When Sean got home after helping get all of Jamie's things moved into his new home, he went to find his dad and ask if he could pick out some computer parts to take to his friend's house to upgrade his computer. His dad nodded and the two of them went out to the garage where they had a workbench that they used when working on computers. He told his dad about Jaime's computer and what he wanted to do. They were soon going through various drawers and supply bins, pulling out several items. His dad even suggested a couple of things that Sean hadn't thought about. When they had everything they needed he offered to go with Sean to help him do it, but Sean said what he wanted to do was easy and he was sure he could do, but he told his dad that he would call him, if he had a problem. His dad smiled and they carried the items to Sean's room.
Over the next couple of days Sean did more research into their gifts. He was determined to figure out what Josh could do, because he was certain he could do something, but other than saying that he could hear Jamie when he had 'talked' to Ethan, he couldn't figure anything out. As he thought about it, it seemed that Jamie's gift had manifested when he was scared. He wondered if something like that would make Josh's gift manifest itself. As he thought about it, he got to thinking about what had happened to Josh. He would have been scared when his father had beaten him and then shot him. Did Josh do something that caused his father to shoot himself, like mess with his mind without knowing he was doing it?
He thought he'd do a little snooping in the police file on the incident. So he logged onto the police website and searched through the Hemet Police Department website. He looked through the choices and saw a link to the records bureau. He opened it and looked at the choices. There wasn't much in the way of links to follow. He looked at the URL in the address line and thought he would try something. He tried to use the gift that he thought he had. He closed his eyes and concentrated for a moment. He opened them and started typing. When he finished typing, he saw that he had added another string of commands to the URL and he was now faced with a screen that was asking for a password. It was different than what he had been looking at previously. He once again sat there concentrating for a moment and he entered a password and he saw 'Password accepted'. He smiled with satisfaction as he saw that that there was a search field so he entered Josh's name and some document links came up. He clicked one and started reading. For the next hour he read through several documents including the coroner's report on Josh's dad. Nothing really jumped out at him. He shut down the site, frustrated in not finding anything, but still in the back of his head, he wondered if Josh had messed with his father's head.
Sean then decided to look into the way that Josh could hear Jamie when he was 'speaking' to Ethan and Dylan had heard Jamie had spoken to Ethan when he concentrated, but none of the rest of them could hear it, they only seemed to hear Ethan when he 'spoke' to them. He searched, but couldn't find anying on that, and then he read something that piqued his interest. He followed that link, read for a while and then entered some new information in the search engine and found several sites devoted to that idea. As he read through them, he was nodding to himself and also making notes in his file on the eight of them. He seemed to be pretty satisfied about what he had found as he shut down the computer and went to bed. He was going over to Jamie's house tomorrow to work on his computer and then they were all supposed to meet at Gibbel Park later in the morning, so Sean had told Jamie in school today that he would be there early on Saturday to work on his computer. Dakota said that he'd come along with him.
Saturday morning Dakota stopped by Sean's house just as he was finishing breakfast. They went to his room to get all the stuff he needed into his backpack. He handed the backpack to Dakota to carry, while he grabbed his computer bag with his laptop in it.
"Why are you bringing that Sean?"
"For later when we get together at the park, I have my research on it."
Dakota nodded in understanding as they grabbed what they needed and saying goodbye to Sean's parents, they headed to Dylan's house. When they got there, Dylan answered the door and led them upstairs to Jamie's room.
The internet had gotten connected and Jamie was online when they got there. He logged off and shut down the computer when he saw who it was. "Hi guys."
"Hey Jamie. I've got some stuff to upgrade your computer."
He got out of the way and Sean took the backpack from Dakota and started taking the computer components out of it and putting them on the desk. He grabbed his tool kit and started taking the computer apart, getting to work right away.
"Okay, he's going to be ignoring us for a while now and we will get no intelligible conversation from him until he is finished."
Sean without turning around held up his middle finger over his head which garnered a laugh from the others. Dakota went over and gave Sean a hug from behind and a kiss on the cheek.
Sean sort of shrugged him off, but it was halfhearted at best as he also turned to look at Dakota and give him a grin. "Now, stop interrupting me. I have work to do."
Dakota laughed and went to join the others on the bed. While Sean worked on the computer, the three of them played games on the Playstation. It took him about thirty minutes and he was closing the computer back up.
He turned to Jamie when he was done. "Okay, you now have ten gigs of RAM. I added a 1 terabyte drive and the best NVIDIA video card there is. You should see a lot of improvement in everything now."
"Thanks Sean. What do I owe you?"
"Oh, nothing for friends."
"Really, then could you maybe do something for my computer, too?"
Sean looked at Dylan and nodded. "Sure, I'll take a look at it and see if it needs anything."
"You would, wow, I was only joking, but that would be cool. Thanks."
"Don't mention it. I'm glad to help my friends."
He and Dylan left the room and went to his room to check his computer out. They returned a few minutes later.
"Dylan's is okay for now. He doesn't have room for another drive, but I can add some RAM and a video card. That should be good enough."
"Cool, thanks Sean. So should we get going and head over to the park?"
The others agreed and Jamie turned off the Playstation and they headed to the garage to get Jamie and Dylan's bikes. Just as they were coming outside, the other four showed up and the eight of them headed to Gibbel Park where the small skate park was located. When they arrived, they rode around the park a little to find a place that didn't have many people nearby. They found a concrete table and bench that were near a tree with no one nearby. They laid their bikes down and sat at the table. They all had worn sweatshirts because it was in the sixties. Not cold, but not really warm either. Although the sun shining on them made it feel a little warmer. Sean took his laptop out and booted it up.
"Okay, as you guys know, I've been doing some research on all of this to see if I can find out everything I can about it. From what I've found so far, some of it is pretty straightforward. Ethan is a Telepath, Dylan is an Empath, Jamie is a Telekinetic or TK, Ian is a Healer, Logan has some Precognition and Object Reading, Dakota has some Object Reading, but his is different in that he can pick up the skill of a person who uses an object and then he can translate it to being able to use that skill as his own…."
Sean noticed Dakota just shaking his head still refusing to believe what Sean said. Sean merely smiled and the others grinned.
"You'll see, I'll prove it to you. Anyway, that leaves Jamie. Oh, and me, I have an affinity with computers, I can sense how to get what I want with them, like passwords, hidden information, things like that."
"Passwords to anything?"
Sean shrugged. "I think so."
"Could you get into the school records?"
Sean waved that off. "That was easy, I did that months ago."
"Really. Did you see our grades?"
"You guys know that you're getting good grades. I think we're like the smartest people in the class, although some of us are smarter than the others."
"Oh yeah, like who?"
"Me, of course, I'm the brains of this outfit."
"Just joking, although I think I do edge you guys out a little, we are all really smart. Do you guys ever have a hard time understanding what we are being taught?"
They all shook their heads.
"Is the school work hard to do for any of you? It's not always easy, but because you guys understand it, you can do it easily enough once you've been taught and I bet you all remember things easily."
They looked at each other and nodded.
"Right, so, I think that is all part of this. Being smart seems to be part of this, plus the memory thing. So even though we don't know what Josh can do, I'm absolutely certain that he has some ability, because he is as smart as the rest of us, and he could hear Jamie the other day."
"Sean, did you find out anything about that in your research?"
Sean nodded and connected his air card to the laptop and went to a website. He turned it so the others could see.
"I think it's something like this. Twin telepathy. I've been reading a lot of stuff on so many sites where actual twins have said that they believe it is real. There is no scientific evidence, but so many twins have had experiences that they shared with their twin, like knowing when something was wrong, or feeling what another twin was feeling even thousands of miles away. Also maybe you've heard about twins finishing each other's sentences, that sort of thing. I think that when each of us paired up into couples, we made a connection like a twin has with his twin and that is why Josh could hear Jamie, but the rest of us could not."
"But what about Ethan, he's not part of their 'twin', or is he?"
Logan looked at Ethan with a raised eyebrow and a grin. Ethan blushed and gave him a mock angry glare.
"No chance, cute though they both are, Dylan is more than enough for me."
"You better say that. I agree they are both cute, but Ethan fits me. And speaking of that, in fact all of us are pretty good looking, if I do say so myself."
"Oh, conceited much?"
"No, just stating fact. Anyway, go on Sean."
"Sure Dylan. So, with this twin speak sort of thing, each of us should be able to 'speak' to our twin. I wanted us to try it out today, if you guys are willing."
The others nodded and looked at each other silently. Within moments, eyes started to widen a little bit as they found out that they were successful. They had never tried this before, so it was unexpected. There were a lot of smiles.
"Wow, cool, it works."
"Now, I want Ethan to try to listen to everyone when they use this twin speak and Dylan, I want you to try to tap into what Ethan is doing?"
They all nodded again and went to looking at each other again. Ethan looked around as he listened. A couple of the pairs reached for each other's hand and when they did, it was easier to communicate. Ethan listened in and heard all the conversations, but it was like they were in a room with several people speaking. When he focused on a pair, he was able to hear them more clearly. When Josh and Jamie held hands, Ethan had an idea and he told Dylan to take his hand, suddenly the murmur that Dylan had heard faintly in the background became a little clearer. It was faint, but he could now hear individual voices. He still couldn't make out what they were saying, then Dylan concentrated and he could hear a conversation better and it was clear as well, still it was faint, just above a whisper to him, but he could hear the pair that was talking.
Sean got their attention. "Well, could you guys hear us?"
"Yeah, when Ethan took my hand I could hear it clearer than before, still faint, but clear. It was better than when we weren't holding hands. Somehow that made the connection more solid."
"Yeah, we found that out too when Jamie and I held hands. It was easier somehow. But does anyone else feel a little light headed?"
The others nodded.
"I think that is part of doing this. When you guys have used your powers, do you ever feel tired or anything?"
"When I do a bigger healing, like when Josh was shot and I healed that, I was tired when we left the hospital."
Sean typed some things into this research file.
"That's kinda what I thought. When I've been researching, especially in the Sci Fi stories, using mental powers uses energy which can make you a little tired, so it should be normal."
"Yeah, that's the best place to find information about what we can do. Those stories are filled with that kind of stuff, the good uses and the bad uses. It's almost like we are part of some kind of experiment or something."
"Hey Sean, you said you could get into the school records. Could you show us?"
Sean turned his laptop back around and got to the school website. The others moved around so that they could look at the screen as he typed, they saw him navigate quickly and soon he was in the section for student records. He entered his name and his record was displayed. He unashamedly showed them his record.
"Hey Sean, that's cool, you have the same birthday as me."
Sean looked at Dylan and grinned. "Yeah, that's cool. We'll ha…oh…my…fucking…god. Give me a minute."
The others looked at Sean, wondering why he had said that and returned to their seats as they watched him. They watched as Sean's fingers flew across the keys as he did multiple searches. He would stop for a moment before continuing onto another student record and another and another, he finally stopped and looked at his friends. They returned his gaze with some concern, because Sean was a looking a little pale. Dakota was concerned.
"What Sean? Are you okay?"
Sean licked his lips a little before speaking. "Uh guys. My birthday is Aug 6th, 1999. I'll be 14 this year."
When he said that it began to dawn on them what he was saying. None of them could say anything for a few moments and then they all started saying the same thing.
"So is mine."
Then they were all staring back and forth at each other not sure what to say. Then Josh let out a gasp. "Oh shit."
He laid his head on the table on his folded arms. Jamie was concerned as he could see Josh was trembling. He tried to soothe him and Josh sat up and hugged Jamie tightly to him.
Jamie felt his distress and tried to comfort his boyfriend. "What's wrong Josh? You're okay, everything's going to be okay. I love you. I'll help you, whatever it is, I'm here for you."
Josh took a couple of shuddering breaths and looked up at Jamie, smiling a little. He nodded that he was okay and sat back up, brushing the tears from his eyes as he looked at his friends. He was worried they would think he was a baby for crying for no reason, but all he saw was concern on their faces.
"I'm sorry for being a baby guys."
Jamie looked at the others before looking at Josh. "No one thinks you're a baby Josh. But what is bothering you?"
"It was something my dad said…that night. I just remembered it. It was while he was hitting me, before he sh…shot me. I don't know if he meant to say it or not, he was drunk at the time. But he talked about someone, I can't remember the name, but I think it started with a B or a P or something, I don't really remember. I was a little dazed I think, because he'd hit me a couple of times by that time, but he said something about how he never should have agreed to be a part of some kind of experiment. He said that this…person, ruined his life. I think he said something more right before he shot me too. I think it was something about the rest of the freaks, but I'm not sure. I don't remember a whole lot about what he said. He was slurring his words a bunch, so it was hard to understand him."
They were all silent at this revelation. They didn't know what to think. They only knew it was weird. All of them had the exact same birthday. Nearly all of them had some kind of mental gift. They kept going on and on inside their own heads, about if it was possible that they really had been part of some experiment. They thought back as far as they could, to see if they could ever remember knowing any of the others. They all knew that they had moved here from other cities, Jamie was the most recent one and he remembered Idaho as where he had lived for his whole life before moving here. Josh remembered living in Arizona for a couple of years before moving here, because his parents found jobs in the area that they liked and was better than the ones they had worked at in Arizona. All of them remembered living in other places, but they were in different parts of the country. None had lived in the same city as any of the others. So they were a little puzzled, how they could be a part of an experiment, if they had never lived in the same place.
Jamie broke the silence. "Well, so what do we do? Should we talk to our parents?"
"No, um, they might think we're bonkers. I think I'm going to do some more research on this and see if there is anything about an experiment in 1999, somewhere. I'll let you guys know, but until then, unless I find something out, I say we don't say anything to our parents. If I do find something, then maybe we should say something. Okay?"
The others nodded.
"I'm going to get going. I want to start looking into this stuff. Dakota, you wanna come home with me for a little while?"
"Yeah, see you guys Monday."
That seemed to be the signal for everyone else to start getting up from the table and collecting their bikes to head home. Everyone said goodbye and Josh rode with Dylan, Ethan and Jamie. They didn't say much, all of them lost in their thoughts and subdued. When they got close to Dylan's house, Ethan asked Dylan if he'd like to come over to his house for a little while and Dylan agreed. Dylan asked Jamie to tell his parent's he'd be home by dinner. Similar things happened with all of the other couples, none of them wanted to be alone for a little while. Jamie nodded and he and Josh went to the house. When they came in, they greeted Barbara and David. Both of them were very happy to see Josh, as it had been some time since he had last been by and they were glad to hear he was doing okay. The two boys headed upstairs to Jamie's bedroom. He closed the door and they both lay down on the bed on their sides so that they were facing each other. They studied each other's face.
"Do you think it's true Josh?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I guess it could be true. None of us ever lived in the same place, so how could it be true. Besides, how could we be part of some experiment? Something like this would be all over the news."
"Yeah, I guess, but what if it was true. Maybe I knew you a long time ago, when we were real little kids. Maybe our parents knew each other even."
"If they did, why don't they still know each other? There's no way to check that now, since we don't have any parents anymore."
"I wonder if my lawyer could let me look at my Mom's papers. Maybe there is something in there. I'll have to ask him and see if it'll be okay."
Both boys were troubled and they felt the need for comfort, so they scooted closer together and soon had their arms around each other and their legs intertwined. They really didn't do much more than hold each other close. They occasionally shared a gentle kiss, but it was mostly just the feeling of comfort that they got from being close to each other. They eventually dozed off.
They awakened a couple of hours later by Dylan knocking on the door before peeking inside.
"Shoot, you're still dressed."
"I thought I'd find you doing something naughty.'
"Eat me, Dylan."
Dylan laughed as Jamie tried to throw a pillow at him.
"Mom said to get you guys, and ask if you wanted to stay for dinner Josh."
Josh sat up and looked at his cell phone.
"No, I think I should be getting home. I'll see you guys later."
Jamie nodded and they got up. He walked Jamie out to the garage so he could get his bike. Before opening the door, he and Jamie shared a kiss goodbye. Jamie waved and watched him until he was out of sight before closing the garage door. Back inside the house, he sat in the living room to watch TV with the others until it was time for dinner. After dinner he and Dylan went to his room to play some games before it was time for bed. That night before they went to sleep, all of the boys were thinking about what Josh had told them and wondered if they somehow had been part of some experiment.
On Monday evening, the Robinsons received a call from Hal, telling them about the upcoming court cases. He said that all the boys that had assaulted him had made plea deals so Jamie would not have to testify at any of those. Those cases were closed. The assault charges made by Alma Geddes against Jamie for what happened during his escape from the home were found to have no merit and they were dropped. He also told them that the home was being investigated because of what Jamie had told him and that he was arranging to have Jamie give a deposition concerning what had happened to him next week.
He also told them that Jamie had two depositions this week at the district attorney's office in Riverside; one for Alma Geddes' trial and one for Enrique and Victor Mendes' trial. He told them that it was on Wednesday at nine am and he gave them the address of the office in Riverside. He told them he would meet them there. Both depositions were scheduled for the same day, one after the other, so Jamie wouldn't miss two days of school. They told Jamie about the depositions that evening during dinner and told him they would keep him out of school that day, since it seemed like it would take most of the day to take care of this. He nodded his understanding.
Dave took Wednesday off and went with Jamie to Riverside. They arrived fifteen minutes early and saw that Hal was sitting down in the waiting room. He smiled when he saw them and got up to shake hands with them.
"Jamie, the depositions start in about an hour. We are going to meet with the attorney who is trying the case against Enrique and Victor Mendes for the drive by shooting first and then we will meet with the attorney trying the case against Alma Geddes. Okay so far?"
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do for this."
"Yeah, I know most people don't know. It is easier than you think. All you have to do is answer the questions honestly. The important thing is to listen to the question, make sure you understand it before you answer it, take your time, and think before you speak. If there is something you do not understand, you can ask me and I will advise you."
"Who will be asking me questions?"
"The prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney."
"Will anyone else be there?"
"There will be you, me, and Mister Robinson, the attorneys for the prosecution and the defense, a court reporter to take notes and depending on what is decided by the defense, the defendants may also attend. When we talk to the prosecutor, then we'll know more. Anything else?"
Jamie shook his head and they waited for their appointment. A little after nine a lady came out and asked them to follow her. She led them back to a conference room and bade them sit. She showed them to a side table that had drinks, pastries and donuts available to them. She left them to help themselves and they sat down at the table. A few minutes later a man came in the office and introduced himself to them as Lyle Bartlett. With him came another lady with a funning looking typewriter which she set up at one corner of the desk. Moments later the lady who had brought Jamie and his party into the office came in followed by another lady. She introduced herself as Mercedes Pineda. She shook their hands before sitting down.
Lyle then looked at Jamie. "James, I'll let you know what is going to happen before we start. I'm going to ask you some questions, as will Missus Pineda. The court reporter will enter everything that is said. If at any time you do not understand the question, do not hesitate to ask for an explanation. We will also be recording this so that no mistakes are made. Do you have any questions?"
Jamie shook his head.
"Sorry, I should have explained this, but when you answer the questions, you must say yes or no, you can't shake your head. That was my mistake."
"Good. Okay is everybody ready to proceed?"
He looked in turn at the court reporter, Missus Pineda, and Jamie and his group. They all nodded.
"Very well, we will start then. This is a deposition of James Carpenter in the case of the County of Riverside versus Enrique and Victor Mendes. Present are Lyle Bartlett for Riverside County, Mercedes Pineda for the defense, Hal Jackson, guardian ad litem for James Carpenter, and David Robinson, foster parent for James Carpenter, and James Carpenter himself. Now James, do you understand that you must answer all questions truthfully?"
"Please state your full name for the record."
"James Richard Carpenter."
"How old are you?"
Lyle reached into a folder and laid a group of photos in front of Jamie. There were about twelve photos.
"Can you identify any of the people in these photos?"
Jamie looked at them for a minute or two before pointing at two of them.
"You have picked out two photos. Can you tell me who the people in the photos are?"
"This is Enrique and this is the person who was driving the car."
"Let the record show that James has identified the photographs of Enrique and Victor Mendes. Where did you last see these two people?"
"In front of my foster home when they were shooting at me."
"Are you certain of this?"
"Yes, I knew Enrique from school and I recognized him. The older guy, Victor, was driving the car while they shot at me."
"Did you have a clear unobstructed view of them when this incident happened?"
"I'd like to ask a question?"
Lyle nodded to Miz Pineda.
"So you calmly stood there while these two young men were allegedly shooting at you?"
"So, what were you doing?"
"I saw them start shooting and I ran to my foster brothers to get them down on the ground so that they wouldn't be hurt."
"If that is so, then how can you be sure that the two that you identified were the ones who actually committed the alleged crime?"
"Because I saw them, I recognized Enrique first and looked at the driver, I remember both of their faces."
"But if they were shooting at you weren't you ducking out of the way?"
"Yes, but I saw them before I starting ducking."
"You have no doubt it was them. Remember what you say could affect both of them. You must be absolutely certain."
Jamie looked at her and nodded. He saw Lyle start to say something.
"Yes, Ma'am, there is no doubt in my mind that it was them. I saw them try to shoot me and my foster brothers. I have not forgotten their faces."
Lyle waited for a moment to see if Mercedes had anything more at this time. She gave a little shake of her head and took some notes.
"James, if you will please tell us in your own words what happened. Start from before the incident happened. Let's start at why you were in the front yard and go from there."
"Yes, sir. Shane and Mark wanted to play catch so we went out to the front yard…."
For the next hour Jamie told what had happened. The prosecutor or the defense occasionally asked for clarification. When he finished, the prosecutor asked the defense if she had any further questions. She said no, so he finished up.
"Very well, since there are no further questions we will end this deposition. Thank you, James, that's all for now. We will contact you with a court date for the trial when it is set."
Everyone stood up and shook hands. He and the defense attorney left. The lady, who had shown them in earlier, had them follow her out to the waiting room. They thanked her and left. It was decided to go get lunch nearby as the next one was at one. They found a restaurant and had lunch. They were back in the office at fifteen to one. They had to wait until ten after one before they were ushered into the conference room. A different prosecuting attorney greeted them and made sure Jamie and David understood what was going to happen. He introduced himself as Paul Rutledge. A few minutes later another man walked in and behind him was Alma herself. She glared at Hal and glanced at Jamie with a dismissive look. Behind them a police officer came in as well. Jamie noticed that Alma looked a bit different. She looked like she hadn't slept well and there were dark circles under her eyes, she didn't have makeup on and her hair hadn't seen a hairdresser for some time. The prosecutor introduced everyone and they shook hands, except Alma who sat down across from Jamie's side of the table and just glared at them. They got started. This deposition was different than the prior one. Jamie was shown the jewelry items that had been found at Alma's house and asked if he could identify the items as belonging to his mother. He was able to identify them easily. They then showed him pictures of the furniture items that were in the storage lockers and he was able to identify them as well. Jamie was then asked about the interactions he had had with Alma Geddes. He related to them the various times that he had had to deal with her. He was asked about what his perception was of how he was treated by her. He described his interactions and how she would call him boy and such. He also told them how she searched through his personal things and threatened him with being put into a home if he did not shut up about it. Alma merely glared at him. She tried to point out that it was her job to make sure he didn't get involved with drugs and that she had the right to search for such items. He also described what had happened the day that he was put in the home.
Alma whispered something to her attorney and he nodded before saying anything. "My client has told me that James here had drug and assault charges pending for his assault on four boys and a staff member at the half way home, is this true?"
"Why is that relevant to this case?"
"It goes towards his credibility. If he is involved in drugs, then his testimony may be considered suspect."
"Not that it is really relevant to this case. But no such charges exist against James Carpenter."
"What? What about the drugs that were found in his room and those that he assaulted. He is a dangerous troublemaker and should be locked up."
"Miz Geddes. Unless you wish to give testimony, I suggest you retain you're right to remain silent and speak only through your lawyer."
Paul pulled her back and they had a whispered conversation after which she nodded.
"Miz Geddes is sorry for her outburst. However, we would like an answer to that question."
"We'll go over that part at this time if you wish. We have a signed statement from a Frank Denton, one of Miz Geddes' clients who was a resident of the home. In his statement he states that Miz Geddes gave him the crystal methamphetamine and told him that she would see that he was released if he planted the drugs in James' room. He and the three other boys assaulted James and luckily, James was able to fight back and escape. They held him down and planned to rape him."
Jamie flinched when he said that.
"All on Miz Geddes' orders."
"I never told him to rape him, I jus…"
Paul put a hand on her arm.
"My, uh, client is shocked to hear this accusation and spoke out of turn. She apologizes for her words. I assure you that she has no knowledge of such a plan and would never countenance such a criminal act. If the proof is the word of a young criminal, I'm sure the credibility of the statement by such a person will be shown to be suspect."
"Perhaps, but he told his three friends that assisted in the assault what they were supposed to do. They will also testify to what they were told. Furthermore, we have found some of Miz Geddes former clients, that our early investigation has shown that they may have been falsely accused in a similar fashion. The investigation is ongoing. I'm sure we will find more such people."
He continued with his questions to Jamie about his interactions with her. There was little left to tell and they finished up. The police officer escorted Alma out. The defense attorney left with them. Jamie and his party were shown out after shaking hands with the prosecutor. Hal walked out with them and told Jamie he would be in touch with him regarding any other depositions or trial dates. He and David thanked him and headed for home.
The next day at school his friends asked about what had happened and he told them all about it. They asked a few questions, but there wasn't much he could say other than what he already had said.
On Friday, Sean told them that he hadn't found anything yet on any experiment, but he was going to keep searching. That weekend Jamie got permission to spend the weekend at Josh's house. They had one of the best times that they'd had since they had been together.
On Monday they got a call that the Mendes trial would probably be starting on Thursday, so sometime after that, Jamie would need to appear to give his testimony. Thursday morning came around and Barbara took the day off to bring Jamie to the courthouse. They found the courtroom and waited with the other people that were there. They saw several people around who had white badges that said 'Juror' on them. There were also some others that he saw might be friends or family of Victor and Enrique. He heard his name called and turned around. Hurrying toward him were the Woods. He smiled and accepted the hug from Shane and Mark. When Maggie and Tom caught up with them, he received a hug from them as well. He didn't notice some of the looks from the Mendes group. Some of the looks were not very friendly, because they realized who Jamie and the others with him were.
"What are you guys doing here?"
"Shane and Mark are supposed to be witnesses in the case."
"Oh, yeah, that's why I'm here too."
Further discussion was stopped as a deputy sheriff came out of the door to the courtroom and called for the jurors. The fourteen people that were wearing Juror badges entered and the door was closed again. Everyone stopped and watched as they entered the room. As they entered, a younger man came out of the door and spied Jamie and the others and walked over to them.
"Hi, I'm Jim Blanton. I'm working with Mister Bartlett and he wanted me to let you know what is going to happen. We have a row of seats behind the prosecution table for you. The first witnesses will be the police officers who responded to the 911 call, then we'll call Shane to the stand and all you have to do is answer the questions and tell the truth. After that, we may have a doctor testify about where you were shot Shane. Then we'll call James. Hopefully we can get your testimony done by lunch, if not we'll continue in the afternoon. I think we should be able to finish up all of your testimonies by the end of the day. Any questions?"
None of them had any, so they waited. The sheriff came back out and announced that the others could come in. The Mendes family and friends went inside. Then Jim ushered Jamie and his group into the courtroom. As they entered there were several angry looks directed at them from the defense side of the gallery. They saw that the jury was sitting in their seats. The judge was sitting behind his big desk that was raised above everyone else. There were a couple of sheriffs sitting in the court. A court reporter was sitting below the judge and there were two tables behind the wooden railing that separated the courtroom. On one side was the defense table and the other was the prosecution table. As they sat down, the people sitting at the defense table, which included Enrique's brother Victor, watched them sit down. Victor gave them a hard eyed look. Jamie noticed that Enrique wasn't there. Jamie saw that Hal Jackson was sitting in the front row where they would sit.
He gestured for Jamie to sit near him. "Hi Jamie."
They shook hands, as did Barbara before she sat down on the other side of Jamie.
Jamie leaned over to Hal. "Where's Enrique?"
"The defense won a motion to have him tried in Juvenile court since this is the first time he's been in any major trouble. She's hoping to get him a lighter sentence."
Hal stopped talking then as the court was called to order. The charges were read, three counts of attempted murder against Victor Mendes. There was also a special circumstance of it being part of gang activity. When they finished reading the charge Victor glared at Jamie and his group. The prosecution started by calling Sergeant Don Davis. The prosecution asked him several routine questions. A couple of guns were shown as evidence and he was asked about them. He testified that one of them was recovered during a drug raid at the hangout of the Hemet Trece gang and one was found in Victor's car. He stated also that Victor was a known senior member of the Hemet Trece. He was also asked about finding bullet casings and expended bullets at the crime scene that corresponded with the calibers of the two guns. The defense asked him about the gun found at the alleged drug raid, and if it could have been used by another person and could not be directly tied to the defendant. Don answered that the gun in question was found on Victor when he was arrested, so no, he did not think in his opinion that it was used by another person. The other officer on the scene was then called up and testified as well. He was asked similar questions and was soon done.
Next, someone from the crime lab was called up and he testified that bullets and casings recovered at the scene were matched to the two guns. Several bullets and cartridge cases were shown to the jury. He showed a picture of a couple of bullets that had been test fired by the gun and bullets retrieved from the scene, showing how they matched up. He further explained a diagram that documented where the bullets and cartridge cases were found at the scene. He also testified that a .22 caliber pistol that had been recovered had also been used in a drive by shooting from November that was directed against one of the victims of this drive by. The defense objected to that and was overruled. The defense then tried to get the expert to say that there was a chance that the bullets could have been fired from guns not entered into evidence, trying to put doubt into the juror's minds. He reiterated his certainty that the bullets at the scene matched the guns that were found. The expert was dismissed and Shane was called up to the stand. He was asked to swear to tell the truth and state his name.
"Good morning Shane. Now you understand the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie?"
"Shane, when you answer the questions, you must say yes or no. You can't say uh huh or nod your head. You have to say it. Do you understand?"
"Okay, Shane please tell us what happened the day that you were shot."
"Objection, we have not determined that he was shot."
"Sustained. Jury will disregard. Go ahead Mister Bartlett."
"Thank you, your honor. Shane please tell us what happened on the day you were injured."
Shane began telling them about how he, Mark and Jamie were playing catch when he heard something like firecrackers and then he saw Jamie running toward him and yelling for him to get down before tackling both him and Mark.
"When Jamie tackled you, did you feel anything?"
"Yeah, I mean yes sir, right before I fell down, it felt like someone punched me real hard in the arm."
"Please point to where you felt this 'punch'."
Shane pulled the sleeve of his polo shirt up and pointed at the location of a bandage on his upper arm.
"Did it hurt when you felt this punch?"
"Not at first, but when Jamie was on top of us, that's when it started hurting and I was bleeding."
"Did you know what caused the injury to your arm?"
"Not until later when my mom and dad told me what it was."
"What did they tell you?"
"Objection, your honor, hearsay."
"The witness would not have the experience or knowledge to know what had happened, and of course would ask his parents so he could understand."
"Okay Shane, you can tell us what your parents told you."
"They said I was shot in the arm."
"Did they say who shot you?"
"Okay, did you see who shot you?"
"No sir. Jamie was holding us down and I didn't see anything."
Lyle looked at his notes for a few moments before looking up.
"That's all the questions I have at this time your honor."
"Does the defense have any questions? Be mindful that he is a child when you question him."
Missus Pineda nodded as she stood up.
"Yes, your honor. Shane, you said that Jamie tackled you to the ground and then your arm started hurting?"
"Has Jamie tackled you like when you've been throwing a football around or wrestling with him?"
"Yes, when we've wrestled, I guess."
"Do you wrestle around a lot?"
"No, not really."
"Have you ever hurt your arm while wrestling with Jamie?"
"No, ma'am. Not like this."
"So Jamie has injured you when wrestling with you? He's hurt you?"
"But you said 'not like this'. So that seems to mean that he has hurt you before."
"I got a grass burn a couple of times."
"Did you bleed?"
"When Jamie tackled you, couldn't that have hurt your arm?"
"No, Jamie has never hurt me. He wouldn't. He's my big brother. I got shot."
"Nothing further, your honor."
"You may step down young man."
Shane stepped down and went back to sit next to his parents. The prosecution called a doctor who showed the x-rays taken of Shane's arm and pointed out the bullet that was in his arm in the x-rays. He testified that it was removed and given to the police. He was excused and the crime lab person was called back up and asked if he had tested the bullet and he confirmed that the bullet that was taken from Shane's arm came from one of the handguns that was used in the crime. When he was excused the judge looked at his watch.
"It is near enough so that we will adjourn for lunch. It is almost eleven thirty now, we will resume at one pm. Jurors are admonished to not discuss this case between yourselves or anyone else."
The judge left the chamber and the sheriff's started emptying the courtroom. Lyle turned to them and told the Woods that they did not have to return in the afternoon. He also told Jamie that he would be the first one called up to testify when they returned to the court. He directed Jamie and his group out first. Hal joined them for lunch. They all went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. When they were done, the Woods said goodbye and Hal, Jamie and Barbara headed back to the courthouse. They found a place to sit outside the courtroom. The family and friends of Victor were already there. Jamie noticed the scowls that they were getting from them. Some of the guys looked like gangbangers with the way that they were dressed. Jamie tried to ignore them and looked down at the ground. There were obvious threats in the way they looked at Jamie. Finally one o'clock came around and the guy who was working with Lyle came out and got Hal to follow him. The jurors were called in a few minutes later and then the rest of the spectators. Jamie and Barbara waited until the others had gone in before they went in. Hal directed Jamie to a seat next to him. The judge entered and the court was called to order. They took care of a few minor paperwork things before they started. Jamie was called to the stand.
"Raise your right hand. Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"
"Please state your name for the record."
"James Richard Carpenter."
"You may be seated."
Lyle walked up and smiled at Jamie.
"James, I understand you prefer Jamie, may I call you that?"
"Very well. Jamie, how old are you?"
"Please tell us in your own words what happened on the day in question."
"My foster brothers Shane and Mark wanted to play catch so we went out to the front yard and played catch for a while. Mark made a bad throw and it tipped off my glove and toward the street, I went after it and as I got near it I noticed a car in the street that was driving slowly. I looked up and saw two people pointing guns at me from the windows of the car. I turned around and ran to my foster brothers and yelled at them to get down. I looked over my shoulder and saw the flash of the guns begin fired at me and heard the gunshots. When I got close enough I tackled my foster brothers to the ground. The guns stopped firing and I heard the car peal out. I looked up and saw the car driving away really fast. Shane and Mark were crying and Shane told me that he was hurt. I looked at my hand it had blood on it. I saw blood on Shane's arm. My foster parents came outside and they called 911 for help. They took Shane away in an ambulance and Mark and I went with his parents to the hospital."
"Jamie, do you see any of the persons who shot at you in this room?"
Jamie looked at Victor at the defense table. Victor gave him a hard eyed glare, but he tried to keep his face neutral.
"Could you point that person out?"
Jamie pointed at Victor.
"The man sitting over there."
There were murmurs from Victors family and friends.
"Let the record show that the witness has identified the defendant Victor Mendes."
The judge nodded.
"No further questions at this time."
Victor's attorney got up.
"Jamie, may I call you Jamie?"
"Jamie, you say that you saw Mister Mendes shooting at you. From your description you say that you saw someone shooting, then you turned around and ran and then you glanced over your shoulder. How much time do you think you were looking at the person who was shooting at you?"
"I don't know ma'am."
"Would you say it was in minutes or seconds?"
"How many? One, five, ten?"
"I don't know."
"Can't you make a guess?"
"Objection, your honor, he's already answered that he doesn't know."
"I'm going to allow it. Jamie, please try to answer the question."
"Um, ten or fifteen seconds?"
"Which is it? Ten…or…fifteen?"
Jamie thought back for a moment before answering.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I think so."
"You think so, but you're not sure?"
"Not one hundred percent."
"So it could have been ten or even less?"
"No, I don't think so."
"You don't think so?"
"Yes, your honor. Was the car moving?"
"How far away from the car were you when you said that you saw Mister Mendes fire a gun at you?"
Jamie looked around the room and pointed.
"About as far from here to that railing thing."
She walked over to the railing and turned back to him.
"You say the car was about here? So for ten seconds…"
"Fifteen then, from this distance, while running and tackling the two other boys and glancing back over your shoulder, you could positively identify Mister Mendes as the person driving the car."
"Yes ma'am. He was driving the car and shooting a gun at me."
"I find it hard to believe that you can make a positive ID of someone in moving car, through a side window, while doing all that running and ducking. How can you be certain that you saw Mister Mendes?"
"I don't know, but it was him."
"If you don't know, then how can you make a positive identification?"
"I just can. I know it was him."
"Have you seen Mister Mendes before today?"
"Oh, when was that?"
"When he shot at me."
There were a couple of stifled giggles.
"How can you be sure that Mister Mendes is the person in the car?"
Jamie looked at Victor and he suddenly remembered something.
"He has a thirteen tattooed on his upper arm and there is a scar between the one and three."
She looked over at Victor. Victor had a little surprised look on his face. Lyle was looking through a file on his desk. He pulled a file out and got a smile on his face.
"No further questions at this time."
Lyle stood up.
"Your honor, redirect?"
The judge nodded.
"I'd like to show Jamie people's exhibit three."
The judge held his hand out.
"Let me see it?"
Lyle passed it to the court clerk, who passed it to the judge. He looked at and handed it back.
"Please show it to the defense and then you may show it to the witness."
Lyle walked over to the defense table and handed it to Missus Pineda. She looked at it for a few moments before handing it back. Victor leaned over to look at it as well and he scowled as he sat back. Lyle walked over to Jamie and handed the file to him and pointed at one part of the form.
"Jamie would you please read this sentence right here out loud, under the section 'Distinguishing Marks, Tattoos, Scars, etc."
Jamie looked at where Lyle was pointing.
"Tatoo on left upper arm of the number thirteen, between the one and three of the tattoo is a narrow vertical scar approximately three inches long."
"Thank you Jamie. No questions at this time."
The judge looked over at the defense table. Missus Pineda stood up.
"Re-cross your honor."
She went to the prosecution table and asked for the file. She looked at it for a moment before turning to Jamie.
"Did you see this form before?"
"The police or the prosecutor, never showed this to you?"
"So you claim that you could see this tattoo and scar, while doing everything you testified you were doing, and you noticed this in the short amount of time you had, to notice such details."
"You expect the court to believe that you could see something this clearly from at least twenty feet away while running and ducking as you testified? Without someone coaching you?"
"I have a good memory."
She saw that Jamie was not to be swayed from his assertion that he saw the tattoo and scar.
"No further questions."
The judge nodded.
"The witness is excused. Call your next witness Councilor."
"The prosecution rest's your honor."
"Very Well. Missus Pineda are you ready to proceed with your defense witnesses."
"We request continuance until tomorrow morning."
"Granted, court will reconvene at nine am."
Hal quickly ushered Jamie and Barbara out of the courtroom with the sheriff's assistance. They wanted to get out of there and put some distance between themselves and Victor's friends and relatives. Hal told them that they should split up and he would give Jamie a ride home and meet her there. She agreed and they split up. Jamie went with Hal and they were soon on their way to his home. Barbara arrived shortly before them and invited Hal in the house. They sat at the dining room table. She offered him something to drink but he declined.
"I won't be here long. Jamie, you never mentioned seeing the tattoo and the scar when we talked before."
"I just remembered it when she asked."
"You have good eyes to see that tattoo and scar from that distance and remember it. I think that identification nailed Victor to the wall. I don't know what the defense can say to refute that."
Hal's phone rang at that time and he excused himself for a moment. He came back and sat down with a smile.
"That was Lyle Bartlett the prosecutor. He says that you don't have to be in court tomorrow. He also said that he thinks the trial will be over quickly because of what you said about Victor."
"Well I should get going; I have other things I need to work on. Good job today Jamie. I'll talk to you folks later."
They walked him to the door and said their goodbyes. Dylan came home a little while later, having spent the afternoon at Ethan's house. He and Jamie went upstairs and he asked him all about the trial. Jamie told him what happened. They were interrupted when Barbara called them down for dinner. During dinner Dave asked them about the trial. Once dinner was over, they went upstairs to finish homework. Dylan had brought Jamie's work home for him to do. After they finished, they watched TV in Jamie's room until bedtime. Barbara and Dave came in the room to say goodnight. Barbara once again picked up the photo of Jamie and his mom and showed it to Dave. He didn't recognize her either. She kissed Jamie on the forehead and they left the room. Jamie settled down and was soon asleep.