Edited by Barney R. Massaged by Grammarly.
This is a different type of story for me. It is based on a compilation of events in the news that have happened in the past few years. Of course, it is entirely fiction.
I am Geoffrey Winston, I was 26, widowed, a maintenance technician and volunteer fire fighter\first responder for the area where I live when all of the events of this story started. My wife had tried to run out on our marriage, and the bastard she was cheating with crashed his car racing away from my cabin when I came home early. The crash killed them both. I mourned for a year and then said ‘fuck it’ and got on with my life.
I do some high-end furniture making on the side. I have made enough money on my furniture that I decided to make it my full-time job. I live outside a small village about 30 minutes North of Grand Rapids MI. I own 80 acres of forest and meadow with a large cabin on the property. I work the midnight shift in Grand Rapids and commute because I hate the city. It is strange that I hate the city because I grew up and lived there until I went into the army.
I had given my two-week notice at work and was supposed to be on my last week at the job when one of the other techs was fired for coming to work drunk. John Collins, the department head and the personnel department asked me to stay on until a replacement was hired. Because they had always treated me nicely, and the wood needed for my next consignment wouldn’t be ready for 6 weeks, I agreed with the proviso that I work midnights to avoid the traffic hassles and I would only stay a maximum of 3 more weeks.
During the first of my final workweeks, I was driving to work about 9:30 PM on a Wednesday evening along US-131 when I saw a car about a mile ahead suddenly pull off to the side of the road. I slowed down in case the door on the roadside came open. The passenger door popped open and something was tossed out and fell to the ground. The driver then spun the tires and sped back onto the highway. I got the license number and recognized the make of the car. Something did not seem kosher about this.
I stopped and saw a girl; who I guessed to be about 12 years old laying naked in the dirt. She was bruised, bleeding and crying. I hit my flashers, both the standard and my Red Fire Fighters. I made sure I was far enough off the pavement to exit my car without endangering others or me. I rushed over to the girl and saw that she had been beaten, and probably had some serious injuries. She was conscious, and softly crying and moaning in pain.
I called 911 and started taking pictures of the obvious injuries. I also got my First Aid kit out of my car and put pressure bandages on the worst or the bleeding areas. The little girl whimpered and passed out when I put a bandage on her cut arm, so I was pretty sure it was broken. I also got a clean blanket and a rolled-up moving blanket out of my car and used the mover for a pillow and covered her to keep her warm if she went into shock.
About 5 minutes later, I could hear sirens and saw a state police cruiser, a county sheriff’s cruiser, and a life support ambulance coming over the hill toward me. When the first cruiser got to the scene, the state trooper closed that lane of traffic. The sheriff’s cruiser pulled up behind my car and a short curly-haired young female sheriff’s deputy came over and asked that I talk to her when the paramedics take over. I agreed. The ambulance pulled up and the paramedics scrambled out and took over.
The deputy, her nametag said J. Wilcox, asked me what I had seen and done. After telling her what I had seen, I explained that I was a Certified First Responder and that as I did not know all of the injuries I just tried to stop or manage the bleeding. She seemed to be almost hostile until I showed the pictures that I had taken of the little girl’s injuries. I was put off by her tone and I almost forgot to give her the license number and make of the car. The deputy was surprised that I had that much presence of mind to get all of that done and still treat the girl.
After the paramedics loaded the girl in the ambulance they took off down the highway towards Grand Rapids, and the two officers thanked me and asked that I come into the sheriff’s office in the morning to make a written statement. I agreed to and said I would print the photos out at work tonight and bring them in too.
I did not think too much more about it that night; and when I got to work, I explained to my boss why I was late, went to work.
When I got to the sheriff’s office the next morning, they acted like I was a conquering hero. Deputy Wilcox said that they caught the guy and that he was a pimp and the girl had been kidnapped from Kalamazoo and was being forced to prostitute on the South Division corridor. When she refused, the pimp raped her, beat her up and left her on the side of the road as punishment. He planned to pick her up later and that is how they caught him. He went back to pick her up and the police and sheriff’s officers were still working the scene when one of them spotted the car. The pimp sped on down the highway and when the police gave chase, the pimp lost control and crashed his car.
The deputy said; “Not only did the Asshole crash, but he also hurt himself so badly that if he survives, he will be in the hospital for many months. He also had the girl’s clothes and all of her school identifications.” Then she asked to take my phone and the printed pictures as evidence until the bastard either died or was sent to prison. As I had another phone, I agreed.
The phone that they wanted was my main phone. I had an app that allowed me to have all of my calls to that number forwarded to my business phone, so after I forwarded all of my personal contacts and unanswered messages to that phone and gave Deputy Wilcox the phone, pictures, and a written statement of all that happened.
A week later, Deputy Wilcox (she asked that I call her Jane) called me and asked me to meet her at the hospital where they had taken the girl. I got there and Jane said she had a big favor to ask. She told me that when they investigated the family in Kazoo, they found that the family had sold the girl to the pimp for drugs. Social services wanted to ship the girl to an orphanage. Jane asked if I had any family support. When I warily answered yes, she then asked if Sara (the girl’s name) who was actually 16 could stay with me for a little while.
I explained to Jane that I worked in G. R., but lived out of the county; she said that that would not be a big problem. The real problem was I was male, and not married. I laughed and asked Jane if she had me investigated.
She said of course, and I was pure as the driven snow as far as the people that I knew would say. She then said; “You are not a secret goat fucker or a serial killer are you?”
I laughed again and said; “Not goats, but I do have my secrets.”
I then asked Jane when she needed a decision. She said that the hospital had determined that Sara was going to be discharged as soon as a caregiver could be found. It seems that Sara’s was going to need about 8 weeks of home or long term care until all of her injuries healed and the casts removed.
Her parents were arrested, and no other relative would take her. I was a certified caregiver, and Sara wanted to meet me anyway. If I and Sara got along and I agreed, Social Services would sign off on temporary custody.
I told Jane that as long as we all agreed; especially Sara, I would do it.
Jane then said; “Oh, ‘Pimp the Asshole’ did not survive, so when we went to search his place we found 4 other girls who were in the same situation, but they all had relatives that would help them.” She continued; “You are one of the good people. I’ll bet you even have a White Stetson.”
“Tan not white,” I responded
Jane escorted me in to meet Sara, while the bruises and casts were ugly the smiling face that greeted us was pure beauty. Sara appeared to be part Asian, part Black, and possibly part Native American. What hair she had was jet black and her coffee and cream skin was breathtaking. I could not tell how tall she was as she was in a hospital bed but she seemed small for her age group.
Sara said; “Are you my knight in shining armor that saved me?”
I replied; “I don’t own any armor, and I’m not a knight, but I can see that I was lucky to rescue a beautiful princess. I do have a big black charger that I call Nightly because of his coat.”
Jane then said; “Sara this is Geoffrey Winston, Geoffrey, this is Sara Jamison. If you two will quit making with the flowery speech, we can get to know each other better.”
I came back with; “How can you dismiss flowery speech when I am a lowly ‘thorn between two gorgeous roses’?”
They both groaned and Sara laughed and said, “I like him already. When I get out of here I want to date him.”
Jane got serious and said to Sara; “You are going to need some home care when you are discharged. Geoff has said that if you agree, you can stay with him until you heel. Then when the court decides what they want to do for your custody, then you can think about social life.”
That got a big toothy smile from Sara, and we stayed and chatted for over two hours. After the floor nurses kicked us out, Jane followed me to the sheriff’s office to get my phone. We talked some more there and I found that I was beginning to like the short, brown-shirted deputy.
I found out that Jane was 25 and had been a deputy for 18 months. She was single and not in a relationship. She had dark brown, almost black eyes, and reddish-brown hair. She was about 5’ 5” tall, and when not wearing her on-duty body armor, was very shapely. She lived with her parents in a northern Kent County township about 20 miles ‘as the crow flies’ from my place. She also hates the city and has a big bay mare she calls ‘Princess’. She was not looking to become serious, but if it happened, she would not complain about it. She also said that she had developed real feelings for Sara and if I take care of her she would like to come and see her occasionally.
I said to Jane; “I know that you are a caring person and I would like to get to know you better. Of course, you can come to my place and see Sara. If you can work it out, while I am finishing my last week plus at my current job you can be the caregiver for Sara at my place. I even have a couple of empty bedrooms that you could stay in. If it makes it more agreeable they even have locks on the doors. The cabin was our family residence until my dad retired, and he said he did not want nosey kids interrupting and he did not want to interrupt noisy kids.”
Jane laughed and said she would think it over, but would most likely take advantage of my offer.
Jane somehow convinced a judge to award me temporary custody of Sara as a certified caregiver. The judge issued the order to last until all medically necessary care was complete and he would revisit the order. He gave the Department of Social Services the right to visit and monitor her care at my convenience, and that if they fought the order, he would declare Sara an ‘emancipated minor’, and they would have no access to her.
The judge also stated that he had consulted Sara and the custody was as she wished it. He said that Sara said she was not going to go to “some person’s care to be molested or treated as just a money maker from the custody payments”.
The judge then gave me a stern admonition to make sure I followed all of the treatment orders and presented Sara for all of her medical appointments.
Of course, I agreed and offered to post a surety bond, but the judge said that wasn’t necessary, but he told me that for the record, he appreciated the offer.
Sara settled into my house quickly, and like most young people hated to be restricted by her injuries. She was a joy to be around and helped me as much as she could. She loved Nightly, and that fickle black horse loved her back. Of course after about 2 days, I loved her too.
The only time I saw any sadness was when I gave her a cell phone and she called some of the kids in Kalamazoo, and they said her boyfriend had been threatened by the pimp’s friends right after she had been snatched. It scared him so much that he would not talk to her.
Jane came out almost every day and stayed in one of my spare bedrooms until my job in the city finished. When I was finished working in the city, Jane only stayed over on her days off; still in one of the spare bedrooms. On days when Sara had Dr.’s appointments, either I or both of us took her. I began to have some very strong feelings for Jane and Sara.
When the time came that Sara was proclaimed fit and healthy, we had to appear before the judge again. I was dreading it because that little girl had stolen my heart and my mind had followed. Jane tried to assure me that the judge would follow the recommendations of the social worker and he would take Sara’s wishes into account.
The day of the hearing, Sara, Jane, and I were escorted into the courthouse and courtroom by a court officer. When we were seated in the courtroom, the judge started the proceedings by calling the social worker to the stand. The lady who came to the witness chair was not the one who had come out to my house several times to do her checks. I jumped up and asked the judge who she was.
The judge stared at me like I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead and asked; “Mr. Winston, isn’t this the social worker that was assigned to Sara’s case?”
“No, your honor, I have never seen this lady before. Ms. Carter, the social worker who did the investigations is not in the courtroom.”
The judge looked at the lady in the witness chair and asked for her credentials. The woman showed them and stated that she was Ms. Carter’s supervisor and that Ms. Carter was sick. She then said that this case was causing a good kind of problem for their department because there was nothing negative to report about her care. She added that their department would not oppose continued placement with the current caregiver.
The judge asked if I had any questions, I said no. He then asked Sara if she had any questions. She said yes. She asked the judge and the social worker if she could be placed permanently with me. Then the scamp said while I was a great guy, she loved my horse and felt that the horse would suffer if she was no longer there.
The room erupted with laughter, and once it calmed down the judge asked me if I would continue as guardian and caregiver.
I said to the judge; “I will love this little girl as my if she were my own daughter. I will see to her education, her health and as much as I can her happiness.” I continued; “For the record, I have had nothing but complete cooperation from all of the agencies involved.”
“I would ask that I be allowed to adopt Sara, as I can then provide her with health insurance as part of my family coverage. That would also allow me to provide her with any educational needs beyond high school.”
I was surprised when the social worker looked at the judge and nodded. The judge then asked Sara if that was OK.
She asked; “Does that mean that Geoff will be my new daddy?”
When the judge said yes, I was crushed by a crying, squealing, 16-year-old bundle of girl.