“The Queen of Gay Romance”
If you are of an age, or your laws don't allow reading of this material, please don't read it. Please Back out and come back when you are able. Your being on this site jeopardizes everyone who takes enjoyment from these stories.
If you are offended by reading stories about people who love each other and find sexual gratification with each other, then please go bury yourself under a rock and be the shit you are meant to be in life. Love is a part of life and let it happen.
Notes to My readers:
These chapters have been a long time coming. I realize it's been frustrating for you as it has been for me. The characters are talking to me again, so I'm striking while the iron is hot. Their story is going a different way than I had intended, but I'm satisfied on how it's going.
The statue of lady justice has a blindfold for a reason...she isn't supposed to be biased. In her hand is a scale which means fair and impartial treatment for all.
In this instance, I wanted the characters to receive the death penalty. I'm not for the death penalty personally, but in this case, I thought it'd be warranted.
Unfortunately, in the state of Missouri, the death penalty has guidelines which doesn't warrant a young child having to grow up without a parent...in the guidelines, the “other Victims” of the crime - - the ones who have to grow up without the benefit of that person they lost - - aren't taken into consideration. Unfortunately, the legal system is full of pits...not pot holes... which allow the defendants to take plea bargains for their deeds of infamy.
This is a case which actually happened...not to me, but I served time with just the person. In prison, someone who does this sort of thing...they actually do live in a rung of hell below baby rapers and sex offenders. They get treated as pariahs and should... Just remember, in prison, there are people who have left behind loved ones...women, children, and instances - - lovers. They seek the satisfaction in which the courts can't afford the burden.
One other thing of note. Fannie is an actual human being. I've used her actual name because she is a seeker of justice as I've mentioned in this story. I did not use her actual married last name...for reason other than I do not respect her husband and choice in life mate. Yes, I introduced them, but I did so by being sure to tell her the guy was a total piece of filth. She thought he was cute...go figure...
“Hear Ye! Hear Ye! All rise for the Honorable John Blanton. Please remain standing until the judge is seated. Then, we request quiet in the court.”
The judge sat down and his flowing robe made him look really huge. He rapped the gavel and then everyone sat down.
The Bailiff came forward and the Judge said, “What do we have today Ricky?”
“Your honor we have Case Number 897650238 State of Missouri Vs James, , and . Murder First Degree. We have Cramer representing the State and Jack Offenhauser representing the defendants.”
The judge rapped his gavel and said, “Have any motions been made for plea agreements?”
Ben stepped forward and said, “Your honor, the state will not allow a plea agreement in this instance due to extenuating circumstances.”
“What's the circumstances?”
“The one lone victim requested none be offered sir.”
“Does the victim realize this is bordering on these gentlemen's rights?”
“I don't think the victim really cares sir, he's being raised without parents due to these gentlemen's actions and....”
“Your honor, I object!”
“Sustained, Cramer, refrain from incriminating statements in front of the jury please. He turned to the Defense Attorney and said, “If you wish to object before I have a chance to speak, I'll most certainly grant similar rights to the prosecution. I know the law very well and can run this court room without your input. Give me a chance to do so and you'll see I do a right fair job.”
“Ok your honor”
“Jury's selected and everyone agrees?”
“Yes your honor, we have thirteen in case one becomes ill.”
The judge looked at the Defense Attorney and said, “You do realize bench trials are more lenient than jury trials, don't you?”
“Yes, your honor, I believe I can defend my clients with a preponderance of the evidence.”
“It's not a preponderance we're looking for...but a verdict. Remember that and you'll give your clients a better value for their dollar. Mr. Cramer, let me see your witness sheet and evidence list. Ummm hmmm, ummm hmmm, ok, you do have all the witnesses subpoenaed and your statements taken?”
“Yes, your honor.”
“Defense, bring forth your witness statements and evidence sheets.”
“Here you are your honor.”
“You've got three clients and they're going to serve as each other's witnesses?”
“They requested this sir.”
“You gentlemen do realize one speck of evidence will not only throw out your statements, but will also put you in contempt?”
They looked at him and he growled out, “Will the three accused please stand!”
The stood and he said, “I believe I asked you a question. Believe it or not gentlemen, I'm trying to get you a fair trial here! Did you hear me?”
From the line of guys when they sat back down, the courtroom was filled with a statement, “Fuckin' kangaroo court”
“Will the defense please stand back up and would the person who made that statement please step forward?”
No one stepped forward. The judge said, “The next outburst in this courtroom will have you ejected and tried in absentia, am I heard?”
“Yes your honor.”
“Then sit down and remember, you are to remain silent.”
The judge looked at Mr. Cramer and said, “Mr. Cramer, make your statements to the jury and then, please make them brief.”
Mr Cramer nodded and stepped forward. He made his statements and told the jury what happened in a story version. Afterwards, he said, “The state will prove. Evidence, dna evidence, and physical evidence will prove the defendants were at the Jacob's residence on the said evening and they set out to rob the farm of items, beef from a cow slaughtered on site, and to kill the family by burning the farm to cover their tracks.”
He then went over and sat back down.
The defense attorney stood and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. What I'm going to do is give you a different scenario in which the gentlemen here standing accused couldn't possibly have done what they've been accused.”
He sat back down and the judge said, “Sir, you do realized that statement sounded a bit like a first year law student making a statement? We're not seeking a retrial here, but we're seeking a fair representation of the law. Am I understood?”
“Yes your honor, there's not much to say. He points the finger and I do what I can to make him out to be mistaken.” he said with a smile. “If that's law 101, it seems to work every day in every court room.”
The judge frowned and said, “Ok, I'll refrain from making any more assumptions. Please do yourself a favor and make these fellas believe they paid for an attorney which cuts it to the quick like you.”
The defense attorney nodded and then, the judge said, “Mr. Cramer, call your first witness.”
Mr. Cramer stood and handed the bailiff a card.
“The State calls the County 911 dispatch operator, Lois Barnes.”
A woman got up and stepped forward.
“Do you promise to tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help you God?”
And so it began. He asked her questions and then after she was through, they let her off the stand.
“The State now calls Detective Max Lithrow.”
The defendants looked at each other. A man walked forward and took the stand.
“State your name and qualifications if you will.”
“My name is Max Lithrow. I work for the State Highway Patrol Crime Lab.”
“When you're called in to investigate fires of this nature, how do you proceed?”
“We check the situation to see if it was a fire which started of natural origin, or if it was deliberately set. If was set, then we take test samples to see how it was set and where it originated.”
“And was this a natural fire?”
“So it was set deliberately?”
“How did you find it was set?”
“In the photos I took, you can see char marks which show a trail of a flammable substance. Also, there was a dog there which sniffed the trail.”
“How do you determine where it was set?”
“When a fire starts, it burns there longest. However, when it begins, there's a flashpoint and then the flammable substance ignites. Because flammable substances have fumes, they spread and as that substance ignites, those fumes ignite.”
“Based upon the photos, can you show us where the fire originated?”
“No, but our dog revealed it started at the front door and then trailed the substance. Based upon char marks, we saw the trail led through the living room, in through the dining room and on into the kitchen leading to the back door.”
“And you could tell what the substance was?”
“That's based upon other tests. We took samples of the carpeting in the living and dining rooms as well as the kitchen linoleum and determined it to be gasoline.”
“This was done in your lab with the state?”
“It was done with the lab in our offices as well as the labs of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the F.B.I.”
“Why did you send it to the other labs?”
“We always get other opinions so we have three sources of verification.”
“And they all revealed the substance to be gasoline?”
“Did you send the sample to the carpet to the lab for a determination to see where the trail of gasoline led?”
“No. We have a dog which can sniff that trail.”
“And the dog revealed the trail?”
“Did further tests corroborate the dog's findings?”
“How did you arrive at these findings?”
“Based upon flash and charring of the carpeting. With the tile, it was a different.”
“What do you mean it was different?”
“Due to the tile being a hard slick surface which won't absorb liquids, it spreads.”
“How do you test it?”
“It's rather interesting. Different chemicals react differently with the finish of the tiles constructive material. You have to do tests on different tiles and see how something eats into the finish and then, see how it burns afterwards. Fortunately, the manufacturers send us tiles to use for these tests.”
“Can different cleaning solvents deteriorate the finish?”
“Yes, but no one washes their floors with gasoline and stays around long. Gasoline was the liquid used in this instance.”
“Is that all you can tell from the finish?”
“No. Interestingly, we can tell the container used as well as the rough height of the person who poured it.”
“Different containers have different flow rates. If you notice, a metal can has a different filler neck than a plastic container and based upon those containers, the flow rates are different.”
The judge interrupted, “Can we move this along?”
I looked at the judge. I was listening and paying attention. I knew Daddy had both metal and plastic jugs out in the well shed.
I turned to Uncle Nick and said, “Daddy had all of those jugs out in the well shed. They had to go there first.”
The prosecutor asked, “Were you able to figure out how tall the person was who poured the gasoline?”
“Five foot nine inches tall.”
I saw the defense lawyer begin writing franticly at his desk.
“Uncle Nick, that guy in my room was taller than that.”
“Yes, but look over there at the shorter guy. He was the one out there in the barn.”
“Yes. Do you think he came in the house?”
“It looks that way.”
“So he's the one that set the fire?”
“I think they're pointing the finger that direction.”
The prosecutor turned to the judge. “Your honor, may we have a recess? There's a lot more information here than even I anticipated.”
“Yes, I believe we can have a fifteen minute recess.”
“Your honor, may we have thirty?”
“Any particular reason?”
“Sir, I've got someone testifying who is an expert witness. He's giving information which could if refuted could potentially get this case brought up to appeals if it's found faulty. I'm sure the defense won't argue he'd like to look into this information as do I.”
“Ok, please keep it to thirty.”
The judge stood and we started to get up. The prosecutor came directly over to me. “Billy, I need to ask you something.”
He leaned over so his head was between Uncle Nick and me and asked, “If I can get the other two guys to testify the shorter guy was the one who set the blaze, will you let me get them twenty years?”
I looked at Uncle Nick and he said, “Get them forty and I'll let Billy consider it. We don't want Billy to see these guys out before he gets out of high school when they get good behavior.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “I hadn't thought of that. I'll push that, but I'm not going to bargain for anything less than thirty five years for them because that can get knocked down to twenty four real fast with good time in our state.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “What do you think Billy?”
“I don't want them out. Mama and Daddy aren't going to get out of their graves sooner.”
“Billy, we know that, but if we can get those two guys to testify against the one, then it will have them all worried what the others are going to say.”
I looked at the prosecutor and said, “Offer it to the guy, Gray Daniels, who saved me, but don't let them get out.”
“Ok, I'll go over and see if I can strike a plea with him.”
He went over and spoke with the defense attorney. I saw the man shake his head no, but then Gray shook his head and said loud enough I could hear him. “I'll take it.”
The prosecutor went over to his table and quickly got on his cell phone. He came back and said, “He took it. We'll get him questioned and get him on the stand. If he doesn't testify against them, the deal is off. We'll throw them all in until hell comes to get them.”
Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette stood up and we went out into the hallway.
A lot of people were there. Immediately to the right is steps which go down to a landing. We saw Mike and Jr over at a bench. Uncle Nick went over to them.
Aunt Paulette said, “Billy, go use the restroom.”
“I don't have to go.”
“Honey, go try. We'll be sitting there a while and it'll cause a disturbance if you are getting up and down.”
“I won't get up and down. It's interesting.”
“I know honey, but please go try. I've got to go myself.”
“Ok, I'll walk you down the steps and go.”
We went down the steps. The line for the womens restroom was long. There were probably fifteen women standing out in the line.
“Go ahead honey.”
“Ok, I'll come back over here.”
I went to the restroom. As soon as I went in, there were men standing inside. One of them said, “Them sons of bitches did it. Did you see the look on that short one's face when that man said it was someone his height!” He chuckled.
I looked at the men. I thought It doesn't bring back my mama and daddy.
I went over and used the bathroom. The one man who was speaking came over and ruffled my hair. “Son, you rest easy. Them guys are guilty and if they get out, we'll see to it they don't make anyone be bothered again.”
I looked up at him and said, “They won't get out. I saw them. They're going to have me testify.”
“Son, if you ever need anything, you come over to the bank in Jacksonville and speak with me. I'll get it so you don't have a worry.”
“Ok. I wish you were there before my mama and daddy died.”
“So do I son....so do I.” He shook his head and went out of the room.
I went over and washed my hands. The roll of cloth was laying out all over the floor and was all used up. I wiped my hands upon my pants legs.
I went back out. Aunt Paula wasn't there, so she must be in using the restroom.
I stood and waited for her. An older lady came over and handed me a handkerchief. “Honey, if you got to cry, use this. It's just so sad what they've made you have to go through. It's just so sad.”
The way she put it out towards me, I couldn't do anything other than take it. I took it and put it in my pants pocket. Aunt Paulette came out and came over to me. “Billy, your pants legs are wrinkled.”
“The towels in there were all used up. I had to wipe my hands on them.”
She smiled. “At least you washed your hands.”
We went back up the steps to the courtroom. Uncle Nick came over and said, “We're going to get Mike and Jr in our row. They got here late and the courtroom was already full.”
Aunt Paulette nodded.
Jr came over and hugged me. “How are you doing?”
“It's interesting. That man who testified had a lot of neat information.”
I filled him in on everything and then Uncle Nick said, “Billy, come on they're getting ready to start again.”
We went in and sat down. The prosecutor and the defense attorney were over speaking. The bailiff came in and told us all to rise again. We stood and the judge came into the room. The judge sat down and then everyone else all sat down.
The prosecutor told the judge about the plea offer of forty seven years offered to Gray Daniels, the man who rescued me, and it's being in effect if the man would work with the prosecution of the other men.
The judge nodded his head and said, “I'm guessing you need time to question him to get his statements before he testifies.”
“Yes your honor.”
“Ok, bailiff remand that man and be sure to tell the Sheriff to get him into protection so nothing affects his testimony.”
The defense said, “Your honor, in light of this event, can we get a continuance?”
The judge's face got red. His lips pursed together until they were white and then, he looked towards the jury.
“Sir, you're attempting to get me to continue this circus putting the juries lives on hold until you attempt to build a defense. It should seem to me you either know these men's innocence or guilt and have contingency plans for circumstances such as these. I'm thinking I'm being generous to give you until tomorrow morning to have your dogs and ponies in order so they can perform. This show is going to roll then.”
He looked at Mr. Cramer and said, “You two get together and get up there so that man is questioned and you have him on the stand at nine a.m. Because if you don't, I'll nullify that plea agreement and we'll go on as we are.” He paused and said, “You get that boy in my chambers because I want to speak with him.”
“Which one sir?” The prosecutor.
“Billy Jacobs. It seems to me you're affecting his life with these decisions. These men are facing considerable time. If they are found innocent or you're making offers which has that child enduring more pain in the future, I'm not going to take it lightly.”
The prosecutor nodded. The judge stood and looked at us. “Nick, would you and your wife please bring Billy back into my chambers?”
Uncle Nick nodded and looked at Aunt Paulette and I. He took my hand and then turned to Mike. “We'll be right back.”
We stood up and then Uncle Nick took us forward to the door the judge just went through. The bailiff opened it for us and we went into the judge's office.
The judge was taking off his robe. He hung it on a coat rack and then sat down at his desk.
“Nick, did you agree to that agreement?”
“Yes your honor. They wanted to offer twenty and I told the prosecutor to double it. I didn't want Billy having to deal with them before he was out of high school.”
The judge smiled and said, “So he went and offered forty seven?”
“Apparently. I wasn't within hearing distance.”
The judge looked at me and said, “Billy, come around here please.”
I went around his desk and the judge put me up on it sitting so we were looking eye to eye.
“Billy, I'm doing what I can out there to try being fair. The amount of fairness I'm giving is with YOU in mind first and foremost.”
He shook his head and continued. “I didn't know your mama and daddy personally, but I'm just damned sorry I couldn't put those idiots behind bars longer than I could when they were in front of me previously. I think if I had, your parents would be alive.”
I said, “Sir, you have a job and if you had known, I know you would have. Mr Thompson told me once he got kicked by a mule. He said had he known the mule was going to kick him, he sure would have took the shoe off it so it wasn't wearing them.”
The judge chuckled.
“You're right. I can sort of tell someone is bad business when they're in front of me, but all I can hope is they're going to get their lives in order and then stay out of my court. Most do, but there's others who are gladly taking their places. We don't have many murders in these parts and thankfully so, but when one happens it's usually got me to thinking what I could have done different.”
“Sir, I understand. I raise Alpacas. There are good ones and then, there are those that spit. When they're little, you don't know which ones are going to be spitters and not. They usually learn it from older ones, but just the same one learns it, another standing right beside it won't ever spit.”
He laughed and said, “Yeah, I'll have to try not thinking of any of the people who come in front of me as alpacas. It gives those beautiful animals a bad reputation.”
He paused and asked, “Billy, why did you agree with that offer?”
“Because I saw them guys. The one who took the deal saved me. If he hadn't, I'd probably be dead too. The other one was outside. That short one was the one who was in our barn and killed Bessie.”
“It looks like he killed your parents too. What do you want me to do when that man comes up in front of me for sentencing?”
“Make sure they never get out. If that one is the one who killed my mama and daddy, then do what you can to see he dies...if you can.”
“Billy, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I don't think there's enough on him to get him the death penalty. What I will do is get him life without a chance of being released. That way he won't ever get out. How about I give that other guy seventy five years?”
“Sir, can I say something?”
“If those men told me my mama and daddy couldn't see me for seventy five years, I'd think they were some awful people. I'd wait that long to see them, but as it is, I'm not going to see my mama and daddy ever again. That's why I don't ever want to see them again and don't want them to get to see their families again.”
He nodded and said, “You have a good point. Let me see what I can do about that. You don't know it, but I can make recommendations with the prison system of where they're put. Usually, they try to put them close to their family for their convenience. What I'll do is request the man be put way far away so their family finds it rather hard to see him.”
“How far away?”
“There's a prison down in a town which is five hours by car which they can be placed.”
“Can you make it so they don't ever see each other in there? If they can see each other, then they'll gang up on someone else.”
“I'll put that in my recommendation. What I'd like to ask you is if you'll speak to a woman who is a friend of mine named Fannie. She's over the parole board. They're the ones who decides when guys get out.”
“You're going to let them out!”
Billy, but she has a lot of pull inside with those people and I'd
like for her to be pulling for you so what you've requested.”
“So you've already decided they're going to go to prison?”
“Billy, you're going to testify, aren't you?”
“Yes. They've already asked me to do it by video, but I didn't want it to be done that way. I want them to see me tell what I saw and I want them to know I'm plenty mad at them.”
“I promise you I've already seen the video you made. If you tell the jury what you told the video, there's not a one of them who is going to let them men get out.”
“Your honor, you want to know what I wish you could do for me?”
“What's that son.”
“I wish you could make it so I could remember my mama and daddy's faces. I'm already forgetting them. I have to look at pictures and then, when I do I get sad all over again.”
The judge had tears in his eyes. “Son, I wish I could do that. Do what you can to remember your mama laughing and your daddy and you were doing something together and what he looked like when you were doing that. It helps. I'm older than you and that's the only way I can remember my mama and daddy.”
“Your mama and daddy are dead too?”
“It makes you sad, doesn't it?”
“Yes, it hurts like all get out....at times. That's why I want you to speak with Fannie. She's a great gal and I just know if you spoke with her, she'd get everything you wanted done.”
“Ok, I'll speak with her.”
He looked at Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette and said, “I'm going to ask a favor because a lot of what's been said in here needs to be kept in here.”
Uncle Nick said, “Don't worry about that with us.”
“No, what I'm going to ask next is right up there with lightning bolts on ethics.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “As long as it doesn't hurt Billy, we'll agree.”
“I want her and Billy to go out there to that farm and talk. I want her to see where it happened. If I can make her see his parents were alive one moment and then his life was damaged over what happened, I want her to never forget this boy.
She's the type of woman who will not forget and will make it a point of every time she thinks about him, she'll make a call to see those men's lives won't ever be peaceful in the prison system...I'll tell you that.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “Billy, is that ok with you?”
“Yeah, I don't have a problem taking her there. I don't know her, but I'd like it if she'd be able to make them have mean friends in there.”
The judge paused and said, “Nick, video tape everything out there with Billy telling what he remembers...as if he's giving a complete accounting of the night over. We'll get it put onto DVD so it goes to Fannie. I just know she'll show it to people in there in confidence so those people who are their caseworkers will remember Billy all the way through the years.”
Uncle Nick nodded and said, “We'll do that. That way, their deeds follow them.”
The judge paused and said, “Nick, Paulette, I know you two have loss too. I don't want you to think I'm negating that fact.”
Aunt Paulette said, “We know that. We understand what you're doing. It's fine with us. If it gets justice done beyond the court room, we'll gladly do it.”
The judge said, “Why don't you do a part of the DVD telling about the Jacobs so they know it was your family who was killed. I think it'd be good if those people see it and immediately think of their family members and the loss they'd feel.”
Uncle Nick asked, “How long do you think this trial will take?”
The judge scrunched his nose and said, “The trial portion should take less than two weeks as long as the prosecutor will keep witnesses like todays off the stand. The man on the stand today was giving valuable testimony, but I began to wonder if he was deliberately throwing in enough questionable material to help the defense for retrial.”
Uncle Nick look startled. “You don't think!”
“No, as you saw, I interrupted and was thankful the prosecutor got the point. I will tell you I came back in here during recess and called that man's superiors to tell them the transcript was being emailed to them so they could get him to not jeopardize anyone's case in the future.”
I looked at the judge and said, “I thought what he said was neat.”
“It's interesting Billy, but that defense attorney previously had nothing to grasp ahold of to save his men. Now, he's got fine threads which he'll use to try saving them. That is how these people get out of these things.”
“They're not going to get free, are they?”
Mike looked at me and had the worst look ever on his face, “Those men won't ever be free. If they do, they'll face back road justice...my way!”
Uncle Nick looked at him and I asked, “What's back road justice?”
Uncle Nick said, “Billy, don't worry about it. Mike is just doing what he can to make sure you know they're not going to be let loose.”
“Ok, you had me afraid there for a minute.”
I heard Uncle Nick and Mike talking. Jr came over to me and said, “Back road justice is when someone gets in trouble and a bunch of guys take them out on a back road and beat the tar out of them.”
“You don't think they're going to be getting out! Do you?”
“No, what did the judge say?”
“He wanted to ask me if I was agreeing to the deal they gave that one guy.”
“Yeah. He'll tell on the other guys and get to get out after forty seven years.”
“It doesn't sound like that's a good deal to me.”
“It is when the other guys are facing never getting out.”
“It still makes him a rat. He'll never be able to show his face around here again without being told that's what he is.”
“No, but I don't want to think about that. If it helps get the others put away forever, that's what I want.”
He nodded and hugged me. “I know it's hard for you.”
“The judge wants me to meet a girl named Fannie. She's probably got a big fanny!” I said smiling.
“Who would name their daughter Fannie?”
“I don't know, but that's what her name is.”
“Who is she?”
“She talks with the people in the prison to make sure the guys don't get treated good. That's what the judge said.”
“I'd like to have that job.”
“Not me. I don't think I'd want anywhere near them.”
We started walking down the steps. We were about all the way down when someone started yelling for Uncle Nick. We all turned around and saw the prosecutor running down the steps towards us.
“I'm sorry Nick, but I have to ask Billy a question.”
He looked at me and said, “The defense attorney wants to have me ask you if you'll agree to giving them life with a chance of parole.”
“What's that mean?”
“It means they'll get life in prison, but they'll have a chance for parole eventually.”
“A parole meeting is when the guy goes up in front of the parole board and they think about letting him out.”
“So they'd get to get out?”
“Not for a long long time. The way it goes is a guy has to wait for twenty five years before he even gets to see them. With the circumstances of your mama and daddy dying, I'll tell you the parole board won't let them go. They'll tell them to come back in five years and when that happens, they'll most likely tell them to wait another five years. They'll keep doing that, but what's good about it is when they have that meeting, you get to be there and tell the parole board about what happened and then tell the parole board you don't want them to be set free.”
I looked at Uncle Nick and he asked, “If they each have both murders is that going to be in twenty five years? Or, is it going to be they go up for parole in twenty five years and then, have to start doing the next twenty five for the second murder?”
“That's a good point. I can ask it be done that way.”
“Do that and then I'll let Billy consider it. I don't want those guys to ever have the privilege of even thinking being set free until they're old and gray.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “Billy, you stay close to a phone. I think those guys are worried now that one of them is willing to tell what happened. I think they're going to grab ahold of any deal we make.”
“What happens if they want to use what that one guy said to try being set free?”
“The good thing is if they take the deal, it's like this trial didn't happen. There's no chance for them to get a better deal because they're saying this is the best deal they could have gotten. They can ask the judge for leniency, but I'll tell you now that judge isn't going to give it to them.”
Uncle Nick said, “You get them to run them separately and we'll think about it. Until then, he's scared those guys are going to be set free. Let's not scare him any more than he's already been.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “I'll make that offer that way. Will you consider that if I do?”
“You put it in writing where we can see it and we'll take a look for ourselves it's actually that way.”
The prosecutor nodded and said, “Ok, how about we just go ahead and agree to it being that way because I sure won't offer them it being the other way.”
Uncle Nick said, “How about you just go ahead and run all of those charges they're facing that way? It'll buy time for us and give them more time.”
“Nick, here's the problem with that. The deal is they'll plea to the murders and we'll sweeten the deal with the other charges of arson, cruelty to animals, burglary, theft, and all the others to get them to take the worst ones.”
Nick said, “It doesn't sound good enough.”
“What I'm afraid of Nick is they can take this through trial and use that witness' testimony to get the time reduced on technicalities.”
“Then why in the hell did you let that man on that stand!”
“I'm sorry about that. If I could have told the man to shut up, I would have. Instead, I'll be calling his boss and telling him he sure didn't do us any favors with his testimony.”
“What's his bosses name? I really would like to give him my opinion too.”
“I'll get that for you.”
Uncle Nick said, “I know you didn't deliberately put that man on the stand to do this. If you can get those charges of murder to be ran separate, then we'll consider it. A lot of time is better than no time. I realize it's your job to try to get them the most and their job is to try to get the least, but you tell them we won't even consider it not being that way. We'll take our chances their guy and Billy's testimony will sway that jury to be upset enough to give them the maximum they can.”
I said, “No matter what, I want to know why they did it. They have to tell me why. If they can't, then I'll tell you now I'm not going to let them get out without telling me.”
The prosecutor said, “Billy, I'll see if I can put that in the agreement. We'll do it so they have to make a full confession and write it all out what they did and why they did it. It'll secure the convictions and it'll keep them from ever trying to make themselves a better deal later.”
“How can they make better deals?”
“It's a slim chance at all. What they have to do is they have to hope the judge will even consider it. That's why I'm saying it's a slim chance. Sometimes a judge will do that, but this time isn't one of them. I don't think.”
Uncle Nick said, “You can rest assured it isn't. We spoke with the judge and he's all for giving them a hard time in there. He's wanting to have Billy speak with a woman who can make that happen.”
“Did he happen to mention her name?”
“Oh man, I'll tell you now the judge is baiting a bear trap then. She's head of the parole board. If he's wanting Billy to speak with her, I'll tell you now he's going straight to the top and not holding anything back.”
“Well, he wants her to know what happened and what Billy thought when it was happening. He wants it on DVD so it can be played for their caseworkers and everything.”
The prosecutor smiled. “She'll do it to. I've heard she has the ability to go in and make life miserable for those guys.”
“Well, get that agreement done the way we asked and we'll consider it.”
He nodded and said, “Nick, I'm sorry that man did that.”
“It's not your fault. Let's make it a point of complaining to his boss so no one else is jeopardized in this manner again. They ought to have them practice giving testimony. For a moment, I thought he was deliberately saying things to help them.”
“I think his problem is he's taking the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” a bit far. He's supposed to answer questions and not go on and on like he did.”
“Well, get me his bosses' name because I'll be writing a letter of complaint.”
“I'll do that. Stay here in town because I'll have that agreement done in about an hour.”
“You have to strike while the iron is hot. If those idiots get a chance to go back to that jail and hear what we're doing, then they'll not take it.”
“Does this make the other guy's deal the same?”
“No, unfortunately not. We made that deal so that's what we're stuck with. The good thing is we'll get his side of things because that's already a given. How much he'll say, I'm not sure, but if it's not good enough, I'll request the judge to disallow the agreement and he'll have to either stand trial or take their agreement. The plus side of it is I can tell him that's what will happen once they take it and he'll make sure he gets that better deal.”
“In a way, I hope he doesn't so he has to take the same deal they're getting.”
“I don't think he'll be that stupid. The plus side of it is his family is going to be on him something awful for even thinking about testifying against his own family. Then, when he's released sooner than the others, he'll have to face all of that again.”
“I guess that's a plus, but it really isn't in my eyes. I'd just as soon Billy not ever have to see them. What's the likelihood of what he'll have to do with good time and everything....honestly?”
“Honestly, they get a chance of parole at fifty percent. That's twenty three years. I'll tell you now, that parole board isn't going to give it to him, so what happens is it automatically goes to two thirds which is thirty one or two. When he gets out, he'll have to do five years parole and what we'll do is we'll make it so there's a lifetime restraining order on him to stay away from Billy. If he so much as attempts to go near him, then he'll have to go back and finish that sentence.”
“Little consolation if he wants to come at him and finish the job.”
“I don't think he will. He had opportunity to finish the job, but chose to rescue him. I think it's a situation of a good man being caught up in a bad crowd. When it counted, his true colors showed and Billy is here because of it.”
“You sound like his lawyer.”
“I probably do, but what I'm saying Nick is I don't think he's one Billy will need to worry about. I'm trying to give you some hope there.”
“Ok, I understand. It's a shame he didn't save everyone.”
“Yes, but we have to take our blessings as they come.”
Aunt Paulette said, “Nick, I think you guys are on the same page. He's telling you not to worry and you're still worrying.”
Uncle Nick said, “I'm just worried what prison is going to do to that man. The best person in the world could go in there and still come out an animal. My worry is he'll aim that fury at Billy and I'll not around to protect him.”
“Hon, please. I know you mean well and I'm sure this man here means well.
He's telling you to count your blessings and you're spitting in the eye of God. How would you feel if that man had went ahead and finished the job? It took Billy telling us what they looked like. All we would have had was another person to bury and not have anything but suspicions. Be thankful the man was there so we could have Billy to tell us so we got this much justice!”
“Ok, put that way, I understand better. I'm sorry.”
He went over and put his head on her shoulder. “It's just I have to be strong when I have to raise him and know I'm getting to see everything my sister should have been able to see. His first love. His graduation. Heck, he even learned how to drive and she didn't get to see that.”
Mr. Cramer said, “Nick, what I want you to do is make a victim's impact statement. Have you done that?”
“No, what is it?”
“It's a letter you write which gets read at the parole hearings. You can do it on DVD if you'd like, but the way it's normally done is via letter. What is good about it is it's put in the file and each time they come up for parole, it's read just like you being there.”
“I'll do that. Maybe it would help. Right now, all I can think about is everything my sister isn't getting to see in regards to him.”
“I know. It's hard. What's good is you can add to it and all of them will be read. I think you need to really consider that.”
“We will. I think Paulette needs to do one too. Her life has been impacted as much as mine.”
“Is that why they're having me do it on DVD?”
Mr Cramer nodded, “Yeah hon. I think it is. They want you to do it because a little boy your age shouldn't have to ever go through this. I think they're having you do it so when it's viewed, those parole board members can look at it and say, “My God, he's just a baby.”
“I'm not either!”
“You might not think so now Billy, but some day you're going to look back on it and think they really robbed you of a lot more than you think.”
“I know they took my mama and daddy. That's more than enough.”
Uncle Nick dropped down on his knee, “They took experiences you would have had with them. That's what he's trying to say. It's not that you don't get to experience them, but you're having to do them with people who aren't your parents. It's not that I don't enjoy doing things with you, but I think your mama and daddy should have been the ones to do them with you.”
“I understand, but I don't want you and Aunt Paulette to think I don't love you for doing them with me.”
“We know that.”
The prosecutor blew his nose in an handkerchief. I looked up and he had tears running down his face. I stepped away from Uncle Nick and went over and hugged him. “It'll be alright.”
He smiled and said, “Billy, you've had to be so strong. I look at how you are and I just know your parents were some fine people. I need to go get that agreement done so we can get you guys to look at it.”
He looked at Uncle Nick and said, “Nick, if I didn't think that man jeopardized this case, that right there would have me still fighting this thing to the end. Instead, we got what we got and now we have to give them the hardest deal we can.”
“Are you doing this because of that man's testimony, or because we have them on the ropes?”
“Both. We have them on the ropes because they're afraid of what their guy is going to say.
I'm feeling like I'm on the ropes because of what that man said. I know if we take this on through, they'll get a retrial based upon his testimony and could get it.
With a retrial, their guy's testimony could be disallowed as they could say it was in his best interest to make them look bad. I think us offering this deal is our only hope to get something set in stone.”
“Ok, get the deal made up as we've asked, go ahead and present it. BUT, you tell them if they don't take it there won't be another. We're not going to whittle this thing down until there's nothing. You've got the best you're going to get. I'll take us being on the ropes and make a noose out of it to hang them myself if need be.”
He nodded and said, “Do you want to look it over?”
“No, because if you didn't give them the deal we agreed to, I'll personally see you're not re-elected. Furthermore, the judge is going to ask Billy if that's what we agreed to and once he tells him no, then you're going to be on the front page of every newspaper being viewed as the man who sold out a little boy's parents.”
“Don't worry, I'm not going to change a thing.”
“Just don't. You now know how far I'll take this. I'd rather have you know it up front. Personally, I think you should have known a little bit more about how that man would testify than you did. It's upsetting, but I also have to tell myself you always have that guarantee. That's why I'm going to be off talking with his boss.”
“Nick, when this is over, I'd like to sit down and talk with you. Have you ever heard of court appointed liaisons?”
“No, what is it?”
“What it is, is someone who comes into the court acting on behalf of people who can't act in their own interests.”
“I've got my hands full as it is.”
“You're not understanding me. Let me explain it better.
The reason I'm suggesting it is because you're not afraid to tell me how you feel. A lot of people view me and judges with a bit of intimidation.
I'll tell you now there are times when I get a head of steam and don't see any other thing except what I've made in briefs. It takes someone with common sense to not be afraid in open court to say, “Hey, that's stupid. Do you really think you're acting in the best interest of this person here?”
“What sort of people get court appointed liaisons?”
“Kids get them. The elderly. The mentally handicapped, and so on and so forth. Heck, people in comas get them because we need someone to speak on their behalf.”
“Am I legally liable for doing it?”
“No, not at all. The plus side of it is it gets you experience. It gets you networked with the people of the court. You can use it to branch out politically, or do what you want.”
Aunt Paulette said, “Nick, look into it. You're wanting to be a county commissioner, that'd be one way of getting your foot in the door.”
“Ok, I'll look into it.”
“Hearing you want to be a commissioner, let me give you a bit of information. Your county commissioner isn't really interested in the job. He's ran the past three times because no one else has ran. If you want to be one, let me get you in contact with him and he'll gladly support you on it.”
Uncle Nick smiled and turned to Aunt Paulette. “Hon, this might be what we've been hoping for.”
He paused and asked, “How much time is this court appointed liaison thing going to take?”
“The plus side of it is it's usually one afternoon a week.”
“How much time do I have to look over that person's file?”
“That's the bad thing about it. You would pick up your files on Friday afternoon and have to be ready for court on Monday afternoon.”
“Is that fair to the people who are represented?”
“Nick, most of the time, it's either for kids who are getting adopted or for someone who is elderly who can't speak for themselves. They are unable to take care of what is normal capacity and/or themselves. What happens is you basically have a lot of reports in the files which are from doctors, health care professionals, or whatever which say exactly that. You're given the access to the person if you would like and can actually see for yourself, but that's how it goes.”
“Then why do you need a liaison for them?”
“Because sometimes things get screwed up. I'd like to say it nicer, but just a couple weeks ago, we had a mess because we had three people with the last name of Brown who were up on the dockets. Needless to say, somewhere along the way, we had a patient in one of the nursing homes who got remanded to a different nursing home in the court records. In that circumstance, we didn't have a liaison who was there, so we sat the file on the table and had court without one.”
“Is that legal?”
“Unfortunately, it is. And, unfortunately, that's why things get screwed up.”
“Ok, how much does it pay?”
“That's the part I wasn't wanting to say. It's donated time.”
Uncle Nick said, “Ok, how many files a week?”
“Sometimes one or none and sometimes, it could be ten. We never know.”
“And looking over those files all takes time. I'll tell you now I'm the sort of person who is going to take it seriously.”
“I know, that's why I'm telling you about it. What I need to tell you is there are some cases where if the file takes a considerable amount of time, then you're paid.”
“Let's say someone is elderly and has no family. They lived at home, something happened and now, they're going to be confined to a nursing home the rest of their lives.
What happens then, is a liason is appointed and that liaison is charged with the power of the court to auction the person's belongings off and in doing so, a percentage of the proceeds is given to the liason as payment in kind.”
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
“It can be, but I'll tell you there are a few unsavory persons in this county who seem to want to snatch those up. They make deals with only certain auctioneers and or real estate people and they in turn see a sizable portion of those moneys in return for only dealing with those people.”
“You mean to tell me they're taking kickbacks on it!”
“I'm not going to say yes, and I'm not going to say no. All I'm going to say is if it smells like a snake, coils up like one, and slithers along like one, then most likely they're snakes.”
“Is that legal?”
unfortunately. That's why I'd push strong to have someone of good
moral character to be in there so I can get those people out.”
Mike said, “I'd be interested. If it's bodies you want, then I'll do it providing it's ok with Nick.”
“Sure Mike. I've got no problem with that. If it's something you want to do, then go for it.”
“Ok, I'll get you guys some information on it and make plans on having you in there. Without knowing it, you just cut the odds of those people getting all of them down by half.”
Aunt Paulette said, “I can up the odds by throwing my hat in if you'd like. We can get other people told and then, we can make it so they're not getting many at all.”
“I'm sorry, but I can't let other family members do it. The reason for that is you might in some circumstances be in with files which have you standing across the court from each other.”
“Ok, I'll tell you a circumstance and then, you'll see.
A man and woman have a car wreck. They've got four children. Unfortunately, the man was driving and he was killed. The woman probably would have been killed, but instead they did all the resuscitation measures and kept her alive. Now, she's in the nursing home living the rest of her life as a vegetable. Paulette, that's your file.
Nick, your file is the kids. The parents didn't have a will, and they didn't have much family. They've got a family member in some distant state who lives in a trailer filled with beer bottles and likes to beat up on his women. He's got four pit bulls outside and he's just not real clean about himself.
Now, do you take custody and give it to him, or do you fight to put them in better circumstances and Paulette, is that person really in a vegetative state? or could she possibly come back with better care only to find the kids have all been adopted out?”
“Oh man.” said Aunt Paulette.
“Yeah, it can be messy.”
Uncle Nick asked, “Why isn't family services handling these things?”
“Because it's not viewed as impartial if one state agency is handing kids over to another agency without independent persons who aren't afraid to stand up and say, “Hey, Bubba' down there is a poor choice for any parent of the year award. If you're thinking about doing that, get a new hole drilled in your skull because the ones you have are holding in too much stupidity.”
Uncle Nick said, “I can see why you don't have family members doing it.” He looked at Aunt Paulette and said, “Hon, if you want to do it, that's fine with me.”
“No, you go ahead. I was offering to throw my hat into the ring to help make the pot a little thinner for those other people.”
The prosecutor said, “I'd hate to change the subject, but have you guys noticed how much family support those guys have gotten?”
Uncle Nick said, “I've not been paying attention. Is there any?”
“Absolutely none. They monitor the calls and visits at the county jail and they've had no takers and no one comes to visit them. We reserve a bench behind the defendants for family and not one person was sitting there. Finally, they gave it to the spectators who were having to stand.”
Aunt Paulette said, “At least their family has some sense. I think if anyone in my family did that, I'd not come either.”
I said, “I would. It's too easy to hate someone. We're supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin. I'd go because I'd want them to know I still love them.”
Everyone looked at me and Uncle Nick said, “Out of the mouths of babes.”
He turned to the prosecutor and said, “We'll stay in town for lunch. Give us a call when you have those agreements. We'll come and give them a look.”
“Ok, I've got your cell number.”
We went out onto the front steps of the court house. Uncle Nick said, “Mike, we'll be down at the diner. Would you guys like to go?”
“I need to check some things out at the farm. Jr can stay, but I've got to be there to check them.”
“Ok, we'll take him and get him lunch. We'll see you guys later this afternoon when we get home.”
Jr came over and said, “Come on, I'll race you to the truck.”
We took off running and I barely beat him tagging the door handle.
“Billy, do you mean it that you'd come see me if I got in trouble?”
“Yeah! But I'd probably be sitting right beside you because we'd be in trouble together....but you're not going to kill anyone.”
“I'd be there for the back road justice to be delivered if it had to happen. So, if that's what we decided, then I'd do it too.”
“I wouldn't. It's a whole lot better to hate someone than to kill them.”
“So you don't think they deserve the death sentence?”
“The court is deciding for them not to get it, so we've got to follow what they want.
I think them being put away for that long is fine. They don't get to see their family and stuff, so it's just like what they did to me. So, they're getting their eye for the eye for an eye.”
“I'd want them to get killed just like they killed if it were my parents.”
“If it happens to you, you'll see it gets pretty old having everyone feel sorry for you.
It's like when you're sick and get better. Everyone still wants to give you cough syrup when you're not even coughing. It's that way for me with everyone feeling sorry for me. Life is getting better, so I'm not going to worry about it.”
“How was it for you at first?”
“It's like when you slam your finger in a door. It hurts and then, it really hurts for the first few weeks, but then, after a while you don't think about it anymore. I've got you and everyone else to keep my mind off of it, so it's getting better.”
“You don't think about them?”
“Yeah, but I don't walk around thinking about them all the time, but there are several parts of the day when I think of them and get sad.
One of the times I think of my mama a lot is when I first walk in the door from school. I really think about her then because she'd have cookies for me and a big glass of milk from Bessie. Now, mama and daddy aren't there and neither is Bessie. I just know Bessie is in Heaven with them.”
“I guess you're probably right, but I'd miss my parents something awful.”
“I do, but it's getting better. You're making like I never think of them.”
“No, I'm not doing it to argue. I just know how it'd be for me. I'm sure it's the same for you, but it'd be awful.”
“Do you think we can sleep together tonight?”
“We'll have to ask. Are you guys doing anything special?”
“I don't think so, but even if we were, I think you could come. You usually do.” I said smiling.
“Yeah, but after today, they might not let me.”
“I'll ask. I know your dad and mom would let you come over if they thought I was going to have a rough night of it.”
He smiled and said, “Are you?”
“Not if you're there. I always sleep better when you're there.”
“Me too.” He said smiling.
“I wonder where Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette are?”
“They're over talking to that couple.”
“Well, wait here, I'll go over and see what the hold up is. I want to eat!”
ran over to Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette. They were talking to the
Uncle Nick looked down at me and said, “Here he is. Billy, this is the parents of the two guys who are brothers which killed your parents.”
“I thought you said they weren't here?”
The man spoke with a bit of a sneer. “We're not here for them. We came to tell you how sorry we are our boys would do such a thing to you. As far as I'm concerned, they're not my sons any longer.”
you forgive them? I'm trying to.”
“Son, They weren't raised to do that.”
“No, but their choices weren't yours. They made them.”
“Yes, but I've got to live in this town knowing. And others live in this town knowing. They and I don't take kindly to what they did.”
“I don't either, but the Bible tells me to love the sinner and hate the sin.
Jesus also said to cast the first stone if you're without sin. He did that because he knew everyone's done something bad. Your boys did that, but it's sure going to be hard for them to not have you. I know what it's like to live without parents and it's hard.”
He looked at his wife and a tear slid down his face. “Son, we've came here to let you know we just went to the lawyer to have you put in our Will instead of them. I can't sleep at night knowing they would stand a chance of receiving everything I've worked my life to achieve.”
“Without a doubt. You're a good kid. Mine are disgraces.”
“Would you ask them one question for me?”
“I want to know why they did it. They didn't have to do it, but they did. I'd like to know why.”
“Son, I can tell you my one son that was at that window was there because he knew it was the right thing to do.
My other son who was stealing and killing wasn't there. He's always been no count and I can tell you he's the one which put them all up to no good.”
“Yes, but I get into trouble just as much as Jr when we do something wrong. I know if I'm there and don't talk him out of it, then I'm just as wrong as him.”
“And that's why I want to see all of them go to prison. That's why I'm trying to make sure you're taken care of instead of them.”
“But don't stop loving them! It's just as bad as killing them! I thought when you're a parent, you were supposed to step in and make sure your sons were corrected and then help them to do better? You're killing them just like they did my parents...only you're not killing them!”
He looked up at Uncle Nick and said, “Nick, would you please tell others what I've decided. I can't make up for his loss, but I sure can make sure my sons don't benefit from it.”
Uncle Nick said, “I'll do that.”
I was upset. I went over and hugged Uncle Nick and said, “Are you going to stop loving me if I do something bad?”
“Good. Now, would you tell those guys I forgive them even if others can't?”
“I'll do that, but why don't you tell the judge that. I'm sure he'll make sure the word is passed along.”
“Do you hate them too?”
“Billy, I'm not in the least bit happy about what they did. I can see your point, but this is in the hands of grown ups.”
“Well, I guess I want to be a Judge when I grow up so I can tell parents to love their kids no matter what.”
I ran back to the truck. Jr asked, “Who are they talking to?”
“The parents of the two guys.”
“Oh. What did they say to you?”
“The guy changed his will to love his kids. He doesn't love them anymore.”
“Yeah, but Uncle Nick said he'd still love me if I did something bad.”
“Well maybe that's why they killed your parents....their parents aren't nice.”
“The guy seemed nice. It's just that he's thinking loving his kids is like a light switch. If they do good, then it's “on” and if they do bad, it's “off”.”
“Do you think ours do that?”
“No, I know even when I'm getting a spanking they still love me.”
He looked at me and said, “You were over there an awful long time, is there something else they said?”
“No, he asked Uncle Nick to tell everyone else of his decision.”
“So he wants your Uncle to tell everyone he's dumb?!”
“I can do that!”
Aunt Paulette came over. “Boys get in the truck. Your Uncle is coming now.”
“Aunt Paulette, why are they like that?”
“What do you mean?”
“They stopped loving their sons!”
“Hon, they still love them. They're not happy with them right now.”
“But the man said he changed his will to love them?”
“He changed his Will honey. That's the thing they read when someone dies. It gives their property and all their belongings to someone else.”
“What does that mean?”
“He wants you to get what was going to his sons.”
“To make up for what his sons did.”
“They didn't take that property from me!”
“No, but they took your parents from you, so he's trying to give you what means a lot to him to make up for it.”
“So if it'd be like me giving Jr something if I broke something of his?”
“Then why doesn't he still love his sons?”
“Billy, different people have different ways of showing their love.”
“It's not up to us to decide how he loves his sons. I don't agree with it personally, but I can understand why he's doing it.”
“I don't. So he wants you and Uncle Nick to run around telling how he doesn't love his sons?”
“Then don't do it! Let him decide he's made a mistake and get back to loving them.”
Uncle Nick got in the truck. “Boy, I'm hungry!”
He looked at Aunt Paulette. “What? It's quiet in here.”
“Hon, Billy doesn't want you to tell anyone what they are doing.”
“Because he thinks it'd be broadcasting the man is a fool.”
“I don't think so!”
“You will when you hear what Billy thinks.”
“What's he think?”
“He thinks the man is an idiot for picking and choosing when to love his kids. He thinks the man is choosing to stand away from them because of what they did, but if they were up there getting an award for doing something good, he'd be there taking credit for being a good parent.”
“Well, the man is going to have a hard way in this town for what they did.”
I said, “Uncle Nick, when that happens, I'm going to tell them what the Bible tells us to do. It's not loving and it's not being nice. We're supposed to love everyone and hate their sins. That man didn't do a thing.”
Uncle Nick looked at Aunt Paulette and said, “Man, the kid is going to be a preacher. I'm learning more about what the Bible MEANS through him than I've learned sitting in church.”
Aunt Paulette said, “Hon, it's forgiveness. He's moving on because he can forgive. It's us who are stuck here because we can't get past the past.”
He turned around and patted my knee. “Billy, I'll tell everyone what you think instead of what that man thinks. I think it'd be a lot better if I do that.”
“Can you make that man keep his land?”
“No, it's already been decided.”
“I think it's a mistake. If someone is making a mistake and trying to give me things, why can't I refuse it?”
“Some things don't work out that way.”
“Then I'm just as in the wrong by accepting it than he is in giving. I don't like that.”
“Billy, I can't tell him what to do. He's an adult and his decision was made before he even spoke with us.”
“What can I do to change it?”
“Not much I'm afraid.”
“What's going to happen to those guys when they get out? They're not even going to have a home to come home to?”
“Don't fret about them Billy.”
“Uncle Nick! They're going to be old. They're going to need someplace to live, or they'll come looking for me!”
“No, they'll stay away from you.”
“Well can't we give them back that land?”
“No, absolutely not.”
I looked out the window. Junior's hand found mine.
Aunt Paulette said, “Nick...”
“Paulette, I'm not going to have him giving those guys a thing!”
“Nick, the way I see it, that man's mistake is like sin. It keeps on giving and it's sure wrapped around you to make you make mistakes. I can see where Billy is coming from and fortunately, THREE of us in this vehicle aren't choosing to play a part in perpetuating the mistakes.”
“What would you have me do? REWARD THEM!”
“No! I think if it's in Billy's heart, then they can get out and go home. I think if it's not, then it's up to him to cast them to the streets. He's not casting stones here. He's choosing to drop his. I'm going to do the same.”
“So I'm throwing stones of hatred here?”
“I think you're not helping to disarm the situation.”
Junior said, “Nick, Billy told me him choosing to continue hating them was like being sick and then getting better.
Everyone's still treating him like he's sick and wanting to give him cough syrup. He's better now, but you're still treating him like he's sick.
Instead of stones, I think you've got a big bottle of cough syrup you need to put away.”
Uncle Nick looked at Aunt Paulette and said, “Hon, I'm afraid.”
“I realize that. I'm also sorry for arguing about this in front of the children. Unfortunately, it's the children which are teaching us how to be adults.”
“What do you think I should do?”
“Let Billy make the decision. If that's what he thinks, then support him. If it's not, then support him on it.”
“Fortunately, that's going to be a long time coming.”
“Yes, but just the same, we can't poison his mind to hating them.”
“Ok, but I will NOT take him to see them in prison!”
“I didn't ask that. He's going to speak to the judge.”
“He decided. I'll support him and whatever he wants, I'll support him. You do the same, or else!”
“Hon, let's not argue. Things are changing and I'm trying to find out what he wants!”
“I realize that. Billy, tell him what you want dear.”
“I want that man to love his sons no matter what. I want them to go to prison for a long time, but I also want them to know we're not choosing to hate them when I don't.”
“So you don't want them to get out of jail soon?”
“No, they did it, so they've got to go. Just the same, I think the man is dumb. It's like he turns “on” his love and turns it “off”. I think that's stupid.”
“Billy, I think you're right.”
We pulled into the diner's parking lot. When we went in, the place was loud with a lot of people talking. Then, suddenly it got quiet and everyone looked at us.
Uncle Nick said, “Folks, I realize you guys are probably wondering how we're handling things. Let me say I've learned a lot today on how to be a Christian from Billy. He's not choosing to hate those men, but he's choosing not to like their actions.
Today, two of the men's father signed his farm over to Billy in his Will to make up for what his sons did. Billy doesn't want it because he views that man's actions as a mistake. Yes, it's viewed as the thing to do because it's that man trying to atone for his sons misdeeds, but Billy thinks it's wrong because the man didn't actually do the deed. So, please don't hate that man for what his sons did. Billy isn't.”
A big farmer in a pair of bib overalls came over. He took off his John Deere hat and got down on his knee. “Son, everyone here is just worried about you.”
“I'm doing fine. Yes, it still hurts occasionally, but it's not ever going to take away the love I had for my parents. I'll miss them, but I've got a lot of other people who love me just the same.”
“Well, I certainly hope you know all these here folks love you too.”
“Do you love those guys who did it?”
“Son, I'm afraid we don't.”
“We can't support their actions.”
Nick put his hand on the man's shoulder. “Folks, when you listen to Billy, you're going to realize how much he can teach you. Go ahead and speak son.”
“Here's what I think. The Bible tells us we're supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin. You love me because my parents got killed, but you're choosing to not love them because they sinned.
We're the same. I didn't kill my parents, but I still love them. Love them and their father, but choose to hate what they did. The Bible tells us who is without sin are the ones to throw the stones, but I'm going to tell you I'm not throwing that first stone.
Now, they're going to go to prison, but I don't want everyone hating their dad because of what his sons did. If it wasn't for one of those sons, I'd not be here.”
The place suddenly got loud. The farmer said, “Son, that lesson just bought you lunch!” He turned to Uncle Nick and said, “You ought to have him tell everyone at church. I'd come to hear it again.” He turned to the waitress and said, “Maggie, put this group of people's lunch on my card. I'm buying.”
As we walked through the diner to go sit down, folks reached out and patted me all over...my legs, my shoulder, my butt, they ruffled my hair, and one older lady even put her hand upon my face. By the time we were sat down, I felt like a doll that had too many children playing with it.
Maggie came over and said, “Hon, that's the best thing I've heard in here all day. Everyone was talking bad about them, but you made them see how it is for you. What will you have?”
“I want chicken strip sandwich with swiss and ranch dressing. and he'll have a cheeseburger. Cut both in half. He'll have fries and I'll have onion rings. Both of us will have a large glass of sweet tea.”
“You sure that's all you want?”
Uncle Nick said, “They might have pie after lunch, but that's what they always get. They asked to have them cut in half because they trade the other half.
I'll have a cheeseburger, fries, and a large Coke. Paulette will have the open faced roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy over everything.”
“You get another side with that ma'am.”
“Green beans. I'll also have a Coke.”
“Ok, anything else?”
“Not right now.”
“Ok, it'll be right out. I'll have the cook put it to the top of the list.”
She left and I said, “Why'd she have us pass everyone else?”
“Apparently, she's supporting you in doing the right thing. She can't do anything else, so she's making it so you don't have to wait as long.”
“Well, I don't like it. Is this the way it's going to always be?”
Aunt Paulette said, “Hon, in time, people will treat you more normal, but this trial has stirred up a lot of feelings with them.”
“What are they going to think when they find out there isn't going to be a trial?”
“I don't know. Do you want me to make another announcement?”
“Do you think it would help?”
“I think it'd get your opinion out a lot faster than anything else.”
“Ok, then do it because I don't want everyone to think I'm not happy about it. I just want to be treated normal.”
Uncle Nick stood up and clanged his fork on his glass. “Folks, Billy would like for me to tell you about today's court proceedings.
He's afraid you're all going to be upset when you find out there's not going to be a trial.”
Everyone suddenly started talking.
“PLEASE! LISTEN UP!”
The talking got quieter and then Uncle Nick spoke again. “As you know, Billy didn't want any plea bargains. As you know, we had a man on the stand today who really did us no favors. He brought up a lot of things which very easily could have had us going through more trials and never getting this thing over.
Rather than do that, the prosecutor asked us to consider a plea bargain. One of them got forty seven years and the others are getting lives in prison with a chance of parole for each count of murder with each running one after the other.
It's not the death penalty folks, but it sure beats them possibly getting out. They stand a chance of getting out when they're in their seventies, so we're fine with that.”
Someone asked, “What does that do to help the boy?”
“It keeps him from having to go to court for appeals. Someone who takes a plea bargain doesn't get to appeal it. They don't get anything except what the bargain is. They either take it, or we keep having to go back and back and back until it finally ends up at the state's supreme court where they decide the man who testified put enough doubt into the case he's screwed this boys life up.
You know they did it. I know they did it, but it's called rights folks. They get them, but this boy gets the right to be inconvenienced more by not having parents and not having a normal life because he has to keep going back until he sees his rights and those of his parents were stripped so bare we don't get squat.
All I can say is Billy now says he wants to be a judge. He wants people to love each other, but where's the love in situations like this? All I can say is I hope they take it so he can live the best life he's afforded because what he had isn't there anymore.”
“So you want him to not take the man's farm?”
“That man didn't do anything to Billy! He raised children who chose the decisions they did. They made that decision and because he's a parent, he thinks it's up to him to correct them.
They're adults. They made those choices. It's admirable he wants to step forward just like all of you with your compassion, but ultimately, it's up to those guys to pay for their crimes. We're not denying them that, but we're sure not wanting people to give who isn't guilty.”
Everyone got quiet and I said, “Uncle Nick, can I say something?”
I stood up and then, Uncle Nick said, “Billy, step up over here to this chair.”
I stood on the chair and said, “You know, when it first happened, I was really worried. I lost my parents and then, my whole world was messed up. Each of you can only imagine what it must feel like, but then it was a thing which healed with the funeral, the love of my Aunt and Uncle, and then my getting a lot of insurance money.
I'll tell you now, buying things doesn't take up for your parents. It makes the world more fuller, but even now, I still think about my mama and daddy all the time. It's sad, but that's the way it is.
Everyone tried telling me to hate those men. The Bible tells me I'm not supposed to. The Bible tells me what is right, and everyone else tells me I'm supposed to follow it or go to hell. It also tells me to not believe some people because they could be wrong and it'd help me when I need it. Now, I'm needing it and it's helping me.
For a long time, I needed you folks. I still need you, but not as much as I did when it first happened. It hurts still, but I understand you know it hurts. I'm telling you it'd still hurt if we saw those guys killed, but it'd hurt their families too. I don't want that.”
Uncle Nick spoke up “Folks, it's the pain factor. Most of you have heard 'an eye for an eye', but at what cost? You and I would most likely sit there until the end and wait for that price to be paid. I can't sit there because the cost is too much and the risk is too high for him.
I know a lot of you probably don't agree with it, but the price he's paid has already been too much. He'll still have to pay it after most of us are dead and gone.
Those guys will be paying in ways we only can guess. What we do know is the judge is going to have a victim's advocate speak with him and video his thoughts so when they do come up for parole, the video is played even if he's unable to be there.
Please, whatever you do, support him and lay your anger at me. My shoulders are big. I'll bear it, but don't blame him for a thing except being a kid who has to live without parents.”
Someone said, “Nick, you spoke of this victim's advocate and that she's going to video the impact it's made on him.
Can some of us who knew his parents and did business with them speak on his behalf so they know what sort of people they took from our community?”
“That's a good idea!” several of them agreed.
Uncle Nick said, “When she speaks with him, they're going to be out at the farm. What I'll do is I'll take names and phone numbers of those of you who wish to speak. When she comes, I'll give you a call and have you come out. I think if there's enough of you who are wanting to make statements, she can't but help to listen to you all and take those statements.
Furthermore, I'm going to ask for a copy so your memories are placed on a disc for him. It might not make him feel better on a personal level, but it'd sure make him feel better knowing his parents were good and valued in your eyes.”
Maggie came over carrying our food. “Nick, here's your meals. Go ahead and eat. I'll make up a sign up sheet for you guys and that way they'll all get on it.”
She lifted me down from the chair. “Hon, I want to be at the top of that list. I went to school with your mama and know what a doll she was.”
I went over and sat down. Jr smiled at me and asked, “Was it scary speaking in front of everyone?”
“No, they're all people who love us. If they were standing there with rotten tomatoes in their hands, I'd ask you to stand in front of me, but I'd still speak.”
Everyone laughed and Uncle Nick said, “Junior, what he's not saying is his daddy was someone who could speak in front of a crowd. He taught me and your daddy how he did it because each of us was scared just like you. He said the same exact thing!”
I said, “Daddy would tell me he'd practice speaking in front of the cows. They'd moo if they agreed with him and if they didn't, they'd walk away.”
Uncle Nick said, “That's what he said too. You don't know it, but his daddy took speech class with us. He didn't have to, because he'd taken it before, but he really liked speaking in front of people.”
I said, “Daddy used to get up in church and talk.”
Aunt Paulette said, “It was the local events. He did it because he could do it better than anyone. He'd throw in funny bits of humor and then it'd be a lot more interesting.”
Uncle Nick said, “He'd do funny so people would listen. He knew if he went up to read it as it was written, no one would listen. So, he'd do it funny so everyone would pay attention.”
Junior asked me, “Did you really mean it when you said you wanted to be a judge?”
“Yeah, it'd be neat.”
Aunt Paulette said, “You'll have to do good in school. In order to be a judge, you have to be a lawyer and that's not easy.”
“So I'd have to defend people like that?”
“No, not necessarily, but you'd have to be a lawyer.”
“Ok, well I'll be a lawyer and then, I'll just be a judge.”
Uncle Nick smiled, “Why don't we ask the judge to have you sit with him during some trials. That way, you'd get to see what they do.”
Junior said, “I still want to be a farmer.”
I said, “I want to be one too.”
Uncle Nick and Aunt Paulette both laughed.
“From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,
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