Trials and Tribulations
The End of the Beginning
If I thought the five police cars, ambulance and two fire trucks that roared onto the scene first were a lot, it was nothing compared to what came next. They were followed by three more ambulances, the coroner's car, and three funeral home cars. Four more State Trooper cars, and the City Police Chief car arrived ten minutes later. ALL with their blue or red lights on. And that's not counting two black SUV's and a Humvee from the Boone Corporation. To say a small army advanced on our home would not be over stating it.
That's what I woke to. A house full of chaos.
"Andy, you're awake." Joey squealed with relief. As high as he squealed it, he sounded almost like a girl, but he is most definitely a boy. This I know for a fact. "Oh my God, I was so worried when I first noticed you were shot."
As my eyes adjusted, Joey's face slowly came into focus. It took a moment 'til I noticed several other faces, all huddled around me. There was Dad, JT, Roger, Cody, Uncle Steve, Aunt Alice, Mr. Firestone, and of course, Joey. Wow, how did they all manage to squeeze in like that. Strange isn't it? The things you think of at a time like this. This, yeah, what is this? And that thought prompted my question. "What happened?"
"You were shot." Someone, I hadn't noticed in all the faces, said in a calm reassuring voice.
"Uhm, I was?" I asked. "Wow." I'd been shot? I didn't remember it. I realized the man was doing something to my arm, I asked. "Who are you?"
"An EMT. I'm the one bandaging up your arm. Seems the shot went cleanly through without hitting any bones." He smiled. "Would everyone please move back and give this young man some air. It would also allow me some more room to make sure there's no other problems."
Everyone moved back some except for Dad, Joey, and the EMT. "How you feeling son?" Dad asked with an expression of relief.
"Um, okay, I think." And then I thought to ask, "Is everyone okay?"
"The family is fine, son." Dad smiled.
"But not everyone, uh?" I knew my dad and how he worded things and I saw that some weren't so fine.
"There will be plenty of time for that after we get you back from the hospital." Dad answered in a tone that told me it was no use in trying to get anymore information from him, but that did leave Joey, Roger, JT, and Cody. I'd find out soon enough, I reckoned.
"So, hospital? Why?" I asked the EMT.
"You need some stitches and since I'm told you have leukemia, as well, you'll need to have your own doctor check you out, too." The EMT informed me.
After Andy was stitched up, bandaged up, and declared fit for release, Andy, Joey, Judge Collins, along with their security team, which did not include Tyler, who was being kept overnight for observation, went to Roger's house to rest. Several law enforcement agencies wanted to question everyone that night, but the Judge Collins would have none of that.
"Sheriff, my sons and their teenage friends have had enough excitement for the night. It is after all, two-thirty in the morning. Not to mention, they are suppose to be at school tomorrow. Now, there are more than an ample number of adults available who witnessed or were a part of the defensive reaction to an armed home invasion. However, none of us are willing at this time to provide any answers to your questions until our attorneys are present." Judge Collins smiled. "I'm sure you understand that, Sheriff Lewis."
Detective Jones spoke before the Sheriff Lewis could reply. "That will fine with me Judge." He glanced over at the dead man in the living room. "The suspects aren't going anywhere, except the funeral home."
The Sheriff appeared frustrated for some reason, but the Chief of Police in Pine Hills agreed with Detective Jones and that ended the debate, seeing how the City Police had jurisdiction. The Sheriff's reactions to everything however, didn't go unnoticed by Judge Collins.
"The State Crime Scene Unit will do their thing tonight and by tomorrow afternoon, you should be able to have someone clean up this mess for you Judge." Detective Jones stole a quick glance at the Sheriff and said, "Chief, I propose that you and I conduct the interviews tomorrow at the Judge's conference room. Starting at say, ten o'clock? That should give everyone and their respective lawyers time to speak before meeting with us."
Chief Combs nodded. "Sounds like a plan. Judge?"
"That's acceptable to me." Judge Collins smiled, as he looked over at the Sheriff who didn't seem too happy with the turn of events - effectively locked out the investigation.
The Sheriff turned on his heels and called out to his deputies, "Let's go boys, we're out of here."
Detective Jones then gathered everyone together in the living room. "Listen up please, all of you. I have some things you need to know. Tomorrow each of you will be interviewed, so I have ask that you don't talk to each other about the attack. Doing so could influence your perception of what happened and we need your recollections to be yours, not a mix of what everyone thinks they remember." Jones paused to look at everyone. "I'd suggest you all get a good night's rest. We have a lot of territory to cover in the morning."
"Thank you, Detective Jones." Judge Collins walked the Detective to the front door.
Once the police had left everyone sat silently for a moment before they began to make plans. Judge Collins and Roger's parents decided, Joey, Cody, JT, and Roger would sleep in Roger's room. Judge Collins made it clear Andy and he would share a room which meant they would sleep in Joey's room. The Judge would call ahead and rent a room for Miss Nanny at the local Daniel Boone Hotel, downtown. Judge Collins felt it was best to keep the boys together to support each other, but he also had no intentions of letting Andy out of his sight. Judge Collins felt he had come too close to losing him.
I was amazed how quick the interviews were. They just seemed to have wanted us kids to verify what the adults had already told them. Although, JT verified that the dirty dude in overalls, Jackson Leroy Brown, who stormed into our living room was one of the people he had overheard at the abandoned mine he had been held at, when he was kidnapped. It seems the Boone Corporation worked overtime with the State and City Law Enforcement Officials to tie all the evidence together before the sun rose that morning.
"What I want to know is, how did these honest-to-God hillbillies get my shirt and why did they try to frame me?" I asked bewildered after I learned these were the guys who killed JT's parents and kidnapped him. "What's more, why kidnap JT?"
Roger looked at me like I was stupid. "Okay, let me lay it all out of you. First, you weren't the one they intended frame, JT was. But, JT escaped and they needed someone else to frame. Everyone at school knew you and JT were, let's say, not the best of friends." Roger gave JT an apologetic smile.
"No worries." JT said.
"So, after JT's escape, they figured you would do, Andy. Don't forget, these two were about as bright as the bottom of a coal bucket." Roger finished his detective reasoning.
"But that doesn't answer my first question. How did they get one of my shirts from school?" I thought I had found a fault in his deduction.
"I thought I had." Roger said.
"No, you didn't." Joey spoke up. "But I see where you're going with it. Someone at school who knows both them and you, and took it for them."
Roger jumped up and did a little victory dance. Which wasn't easy to do with as many people who were in Joey's room.
"Why would anyone wanna hurt you, JT, or his family?" Cody asked innocently.
"Cody," Dad said as he walked into the room and sat down beside him. "There are men and women out there who don't think like most of us. They have this warped sense of the world and how it should work. In their world they felt they were righting a wrong. They believed JT's father broke his word and caused their father to be incarcerated; but it was Mr. Brown's own illegal activities which landed him in jail where he belonged."
"I got it!" Roger exclaimed. "It was Kevin."
"What?" I was confused.
"Kevin stole your shirt." Roger explained.
"I bet he's right." JT said. "Kevin and the Brown brothers were close. You wait til I see that little son-of…" JT quickly glanced at Dad. "I mean, well…"
"No JT. We'll let the authorities handle Kevin." Dad told him. "What's Kevin's last name?"
"Combs, Kevin Combs. He lives about a quarter of a mile from the Browns. They hunt together all the time." JT paused and looked Dad straight in the eyes. "Sir, Kevin is a coward and that makes him dangerous. He's the type who will stab you in the back when you aren't looking."
"Tyler, come in here for a minute please." Dad called out.
Tyler arrived and my Dad had a short conversation with him. Shortly after, Tyler was on his way out the door, a look of determination etched his face.
We heard all about how the police descended on Kevin's home. When the officers arrived it was with guns drawn, and a demand that Kevin come out with his hands up. His parents were mortified and stated in no uncertain words that if he wanted their support he had to come clean and right now.
Dad was told Kevin spilled the beans. Within fifteen minute, Kevin had admitted to stealing my shirt from my locker at school, and giving it to the Brown brothers. As it turned out, they had intended to rape JT to take his manhood away and then kill him all along; and I was the one they planned on framing from the beginning.
Between my dad and Roger's parents they kept all of us out of school in the hopes of things settling down. However, that wasn't what ended up happening. The phone just kept ringing from morning to night with people trying to check to see if we were alright. The security team had a hell of a time dealing with all the neighbors and friends that just decided to stop by with food or flowers to check on us. It felt like a circus.
On Wednesday, our new security team drove us to the front of the high school building, after dropping Cody off at Middle School. At this point, I wasn't sure why we would have a security team now the threat to JT and those around him appeared to be over. Dad had been seriously involved in numerous activities since the attack on our home and hadn't told us his plans, but with the team still in place, my gut feeling told me my Dad had far larger plans afoot.
As we exited the SUV, Roger said, "If I hadn't been there myself, I wouldn't know there had been a gun fight at your house. The people your Dad hired to fix your house, did an awesome job."
"I know, Cody and I went all over the first floor, both inside and outside, and couldn't find where a single bullet struck the house." I said.
It was strange walking into the building and have every eye turn on you. You could see the thousand questions in each of them. Some were given voice by those not too timid to ask. Most were polite, just asking how we were and were glad to see us back in school. The most interesting encounter was with Jonas.
As we were walking to our lockers, Jonas caught up with us. "Hey Andy, I'm glad you're okay. Had I known what Kevin was up to, I would have warned you." He said regretfully, and paused as he grasped his school bag tightly, looked down the hallway, and shuffled his feet. Then he seemed to gather his thoughts and turned back to me. "But the last week or so, he either kept to himself or was absent from school. It had to have been wickedly freaky to have some assholes bust into your home like it was the Hatfields and McCoys all over again."
I couldn't help but smile at the Hatfields and McCoys reference. "I'm fine, Jonas, and I believe you." I put my right hand over his arm and he stopped fidgeting. "You're right, it was mad crazy, but everyone is okay" I nodded, but I had to admit to myself, I still wasn't sure how far I could trust Jonas. I mean, he did have the name of a boy band made up of three brothers. Yet, it was in my nature to give him a chance.
"But you were shot man. No one at school has ever been shot, well, and lived to tell about it, anyway." Jonas said with an awed expression.
I just shrugged. "It was no big deal. Honest. I didn't even know I was shot at the time. Besides, it was only my arm." As I told Jonas I subconsciously pulled my arm closer to my body. I really wanted to play it off. No reason for anyone at school to know I passed out or what we had gone through. "So, it really wasn't like it was life threatening or anything. I'm fine."
He turned to JT and bumped fists. "How are you holding up?"
JT shrugged. "Eh… I'm dealin'. I know it'll take some time, but we have football and that will help me focus on something else."
"I got yer back, man. And if ANY of you need anything," Jonas took his time to look each of us in the eyes making sure we all understood he meant everyone of us, "I'm here for ya." And that's when Jonas joined our little growing group. True to his word, he would keep his promise, many times over.
The next week, I started spending more time at Joey's and Roger's, because Dad had begun to travel the state to test what type of support he could garner in a bid for the Governorship. I still slept in my own bed, as Cody, JT, and I had Ms Nancy and Tyler to watch out for us. Dad was impressed with Tyler and offered him a full-time position and he had accepted.
JT went on to have an unbelievable season that fall. Cody's due to have his arm cast removed around the middle to late November. Joey and I continued to grow with one another strengthening our friendship before we take that next step in our relationship. But, boy was I looking forward to the next step, because Joey was growing into a smokin' hot body!
The treatments I started for the leukemia were planned for the next six months and then the doctors would reevaluate. Let me tell you it was not fun. The treatments made me feel sicker than I already was, but the doctors told me it would, since the chemo would not only kill the cancer cells, but the healthy ones as well.
Having a cancer like leukemia is kind of scary; okay, really scary. but I believe I'm in good hands. My Dad, who I love so very much, will make sure I receive the best treatment out there. And I have faith in God. I don't believe He sent an angel and my Mom to speak to me only to have me die. And now I've found Joey, the love of my life, I have so much more to live for.
When I started this new year of school, I was afraid I was all alone. No one would understand the feelings I had. I didn't even trust my secret with Roger, the best friend anyone could ever have. He has never failed me and even now, he helps Joey with me after I get home from a chemo treatment. To tell the truth, I think I might have hurt myself after my Mom died, if it hadn't been for Roger. Now I have a boyfriend who loves me like I love him, a super best friend, two new brothers, and a growing group of friends I trust enough to tell my secret, well… Time will tell, since time tells all tales.
I have many thanks to give out. The chief among them is Wayne, aka, comicfan, who has been with me throughout this endeavor. There have been several editors who have helped me and without them, no one would have read past the first chapter without throwing up from all the mistakes.
I also want to thank all my loyal readers who wrote me, commented, and wrote a review. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to believe in myself and allowed me to offer to all of you a story that is very dear to me, in more ways than one.
I do not intend for this to be the last we hear of Andy and friends. As many know, there's another story called "The Field of Love" already with some of them in it. Who knows how much time I have to write with my muse coming and going, not to mention, no one knows how many days we have, but it is my intention to write until I can write no more.