Jamie spent the afternoon in his room sitting on the bed of his cell like room. He sat leaning up against the wall with his knees drawn up and he had his arms wrapped around them and his head resting on his arms. He was scared. He couldn't understand anything. Why did his caseworker do this? He had done nothing wrong. He wanted to go back home where he belonged. He knew he didn't belong here. He could only hope that someone would straighten everything out and he could go home again.
Outside of the room, he could occasionally hear some of the other boys in the hallway, but he had no desire to go out there. He admitted to himself that he was afraid of them. What he heard out in the hall did not make him feel any better. He could barely hear the sound of the TV coming from the common room at the end of the hall. There was announcement on a speaker in the hall that it was dinner time and he reluctantly got up, because he was hungry and hadn't had anything since breakfast, and the thought of dinner made his belly rumble.
He cautiously opened the door and looked outside. He saw several boys heading down the hall towards the stairs that led back downstairs. He left the room and started down the hall. He followed the boys as they made their way downstairs. They filed through some open double doors ahead of him. He went up to them and looked in. He saw that there was a buffet line, much like a school cafeteria. He went over to the line and got a tray. He walked down the line and had food placed on it as he moved down the line. The servers appeared to be other boys, probably residents of the home. When Jamie had his food and drink, he looked up and saw a table that was mostly empty, so he headed over there to sit down. He didn't look around as he started eating. The other residents did take note of the new resident, but no one said anything to him. One group of boys around Jamie's age, or a little older, was sitting around one older boy who kept glancing at Jamie and then talked quietly to the others around him. Jamie ate his food fairly quickly and looked around to see where he was supposed to put his tray. He noted a window area near the door. He got up, and again not looking around, he made his way over to the window. There were some tubs there, one was for the silverware, one was for plates, and one was for the drinking glass. There was also a trash can for any excess food, napkins, and other trash. He put everything in the appropriate place and then left the room. The older boy and his friends watched as Jamie left the room before continuing their conversation.
Jamie headed upstairs to his room. He stopped in the bathroom near the common room for a moment before continuing on to his room. He flopped back down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. He dozed off for a little while, awakening when he heard the boys coming back upstairs. Soon he heard the TV going and feeling bored he decided to venture outside of his room. When he got to the common room, he looked around at the guys in the room. It looked like all of them were teens, from his age to probably sixteen or seventeen. Some of the boys looked very tough and he saw tattoos on several of them. Also nearby was one of the attendants who looked like he was keeping an eye on things there to make sure nothing happened. There was a chair near the entrance, most of the other boys sat closer to the TV and Jamie tentatively took a seat there trying his best to stay unnoticed by the others. It seemed to be working as they seemed to leave him alone and not say anything to him. After a couple of hours, Jamie started to yawn, so he got up from the chair and headed to his room. His departure did not go as unnoticed as he thought. In his room he stripped down to his underwear, turned off the light and got into bed. The sheet wasn't as nice as the ones he had at the Woods house and the blanket was scratchy. He shifted around until he could find a comfortable position and with everything that had happened that day, he was soon asleep.
Jamie came out of his sleep suddenly and he looked around trying to figure out what had awakened him. At first he was disoriented in the unfamiliar surroundings before he remembered where he was. He looked around and listened. He didn't hear or see anything, so he closed his eyes again and tried to get back to sleep. He burrowed his head into the pillow and pulled the cheap blanket up to his chin as he turned back onto his side. As he started to doze off once again, he heard a click. He looked up as the door to his room was opened and several dark shapes came in the room, shutting the door behind them. They rushed over to his bed.
From the faint light coming through the window he could tell that the figures were some of the other boys, all of them bigger. He started to struggle against them, but because he was under the covers he only succeeded in getting tangled up in the blanket and sheet. It looked like it was four of them. Three of them were holding him down while the fourth one was standing by the bed.
"Hello little buddy. We're the welcoming committee and we want to welcome you to our happy home. Now, if you do as I say, then this won't be too bad or at least it won't hurt too much."
Jamie started struggling again and he was able to get one of his arms free and lashed out with a fist that caught one of the guys holding him in the jaw, knocking him off the bed.
This allowed Jamie to get his other arm free and he started swinging. He got in a few more hard hits before they retaliated. He felt their fists hit his stomach, ribs, face, head, even the guy who had been standing back joined in, to get Jamie under control. A couple of hard hits to his head and he was too dazed to continue fighting. Two of them held his arms, while another sat on his legs. The leader stood back up from the bed and wiped his mouth where Jamie had hit him once, causing him to bleed a little. The older boy gave an evil little chuckle as Jamie shook his head a couple of times to clear the fog from his mind.
"Okay, rough then. That's okay, I prefer rough. Get him ready."
The boy sitting on Jamie's legs shifted slightly, grabbed the blanket, and quickly pulled it off. He sat back on Jamie's legs. The faint light shone on Jamie. He was in a t shirt and underwear. The boy on his legs lifted up slightly and the boys holding his arms grabbed his shoulders and flipped him onto his stomach pushing his face into the pillow. Jamie was having a hard time breathing and he started struggling again. The leader leaned in and slammed his fist into Jamie's ribs a couple of times and Jamie stopped again, but at least he was able to turn his head to the side and he could get at least get some air in, although the right side of his chest hurt when he took a breath.
"C'mon, we don't have all night. I said get him ready."
The boy on Jamie's legs nodded and reached for the back waistband of Jamie's underwear and yanked them down. He had to yank hard a couple of times until he got them to Jamie's thighs. Jamie struggled as best as he could but the two boys were pushing down on his shoulders and his arms and he couldn't get any leverage. The boy on his legs had shifted around to face toward his feet so that he could take Jamie's underwear off his legs. The leader undid his pants and let them fall to the floor, followed by his underwear so that he was naked from the waist down. Jamie looked at him and saw that he was obviously turned on by what he was about to do. He knelt on the side of the bed and caressed Jamie's butt.
"Yeah. Nice and smooth, like a girl's. This is going to be fun."
"Frank, hurry up so we can have a turn too."
"Hold your horses Marcus. You'll get your chance, don't worry. Out of the way Ray, take his leg, Craig hold his shoulders down, Marcus get his other leg."
Jamie was still trying to struggle as he felt his attackers shift around. Craig pushed down on his shoulders, making it a little hard to breath and the two other boys followed their orders and grabbed his legs. They pulled his legs apart and held them tight. Jamie now had no leverage at all and was completely helpless. He still kept trying, especially when he felt Frank get between his legs. He felt Frank spread his butt cheeks and he felt him place his dick against Jamie's hole. Jamie really started to struggle. He knew he was outnumbered and there might not be too much that he could do, but he was not going to go out without a fight. He started trying to buck Frank off. Because he could do little but move his butt up and down, Frank started chuckling.
"Oh yeah kid, go for it. That will make it better."
Jamie tired and stopped bucking up and down as he tried to throw Frank off. Tears started to down his face as he felt the pressure. Jamie closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. He started growling and then shouted.
Something happened and he felt something like a push or something, push away from him, then the four boys flew away from him. With the weight of the boys off of him, Jamie sat up. He looked around for the person who saved him so that he could thank him. There was no one else there. He looked around the room and he saw the four boys on the floor. He was surprised as he looked around the room. He looked up again, trying to find out who had helped him, but there was no one there. He also saw that the boys seemed to be getting their wits about them. Jamie jumped off the bed and grabbed his jeans. He went to the door and pulled his jeans up. He kept his eyes on the boys as they started moving while fastening his jeans. He tried to open the door but fumbled at the knob trying to open it in his fright at what had almost happened.
"I don't know how you knocked us off the bed kid, but that's not going to save you. Your ass is mine."
Jamie fumbled with the doorknob trying to get out. He glanced at the boys as they got to their feet. The door was closed and Jamie was getting scared and was frantic. Then he remembered the feeling that he had before the boys had been knocked off of him. He tried to remember that feeling as the boys advanced on him. Nothing seemed to work and then the boys rushed him. He shoved out with his hands to fend them off and he felt it again, that same pushing feeling. The four boys flew backward slamming into the walls, dresser, and chair. Frank was picked up and slammed into the window breaking the glass, bending the mesh screen and falling to the ground. The four boys lay there unmoving. Jamie looked at his hands in surprise. He thought he heard one of the boys groan and he turned and tried to open the door. This time he was able to turn the knob in the right direction and he went out into the hall.
Once outside the room, he looked around the darkened hall. There were only a couple of lights on the ceiling to light the way, so that boys that needed to use the bathroom at night could see. Jamie moved slowly for a couple of reasons. The ribs on his right side where Frank had hit him hurt quite a bit and he was holding his side as he walked to the stairs. Jamie had to get out of this place before the other boys woke up and came after him. He made his way to the stairs and started downstairs. As he neared the bottom of the stairs he heard a noise. He stopped and listened for a moment. It sounded like a TV was playing downstairs. He carefully moved down the stairs until he could see one of the staff members sitting at the desk with his feet up and watching a movie on a small television in his office.
Jamie looked at the gated door. The only way through was a key or being buzzed through. He decided that maybe if he told the guy what happened, and that he had a foster home, maybe they'll call Maggie and Tom and they can come and get him. He came down the rest of the stairs.
"Excuse me, can you…."
The man practically jumped out of the chair, he was startled at seeing the half dressed boy near the door.
"What the hell are you doing out of your room in the middle of the night. Get your ass back up there!"
"But I don't belong here. You have…."
"I don't have to do anything. Get your ass back up there or I'll kick it back up there. Now move!"
Jamie could see that this guy was not going to help and knew that there was no going back. He got angry and he pushed again. The man went backwards a little and stumbled over the chair hitting the ground and getting all tangled up. Jamie looked at the gate and was about to do the same thing when he spied the keys lying on top of the desk. He ran to the desk, grabbed the keys and ran to the gate. It took a couple of tries before he found the right key and got the gate unlocked. He heard the man at the desk groan as he got up. Jamie left the keys in the door as he ran down the hall that led to the door that he had been brought through. He saw the door that led outside ahead of him and knew it was probably locked too. When he got to it, he tried it anyway, hoping that maybe it only locked from the outside. It didn't open, so he stood back and concentrated and then pushed out with his arms again. There was a creak from the door but it didn't open. This time he pushed harder and the door flew open with pieces of the door jamb going with it. He ran outside and out to the parking lot. Looking around he tried to figure out the best way to go. He remembered that they had turned left into the parking lot so he headed right.
He was still holding his side as he left the place. He also kept stepping on rocks which made him cry out a little. He came to the next cross street and checked the sign. He was on the corner of Palm and Oakland. He didn't recognize the area, but he remembered they had turned left onto Palm, so he headed to the right on Oakland. He had walked for about twenty minutes doing his best to keep from stepping on anything with his bare feet. He found himself walking in a neighborhood, but he didn't know where it was so he kept walking. He came to where the Oakland ended on Kirby. He looked right and left and still not sure where he was he chose to go left on Kirby. This was a busier street and there were a few cars on it. He stayed in the shadows as he walked so as not to be seen, because he didn't want to be found and sent back, at least until he got somewhere safe. Ahead of him, he saw another major street. It was Devonshire. He knew that name. It was the street that Josh's condo had been on. He turned right. Another twenty minutes of walking and he saw the condo buildings up ahead. He turned on the street right before it, because he knew that Dylan's house wasn't too much farther.
By this time, he had walked a few miles in his bare feet and even though he had been careful, he had stepped on some sharp objects in the dark that he hadn't seen. Both of his feet were bleeding and he could also feel that the adrenaline that had given him the strength to get him out of that place was starting to wear off and he started to shiver. It was cold out, probably in the high thirties, maybe low forties. He was barefoot on the cold concrete with just his jeans, not even wearing underwear. He was holding his side and limping as he turned right on Madrid Street. He saw Dylan and Ethan's neighborhood up ahead and by this time he was getting so tired, that he had to stop from time to time to rest for a moment. Looking behind him, he could see bloody partial footprints. He knew he couldn't stop and after a short rest he continued on. He turned left on Sydney and he could see the corner of Nashville Court, the cul-de-sac that Dylan lived on, just ahead. He found a small reserve of energy and stumbled along as quickly as he could to the corner and turned up the street, his goal within sight.
In his bedroom, Dylan started tossing and turning and moaning and talking a little in his sleep.
"He's hurt, we've gotta help Jamie."
Dylan woke up and for a moment he was confused as to where he was. He shook the sleep away, threw the covers off and got out of bed. He listened for a minute and didn't hear anything. He then stretched his mind forth trying to feel something. There were his parents, both asleep. Then he felt something else, it felt like someone was hurting and was afraid. He sucked in his breath at the intensity of it and quickly made his way downstairs to the living room. Looking out the front window he saw a figure stumbling across the lawn. It looked like a kid, so he went to the door, turned on the light and opened it. The kid neared the door and as he got close enough for the light to shine on him. Dylan cried out.
Jamie heard him and looked up. His face was bruised and swollen. There was dried blood from his nose and around his mouth. One eye was swollen. He was holding his side as he stumbled forward to Dylan. Dylan could see a look of relief on Jamie's face.
Jamie grabbed tight to Dylan as he stumbled up the last steps. Dylan could feel that he was supporting most of Jamie's weight.
"Shit, Jamie. C'mon bro, let's get inside."
Jamie tried to stand up a little straighter and Dylan shifted around so that he could support Jamie, but still walk into the house. He kicked the door closed behind him a little harder than he meant to and guided Jamie over to the couch. Jamie leaned back against the couch and closed his eyes. Jamie was holding his side as he took some breaths. Dylan looked at him. He took in his bruised, cut and bloodied face, torn t-shirt, the bruises on his chest, side and stomach that he could see through the rips in his shirt and then he noticed Jamie's dirty and bloody feet. He saw the spots of blood on the floor and he knelt down to look closer. He saw several bleeding cuts on the bottom of his feet. They were also black they were so dirty.
"Jamie, we need to get you cleaned up…."
The light in the living room came on and Dylan looked up and saw his parents standing there.
"What's going on…..Who…Oh my God. Is that Jamie?"
His mother Barbara rushed to his side while Dylan got up from the floor to get out of the way and sat on the couch next to Jamie, pulling his feet up and resting them on his lap. She sat down next to them and started examining Jamie's feet. She looked up at her husband.
"Go get the first aid kit, some washcloth, basin with some warm soapy water and some towels. We need to get his feet cleaned up."
David turned around and they could hear water running in the bathroom.
She looked at Jamie and shook her head in dismay. "What happened sweetheart?'
Jamie's eyes filled with tears and his chin started to quiver. "The….they….tri….tried to r…r….rape me."
"The other boys."
Barbara was confused.
"I thought the boys were younger than you?"
Jamie shook his head as he started crying, the tears making dirty tracks down his face. Dylan scooted closer until Jamie was almost in his lap and took Jamie in his arms. Jamie clung to him like a drowning man and let it all out. When David returned she had him start cleaning Jamie's feet while she moved to Jamie's other side and put her hands around him and tried to soothe him. He reached one arm out and pulled her into the hug. She told him he was safe and that everything would be alright. She promised him that she would make sure of that. They stayed like that for several minutes. When Jamie started wincing a little she and Dylan carefully moved back, but they kept their hands on him. Dylan thought of something and he sent his love and caring to Jamie and they seemed to help him. Jamie hissed and pulled his foot back from David's hands.
"Sorry buddy. There was a small piece of glass in your foot, along with some small rocks and gravel. I had to get them out."
Jamie nodded his understanding and David patted the top of his foot. He wrapped Jamie's feet up with a towel and gently placed them on another towel on the couch.
"I need to go dump this water out and get some more. He picked up the basin of dirty water and went to the bathroom to dump it and refill it. He was back quickly and unwrapped Jamie's feet and finished cleaning them. Once he was satisfied, he and Barbara switched places so she could take a look at his feet and bandage them up. David sat next to Jamie, put his arm around him and held him close. Barbara finished up and then took a clean washcloth and handed it to Dylan.
"Here honey, wash some of the dirt and blood off Jamie's face."
Dylan took the cloth and Jamie looked up at him and nodded. Dylan again sent more of those feelings of love to Jamie and began to wipe his face off. At one point Dylan leaned against his side and Jamie sucked in a breath through clenched teeth. Dylan pulled back because he had felt the spike of pain. He looked at Jamie with concern.
"Sorry, did I hurt you?"
Jamie nodded. "It's my side."
They could see the bruise on his right side where Frank had hit him several times. David probed the ribs and Jamie winced a little.
"I think we need to get you to a hospital to have them take a look at you. Now who did this to you, Jamie?"
"The boys at the place that I was at."
"You're foster family?"
Jamie shook his head. "No they said it was a half-way house or something, but it was more like a jail. I was put there yesterday."
"Why were you there and not at your foster home?"
"I don't know……I didn't do anything wrong…..I mean Shane got hurt by those guys shooting at us…."
"Wait, someone shot at you?"
Jamie nodded and started to recount what had happened to him since yesterday morning until he arrived at their house. Dylan could feel the anger radiating off his parents as the story was told. Jamie had to stop from time to time when he started crying as he talked so he could get himself back under control to continue. All three did what they could to comfort him and let him know that he was safe. He eventually finished the tale and was being held by David.
"…and I still don't know why she did this to me. I didn't do anything wrong, even the policeman says I was brave for saving my foster brothers from being badly hurt. I know Shane was hurt, but they said he would be okay. So why?"
"I don't know, but we'll get to the bottom of this. First though we need to get you to a hospital. We have to get your ribs looked at and you'll probably need a tetanus shot and maybe some antibiotics from all the dirt and god knows what that got into the cuts in your feet."
Jamie nodded and Barbara gently set his feet on the couch when she stood up. She walked over to the phone. "Jamie honey, could you give me your foster parent's phone number."
He told her the number and she quickly entered the numbers into the handset and waited. It seemed to take a long time, but finally a sleepy voice answered the phone.
"Hello, are you Jamie Carpenter's foster father?...Good…I'm sorry to call so early. This is Barbara Robinson, I'm his friend Dylan's mother. Jamie's over here…Yes, I think he'll be okay, but he needs to go to the hospital, he's been hurt…he was assaulted…some boys at this home he was placed in by his caseworker…do you want to meet us there?...Okay, we'll be on our way in a few moments…You're welcome...We'll see you there."
She hung up and turned to the family. "Jamie they were very worried about you and they're going to meet us at the hospital since they will have to give consent for you to be treated. Let's get dressed."
She looked at Jamie and was about to tell Dylan to get him some clean clothes, but she stopped herself, because she knew the police were going to get involved and it would probably be better if they saw him as they found him. They left Jamie sitting on the couch and quickly went back to their rooms to throw some clothes on. They were out moments later. David went over and picked Jamie up in his arms. Jamie put his arms around David's neck and laid his head on his shoulder. Dylan opened the door and went to the car. Barbara locked the front door and then headed to the car. Dylan got in and David put Jamie down on the back seat. Dylan scooted over and held him. David got in the front passenger seat and Barbara had them on the way.
Over at the Wood's home, a similar scene was being acted out. Maggie and Tom got dressed quickly and then went to wake Mark. As they were getting him up, Maggie thought of something and she asked Tom to take care of getting Mark up while she made a call. He nodded and she went over to the desk where she had left Hal Jackson's card. She picked up the phone and dialed.
"Mister Jackson, I'm sorry to wake you, but I thought this was important. Jamie's been found, but he's hurt. He's with the parents of one of his friends…I don't know exactly other than he was assaulted by some boys at some place that Miz Geddes took him to after she had him arrested…We're on our way now…Hemet Valley…Okay, we'll see you there…Bye Mister Jackson."
She turned as Tom came out carrying Mark in his arms. Maggie led the way out to the car. Tom got in the back with Mark who had fallen back asleep. Once they were settled Maggie left for the hospital.
Hal meanwhile was getting dressed while he talked on the phone.
"…Yes, sir…I'm just about to leave. I'll get there as soon as I can…Everything will be taken care of sir…Yes, sir, I will keep you informed."
Once he hung up the phone he literally ran out of the apartment and down to his car. While he was driving he made another phone call.
"Hey John, sorry to bother you at this time of night, but I'll need to put what we discussed into action immediately…Yes, thank you…Could you send a couple of men to Hemet Valley Hospital?…You never know…Okay thanks."
He drove as fast as he dared to cut down the time it took to get from Murrieta to Hemet, which was close to thirty miles by road, about half that as the crow flies.
At the hospital, Barbara pulled up in front of the emergency entrance and ran inside while David went around to the back seat to pick Jamie up and carry him inside. When they entered a nurse stood up at the desk.
Barbara went to the desk. "We have a boy here who was assaulted."
"Just a moment."
She made a quick call and moments later an EMT came out with a wheelchair to take Jamie in for treatment. David set him into the chair and they followed the EMT to a treatment room. A nurse came in and started asking them questions. Barbara stayed beside Jamie as he told the nurse everything that had happened. Barbara then told what they had done for him. The nurse unwrapped the towel they had kept around Jamie's feet and looked at the soles of his feet. She gave him a gown and plastic bag so that he could put the clothes he was wearing in it. The nurse and Dylan's parents stepped outside the room for a moment, while Dylan stayed behind to help Jamie out of his clothes and into the gown. When they let them know Jamie was ready, the nurse then examined the cuts and bruises on his face and the bruises on his ribs. She made several notes on his chart and then let them know that the doctor would be in to see Jamie in a few minutes. She left them alone.
Barbara stood by Jamie and held his hand to give him comfort and Jamie relished it. Barbara reminded him a little of his mom and he felt more of a connection to her than he had with Maggie. It was like he knew her somehow. He knew he really liked Maggie and Tom and they have been real good to him. He loved Shane and Mark and it was kind of cool to have little brothers, but something was different when he was around Dylan and his family right now. Something about it seemed closer, like Dylan was a brother. He hadn't realized it until right now when they were right there treating him as if he was one of the sons. He got tears in his eyes and Barbara noticed them.
She smoothed his hair back and looked in his eyes. "What's that matter honey? Are you hurting?"
Jamie shook his head and reached up to wipe his eyes. "No, it's not that, it's…I don't know…but, thank you for being nice to me and helping me."
"Of course, there was no way we couldn't help you. You're almost like Dylan's brother, although we haven't seen much of you and Joshua much since everything happened to him, but that doesn't mean we don't care for you."
"Thanks, Missus Robinson."
"None of that, you call be Barbara or Barb, or Aunt Barbara or…whatever you like. You're a part of our family Jamie. I'm sorry that I never got to meet your mom. I'm sure we would have been good friends."
Jamie nodded and smiled at her. She leaned down and gave him a kiss on the forehead which made his smile grow a little wider."
A short time later the doctor came in the room with the nurse and the nurse ushered them out to the waiting room while the doctor examined Jamie. When they got to the waiting room, they saw a couple and their young son who was in his Dad's arms standing at the desk. As they passed the family Barbara overheard the woman talking to the person at the desk.
"Has a boy named Jamie, er, James Carpenter been brought in here?"
Maggie looked up at Barbara. "Yes, that's me."
Barbara smiled and put out her hand. "I'm Barbara Robinson, Dylan's mother. We brought Jamie in a little while ago. He's inside with the doctor right now."
"Oh, thank god. How is he?"
"Well, he's a bit banged up, but I think he'll be okay."
The two families went over to where there were several seats together so they could talk. Once they were settled, Barbara related everything that Jamie had told them. She tried to be circumspect in her description because even though Mark appeared to have gone back to sleep in Tom's lap, she wanted to be careful.
Maggie got tears in her eyes when Barbara told her about the assault and attempted rape. By the end of the recounting, Maggie however was seeing red and it was directed at Alma Geddes. "That insufferable bitch."
She glanced at Dylan. "Sorry, I shouldn't have said that in front of your son. But she is the cause of all of this."
"Alma Geddes, Jamie's caseworker. That woman should be locked away for her criminal actions. Jamie probably saved the life of both of my boys yesterday. Some gangbangers did a drive by yesterday morning and Jamie covered my boys with his own body. He should be lauded as a hero, not a criminal like that bi….person treated him."
"That's okay Missus Wood. Jamie's told our group of friends about her and we all agree she is a bi…"
"Dylan." Barbara looked at him and shook her head."
"Sorry Mom, but she is."
"Whether she is or not is immaterial, I would prefer that you do not use such language. Jamie told us about her and what happened while we were tending to him after he arrived at our house. Your other son is going to be okay?"
"Yes, thanks to Jamie. That woman, and I use the term loosely should be fired, criminally prosecuted, and put away for life for what she has done to Jamie. Since I've had to deal with her, I wonder how many other kids she's mistreated."
"Be careful what you wish for."
Maggie turned around at the man's voice and saw Hal Jackson standing there. She stood up and came up to him to shake his hand. "Mister Jackson. Thank you for coming. Will you be able to help Jamie? Is there a way that you can do something about Miz Geddes?"
"Yes, I can help him. Don't worry about Alma Geddes, I will take care of it."
"Good, then can we take Jamie home when he's released from the hospital?"
Hal's face became apologetic and he shook his head no.
"I don't think that will be possible, at least not at the moment. It appears the Alma has been busy since yesterday morning. It appears that after she took Jamie from here, she also suspended your foster parent license, pending an investigation. Since it is Sunday morning, any such investigation will not be started any earlier than tomorrow, and I doubt she intended it to start even then. In the meantime, until the investigation is concluded, you cannot have Jamie stay at your house."
"But where will he go? You can't mean to send him back to that vile place she put him in. In fact, that place should be investigated."
Hal held up his hands. "Yes, I agree. When I have a chance to talk to Jamie, I will get the information from him and I will see that the appropriate authorities have a look into it."
Maggie smiled and asked him to sit with them, but he declined telling them that he needed to see if he could speak to the doctor. He turned away to go over the desk. He asked the person at the desk if he could speak to the doctor taking care of Jamie as soon as he was free. He explained that he was Jamie's guardian ad litem. She took his card and told him that she would see that it was given to the doctor. He thanked her and went to join the families while they waited to hear word of Jamie's condition.
He saw two men in coming up to the door and he recognized one of them. He smiled as he walked over to the men as they entered and he shook hands with them. "John, I didn't know you would be coming by."
"Hal, I thought I'd come by myself because I wanted to talk to you about some of the plans that we have."
"Oh, Hal, this is Mike Taylor."
"Nice to meet you Mike."
"You too, Mister Jackson."
"Hal is fine. I'm only Mister Jackson to my opponents."
The three of them sat down to talk for a few minutes. John took a folder out of his case, and he handed it to Hal. Hal opened it and skimmed over the documents and photographs, while John explained what they had found out.
"With the information that you provided us from your investigator, we were able to find out quite a bit. You know about this person. We were also able to find a nearby storage facility where items were stored until sold. We found some other bank accounts as well. It appears that this has been going on for some time."
"Good. So is everything ready?"
"Yes. We're ready to move in."
"I have another thing I'd like you to look into as well, once I get the information from Jamie. It's some sort of home for boys, but I don't have the details yet. Once I talk to Jamie, I will get them for you."
"That should be no problem. Let me know, and I'll make a few calls."
"That works. I'm waiting for one other call. Could you two stay here and keep an eye on the folks over there? I need to go talk to them about a couple of things. I'll be back in a little while."
John nodded and Hal returned the folder to him as he stood up. Hal walked over to the family and took a nearby seat. He opened his mouth to say something and his phone rang. He held up his finger as he fished his phone out to check the number. "Sorry, I need to take this, I'll be right back.'
Hal stood up and walked a little distance away to take the call. He listened and asked a question or two before hanging up and rejoining the families. He had a small smile on his face. "Well, I may have a solution to where Jamie will stay. Mister and Missus Robinson, would you be willing to take Jamie in, on temporary basis at least, until we can make a more permanent arrangement?"
They were a little surprised, but the couple looked at each other.
"What do you think Dave?"
"I have no problem with it. We always wanted another child to give Dylan a brother or sister, but we were never lucky enough to have it happen. I say yes."
She looked back at Hal. "But Mister Jackson…"
"Hal, please call me Hal, we are all working together for Jamie's best interests."
"Very well, Hal then. Can this be done? I mean we aren't foster parents, don't we need a license or approval or something?"
"Yes, that will have to be done, but that phone call was from the Director of Child Services and he has issued you a temporary foster parent license so that Jamie can have a safe place to go when he is released."
Hal looked over at the Woods. "I'm sorry, but there's nothing he can do about your license at this time, but he said that he would look into it and make sure that problem is cleared up as soon as possible.'
"Thank you, Hal, for what you're doing."
"It is my job as his guardian ad litem to make sure that he is well taken care of."
"Were you hired for this?"
"Not exactly. Jamie's mother arranged for his legal representation through my law firm in case something should happen to her."
When Hal said that, Dylan felt something off about the statement. He had been sitting there listening and when he heard that Jamie might live with them, he thought that would be cool. Dylan narrowed his eyes a little as he looked at Hal. Something was not right. It wasn't bad, but he could tell that Hal was hiding something. What he had said about Jamie's mom wasn't quite wrong, but he wasn't being completely honest about it either. There was something else, and he wished Ethan was here so that Ethan could use his gift to maybe sort things out and find out what Hal was hiding. Dylan had a feeling that it was important. He could feel that Hal had Jamie's best interests in mind, but there was something that he was hiding.
At that moment Jamie's nurse came into the waiting room and called Mister Jackson's name. He excused himself and followed the nurse. He paused by the two men he had been talking to earlier and the older of the two got up and joined him. The younger one stayed in his seat.
The nurse took them over to where the doctor was standing making notes in a chart. "Doctor, this is Mister Jackson, Jamie Carpenter's attorney."
The doctor turned and shook hands with Hal. "Nice to meet you. What can I do for you?"
"We need to find out how Jamie is?"
The doctor looked at the man next to Hal.
John noticed this and reached into this coat and brought out a leather wallet, he opened it and showed it to the doctor. "John Baxter, Bureau of Investigation."
The doctor looked at his credentials and nodded in acceptance. "He has several cuts and bruises on his body. The worst spots are the bottoms of his feet and the right side of his chest. He'll have to be careful for a few days to not put too much weight on them and then take it easy for another week or so after that. We've given him a tetanus shot because of the cuts and all the dirt that had gotten into the cuts on the bottom of the sheet. I have also prescribed some antibiotics to cut down on the chance of infection. The x-rays reveal no rib fractures luckily, but he has been badly bruised so he will need to be careful how he moves for a few days while the bruises on his side heal. Due to the information he gave us, we also did a rape kit on him and found seminal fluid around his buttock and anal area, but none on the inside, so he was not penetrated from what I can tell."
"What about his clothes?"
"The nurse had him place the clothes he was wearing into one of our patient bags when she had him change into the hospital gown. They were the clothes he was wearing when he was brought in."
"Good, I'll take possession of those and what you gathered with the rape kit.'
"Will he need to stay here at the hospital?"
"No, we've done all that we need to do to treat him. He just needs some rest and he can do that at home."
"Is it okay if we go and talk to Jamie for a few minutes doctor?"
"Of course. I'll bring you over to him and then get his discharge paperwork ready so he can go home." He closed the chart and escorted them to Jamie's room.
Jamie looked up at the two men and he got a little scared until the younger man smiled at him.
"Hello Jamie. I'm Hal Jackson, this is John Baxter."
"Oh, Mister Jackson, you're the one that got my things for me?"
"Yes, I was. Your mother, and I am sorry about what happened, arranged for my law firm to be your legal representative if anything were to happen to her. I'm sorry, but I feel I have failed you in some way, because of what has happened. Mister Baxter is from the Bureau of Investigation."
Hal and John both chuckled.
"Not exactly, we do some of the same things, but only in California. They work all over the country."
"So do you mind if I ask you a few questions?"
"Good. Mister Jackson is here as your legal representative. If any of my questions bother you, or you don't want to answer them, you can consult with him and he will advise you. Do you understand?"
"Is this like, I have the right to remain silent and all that?"
John chuckled again and shook his head. "No, the Miranda warning is for when someone is arrested. I'm merely asking some questions for my investigation. However, Mister Jackson will advise you if you need his help. Is that okay?"
Jamie nodded in agreement.
John opened his briefcase and took out a notepad and pen. "Okay, now in your own words, Jamie, please tell me everything that happened from yesterday morning until now. I will ask questions for clarification as we go along."
Jamie nodded again and started the story with the drive by and continuing until he was brought to the hospital. He answered John's question, but was careful about saying anything about how he had escaped. When he got to that part, he only told him that he fought back and was somehow able to escape from his attackers and get out of the building.
John looked at him silently for a moment before speaking. "You say you fought them off. Four older boys, that's impressive. Do you have any martial arts training or anything like that?"
Jamie got worried and he glanced at Hal.
Hal noticed and spoke to John. "I think the fact that he escaped is sufficient at this time John. So, if we can, let's continue?"
John looked at Hal and he received a very slight head shake, he acknowledged it with a slight nod in return. "Very well, go on Jamie."
Jamie was relieved that John didn't press him for details and he continued, finishing up with finally making his way to Dylan's house. "Is that enough?"
John nodded and patted Jamie on the leg. "Yes, I think so. Do you remember the name of this home?"
"I'm not sure, I think the sign said something about Half Way Home or something."
"Do you remember what street it is on?"
"Oh yeah, Palm. It was on Palm."
John made one last note and put the notebook back in his case before standing up. "Thank you Jamie, I think I have what I need. I'm going to be taking your clothes for evidence. If you remember anything else, let Mister Jackson know and he'll contact me."
"Thank you, sir."
"You're welcome. Hal, I'm going to go make some calls, I'll see you out in the waiting room when you're done."
"Sure, I'll be out there in a few minutes. I just have to talk to Jamie about a couple of things."
John nodded. "Good luck, young man."
Hal waited until John had left before he turned to Jamie.
Jamie spoke up before he had a chance to say anything. "Mister Jackson. What's going to happen to me now?"
"Well, that is what I need to talk to you about. I have made arrangements for you to stay with a family…."
"What about the Maggie and Tom, my foster parents. I could go back to them."
"I'm sorry, that is not possible at this time. You're caseworker Miz Geddes had their license suspended and they can't legally let you stay with them, because she has requested an investigation as to their suitability as foster parents."
"Then where am I gonna go? Am I going to have to change schools? Will I get to see my friends? Will I have to move to another city?" Jamie started to get little agitated because of this unknown family that Hal had arranged for him.
Hal placed his hand on Jamie's arm. "There is nothing to worry about Jamie. You will not have to change anything all. In fact, it will probably be even better than it was at the Wood's house."
"But what about Shane….oh shit, uh, sorry, shoot, I forgot about Shane, how is he? Is he okay? Is he hurt bad?"
Hal chuckled a little, which stopped Jamie from continuing with the multitude of questions that he had. Jamie started frowning, thinking Hal was laughing at him or something. Hal noticed and again gently placed his hand on Jamie's shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze.
"I'm sorry Jamie, but your questions are coming faster than I can answer. First, Shane is fine. The wound was minor and easily taken care of. He is probably upstairs sleeping right now in his hospital bed. Missus Wood says that he will probably go home today or tomorrow depending on how he is healing up."
Jamie looked relieved, Hal continued.
"As for the rest of your questions, it is up to you whether you will accept this other family that I have arranged for you to live with or not. If you don't like them, then I will make other arrangements, okay."
Jamie nodded and received a smile in return.
"Very well, I have asked your friend Dylan's parents if it would be okay for you to stay with them and they said yes. So is this acceptable to you?"
Jamie's smile was the answer and his vigorous nod. "But what about Shane and Mark. Will I get to see them?"
"Of course. Maggie and Tom said that you have been a good big brother to them and I think they would miss you. So you can visit them whenever you wish."
"Well I'm going to leave you alone for a little while and let them know that you said yes…"
They were interrupted by a commotion and loud voices. One of them was a bit shrill and officious. Hal heard a whimper behind him and he turned around and saw Jamie cringing with a frightened look on his face. Hal smiled at him and patted his shoulder. "Don't worry. This is something that is long overdue. You no longer have to worry about her. I'm taking care of it. Trust me."
Jamie's eyes flickered over to Hal. He did what he could to show Jamie that he meant what he said. Jamie's frightened look softened a little, but Hal could still see it there in his eyes, but it was not as intense as it had been.
Jamie nodded. "You promise?"
"You have my word and I never break my word."
Hal held his hand out. Jamie reached out and took it. Hal shook it a couple of times before letting it go. "That is a gentleman's agreement. My word is my bond. You have nothing to worry about. You just stay in here and don't worry about anything you hear out there. Yes?"
Jamie nodded and Hal left the room heading toward the disturbance.