From chapter 17:
Determined, with my heart heavy and hopeful, I asked this boy, “Benji will you be my grandson? Please.”
- Grandma's POV -
Benji, the boy who I asked to be my grandson, quickly rose to his feet, took one step backward, bowed respectfully, and said, “As you wish. I am honored. I shall attempt to be a good grandson. May I ask a question that I do not understand the answer to?”
“Oh my, Benji you don't need to ask permission to ask me a question... if you have a question, please, just ask it. I'll attempt to answer it, okay?”
Benji bowed again. “Why did you ask me to be your grandson? We are not of the same linage. I do not understand.”
“Oh my, I've never been asked that question... let me think for a moment.” I said sheepishly.
I realized I'd not spent a whole lot of time with my grandchildren, especially since David and Jeremy moved with their parents to Hawaii and more especially since Helen passed away from her cancer. With resignation I said, “That's a very good question Benji. I've got some ideas so why don't you just watch me so you get an idea of what 'spoiling' means when it comes to my grandchildren, you included. I'm afraid I haven't been practicing what I was thinking about. Just remember that 'spoiling' doesn't mean the same thing as say having spoiled milk or food growing scientific experiments. And when I say scientific experiments I mean allowing milk to go bad, allowing leftover food to grow mold and other nasty little critters.”
“Okay, I will watch you!”
“Here comes the fun part of being a grandmother and grandson, are you ready?”
I got these old rickety bones up and off the bed, reached my arms out and pulled the child into my arms and gave him a good grandmotherly hug. At the same time the boy gave a good old-fashioned grandson hug to his grandmother.
With that cemented into granite we took off for the pool area where everyone was gathered. Upon arrival I got everybody's attention and then made the announcement that Benji was 'officially' added to the family.
Jim would later ask me why I did that... I replied simply because I can.
- Mom's POV -
About an hour later, Antoine walked into the conference room. He appeared pale. He had sweat on his eyebrows, and the front of his t-shirt was wet. He was smiling though cautiously.
My son reached for my hand which I gave him without question. I knew that he was making right with remnants of mispositioned guilt. With him leading the way I noticed that his t-shirt was soaked with sweat.
“Son, are you okay?” I asked softly.
“Yes, I will be okay. Come.”
When we reached the door to Jim's room, Antoine stopped and said, “Mother, to heal, your husband needs your and your unborn child's bonds.”
It was then when I realized all our boys, including Harry, had been following us. Jeremy said softly, “All for one, one for all.”
As I emerged I realized that Jim and I were intimately connected. Our baby was kicking, it was almost like she was waving her hands in an effort to say hi and I love you. Our arms were interconnected. Our legs embracing one another. Our bellies were enmeshed and my husband's maleness was deeply embedded in my passageway.
His breathing was ragged. Actually he was panting. I knew the feeling all too well. After all we were with child as a product of our most blessed union.
We kissed, and we kissed again and again. Together, fully aware, we once again coupled to become one and the same, and then Jim went to the Healing Place.
I got up and out of bed grateful that our children had left us alone. When we'd seen our children intimately joined with their mates back in Singapore we saw nothing but beauty... I had Conflict to resolve yet was it really Conflict at all? I felt and feel that parents sharing their intimate moments with their children observing is inappropriate.
I dressed, used the restroom and then headed to the conference room.
The boys looked at me expectantly.Benji reminded me that Emergence can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to complete. He urged us to leave for a couple of hours and then as we were getting on the elevator he headed to Jim's room.
God, I love that boy.
Dr. Miller stopped by the cafeteria. He immediately saw us and came over and sat down. He'd received report from Dr. Blackwell. He also said that he had gone to check on Jim. Dr. Miller said that Jim was progressing well and that he was in no danger, and that he felt Jim's recovery would be as we'd expected given our newly found knowledge and experience.
After Dr. Miller apprised us of Jim's condition, we all sighed a collective sigh of relief. The boys' stomachs were growling so I sent Jeremy and David for pie and drinks.
An hour later, Jim and Benji entered the cafeteria. They looked around in all directions to find us. He didn't have to look very far because we got up and went to them.
Our reunion was warm, refreshing and heartfelt.
Jim was wearing a sling to keep still his arm that had been injured, but only as a precaution and to pacify Dr. Miller's insistence that he do just that, so he did what the good doctor said.
He indicated that his pain level was in the +1 to +2 ranges but you would never have figured that one out by the way he was both giving and receiving hugs from the bunch of us. After drinking another cup of coffee (soft drinks for the boys) we returned to Jim's room. Drs. Borkwin, Miller and Blackwell were performing rounds. Although Drs. Miller and Borkwin were not all that surprised, Dr. Blackwell was stupefied at seeing, with his own eyes, nearly normal range of motion, nearly normal sensations, and a readiness to get out of the hospital and go home.
With a wife and many sons glaring the doctors down they had little to no choice but to discharge Jim to our care.
- Antoine's POV -
I awoke very early the following morning; the sun was just coming up. I wanted to take a run to get back in shape. I pulled away from Matt's embrace. Oh God, how I loved him. He looked so peaceful and serene... I touched his chest with my hand... he was feeling very loved, very peaceful, very serene, very bonded, and free from his demons of the past, though not entirely but the ones that remained were put into their respective places and perspectives in such a way as to no longer burden his spirit.
I got up, went into the bathroom, used the facilities then returned to our bedroom, donned a jock strap and a pair of loose fitting running shorts, went to the kitchen, poured a glass of orange juice, drank it quickly and then took off on my run.
I pushed myself to the limits of endurance, and with a renewed strength - surpassed them. With a free spirit, with watching the sun rise over the horizon, with the knowledge that I was intimately connected to the Universe, the burden of getting back into shape was tolerable despite screaming muscles.
I passed the mission on my trek to the rocks, a place that I'd called home for a period of time. Upon arrival, with ease I climbed to the top and then looked out over the ocean where I saw, felt and experienced its majestic beauty and unending strength. I then meditated for an indeterminate period of time.
My meditation was pleasantly interrupted by a young voice shouting from somewhere. While returning to this plane of existence, I looked all around to get my bearings back, and to find the origins of that voice. I smiled warmly, my spirit soared when I saw a boy playing in the surf far below my perch high up on the rocks.
When fully aware, I found it odd that the little boy appeared to be riding something, perhaps some kind of creature, or something. With my curiosity peaked I negotiated the steep decline, carefully taking into account the sharp, jagged edges that would surely mean death and destruction if one were to fall anywhere along the way.
The first surprise to see was the boy was Jesus, playing and frolicking in the surf, bobbing up and down. The second – the child was riding a dolphin, a baby dolphin.
When he saw me, the boy enthusiastically waved and urged me to join him.
Within scant seconds, I had stripped naked and was on my way to join them when another critter knocked me over causing me to land face first on the ocean floor... it then nuzzled its muzzle gently between my legs and the ocean floor causing me to surface. The dolphin, by the way, was obviously laughing at my ineptitude by squealing continuously and constantly. It then circled around, urged its nose between my legs, held it there and then I felt its tongue lapping at my maleness... that was major weird... I didn't know dolphins lick 'anything', much less a human appendage hanging very vulnerably in the water. Nevertheless, I suppose its curiosity was satisfied because it then lifted me up on its back. The critter loved to raise from the water just enough to cause us to slide to its tail area and then flip us face first into the water. Very, very, very funny... but we had an absolute blast.
In all my years living on or close to an ocean beach I'd never experienced anything like that.
After a while, after one last flip the dolphins took off for deeper water, we took off for shore where we sat in the warm sand retelling our tales, laughing, and wishing the dolphins would return sooner rather than later.
When we gave up on our hopes for them to return we began our regimen, though it was much less vigorous because I spent a great deal of time working on his form and mind control.
We finished up with a full out sparing match. Though the boy was good I was better and easily deflected most but not all of his attempts to make me eat sand. And not to forget... he deflected most but not all of my attempts to do the same.
Finished with that, we sat in the sand, arm in arm, just watching and listening to the surf.
By the position of the sun we realized we needed to return to our homes to get ready for school... so we took off and did just that.
- Two weeks later, Thursday -
The courthouse was daunting. Because I was the only one of the immediate family to testify we were all permitted into the courtroom at noon. Mom and dad had been permitted to be with Maria throughout the trial. Neither told me anything about what had been happening though both were nervous and on edge the previous evening. Neither would say anything. I was seated at the prosecutor's table, and was quite surprised to see he was the same guy that had basically dropped all charges for Peter.
At 1:00pm the judge entered the courtroom from his chambers and sat at the bench and brought the session to order. The bailiff called my name, so, somewhat nervously yet determined to tell what actually happened I walked up and was duly sworn in.
My spirit sensed a foreboding, although the feelings were not overwhelming because I had a truth to tell, and would be permitted to extend the truth to those who would listen. Mr. Richter, the prosecutor, said the defense team could very well be brutal because they would try to discredit me as a person, paint me as a liar, and bring up my past.
Maria looked so worried. She'd been crying and still dabbed at her eyes with Kleenex. While I knew of her distress, I hadn't actually seen it. (I would later learn that she had been required to testify against her own flesh and blood, her firstborn son. I could not imagine just how hard that would have been for her).
Mom had concern written all over her face.
Dad nodded and sent waves of strength my way.
Then Pablo was escorted into the courtroom and was sat down at the defense table. He didn't look so much like a bad ass. His wrists were handcuffed and his ankles shackled. A chill went down my spine when our eyes met. I'd never before seen the level of contempt, the anger, the resentment, and hatred as I saw right then. I looked away and caught Father Ben's eyes. He closed them, bowed his head and prayed silently. I asked the Universe to give me strength and stamina, and peace.
Mr. Richter asked several questions about what had happened from the time Father Ben and I became aware of the problem to the point where I was led out of their house by the forensics team after having had Manual die in my arms. I did okay; I maintained until they showed the court and jury the pictures showing me holding Manual in my arms, with mom holding us both in her arms, and Father Ben giving the boy the last rites sacrament. I looked away when pictures of Manual's injuries were shown. Not looking didn't stop Mr. Richter from having testimony read about certain pathology sections.
I looked at Pablo to see his reactions. His neutral and detached demeanor frightened me... shivers ran up and down my spine. I also saw pain flicker on and off. His soul was cold. I saw absolutely no guilt or remorse – none!
The last pictures had been taken of Manual's position in the casket. The last picture was of the gathering of people attending his burial.
As hard as I tried, as hard as I gathered in my disciplines, as hard as I tried to be strong... when they showed Manual's face just as they closed the casket lid... I broke down. Even though I didn't cry I felt my spirit struggling to survive the onslaught of everything all put together into a 1 hour segment.
On the stand, Mr. Richter asked the judge for a recess. It was immediately granted. The bailiff led me into a small conference room. Mr. Richter brought me a glass of orange juice. At the same time, mom, dad and Matt walked into the room and the door was closed. The bailiff said we had 30 minutes until court would resume. Then he was gone.
When Matt kissed my lips and put his arms around me, I lost it. Mom was crying. Dad's lips were quivering.
When I began recovering my composure, Matt and I stood. He just held me firmly, told me things of support, kissed me occasionally... but mainly what he gave was in and of himself, of his essence.
When it was time to return to the courtroom, mom straightened my tie and shirt collar while Matt neatly tucked in my shirt and while dad told me that while everything wasn't okay it would soon be because people would know the truth of that fateful day for Manual, and for those who loved him.
After court was resumed I gave testimony for Maria's assault by her son Pablo. The jury was shown pictures of her injuries... but they didn't actually see her being beat to cause those injuries. I tried to describe what I'd seen.
When asked what I did to stop the attack, I truthfully told the court that I neutralized the attacker, and how I'd accomplished the task. I stole a look toward a jury woman sitting on the end of the bench they use to seat jurors. Her eyes were wet.
The prosecution dismissed me with the right to recall. Another short recess was called. Matt and I quickly went to restroom where I peed and washed my hands and face. I was okay. Dad entered, did his business then we all three hugged deeply and then went back to the courtroom. Mom hugged and kissed my lips, as did Matt just before I went back to the witness stand.
The judge entered and then called the defense to begin the cross examination questions.
Daniel Speak, the defense attorney, walked to the witness stand. He was actually smiling... which I found odd because the smile betrayed what was behind his eyes. I could see his soul but what I saw superficially compelled me to clear my throat. A small chill went up my neck. I brought my senses together and was able to keep myself in check and unemotional.
The defense attorney was the same lawyer who had represented Tanya Jamison, Matt, Peter and Andy's biological parent, egg donor.
He began by asking the same basic information Mr. Richter had asked while I was under oath. Mr. Richter objected. The judge sustained his request.
Quickly, I looked at the people in the jury box. Most of them appeared quite bored but they were at least listening.
Speak: Young man, please tell the court how you know the decedent, Manual Escobar Jesus Moreno?
Me: I met him on the beach one day while I was running.
Speak: Will you give the court the exact date and time?
Me: I don't know, sir.
Speak: You don't know?
Me: No, sir.
Speak: You are the prosecution’s Star Witness, and you don't even know when you and the child met?
Richter: Objection, badgering the witness. The witness has already answered the question.
Speak: Prior to the alleged crime, how many times had you met the child?
Me: Many times.
Speak: Tell me about it.
Me: The first time I met him was after his mother told me that his brother, the man sitting at your table, was molesting him and beating him up. After that I made a point to see the child on a regular basis, usually during my morning or evening run.
Speak: I see. So you knew he was allegedly being beaten and molested... yet you didn't report the alleged assaults to the police, is that what you are telling this court?
Me: There were no allegations of anything. If Manual were here today then his story would be 'expert testimony' but since he isn't then other people have to tell his story, isn't that right Mr. Speak?
Speak: I'll ask the questions here, young man.
Me: Then ask an intelligent question. I have already told the court that Pablo and I had an altercation about his treatment toward his little brother. I convinced him, in my own way, to stop it. There were no allegations. Manual told me himself. I believed him, I still do.
Speak: Objection your honor.
Kendall: For what reason? For whatever reason, your objection is overruled. The witness is instructed to permit counsel to ask questions.
Speak: Who are you then? Are you Rambo, John Wayne perhaps?
Me: Your honor, am I supposed to answer a stupid question like that?
Richter: Objection to defense counsel's question, your honor. The answer to the question, no matter how it is reworded is clearly irrelevant.
Speak: Let's go back a little bit... you said, quote, 'Manual told me himself. I believed him, I still do'. You said that, right?
Me: Yes, sir.
Speak: Well, you still haven't answered my question that asked you why you didn't call law enforcement. Just because you and the defendant in this action allegedly came to an agreement does not mean the agreement is legal and binding.
Richter: Objection. Leading the witness.
Kendall: Sustained. The witness is directed to please answer the question to the court on why you did not call law enforcement.
Mr. Speak got this stupid ass victory smile cross his face, like he was gloating or some such shit.
Me: Pablo physically assaulted me. Manual was next to me, holding on to me for support. I physically neutralized his attack and to prevent injury to Manual. We live in a remote area. It takes approximately 35 minutes for law enforcement to arrive when summoned. By the time we resolved our conflict, he, the defendant promised Manual and I that he would leave the boy alone, and for quite some time he did in fact leave the boy alone.
Speak: Okay, so it's true that you did not call law enforcement because 'you' handled the situation. When then did you meet the defendant again?
Me: The day when Maria and Manual were assaulted. Manual died on October 22, 2009.
Speak: Oh, so you do remember dates...
Richter: Objection, your honor. Innuendo.
Speak: Okay, Mr. Blake, let's get to the meat and potatoes of why we're here, shall we? (Without waiting for an answer, he continued.) Okay, on the day the decedent most unfortunately passed away, you did grievously assault and maim for life the defendant in this action, is that correct?
Richter: Objection, your honor. What the state's witness did to stop the attack has no bearing on this proceeding. The defense counsel has clearly indicated that they're going to get to the 'meat and potatoes' of this matter before the court yet said counsel is going after the witness.
Speak: Your honor, may I speak?
Kendall: Would counsel please approach the bench?
The two lawyers approached the bench which was located, of course, right next to the witness stand.
Speak: Your honor, the witness has a violent history which I'm drawing out of him. This line of questioning is totally relevant given the violent nature causing the decedent's death.
Richter: Your honor, this is a fishing expedition that has absolutely no bearing on the death of one Manual Moreno. The police investigation clearly states that the witness acted in good faith, and that he did indeed prevent the death of the decedent's mother, and that he did indeed attempt to rescue the decedent. Moreover, the bench would not approve one of the decedent's brothers to first-hand testify so the witness on the stand is our Star Witness because he was intimately involved in preventing further injury and disability AND death AND he was present when the decedent died.
Kendall: Counselor, Mr. Richter, I am going to permit this line of questioning, however I will hold you, Mr. Speak, in contempt of court if you badger this witness. Do you perfectly understand me?
Speak: Yes sir; thank you sir.
Kendall: (In a very low voice, looking directly at Mr. Speak). Don't fuck it up, counselor.
Kendall (back to session): Antoine, I have overruled the objection meaning you are compelled to answer the question defense counsel has presented. Do you need that question read back to you?
Me: No sir, I remember the question. (I looked at Mr. Speak directly into his eyes with an intensity that I rarely use. That intensity is comprised of a mix of anger, resentment, and yes even a trace of hate, and then some thoughts of 'you really are a dumb shit). The answer to the question is: yes. And yes, I would do it again if I or someone I loved or anyone out there on the street who was getting the shit beat out of them like Maria was. It's my duty to do what I can to protect someone, and if that requires grievous and permanent disability then so be it.
Mr. Speak turned around and walked back to the defense table... I supposed that he left the space where we saw each other because he needed to recover, regroup. I didn't think the bastard would know the truth if it was in front of his eyes.
Mr. Richter nodded but he looked nervous.
Just then Mr. Speak turned back to the bench and walked over and stood in front of me with his face toward the jury box. He asked, “And just how did you do that?”
Me: I took him down. He's very, very strong, and he was determined to hurt his MOTHER. He fought against my attempts to subdue him, and he continued to beat his mother, and he started beating on me, and no matter what I did he wouldn't stop his viscous attack. So, I went to the next level and dislocated first his shoulders, and when he began kicking me I dislocated his hips. The situation was neutralized.
Speak: Mr. Blake, you're not that big of a guy to take on a big person like Pablo... so just how did you do that to him?
Richter: Objection, your honor. The witness is not on trial. He was using every possible means to prevent further injury to Mrs. Moreno.
Kendall: Overruled. Answer the question.
Speak: Thank you, your honor. Okay, Mr. Blake, please answer the question... do you need it repeated?
Me: No sir, I understand the question, and I have no problem answering it. I am versed in self-defense. I am able to and will defend myself, my family, or a victim who I see being assaulted.
Speak: Okay, that sounds reasonable. Where did you receive your training, and who trained you?
Me: My father and my Sensei, my grandfather. Most of my training was received when we lived in Singapore.
Speak: Okay, so you are trained in self-defense. That too is reasonable. In what discipline were you trained?
Me: I have been trained in many, including The Way of the Ninja. My Sensei is a Ninja.
Speak: Whoa, a Ninja... that's impressive. Aren't Ninja's taught to kill?
Me: Yes sir. My training was only in defense.
Speak: Have you killed anyone... in the name of defense?
Richter: Objection, your honor. The witness is not on trial. This line of questioning has no relevance to this matter before the court.
Speak: May I your honor?
Kendall: Yes, please do. You'd better be establishing a very solid foundation.
Speak: Oh I am your honor. The witness has already admitted to causing grievous injury to the defendant, with alleged cause, of course. Thus far he seems to be acting as judge and jury, and would, no doubt, adjudicate execution under any given situation or circumstance he alone deemed appropriate. Stopping an assault from happening, or stopping an assault already in progress is a reasonable and prudent thing to do. The status of Ninja is a very high level of expertise...
Me: Sir, I am not designated as a Ninja.
Speak: Your honor, please counsel the witness to refrain his outbursts.
Richter: Your honor, the witness did not provide any sort of an outburst. He clarified that he is not, in fact, a Ninja.
Kendall: Mr. Blake, please restrain your reactions. You will be given the opportunity to set the record straight, from your perspective, won't he Mr. Speak?
Richter: Objection to this entire line of questioning... Mr. Blake, young Blake is not on trial. It is established that he defended Mrs. Moreno from a viscous beating perpetrated on her person by her own son. The witness is trained to defend himself, his loved ones and any other victim – this is commendable. Thank you sir.
Speak: Okay, regardless, public record reveals that young Antoine Blake has indeed killed two people here in Hawaii, in the name of defending his life.
Richter: OBJECTION, YOUR HONOR. The witness is NOT on trial! Those altercations were deemed reasonable and proper by all levels of law enforcement! The witnesses' life was in jeopardy on both occasions. It was proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was either their lives or his. He was exonerated without prejudice.
Kendall: Mr. Speak, where are you going with this? I am very strongly inclined to sustain Mr. Richter's objection, however, the witness is directed to answer the question.
Speak: I'll rephrase my question - young man, to what extent are you trained to defend?
Me: I am trained in the Way of the Ninja. I have been trained to do whatever is necessary to neutralize a threat, honorably.
Speak: So, you are trained to kill?
Me: I am.
Speak: I see. You are trained to kill. If the defendant was causing grievous injuries to a person, namely his mother, then why did you not cause his untimely death?
Me: I would have. Maria told me that her middle son had been assaulted, no she screamed that he'd been and continued to be assaulted and that his life was in great distress. Father Ben told me to leave that piece of flesh, Pablo, alone to tend to the younger child, Manual.
Speak: So, had you not been restrained, you would have killed the defendant, Pablo Moreno? Is that what you are saying?
Richter: Objection, your honor. The establishment of Mr. Blake's means of defense has already been established. I implore the court to cease this line of questioning, immediately, please.
Kendall: Overruled. The defendant has voluntarily answered the question.
Mr. Speak's sense of victory was getting on my last nerve. I felt myself tensing up, my senses were becoming acute, and my vision narrowed, my hearing – extremely sensitive. I reached for my bonded one. He sent back a piece of our connection made just that morning before leaving for court. I shuddered, recalling that I was so deep inside of him that it wasn't even funny, or to be dismissed.
Speak: So, okay, you restrained yourself from killing the defendant, knowing his mother was allegedly being beaten... why did you not kill him?
Me: I did not kill him because killing him would have been dishonorable. Maria told me that the danger was actually inside of the house, and that her son was in mortal danger. Father Ben also told me to go to Manual. So I did. Pablo was allowed to live. It was the right thing.
Speak: How many other people have you killed in your young life, Mr. Blake?
Richter: OBJECTION!!!!! Relevance.
Kendall: Sustained. I've had enough... this witness is not on trial.
Speak: Objection to the objection, your honor.
Kendall: Too bad counselor, you had your chance. In case you didn't hear me, I said this witness is not on trial. Are you finished with this witness?
Speak (to Kendall): No sir, the defense has a few more questions before releasing this witness, if I may, your honor.
Speak (turned to me then glared into my eyes): Do you have sexual intercourse …
Richter: OBJECTION! OBJECTION! OBJECTION! Speak: with members of your own gender (Richter: OBJECTION! OBJECTION! YOUR HONOR PLEASE!).
Judge Kendall, with his nostrils flaring and his eyes glaring, and very nearly bugging out of his head looked at Mr. Speak and then to Mr. Richter. He said, “As much as I do not want to overrule the objection I am compelled to overrule your objection Mr. Prosecutor. The witness is directed to provide a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer to the question to the court.”
Quickly, I looked to Matt. His spirit, though troubled, rose to the occasion and sent me a huge shot of warm love that permeated my being. I looked at my family for their support... it was definitely there. Father Ben nodded. I looked to Maria... she was dabbing her eyes. She'd had enough. I looked to Jesus but he was looking away... a blank stare was emanating from his eyes.
I turned to Mr. Speak: Yes. I am in a bonded relationship with He who is My Bonded One.
The courtroom breathed audibly though when I looked at the men and women in the jury box, the expressions on their faces were mixed between horror, grief, contempt, and understanding. Two of them slightly nodded, but not so much to be noticed by the courtroom in general.
Speak: You're how old?
Speak: You've had sex with an underage boy, obviously, correct?
Richter: OBJECTION! OBJECTION! Innuendo and leading the witness.
Kendall: Overruled. Mr. Speak, you are headed into very, very dangerous territory.
Mr. Richter sat down. Slowly, painfully as if he had a wrench in his neck, he nodded for me to continue. I decided I'd had enough of the insinuations and bullshit. Mr. Speak said, “Have you or have you not had sex with an under aged boy?
Me: No sir. My Bonded One is 7 months younger than me. There is no such law that makes our union illegal.
Speak: So... you are 15 and the person you are supposedly bonded with ARE indeed underage...
Richter: Objection your honor. Statutorily two people under the age of majority, who are both consenting to a sexual relationship is not illegal so therefore this line of questioning is not relevant to this matter.
Judge Kendall turned to the defense counsel, Mr. Speak, and said, “Counselor, it's time to move on. This court has given you much latitude however the age of consent between two consenting young people within a very tight age range is not an issue in the matter before this court.
Speak: (He walked to within 8 inches of the separation, leaned in and nearly shouted, “Did you or did you not have sexual intercourse with Manual Escobar Moreno?”
Me: No. Manual and I were brothers in every sense of the spiritual meaning.
Speak: Oh, okay. Thank you for a truly honest testimony. Tell the court then … mind you that you define your relationship between the decedent and yourself as brotherly... the familial relationship between yourself and your “Bonded One”.
Richter: Objection, your honor. Relevance.
Mr. Speak smiled. I knew what was coming. Dad had told us that the issue of our relationships would eventually come under scrutiny at some time. I looked at Matt. His soul permeated my entire being. I looked to dad... he nodded assuredly.
Me: Sir, my relationship with my Bonded One began long before I was adopted into my family, and long before I met Manual.
Speak: That doesn't answer my question... what is the familial relationship between you and your Bonded One?
Me: My adopted brother.
Speak: (Smiling from ear to ear – then he turned as serious as a heart attack). So, your sex mate is a brother... did you have sex with Manual who is also your brother?
Me: No, never.
Richter: Objection your honor. Insinuation, relevance.
Kendall: Overruled for now. Mr. Speak, where are you going with this?
Speak: Have you ever exercised your Ninja training on your brother, Matt's his name, correct?
Me: No, never.
Speak: Did you ever exercise your Ninja training on your brother Manual Escobar Moreno?
Me: No, never! I never harmed the boy. We never had sex. We never did anything sexual, ever.
Richter: Your honor, for the record, I object to this line of questioning. It is totally irrelevant to this matter before the court. Medical testimony has already been given in this proceeding. It states that the only semen found on, around, and inside of the decedent was the defendants.
Kendall: So noted. Mr. Speak, move on.
Speak: Very well, your honor. Okay Mr. Blake, just a few more questions. The forensics team report says that you were present at the time of the decedent's death, is this correct?
Me: Yes sir. He died in my arms.
Speak: >From your own testimony, you said that you were summoned to the residence during the period of time when the decedent's mother was being attacked by her son. You said that a Father Ben and the decedent's mother both told you that her son was in danger. Is this correct?
Me: Yes sir.
Speak: Did you observe and were you present when the decedent was brutally attacked?
Me: He died in my arms, sir. (My voice was breaking apart with the memory of pulling Manual from the cabinet, his last words to me, and him dying in my arms. Tears began freely flowing from my eyes causing my vision to become cloudy).
Speak: Please answer the question. Do you need for me to have it read back?
Speak: No, what? No, that you were not present during the attack or 'no' that you do not need the question read back to you again?
Me: (The full ramification of his first question took hold of me. I bowed my head, swiped at my eyes to stop the tears, summoned all my strength and stamina from all of my training, replayed the memories of finding Manual... which caused me to audibly choke a sob back. I swore to Manual, though to tell the truth so that his voice was heard. I was failing him). I replied, “No. I did not witness the attack. Manual's brothers were there. They told me. They'd never lied to me, ever.
Richter: Your honor, the prosecution requests a short recess so that our witness can have a few minutes of respite.
Kendall: Your request is granted. This court is in recess for 15 minutes.
Richter: Thank you, your honor.
With that, I walked to Maria, leaned into her, hugged her deeply and said, "Lo siento, Momacita, he fallado a su hijo. Le prometí que iba a ser escuchado. Lo siento." [I'm sorry, Momacita, I have failed your son. I promised him that he would be heard. I'm sorry.]
Momacita replied, "Antoine, Manual de voz está siendo escuchada. He oído la verdad de tus labios. Veo la verdad en sus ojos. No importa lo que se dice por los demás, yo sé lo que usted dice es la verdad. La verdad es ajuste manual libre, esto es todo lo que quiero para mi hijo bebé." [Antoine, Manual's voice is being heard. I hear the truth from your lips. I see the truth in your eyes. No matter what is being said by the others, I know what you say is the truth. The truth is setting Manual free; this is all I want for my baby son.]
I knew not what else to say. I gently kissed each of her cheeks then went into Matt's arms where he held me tightly, passed his strengths into my spirit, and somehow made things right. Dad pulled me into his strong arms, held me tight, and then said, “Son you have failed no one. No matter how this turns out, you were there for Manual in his last moments, and I have no doubt that his spirit passed through you on his way to his Creator. However this turns out... Manual can never again be hurt or harmed. You were a true Warrior for him. You are a Warrior for the truth. No matter how this turns out, we will continue to love and cherish you, because we cannot not love and support and cherish you.” Dad then kissed my forehead and passed me to mom.
She said, “Your dad is right. You are my son, and always will be.
Jesus took my hand in his and pulled me aside, “"Perdóname por lo que voy a hacer." [Forgive me for what I am about to do.]
With that said he kissed each of my cheeks and then sat down on the edge of the bench seat where he'd been sitting throughout my testimony. The look in his eyes was intense, hot even, and determined. I could not read him. AZ looked into my eyes with concern but he didn't say anything.
Bailiff: All rise for the Honorable Judge Kendall.
I sat back down thinking my testimony had been completed. The damage had been done, and there was no way out of it.
When the judge was seated, he looked around and then spotted me and said, “Mr. Blake would you please be seated in the witness chair.”
Matt, sitting next to me, pulled me into his arms, hugged me deeply and then said, “It's going to be okay; I just know it will be.” With that he kissed my lips then urged me to stand.
I walked to the witness chair and waited to be sworn in again. The judge said, “You've already been sworn in. Go ahead and take your seat. Son, this is just about over; you're doing fine.”
Mr. Speak walked over to the witness chamber, went deep into thought before asking his next question.
Momacita's eyes caught mine. At that point, her eyes bore deep down into the essence of my soul, like nobody including Matt had ever done or seen before. And then my eyes were drawn to Pablo. He had a smirk on his face that very nearly sent me over the edge, but then Matt's bond told me to answer the question, truthfully, that truth would prevail.
I looked to dad. He had a sadness slowly overwhelming him. Mom – well, she'd lost her composure yet therein her soul was a strength which gave me a strong nudge to continue. I looked, each to Allen and then Angel and then Andy and then Peter and then to David and then to Jeremy... all were telling me to answer the questions truthfully, that they would be there to support me in anything and everything, that they would continue to love me no matter what.
But what about Manual: Who would love and support him? Who was there to love and support him as he was being beaten and raped and stuffed into a cabinet to die?
Speak: I know this has been very difficult for you, young man. Are you strong enough to continue? We're just about finished. You've been most helpful.
Me: Manual deserves his day in court. He's not getting it here. You are cheapening the love we shared, and you are cheapening the love my Bonded One and I share. This will not be forgotten, neither will Manual be forgotten. If not here then his spirit will be released by his Creator, perhaps his spirit has already been released.
Mr. Speak regarded me carefully before continuing, “Did you ever see the decedent abused by the accused?
Speak: So you did not witness the attack, so therefore you are unable to put the defendant at the scene of the crime? Is this correct?
Me: No. (I looked to Father Ben. He only nodded then bowed his head clearly in prayer).
Speak: No? No, you weren't present. Is this what you mean?
Me: Yes. I've already truthfully answered your question. What more do you want?
Speak: One more question. (With a fury I'd not seen for a very long, very long time, he almost shouted... Did you, Antoine Garza Blake, maliciously and heinously sexually attack and THEN KILL the innocent little boy victim Manual Escobar Moreno?
Me: NO! I would NEVER...
Speak: Thank you. No further questions, your honor. We do reserve the right to recall upon cross, for rebuttal.
Kendall: Ask your questions now because as soon as the prosecution redirects then this witness will be dismissed. Do you understand me, counselor?
Speak: Very well. For the record, would the court reporter please note that I will not be not permitted to redirect.
Kendall: So noted. Sit down. Mr. Richter.
Richter: Antoine, you have been grilled this afternoon. Needlessly, I will add.
Speak: Objection! Opinion.
Kendall: Overruled. Sit down.
Richter: The defense raised a very valid point. Your honor, please give me some latitude here... we feel that a rebuttal is necessary to discredit the defense attorney's allegations and innuendo... Antoine, would you voluntarily, you are not compelled by any sense of the word, submit to a sperm analysis to the court?
Speak: OBJECTION! OBJECTION! OBJECTION!
Kendall: What the hell are you objecting to, counselor? You brought up the point. If you would not have been so accusatory toward this witness I might have entertained ruling in your favor for the test but I didn't because you did. Please proceed, Mr. Blake.
Me: I have nothing to hide, your honor. I will gladly submit to such a test. (I looked directly into Pablo's eyes, and on into his soul, no matter how much it hurt to do so...) Sir, I will do whatever I need to do so that Manual's death is vindicated.
Kendall: As do we all, amen.
Richter: Antoine, the defense has attempted to paint you as a cold blooded killer and that you have misused your abilities and training...
Speak: OBJECTION! OBJECTION!! Confrontational!
Kendall: Overruled. You planted the doubt in the juror's minds. Sit down.
Richter: I'm sorry, Antoine. I'll repeat the question... Antoine, the defense has attempted to paint you as a cold blooded killer and that you have misused your abilities and training to select people to get even with... can you give the court an example of how you have used your abilities to thwart disaster or death?
Me: (I looked to Matt. He shook his head no then changed his mind and nodded yes). Your honor, my Chosen One was kidnapped in Singapore... (I went on to tell the story). I had no choice but to defend he who shares my spirit.
Richter: I'm sorry to hear of those difficulties yet it proves to me and to the court that you are a true and honest and honorable young man to defend those who love you, and who you love with all of your heart.
Me: Sir, I am doing this for my amigo, Manual. He deserves to be heard. At no time did I hear Mr. Speak try to give the boy his day in court. I hope people before me have done that. I hope you all have heard the little boy asking and crying for justice, and for his spirit to be heard. Has it? Will it?
Just then a flurry of activity caught my eyes and the rest of the courtroom too. Jesus came running down the aisle toward the gate that permits entry or keeps someone from interrupting the proceedings. Quickly, Jesus darted around the armed bailiff, ran to me and jumped on my lap.
Into the microphone, he said, in his native tongue, “Antoine me ha enseñado a ser honorable. Nadie pidió mi testimonio, por favor escucha: Pablo, es decir. Se lastimó a mi hermano gravemente, poniendo sus cosas en el culo de mi hermano. Manual, gritó, y entonces él no gritó más. Mi madre, ella trató de detenerlo, pero él la derribó, golpeó y luego terminó hasta que chorros. Él ha hecho que a mí también ... pero yo soy más grande que manual. Me dolió, pero él mató a mi hermano. Yo lo vi. Yo lo vi! Yo lo vi! Yo lo vi! AZ y traté de golpear a mi hermano, Pablo. Él nos empujó al mismo tiempo que se lesionó nuestro Manual hermano. Mi hermano AZ, mi amigo Antoine ... todos estábamos allí cuando murió Manual. Él no murió solo. Antoine es mi amigo. Él me está enseñando cómo defender y honrar a mi familia. Yo estaba muy enojado ... que me está trayendo la paz! Antoine, Te amo.”
Translated: [Antoine has taught me to be honorable. Nobody asked my testimony, please listen: Pablo, he's mean. He hurt my brother severely by putting his thing in my brother's butt. Manual, he screamed, and then he didn't scream anymore. My mother, she tried to stop him but he knocked her down, beat her up and then finished until he squirted. He has done that to me too... but I am bigger than Manual. It hurt me but he killed my brother. I saw him. I saw him! I saw him! I SAW HIM! AZ and I tried to beat my brother, Pablo. He pushed us away while he hurt our brother Manual. My brother AZ, my friend Antoine... we were all there when Manual died. He did not die alone. Antoine is my amigo. He's teaching me how to defend and honor my family. I was very angry... he is bringing me peace! Antoine, I love you.]
Speak: Objection, your honor. The child is an uncalled witness. This is out of order. I motion to strike the testimony from the record, if it pleases the court.
Kendall: Stow your objection, Counselor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are excused. You are not to discuss this trial between yourselves, and you are not permitted to speak to press, written, electronic, broadcast media of any kind. Thank you for your time today.
I watched each and every juror walk out. They made contact with the little boy sitting on my lap, and me, and then they would turn and look at Pablo.
Jesus, meanwhile, uncomfortable with the whole situation, which included opening old gaping wounds from his brothers' death, it was too much for him. He turned to face me then wrapped his arms around my chest and held on as if his life depended on all the strength I could give him. Quietly, he wept with his face buried in my neck.
The judge was saying something... I wasn't paying any attention to what he or anyone else was saying; my focus was on the child sitting in my lap anguishing in the pain he'd held onto for so long, inside of himself.
The attorney's were talking. The bailiff was talking. Everybody was talking. There was lots of noise in the courtroom.
With tears streaming down his cheeks, Jesus said while looking into my soul, “"¿Qué están diciendo acerca de mi hermano, Antoine? ¿Están hablando medio de él? ¿Están diciendo que es culpa suya? Dime, Antoine." [What are they saying about my brother, Antoine? Are they speaking mean of him? Are they saying it is your fault? Tell me, Antoine.]
I replied, “No sé lo que están diciendo. Estoy escuchando a su corazón, un poco. No importa lo que pase, Manual, vivirá para siempre en nuestros corazones. Nadie puede hacerle daño ahora. Su chorro está en paz, Jesús. Tenemos que aceptar que se había ido, y al mismo tiempo, sabemos que su espíritu vive, y al mismo tiempo, vivirá para siempre en nuestra memoria." [I don't know what they are saying. I am listening to your heart, little one. No matter what happens, Manual will live forever in our hearts. Nobody can hurt him now. His spirit is at peace, Jesus. We must accept that he's gone, and at the same time know that his spirit lives on, and at the same time he will live forever in our memories.]
When he seemed to be finished crying, I reached for a Kleenex sitting on the little desk on the witness stand, held it to his nose. Indignantly, he took the tissue and blew his own nose. When he was finished I pulled his face into mine and kissed his forehead.
He said, "Antoine, no me odies. Debo hacer esto por mi hermano. Te amo." [Antoine, do not hate me. I must do this for my brother. I love you.]
The boy put his hands on my cheeks then kissed my lips, smiled warmly, and then he changed completely. He was all business. I pulled him to me but he squirmed out of my hold faster than I could react. Then... before I could say or do anything, he bounded off of my lap and ran, full speed with a full head of steam toward his brother Pablo...
Seeing what was about to happen, I did a spring dive from the witness stand box using all of my strength. I smashed into the wood railing, causing me to flip end over end until I stood in front of Pablo just as Jesus came crashing into me, causing us all three to go crashing to the floor in a twisted pretzel of arms, legs and torsos. I was face to face with this filthy vile excuse for a human being who killed a little spirit named Manuel. Jesus, meanwhile, lying face down on my back, was repeatedly pummeling Pablo's face with quick but powerful little jabs. Pablo, being defenseless since he was handcuffed and shackled, had no alternative but to take it.
I'd had enough. Angrily, quickly like a cheetah, I turned on Jesus and had him down on the floor, holding his arms to his sides, my legs intertwined with his so that he would stop kicking and flailing.
When he was subdued, I said to him, "Jesús, esto no es correcto. Detenerlo. Debemos hacerlo con honor, hijo. Dejar de luchar contra mí, la lucha contra mí no le hará ningún bien. Yo no estoy enojado, sino que debe parar. Tu mamá te necesita. AZ te necesita. Te necesito. Te amo. Lo mismo ocurre con todos los demás aquí. Su testimonio será puesto Pablo de distancia ... estas palabras convencer a cualquier jurado de Pablo es el problema, te lo prometo." [Jesus, this is not right. Stop it. We must do this with honor, child. Stop fighting me, fighting me will do you no good. I am not angry but you must stop. Your momma needs you. AZ needs you. I need you. I love you. So does everybody else around here. Your testimony will put Pablo away... these words will convince any jury of Pablo's wrong, I promise you.]
“Él mató a mi hermano! Él debe morir!" [He killed my brother! He must die!] Jesus said with absolute certainty and conviction. He truly believed it... for that matter I believed it was true too -but- to take Pablo out would not be honorable.
"Jesús, escúchame! La represalia no es el camino del Ninja. Estamos honorable. Nosotros protegemos. Nosotros no destruimos. Para matarlo sería destruir la felicidad, el amor y el honor, hijo. ¿Qué pasa con tu mamá? ¿Quieres que sufriera la pérdida de tres hijos en lugar de dos? ¿Eh?" [Jesus, listen to me! Retaliation is not the Way of the Ninja. We are honorable. We protect. We do not destroy. To kill him would destroy happiness, love and honor, child. What about your momma? Do you want her to suffer the loss of three sons instead of two? Huh?]
"Estoy dentro de enojado, Antoine. Quiero destruir a aliviar mi dolor." [I am angry inside, Antoine. I want to destroy to ease my pain.] Jesus said while at the same time relaxing. He was relaxing because Benji had joined us on the floor and was deep massaging the base of Jesus' skull right where the spinal canal enters the brain area.
"Jesús, ¿está usted tranquilo ahora?" [Jesus, are you calm now?] I asked very, very calmly. His eyelids were growing heavier and heavier by the second. I said to Benji, “Don't put him to sleep. He must be awake for this. It is a turning point in his life. I am healing too. I didn't realize how much anger I had until just now. He must go through it, not around it.”
Benji smiled, “He's a light weight, Antoine. He's tough but he's still a light weight.”
What that said, I removed my body from Jesus' and looked around. There were no less than 25 police officers and other court personnel in a very tight perimeter around us. I asked the nearest officer, after not seeing dad close by, “Is Pablo okay?”
“The paramedics are with him. They took him out of the courtroom. Unfortunately, he's going to be okay. You kids are free to go with your parents. What you said to your brother is the right thing, young man. We can't go around killing everybody who does these horrendous things... hate just breeds hate, and anger just breeds more anger, more vicious anger.”
- Friday -
Matt and I shared our bed with Jesus after Benji gave him a relaxation treatment, one that the boy could administer to himself when he felt great tension overcoming his mind and body. Once Jesus was asleep and resting comfortably, Matt and I took a shower -and- practiced relaxation techniques on our own bodies. Matt has a really, really good way of doing just that. He's not complaining of my abilities, either.
When I awoke before sun-up, Jesus was cuddled into my side with his arm draped across my chest and his leg draped across my legs. Matt, meanwhile, was cuddled into my other side – to wit: a human love sandwich. While I was lying there getting drunk on the love being emanated from all sides, I decided that what Jesus needed more than anything else was mind control... I mean, he definitely had his physical attributes down to a science but due to chronological age immaturity, the boy needed to be taught discipline.
While debating on whether I was going to get up or to roll over and go back to sleep, mom appeared in the doorway. I waived to let her know I was awake. The debate was over.
Slowly, carefully, gently, I rolled out of bed, walked to my dresser and retrieved and put on a pair of brief underwear then went to her. I whispered in her ear, “I'll be right back, okay?”
“I'll be at the pool. We must talk, son.”
“I know. I'll be right there.” I said while kissing her cheek. I padded into the restroom, took care of a full bladder, washed my hands and then headed to the pool where mom was waiting.
I sat down on the chaise lounge she was sitting in, pulled her into a deep, deep hug and then waited for her to speak.
“Son, Maria is coming over here today instead of going to the trial. She knows, deep in her heart, that Pablo caused Manual's death. So do we. So do you. So does Jesus. AZ knows in his own way... he's handling this much better than Jesus.”
“Mom, I believe that Jesus and Manual were soul mates, in addition to being brothers... their bond was and is inseparable. When Manual died, a large part of Jesus died along with him. Mom?”
Mom hugged me deeply then looked into my eyes. I said, “Mom, I messed up teaching Jesus the Way. I taught him the physical disciplines but I didn't teach him very much about mind control, including restraint and dealing with, in a positive way, his emotions. I'm going to work with him on that while I work on myself too. I want to start today. He needs it or he's going to end up hurting someone someday, and I mean really hurt them because of something spur of the moment... does this make sense?”
“Honey, the best thing you could ever teach him is to just be a kid for as long as he can be one. Help him and yourself to work out the anger inside <pointing to my heart> of here. Don't become so hardened and disciplined that you cannot feel. Honey, Matt is very much a tender, feeling individual. He gets confused sometimes... no, he doesn't say anything, but I can see his confusions, at times. You're his hero. You always will be. Let him see your vulnerability and that you, too, get afraid sometimes. He needs to see that. And you need to feel it.” Mom said.
“I have much to learn, yes?”
“We all do. Will you do that for me?”
“I'll try. How do I do it though?”
“Honey, your eyes show your feelings. Just permit them to surface. It's being very vulnerable, and vulnerability can be very, very uncomfortable for a while, until you get the hang of it. Observe people, observe your brothers, observe your innermost self. It's there deep down inside.” Mom said pulling me into her side and then tenderly kissed the top of my head.
“Mom, what's going to happen if Pablo is found not guilty? Does that mean he'll be set free? What about Maria? I'm afraid for Jesus and AZ if he's freed.”
“Son, I do not see him walking free. He's a very, very troubled young man with a very, very troubled past. He's been hurt somewhere along the way. Only he knows what... and he probably doesn't understand it so he uncontrollably lashes out. I'm going to tell you something that nobody knows about; not even Maria. I want you to keep it to yourself. If you can promise me that you'll keep it between your dad, me and you then I'll tell you what is happening...”
“Of course you can trust me. I would never ever betray a confidence although I tell Matt everything... he knows everything I do... he knows everything I'm thinking... we're bonded... he would know even if I didn't tell him using words. Matt is the same way... he would not and will never betray a confidence.”
I giggled. I couldn't help them. I couldn't stop them.
“What's so funny? This is serious business.”
“I'm sorry mom, I thought of our bonds, and how they work. Okay, this is what it is... I am bonded with Matt. Matt is bonded with me, Peter and Andy. Peter is bonded with David. Andy is bonded with Benji, William, and Harry. William is bonded with his brother Jason, and Jason is bonded with Jeremy. Jeremy is bonded with all of us. None of us betray confidences, because to break a confidence will hurt our family, and none of us want to do that.”
“And just where does your mom and dad come in, young man?” Mom said with that look that says she knows what she knows but doesn't know that I know... or something like that.
“You and dad created the bond. Benji told me when I asked him. And oh yeah, before I forget it: Jeremy and I are bonded with Jesus, and Jeremy is bonded with AZ – me not so much... then both Jesus and AZ are bonded with Maria.”
Mom got this hazy, lazy and glacial look in her eyes... she asked, “Who is Pablo bonded with? You've touched him... can you read him?”
“He has no bonds. Either that or he's so filled with rage and pain that a bond cannot be seen. I can only believe that Benji, more versed in Mind Speak, reached into Pablo's soul. May I ask him?”
“No honey, I'll ask him myself. <She briefly paused>. Don't forget to count that Juan and Harry are bonded as biological father and son.” Mom said somewhat exasperatedly.
“And then there's the bond between Benji and his mother, Shoo.” I added while putting my arm around mom's shoulders. I pulled her close as the enormity of our relationships seemed to have taken on a whole new meaning... and it was overwhelming her... I felt it. Although I 'knew' the relationships existed, I hadn't, until that moment, appreciated the ramifications of those bonds.
Mom said, “Dad and I need to talk about this some more... we don't want anyone getting hurt... and I don't mean physically... nobody's going to get physically hurt... I love you, child.”
Then another realization came to mind. To mom I said, “Peter, and to a lesser extent David, is bonded with Nicole. Nicole is bonded with all of us, and her adopted parents.”
“Okay, I will speak to my husband. Please do not push the issue. We will talk to all of you later on today.”
I helped her to a standing position then we brought our lips together three quick times. She swatted my butt and told me to go soak my head for a while because I was thinking too fast for that time of morning, and she didn't want my head to overheat.
Being the obedient one, I shucked off my shorts and underwear, and then dove in with a big splash. When I got to the other side of the pool, mom was wiping her face and giving me the most gawd awful 'serious' (yeah right) look!
*** To be continued