There is some recycling of characters from the first story I ever wrote for LW called BLOOD FROM A TURNIP (Yes I know the old story REALLY needed editing).
This can be a standalone tale, but it will help to read either "BLOOD FROM A TURNIP" tale to get the backstory.
Great Thanks to Dave T who edited this fable without drinking poison before he was finished. Any and ALL errors are mine.
"Coach Tommy, is Frankie home?"
This disheveled sixteen year old on my porch that Saturday morning was Carlos, a friend of my similar aged son Frankie, and a shortstop from one of the many baseball teams I coached over the years.
As anyone who has ever been involved with youth sports knows, it does not matter if you pilot the Space Shuttle, earned a degree in Thermal Nuclear Quantum Physics, won the Nobel Peace Prize for curing cancer. You will always be addressed for the rest of your life as "Coach".
"Come on in Carlos, right now Frankie is taking a shower. You can wait in the kitchen." I opened the screen door and walked into the kitchen with Carlos in my wake.
As we passed through the hallway, a large dog came bounding around the corner. 'Candy Too', our 98 pound black Doberman Pinscher, had heard Carlos voice and come running. A protective but friendly rescue dog, Candy Too always enjoyed visits by any of my son's and nephew's friends. Candy Too knew this mean meant the two 'P's'. Getting 'Petted' or a roughhouse 'Playtime', both of which he enjoyed.
I motioned Carlos to a chair and set a soda in front of him while returning to the task of putting away the dried dishes.
"Carlos, you hear anything about your Dad? I gotta tell you we are pretty impressed he snagged that research spot on the NR-1."
"Nerwin" said Carlos
"What?" I replied looking over my shoulder at the youth.
"The NR-1 nuclear research submarine is called the 'Nerwin'. Dad said it has never officially been named, but everyone calls it the Nerwin."
"Good to know Carlos. Still I bet your Dad is going to be one of the few marine biologists to spend 8 weeks in a nuke sub crawling along the ocean floor..."
I stopped speaking and looked more closely at Carlos. Our Doberman Candy Too was not engaged in an energetic tug of war with Carlos, nor was Carlos vigorously petting Candy Too as was to be expected. Instead Candy Too had his large head in Carlos lap with big brown eyes mournfully looking up at Carlos.
Carlos had silent tears brimming in his eyes and was holding his right arm. I knelt down to inspect the limb, and could see it was swollen. As a volunteer sports coach, I had taken several medical classes over the years, and seen my share of injuries.
"What happened son?" I asked gently, removing his hand so I could examine the arm.
"Ah ... Coach Tommy, I um ... well ... I fell off my bike."
I knew that Carlos, as well as being a vacuum-like shortstop, was also active with his Dad in the dirt bike circuit. With his mountain goat like balance and cat reflexes of youth, Carlos falling off his bike and getting this type of injury were as likely as me at 5 foot 6 inches, playing starting center on the LA Lakers NBA basketball team.
I decided not to press the issue. "Carlos, we gotta get you to the ER pronto." I pulled out my phone. "What is your Mom's number? I will have her meet us at the ER."
"NO! ... I mean ... I don't know. Mom's number is programmed into my phone, and um ... my phone broke when I fell off my bike."
"OK Carlos, no problem. I'll have Frankie ride over to your house and tell your Mom to meet us at the ER."
"I'll be fine Coach Tommy. Please don't get my Mom, um cause well ... I don't even think she is home."
I got up and headed down the hallway toward the bathroom. "Well Carlos, we will not know that until Frankie gets to your house."
Flinging open the bathroom door, I could see through the cloud of steam my sixteen year old son Frankie doing what every teenager does in the shower.
"DAD!" Frankie yelled pulling his hand away from his suds soaked groin
I shook my head. "Frankie listen, Carlos got himself hurt. Get out of the shower before you go blind, and ride down to his house PDQ. Tell his Mom to give me a call and meet us at Memorial ER."
The good or bad side to coaching my two sons and nephews on sports teams for so many years, as well as being a school lunch monitor, is that everyone seemed to know me. From the receptionist to the X-ray tech, everyone appeared to at one time or another, have been on one of my teams, or had a brother, sister, cousin, son, daughter, nephew, niece, neighbor or coworker in a sporting program I was involved in.
While it was hard to keep the names or years straight, my 'fame' got Carlos through the normally 'hurry up and wait' ER for treatment in record time. I was concerned because Carlo's mother had not showed up yet or called. I was REALLY upset that my son Frankie was not answering my calls or returning my texts. I saw a removal and suspension of his cell phone in the VERY near future.
The ER doc in front of me had once been a goalie on a team I coached, and still looked like a young kid to me. I was trying to do the math on his age as he motioned to a seat and threw some X-rays up on the wall light box.
"Coach Tommy, as you can see, Carlos has a fracture. He is getting a cast put on as we speak." Taking out a pen he motioned to a spot on the X-ray. "This fracture was not a result of any fall, I can tell you that. In my experience this almost resembles a spiral type injury, caused by a twisting of the limb."
He put his pen back in his pocket. "Coach, isn't Carlos' Dad that Wallace guy, the Marine Biologist who got to ride in the nuclear research sub?"
"Yeah, been out six weeks. Wallace, Carlos' dad, is scheduled to come home in about two more weeks."
The Doc pulled the X-rays off the light box, stuffing them back into the folder. "Normally I would report this. But as Carlos' dad, Wallace is not around, it may have just been a teenage fisticuffs, or him and his buddies playing MMA." He looked at me. "If you find different Coach, I need you to tell me."
Back home I had put Carlos to bed in my oldest son's room. Both my oldest boy and my nephew were away at college. The painkillers the hospital had given Carlos made it easy to put the groggy boy down. The fact Candy Too the Doberman was with him sealed the deal. I was still worried we could not contact Carlos' mother, and I was major league pissed my son Frankie was still not picking up his cell.
It was in that state of mind I answered the phone when I saw Frankie's name on my mobile phone display.
"Frankie, you better get some tin cans and a ball of string, because that is the closest you are ever gonna get to a phone until you are 21. Where the hell are you?"
"Um Dad, I am a ... like, in front of Carlos's house."
"Wonderful" I growled. "Is Carlos's Mom there? Did you knock on the door? Is her car in the driveway? You try the neighbors? Christ son, it's been almost 6 hours."
I heard hesitation on the other end. "Ah. Dad, uh like Carlos' mom has been at home the entire time. I think her name is Anna You've met her; she is kinda a MILF lady. But I haven't, like you know ... talked to her yet..."
"WHAT?" I yelled "You go notify that women RIGHT NOW! Do you hear me! Have her call me IMMEDIATELY! Jesus Christ, she has gotta be worried sick about her son."
"Dad" Frankie said. "Carlos called me from the hospital. Begged me not to tell his Mom where he was."
"Carlos called you?" I questioned. "He said his phone was busted."
I could hear Frankie shrug, even though the phone. "Don't know, Dad, just that Carlos made me swear not to tell his Mom where he was."
I tried to keep my calm. "Frankie, if you wanna hear some swearing, wait until you get home. Now march up to that house and tell that women where her son is before I reach through this phone and slap you into yesterday."
Fifteen minutes later there was frantic pounding at my door. When I opened the door an anxious attractive lady about my height with light brown hair rushed through before I could say a word. For a small woman she made a lot of noise.
"Oh my God Tommy! I am so glad you found Carlos! Is he alright? Where is my boy? Where is he?"
As I turned away from the front door, I saw there was a car with the engine still running at the curb. Someone must have driven Anna, because the passenger side door was still open. It looked like Anna had not even waited for the automobile to stop, let alone pause long enough to close the car door.
"Anna calm down please." I began holding my hands in front of her. "We just got back from the hospital. Carlos is resting now..."
"I know. Your son Frankie told me." Anna interrupted while wringing her hands. "But Frankie did not have any more details. What did the doctors say about Carlos? Is he OK? I need to see him!"
I could see Anna was on the edge of hysteria, and I feared her panic would upset Carlos.
"Anna, the docs said Carlos needs some rest." Actually the doctors told Carlos to take it easy, but I figure a little stretching of the truth was in order. "Why don't we let just let Carlos sleep, and we can speak to him later. How about I will tell you about what the docs said concerning Carlos condition in the kitchen and you tell me what is going on, OK?"
I heard someone enter the door behind me. When I turned, a giant of a man shoved me so hard against the wall I hit my head and saw stars.
A deep voice commanded. "Listen Asswipe, we need to talk to the kid NOW!"
I looked down to see a massive hand, which was pinning me to the wall.
"Randy!" I heard Anna shriek "Let Tommy go!"
I looked up at the big man and our eyes met. "OH FUCK!" we both said at the same time.
Randy did not let me off the wall, and even increased the pressure from his hand. "Tell me where the kid is, or you gonna be sorry Minidick." he hissed.
"Too late Dogmeat." I gasped, and with as much of a voice as I could muster yelled "HIT!"
I think Randy opened his mouth for a snappy comeback, but in a flash an ear splitting growling dark blur of a tornado filled the small space between us. Randy was flung to the ground wearing a black and tan 98-pound Doberman fur coat of fangs and claws named Candy Too.
I tried to catch my breath as Randy rolled around on the ground yelling in pain while Candy Too did his best to rip new air holes into his frame. Anna stood wide eyed in shock, afraid to even move as she watched the mauling.
"OUT!" an authoritative female voice barked. Candy Too ceased his assault of Randy, sitting down but still keeping an eye on Randy, a dripping snarl displaying an impressive set of pointed canine teeth.
The authoritative female voice belonged to my ex-sister in law Lisa. The tall attractive blond with the scar on her face, was the housekeeper/cook/den mother, to both my brother and me, plus our brood. However, at the moment Lisa did not look like a housekeeper. It may have been the double barreled shotgun she held in her hands pointed at Randy.
"Holy FUCK!" Randy exclaimed, looking up to point at Lisa, and telling Anna. "That bitch is CRAZY!"
Lisa released the safeties off both triggers. "That's right Moose. Not only am I a crazy bitch, but an ex con with a documented mental illness to boot." She pointed the gun at Randy's crotch. "Don't move, because I am more than willing to trade time in the state rubber room; however, you will be singing soprano in the prison choir." Lisa motioned toward me "Tommy, call the police, and get ahold of your brother Vince. Let him know what is going on."
As I pulled out my cell phone, Anna suddenly came to life. "NO Please! No Police! Please!" Anna was waving her hands. "Tommy! Lisa! Please! Just let Randy go! I can explain everything!"
I shook my head. "Anna, that flabby steroid moose." I pointed at Randy. "Attacked me in my own home. Plus this not the first time that giant asshole and I have tangled."
Anna grabbed my arm holding the cell phone. "Tommy, please! Don't do this for me or him" She pointed at Randy. "Do it for my son Carlos. Just let Randy go, please! I promise I can explain everything."
Lisa did not lower the shotgun as she spoke to me. "Screw it Tommy, let that moose Randy go. We can have the police grab him later." I shrugged, than nodded. Lisa motioned with the gun toward the door at Randy.
Randy got to his feet gingerly, holding up his hands. Eyeing me he spat. "Later old man."
"Bit of advice Randy. Never pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he will just kill you and be done with it."
I was sitting at the kitchen table with Lisa. My brother Vince had arrived from work, and we had filled him in. He was making coffee. We were awaiting Anna, who had retreated to the bathroom after checking on a sleeping Carlos.
"Lisa, where did that old cannon come from?" I said pointing at the shotgun in the corner. "That relic is so old you're lucky it did not go off and kill someone."
"Not a chance." Lisa said with a grin. "There weren't any shells in the weapon, and the firing pins have been removed. You know how I feel about guns."
I was still trying to come to grips with what happened. "What about the ole 'I never bluff Lisa'?"
Lisa shrugged. "People can change, especially if they want to bad enough."
She then sighed and pointed at the inert weapon. "I got that from Metro property after my ... ah ... event ended. I keep it as a reminder of what people will do to protect their family." Lisa looked at my brother and her ex-husband Vince's back, before wistfully down at her nails. "And what people, especially me, should do to protect the family."
My brother Vince and his ex-wife Lisa had a complicated arrangement. Lisa would remarry Vince in a heartbeat, but after her affair, Vince looked at Lisa as no more than the mother of his children. I do not mean to imply he treated her bad. Lisa was at our house every day, her old home, with both Vince and me paying her to be the domestic goddess for us and the kids. Lisa and Vince still slept together sometimes, I am not sure if it was lust, convenience, nostalgia or a combination of all three. I never saw or heard of Lisa dating. If she was not here, Lisa was taking classes at the local community college. Vince still went out with the ladies, but not as much as he could have. Lisa never said anything, but you could tell how hurt she was when Vince did an 'overnight'.
Vince had just sat down at the table with four cups of coffee, we were passing around the milk and sugar when Carlos' mom Anna came into the room.
Lisa pointed at a chair with a cup in front of it. "OK Anna, sit down and start talking. What the hell is going on?"
Vince was stirring her coffee. "How in God's name is Randy involved in this?"
Taking a sip of my brew I offered "Maybe the Nazi's weren't hiring so he was available."
Both Vince and Lisa gave me a look as Anna sat down and took a deep breath.
"Wallace, ah ... my husband, has been gone almost two months. This is the first time we have been apart for so long." She stopped to compose herself and took a sip out of her cup. "I know after the county cut his position last year that my job at the supermarket wasn't enough. Wallace has just not been pulling his weight. He has a Doctorate in Marine Biology, for God's sake! Yet he was working at a mall aquarium pet store and cleaning pools."
Anna got a look of disgust in her eyes. "What kind of man goes from a top leading researcher in the country to vacuuming scum from bottom of other people's pools?"
I thought Lisa was going to leap across the table. "A REAL man you stupid twat!" she spat. "A father and husband that puts nothing before the welfare of his family." Lisa shook her head. "You fucked Randy, you dumb bitch didn't you." It was a statement not a question.
Anna's mouth dropped open as Lisa continued. "You fucked that worthless, useless, good-for-shit Randy. And that, you stupid ass, is gonna fuck over your husband and the whole fucking family."
Anna got defensive. "At least Randy OWNS his own business. He has to be doing well. Did you see that Mercedes CL he drove me here in?"
Vince pushed his coffee cup forward before speaking. "Randy runs a low end third level debt collection agency, which is four phones in the rented rear of warehouse off MLK Street. The Mercedes is a repo he has not turned in yet."
Lisa and I both stared at Vince, who looked down sheepishly into his coffee cup. "I ... ah, been well ... having ... sort of keeping tabs on that a-hole. Just to make sure he has not been bothering you after ... well you know..."
Lisa got tears in her eyes as she grasped Vince's hand. "Vince that is so sweet, I never..."
"Fine, fine..." I broke in. "You two can get a room later." Pointing at Anna. "I don't give a crap about your fuck buddies. What happen to Carlos?"
Anna bit her lip before answering. "I was just so lonely and Randy kept coming by the store. Going through my line, giving me compliments. Once even buying me flowers. Well that led to coffee, then drinks, then ... well this afternoon we were in, a ah ... romantic position when Carlos came home unexpected..."
Now the table exploded. "You screwed that dipshit in your own house? On your own bed?"
"No!" Anna countered. "What kind of women do you thing I am! We used Carlos's room."
I almost fell out of my chair.
Anna tried to backpedal. "I was going to change the sheets! Clean the room! I swear it was the first time, a moment of stupidity after too many glasses of wine with lunch."
I had never seen Vince or Lisa at a loss for words, but both were too stunned to speak.
Anna closed her eyes. "Carlos walked in just as Randy was in the middle of an ... uncomfortable event..."
"BULLSHIT!" Lisa spat out. All eyes turned toward her. Lisa looked at Vince and me. "That dumb cunt just told us Randy was butt fucking her, but it was their first time having sex. Bullshit!"
Lisa pointed at Anna. "There is no way any woman lets a guy get her ass first time in the sack. Even paid whores charge extra for anal. So Anna, how many times did you 'do' Randy? And hand jobs, blow jobs and finger banging do count!"
Anna looked around like a cornered animal.
I slammed my hand on the table. "Who gives a flying fuck if she screwed the 7th fleet during Superbowl halftime while being broadcast in High Def." I pointed at Anna. "What happen to Carlos!"
Anna took a breath. "It's so ... so ... embarrassing. I never even saw Carlos until he rushed at Randy and started hitting him." She put her face in her hands. "It was a big mess, Randy and Carlos rolling around on the floor..."
Vince and Lisa both jumped out of their chairs. "You let that son of a bitch lay hands on your child!"
Anna started crying. "I was in shock. I finally pulled Randy off Carlos, but Carlos ran out of the room before I could throw something on and chase after him."
Lisa walked to the sink and emptied her coffee into the sink. "Throw something on? You should have run buck naked into rush hour traffic on the highway after your son if that's what it took." She turned to face Anna. "What the hell were you thinking?"
Anna struck back at Lisa. "You should talk!"
Lisa did not flinch as she answered. "You are a cheating bitch. And yes, it takes one to know one."
I thought I was going to vomit. "Anna, I notice you did not send Randy away. That muscle head drove you here. What, you just go back to bed and finish boinking?"
"No I did not." Anna countered irritably, then after a pause. "But Randy tried to get me to." She let out a breath. "Like that was ever going to happen."
I threw up my hands. "Yeah, having your son seeing his mother cheat on his father by being ass fucked, then getting beat up must really have taken the romance out of the air." I commented sarcastically.
Anna tried to defend herself. "You don't understand. I tried his cell a million times. I was afraid to go out looking for him on the chance I would miss him if he returned. I was on the verge of a breakdown and in the process of calling 911 when Randy stopped me."
Vince leaned back in his chair. "Oh, this should be good. I can't wait to hear what your love muscle said that was more important than finding your injured kid."
Anna had the decency to blush. "Randy said the cops would take my son Carlos away, put him in social services. Arrest me for being a bad mother, endangering a child's welfare. Randy said Carlos just had his ego bruised; we could talk to him after Carlos cooled down."
"There it is." Vince muttered. "Self-preservation, it's all about you. Again you were thinking only about how all this would affect you. Did Randy happen to mention how he would do time in the slammer for assaulting a minor?"
Anna continued as if Vince had not spoken. "Randy claimed we could keep everything under wraps. Randy knew a guy who could get Carlos a used hot rod car, every new driver's dream. Maybe set Carlos up with some babes that owed Randy favors due to some debts."
"So you were gonna bribe Carlos for his silence?" I asked.
"More like Anna was getting payment for services rendered." Lisa commented. "So Anna, is that the price you charge? A used car and some pussy for your son. You have those terms listed on your whore website?"
I was disgusted with the conversation and got up from the table. "Well Anna, tell Randy his vast medical experience needs updating. The damage his beat down put on Carlos was not to the boy's ego, but his arm." I picked up a folder from the counter and threw it on the table. "Your fuck buddy broke your son's arm. It's in a cast. Luckily he is young, and it'll heal quickly, hopefully in time for your next love meet."
Anna ran to the sink, pushing Lisa out of the way, and started vomiting. After retching she rinsed out her mouth by cupping water with her hand. Turning around Anna supported herself before speaking. "I need to get Carlos home."
"Anna that may not be best right now. How about we just let the boy rest." Vince offered.
Anna stood straight up. "I am Carlos's mother! I will decide what is best for him." She seemed to deflate a bit. "Please."
There was silence in the room, with tension so thick you could cut it with a knife.
"I ain't going home with you."
All eyes turned toward the voice. Carlos stood in the kitchen doorway, bed hair sticking up, and his fresh cast still gleaming white.
Anna took a step toward Carlos, opening her arms wide. "Oh my God, Baby. I am so sorry, let me look at..."
Carlos interrupted Anna in a voice cold as ice. "Don't come near me!"
Anna froze. "Oh Carlos, you need to come home now. I'll take care of you."
Carlos raised his cast. "I've had enough of your 'care', thank you very much."
Anna tried again. "Carlos, I just want you to come home so I can make sure you are all right. That's all I want."
I saw Carlos roll his eyes. "Well Mom, I want to strike out the Lord Jesus Christ with bases loaded in the final inning during the seventh game of the World Series. Looks like neither of us is going to get what we want."
Anna looked at the three of us adults in the room for support. I sure as hell was not going to back her up.
Anna turned back toward Carlos and used that authoritative tone of voice every parent knows. "You listen YOUNG MAN, this is not up for debate. You are not staying here, but coming home with me this INSTANT."
Carlos fished into his pocket with his one good hand and came up with a cell phone. Flipping open his mobile, Carlos displayed the keypad to Anna. "Is that so, MOTHER? How about we call the police and get their opinion?" Anna's eyes widened as Carlos kept talking. "I heard what you said about social services and child endangerment. I may not be staying here, but I am NOT going back to your home. How much you wanna bet if the cops come, you won't be going back to your home either. I also bet you double or nothing my accommodations in some crappy juvie foster house is gonna be better than your jail cell."
Anna slumped into a chair. "Carlos, please..." but Carlos continued as if she had not spoken. "If the cops make me go home, I'll just run away, and keep running away."
My brother Vince came to Anna's rescue. "Look Anna, Carlos, this is a lot to absorb. Carlos you can stay here tonight. Its summer, so it's not like you have any classes. And my son and nephew will love to have a sleep over." He turned toward Carlos's mom Anna. "I'll make sure the boys do not spend all night playing 'Call of Duty 2'and get to bed at a decent hour." Vince helped Anna rise from the chair. "Come on Anna, I will give you a lift back to your house."
Well, Carlos stayed more than a night at our home. A three way debate was raging in our household. Vince was inclined to just call the authorities and be done with it. I wanted to wait until Carlos's dad Wallace, came home, and then call the authorities. This way Carlos would be in his father's care, not some social service bureaucratic maze. Lisa also wanted to await until Wallace's arrived from his voyage. However, Lisa felt we should let their family deal with it. Lisa's time in the slammer made her less inclined to throw another mother to that same fate. In my opinion, Anna deserved a spell in the graybar hotel.
Carlos refused to see or even talk to Anna. She called several time a day, and the first few days showed up at the house, even bringing Carlos's favorite food. This stopped after a short while, as Carlos would flee out the back door at the sight of his mother's car.
Anna eyes were filled with tears as she stood in our kitchen looking out our back porch at Carlos's back retreating into the distance.
"Oh Tommy, can't you go get him?" She put a large foiled wrapped platter on our kitchen counter. "This is his favorite dessert."
I shook my head. "Anna, your son is not a cat who got out of the house that you can lure back from the yard with some catnip. Carlos is an emotionally pissed off teenager, who even with a cast, can run like a god damn deer. Even if I wanted to, which I do not. The only way to catch him and bring him back would be with a tranquilizer gun."
Anna took to calling several times a day, but Carlos refused to take the phone. Lisa handled most of these calls. I had to admire her patience since they always seemed to be the same.
"Anna, no Carlos will not come to the phone, and I cannot make him." Lisa would say with her ear to the phone.
"It is more than 'mistakes were made', Anna. You are going to need to tell your husband Wallace as soon as he returns home. It's not like you went to bed one night a loving wife and woke up in the morning a stupid cheat." Lisa rolled her eyes.
"I don't care what Randy said. I cannot believe you are still talking with that steroid slimeball. It does not matter that you are not screwing him. Cut all contact immediately if you have half a brain. No I don't think much of Randy's suggestion that rocking Wallace's world in bed before you tell him is going to help. Think above the belt buckle Anna."
There was a pause as Lisa screwed her face into a grimace. "There is no way you can keep this from your husband. There are three options available. You tell him, Carlos tells him or I will tell him." Another lengthy pause. "Anna if by some miracle you manage to bribe Carlos to keep quiet, I will tell Wallace anyway. If there was some way I could communicate with an underwater submarine I would do it right now."
Lisa switched the phone to other ear and made a twirling sign with her finger. "Anna, this isn't a secret that you dented the car, or Carlos got a C- in math class you can hide from Wallace. Yes it might end you marriage, but the alternative is living a lie. It is Wallace's choice, and only he can make that call. You made your decision when you were banging Randy, now your husband gets to make his decision."
Lisa made a sign of sticking her finger down her throat like she was going to gag. "OK Anna, I will let Carlos know you called, and you love him. I gotta go. Bye."
Lisa put the phone back on the charger and sat down. "Jesus Christ Tommy, that woman is delusional. She wanted me to do a three way with her and Wallace, like I was some slut for hire. She figured a little sex would make everything alright."
I was amused by this new twist. "What did you tell her Lisa?"
Lisa gave me a look that could freeze ice. "'NO', is a complete sentence."
I put a cup of coffee in front of Lisa. "Anna thinks she can live happily ever after like you?"
Lisa spooned some sugar into her cup. "Of course, because my fairy tale life is based on a true story."
"So Lisa, the family matriarch, what do you think is gonna happen with Carlos's family?"
Lisa looked deep into her coffee for a moment." A writer, Sugna, once wrote that a husband might be hurt by cheating and divorce, but kids are often literally destroyed by it. Even without the divorce, cheating can wipe them out. What kids get from a parent who cheats is a large dose of shame. Shame, because half of them is that parent. Half of them is a traitor. They may believe that the cheater not only did not love their other parent, but also did not really love them."
I sat down across from Lisa. "You think that is true for our broods?"
Lisa looked sad. "I hope not. I was just lucky you and Vince let me be such a constant presence in the kid's lives. I pray I have been able to negate some of the damage I caused."
I waved my hand. "You have more than earned your time. I appreciate your taking care of my boys after my ex-wife Brandy ... ah um you know..."
I had seen nor heard from my ex-wife Brandy after she got out of the joint and I refused to give her money. My boys still kept in touch with her via Facebook. But to them Brandy was not a mother, more like an abstract relative. Lisa was their mother figure they turned to; they called her 'Aunt Mom'. Last I heard Brandy was in Vegas working as a waitress and burning through a string of relationships, as well as collecting tattoos and piercings on her body.
Lisa face got an angry look. "That bitch Brandy is the reas..." she stopped and stared down at her hands.
I looked at her.
She took a deep breath. "I was about to say that bitch Brandy is the reason I'm divorced and never know if I'll be sleeping here or in that rented apartment I keep my clothes at. " Lisa sat up straight. "But that is not true and me saying it a million times still will not make my current life anything but what my past choices made it. It was me, not Brandy and nothing but a time machine is going to change that."
I was not sure what to say. "Lisa, at least you have tried to make the best of a bad situation. Brandy bailed on the marriage and her family. That counts for something in my eyes."
"Thanks Tommy, but saying I am better at relationships than Brandy is like saying I am the world's tallest midget."
"Well, it looks like you're gonna get another young cub to play den mother for," I said, motioning toward the video game noise coming from the bedroom where Frankie and our newest addition Carlos was staying.
"Son of a Bitch!"
Vince and I were in the Metro Justice Building when he uttered that phrase.
We were there to support Wallace, who with his son Carlos, had been staying with us the past few months. We were about to enter the room used by the Family court for Wallace's divorce proceedings.
"The Honorable Judge Reynolds" I said, tracing my finger on the nameplate and reading the sign. "I am getting PTSD flashbacks. How is that old prick still alive, let along still in a courtroom?"
Vince shook his head. "Wallace is going to get screwed to the floorboards."
I looked around for Wallace and his 'shark'. "That prick judge Reynolds handled my divorce a long time ago and he was a senile doddering old man then." Vince nodded at the memory as I continued. "Judge Reynolds ignores the state rules and just makes up shit as he goes along. Alimony and child support are supposed to be on after tax income and not exceed 25% even at that. The old bastard chopped it up so I barely had 25% of my money left after taxes with all the payments, alimony and crap."
"Let's not forget Tommy what happened when you tried to challenge his rulings."
It was tough for me not to spit at that particular memory. "Fucking Reynolds threw my ass in the clink. No lawyer, no appeal, no hearings, nothing. Family Court is a civil matter so habeas corpus and due process don't mean shit. The other courts wouldn't even rule on that asshole. I swear Reynolds must have pictures of all of those other judges fucking sheep in church. They let him run Family court like his own private little kingdom."
Vince was also scanning the crowd for Wallace. "The old crockpot is stuck in the 1950's. Never met a female who was not a 'poor woman' or the 'fairer sex' that needed protection as they can do no wrong."
I agreed. "If he starts that spiel about how he is not a divorce judge but a family healer, I think I am going to hurl."
Unfortunately, about an hour later we were seated on a bench in Judge Reynolds' court and I was trying to keep my breakfast from coming up and splattering the couple in front of me. I feared it was a losing battle as we listened to the prick in a robe, who looked as old as Yoda of Star Wars fame, prattle on.
" ... now in my court I do not see myself as a mere Judge deciding who gets the silverware and gravy boat. I feel it is my God given mission to keep families together." Judge Reynolds looked at Wallace. "Young man, I have been at this a long time, and you have not really given me sufficient reason to dissolve this marriage. In my experience marriage is like a garden, and you must tend to your wife no matter what her circumstances or wanderings..."
I leaned over and whispered to Vince. "I thought marriage was more like a deck of cards, in the beginning all you need is two hearts and a diamond. By the end you wish you had a club and a spade."
Vince coughed to suppress a laugh as the judge continued his sermon.
" ... I see your latest income has not met your earning potential. If you continue with this divorce action you will need to find a way to meet the financial obligations I am going to impose. Otherwise you will enjoy the hospitality of my jail until you find the funds."
We saw Judge Reynolds take off his glasses. "But young man, this is your lucky day and I am feeling generous. I am ordering 6 months of marriage counseling at a minimum of three times a week, with an advisor of your wife's choosing. As head of the household and traditional breadwinner you will be responsible for the costs. That should set you two on the right path."
Wallace's lawyer stood up. "Your Honor, my client appreciates your concern, and taking the time to expand on your wisdom and years of experience in the repair of matrimonial associations. However, he feels it would be a waste of the courts' time to pursue restoration of their relationship. We ask you to rule on the issues before you that both parties have unable to agree on."
Judge Wallace pointed at Anna. "Is that what you want also?"
Anna's' attorney jumped up. "No Your Honor. My client wants her husband back, and feels with time and work they can rekindle the romance and lost trust the ... ah, unfortunate misunderstandings may have accidently caused."
The Judge put back on his glasses. "There you have it. I so order. Six months of marriage counseling at a minimum of three times a week with an advisor of the wife's choosing. The husband will be responsible for the costs, and the court advised with weekly reports as to status of said marriage counseling sessions. Any questions?"
Wallace was speaking to his lawyer in a whisper. The attorney shrugged than addressed the Judge. "Your Honor, my client respectively declines to attend or remit payment for any marriage counseling sessions."
Judge Reynolds looked surprised. "Is that so? Well young man you are not he first to challenge my authority, nor will you be the first to rethink your life choices in my jail." He pointed to an elderly Metro Police officer in the corner, then to Wallace. "I find you in contempt of my court, and order you jailed for a period of 48 hours. Officer please take this man to holding."
The Judge held up his gavel. "We will see how your attitude adjusts in 48 hours. If you do not get your mind right, we will try 72 more hours as a county uncomfortable guest."
I cursed, and felt sick to my stomach, it was like a flashback; I had been in Wallace's exact shoes, even in that same chair.
Vince leaned over to me. "Deja Moo." He said in a low voice. "I've seen all this bull before."
But before Judge Reynolds could bang his gavel, a tall well-groomed man that looked like he stepped out of Hollywood central casting stood up from the middle of the sparse audience.
"Your Honor. If I may address the court please."
Judge Reynolds peered out at the man. "I do not appreciate disruptions in my courtroom. This better be good, or you are going to join this young person in a cell."
"Thank you, your Honor. I am the Federal District Attorney responsible for this area and have information that concerns this case."
Reynolds did not look happy. "Fine, approach the bench, but be quick about it. I have a schedule to keep."
The Fed strode swiftly to the front of the room and handed the court bailiff a thick pile of papers. "As you will see your Honor I have a writ from the federal district court that requires that man, " he pointed at Wallace. "Be made available on an 'as needed' basis, for a government project of great importance."
Reynolds scanned the papers quickly before casting them aside. "This is my courtroom young man. My word is the law here. I do not see what concern this is of my brethren in the Federal Judiciary."
The Fed paused a moment. "I understand your Honor. But as you can see that writ prevents incarceration, except in cases of criminal conduct. In that case the Federal Government reserves the right to determine the correction facility." He looked over at Wallace, then back to the judge. "This state classifies divorce as a family matter under the jurisdiction of the Civil Court. Clearly spelled out in the writ, is a portion which specifically prevents imprisonment for any Civil Offense."
Judge Reynolds was getting red in the face. "Step lightly Counseler! I am not above having you held in Contempt of Court."