The fifth floor of the courthouse was a blandly colored, extremely long hallway, lined with numbered doors and folding chairs. Hanging from the ceiling in the center of the hall were toilet signs, pointing you in the right direction. Lastly, there was one lone water fountain in the corner at the end of the hall near the elevator. That was it. There was nothing else anywhere.
“Our room is number 501,” Davis announced as the group followed him slowly down the hallway.
The soberness of the hallway appearance gave Daisy a queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. “I have no idea what to say when I get in there,” she whispered nervously to Connor. “What if they ask me something I don’t know?”
Connor put his hand gently on her neck as they walked. “I don’t think you will have to say much, but if they ask you something, just tell the truth. That’s it. I will be sitting right next to you, okay?” He gave her a reassuring smile that calmed her nerves a little but not completely.
They found room 501, and Davis opened the door for everyone. Inside was not a traditional courtroom like you might see on TV. It was a long, simple room with nothing in it but a huge conference table surrounded by big brown chairs.
Mr. Adams, his sons, Alison and her parents, the McNeil’s, were already inside the room drinking coffee they’d bought at the coffee shop across the street.
Mr. Adams stood and came to the door quickly to greet them. He shook hands with Davis, Coach Peggy and Mr. Langley. He turned to the teens and smiled a two-faced smile at them as they all piled in the door. A kind of two-faced smile like the kind you see on some types of toys. If you turned the face of the toy to the right it would smile normally, but if you turned it to the left, it had a different expression, in this case, a crafty expression that could not be trusted.
When two-faced Mr. Adams saw Daisy coming through the door at the rear of the group his somewhat handsome smile grew dark. He spoke up loudly. “There’s our girl! A picture of perfect health! Look at her! Hardly a scratch on her.” He reached boldly out to her and grabbed the loose sleeve of her jacket and pulled her painfully towards him as though he wanted a hug.
Daisy cried out at the rough treatment. She tried to pull back from him, resisting his two-face attempt at affection. There wasn’t an ounce of trust in her anywhere for the man.
Connor jumped to the other side of her, grabbed Mr. Adams hand and shoved him against the wall in one quick motion. “Keep your hands off her!” he yelled in an enflamed tone. Mr. Adams slammed against the wall with a loud ka-boom!
“How dare you push me!” Mr. Adams lunged at Connor with great force, knocking over Mark and Susan as he tried to get to Connor. Davis grabbed him and pinned him tightly against the wall. With glaring eyes, he dared Mr. Adams to move a muscle.
Andy grabbed Connor from the side and wrestled him backwards. Everyone else stared in shock except for Gary and Glenn.
Gary rolled his eyes lazily. “Cut it out Dad. It’s embarrassing.”
“Come on Dad, show us what ’cha got!” Glenn sliced the air with a wild fist.
“He grabbed her! Did you see that! He grabbed at her!” Connor yelled furiously as he struggled to get out of Andy’s hold. “My God, man! You guys dislocate her shoulder for no reason at all! Then when she gets fixed up you grab her hurt shoulder! What the hell is wrong with you people?”
Davis’ eyes roamed the room as he held Mr. Adams in his place against the wall. “Daisy Ray, are you okay? Where are you Day?”
“Yea, I’m okay.” Daisy shyly came out from behind Mr. Langley, cradling her arm against her chest. “But he nearly pulled my jacket and sling right off me so now my arm is not sitting in the sling the way it’s supposed to. It’s throbbing bad. Connor stop fighting and fix it?”
When Connor heard Daisy’s request, he immediately backed up and went to her. He opened her jacket and carefully adjusted the straps back into place then buttoned her jacket back up again. He kissed her cheek. “You okay, babe?”
“Did you bring my medicine? It hurts again.”
“Yea, I got it, but it’s too early to take it again. Can you wait until lunch time?”
Keeping Daisy behind him, Connor turned back around. “Nobody can touch her! Just stay on your side of the table!” He threw his arm out furiously and pointed Mr. Adams to his side of the table.
The judge suddenly entered the room and everyone momentarily froze.
Davis slowly loosened his hold on Mr. Adams.
Mr. Adams straightened his jacket and tie. “Well, it is obvious what kind of violent youth we are dealing with here, isn’t it?” he spoke in the direction of the judge who was finding his place at the table.
“You can be sure that I am well aware of what we are dealing with here Mr. Adams.” The judge turned and pointed up to the ceiling, where a small camera was situated. “You and your sons should remain on your side of the table.” The judge pointed Mr. Adams to his side of the table. “Now then, would everyone sit down and introduce themselves for me please? We’ll start with you.” The judge pointed to Connor.
Connor Bailey, Daisy Ray Greene, Davis Bailey, Coach Peggy Sims, Principle Murray, Matthew Langley, Maria Langley, Andrew Victor, Mark Langley and Susan Page stated their names as they sat on their side of the room.
Mr. Arnold Adams, Glenn Adams, Gary Adams, Alison McNeil and Mr. and Mrs. McNeil stated their names as they sat on the other side of the room.
After all the introductions were made, the judge listened carefully to each one’s account of the various offenses that had happened over the past year.
There was such an amazingly long list of unbecoming conduct that needed to be addressed, that by the time each incident had been properly discussed it was time for lunch.
The judge listened carefully and quietly for a long time to each individual account before he spoke. “Well, there is a lot to take in. It seems that this fighting has been going on for a very long time. I would like to take some time to review it and have some lunch. It is now 1 o’clock. I’m hungry,” the judge paused for a moment of thought then continued, “There are a few things that were said however, that keeps bouncing around in my head.” He directed his eyes to Coach Peggy.
“Yes sir, what would that be?” Coach Peggy responded to his look, politely.
“When Mr. Adams was in your office, you said that he touched Daisy. Is that correct?”
“Yes, sir. It is.”
“What exactly did he say to Daisy when he did that? Can you repeat that part for me please?”
“Sure, he said that Daisy was a pretty little thing. Prettier than the girls he had been looking at in Brazil. He said he was bringing girls back from Brazil to dance in his clubs and that they would be about the same age as Daisy. He also mentioned that he knew how to get around the age problem. He wanted to know if Daisy would dance in one of his clubs.”
Then the judge turned to Daisy, “Did this man ask you to dance in one of his clubs?”
“Yes, he did.”
“Did he say that he knew how to get around the age limit?”
“Yes, sir. He did.”
“Who else was in the room when he said that to you, Daisy?”
“Principle Murray and Connor were both in the room along with Coach Peggy of course.”
The judge directed his eyes to Connor. “Did you hear Mr. Adams say those words to Daisy?”
“Yes, sir. I did.”
“What did you say to him when he said that?”
“I slapped his hand off of her and told him to stay away from her.”
The judge sat back in his chair, meditating on the facts for a few moments.
“Connor, I can understand your anger towards Mr. Adams. I have three daughters. I wouldn’t like a strange man approaching one of them in this way either.” The judge scribbled something down in his notebook and continued, “Principle Murray, Mr. Adams offered money to your sports program, to Connor and to Andy if they would drop out of the 10-mile event at the State Championship coming up. Is that correct?”
“Yes, sir. It is.”
“Who was in the room when that offer was made?”
“Connor and Coach Peggy were in the room. Daisy had not come in yet.”
“Connor, did you hear Mr. Adam’s make that offer?”
“Yes, sir. I did.”
“Yes, sir. I did too.”
“Lastly, Davis, you say there was a surveillance tape which has Gary and Glenn in the jewelry store telling Connor to drop out of the State race, is that correct?”
“That’s right sir.” Davis pulled the tape out of his brief case and passed it down the table to the judge.
Glenn shut his eyes and mumbled the word shit when he saw the surveillance tape. He had not known that Davis had it with him.
“One more thing.” The judge turned to the twins, Gary and Glenn. “You two boys look so much alike, which one of you was it again that was standing with Alison when the broom was thrown?”
Gary raised his hand slightly. “Me, sir.”
“And you are which one again?”
“I’m Gary Adams, sir.”
“Well, okay let’s have some lunch and meet back in this room at 2:30.” The judge suggested politely.
“Wait a minute here! I have a great deal more to say about all of this!” Mr. Adams slammed his hand on the table loudly. “Don’t I get to explain what I meant when I mentioned the dancers? I mean, obviously there has been a very big misunderstanding here!” Mr. Adams choked out rudely.
“No, Mr. Adams. I’ve heard your side of things. I understand exactly what has been going on. But just in case you get any ideas while we are on lunch break, I probably should caution you. You should not go near Daisy or Maria for any reason at all or you might find yourself in jail.” The judge looked directly into Mr. Adams eyes. “If they come back in this room after lunch and say that you came anywhere near them I will have you arrested.”
Mr. Adams sat there with his mouth open. He was not used to being told what to do.
“Okay, let’s have lunch, and I will see you all back here at 2:30… no, let’s make it 3 o’clock.” The judge smiled and stood up to exit. Everyone stood with him and they left for lunch.
At 3 o’clock on the dot everyone returned to the conference room. Connor pulled a chair out for Daisy and she sat down between him and Davis. Across the table were Gary and Glenn. Glenn winked at Daisy and made a kissing sound at her.
“That’s enough!” Davis rebuked Glenn furiously.
Like a fire doused with lighter fluid, sudden anger rose to an extreme height within Connor. He squirmed in his chair with the desire to pound Glenn into the ground.
Daisy held his hand tightly in her lap, forbidding him to budge from his place. “No, Connor, he’s trying to start a fight with you and get you into trouble. Don’t move. He didn’t touch me,” Daisy desperately whispered. “Making you look bad in front of the judge is his only weapon. Sit still.”
Connor quit his squirming but he kept his flaming blue eyes on Glenn.
Davis didn’t move but he was just as furious. He stared at Glenn wondering why a boy in so much trouble already, would continue to do things like that? It was beyond him. He finally shook his head. There simply was no answer to that kind of question. Davis leaned back around Daisy’s chair and whispered to Connor on the other side of her. “Psst… remind me to ask for a restraining order.”
Connor leaned around Daisy to hear his Dad’s words. “Yea, that’s a good idea.”
The judge walked in and everyone stood up respectfully. He looked around the table counting heads. “Are we all here?”
Everyone nodded politely.
Connor leaned over and whispered in Daisy’s ear. “Well, Glenn’s not all here but there’s noth ’in new about that.”
Then he whispered again. “You can loosen my hand now, babe. I need a little blood flow.”
“Oh, sorry,” she whispered.
“Okay then, I would like to hear from Alison McNeil.” The judge looked in Alison’s direction. “It seems you have some more information for us. Is that right?”
Glenn turned and gave Alison an intimidating glare.
“May I move to a different seat first?” Alison asked quickly.
“Of course, go right ahead.” Alison repositioned herself on the other side of her parents, away from Glenn.
Gary mouthed the words, “Leave her alone man,” in Glenn’s direction. No one saw him say it but Maria. Everyone’s eyes were fastened on Alison.
Glenn slouched down in his seat, stifled.
Alison cleared her throat nervously, “I would just like to add, that Mr. Adams offered to pay my college tuition if I would help Gary and Glenn scare Andy and Connor out of the races. I thought that they would quit the races if their girlfriends were being threatened. I did not want to hurt them, just scare them so that Andy and Connor would back out of the regional race. I also know that Mr. Adams has girls under 18 dancing for him in the clubs because I used to be one of them. I’m 18 now but I started dancing at 16. That is how I met Gary and Glenn.” Alison looked humiliated as she spoke.
Daisy watched her carefully. She was not 100% sure that Alison was genuine.
“I don’t want to go to jail. I am very sorry for hurting Maria and Daisy,” Alison said meekly. “Mr. Adams wanted Gary and Glenn to go to this special college, but that college would only take them if they had good grades and high athletic achievements. He was able to fix our grades easily enough at Surfside. Well, mine and Glenn’s grades needed fixing real bad…”
“Shut up, my grades were fine,” Glenn snickered.
The judge scribbled a few more notes on his pad.
Alison blew out a big gust of air and continued, “Gary’s grades were fine without any fixing. But the track events were harder to rig because they involved other schools, not just Surfside. Coach Timbers took a lot of money from Mr. Adams for his sports program. He tried to help Mr. Adams, but Coach Peggy wouldn’t budge, neither would Andy or Connor, so I tried picking on Maria. I was aiming for Maria both times but Daisy is so fast… she was right on Maria’s heels. She just sort of got in the way the second time around.”
Mr. Adams suddenly banged the table with his fist. “Liar! You little liar! She’s lying through her teeth! She just wants to get out of trouble. She will say anything to get out of trouble!” Mr. Adams turned red with anger as he stood up to see over the heads of his sons to the McNeil family. He pointed an outraged finger at the McNeil’s. “You’re fired! Do you hear me? You’re fired!”
Looks of horror flooded the faces of the now jobless McNeil couple, but they said nothing for fear of making things worse.
“Sit down Mr. Adams and be quiet,” the judge commanded. “Do you have anything else to add Alison?”
“No sir, I think that’s about it.”
The judge looked around the room. “Does anyone else have anything to add?”
“I do!” Mr. Adams yelled.
The judge rephrased his question, “Does anyone besides Mr. Adams have anything else to add?” He paused briefly then continued, “Okay then, let’s take a break and come back at 5 o’clock. I should have my final answer for you then.”
Everyone stood as the judge began to leave.
“I’m going to kill you!” Mr. Adams pointed down the row at Alison. “I’m going to kill you! Do you hear me!?”
Alison slumped down in her chair, behind her father, as Mr. Adams threatened her.
The judge turned around and gave Mr. Adams a piercing look. He motioned to the police officers by the door to come forward. “Please take this man to a cell downstairs until I can decide what to do with him.”
Mr. Adams cursed and fumed hopelessly as the officers handcuffed him and escorted him out of the room.
The judge looked at Gary and Glenn. “Boys where is your mother?”
“She’s in Brazil, sir,” Gary said.
“Do you have an address for her? Do you know how to find her?” the Judge asked.
“She writes me. I have an address for her,” Gary offered.
“Bring it with you when you come back at 5 o’clock.” The judge turned and left the room.
Gary and Glenn stood there with blank expressions. They had not seen their mother in four years.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing Mom right about now,” Gary whispered to Glenn.
“What can Mom do?” Glenn whispered back. Then they left for home to retrieve the address.
At 5 o’clock everyone took their place at the conference table. Mr. Adams was brought in, handcuffed, by a police officer. His chair was separated from the rest of the chairs at the table so that he sat alone unable to bother anyone.
The judge looked around the room. “Do we have everyone?” he asked politely.
“Yes sir,” everyone answered.
“Okay, then. Gary and Glenn, let’s start with you two. Were you able to bring your mother’s address from home?”
“What! I demand to know what is going on! There is no address for that woman!” Mr. Adams screamed out of control.
“Mr. Adams, if you cannot be quiet we will send you back downstairs.” The judge gave Mr. Adams a disturbing glance then returned to the boys, “Well, do you have an address for her?”
“Yes, sir I have one. I have a house address and an email address for Mom.” Gary slid a small piece of paper across the table to the judge.
The judge jotted the addresses down on his notepad and returned the paper to the boys. He turned to a secretary that was standing by the door. “Claire, contact this woman immediately. If it’s possible I’d like to talk to her today.”
Claire took the paper and left hastily.
“Boys, I would like to send you back to your mother. Would you like that?” Gary grinned hugely. “Yes, sir. I would.” Glenn had a sparkle of hope in his dull eyes but he let Gary do the talking to the judge.
“I will have to make contact with her first, of course. Let’s see if Claire can locate her.”
The judge’s eyes moved over to Alison. “Alison, you seriously hurt these two girls here and you would have taken Mr. Adams money for it too, had you not gotten caught. However, your information about Mr. Adams will be very useful in another upcoming trial. We’d like you to testify in that trail. Will you do that?”
“In that case, I believe that the best thing for you is a lot of community service. I am also placing a restraining order on you. You may not go within 50 yards of Maria Langley or Daisy Ray Greene. Is that clear?”
“The officer that will be assigned to you is named Beth Short. She’s a nice lady, you’ll like her. I suggest you listen to all her advice and don’t cross her. Do you understand?”
“Gary and Glenn, the restraining order also applies to the both of you. Neither of you may go within 50 yards of Daisy or Maria. I might also add that you should not make faces or kissing noises in their direction either,” The judge eyed Glenn for a moment.
“Now as for you Mr. Adams, since you are so eager to pay college bills, I would like to redirect that cash flow of yours to these four young people. A payment plan for their college education is being made up for you in my office right now. We will mail it to you as soon as your new address is determined.”
“What do you mean my new address?”
“Well, it seems that you have been under investigation for illegally importing underage girls for a long time. Now we have several witnesses who have heard you confess to this crime. We also have Alison, who even knows how you do it. So you will stay downstairs for a little while longer until a new prison arrangement can be worked out for you.”
“What’s my bail?” Mr. Adams demanded.
“There is no bail for you at this time. I can see that you are used to getting out of things with money, but it will not happen this time. You will stay safely locked up downstairs until a new arrangement can be made for you. You have other pending trials to face very soon. Those cases are being handled by a different judge. You’ll have to ask him about bail, not me.”
The judge smiled at everyone around the table kindly. “Well, the rest of you are free to go, except for Gary and Glenn. Would you two please follow me down to my office? I’d rather you stay here with me until I talk with your mother, okay?”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir.” Gary and Glenn were happy that they weren’t getting carted off to jail like their Dad.
Everyone stood when the judge did. Those allowed to leave, did so very happy with the outcome of the day.
In the hallway, Maria lingered at the water fountain. The judge passed by her as she sipped water. Gary and Glenn were right behind him. They were following the judge to his office, just like they had been instructed.
When Gary passed by Maria, she slipped the tightly folded up post card that she’d been saving for him, into the palm of his hand. No one saw her do anything more than drink water. She quickly caught up to her friends and left the building with them.
Gary stuck his hand in his pocket and didn’t take it out again until he lay down that night on a cot in a correctional facility. He and Glenn would be leaving from there in a week for Brazil to stay with their mother. He admired the horse picture on the post card for a brief moment then read the note on the back:
Why are you taking the blame? You weren’t even there?
Gary admired the horse photo again then laid the post card on his chest, under his hands and went to sleep.
When Maria’s house fell completely silent and she was absolutely sure no one was awake, she got out her computer and searched airline flights to Brazil. She found Gary and Glenn Adams departure date.
She thought some more and came to the conclusion that on the morning of their flight surely they would be taken back to the City Hall conference room to say good bye to their father. Mr. Adams was a mean and heartless man, yes, but the judge and city officials in charge of the situation were not. They would arrange for the teen boys to see their father one last time before they left the country. Maria was sure of it.
She moved to Facebook and searched through all the horse photos that Gary had posted there. She found one that she especially liked and studied its sleek lines. Maria had always drawn landscapes and homes but for this one night she thought she’d try a horse. She drew for hours on a large piece of onion paper. When she was done she folded it into the tiniest square it was capable of becoming and tucked it away in her bag for safe keeping.
A week later, it was the day of twin’s departure. Mr. Adams was escorted back to the city office conference room to see his sons before they left the country.
Maria waited by the water fountain. She leaned down and drank water when Mr. Adams passed by her into the conference room.
A few minutes later Gary and Glenn came through the hallway and she let Gary see her face. He eyed her but kept a poker face just like a pro. Glenn was too busy talking to notice her at all. They were escorted into the conference room with their Dad.
Maria quietly moved to the chair that was right outside the door of the room that they were in. At first the talking was too soft to hear through the door, but it got louder after a short while.
“Are you going to move the girls?” Mr. Adams barked.
“No Dad, I’m not,” Gary answered back angrily.
“Then Glenn’s name needs to stay clean so he can move back and forth with them. Your name isn’t worth shit. Where are my papers, boy?” Mr. Adams growled nastily.
“Dad, I don’t have anything that belongs to you,” Gary defended himself.
The police escorts standing in the hallway outside the door, unlocked the door when angry voices were heard and looked in.
Maria looked off to the side as though she were waiting for someone.
“We’re fine, we’re fine,” Mr. Adams said politely to the policeman.
The policeman shut the door again, allowing the teens a few more moments of privacy with their father before going to the airport.
There was more hushed arguing, but Maria couldn’t really make heads or tails of the rest of the conversation. When she noticed the policemen look at their watches, she quickly moved back over to the water fountain to drink water again.
Mr. Adams was handcuffed and ushered out by a policeman first. He disappeared into the elevator and was gone.
Gary and Glenn were escorted out of the room a minute later with the second policeman.
Maria kept her head down, sipping water. Gary walked by her as closely as he was able to without causing any attention. She slipped him her little square. He put his hand in his pocket and disappeared into the elevator.
Maria went to her car sadly. She didn’t know why she felt sad. These guys were the meanest guys she’d ever encountered in her entire life. She ought to be happy they were leaving. “Why aren’t I happy that they are leaving?” she asked herself as she unlocked her car.
The minivan carrying Gary and Glenn passed her. She held her hand slightly up in the air so Gary could see it. He touched the window with one knuckle and tapped it gently. Then he was gone.
She got into her car, shut the door and cried miserably. Her feelings were starting to confuse her. “Dear God, what in the world is going on with me? I don’t know why I feel so grieved for Gary, but please help him. I don’t know what kind of help he needs, but it is the kind that only you can give.”