost next door to one another."
My phone rang at 10 am on Monday morning. "This is Sam," I said as I picked up the phone.
"Mr. Williamson, this is Greg Gardner," a meek voice said. "My brother told me to call you about helping me with work."
"Greg," I said. "Thank you for calling. I had a nice chat with your bother last week. I suggested you call me to set up an appointment to talk about possible work situations."
"I'd be grateful for some direction, Mr. Williamson," Greg replied.
"Please, Greg. It's Sam and not Mr. Williamson," I replied. "Are you free around 2 pm today?"
"Sure," Greg replied. "I'm not working today."
"Terrific," I said. "I'm looking forward to speaking with you."
I hung up the phone to see Grayson Adams standing in my door.
"What can I do for you, Grayson?" I asked.
"May I have a few minutes of your time?" Grayson asked.
"Of course," I replied. "Have a seat."
"I wanted to ask your advice about something," Grayson began.
"Sure," I replied.
"I wanted to ask you how to handle something with one of the staff here," Grayson began.
"Is someone bothering you?" I asked.
"No," Grayson continued. "No one is bothering me. It's just the opposite. I don't want to bother someone here, but I'd like to get to know him better."
"Who's him?" I asked.
"Justin," Grayson admits. "I know his family might be giving him a hard time, but I'd like to be friends. He probably needs a friend through this family business. I don't believe he has many people he could talk to around here."
"So, what's holding you back?" I asked.
"I don't want him to think I'm coming on to him," Grayson replied.
"Why don't you suggest you and he go out to lunch or have coffee after work?" I suggested. "And you're right. He can probably use a friend right now."
"What if he thinks I'm being weird?" Grayson asked.
"Do you want me to ask him to join us here in my office?" I asked with a smile.
"No!" Grayson exclaimed. "So, do you have a policy about relationships in the office?"
"Grayson," I began. "Sawyer and Glen are married. Tom and Harrison are married. I think banning interoffice relationships would be problematic at this point, don't you?"
"I see your point, Sam," Grayson said with a smile. "I'll suggest coffee after work. Thanks, Sam."
"Any time, Grayson," I replied as Grayson left my office.
I began leafing through more résumés a head hunter sent to me. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. A knock on the door frame of my open office door.
Harrison and Tom stood in the doorway.
"Is this employee mutiny day?" I asked.
"Nope," Tom replied. "We have an interesting idea for you, Sam."
"Sit," I suggested. "Does this interesting idea involve sex for hire or porn movies?"
"I wish!" Harrison replied. "We've accidentally gotten to know someone in town. She's a twenty something single mother. Her kid is a boy whose life has grown more complicated because he's recently diagnosed with a mild form of Autism."
"Okay," I said. "How does this fit with you, me, and BuzzZone?"
"She and her kid are homeless and living out of her car," Tom continued. "She's unemployed and unable to qualify for financial help because she doesn't have a home address."
"You're shitting me!" I responded. "Where's the father of the kid?"
"It gets complicated at this point," Harrison replied. "He denies the kid is his and won't take a paternity test."
"Who?" I asked.
"Please don't go ballistic, Sam," Tim added. "We're just the messenger."
"Who?" I asked again.
"Seth Broderick," Tom said in a hushed voice.
I slipped out of my chair and began pacing the office.
"She's certain, right?" I asked.
"Yes," Harrison added.
I returned to my chair behind the desk. "Hang on a second," I said to Tom and Harrison. I picked up the phone and dialed. "Yolonda! This is Sam. I need to quickly buy a small house. We need to take possession as quickly as possible. Second, I need to find an apartment for rent on a month-to-month basis. Whatever you need to do, do it. We'll figure out how much I owe you later."
"This is your lucky day, Sam," Yolonda replied. "I picked up a listing yesterday from an estate. They are eager to sell. And, it's a perfectly maintained three-bedroom ranch in a nice part of town."
"Buy it," I said to Yolonda.
"We can probably close on it by the end of the month," Yolonda added.
"By the end of the week," I said.
"This is Wednesday, Sam," Yolonda exclaimed.
"So?" I asked.
"I'll do my best, Sam," Yolonda replied. "Anything else you want to buy? A church? Courthouse? Bar?"
"Not now," I replied. "Maybe tomorrow."
I ended the call with Yolonda after we exchanged pleasantries.
"Harrison, Tom," I began. "Get her situated in a hotel room. Use the company American Express card. Then call the head of DCFS. I believe it is still Elaine Kershaw. Explain the situation so she can help with financial assistance. Take this woman and her kid out for dinner somewhere."
Tom and Harrison sat staring at me.
"What?" I asked as I picked up the phone again. "I know you understand English. Go! Do! Now!"
"Yes, boss," Tom and Harrison said in unison as they prepared to leave.
"This is Frank," a voice on the other end of my phone call said.
"Frank," I began. "Sam Williamson here. How's the move?"
"We're getting close," Frank replied. "I need to wipe Daniel off the ceiling occasionally. He's really excited. I am, too, for that matter. What's up?"
"I know we haven't even talked about you becoming our attorney for BuzzZone, but I need our company attorney to look into something totally unrelated to BuzzZone," I explained.
"Why would you want me to work on behalf of BuzzZone?" Frank asked. "You have Chris's grandfather's law firm at your disposal."
"We need someone local," I replied. "Besides, I can't afford to pay their fees."
"Okay," Frank replied. "I'll look forward to our discussion. Meanwhile, what exactly do you want me to look into which is totally unrelated to BuzzZone?"
"I'll have Sawyer write you a check for your retainer," I said. "You can pick it up when you've arrived in town. Is ten thousand enough?"
"Dollars?" Frank asked.
"What else would it be?" I asked. "Rubles?"
"No," Frank replied. I could tell he had a smile on his face. "Ten thousand is more than enough."
I explained the situation Tom and Harrison confronted.
"Interesting," Frank replied. "We need to ask more questions. How old was the woman when Broderick and she had sex? What has the woman done to seek a paternity test? How old is the kid?"
"I'll have Tom and Harrison talk with the woman once we have her settled into a proper living situation," I replied. "When will you and Frank arrive in town?"
"The movers come tomorrow," Frank replied. "Tomorrow night, we're staying at a Marriott property that just opened. The movers arrive with our stuff on Friday."
"I'll tell them to put you on our corporate rate," I replied.
"You have a corporate rate?" Frank asked.
"No, but we will have in about fifteen minutes," I explained. "Dinner is at 7 at our house."
"Dinner?" Frank asked.
"Of course, you and Daniel will be our guests at dinner tomorrow night," I said.
"See you tomorrow night," Frank said as we ended the call.
The evening after Tom and Harrison came to me about the homeless woman, Chris and I sat in the family room watching CNN when my phone rang. It was just past eleven o'clock.
"This is Sam," I said as I answered the phone. I turned on the speaker phone.
"Sam, this is Tina," Tina explained. "I'm sorry to be calling so late, but I thought you might want to now the current status of our surveillance of Justin McCloud. You'll be very proud of him."
"What happened?" I asked. "Is he okay?"
"He's fine, Sam," Tina continued. "Justin somehow managed to uncover a very big Bradshaw secret. Earl and Seth Bradshaw must be missing major real estate in the brain subdivision. We have the conversation on tape from our monitoring system."
"Give me the summary version," I suggested.
"You need to hear this in person, Sam," Tina replied. "It will lose its meaning in the translation if I tell you over the phone. Do you want to hear the conversation now or in the morning?"
"Now," I replied.
"Bradley and I will pay you a visit," Tina said. I could tell she had a smile on her face. "We'll be there in ten minutes."
Tina and Bradley arrived within ten minutes. Once we all settled around the kitchen island, Tina began.
"Dinner conversation went south," Tina said as she began to set the stage. "This is the discussion which will soon engulf this small Southern Illinois town. Listen carefully."
Tina pulled out her phone, and set in on the top of the island.
"Dad, you won't believe what I saw today," Seth said to his father. "I saw the whore digging through the garbage at McDonald's. Her kid sat in the car."
"The whore's getting what she deserves," Earl Bradshaw added.
"Earl," Justin's mother interrupted. "You shouldn't use language like that at the dinner table."
"This is my house," Earl replied. "I'll say whatever I want whenever I want."
"Seth," Justin jumped into the conversation. "Is she the one you got pregnant?"
"She asked for it," Seth replied. "She wanted me to fuck her. She begged me to screw her."
"Besides," Earl added. "More people than Seth fucked her that night."
"What do you mean, Earl?" Justin's mother asked.
"I watched," Earl replied. "When I watched Seth go at her, I got worked up. I got in line, too."
"So, you gang raped her?" Justin asked.
"You can't rape someone who's begging for it, boy," Earl replied. "No one can prove Seth or I fucked her. We were the only witnesses."
"Excuse me," Justin said as the chair scrapped across the floor. "I need to take care of something."
Tina shut off the recording.
"Justin went to his room, pulled his already packed suitcase out of the closet, and grabbed a few personal items," Bradley explained. "He walked out of the house and drove away without saying anything else. He checked into the Marriott and called me. Here's where you come in, Sam. You hired us. Do we keep this quiet or do you want to inform the police of these two bozos statements?"
"Can you e-mail me a copy of the recording?" I asked.
"Sure," Bradley said. With the push of a button, he sent it to me. "Done."
I picked up my phone.
"Frank, this is Sam Williamson," I said as Frank answered his cell phone. "What time will you be in town tomorrow?"
"About three o'clock tomorrow afternoon," Frank replied. "Why?"
"As your first duty as our attorney, you and I need to stop at the police department to give them information about a six-year-old rape case," I explained.
"Shit, Sam," Frank replied. "You move quickly. I packed all of my suits."
"Frank," I continued. "This is Southern Illinois not Chicago. Casual is fine. Just meet me at the station around four o'clock tomorrow afternoon."
"I'll see you tomorrow," Frank said as we ended the call.
"I think we all need a good night's sleep," I said. "Tomorrow will be a long day."
"May I please speak to Chief Harris?" I said to the man at the reception desk.
"Sam Williamson!" the officer exclaimed. "I'm Robert Hannover. A few years ahead of you in high school. I heard you were back in town!"
"I didn't recognize you," I replied. "You look... you look bigger!"
"Four years in the Marines will definitely put definition into your body," Robert replied. "Have a seat, and I'll tell Chief Harris you're here to see him."
We took seats while we waited for Chief Harris.
"Daniel and I need to get haircuts," Frank said as we settled in our seats. "So far, I haven't seen anyone with hair longer than a close-cropped look."
"Leave it long," I suggested. "It could be your trademark in town. Everyone will be standing in line to become client of the young, hip attorney."
"We'll see," Frank replied as Chief Harris stepped into the waiting room.
"It's good to see you, Sam!" Chief Harris said as he shook my hand after I stood in front of him. "I haven't seen you since your mother got involved in a school board issue."
"How can any of us forget my mother the buzz saw," I added. "Chief Harris, I'd like you to meet Frank Robart. Frank is a new attorney in town as of today, and he's also my attorney for the BuzzZone business."
"Welcome to town, Mr. Robart," Chief Harris said to Frank. "We need a fresh new attorney in town. Someone who can see farther than the fingernails on his or her hands."
"Thank you, Chief Harris," Frank added to the conversation. "My husband Daniel and I are excited about the move here."
"I know this isn't a social call, gentlemen," Chief Harris said. "Join me in my office and we can talk."
We settled into Chief Harris's office, and I related the conversation between Justin McCloud, Seth Broderick, and Earl Broderick at the dinner table. I also added the conversation I had with Tom and Harrison.
"What's the woman's name?" Chief Harris asked.
"Susan Axelrod," I replied. "I've found a house for her and her kid to live in as well as a potential job."
"How old are the woman and the boy?" Chief Harris asked.
"The woman is twenty-one, and the boy is five," I replied. "Add another nine months, and she would have been fifteen when this happened. Seth would be sixteen. His father, who knows."
"What would you, Sam, like to see the outcome of this investigation be?" Chief Harris asked.
"Child support and a monthly payment at the very minimum," I replied.
"Mr. Robart?" Chief Harris asked.
"The recording will unlikely be permitted in open court because no one had a warrant," Frank explained. "I can't imagine an attorney not objecting if it were a trial. However, Mrs. Broderick heard the entire conversation. She couldn't testify against her husband, but she could testify against Seth. The mere threat of jail time would put the DA in a good position to bargain for a much higher settlement with reduced sentence."
"The Broderick family has the financial resources to provide a good cash settlement," Chief Harris added. "I'll to speak with the woman and the DA."
"Thank you, Chief Harris," I said.
"I'll keep you posted about the progress," Chief Harris continued. "In the meantime, Sam, welcome home. Mr. Robart, I hope you and your husband enjoy your new home."
"Thank you, Chief Harris," Frank replied.
We stood, shook hands, and Frank and I left Chief Harris's office.
As Frank and I walked back to my car, we talked. "How do you feel about your first official duty in your new hometown?"
"Confused, amazed, and grateful," Frank replied. "Daniel and I give thanks almost every day to you and Chris. Our lives would be so much more out of sync if it weren't for you two."
"We didn't do anything," I replied. "The two of you made your lives what they are now. Dinner at seven."
To be continued.
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