"There's my Little Man," said Judy, as her son came walking into the Kitchen area.
"Oh, hi mom, what brings you here this early?" asked Eric.
"Oh, I thought I'd stop by and see how things went last night with you and Collin."
"Geez mom, I was just gone for one night and I stayed here with Collin before. What you think they'd beat me up and feed me to the Lake Monster? I don't think I'd be much more than a snack. Now, with those two, the Monster would get a nice meal," kidded Eric looking over at the two older boys and then he gave his mom a big hug and a kiss while thanking her for letting him spend the night.
The two older boys waited for him to finish saying Hi to his mom and when he stood back they both grabbed him and picked him up and mocked him about what he said about them making a good meal for the Lake Monster. Then they began to tickle him, with Collin be careful not to get kicked in th3e chest, and let him squirm on the floor until he said he'd 'pee' if they didn't stop. The two teens let the younger boy alone until he caught his breathe and then they started all over again. Even Chief got into the act by licking his face and barking that 'happy' bark of hers
The three of them were having a good time and Eric was relishing the contact he was having with his 'big bros'. By that time, Mr. Ken and Andy came back and saw what was happening and asked Eric if he was having fun.
"Yea," was all he said and then the bigger boys picked him up again and tossed him around some more.
As they stopped their shenanigans, the three lads all hugged one another and then sat down with the youngest between the two older boys. Eric had the biggest smile on his face as he looked back and forth between his two tormentors. His mom could tell he had enjoyed the 'rough housing' and she was glad he had two, nice older boys he could look up to, since her boy was an only child, and had no father.
"So, tell me what you three did last night. I hope you didn't hurt Collin with all your playing around," said Judy.
"Well, mom, we went swimming at first, and I had fun with Ryan throwing me around," began Eric. "Then Mr. Ken took us out for breakfast. I'd never eaten out that late, Mom and that was so much fun. We went to IHOP and I had pancakes. Hmmm, they were good. When we got back home, it was almost one-thirty and by then I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. After we got ready for bed, I decided to sleep with Ryan so neither of us would hurt Collin if we moved during the night. After we got up this morning, we talked some, as we were still tired, and then we all got our showers and came down for breakfast. And boy am I ever hungry! And Momma Maria makes the bestest breakfast's, too," was how her son described his sleep over.
"Weren't you embarrassed to shower with the older boys?" asked mom.
"Mom, don't cha remember? We all have the same equipment!" a happy, smiling Eric responded to his mom. "And besides, when we had the New Year's swim all of us changed together and there was kids of all ages there, too, and none of us had any problem letting someone else see us. I know what you are saying, Mom, but as I get older, I'll have to shower at school after PE and if I am used to doing it now it will be easier later."
"Ok, my son, you sure are growing up faster than I thought you'd do. And, I am also happy you had a good time with Collin and Ryan, here. You like them, don't you?"
"Yeah, mom, they're like ... well, it's like having two older brothers, and all, and I call them my 'big bros', and they have been calling me their 'lil bro'. I like that, mom. All the guys like them. They said so after the swim thing and they said they wished they had older brothers like them and, that I was lucky to be close to them, and have them as my friend."
Ken and Andy laughed at the boy, but they knew from their own younger experiences how much more fun it was to have an older boy pay attention to them. Just then, Maria had brought out her Mexican style breakfast that included breakfast tacos, along with extra bacon, eggs, and of course hot coffee and very cold milk. Mr. Ken then asked Maria to sit and eat with them. As the seven ate, their conversation centered around school and then Collin getting his driver's permit, which he had to go upstairs and get to show all of them. Of course, that brought on Ryan's lament that his mom didn't want him to start driving, yet, and he sort of asked Mr. Ken to intervene for him. As they finished eating, the boys cleared the table and then Collin asked about the transcript.
"Ok, Collin, when we are ALL through here, we can all go to the Study, and read it together."
"Can Ryan and Miss Judy and Eric come, too? I want to get their opinion on what is said," asked Collin.
"That is up to you, Collin. But you do have a good idea there. They could give you some feedback and maybe see what Judge Adam wants you to know from a different angle. Andy and I will head there now, and get our notes ready, and you all can come over when you're ready."
About ten minutes later, the six of them were in the Study and Andy began to read the transcript. It had taken him and Ken over an hour last night to read it. They were taking notes and they had to reread some things over a few times to get a sense of what was happening. For now, he read the transcript, as it was, and it only took him about twenty minutes to read the entire thing. When he finished reading, and looked around the room, everyone remained very quiet.
Then to get things started, Mr. Ken asked, "So, Collin, what do you think? Was Judge Adam right about wanting you to know what happened in his court that day?"
All eyes were on Collin as he pondered the question. As the seconds ticked by, everyone could hear a very light sobbing and sniffling coming from where Eric was seated. Judy instinctively went to her son and asked him what was wrong.
"Can't you hear (sob) his ... his pain, mom (sob-sniffle)," came from the distraught boy.
"What do you mean?" quickly asked Collin.
"His pain! Can't ... can't you hear it ... his pain ... in what he says?" answered the lightly, sobbing young boy.
"I don't understand," said Ryan. "All Rodney is telling us is how his dad treated him for the last nine or ten years. I don't hear no 'pain' in what he is saying."
"No (sob-hiccup) you wouldn't. Not ... not unless you had been there. I mean not if you had something like that happen to you (sob-sniffle)," replied Eric.
"How do you know this, Eric," asked Collin, in a questioning voice. "How is it you can tell he is in some sort of pain? Do you know this boy?"
"No ... no, I don't know him, but ... but I can tell," answered Eric. "That ... that boy's dad ... what he said about him, sounded (sniffle) ... exactly like my dad when I lived with him. I know what that boy is going through, Collin. My ... my own dad did ... did the same thing to me (sob) only ... only he said it about my ... my mom," and with that Eric cried out more and buried his face into his mom's shoulder.
Collin and Ryan and even Ken had a dumbfounded look on their face after hearing what Eric just said. They looked back at each other trying to get answers that just weren't there. Eric saw them looking back and forth as he continued to cry while his mom tried to comfort him.
"Mom, I ... I gotta tell 'em," sobbed out the ten year old. "They need to know, so they ... they can ... can understand, mom. I gotta, I just gotta. I don't care what ... what they may think about me. I know what ... what that boy is saying. It was like that when ... when I lived with him (sniffle-sniffle)." Judy kept her hug on her boy, trying to console his troubled heart.
"Ok, honey, you do what you think is right. I will still love you no matter what," was what his mom told him.
With that, Eric pulled away from his mom and got up and walked over to Collin.
"Collin, I want to tell you ... ah NO ... I need to tell you somethin' and I don't care what you think of me afterwards. I just gotta tell you, so... so it will make it easier for you to, you know ... to know what that boy is going through," said the youngster. When Eric finished, he looked back at his mom and she smiled at him and them gave him an ok nod to continue.
Looking into his 'big bro's' eyes he said, "Collin ... I ... I'm adopted."
When Eric said that, the entire room went silent and both Collin's and Ryan's eyes went wide open. Then Collin pulled the young boy into him and gave the youngster a big hug.
Then Eric continued, "Mom ... mom Judy that is ... my mom adopted me when I was six ... going on seven. I had lived with my dad and my mom and he ... and he did the same thing to me, about my mom, as that boy's dad did to him. Not my mom here (looking over at Judy) but ...but my real mom. He ... he would say things about her all the time to me about ... about how she wasn't any good ... and ... and that I should ignore her and not do anything for her. He even told me that I should ... that I should even hit her and call her names and that went on for a long, long time.
"... I remember back to when I was only five, how he'd started telling me stuff about her. How my real mom was a drunk and didn't love me and how I needed to fight back at her. I was young and I didn't know what to do. He never said it in front of her but when she went to work he'd start telling me things. I ... I was confused ... but I had no one to talk to about it ... what he was saying because I ... well I didn't know.
"Then one day, he got real mad at her for something. I don't remember what it was ... but he was real mad. I tried to stay away from him but he kept looking for me and finding me. They were arguing about something. (At that Eric looked over at his mom and saw she had a tear in her eye, but she again nodded for him to continue.) They were yelling at each other ... and throwing things. I tried to get away but my dad made me stay and he told me to watch and see what ... what happens to people who are bad to other good people like him and me.
"I saw him pick up a knife and ... and he threw it at her. I think she saw it too as she ducked or moved, but it didn't hit her. They argued some more and ... and my dad ... he ... he picked up another knife while my mom was looking for something else to throw at him ... and, and as she turned I saw what he was gonna do and I yelled at her ... but it was too late. The knife ... the knife hit her in the chest about here (and he showed them on himself the knife hit near the left shoulder) and she just stood there ... not doing anything. I ... I ran away when I saw all ... saw all the blood and I called 911.
"I was crying ... but they couldn't understand me, at first. I tried to tell them that my dad killed my mom, and by then my dad came in, and yelled at me to give the phone to him. I heard him telling them that there wasn't any problem; as I went crying and yelling for my mom.
"They must have believed me because in a few minutes a ... a policeman came knocking at the door yelling to open it up. My dad yelled at me to stay put ... but I didn't listen. I ... I ran to the door and opened it as he got there too and picked me up and ... and threw me down. The cop said something to him and he came right into the house. My dad tried to stop him, but he got in far enough to see my mom on the floor, and he then pulled his gun. He told my dad to stay where he was. Then I heard another police siren. Then another policeman came into the house and they handcuffed my dad. They called for an ambulance for my mom."
By now, everyone in the room was enthralled by Eric's story. He didn't flinch at what he was telling them. It was as if he had told this story many times before and this was just another telling. The whole time, he told the story though, he kept looked at Collin. His eyes never wavered and he never cried as he talked. Ken did look at Judy, a few times, but she gave him a knowing nod, that it was ok for the boy to tell what he had to tell.
"It was a long time before they came for me. Some old lady came and took me to a big office. I yelled at her telling her I wanted to see my mom but she said that would be later as she had to find me a place to live. She made lots of phone calls and I could tell she was mad, too. It was a Friday, and it was getting late. Then 'mom' ... 'mom' Judy came in. She heard the story from another lady there and came over to me and talked to me.
"When she asked me what I was doing there, I told her I wanted to see my mom. The older lady just looked at me and told me to shut up. Then 'mom' spoke up to her and they began to argue. In a few minutes, 'mom' came and got me and we went to her desk. She made a few phone calls, but they were all to the hospitals. She found out where they took my mom and she took me there. I remember her giving that old lady a mean face as we left the big room.
"When we got to the hospital, they wouldn't let me see my mom. I heard 'mom' Judy arguing with the doctor and, then in a little while, we went to see my mom. She was all bandaged up and was hooked up to lots of machines. I cried when I saw her like that. They said they could let me stay there for a little while. So, they brought up a chair for me to sit on and the nurse came in and asked me to talk to my mom.
"She told me that, even though she could not answer me, she could still hear me and I needed to tell her how much I loved her, and everything else I wanted to say. And, I did. ... I was there a long time and then they came in and said I could come back the next day, and talk to her again. 'Mom' Judy took me to her apartment and made up a sleeping bag and blow up mattress for me to sleep on.
"The next day we went back to the hospital and I got to sit next to my real mom again and told her what I was doing. I'm not sure if she heard me, but I felt good to be able to see her, and talk to her. After that, we went over to my house and got my clothes and we went back to 'mom' Judy's apartment, to put them away. We ate, then went back to the hospital. This time the doctor came to me and told me that my mom was not doing very well and ... and that she might die. I cried and cried after they told me that. (And now tears were falling down his face) I didn't want her to die and leave me all alone.
"'Mom' Judy tried to help me but I wouldn't listen. She ... she took me home and we ate and then I went to bed. It was like that for a couple of weeks and my mom never got better. That entire time,' Mom' Judy was trying to find a nice couple to take care of me. She was always telling me what she was doing and why. I didn't understand a lot of it, but I knew she was trying to help me. I got to know her real well, and I was beginning to like being with her.
"Then 'mom' Judy found a couple to take me in, and foster me. My mom was still in the hospital and still not getting any better. Then one day, with my new foster parents, we went to see my mom. The doctors pulled them aside first and I saw the lady begin to cry. I ran to where I knew my mom was ... but when I got there she wasn't. I asked what they did to her and asked where was she but all they did was stare at me. Then, my foster parents and the doctor came and got me and they told me that she had died the night before. I just fell down and cried.
"After that, I hardly ate. My foster parents tried to get me to eat, and go to school, but I didn't care. I felt all alone. Then 'mom' Judy came to see me and when I saw her I jumped into her arms and cried that she was there. She was someone I knew. We went out for a walk and when we came back she asked me to eat and to do well in school. She said she was trying to get things fixed for me. About a week later, she came and got me and took me home. Then she adopted me. I never saw my dad again."
As Eric had stopped talking and the room remained extremely quiet. Collin reached up to the young boy and pulled him again into him and just hugged the small, younger lad for all he was worth. T he two of them sat there, holding one another, as they both cried, each for their own reason.
Eric had told his story of how he came to be the adopted son of Judy Turner. It was a heart wrenching story about how a young boy, of six, had to endure a father who tried to turn his son against his mom and who subsequently saw his mother killed right before his eyes.
There was a noise at the Study door and it broke the tension of the room. Momma Maria had brought some snacks to the Study for the group and had gotten there just as Eric was telling his story and she didn't want to interrupt. She had heard the entire thing and was crying along with the lad and his older 'bro'. Seeing her standing there Ken got up from his desk and took the tray away from her and she went back to her kitchen with more tears in her eyes. Ken sat the tray on the table but no one went for anything on it.
"'Little bro', thank you for telling me your story," began Collin. "I know how hard it must have been to go through all that and then to tell it the way you did, to us. I want you to know, little guy, that I will always be your 'older brother' and whenever you need anything, you just call me or come get me. I love you, 'lil' bro'!" Collin then gave the boy another big hug and Eric just melted into his arms.
"Yes, thank you, Eric, for telling us your story," said Mr. Ken. "I take it that not many people know that you are adopted and you want it to remain that way. Your secret is safe with me, young man. There is no need for me to talk to anyone about it but you. Just as you decided today, it should be your decision when and whom to tell. I am very sorry that you had to go through all that."
Eric looked up, from being held by Collin, and said to Mr. Ken, "Collin went through what I did. He saw both his parents killed and he will become like me, adopted to someone and I hope he finds someone as good as I did with my 'mom' (and Eric looked over at Judy and smiled at her)."
Then Ryan said, "But what does that have to do with Rodney and him hitting Collin?"
"Don't you see, Ryan? That boy ... he went through what I went through only ... only he had to put up with it for all those years. His dad didn't kill his mom, but he almost killed the policeman and his dad was trying to kill him. But, anyway you look at it, that boy went through hell. Even though he did hit Collin ... it was his dad he was hitting, NOT Collin. His dad told him over and over what to do and what he'd do to him if he didn't, and the boy only saw his dad and not Collin.
"He was scared of his dad and, when he hit Collin, his dad was happy, but then his dad was going to kill him for bringing the police. He didn't mean to do it, I just know he didn't. His dad had been telling him those things all those years and ... and he just did it so his dad would leave him alone. I could hear it in his voice; you know the words he used. I was listening and hearing the words in my mind as I was remembering what happened with me."
Then, Eric got up from the chair he was in with Collin and went over to Judy and said, "I had ta tell them, 'mom', I just had ta!" And when he finished, he looked into her eyes to see if she would be mad at him for telling his secret.
Judy pulled him to her and said, "I know, honey, I know you did. That was very brave of you to tell them all about you, son. You know I love you, Eric. I love you very, very much!" was all Judy Turner could say to her son as a tear came to her eye.
The two embraced for a few moments and shared their closeness as only a mom and son can.
"Everybody, my ... my other mom, well she was my birth mother," said Eric very abruptly. "She born me and raised me, and that's all she ever did that I can remember. 'Mom' Judy has been and is now my 'real mom'. She has loved me and taken care of me ever since we met that night at her office. I could tell from the way she held me and treated me, that she loved me. I love her so much, too, and I am very happy she is my mom!" Eric said that so everyone knew how he felt about his 'mom', Judy Turner.
Judy again pulled her son to her and thanked him for saying that and then she gave him a big hug and a kiss on his cheek. When she finished, they continued to look into each other’s eyes and everyone there knew, that they were seeing, what 'love' was all about.
Then Judy spoke up and told Collin that Texas had a thing called, Deferred Adjudication. Then 'Uncle Andy' joined in and explained that deferred adjudication is not a final finding of guilt and it was not a final conviction, but was a plea bargain agreement between a defendant, and a Texas Criminal Court and that in this case it would be Judge Richards.
Uncle Andy further explained that the formal judgment was withheld or "deferred" pending the outcome of a probation period. That, if an individual is given deferred adjudication and he successfully completes the probation and conditions assigned by the court, the charges are dismissed. Judy said, and if Collin agreed, he could give Rodney the opportunity to show his intentions, by doing probation, and if he does it well enough he wouldn't have a conviction and ruin his future life.
Collin sat there thinking about what his Uncle Andy and Judy just told him. To him it sounded like that was what Judge Adam was asking him to do.
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