Since there weren't many good restaurants located close-by the courthouse, their little group decided to meet at Five Guys Burgers & Fries. The place was located about 10 blocks south of the courthouse, and had plenty of parking. They all agreed to meet there if they got split up, somehow. And, indeed, they did get split up, when the judge called Bill Jackson into his Chambers after Bill said he could NOT answer a question in Open Court.
It was close to ten-minutes to twelve when Bill walked into Five Guys Burgers & Fries. Ryan was the first person to see him, and he got up and went to him to show him where they were seated.
"Damn, Bill," began Mr. Ken, "I thought the judge was going to throw you in jail, the way he ordered you into chambers."
"Let me get something to eat, first, and then I'll explain what happened," said Bill, as he walked over to the counter to order his lunch.
Ten minutes later, Bill sat down and began eating his very juicy burger.
"Hmmm, this burger is pretty good," Bill mumbled out, as he had a mouth full of food.
"Yeah, I bet it's better than jailhouse food, too," teased Ryan.
"You ever tasted jailhouse food, Ryan?" teased back Bill.
"No, sir," replied Ryan.
"Good, because I sure don't want to have to send you there for keeping this man from eating his food by teasing me, young man," laughed Bill, as he took another bite of his burger.
The entire group had a good laugh over that exchange and that broke the tension while they waited for Bill to tell them what his meeting with the judge was all about.
"I hate to gulp down food, but we don't have much time to get back to court by 1 PM. Okay, here's the story. I briefed the judge on what I knew of the part that Frank Hale played in Collin's kidnapping. You know, from the point we met him with Andy and the other lawyers trying to figure out where Collin was going to reside for the time being.
"The judge was intrigued about that turn of events. So, he called the local FBI office which sent a man over to talk to me about what I knew about one Frank Hale, and what Grammy revealed in court, this morning.
"Guys, it sort of looks like Frank Hale lead Grammy around by the nose and my bet is, he still is. I told the judge and the FBI agent and all we can do is to wait and see what happens. I was always suspicious about that guy, Hale, but I couldn't put anything together until now.
"Hear me out on this. This Frank Hale guy shows up at our first meeting with Wilkinson, uninvited, by the way. Then, he is involved with Dennis Clarke. He stays behind the scenes while Ken and Collin are on a cruise. His fingerprints look to be all over the scam that was being pulled by the men who were cheating Wilkinson. And now, we find out Hale was telling Vickey what to do and when, right from the beginning.
"But why did you look over to our table, Mr. Jackson?" asked Collin.
"I wanted to see if Andy, there, had gotten the same idea I got, when Vickey said Frank Hale had told her he would 'take care of all the notifications'. And, obviously, he did, as it was he who shook his head and why I told the judge what I did, young man."
"I didn't see Uncle Andy shake his head," piped up Ryan.
"I did," spoke up Collin, "but I didn't know why he did it. That was something my dad taught me when he took me to some of his meetings. He told me how to identify signals other people were sending to their allies, or to him. I got to be pretty good at it, but if you aren't in the know, there is no way you can decipher what the movement means. Right, Uncle Andy?"
"That is so true, my lad. I saw Bill look directly at me. His eyes were focused on mine, so I knew he wanted me to give him a signal as to whether or not he should answer or not," explained Andrew Marshall.
"And, now, I am sure glad I did. There might be another arrest in the near future," chuckled Andy.
Ken looked at his watch and saw it was getting close to their being back in court, so he told everyone to finish up. They all got back to the courtroom with 3 minutes to spare.
"Counselor … do you have any more questions for Ms. Frankenberg?" asked Judge Reynolds.
"Yes, your Honor, I do," replied Bill.
"Ms. Vickey Frankenberg, please retake the stand," said the bailiff.
"Ms. Frankenberg, you have already been sworn in, so there is no need to do that again," said the bailiff, when Vickey sat down in the witness chair.
"Proceed, counselor," came from the judge.
"Ms. Frankenberg, you met and talked with Mr. Thomas on a number of occasions. You also visited his home and you got to meet and talk to the most important people in your grandson's life, right now. So, why are you so against your grandson staying where he feels he has "A Life" as he puts it?"
"I thought I had already answered that," answered Ms. Vickey.
"Well, then let me put it another way. Why have you changed your mind after you told your grandson, on at least two occasions and as many as five total times, that you would give him the chance to choose where he would like to live?"
Vickey's eyes got real narrow and focused and if she could have shot out poisoned darts at Bill, right then, she would have. That was one question she had hoped she would not get and did not want to answer.
Vickey sat there and did not say a thing. She looked over at Collin, sitting at the defense table and then at Mr. Ken and then at Uncle Andy. Then her eyes caught sight of someone else she thought she knew. So, she sent her eyes behind that first group only to see that the people sitting behind the defense table were none other than Mary 'mom' Taylor and her son, and Collin's Best Friend, Ryan. She quickly averted her eyes to her own table.
"Ms. Frankenberg, we're waiting," said Bill.
"I do not wish to answer that," replied Ms. Vickey.
"But, you have to," Bill Jackson replied back.
Vickey still remained silent.
Bill then figured he'd offer her his own opinion as to why she's decided to renege on her promise to her grandson, Collin.
"Ms. Frankenberg, is it possible that you are reneging on your promise to your grandson because you are used to getting your OWN way, and heaven help anyone who gets in your way? Isn't that why you brought that Court Order to the first time you visited Three Finger Cove and then had a change of heart, after you got to meet the most important people now in Collin's life. And, didn't you then immediately give that same Court Order to a judge, to legally dispose of it?" Bill Jackson quickly asked Ms. Vickey.
All during that series of questions, at the plaintiff's table Mr. Woods was having a fit and was standing and yelling "Objection! Objection, Your Honor! Obbbjeccctioonnn!"
The judge was going to 'sustain' the 'objection' but when he heard that another judge was involved, he wanted to know more about that Court Order.
"Gentlemen, approach the bench," said Judge Reynolds.
Then when the two lawyers were standing in front of the judge, the judge said in hushed tones, "Mr. Jackson, I didn't appreciate the way you ran those questions and talked to Ms. Frankenberg but, frankly, I want to know about this judge. How is he involved, and do you plan to call him as a witness?"
"Your Honor, I object to the way counsel is badgering my client," spoke up Mr. Woods.
"In due time, Mr. Woods, what I want to hear about is this judge and how it happened he was at Mr. Thomas's home the night in question, Mr. Jackson?" directly asked the judge.
Bill Jackson told the judge what he knew about the incident, since he was not present, and said that the judge just happened to be at the home, as he was the same man who appointed Mr. Thomas as the initial guardian. And, he also said that he had not planned to call the judge, as a witness, as other witnesses could corroborate the event.
The judge wasn't too happy about the fact that another judge was involved, and that he hadn't known about it until just then.
"Mr. Woods, your objection is overruled. Answer the questions Ms. Frankenberg."
"Let me rephrase the questions then, Ms. Frankenberg," Bill began. "Why did you change your mind about allowing your grandson to make up his mind as to where he wanted to live, after telling him numerous times that he could?"
"My grandson and I had always had a good rapport and I … well, I thought that with all that influence around him he would indeed want to stay where he could do as he pleased. As I said, Mr. Thomas treated Colley as a 'little brother' and I didn't think that relationship was going to be good for my grandson, over the long run. I decided that Collin needed a traditional upbringing and that I could do a MUCH better job than Mr. Ken could EVER do!"
"Is that traditional upbringing you mentioned, Ms. Frankenberg, one that is practiced in today's society or households or the one in which your son lived?" shot back Bill.
"Objection, your Honor, counsel is badgering my client!" yelled Mr. Woods.
"I raised my son in a good, nurturing household, and he, in turn, was raising his son in the same manner!" argued Ms. Vickey.
"And you think that ignoring your child after he turns thirteen, and telling him to 'buck up' while at the same time, forbidding your wife to continue to treat her child as the frightened and lonely teenager he was IS the proper way to raise a child?" loudly asked Bill Jackson.
"A parent does for his children what he feels is necessary, to prepare them for adulthood. There is NO right or WRONG way to raise your OWN child! My SON did what he knew was right for Colley, and not you or anyone else can say what he did was ever WRONG!" loudly answered back Ms. Vickey.
"So, you intend to continue to raise your grandson, as if he was back in the early nineteen hundreds, because that is the ONLY way you know how to raise a child!" answered back Bill Jackson.
The judge had heard enough, and he was banging his gavel over and over again trying to get control of the Hearing.
"Do YOU have ANY MORE questions for the witness, Mr. Jackson?" asked the judge.
Bill looked over at his table and then, getting three negative head movements from there, he said, "No, your Honor."
"You may step down, Ms. Frankenberg," said the judge.
"Call you next witness."
"I call Mr. Ken Thomas to the stand," said Bill.
After Mr. Ken was sworn in, Bill asked him, "Please tell the court WHY you are the better of the two people to be Collin Wilkinson's guardian."
From that point on, Mr. Ken told the court the many things that he had done for Collin and about the revelations the lad had told him of his boring and non-existent life. Mr. Ken told about the trips and the birthdays and the 'new' life the boy now had. He practically reiterated the past ten months the lad had been his 'little bro'.
Then he told the court that he may be too young for some, to be the lad's guardian, but that he has the stamina and strength and time to spend taking care of a sixteen year old teenager, namely, Collin. He told the court how well the two of them have connected and that his age was a definite PLUS, in that he could better understand what the teenager would be going through, as he had only been one, a few years ago, where the teen was going to be, and very soon. He explained that Collin's grandmother grew up during a very different era and since she hasn't raised a teenager in almost 30 years, she would not know what teens are into and how they think.
Then it was Mr. Woods turn to cross-examine Mr. Thomas.
"Mr. Thomas, wasn't it YOU who called your friend, the governor, and told him about the young man you rescued the night before and asked him to call your home and tell CPS to make you Collin's guardian?"
Mr. Ken laughed to himself over hearing the question. The man knew some parts of what happened, but he didn't have a clue as to how it happened, and the why. So, he answered it this way.
"If that's the way you believe it happened, then be my guest and subpoena the Governor and ask him if what you just said happened that way."
"Your Honor, direct the witness to answer the question," whined Mr. Woods.
Mr. Thomas, please answer the question."
"Your Honor, the question has NO semblance of truth or timeline, and there is NO way I could ever answer it. And, since, Mr. Woods believes I called the Governor, then he needs to ask the man himself if I did or did not, since I did NOT!"
"Your Honor?" belly-ached Mr. Woods.
"He answered your question. Continue!"
"Mr. Thomas, you do treat Collin Wilkinson as your 'little brother" do you not?" next asked Mr. Woods.
"I not only treat him as my 'Little Bro' but there are two other lads who are also treated as such, and the youngest of them is treated by Collin as his 'Little Brother'. But, I see nothing wrong with people treating each other, as such, especially when they tell you what their lives were like before they came to you, meaning MY, life," responded Mr. Ken.
"You really don't like answering my questions in a straight response, do you, Mr. Thomas?" asked Mr. Woods.
"I've answered your questions to the fullest. It is up to you to decipher them."
The court observers lightly laughed at Mr. Ken's answer, which got them a 'gavel' by the judge. They then smiled at what the judge did to them.
"Mr. Thomas … why is it that you think you are BEST suited to be Collin's guardian?"
"Well, now … now we're getting somewhere, Mr. Woods. But, I don't Think I am BEST suited to be Collin's guardian, I KNOW I am! Collin told me all about his life with his parents since the time he turned thirteen. His life was essentially a monitored existence, with his dad ignoring him and berating his mother for treating him as the young teen he was and NOT as a young adult his dad wanted him to act as.
"What I've done for Collin is what his Grandmother should have done, long ago, with his mother and that was to treat the teen as a human being, and allow him to experience life, in a loving home. I also allowed the lad to have a best friend and have friends over to the house whenever he wanted. He has a cell phone like the majority of teenagers have, and I also allowed him to participate in the political discourse."
"But wasn't it you Mr. Thomas who was responsible for Collin being put in the hospital his first week at his new high school?"
"Oh, you mean was I the one who put him the hospital? That's MOST absurd! Of course, I wasn't, what are you trying to say? That I went to the high school, that day, and physically punched him so he could be put in the hospital?"
"No, Mr. Thomas, but that, if it weren't for you, he'd have never been there in the first place to get hurt. And wasn't it you who took Collin to the opening of the new water park, where he was attacked and his best friend was put into the hospital, but it was Collin who was supposed to be instead, and wasn't it you who took Collin on an inspection tour of the Wilkinson properties and placed him in a position of danger in that you both were shot at? That doesn't sound like a person who has the BEST interests as a guardian of a boy…"
"I'm a teenager," yelled Collin which got him a scolding from the judge.
"… the best interests of a teenager in your household, and responsible for," finished Mr. Woods.
"That's not the way…"
"But everything I just said was true, wasn't it, Mr. Thomas?" interrupted Mr. Woods.
"But not in the way you said they happened," argued back Mr. Ken.
"Isn't it true Collin was injured at the Waterpark that you took him to, answer Yes or No?"
"Isn't it true that you took him on an inspection tour of Wilkinson properties and he was shot at, answer Yes or No?"
"And, isn't true that you took Collin on a cruise where the lad was followed almost continuously and then almost kidnapped, answer Yes or NO?"
"No more questions, your honor!" And, with that, Mr. Woods turned his back on Mr. Thomas and walked back to his table with a great big grin on his face that only the spectators could see and of course Ms. Vickey.
"Re-direct, your Honor," Bill Jackson said to the judge.
"Proceed," replied Judge Reynolds.
"Since, Mr. Woods, there, wouldn't allow you to explain your answers, I'll allow you to finish the answers at this time," smiled Bill at Mr. Ken.
"Thank you, I will. First, Mr. Woods made it seem that if I hadn't allowed Collin to go to school he would never been hurt, but the thing is, the State and County have rules and regulations and Laws that required Collin to go to school. He was so looking forward to going there with his best friend, Ryan. The thing was, that during the first few days, there were older boys bullying him, but he chose not to say anything to me. I found that out right after he was hurt, and put into the hospital.
"As for the waterpark, Collin and his best friend were there with their girlfriends, not bothering anyone, when two of the boys who were responsible for bullying him at the high school came over and attacked both him and, his best friend, Ryan. Collin was able to best his attacker, but Ryan wasn't so lucky. Once Collin handled his attacker, he went and helped his friend, by getting the older boy off him.
"Lastly, the incident with the shooting could never have been foreseen, just as the first two weren't. Collin's grandmother was aware that I was taking Collin on that trip, so he could visit what he had inherited. That was for him to get to know the facilities, and the people running them. What happened at two of them looked as if they were somehow connected to the initial kidnapping and subsequent second try at killing him.
"I also want to say that I truly believe that because of my youth, Collin was able to communicate with me better, and it was easier for him to talk about things that happened to him, since I was like an 'older brother' to him. But, I want the court to know that, I did have Collin see specialists who worked with Collin, for quite some time, in order to help him deal with whatever he needed that type of help for. I did what anybody would have done and that was to keep Collin busy enough so he couldn't dwell too much on what happened to him and his family."
"Mr. Thomas, speaking of what you just said, how about telling the court some of the things you and Collin did together," asked Bill
With that question asked, Mr. Ken took about fifteen minutes explaining what he and Collin did from the time of the Thanksgiving Day dinner up to just before the Wilkinson trip. Ken elaborated on the Christmas parties and the first California trip; then the cruise, the birthday party and the California Boys coming to visit. Then Mr. Ken told the Court about the rallies for Rodney and the work they did for the community and with the school and hospital boards.
Then Bill asked Mr. Ken to explain how he met Ms. Frankenberg.
After Ken told about their meeting out in Phoenix, Bill Jackson asked him to tell what he know about the promise Ms. Frankenberg made to Collin about letting him make his own choice of where he wanted to live.
Of course, Mr. Ken told the court about the time Ms. Vickey publically proclaimed that she would let him choose where he wanted to stay. He also told the court of the many times Collin had told him after she had talked to the teenager. One thing that he also mentioned to the court was that Collin also feared that she would renege on her promise. He told the court that every time she would call or would come to Three Finger Cove he was always afraid she would tell him he would have to go and live with her.
Then, Mr. Ken added, "After her promise NOT to bring a court order to their first meeting at Three Finger Cove, and she did anyway, the teen knew he could not trust her and today here we are arguing over the fact that she does not keep her promises!"
"Objection, your Honor," yelled Mr. Woods. The witness is stating facts that have not been introduced into the record.
"Then, I just did!" remarked Mr. Ken.
The gallery laughed and that brought out the gavel again.
"Order in the Court!" gaveled Judge Reynolds. "There will be a ten minute recess." And the judge quickly exited the court.
"Guys, it is getting late, so Collin, I don't expect that the judge will want to hear from you today. Sorry bud, but the judge did say this morning that this will probably be two days. So, I believe he'll finish witnesses tomorrow morning, and make his decision sometime after lunch," said Bill to everyone around their table.
When the judge returned to court he asked Bill if he was finished with his witness, and if so, had he any other witnesses.
Bill said he was finished and had one more witness, Collin Wilkinson.
The judge looked at the clock. It was going on 3:15 PM.
"We'll recess for the day. Court will adjourn until 9:30 in the morning!" smartly said the judge.
As Judge Reynolds began to get up, the bailiff yelled, "All rise!"