December 10 2007
“It’s okay, Grandpa,” Mason tried to assure George when the airplane sputtered briefly for a second time.
“Nothing to worry about,” Roy called back from the cockpit. “It did the same thing the last time I flew it. The mechanic said that it was a little moisture in the fuel. I’ll get it checked again when we get to Chicago.”
“Fuck, I thought we were goners there for a minute,” George said with a nervous laugh. I looked at George in surprise, since I had never heard him say anything worse than damn. He must have seen the shocked expression on my face and he said, “Well it scared the shit out of me, Son.”
Mason, Barry and I broke out into fits of laughter. “Grandpa, you’re a hoot,” Barry said between fits of laughter. “I’m sorry George; I didn’t ask permission to call you grandpa.”
“You don’t need permission to call me grandpa,” George said. “If I were a girl, what is it you would call me? Fag hag isn’t it? I guess I can be a fag grandpa.”
Again the three of us broke out into fits of laughter. We joked and laughed during most of the flight. “We’ll be landing in Chicago in about twenty minutes,” Roy called back from the cockpit.
I noticed George began to tense up. I knew that he wasn’t sure what to expect with the landing and had even mention that he had heard that most crashes occurred during takeoffs and landings. “What do you two plan to major in at the university?” Barry asked more to relieve the tension than wanting to know.
“I plan to go into law,” I said. “I’ve enjoyed working in the law office. But, I want to be able to help abused and neglected young people legally,” I said. “Maybe eventually I could become a family court judge.”
“And you?” Barry asked as he turned to Mason.
“I want to become a certified public accountant,” Mason said with an impish grin.
“What!” I said in surprise. “I thought you were going into law too.”
“I was only going into to law to please Dad,” Mason admitted. “Now he has you going into law and I can do something else.”
“Being a CPA would be boring,” I said.
“Maybe to you,” Mason said. “I think law is boring. Are you mad at me for not telling you?”
“No, I’m not mad,” I said. “I’m just surprised. You should chose a profession that you like, and not one that friends and family want you in.”
“See, I told you he would be okay with it,” George said.
“You knew about this, Grandpa?” I asked.
“Yes, I did,” George said. “Mason asked me how to tell you and I told him to just tell you. He’s still a little nervous about telling his dad.”
“Steve already suspected that he wasn’t interested in law,” Roy said from the cockpit. “He’s just been waiting for Mason to tell him. Now everybody make sure you have your seat belt on because we’re landing.”
We all looked at George to see how he was coping with the landing. To our surprise, he was calm and even looking out the window. “You seem okay with the landing, Grandpa,” I said.
“I just figured that you guys are too young to die and I’m too pretty,” he smiled. Again we all broke out into fits of laughter.
Roy landed the plane flawlessly. He had chosen to land at Waukegan Regional Airport rather than land at the busy O’Hair International Airport. Waukegan Regional is reasonable close to Avondale the predominately Polish neighborhood where Roy’s attorney friend, Bruce Grabowski, lived.
We were greeted at the terminal by a very handsome man who appeared to be about ten years older than Roy. He had a smooth handsome face with a full head of silver gray hair. He was dressed casually, yet he still had a distinguished appearance about him. He walked toward Roy with an extended hand and a smile that could melt any heart, male or female. He shook Roy’s hand and then pulled him into a full embrace. “Roy, it’s so good to finally see you again,” he said as he backed away to look Roy over before another big hug.
“It’s good to see you again,” Roy said. “Let me introduce you to everybody. You know my partner, Barry.”
“Of course I know, Barry,” Bruce said. “It’s good to see you again.”
“It’s good to see you, too,” Barry said as he embraced Bruce.
“I’m not sure if you remember this guy or not. The last time you saw him, he was a cute little kid, and now look at that ugly mug,” Roy teased as he introduced Mason.
“Mason? I wouldn’t have known you. You’ve grown up into a handsome man. Roy is just jealous.” Bruce said. “How are Steve and Susan?”
“They’re doing fine,” Mason said with a bit of embarrassment.
“This handsome gentleman is George Day, but to us he is Grandpa,” Roy said as he introduced George.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Day,” Bruce said while shaking George’s hand.
“It’s either George or Grandpa,” George corrected him.
“Okay, Grandpa George,” Bruce laughed. He then turned to me and said, “And, you have to be Jeff. I’m so pleased to finally meet you. I was incredibly moved by your journal.”
“I’m pleased to meet you,” I said as I was in awe of the handsome friendly man.
“Let’s get you guys to the house so you can get settled in,” Bruce said. “My wife, Carol, has a traditional polish meal planned for dinner. I imagine that you guys may be hungry. We’ll stop and let you get a sandwich, but don’t eat too much because Carol will expect you to have a good appetite tonight.”
Bruce’s house was an older house that had been remodeled, yet it had maintained its original character. It was much larger on the inside that it had appeared from the outside. Carol was pretty and friendly like Bruce. The wonderful odor that came from the kitchen indicated that preparation of the evening meal had already begun. “I’m very pleased to meet you,” she said. “I’ll let Bruce show you your rooms and I’ll get back to the kitchen.”
The room that Mason and I shared was tastefully decorated in antiques, but not to the point that one felt like being in a museum. “Do you think they will mind if we have sex in that antique bed?” Mason asked with a mischievous grin.
“I doubt they would mind as long as we don’t break it,” I said.
“The bed, you mean?” Mason laughed. He then pulled me into his arms for a passionate kiss. The kiss was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Come in,” Mason said as we ended our kiss.
“Jeff, why don’t you let Mason unpack for you so that Roy and I can go over a few things with you before dinner,” Bruce said.
“Sure, just go off and leave me with all the work,” Mason said with a fake pout.
“Come on, Jeff,” Bruce laughed. “Let’s get out of here and let this overworked boy get some work done.”
“Have a seat,” Bruce said as we entered a room that he used for work that he often did at home. “Roy told you that your parents want to settle out of court, what do you think of that?”
“I honestly hadn’t thought much about it,” I admitted.
“Roy and I have both talked about the offer,” Bruce began. “Your parents’ attorney said that they were offering $10,000. I told him that I doubted that you would accept that. Roy and I are of the opinion that you shouldn’t consider any amount less than $100,000.”
“You’re the attorneys and I respect your opinion,” I said. I really didn’t want to make a decision.
“Roy told me that you had mixed feelings about suing your own parents,” Bruce said in a tone that didn’t seem opinionated.
“Yeah, I guess I am,” I confessed.
“Just remember how you were treated as a kid,” Roy said.
“He’s right,” Bruce said. “Now, I doubt that your parents are going much higher than the $10,000 offer. We need to go over what to expect in the courtroom. Roy is going to play the part of your parent’s attorney. He will say some things to make you lose your cool. You have to stay calm and not let the attorney get to you. When he starts making you angry, think of someone you love like Mason.”
“I can do that,” I said with an assuring smile.
“Your parent’s attorney is Karl Braun,” Bruce said. “He may appear as moron, but he’s shrewd. He tries to intimidate the witnesses and when that doesn’t work he sometimes loses his own cool. Now, let’s get started.”
“Are you a fag,” Roy began.
“I’m gay,” I calmly answered. “Would he be allowed to ask that type of question?”
“Not with that word,” Bruce said. “But, he might say ‘HOMOSEXUAL’ with an attitude. The judge is Kathy Lee. She is new and I haven’t found out much about her. Go on, Roy.”
Roy also grilled me about the truthfulness of my journal until I’m sure that Bruce saw that I was getting tired. “I think that’s enough for today,” he said. “I think you’re going to be fine on the witness stand. We have another witness to go over a few things with. Roy would you mind seeing if he is here?”
“Thank you for taking on my case,” I said to Bruce as I stood to leave the room.
“After reading your journal, I was most pleased to do it,” Bruce said.
“Tom!” I said with surprise as I exited the room. “It’s good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you too, Jeff,” Tom said as he hugged me.
“What is this?” I asked as I felt the bulging bicep that Tom had developed. “You’re becoming quiet the stud.”
“I’ve been working out. You look good yourself,” he assured me. “We’ll visit when Roy and Bruce are finished with me. My boyfriend, Craig, is in the den. Why don’t you keep him company while we’re busy?”
I found Mason and Craig in a friendly argument about baseball. Craig was a Cubs fan and Mason a St. Louis Cardinals fan. George seemed to be enjoying the friendly exchange between the two. “Jeff!” Craig said when he saw me enter the room. “It’s good to see you again.” His greeting was more like an old friend than one between persons who had only met one time.
Our conversion was interrupted when Carol announced that dinner was ready. “Mason, would you mind telling Roy and Bruce that dinner is ready?”
Dinner was awesome. It began with a soup called bigos. I wasn’t sure what was in it, but I could tell that it had cabbage and meat. We were also severed pierogi that was like a dumpling filled with cheese, potatoes, onions, cabbage, mushrooms and meat. There was a meat entre called zrazy that had some sort of filling that tasted wonderful. This was all served with a delicious cucumber salad. I wouldn’t have known what wine to serve with the meal, but the one served was perfect.
After dinner Carol served coffee and an apple tart called szarlotka that was delightful. “How do you keep from being as fat as pigs?” George asked. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a meal as good.”
“I’m pleased that you enjoyed it,” Carol said. “I don’t often cook like this since the kids are gone.”
“How many kids do you have?” George asked.
“We have three, two girls and a boy,” Bruce answered. “One daughter lives in Madison, Wisconsin, one lives in Indiana, and our son lives here in the Chicago area.”
“That explains this big house then,” George said.
“Do you have any children, Grandpa George?” Bruce asked.
“I had two sons who died in an auto accident when they were teenagers,” George sadly said. “But, I’ve adopted these two as my grandchildren.”
“Oh, Jeff isn’t your biological grandson?” Carol asked.
“No, when he ran away and ended up in Arkansas, he rented a trailer space from me. He told me that he had come to Fayetteville to attend school. I didn’t ask any questions, although he did appear too young to be a college student.” George smiled and looked at me. He continued, “By the time I figured out that he was still in high school and had run away from an abusive home, I wasn’t about to turn him in. He became my grandson and I became his grandfather. Later, Mason became my grandson too.”
Carol stood and went to George and gave him a hug and kissed his forehead, and then said, “You’re a wonderful kind man, Grandpa George.”
We all had a wonderful visit until George began to yawn. Bruce must have noticed and said, “It’s getting late. I think we should all turn in. Jeff, Roy and I have a meeting with Jeff’s parents and their attorney tomorrow.
Mason and I made quiet passionate love in that antique bed without breaking the bed. We then fell asleep in each other’s arms. We woke to the smell of bacon coming from Carol’s kitchen. After showering and dressing we made our way to the kitchen and saw Barry helping Carol prepare breakfast. “Barry and I almost have breakfast ready,” Carol said smiling. “Help yourselves to the coffee and juice. Since there is more room in the dining room, we’ll have breakfast in there. Everyone else is in there now.”
Just as we began our breakfast the doorbell rang. “That must be Tom and Craig,” Mason said. “They agreed to show Grandpa, Barry and me around Chicago while you three are busy.”
“Tell them to come in and have breakfast,” Carol said as Bruce went to answer the door.
After breakfast Bruce, Roy and I went to the meeting with my parents and their attorney while the other guys went to see the sites of Chicago. “We’re meeting in my office,” Bruce said. “I didn’t want to give them the advantage of meeting in their attorney’s office. This is out of court and so it will be less formal than a courtroom. Just remember that you can terminate the meeting anytime you want.”
My parents were about 45 minutes late for the meeting and they offered no excuse when they arrived. I was astonished at my mom’s appearance. She appeared to have been drinking already. She wore more makeup than was necessary. I assumed it was used in a failed attempt to cover wrinkles. She looked worse than she had the last time I saw her.
My dad appeared to be sober, but he obviously wasn’t happy about being there. Their attorney reminded me of a drunken W. C. Fields. However, Bruce had warned me that he was shrewd. Dad sat at the table without a greeting to anyone. Mom appeared to be in a stupor.
“Let’s begin,” Bruce said after everyone was seated. After introductions Bruce said, “I’ve visited with Jeff, and he isn’t willing to settle for your offer of $10,000.”
“That’s all that fag is getting out of us,” Dad yelled. For the first time, I felt no guilt for my lawsuit.
“Then I guess this meeting is over,” Bruce said.
“Would you give me a few minutes with my clients,” Mr. Collins, my parents’ attorney said.
“Sure, we’ll be in the next room when you’re ready,” Bruce said.
We could hear my dad yelling, “That fucking fag isn’t getting a penny more than our offer. I only agreed to the $10,000 to avoid going to court.”
I saw Roy tense up as he said, “I want to nail his ass good. I kind of hope he doesn’t agree to more.”
“He’s not going to agree to more,” I said. “He’s too damn stubborn.”
After about thirty minutes Mr. Collins came in and said that they were ready to talk. When we entered the room mom was still in her stupor and dad sat with an angry glare at me. “My clients have agreed to go high as $15, 000,” Mr. Collins said.
“Jeff, what do you say?” Roy asked.
“They can go to hell,” I said.
I was upset over the meeting but contented that I’d made the decision to go forward with the lawsuit. “I think we’re as ready as we will be for the case tomorrow,” Roy said. “I want to take everyone out to dinner tonight.”
“If we go out, I’m buying,” I argued.
“I’ll pay now and you can pay me back after we win,” Roy said.
“I can pay now,” I said. “I have some money.”
“How much money do you have?” Roy asked. “Remember, everything is more expensive here than it is back in Arkansas.”
“I have over $11, 000,” I said.
“Where did you get that much money? I think we’re paying you too much,” Roy teased.”
“Remember I won over $6,000 at the casino, and I’ve learned to live cheap,” I smugly said.
Susan and Steve were arriving to be in court, not as my attorney, but to lend support. Bruce and Mason drove to O’Hair to pick them up. We would then all go out to dinner.
Dinner was to be at a nearby Italian restaurant that Bruce promised had excellent food regardless of its outward appearance. Bruce was correct in his description of the outward appearance. The building looked as though it should have been demolished twenty years ago. The restaurant was much nicer inside than it appeared to be from the outside. Tom and Craig joined us for the evening. The food was as Bruce promised, excellent. The bill came to nearly $500 with the tip and drinks. However, for my friends it was worth every penny.
After dinner we all went back to Carol and Bruce’s house for coffee and Carol’s apple tart. The conversation was lively and fun filled. Eventually the conversation came around to the trial. “Are you still reluctant about suing your parents?” Steve asked me.
“I was until we met to talk about an out of court settlement,” I said.
I described how my dad had reacted when I turned down the $10,000 offer to settle and how my mom was in a stupor that was probably alcohol induced. Steve agreed that I should continue with the lawsuit.
We all chatted until nearly midnight. Finally, Bruce suggested that I go to bed and get some rest. He wanted me to be well rested for court the next day. “Don’t you two be up all night fooling around,” he teased as Mason and I went to our room.
We woke again to the wonderful odor of breakfast being cooked. When I made my way to the kitchen I found Susan and Carol busy preparing breakfast. They were chatting like they had been best friends for years and not mere days. “Oh my, you look handsome,” Susan said as she saw me enter the kitchen.
“You certainly do,” Carol said. “Help yourself to the coffee and juice. Breakfast will be ready soon. Is Mason awake yet?”
“He’s in the shower,” I said. “He’ll be down soon.”
“He’s down now,” Mason said as he hugged me from the back and kissed the back of my neck.
After breakfast Bruce, Steve, Roy, and I took Carol’s car to leave early to the courthouse. The others would be coming in the SUV later. All three of the attorneys grilled me with last minute preparations when Steve finally said, “I think we should leave him alone now. He seems well prepared and we’ll just make him nervous if we continue.”
We arrived at the court house a little before the scheduled case. We all sat on a bench outside the courtroom. Now that we were actually in the courthouse I was becoming nervous. I tried to hide it the best I could because I knew the three attorney friends would be hovering over me like mother hens.
“They’re here,” Roy said. I assumed he meant the remainder of our group, but I saw my parents with their attorney, Karl Braun, arriving and took the only bench available that was directly across from us. To my surprise my mom appeared to be sober for a change. My dad didn’t appear as cocky as he had the previous day.
Soon the remainder of our group arrived. Steve, Roy, Bruce and I stood and offered our seat to George and the ladies. However, the bailiff opened the courtroom doors and we all entered. I noticed the entire time that George was giving my parents these looks that seemed to indicate pure revulsion.
The bailiff called the court to order, “In the case of Parker verses Parker, the Honorable Karen Lee presiding. You may be seated.” Judge Lee was a petite Chinese lady who appeared to be about fifty. I doubted that she was even five feet tall. Her dark black hair had just enough gray to make her appear distinguished. She entered the courtroom with an air of authority that said, “Nobody gives me any shit.”
Following all the initial formalities of the proceedings I was called to the witness stand. Bruce had me describe the beatings and how I had take refuge in the hollow tree. He had me describe how I finally ran away from home and had gone to live in Arkansas on my own.
Finally it was time for the defense attorney to cross examine me. He began with, “Are you a homoooooooooosexual?” He attempted to make the word sound despicable.
Before I could answer, Bruce objected and Judge Lee said, “Sustained, counsel will refrain from that line of questioning.” I looked in Roy’s direction and his smile told me that we had a judge that was likely gay friendly.
“You weren’t really abused were you? Didn’t your parents use normal punishment for misbehaving?” Mr. Braun asked.
“I can show you the belt marks on my back if you want,” I offered.
“Your Honor, would you instruct the witness to answer the questions,” Mr. Braun said in a tone that showed that he was obviously not happy.
“The witness will answer the question.” Judge Lee said without emphasizing any authority.
“I’m not sure what they thought was normal, but I can show you the belt marks,” I said.
“Your Honor, would you again instruct the witness to answer the question,” Mr. Braun pleaded.
“The witness has answered your question, now continue,” Judge Lee instructed with authority.
“If you were abused, why didn’t you report it?” Mr. Braun arrogantly asked.
“I didn’t know how,” I answered.
“If you were abused, why didn’t somebody notice and report it?” He asked.
“My fifth grade teacher did report it,” I said.
“There are there no reports of any alleged abuse to Child Protective Services?” Mr. Braun asked?
“That’s something that you would have to ask Child Protective Services,” I said.
“Wasn’t it because there was no abuse?” He asked.
“There was lots of abuse,” I said.
“Aren’t you just making this up to get money out of your parents?” Mr. Braun asked.
“Objection,” Bruce said.
“Sustained,” Judge Lee said.
Mr. Braun finally ended the questioning and Bruce called Tom to the witness stand.
“Have you ever seen Mr. or Mrs. Parker hit their son, Jefferson Parker?” Bruce asked.
“Yes, I have,” Tom answered.
“What did you see?” Bruce asked.
“I saw Mrs. Parker hit Jeff on the head with a beer bottle,” Tom said.
“Did the beer bottle break?”
“Why do you think it didn’t break?”
“Because, Mrs. Parker was too drunk to do a lot of damage.”
“Objection, he doesn’t know that she was drunk,” Mr. Braun said.
“Overruled,” Judge Lee said. “He was asked his opinion and not a fact.”
“I have no more questions,” Bruce said.
“Why would Mrs. Parker hit her son with a beer bottle,” Mr. Braun began his cross-examination.
“I don’t know why any parent would hit their child with a beer bottle,” Tom answered. I looked at Bruce and saw a huge smile.
“Was it because you gave Jeff Parker a homoooooooooosexual kiss?”
“Counsel, this is your last warning,” Judge Lee said. “You will not use that line of questioning in my courtroom.”
“Did you kiss Jeff Parker?”
“Why did you kiss him?”
“He had just told me that he couldn’t have friends over because his parents were abusive, and I gave him a kiss as a friend and nothing more.”
“No more questions”
“You may call your next witness,” Judge Lee said.
“I call Janice Levine,” Bruce said. I was surprised; Mrs. Levine was my fifth grade teacher.
After Mrs. Levine was sworn in, Bruce began, “Mrs. Levine do you know Jeff Parker?”
“I do, he is a former student of mine in the fifth grade.”
“Did you ever notice any signs of possible abuse?”
“Did you report your suspicions?
“To whom did you report your suspicions?”
“Child protective services.”
“Do you know what the outcome of your report was?”
“I don’t because it was the end of school. I assumed that it was investigated.” Mr. Braun had no questions of Mrs. Levine.
The next witness was Dennis Frank of Child Protective Services. “Mr. Frank do you have any record of a report of suspicion of abuse on Jefferson Parker?” Bruce asked.
“I do not.” I saw a quick smile on Mr. Braun.
“Are you saying that Mrs. Levine is not telling the truth?”
“Not at all, she is very likely telling the truth. Our log indicates that Dorothy Leach was assigned to investigate that report.”
“Then shouldn’t there be a record?”
“There should be, but we have discovered there are no records on least five cases that were assigned to Mrs. Leach.”
“Where is Mrs. Leach now?”
“She was terminated a year ago and her whereabouts are unknown.”
“I have no more questions of this witness.”
Mr. Braun chose to not cross-examine Mr. Frank and Bruce had no more witnesses to call. Mr. Braun called my mom to the stand. “Mrs. Parker have you ever abused your son, Jeff Parker?”
“I have not. We always took care of our son.”
“Did you ever hit him with a beer bottle?”
“I don’t recall ever doing that.” Mom turned on the tears that I was sure was to gain sympathy.
“I have no more questions.”
“Mrs. Parker is the reason you don’t recall hitting your son is because you were drunk?” Bruce began his cross-examination of my mom.
“I was not.”
“Are you an alcoholic?”
“Objection, relevance.” Mr. Braun said.
“Overruled,” Judge Lee said.
“Are you an alcoholic?” Bruce repeated.
“I am not.”
“Do you have a driver’s license?”
“Why do you not have a driver’s license?
“I don’t need one?”
“Isn’t it true that your license has been revoked because of driving under the influence charges?”
“Yes.” She finally admitted after a long pause.
The next witness was my dad. “Have you ever abused your son?” Mr. Braun began.
“Have you ever punished your son?”
“How did you punish him?”
“When he was younger, I would sometimes swat him on the butt.”
“When he was older?”
“Mr. Parker, you have already testified that you have never abused your son,” Bruce began. “Would you read the page in this journal that has the yellow tab?”
Dad took the journal, looked at the page and then handed it back to Bruce and said, “I must have brought the wrong glasses. I can’t see this.”
“Then I’ll read it to you,” Bruce began:
January 8th: Dad pulled me out of bed and began hitting me because I hadn’t shoveled the driveway. It must have started snowing after I went to bed. Mom and dad began fighting and I managed to sneak out of the house and hide in my hollow tree. Both were passed out when I got ready for school.
January 9th: Thank God, Dad was on the road and I got to sleep in my warm bed. Mom hit me because I left an empty glass in the sink. But, her blows aren’t as painful as my dad’s. By 11:00 pm she was passed out.
January 10th: Nobody was home when I got home from school. I did my homework and went to bed. When I woke up this morning mom was passed out on the couch.
January 11th: Dad was back home from his trip. I hated it that he wasn’t on a long haul and came home early. He hit me in the gut because I didn’t say hello when he walked in the door. I managed to sneak out of the house and spent the entire weekend hiding out in my hollow tree. It was really cold, so I stayed in my sleeping bag.
January 14th: Dad was back on the road and I returned to my room. It was great getting a shower and sleeping in my warm bed.
“There are several more pages of this journal that is in your son’s handwriting. Do you still say that you didn’t abuse your son?”
“Absolutely, he’s just making that up.”
“Do you recognize this?” Bruce asked as he held up my dad’s trucker’s log.
“It looks like a trucker’s log to me.”
“Yes, it is a trucker’s log; it’s your trucker’s log. Do you realize that the days that Jeff’s journal mentions that you’re home there are no entries and the days that he says you’re on the road match your log?”
“It’s just coincidental.”
“I have two years worth of occurrences here; do you really expect the court to believe that they are coincidental?”
“Mr. Parker when did you file a missing person report on Jeff?”
“I don’t recall.”
“Is that because you never filed one?”
“I thought my wife filed it.”
“Did you really care if you found your son?”
Bruce ended the cross-examination, and Mr. Braun stated that he and no more witnesses.
Judge Lee stated that she would render her ruling at 10:00 am tomorrow. I noticed that Mr. Braun was having an animated conversation with my parents. He then came and told Bruce and me that my parents would settle for $50,000. “No deal,” I said before Bruce could answer.
“I think you made the right decision,” Bruce said he began gathering papers and putting them in his briefcase. “I think this one is in the bag.”
The group decided to get takeout Chinese food for the evening meal. We all ate our fill and then settled in the den and discussed the day’s events. The consensus was that it was looking good for me to win. “I think the ‘homoooooooooosexual’ trick may have backfired on Braun today,” Bruce said. “Rumor is that Judge Lee is a lesbian and has a live-in lover.”
“No shit?” Roy said. “That’s too funny.”
We all got a good laugh out of the fact that the judge might be a lesbian. Steve then said, “Jeff, I’m very proud of you. You kept your cool in court and outsmarted an experienced attorney.”
“He sure did,” Roy and Bruce both chimed in.
“Mason’s arm around me tightened and he gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. “You were awesome,” he said.
“That’s my grandson,” George said with pride.
We were all awake early the next morning and ready to go to the court house ready to hear Judge Lee’s decision. We were all quiet on the ride there, each in our own thoughts about what the judge would say.
We arrived about twenty minutes early for the Judge’s ruling, but it seemed like hours. After the bailiff called the court to order, Judge Lee entered. Her expression gave no hint of what her decision would be. She looked over her glasses at me and then at my parents. She began, “It appears to me there is ample evident of abuse of Jefferson Parker by his natural parents. The defendants seemed to be of the mistaken opinion that it was okay if he were a homosexual. The sexual orientation of the individual in this case has no relevance.”
She paused to give my parents a stern look and then continued, “It appears that this abuse began long before Jeff would have known about his sexual orientation. I have read the journal kept by Jeff and it is evident that it was genuine. The journal proves that there was both physical and mental abuse.”
Judge Lee then looked directly at me and said, “Jeff, I have also read that you have been on your own for the past two years. You not only graduated from high school, but are the valedictorian of your graduating class. Normal parents would have been proud of that fact, but your parent had driven you away. Is Mr. George Day present?”
George stood and quietly said, “Yes, Your Honor.”
“Mr. Day, I understand that you have become Jeff’s unofficial foster Grandfather. Thank you for helping this unique young man. You stepped in and did the job that his parents failed to do. I understand that there are others in Arkansas who have stepped up and help make life better for this young man. I thank you”
“Now as to the matter of proper compensation for the abuse that Jeff has suffered. While I can’t give him back the years of unhappiness, I am awarding compensation in the amount of $275,000.”
“Your Honor, my clients do not have that amount of money at their disposal,” Mr. Braun said.
“I’m well aware of that,” Judge Lee said. “Therefore, I’m ordering the sale of the home owned by Mr. and Mrs. Parker to compensate Jeff. They have thirty days from today to vacate the premises. I have ordered an appraiser to appraise the property today. He will be escorted by someone from the sheriff’s department. I expect the property to be in the condition it is today upon vacancy.”
It was over and I had won. I had won a great deal of money, but mostly I had some satisfaction in seeing my parents get what they deserved. Suddenly I heard my dad bang the desk and say, “I’ll burn the damn house down before I let that fag get his hands on it.”
Everyone was in shock at his outburst. “Bailiff, detain Mr. Parker. Mr. Parker sit down it appears I’m not finished here,” Judge Lee angrily said. “Mr. Parker I’m ordering you held in contempt and I may consider releasing you after the property is sold. Mrs. Parker you now have ten days to see to the removal of personal items. Again, I expect the property to remain in its current condition; otherwise you will be joining your husband in jail.”
“Surely, you can’t put us out,” Mom cried. “Where will we live?”
“I understand there is a vacant hollow tree in your neighbor,” Judge Lee said.
There was a restrained amount of laugher in the room until Judge Lee gave us all a stern look.
There was an impromptu party that night. In addition to those of us staying with Bruce and Carol; Tom, Craig, Tom’s parents and brother came. Eventually the conversation came to the money I had been awarded what I planned to do with it. “I imagine everything will stay pretty much as it is,” I said.
“Except, we need to get a larger place,” Mason said. “Your travel trailer is too small for you, much less the two of us.”
“Mason, I can’t just go off and leave Grandpa there by himself,” I argued. “He’s done too much for me as it is.”
“There’s no need to worry about me,” George said. “I want you to live your life.”
“Grandpa, you know that the trailer park is too much for you to take care of by yourself,” I said.
“I’m selling the park,” George said. “I got an offer I couldn’t turn down. A hotel chain is buying it to build a new hotel on. Will the contract be ready for me to sign when we get back, Steve?”
“The contract is ready now,” Steve said.
“You knew about this and didn’t tell me about it?”I asked Steve in a voice that I’m sure sounded more accusatory than I intended. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Jeff, you know I couldn’t break attorney/client confidentiality,” Steve said. “Besides, your grandpa didn’t want you to worry about it until your court case was over.”
“Jeff and I will get a place and you can come and live with us,” Mason said.
“No, you two young people don’t need any old man around to take care of,” George said. “I’ve found a condo for retirees like me. But” I do expect you two to come and visit me often.”
“We will,” Mason and I both said.
“I hope you wouldn’t mind if Roy and I came to visit,” Barry said. It was obvious that the old man had charmed his way into their hearts too.
“Well I’ll be kind of busy with the old ladies living there, but I think I could work you into my schedule,” George joked.
“You’ll have to make room on your schedule for Susan and me,” Steve said. “You are a member of our family now.”
My head was spinning. I would have to leave the place that I had found sanctuary and happiness. I also knew that I couldn’t live in a tiny travel trailer for the rest of my life. My mind was quickly planning what to do next when Roy said, “I hope you people don’t mind if I leave your company and go to bed. I always like to make sure I get plenty of sleep before I fly.”
“Oh, the flight back home,” George said with a panic look.
“Don’t worry about it, Grandpa,” Barry said. “Remember you’re too pretty to die.”