Castle Roland


by Eric Aune


Chapter 17

Posted: N/A

Jamie looked out the window of the school bus as it made its way to the school. He was on the bus because it was raining. He had looked at the forecast and it appeared that the rain was going to continue for the next couple of days, so he guessed the bus was his way to school and back until it cleared up. He was a little disappointed because he would have to wait until he got to school to spend time with Josh. Until this rain let up, that would be his only chance to hang out with his friends. He knew that Jamie and Josh lived so close to the school that they couldn't take the bus, so they would either be riding their bikes the shorter distance to school or maybe their parents would take them. He was sitting near the front of the bus. As soon as it pulled up at the school he was out of the bus and hurrying through the rain as quick as he could to find his friends. He figured with the rain coming down like it was, they would be either in the classroom or outside waiting for the room to be opened. He was able to find them in the room and quickly sat down next to Josh and Dylan as he greeted them. Fairly soon, his other friends showed up. Except for Josh, everyone else had gotten rides from their parents.

"Hey Josh, you look like a half drowned rat."

"Yeah, I feel like it. Man it is really coming down out there."

"How come your Dad didn't give you a ride?"

Josh shrugged and frowned a little, "I don't know, he said something about an early meeting or something, but I left before he did. I don't think it would have been out of his way to drop me off."

"Sorry dude. Hey, why don't you come to my house if it's raining tomorrow and you can ride with me?"

Josh looked at Dylan and smiled, "Yeah? Your parents would be cool with that?"

"Course, you're my best friend, they would be happy to do it. If this keeps up and you have to keep riding in the rain, you're going to catch a cold."

"Cool, thanks."

The bell rang for the beginning of class so they had quit talking. It was a typical day at the school except that with the rain coming down like it was they were in the gym playing basketball instead of outside playing soccer. At lunch, they grabbed something that was portable and went to sit outside their next classroom inside the building, since the cafeteria was full. The rest of the day was pretty much the same.

For the next couple of days the rain continued. Josh rode his bike over to Dylan's and got a ride with Dylan's dad, leaving his bike at their house and then rode back home from there. The rain was not constant. It would rain, occasionally it came down pretty hard, other times it was just a drizzle. Because of the arrangement with Dylan, Josh didn't even ask his dad about getting a ride. He was glad that he didn't have to show up at school looking like a drowned rat every day. By the afternoon of the third day of rain, the forecast was for clearing skies to continue through the weekend. Jamie was looking forward to getting back to riding his bike and meeting up with Josh and Dylan.

He got off the bus that afternoon to walk back home. There was a light misty rain coming down, but in the distance there were some blue patches, so he figured that meant that this little bit of rain was the storm's last gasp before going away until the next one. He was walking with his head hunched down a little under his baseball cap. There were not a lot of people on the street due to the wet conditions. The other kids from the bus he rode had either gone in a different direction or were already in their houses. He looked up as a car drove by him. A gust of wind gave him a face full of rain and he dropped his head down again, letting the bill of his cap keep the rain off his face.

In the car that had passed him there were three guys, all were members of Hemet Trece gang that had been a problem in some parts of the city. One of them, a fifteen year old, had just been jumped a short time before. His bruises were healed up now and they were just cruising around the neighborhood. They were sort of casing the area to look at some likely houses that they could break into at some time in the near future. The place was a middle class area and they wouldn't look too out of place driving through there. The two older guys, Victor and Leo, were showing Javier, the new kid, the ropes for planning a break in. After they passed the white kid that was walking in the rain Leo looked over at Victor, the driver.

"Hey, d'you see that lil' gringo we passed, maybe it's time for Baby G Javy here to earn his stripes. Show he's got the balls to hang with us, Ese. Prove he's a Trece."

Victor glanced in his rear view mirror at the white boy walking down the street behind them and then glanced at Javier in the back seat. He gave Leo a mean smile and nodded, "Good call Holmes. Get the quette."

Leo reached under his seat and pulled a Ruger .22 caliber automatic pistol. He looked over his shoulder at Javier. He noticed the teen looked a bit nervous. He grinned at him as he handed the gun back to him.

"C'mon, Baby G, are you going to be a carnal and show us you've got the huevos or are you goin' to be a Baby G forever."

Javier hesitantly took the gun and looked at it, feeling the weight of it in his hand. Leo was still looking over the back of the seat at him and Victor was watching him from the mirror.

"So Ese, what's it goin' to be? You down or what?"

Javier took in a breath and nodded, "Yeah man, I'm down."

"All right carnal. Let's do this."

Victor came to the next intersection and made a U turn to head back the way they had come.

Leo grinned at Javier, "Pull your hood up Cuz' and when we get near, lean out the window a little before you light him up."

Javier nodded to indicate that he understood. He laid the gun down on the seat while he put the hood his hoodie up and tightened the drawstrings a little. He picked up the gun and accustomed himself with the feel of it. They could see the form of the boy walking toward them, his head bowed down a little against the rain, which had just started coming down a little harder. As they drew nearer Javier scooted over and put one knee on the seat and his foot on the floorboard to push himself up and partly out of the window.

Jamie had hunched his head down a little more as the rain suddenly got heavier. He was almost looking straight down as he tried to use his cap bill to keep the rain out of his face. He heard the sound of a car slowing down, so he looked up to see if someone was about to pull into the driveway in front of him. His eyes opened wide as he saw a car in the street and someone leaning out of the back driver side window. Something looked wrong about the picture and he realized a second later as he saw the small handgun pointed in his direction. He threw his hands up as he saw the first flash and heard what sounded like a firecracker going off.

In the car, Javier pushed the button that lowered the window and pushed himself up and out of the opened window with the .22 leading the way. He really didn't have any practice in shooting a gun, but he had played video games where you shot at your opponents and he knew how to do it, so in his mind he figured it would be easy. He thought about that after he did this, he'd be respected by the Trece OG's. As he leaned forward he pulled the trigger.

In Jamie's mind he knew that his hands weren't going to stop bullets, so he also threw himself down, but there was nothing to hide behind. Just an open front yard, but there were some cars parked at the curb, maybe it would block the shots. His mind registered the flash from the muzzle and the firecracker sounds of the gun firing as he dropped to the ground.

Inside the car, the two older guys were cheering Javier on as he started firing. Then something happened and they started hearing something impacting against the driver side of the car. The rear view mirror shattered. Javier ducked back inside as Victor grunted when he felt something punch him in his shoulder.

"Ow, fuck!"

He put his hand up to where he had felt the hit and felt something wet, he brought his hand back and saw that there was blood on it.

"Shit, that bendejo's got a gun and he's firing back."

"Let's get the fuck outta here, Vic!"

Victor punched the gas and they took off as Javier fell back into the back seat. He dropped the gun on the floorboard as he sat back in the seat. He put his hand up to lower his hood and felt a hole in the side of it. He pulled it around so he could see and saw a small hole torn through the material. When he saw that he started shaking in reaction to almost getting a bullet in his head. Victor's adrenaline was high, so he wasn't feeling anything from the bullet wound until they got a few streets away and they found a place to pull over for a moment in the corner of a grocery store parking lot, far away from anyone else.

After he heard the car speed away, Jamie felt all over his chest and stomach. He was looking for where he had been shot. He was sure he had been, because the shooter had only been ten feet or so away. He figured that anyone could hit someone with a gun at that distance. After a few moments of feeling around, he found nothing and lay back on the yard he had dropped onto when the shooting started. He was slowly getting his heart rate back down as the adrenaline slowly left this body. As he lay there, he heard a door open and a lady yell for her husband.

Jamie heard someone running toward him. He looked as a man in his thirties dropped to his knees beside him. The man started checking him for injuries.

"Just lie still son. We've called 911 and the police and ambulance are the way. Just hang in there. You're going to be okay."

Jamie looked up at him with a puzzled expression. He tried to sit up and the man gently put his hands on his shoulders to keep him down.

"No stay there son, don't move, you might make your injury worse."

"I'm okay, I'm okay. Let me up, I'm not hurt."

"What, but we heard the gunfire and my wife saw you lying there on the ground and you weren't moving, so we thought…"

"Yeah, I guess it did look like that, but I swear I'm okay. They missed me. Can I get up? I'm getting soaked lying here."

The man was still kneeling next to him and had his hands still on Jamie's shoulders. More people had started to gather around them. He quickly pulled his hands back and put his hand on Jamie's back and helped him sit up. He still had a concerned look on his face as he looked Jamie over, "Are you sure you're okay?"

Jamie patted himself all over and then looked at the man, "As far as I can tell, yeah, thanks."

The man grinned with relief, "Come with me, let's get you out of this rain."

Jamie allowed the man to help him to his feet and the two of them walked over the man's house. The man's wife was standing at the door and ushered the two of them inside. The man led Jamie to their living room and was about to have Jamie sit down on the couch, when he realized that Jamie was kind of wet and a little muddy from when he had dropped to the ground.

The man was at a loss for a moment for what to do, when his wife spoke up, "Just a moment Dan."

She went down the hall and returned a few moments later with a couple of large towels and a blanket. She placed one folded over on the seat and another draped across the back, while Dan helped him get his backpack off and the blanket draped around Jamie. Then he helped him sit down on the towel covered couch.

"Would you like something to drink? Maybe some hot chocolate? You look like you're soaked through."

"No ma'am. I feel okay, really. The blanket helps a lot, thanks."

She nodded and gave him a friendly smile. Outside they could hear sirens approaching and Dan got up, "Wait right here."

Dan went outside as a couple of police cars arrived, soon followed by a fire truck and the paramedics. The police came out of the car with their hands on their guns as they looked around. Their arrival brought more people out of their homes to watch what was going on. Dan waved to the officers and a couple of them headed towards him. He led them in the house to the living room where Jamie and his wife were sitting. The officer saw the blanket wrapped figure sitting on the couch before he turned to Dan.

"So Mister…"

"Brooks, Dan Brooks."

"Mister Brooks, what happened here? Dispatch said that there was a report of shooting here."

"Yes, officer, well, not here, outside."

The officer pointed at the blanket wrapped form, "This your son?"

"No, he was the boy who was shot at."

The officer came into the room and stood across from Jamie. He saw that he was a boy about twelve or thirteen. Jamie looked at him and the officer smiled back at him and sat down as he balanced his clipboard on his knee.

"I'm Sergeant Davis. So can you tell me what happened young man?"

"I don't know exactly, sir. I was walking home from the school bus stop and this car drove by kinda slow and then some guy leaned out of the window and started shooting at me. I dropped to the ground when I saw him and the car drove off."

"What is your name?"

"Jamie, uh, James Carpenter."

"Do you prefer being called Jamie?"

Jamie nodded.

"Fine, then, Jamie. Can you show me where this happened?"

"Yes, sir."

Jamie and the officer stood up. Jamie took the blanket off, picked up his backpack and laid the blanket on the couch as he followed the officer outside. The rain had mostly stopped now, and it had become a very light sprinkle by now. Jamie led him to where he had been when it had happened. Dan and Annie followed them outside. Sergeant Davis instructed the other officers to keep the people back.

"I was right here and I heard a car coming in my direction from there," as Jamie pointed in the direction, "and it slowed down. I thought it might be someone slowing down to pull into their driveway so I looked up, because I didn't want to run into someone's car or have them run into me. I saw some guy with the hood of his sweatshirt up, leaning out of the window and pointing a gun at me. I dropped to the ground as I saw a flash from the gun and heard what sounded like several firecrackers going off. Then the car sped up and drove off."

Davis made notes and looked around. He could see where the ground had been disturbed where Jamie had landed. He took out a small digital camera and took a couple of pictures before turning his attention back to Jamie.

"Did you see what kind of car it was or get a license number?"

"Not really, the rain was coming down really hard so I had my head down until I looked up. I think it was a light blue maybe, or silver, and I didn't see the license plate."

"I think light blue is correct officer?"

Davis turned to Dan.

"You saw the car, sir?"

"Only for a moment after my wife called for me. We heard the gunshots and when I came outside, I saw the car speeding away, that way." Dan pointed in the direction that the car had gone.

"Did you notice what kind of car it was, Toyota, Ford…"

Dan thought for a moment before shaking his head, "No, a mid size car, but other than that, I don't remember seeing what kind it was, and neither my wife nor I saw the license plate either. By the time we were outside, the car was already speeding down the road."

The officer pointed at Jamie. "What about you Jamie? Did you see what kind of car it was?"

"No sir. All I really remember seeing was the guy shooting at me."

"Was the person shooting at you the driver?"

"Uh…no sir, he wasn't. The guy shooting at me was in the rear seat behind the driver."

"Did you see anyone else besides the driver and the shooter?"

"Um…I'm not sure…no, wait, oh yeah, yeah, there was someone behind the driver, I mean on the other side of him. He was in the front passenger seat. I think I remember him waving his arm or something."

"What can you tell me about the shooter? Was he black, white…?"

"I think he was Mexican."

"Could you tell how old he was, approximately?"

"Not really, it was hard to tell with the hood he was wearing, but he wasn't old, maybe a little older than me."

"So you think he's a teenager?"

"Um…yeah, I think so."

"Would you recognize him or any of the others in the car, if you saw them again?"

"I don't think so, I didn't get a real good look and I was busy ducking from the bullets."

"Yeah, I expect you were. Are you sure you didn't get hit…"

"Hey Don. Look here."

The Sergeant was interrupted by his partner and he turned around. He nodded and turned back to Jamie and the Brooks', "Excuse me a minute."

Don went to join his partner who was pointing at something near the tire of one of the cars that was parked on the street. They could see a couple, small shiny brass cartridge cases lying next to the tire of the parked car. They bent down and saw that they were .22 cases.

"Look around and see if you can find anymore and bag them all. Here, take the camera and get pictures of where you found them."

He looked at the water flowing in the gutter.

"You might want to check down the road a little too, and see if there are any that floated down the street in the runoff." His partner nodded and enlisted the help of the other officers.

The Fire Captain came over to Don, "Do you need us?"

"No. The kid apparently was lucky. He's says he wasn't hit and isn't hurt, so I guess you guys can go."

"Any idea what happened?"

"It sounds like some random drive by, but they missed. The kid doesn't look like he'd be mixed up in any gang activity, but you never know."

"Okay, see you."

The Captain turned around and called to his guys, "Okay people, we're done here. Let's get back to the station house."

The Firemen and the Paramedics got back in their vehicles and were soon on their way.

The officer headed back over to Jamie. "So, Jamie, you said the guy shot at you and you're sure you were right here?"

"Yes, sir, this is where I dropped down."

"Hmmm. Could you stand right where you think you were standing when you saw the guy point the gun at you?"

Jamie looked around at the parked cars and the house behind him and then moved so he was standing on the sidewalk, pretty much right in front of the area that he had told the officer was where he had dropped to the ground.

"I think I was right here."

Sergeant Davis nodded and walked away from Jamie. "Tell me about where you think the shooter was when he started shooting."

Jamie watched as the officer continued to back up into the street. Jamie started to raise his hand and then put his hand up when he thought that Davis was about in the right place. He looked for a moment and then motioned for him to move a little to the right in the direction the car had come from. He held up his hand when he thought he was about right. Jamie again checked where he was standing and where Davis was standing. He turned so that he was looking down the sidewalk in the direction that he had been walking. He looked around one more time and then looked at the Sergeant. "I think this is right."

The Sergeant nodded, "Okay, so this is where you saw him start shooting at you."

Jamie nodded. Davis looked around.

"When he started shooting was the car going very fast."

Jamie shook his head. Davis started moving up the street and looked to where Jamie was standing. He walked a few steps in the direction the car had gone before walking toward Jamie. He was checking the parked cars as he walked towards Jamie. He was just about to step up on the curb, when he noticed something on one of the cars and leaned in closer. He moved around a little as he looked at a small hole that was in the back bumper of the car. He crouched down and looked closer. It was a bullet hole, but there was something strange about it. He glanced over at where Jamie was standing and then back at the bullet hole. The exit hole was on the street side of the car, not the house side. He stood up and walked over to Jamie. As he walked to him, he kicked something up from the grass that landed on the sidewalk next to where Jamie was standing. Don bent down and looked closer at the object. He turned and called for his partner and waved him over.

"Hey Brian, c'mere."

When the officer neared them, Sergeant Davis pointed at the ground. Officer Richmond reached down with his gloved hand and picked up a spent .22 round and held it up. The bullet was pristine, except for the rifling marks on it. Officer Richmond dropped it in an evidence bag. Don then had Brian follow him over to the car and pointed out the bullet hole. Brian took a couple of pictures.

"It looks like the bullet came from where the kid is standing, not from the street. Was the kid shooting back?"

They both looked over at Jamie, who was just standing there.

"No, I don't think so. If he had a gun, he would probably have run off, he wouldn't be waiting for us, maybe it ricocheted back?"

"Yeah, makes sense."

"Okay, let's wrap this up."

"Okay Sarge."

Sergeant Davis walked back over to where Jamie and the Brooks' were standing.

"Well I guess we're all through here. My partner and I will give you a ride home Jamie. I need to speak to your parents about all this. Thank you Mister and Missus Brooks for your help."

"Yes, thank you for helping me."

"That's alright bud. We're just glad you're okay."

"Okay, let's go Jamie."

Jamie followed Sergeant Davis to the patrol car. He held the back door open and let Jamie get in. Then he and his partner got in front and drove off. Jamie directed them to his house. Once they stopped he had to wait for one of the officers to open the door, because there was no way to open the doors from the inside. As he got close to the front door it opened and Maggie was standing there. She looked very concerned as she opened the door and saw the police officers with Jamie.

"What happened? Is everything okay?"

"Yes ma'am, everything is fine, Missus Carpenter."

"Uh, no, I'm not Missus Carpenter, I'm Missus Wood, Jamie's foster mother."

"Oh, of course, I'm sorry. May we come in for a few minutes and I'll let you know what's going on."

"Of course officer, come on in."

They went inside and Maggie led them to the dining room. Jamie shrugged off the backpack and set it down beside his chair when they sat down. Jamie's foster brothers were in the living room as they walked by. Their eyes were big as they watched the two police officers follow their mom to dining room table.

Since the table was right there, she looked at her two sons, "Shane, Mark, would you two boys go outside and play a little or go to your rooms for a little while?"

"Aww, Mom, but we wanted to watch this."

Maggie gave them a stern look and the two boys turned off the TV and got up. Before they went far Jamie spoke up.

"Guys, you can watch it in my room."

That brightened their spirits considerably, "Thanks Jamie."

The two boys went to Jamie's room. Maggie waited until they were gone before giving her attention to the officers.

"Thank you Jamie. That was nice of you."

"Sure Maggie. I don't mind."

She nodded and took in Jamie's wet and dirty clothes and backpack.

"So Officer, what is this all about?"

"Well, Missus Wood. Apparently Jamie here got very lucky today. Someone, and we don't know who, but possibly a gang member, took a few shots at Jamie here this afternoon on his way home from school."

Maggie looked with disbelief at the officer's words and then her head whipped around to Jamie, "Are you okay Jamie? Well I guess you are, since you're here."

"I'm fine Maggie, except for being a little wet and dirty from when I dropped to the ground when I saw the guy shooting at me."

"Thank god for that."'

"Yes, Ma'am. Anyway, the car that they were in got away before anyone could make out anything for sure about it, what type of car, color, etc. Jamie got a quick look at the shooter, but not enough for any chance of a positive ID, other than it was probably a teenager, older than himself, and probably Latino. Other than that, nothing else. We did find some spent shell casings, so we know what kind of gun was used, a .22 caliber. We'll search our database and see if a similar gun has been used in any crimes, but even that is not a good chance we will find the perpetrators. We're going to have to get lucky to figure out who it is. But we will turn this over to the gang unit so that they can look into it. I just have a few questions for you and Jamie and other than that we will get your contact info and the detectives may contact you if they have any further questions."

"Okay. I'm just glad that Jamie is okay. You are okay, aren't you Jamie?"

"Yeah, Maggie, I'm fine. A little shaken up, but not too bad. I'm just glad the guy was a rotten shot."

"You and me both, I'd hate for something to happen to you."

"Like I said, I do have a few more questions. Jamie, I hope you don't mind answering this, but how did you end up living here instead of with your parents?"

"My mom died in a traffic accident a few months ago, just after we moved here. My dad died when I was just a few months old in an accident. After my mom died, I was placed here."

"So there have been no troubles since you've lived here?"

"No, sir. None."

"He's right Officer. We have been very happy to have Jamie here. Our two boys love having him as a big brother. He has treated them just like they were his little brothers."

"So, no troubles at home. What about school Jamie? Which school do you go to?"

"Rancho Viejo Middle School on Cawston. No, no real troubles. I've made some good friends there."

"Yes, and he is a good student as well. No reports of problems from the school."

"Jamie. Have you had any problems at school that you haven't reported to anyone?"

"No, sir, not really. Well there was this one kid at the beginning of school, who picked on me a little, but other than that nothing for a couple of months."

"Do you know if this kid is involved with gangs or anything?"

"No, I don't think so. I think he's just a bully. He's bigger than a lot of the kids there, so maybe that's why he acts like that."

"So, you've had no run ins with him since then?"

"No, sir. I hardly even see him. My friends and I are all in the same classes and we always hang out together so, maybe I'm not that tempting a target anymore, so we don't really see him."

"Okay, well I guess that's it. I just need your information Missus Wood and I'll give you a card in case you can think of anything else that could help us catch this guy, Jamie. It may have just been some random drive by. Maybe even part of a gang initiation. Unfortunately that kind of thing does happen occasionally."

"Maggie, can I go and get cleaned up?"

"Sure, dear."

"Thank you, sir."

Jamie and the Sergeant shook hands and he picked up his backpack and headed to his room. Maggie gave the Sergeant the information. She also gave him the contact information for Jamie's caseworker so that they could let CPS know what was going on as well. The officers thanked her and she walked them to the door.

When he got to his room, he saw Shane and Mark lying on their stomachs on his bed with their heads propped up in their hands watching the TV. The both sat up when Jamie came into the room.

"What happened Jamie? Did you get arrested?"

"Nothing important to worry about. The police just gave me a ride home."

"Oh, so you're not going to jail."

Jamie chuckled, "No, I didn't do anything wrong, so no I'm not going to jail. You guys can probably go back in the living room now. I've got to get out of these dirty clothes."

The two boys got up and left the room. Jamie closed the door behind him and started stripping his clothes including his underwear off and threw them all in the dirty clothes hamper. He grabbed a clean pair of underwear and put his robe on so he could go take a shower and clean up. After the shower, he put on some jeans and a t shirt before getting his books out to do his homework. That night after dinner, Tom talked to Jamie about what happened. Mostly to make sure that he was okay. When he was satisfied, he gave Jamie a hug to let him know that he was glad that Jamie wasn't hurt.

The next day the weather was clearing up and no rain in the forecast so Jamie rode his bike over to Josh's house and then the two of them headed to Dylan's and finally met up with Ethan. When they arrived at school, Jamie saw that they had plenty of time, so he asked them to come with him to a secluded area. They sat down on the edge of a raised planter.

"Guys, you won't believe what happened to me yesterday. I was walking home from the bus stop and some guy tried to do a drive by on me."


"Hey keep your voices down. I don't want anyone to hear this."

"Okay, but what the fuck. You're okay, right. You aren't hurt or anything?"

"I'm okay. The guy was a bad shot and completely missed me. I just got wet and dirty when I dropped to the ground."

"Did you see him?"

"Not really, he had a hoodie pulled down low and it mostly hid his face. The only thing I could tell was that he looked like he was Mexican or something, and I think he was teenager, maybe a little older than us."

"Whoah. That must have been scary."

"Yeah, it was, but I think my adrenaline was so high that I didn't really get scared once I figured out that I was okay."

"I'm so glad you're okay Jamie. I would have hated it if you had been…hurt."

Jamie and Dylan both heard the hitch in Josh's voice and looked at him. They saw that his eyes were glistening a little with unshed tears. Jamie so wanted to comfort him and started to pull him into a hug, but he stopped himself before he did it. He could see that Josh really wanted him to hold him. They were looking at each other with that longing for a moment. They realized what was going on and quickly looked at Dylan to see if he saw them. Dylan had a little smile on his face. The two of them became nervous, which was apparent to Dylan.

"Don't worry guys. I already kind of suspected it."

"And you're okay with us being…that way."

"Yeah, I am, bro, I think I'm….that way too."

The relief was evident in both boys' faces. They looked around to make sure no one was near enough to hear them when they said that and right about that time, the bell rang signaling that classes were going to start soon.

"What about the other guys? Are you going to tell them?"

"Tell them that we're…...boyfriends?"

"No, no, about the drive by?"

"Oh, yeah, at lunch after we eat. So don't say anything to them about it. I don't want to be pestered with questions in class."

Dylan nodded and they headed to class to join their friends. After they ate, Jamie told them that he had something to tell them and led them to a secluded area before relaying everything that happened.

"Whoah. Man, were you lucky."

"Or he was just a real bad shot."

"How many shots did he fire?"

"I don't know, five, six. I don't really remember as I was too busy ducking."

"Well I'm glad you're good at ducking."

"Yeah, me too. Anyway, I wanted you guys to know what really happened in case any rumors started flying around."

The bell rang and they had to get to their next class. As the school day continued, none of them heard anything about what had happened to Jamie, for which he was grateful.

A short time after he got home, they had a visitor. It was Miz Alma Geddes from CPS. Maggie let her in and called Jamie to join them at the dining room table. As usual Miz Geddes looked very stern as she sat down. Jamie sat across from her and next to Maggie.

Alma said nothing as she pulled a file from her bag and opened it. She turned a couple of pages until she found what she was looking for. She looked it over before looking at Jamie, "Well young man, what is this I hear about you causing trouble?"

Jamie was dumbfounded and looked at her in complete surprise. He looked at Maggie who seemed to be just as surprised as him.

"Huh, wha…what….I haven't been causing any trouble."

"I was told the police brought you home yesterday."

"Of course the police brought him home, Miz Geddes. Someone tried to shoot him, with a gun."

"Well, if someone tried to shoot you, then what have you done to provoke the event?"

"I…I haven't done anything."

"Well, they must have had a reason to shoot at you. People don't just shoot at random people on the street."

"Miz Geddes. Jamie did nothing to provoke this. The police said it was probably a random drive by. According to the police, that does happen sometimes. Jamie is a good boy and we are happy to have him live with us. He has not caused any trouble."

Alma's mouth thinned a little. She didn't like anyone challenging her and she felt Maggie was challenging her. "Very well, but if I get any more calls from the police about you, I will put you in a more structured and disciplined group home that knows how to deal with troublemakers."

"Huh, but…."

"Well, as I am here, I may as well do my review. Come James, show me your room. After that I will need to talk with you Missus Wood."

At this point, Maggie was doing everything that she could not to slap the shit out of Miz Geddes. She looked at Jamie and saw that he was wilting a little under the onslaught that was Alma Geddes. She gently rubbed his back and gave him an encouraging smile, "Go ahead Jamie."

Alma frowned at her when she used his nickname.

"Missus Wood, I have found in my profession that calling children by their given name is the proper way to address them. Using any nickname does them a disservice about teaching them respect."

Maggie swallowed her growing anger and simply nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Alma gave a satisfied nod that she had made her point and it was apparently accepted. She then got up and waited for Jamie to precede her. As she moved behind him, she gave him a little push forward to make him hurry up. Jamie led her into the room. She looked around and saw all the items in the room. The computer, TV, and game console. She walked in and opened closet doors and started to go through his dresser.

"Hey, you can't do that! That's my private stuff."

Alma rounded on the smaller boy with a scowl. Jamie shrank back, because she looked like she was going to hit him. She spoke to him in a low threatening voice, so she could not be heard outside the room, "You are under my charge. It is my responsibility, just a like a parent, to make sure that you do not have, or are not doing anything that is against the law, like drugs or running with gangs or other bad elements. So I do have the right to come here whenever I want and check to make sure you are staying on the straight and narrow. So just keep your mouth shut, unless I ask you a question. Is that understood, Boy?"

Jamie glared back but nodded.

"I asked you a question?"


"Yes, what?"

"Yes, I understand."



"That's better."

She continued to look around the room. Her scowl seemed to be a permanent fixture as she looked down her nose at everything. She pointed toward the Playstation 3, "Aren't you a little old to be playing with little boy's games. It's time for you to put away such things and prepare yourself for adult life. It is never too late to start. You cannot be successful if you surround yourself with frivolous pursuits like these idiotic games. Perhaps it was a mistake to have you placed here. A boy your age needs discipline. I will have to talk to Missus Wood about all of this."

She closed the pad that she had been making notes on. She stopped beside Jamie, who had remained by the door. "Remember what I said James. If you get in any more trouble with the police I will have you transferred to a more structured and disciplined facility. They will teach you what you need to know."

Alma then walked away to go and rejoin Maggie. Jamie shook his head as he walked over to his desk. On the way he closed a couple of the dresser drawers that she had left open. He sat down at his chair and let his head drop into his hands. Tears of anger and frustration dripped down his cheeks. He was really missing his mother right then.

Back in the dining room Alma sat down across from Maggie once again. "Missus Wood, I must caution you on buying so many things for the boy. He doesn't need all those things that you have provided him that he has in his room. If you keep giving him such gifts, then he will expect them and you will spoil him. You will have no discipline if you do such things. If I were you, I would take many of those distractions from his room and sell them. He surely does not need such things. It is time for him to grow up and pay attention to more important things like his schooling. Although I doubt he will ever amount to much, but hopefully he will learn enough to not become a burden on society."

Maggie was nearly grinding her teeth as she listened to Alma disparage Jamie. She cared greatly for Jamie and wanted only what was best for him. She knew that Jamie was a very caring and intelligent boy and she was sure, that one day, he would rise far above such people as Alma Geddes. She had to work hard not to scream, through her gritted teeth, "Miz Geddes. We did not buy those items for him. They already belonged to him. His mother had bought them for him. They are from his property from his old house."

"What? How did he get them? I didn't authorize the release of any of the contents from the house."

"A, uh…Mister Jackson had them brought over here to Jamie, some weeks ago."

"Well, we will have to see about this. All such releases must come through me as his case worker. Once I get to the bottom of this, I will have someone come to pick it all up."

"What? But those are his things."

"Did he purchase them? I thought not. So, since he did not purchase them, they belong to his mother's estate, not him, and cannot be released until I release them. I'm sure I will be talking to you soon about the pickup date for those items that were erroneously delivered here. Until then, I am done with this review. I advise you to use more discipline with the boy. Otherwise he will soon get out of hand."

Alma got up and gathered her bag without another word. Maggie was in such shock that she didn't get up right away. Alma marched to the door and waited for Maggie to open it for her before she marched out the door to her car. She put the bag in the seat and then quickly got into the car and drove off. Maggie stared after her, with her eyes smoldering. She couldn't believe such a person had a job in which she looked to the welfare of children. Maggie shook her head as she headed back inside the house.

"Mommy, she's a mean lady."

Maggie looked at Mark and nodded, "Yes, honey she is. I'm going to go talk to Jamie."

The boys turned their attention back to the TV. Maggie took a big breath and let it out slowly as she tried to calm down before she went to Jamie's room. When she got there she saw him with his back to her, looking out the window. She lightly knocked on the open door, "May I come in Jamie?"

She saw that he quickly scrubbed his sleeve across his face before he nodded, but he continued to look out the window. Maggie walked around until she was standing behind him. She placed her hands on his shoulders and gently squeezed and rubbed them, "C'mon, let's have a seat on the bed and talk."

Jamie got up and moved back with her to sit on the bed. Maggie saw that he had been crying and she put her arm across his shoulders and gave him a little hug, "I'm sorry that you had to deal with that hateful…"


She gave a little laugh, "Yeah, but I would prefer that you do not use such language, especially around the boys. They don't need to pick up that type of talk, yet. They will soon enough but I would prefer that it happened later rather than sooner.'

"Sorry, Maggie."

"That's okay, just keep it to a minimum. Anyway I don't know where they found such a woman to deal with kids, but I'm going to talk to Tom and see if we can get your case transferred to another case worker. Maybe I'll contact that Mister Jackson, who arranged to have your things brought here."

"Can she do what she said she'd do?"


"Take my stuff away?"

"I don't think so, but just in case, we'll do what we can to stop her. If it is the law, then we might not be able to do anything about it. Mister Jackson, however, seemed very nice, so maybe he can help us out. We'll let you know what we find out."

"Okay, thanks Maggie.'

"Of course. We only want what is best for you. Now, why don't you wash your face and finish up any homework you have while I get to work on dinner."

He nodded and she gave him a quick kiss on his head before she left. He took out his books and got to work. After dinner, Maggie and Tom talked at the dining room table while the three boys watched TV. They decided that tomorrow Maggie would call Mister Jackson and see if he could help Jamie.

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