The judge ordered a thirty minute recess after Collin finished testifying. He saw the teen was too tired and emotionally exhausted to be cross examined right away. He also knew he needed some time to digest everything the lad had just finished telling everyone, as the teen had put it.
When court resumed for the morning, Collin was again back on the witness stand. This time it was Mr. Woods’s opportunity to ask some questions of the teenager.
“Mr. Wilkinson, Collin if I may?” was the first thing Grammy’s lawyer said.
“Sure, Collin is okay with me,” answered Mister Wilkinson.
“Thank you. So, you really think a whole lot about you guardian, Mr. Thomas, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. He’s personally gotten me through the worst part of my life. My grandmother …”
“Yes, yes, we all heard. Okay, now, Collin ... don’t you think it is time to act like an adult and look at this the way your grandmother sees it?”
“Why, all she cared about was how’d she’d get something on my Big Bro so she wouldn’t have to go to court, which she obviously has,” replied Collin.
“Don’t you think that is a bit harsh on your grandmother? All she did was what a trusted family lawyer told her …”
“Yes, and he’s now in jail!” smiled Collin, as he interrupted Mr. Woods.
“So, you read this morning’s newspaper, I see. Yes, Frank Hale is in jail, but … at the time he advised your grandmother, she didn’t know that the man was involved in the conspiracy to kidnap you, as the papers have so reported.
“Now … can’t you give your grandmother some slack, as you teens like to put it, as she said she wanted to contact the right people back in January, but Mr. Hale said he’d take care of it?”
“Not really. She had the rest of that time to come out and say something. It took Bro’s investigators to find her. She had all that time to talk to Mr. Hale, about what he had done, and obviously she hadn’t. She waited five more months, and if it hadn’t been for my Big Bro, there, she probably still would be out there trying to decide how she could get one UP on Mr. Ken,” replied Collin.
“Now you don’t really believe that, do you Collin?”
“Yes … Yes I do. As I said, she told me how she ALWAYS had to be the one on Top or who won in the end.”
“When you finished up your testifying for the Defense, don’t you think you were acting out somewhat, telling your grandmother how it will be IF you have to go and live with her?”
“I don’t think I was. I was stating FACTS! That way, she’d know that if I am forced to live with her, I was NOT going to be her pawn. When she had me visit the Wilkinson Estate, she turned into a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, while I was there. One time she was a friendly as could be, and then the next minute, she was very demanding. Even my ‘Uncle Andy’ told me she had really been changing her moods and he’d had done some research on such things as mood swings, and depression, and even Alzheimer’s and dementia. Now, you have to believe that 3 out-of-the 4 are serious issues that I don’t think I should have to deal with at my young age. Do you?”
“Why is it that you have such disdain for your grandmother?” asked Mr. Woods.
“It isn’t me; it’s her attitude towards me. During our first meeting, at Three Finger Cove, she tried to put me back into my place, while telling me how things were going to be and that I’d have to kowtow to her every edict when I got back there. I told her that I knew I’d be the same old miserable teenager I was before I was kidnapped. And, I told her that I would NOT go back to that hell hole if I am going to be treated like a prisoner who has no say.
“She couldn’t believe that I’d now learned to defend myself. She got very irate when I told her I intended to change the name of Wilkinson Enterprise to C.M.E. Inc. She said something like “Your grandfather and then your father worked very hard to build that company and that you’ll do no such thing as change the name.”
“Well … she’s right you know. They did work very hard to establish Wilkinson Enterprise and to her, your … your changing its name is like a slap in the face to them and ultimately to her, don’t you think, Collin?”
“Actually, no I don’t. It wasn’t always called Wilkinson Enterprises. It was my dad who changed the name to that. When I talked to my Bi … err, Mr. Ken about changing the name, I told him that I wanted to change the name so that my competitors wouldn’t think that we weren’t a company they had to deal with any more. I said I wanted to update the name and bring the whole company into the 21st Century and let them know that we were going to still be a force to be dealt with,” explained Collin.
“Are you asking this court, and your grandmother, to actually believe that the name change wasn’t your guardian’s idea? Why, you’re only just sixteen, and you just came through a very serious physical and mental trauma and you’re telling us you’re thinking as if you were a seasoned corporate manager? That is very hard to believe, young man!” chastised Mr. Woods.
“Since you’re Grammy’s lawyer, you’d believe anything, but the TRUTH! Just because I decide to change the name didn’t mean that I had decided on the spur of the moment. MY dad kept telling me, that one day, it would all be mine. I used to day dream about it, and how the name ‘Wilkinson’ sounded so old fashioned. I told myself that when I became the owner, the first thing I’d do was to change the name to something more modern, thus C.W.E. Inc.”
“You want us to believe that, young man?” incredulously asked Mr., Woods.
“Just as I said just a few moments ago, you’d believe anything BUT the truth!” answered Collin.
The man stood there a bit stunned at how smooth and consistent the teenager was. He knew he had to trip the lad up, so he decided to try another angle.
“Collin, your grandmother says that, ever since you’ve been living with Mr. Thomas, you’ve been calling another woman your mother. And, on top of that, your guardian approves of your dissing your REAL mother. Isn’t that the real Truth, Mr. Wilkinson?”
Collin began to laugh at the absurd question the man just asked, as it showed that Grammy was now desperate to WIN at all costs.
“Your Honor ... please direct the witness to answer the question,” said Mr. Woods.
“Mr. Wilkinson ... what do you find so funny?” asked Judge Reynolds.
“Well, your Honor, the question is typical Grammy, and her way to WIN, at all costs. She got highly insulted that I called Mrs. Taylor, Ryan’s mother, ‘mom’ before she even knew the reason why. She went off the handle about that, the first time she ever visited Three Finger Cove. I had a difficult time trying to explain it to her. Then, when she finally listened, I told her why I call Ms. Taylor ‘MOM’ after all she has done for me
“I was around Ryan, all the time, and hearing him call his mother ‘mom’ I began calling her that, too. Calling her Mrs. Taylor all the time didn’t … well, it didn’t feel right to me and so I STARTED calling her ‘mom’, too. She didn’t mind and… and she really did do things for me that a ‘mom’, a mother, does for her kid. It felt ... well, it felt right that I called her that, and so I did,”
“Satisfied Mr. Woods?” asked the judge.
“Yes, your honor.”
“Anything else, counselor?” continued the judge?
“Yes, your Honor I have a few more questions and then I should be finished.”
“You know by now that your parents Wills want you to be raised by your grandmother don’t you Collin?”
“So, why is it so hard for you to accept that fact, or TRUTH? She is your blood relative and, if your parents hadn’t thought that well of her, they wouldn’t have put her in their Wills. Did you ever consider that, my boy?”
“I am NOT … your BOY!” snidely said Collin.
“Touché, Mr. Wilkinson … my apologies,” said Mr. Woods. “But would you please answer the question?”
“Yes, I understand that they wanted my grandmother to be my guardian, but do YOU understand that neither of them EVER thought that they would essentially die at the same time? I don’t think they EVER did! Another thing was that they, actually, my mom, didn’t have that many outside friends. Sure, they had loads of acquaintances, but none of which they obviously thought were good enough for me to be raised by them, if something ever happened to them.
“I was actually surprised it wasn’t my ‘uncle’ Andy, and his wife, as he was my dad’s best friend and his lawyer. That way, I’d have both a man and woman to help me through my teen years and, hopefully, college. They are somewhat younger than my grandmother, and at her advanced age, I don’t think she has it in her.”
Grammy just grimaced at hearing what her Colley had just said about her being his guardian. She had hoped their earlier relationship would allow him to see how they would again have the ‘fun’ they once had together. She now knew, without a doubt, that any reconciliation between them, if it is determined that he will live with her, was going to be difficult at best and tumultuous at worst.
“Isn’t that unfair to your grandmother for you to put her down like that, especially in front of so many people? Now, apologize to her before I ask my next question!” said Mr. Woods.
Bill Jackson immediately jumped up and said, “Objection, your Honor! Counsel has NO right to tell my witness what he has or has NOT to do. The witness answered his question and if he doesn’t like the answer, then he can go cry on his mother’s apron!” Bill was so pissed at what Woods demanded of Collin that he was practically seething along with his face being beet red from anger.
“Your Honor,” began Mr. Woods, but he didn’t get any further before the judge had something to say.
“Counselor, Mr. Jackson, is correct. What the witness says is what it is, and for you to try to be the overbearing ‘teacher’ has NO place in this courtroom. Your request is Overruled!”
“And as for you, Mr. Jackson, there was NO need for you to make it personal. I understand your concern for the witness, but he is NOT your client. I believe a Mr. Russell is. It should have been he who rose to Object.” Then the judge smiled just enough that Bill knew he was having a bit of fun, there.
“Mr. Woods, do you have any more questions for the witness?” asked the judge.
“Yes, your Honor, one last question.”
“Mr. Wilkinson, I’m, sorry, I mean Collin … if this court determines that … that you should go and live with your grandmother, as your guardian … are you going to act as the young gentleman your parents have raised you to this point and go with her. And will you listen to her direction and advice and treat her as the way you treated your current guardian and mentor, Mr. Thomas?”
Collin was taken aback at the question. He wasn’t sure how he’d answer that. In a way, Mr. Woods was asking him to compare Grammy to Mr. Ken and say that he’ll ‘be a good little boy’. He took a few more seconds before answering.
“Mr. Woods, you are asking me to compare apples to oranges. You want me to say that I’ll treat my grandmother the same way I treat Mr. Ken, when one is a young man and the other an old woman. …”
Mr. Woods was about to explode over the way Collin just dissed his grandmother again, but knew better than to say something, anything, because he knew the judge would jump down his throat. And, that his complaint could be what loses this case for him and Ms. Frankenberg. So he kept is big mouth shut.
“If the court decides that I MUST go and live with my grandmother, I will be respectful of her position, and what she is supposed to be doing for me, but I will also do what I had said earlier. I now know what it is like to be a normal teenager. I have friends with Mr. Ken and there, at Wilkinson, I to will have friends. I now drive, and there, I will drive, as well. I intend to stay in touch with the wonderful people I’ve come to know and love while I lived at Three Finger Cove. And, I hope, I will come to know and love others while again living at the Wilkinson estate.
“I want everyone to know I do NOT hate my grandmother. She knows what my life is now, and how much I truly love it, yet; still she wants to run it for me, for her OWN selfish reasons. I want this court and her to know I will not be controlled. I have money, now. I tried to add to this court hearing, to hear my petition to become an Emancipated Child, in this state, but the courts rejected my request.
“Grandmother, I plan to continue that process the day I have to report to live with you, if that indeed happens. I am going to have a life … wherever I live. I will maintain my contacts with my best friend Ryan, and his mom, Mary Taylor. I will stay in contact with Ms. Judy and her son Eric, my ‘little brother’, and of course, my mentor, Mr. Ken and the best darn dog in the world, Chief.
“If I am forced, yes FORCED, as she knows that it is NOT what I want, to live with my grandmother, it will only add to the many trials I’ve had to endure over this past year. I want you all to know; I’ve come out of each and every one of them a better person and have grown as a young man in the process. I know I will be a survivor because I intend to survive … no matter what!”
Collin was finished speaking and he felt exhausted. It had been a harrowing experience. It had been nothing like anything he ever had to do. Then he began to cry.
The judge, seeing what was happening, gaveled the court into recess until one o’clock that afternoon. As the judge was leaving his bench, Mr. Ken ran to Collin and pulled him to himself. The lad just broke down and cried as he had nothing left to say and just wanted to leave.
Grammy saw what was happening and she too began to cry, for her grandson. She wanted to go to him, but Mr. Ken was already there taking care of ‘his’ boy,’ his ‘little brother’. She watched the two walk out of the courtroom holding onto one another with tears falling down each other’s eyes. She just hated herself right then. But, she said to herself. ‘I did what I felt in my heart that had to be done.’