As the gunman raised the gun to Ty’s head and started to speak, Ty pitched the cup over his shoulder and in a continuous motion turned, raising his arm, knocking the gun hand away from his temple just as the gunman fired. The round went into the glass cage. Ty grabbed his shirt and pushed him back onto his back. The gunman sputtered, his hand still on the gun. He started to bring it up again as Ty brought his hand up revealing the Bic lighter. “Despida la pistola y ni Dios ni su madre no sabrán la cara en el ataúd. (Fire the pistol and neither God nor your mother will know the face in the casket.)”
“No! Yo no quiero quemar. (I don’t want to burn.)” he said, dropping the pistol.
Oggie came out of the door as the pistol discharged. Instinctively, he dropped to a knee behind a counter. Sizing up the situation, he rose again with a can of Spam in each hand from the shelf.
The other two saw Oggie and he screamed at them, throwing the cans. As he grabbed another, they ran for it.
He stood up straight again and looked over the counter at the two boys on the floor. “They’re gone, you can get up.”
The Hindi clerk stood up, “The police are coming, I made the alarm.” He looked up at the bullet hole in the glass where he would have been standing, staggered a moment and fainted.
“Let me get the gun,” Oggie said, stepping over him,
“No, just kick it out of reach, don’t touch it.”
“Oggie, I’ve got this guy, check on Nick. The other two may have needed wheels.” Realizing what he was saying, Oggie ran out the door to find a terrified Nick inside the locked car. Oggie knocked, Nick looked up and opened the door. “Is he alright? Where’s Ty?”
“Shush, he’s fine,” Oggie whispered, holding Nick as the police cars came flying in, guns drawn as they got out.
“Guy’s, it’s alright, my boy has the bad guy on the floor in there. You don’t need those guns.”
One of the cops turned and drew a bead on Oggie, “Don’t move. Keep your hands where I can see them.”
Putting his hands up, “Look, the kid in there in the snakeskin boots is my boy, he stopped the robbery and probably saved my life.”
“Shut up and drop to your knees, both of you. Do it now!” Oggie let go of Nick and they complied quickly, seeing the guy was nervous and had a gun pointing directly at them. “Now, on the ground, hands out above your heads. Don’t move,” he screamed, glancing quickly over his shoulder and backing up to the cover of the car to shield him from anything that might happen inside the store. He kept a bead trained on Oggie and Nick as he clicked the mic attached to his vest and spoke into it. The other three entered the store as two more cars pulled in around back, and one more pulled in between Oggie and the storefront. Yelling came from inside the store. Oggie could hear Ty scream once in pain, then it went quiet. Two officers came from the newly arrived car in front of Oggie and cuffed Nick and Oggie
“Don’t move,” they were admonished. They lay there for what seemed like hours, but in truth, it was more likely minutes.
An officer came out, “Building secure!” An ambulance rolled in and the paramedics went into the shopette.
The atmosphere relaxed quite a bit. An officer came and stood Oggie up and checked him for weapons as they did with Nick. “Can you tell me what happened sir?” the officer asked.
“NO! Not until I see my son, is he alright? I’ve co-operated all I am going to until I see he is alright.”
“And who is your son?” The officer asked with pen in hand.
“He is the boy who was holding the bad guy on the floor when you went in. I heard him scream.”
“His name is Coruthers and yours is Castle, yet you call him your son?”
“He is with us as a ward of the court and I have started adoption proceedings. So yes, I consider him my son.”
“Well sir, no one has died here, so I am sure your boy is fine.”
“Who is the ambulance for?”
“There is a boy doused in gasoline, he’ll be treated and transported to get him cleaned up. But I think he’s going to be alright.”
“Yeah well, I’m not so sure Ty is. I want to see him and now! He must be terrified.”
“Why did your son have a cup of gasoline with him in the store, sir?”
Oggie looked at him confused.
“I can answer that one sir. Pa went into the shopette to use the restroom when Ty saw them come in He knew something was up and told me to put some gas in the cup because Pa was in danger. Then he told me to get inside the car and get down after locking the doors. I did.”
“I see. Why didn’t you call the police?”
“Pa has the cell phone. He was inside.”
“You don’t have a cell phone?”
Oggie cut in, “We don’t live here. We live rural and don’t have a need or coverage if we did.”
“Where exactly is rural?” the officer asked.
“San Louis Obispo is the postal office we use, but we live in the mountains. When can we be on our way? We have a long drive ahead.”
“You can go now if you like. We have your information.”
“Thanks,” Oggie said, turning so they could remove the handcuffs. As they did, he started towards the shopette.
“Excuse me sir, but you can’t go in there. That’s a crime scene.”
“Oh sorry, then I’ll just wait here while you bring Ty out here to me.”
“Look, he is going to jail and frankly, I’m doing ya a favor. You want another kid, the orphanages are full of them. This kid’s got a history as long as your arm. Take it from me, you can’t change them. You can see, the first sign of trouble and they revert back to being a common street thug.”
“I don’t think you understand. The boy in there in the snake skin boots was with us when we came here and he is going to be with us when we leave here. He is currently in my custody and is a ward of the court.”
“Yes, well, I’m afraid that Tyson Ignacio Coruthers has violated his parole by being involved in a criminal act. He is being returned to the Department of Corrections. You may leave now.”
“He wasn’t involved in any criminal act. He was STOPPING one!”
“I’m sorry sir, dousing someone with gasoline and holding a lighter to their face is a criminal act where I come from. He won’t be going back with you. You may contact the Department of Corrections in the morning. They should have him processed by noon tomorrow I’d say. Sometimes it takes a bit to get the computer caught up with the paperwork.”
“Who is your captain?” Oggie asked, as the gurney with the boy on it was placed into the ambulance.
“That would be Captain Daniels, sir.”
“And a number where he can be reached?” Oggie asked, pulling out his cell phone.
The officer handed him a business card and Oggie dialed his cell phone.
“So, tell me your story.” The officer said, standing Ty up.
“Is Nick ok? Please, I have to know.”
“Who’s Nick?” The officer asked.
“The blonde boy, out in the car with Oggie, the big guy.”
“Yeah, he’s okay. So, tell me about it.”
Ty exhaled and a smile grew on his face. He looked back at the waiting officer and began. “Saw these guys coming in here. Knew the look and knew my new pa was going to be caught in the middle. Saw a cup in the trash, knew Spics have a thing about being burnt. Figured I could stop him if I did it right.” He looked down at the handcuffed boy on the floor. “Oggie is alive and the kid in the box is ok. I guess I did it right enough.”
“You got a history?”
Ty looked up at the guy, knowing he already knew the answer. “Yeah, you know I do. But look, I’ve straightened it all out. I’m with Oggie and Nick. I’ve got a family now. You know, he’s also sending me to school, teaching me to be an architect.”
“You still on borrowed time?”
“Didn’t think so ’til now.”
“Well, you know I’m going to violate you on this right, your parole?”
Ty’s eyes welled up a little. He whispered, “Yeah. I guess I should have figured. It was all going too well. Look,” Ty said, trying to suck back the tears, “do you think we could make this quick? This is really going to suck. Not just for me, but for them, too.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” The officer took him out to the car. Opening the door, he put him in the back seat. He saw Nick and he gave him a little smile as he slid, still handcuffed, into the back seat of the car. Nick ran over to the car.
“Wait, you can’t take him, he didn’t do anything.”
“Son, you need to go back over with your dad.” the officer said, stepping between Nick and the door.
“But he saved pa, and probably me.”
“He also violated his parole, so you’ll have to deal with them. It’s out of my hands.”
“Can I see him just for a second? Please?”
The officer opened the door, but remained between Ty and Nick.
“Ty, don’t worry. Pa is calling now.”
Ty smiled, “Nick, no matter what happens, I love you and Oggie too. Thanks for everything.”
Nick looked at him, “I love you too, forever and a day. Don’t worry Ty, were going to get you back.”
The officer closed the door and climbed in, the other boy had already been transported.
As the officer started the car, a quiet, injured voice managed to get out, “Thanks boss.”
“How long will you be staying, Mr. Castle?”
“Just a couple days.”
“And the number in your party?”
Oggie paused for a moment. “Three.”
“Do you need help with your bags?”
“No, thank you.”
“Alright, your room is 2202 and the elevators are right around the corner. Will there be anything else?”
“No, thank you.” Oggie turned around to see a weeping Nick sitting, staring off into nothing. Oggie placed his hand on Nick’s shoulder and gave it a little squeeze.
“Hey,” Oggie said, softly. “It’ll be alright. We’ll get him back. Jerry will handle it when he finds out. He was at some dinner doing a speech or something. I left him messages. Let’s go upstairs and rest while we wait.”
Nick stood and walked mechanically beside Oggie as they made their way to the elevators and on to their room.
“Nick, why don’t you take a quick shower, you’ll feel better. I’ll try Jerry again.”
“Alright pa,” Ty said. Taking clothes from his case, he headed mindlessly towards the bathroom. He closed the door and stripped, standing, looking at the shower, knowing what was missing, he turned the water on and stepped in. Letting the sound of the shower wash away the sounds of his sobs, he slumped to the floor, his tears being carried away with his dreams.
“Captain Daniels please, Ogden Castle calling.”
“This is Lieutenant Hanson, Mr. Castle. May I ask what this is in reference to?”
“Yes, Tyson Ignacio Coruthers, he was taken into custody this evening at the Quick Fill Shopette. He stopped the robbery and I have no doubt, saved my life. May I speak to the Captain please?”
“Certainly Mr. Castle, please stay on the line.”
“This is Captain Daniels, how can I help you?”
“Good evening Captain Daniels, I’m calling about Tyson Ignacio Coruthers, taken into custody this evening. I want to know if I can get him released into my custody. He was with me and in my custody when the incident occurred.”
“Yes, I spoke with Sergeant Banes, the officer in charge of the case. He indicated that Tyson doused a person with gasoline and threatened to set him on fire.”
“Yes, but only to try and stop the robbery and to save my life. Not as an act with criminal intent. He saved my life and the life of the store clerk and probably my son. His quick thinking should get him a medal, not thrown back into the hell hole he came from. Look Captain, I intend to adopt him. The paperwork is all but in. That’s where we came from just before the incident. We were at dinner with the social worker getting the final work up. Captain, please, he is really a good kid. He is working so hard to get it all right. Please, can’t you work with me a bit here?”
“I can understand your position, I really can. The officer in charge is the only one who can drop or reduce the charges. All I can do is talk to him. Tyson will have a violation hearing in the morning. You might be able to get the judge who hears the case to do something, but I’m afraid I can’t help you any more than that. And quite frankly, Sergeant Banes isn’t likely to change his mind on this one. In fact, looking at my watch, I think he just got off shift and I won’t have the opportunity to speak to him until tomorrow night.”
“Can’t you call him back in? I’ll pay the overtime.”
“I wish we could, but unless it’s an emergency, we try to refrain from calling them in on their off times. I’m sure you can understand. Like I said before, it isn’t likely to do any good anyways. He filed his report and it is ten times easier to let it go as is than to amend his report. Couple that with his belief that this is a valid action, there is really no chance. Your best bet is to see the judge in the morning.”
“Being a juvenile he is already back at juvenile detention. They have a court there at the facility. Relax Mr. Castle, he is in no immediate danger. He is safely tucked away until morning. If all is well, the judge will turn him loose to you tomorrow.”
“Thanks, look, one more thing. The boy they caught tonight, will he be taken to the same place?”
“He was also a juvenile. But he was also an illegal, so he will have a medical checkup and a new set of clothes. He shouldn’t make it back to the facility until probably tomorrow afternoon. The Immigration and Naturalization Service will have him most of the morning. Even so, they wouldn’t put them together. No, Tyson will be safe there, I assure you.”
“Thank you, captain.”
“Certainly, Mr. Castle. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help to you, goodnight.”
Oggie hung up and dialed Jerry. “Hey Oggie. Sorry, just got off the stage, giving one of those damn speeches for the Chamber of Commerce. You know how I love to do those, as much fun as a root canal. What’s going on?”
“Pa, is that Uncle Jerry? Is he going to fix it?”
“Shush, I’m trying to find that out right now son.”
“Damn Oggie, I told you that kid hasn’t changed.”
“Jerry! What the hell should he have done? Wait and let the son of a bitches gun me down? Christ Jerry, the kid should get a medal, he saved Nick and the clerk inside too!”
“Oggie, what if the kid didn’t drop the gun? Did you ever think of what could have happened then?”
“Jerry, the perp had the gun to his head! He walked into it knowing the guy would have the drop on him. He was willing to sacrifice his life for me and Nick and the clerk. Jerry, look, I’m begging you, you gotta help him out here. He’s a good kid. Please…”
“I’ll do what I can. A lot depends on if the victim files charges. You say the other kid was a minor and an illegal?”
“Ya, that’s right.”
“Well, that isn’t the best news for us.”
“What do you mean?”
“Being a minor, they will assign him a Guardian ad Litem. They will act as surrogate guardian. They will decide whether or not to file suit and the court is obliged to give him a free attorney. The Mexican Consulate may have input as well. So, since everything is free and for the G.A.L. to not press charges would be stupid and a failure to fiduciate. So the bottom line is that counter charges will certainly be filed against the state and Ty for the gasoline and probably a bunch of other stuff. Their goal is to make it so the Mexican kid stays here as long as they can. His life is better here in our lock up than the streets of Mexico.”
“So what are you telling me Jerry? How long before we can have him back? A Day? A week? What?”
“I don’t know Oggie. Realistically, a couple of weeks to a month. If he’s convicted, you may not get him until he’s eighteen. I don’t know.”
“What can I do? Jer, I . . . How can I . . . Tell me what to do Jer. I, we . . . love him Jerry. I’ll do anything you say.”
“Alright little brother, you know I’ll do what I can. I might be able to get him released, but you’ll still have to make the court appearances with him. And I want you to call Zane Craft. He’s an attorney and one of the best for this kind of thing. Call my office in the morning and Cheryl will give you his number. I’m going to call right now and try and get things moving.”
“Thanks Jer. I’ll owe you large.”
“Just try and keep my nephew from hating me for not being able to wave a magic wand here. Help him understand. I know he was close.”
“You have no idea Jerry. No idea at all.”
“Well looky what we have here. Tyson Ignacio Coruthers. Better known as 4217909. Well, we’ve missed your tight ass. Speaking of that, you know the routine, strip down to the skin.”
“Yes sir, Boss Boxer.”
“Well, at least you haven’t forgotten your manners.”
“No sir, Boss Boxer.”
“Let’s see what it says you’ve been up to. Well now, this moves you into a whole different area. Attempted murder. Says here you doused a kid in gasoline and threatened to light him up!”
“Yes sir, Boss Boxer, I know it says that. But you know that ain’t me sir.”
“We’ll I don’t know now, you sure lit my fire a few times.”
“Maybe we can be friends again there boss? Maybe you’ll even put me near Kenny too, boss? I’ll make it right to you, you know I will.”
“Well, we’ll have to see if you squirm as well as you used to. If you’ve been well used on the outs you might not be so tight anymore.”
“No sir boss, you be the only one what’s been there.”
“Well, let’s get you processed. Bend over and spread them cheeks for me nice and wide, make sure you got no contraband in there. Stand up, turn around and open your mouth, let me see inside.” He looked down and saw that Ty was rubbing his piece into firm attention. Ty smiled as he closed his mouth.
“So how bout it Boss Boxer, you got space near Kenny? Haven’t seen him in forever.”
“Pick up your things. Don’t bother putting them back on, I’m going to process you personally.” He hit the button on the wall and gave a nod to the guy in control who pushed a button and the door clicked open. As he passed control he winked at the guy, “I’m going to process this one myself. Old friends, got some catchin’ up to do.” The guy buzzed him into the next room.
“You got some lube boss? Maybe a little soap? How you want me? On my back or my hands and knees. That’s how you like it, isn’t it boss? Hands and knees?”
“Well, suppose you start off slicking up my dick with a good head job,” he said, putting both hands on his shoulders and pushing him down to the tile floor of the shower stall. Ty knew the drill and reached up and undid his zipper and reached inside and retrieved the all too familiar stiffening rod. His pungent smell brought back the memories of what was and is now again. He paused looking at it, he didn’t want this. He looked up at Boss Boxer who was staring down at him.
“What are you waiting for boy, get busy.”
He started for it, mouth open. He remembered Nick. “Boss, I can’t. I just can’t.”
“What the fuck do you mean can’t? You get me all worked up and then tell me you can’t? I’ll god damn show you that you can!” He grabbed Ty and slapped him across the face.
Ty fell naked, his lip bleeding on the floor. “No Boss, please don’t make me. I’m sorry. Please don’t beat me boss.”
“Okay, then get over here and do what you do so well.”
“No Boss. I can’t do that no more. I can’t. Look boss, I can do your shoes, you know I do shoes real well. I can do your shoes instead, right boss?”
“I got boys to do my shoes, Ty. What I need from you, I’ve had before. And you gave it real well, too. I think you just need a reminder of how much you liked it.”
“Boss, no, please. Look, I don’t know if I’m clean or not. I need a test. I don’t want to take no chances giving you nothing.”
“I thought you said I was the last one in there?”
“I know, but there was this one guy. I forgot about him. Look, after my test, if I’m clean, then I’ll do ya. Right, boss?”
“You mean you might be dirty?”
“Don’t know boss, never can tell.”
“Right, well, you bought yourself a few days. I’m putting you in “G” ward for the night. They’ll get your medical work up first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, you can finish this job with your hand. Work yours too, at the same time, so I can watch. But turn away to shoot, you get any on my shoes or pants and I’ll make you pay. And you can tease it with your tongue, just don’t put it in your mouth till we find out.”
“Yes sir, Boss. How’s that, doing it good for ya?”
“Shut up, you talk too much, I’m close.”
“Yes sir boss, this is me shutting up, right away. You closer now boss?”
He grabbed Ty by the hair and tilted his head back. “Enough talk!”
Ty’s hand moved faster until his breathing told him he was about to shoot and he stroked him to completion.
“Pa, Uncle Jerry’s gonna help us, isn’t he?”
“Yeah, but it’s not that easy. It’s complicated and it’s a mess. We have to get him a really good lawyer in the morning.”
“When will we get him back, pa?”
“Not sure son, but as soon as we can. Let’s get some sleep, a full day ahead of us tomorrow.”
Nick crawled in bed as Oggie crawled into his own and turned out the light.
Nick lay there in the dark, wondering what Ty was thinking. He pursed his lips, pretending he could send the kiss off to him where ever he was. He hugged the extra pillow to him and draped his leg over it. His tears soaked the pillow.
“Pa, I’m all empty inside. Can I sleep with you? I mean, I’m just so sad, I need your arms to hold me.”
Nick hadn’t even finished speaking before he felt Oggie climbing under the covers and pulling him close to him. “Shush now son. He’ll be alright. He’s a tough kid and he knows we won’t give up on him.”
Ty lay in the cold ward room under the sheet and the wool blanket they provided, his feet shackled to the bed. He felt numb, the day’s events swirling in his head. He pulled the covers up and turned on his side wishing Nick’s warmth was next to him. He couldn’t remember feeling this scared or this lonely before, even his first time in. But his fear was not for what was ahead of him, but what was ahead of him without Nick. As his eyes welled in silence he whispered a prayer, a prayer of a forgotten soul.
“Hello God? Ty here. I’m all mixed up. I’m back in the joint, but it doesn’t feel right anymore. I feel like there is a fist squeezing my heart. I can’t breathe and I just want to die. I guess it is worth it. I mean, thanks for letting Oggie and Nick live. I guess it’s okay if I am the price of it. But it sure hurts a lot more being here than it ever did before.
“Thanks for letting me have Nick and Oggie for a while. I wish it could be forever, but they are too good, they deserve a good kid. But it . . .” Ty’s voice became weak. “Sure felt good. Why couldn’t I be born a good kid worth keeping? What did I do, God?” His silent sobs became a friend as they called him to sleep.
“Hello Bill, Oggie here. Look, something has happened. You have a moment?”
“Sure Oggie what’s up? How’s our boy doing?”
“Not very good I’m afraid.”
Oggie explained what had happened to Bill.
“Damn Oggie, I really think he is a salvageable kid. It just seems like life has really dealt him a bad hand. I wish I could help him out of it. But look, I will head down there in the morning and check on him and see if I can make his way a little safer. I still have a few good friends down there and there are a few real jerks too. But I’ll see what I can do. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”
“Thanks Bill. We are just beside ourselves over it. Let him know we are doing everything we can to get him back. You know Bill, we had just finished the last step towards adopting him. He doesn’t even know it yet. I was going to surprise him with it for his birthday. Now I don’t know if we’ll even have him with us on his birthday. I just feel so helpless.”
“I’m so glad that one has made it. Now if we can just keep the system from sucking him back into it.” Bill took a deep breath, “I’ll call you in the morning Oggie.”
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