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    Jdonley75
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Acquittal - 1. Chapter 1

“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness, of hatred, of jealousy, and, most easily of all, the gate of fear.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

 

Kyle Howard was walking down the narrow hallway in the District Attorney’s office at a brisk pace. A small quirky smirk on his lips proved he was feeling good today in his business suit and his lucky green tie. Short, light brown hair moved to the beat that his shoes tapped out, making his way to the meeting room to meet the young man he intended to put behind bars for the better part of his adult life. Normally, prosecutors working for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania would approach this kind of situation in a more delicate manner. Try to be somber and reserved. But Kyle privately relished this part of his job. He knew what he was doing, had all the evidence he needed and wasn’t afraid to say or do what he had to in order to get the job done. Just under six feet tall with a charming smirk and brown eyes and a lean frame, he could be both an imposing figure to some and disarming to others. He caught everyone’s attention at first glance and was respected by his associates in the District Attorney’s office. If asked, some of those same associates would also mention that while they initially felt drawn to him they soon learned he was very private and seldom included himself in office gossip or meeting after hours with them. He stayed professional if a little unconventional in his style when dealing with a defendant but trying to form anything more than a friendly acquaintance could result in a cold shoulder or a polite but firm rebuff from him. At thirty-one, he was young enough that he was still making a name for himself. So far, he had done a pretty good job.

Reaching the door, he burst into the room giving those present an unemotional “good morning,” to those assembled. His quick entrance was mostly just to cause a little discomfort in the defendant and his lawyer. See how far they jump or how scared they might look. Glancing at their faces he estimated they were about ready to deal. Five years as an assistant district attorney, he has learned to use any and every advantage he could to put a defendant off their game. The more control you can exert on a situation the better the outcome can be for you.

The room itself was small but functional. A rectangular table dominated the room with four people sitting on one side of the table and four empty chairs on the other side. The young defendant, Mark Simpkins, his lawyer and his parents looked up at him, looking both startled and nervous. The defense attorney quickly composed himself and rewarded Kyle with a slightly annoyed appearance as he moved around the room, taking a seat across for the other attorney. “Hi, Steve,” Kyle said in his modulated tone, giving the defense lawyer a charismatic smile and nod to him, only to receive a muttered reply. Steve was a good defense attorney who’d worked around Kyle for the last year or so. He knew if Kyle was this animated, something bad was about to happen and he privately dreaded what it might be. His client was a young twenty-one year old college kid named Mark Simpkins. An obvious jock from his appearance, his face was unremarkable save for the squinty eyes and the default look on his face that made him look like he was above all of this. His parents sitting on the other side of their lawyer seemed to have similar expressions.

“Hey, Mark. How’ve you been,” Kyle asked the defendant casually as he opened up his briefcase and started looking through the papers inside.

The young college student frowned and sullenly replied, “okay.”

“Well, that’s good to hear. I don’t want to keep you for long. I just wanted to see how things are going on your end with the offer of second degree manslaughter with Mark here doing just maybe, oh, I don’t know, fifteen years in prison? Maybe less with good behavior. Otherwise, we go to trial for murder two.” Kyle’s polished, polite smile seemed permanently fixed onto his face. In the back of his mind, he had no intention of agreeing to the deal now. He enjoyed talking fast and keeping people off their guard. It was a trait he had picked up while he was in law school and one he had observed in the years before. He prided himself on being mentally prepared for any and every argument to ensure a win. Making sure he armed himself well with little quips and barbs to put people off their game taught him that there was more than one way to exploit a criminals weaknesses.

Some in his office would say he could be ruthless when he had some cases put in front of him and never lets up on a defendant. There have been others who would call him cruel but he mostly ignored those sentiments. Most of them would have offered a lesser charge just to get the case off their desk and move on to other cases. As far as he was concerned, he was doing his best to protect the people. Hardly anyone has seen a softer side to him. At best, he allows himself to be approachable but he maintains a professional detachment from his co-workers. Maintaining a strong barrier between him and almost everyone else with few exceptions. It’s how he’s managed to make it in life the past few years on his own and it’s served him well, as far as he was concerned.

“Kyle, you can’t be serious with that crap,” Steve tried his best to play Kyle’s game, matching him in energy and style but he could tell that there was something coming. “It was an accidental death. There was no premeditation or malicious intent. We will agree to a point that there was a horrible incident that lead to the death of a young man but, frankly, you trying to convict him on second degree murder is a stretch and we both know it. So why don’t we try and come down from Man two and find a better solution so that this young man doesn’t spend the rest of his life behind bars where we both know he doesn’t belong.”

Kyle maintained a professional look while he laughed inwardly. Steve had just said exactly what he was hoping to hear. “Problem with your logic there, Steve, is that I do think he belongs behind bars. He’s a danger to the public, regardless of how innocent a face he puts on. The charges currently stand at second degree murder, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice involving the death of Jeremy Alberra. You remember Mr. Alberra, don’t you Mark? Big guy? Nineteen years old? Was rushing your frat and got tangled up in a hazing ritual?” The young man’s sullen and withdrawn look prompted Kyle to pull out a file from his briefcase saying, “here, let me help refresh your memory.” He pulled out two large photographs of a young, athletic man with a smiling face on one picture and the other was a picture of that same person, only pale and lifeless. Eyes closed in death, laying on a metal table and what seems to be after an autopsy had been performed. He shoved the pictures directly under the defendants face to make sure he couldn’t look away. Mark stared at the first picture but when the second one was placed in front of him, he flinched.

“No, Mark. Look at him.” Cold anger colored his voice. “I don’t want you to forget. That’s the boy you killed. That’s how he looked when his parents had to come pick up his body.” Kyle looked from the young man across the table to his parents as his face lost its friendly appearance and his voice took on an edge. “His parents expected him to get an education at college. To learn and to grow and to one day have a family of his own. He was there on a scholarship and he wanted to play professionally someday. First child in their family to go to college. He rushed your fraternity, hoping to form friendships because he was all alone for the first time in his life. What he got was someone who had little to no regard for his safety who left him to die. You put him through a gauntlet of alcohol and physical exertion to the point that he fell, multiple times, in your presence and received a laundry list of injuries that you and your friends did nothing about. You could have saved him, Mark, if you had just called 911 when it happened. But you didn’t. You stayed quiet and even went so far as to cajole and threaten the others present to not alert the authorities and left him to die on a dorm room bed.”

“Kyle,” Steve’s tone took on an edge. “Don’t talk to my client. Talk to me.”

“Very well, Mr. Dawson,” Kyle replied casually. “In that case, I’m going to have to inform you that the offer for man two is off the table. I’ll settle for man one with depraved indifference. I think you’re looking at a minimum of 18 years there but I’m aiming for twenty-five. Otherwise, we go to court on the second degree murder charge, I’ll win and not only will Mr. Simpkins spend the rest of his life behind bars,” he narrowed his eyes as he stared at the defense attorney, “I will personally make sure of that by showing up at every possible parole hearing he ever gets. And I will tell the story of Jeremy Alberra to the parole board with such eloquence and passion that they will lock him right back up every time.”

Steve leaned back in his chair and smirked. “Oh, ye of little faith. How come you think you can get a conviction so easily? Magic?”

Kyle smirked and his eyes stared daggers at his opponent. He had him right where he wanted him. “Because I did some digging over the last few months and have an established pattern of behavior.” Steve lost his smirk and sat up a little straighter. Now he knew why Kyle looked so pleased with himself. “I have prepared affidavits from five students of Mark’s former high school who have given us a long, very long, list of the abuses he subjected them to on an almost daily basis. I also have a few of his teachers lined up to testify to the veracity of those claims. I’m also getting ready to depose his former high school principal who I believe will be testifying that Mr. and Mrs. Simpkins,” he turned his gaze to the flustered parents with barely contained contempt, “went out of their way to strongarm him into silence to keep Mark’s school records clean. In the end, what I plan to show the jury is a pattern of a ruthless bully who, over the years, graduated up from simple pranks to physical abuse and ultimately to murder.” Once started, Kyle continued to press his argument passionately, pulling out more and more papers and passing them across the table.

“Accidental as it may appear, Mr. Simpkins knew that what he was doing was wrong which is why he hid the truth and tried to bully the others in the dorm not to not call for help when they could have saved a young man’s life. I will show the jury the overall character and predisposition of your client as a young man who has had no limits placed on him and has never been put in a position of being held responsible for his actions thanks in large part to his parents who either did not see or willfully chose to ignore the signs that they were raising a dangerous, ethically vacant man who had no regard for anyone else’s life but his own. I’m pretty sure I can get a conviction on second degree murder, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct on a jury that’ll have at least nine mothers or fathers. And that’s not even throwing in the misdemeanors for underage drinking with Mark all too happy to buy for the hazing, which we have him on video purchasing at a local liquor store. We also have the security footage in the frat house as well. So, I felt I was being somewhat generous offering you man two, Steve, until I found out about his past. Now that I know, nothing less than man one will satisfy the commonwealth that Mr. Simpkins will no longer be a threat to the public.”

Kyle produced more papers from his briefcase and handed them across the table to the defender. The room was silent for a moment as the defense attorney looked over the papers Kyle passed over the table to him. The door opened again and a woman with blonde hair tied in a bun walked in, wearing a long sleeved navy blue pencil dress and matching suit coat. In her hands was a plain vanilla folder. She closed the door behind her before sitting down at the table next to Kyle. She carefully inspected everyone present before she shook her head and said to no one in particular, “I missed the good part, didn’t I.”

Kyle turned to her and said, “depends on if you brought me anything else.”

The woman nodded with a small smirk on her lips. “I did,” handing Kyle the folder and returning to watch the reactions of the defending attorney and his clients.

“I’ll have a motion to suppress for all the high school stuff, Kyle,” the defense attorney replied, “no way a judge will allow stuff done as a minor influence a jury and you may as well forget calling any of them as witnesses.”

Kyle opened the folder and began to read as fast as possible, trying to absorb the key points of the information inside as he responded quietly, “you could try. I’ll enter each piece of evidence one at a time and you’ll have to file separate motions on each one. Eventually something will get by once the judge hears my argument about their validity.” He read over the information in front of him once more before he sighed and shook his head despondently before glancing up towards Mark and his attorney and asking in a quieter voice, “does the name ‘Rick Torrenson’ mean anything to you, Mark?”

All four heads across the table looked up at Kyle, doing a quick read of all their faces, Kyle knew they all did, with perhaps the exception of their attorney. Kyle felt a little sorry for Steve being kept in the dark by his clients like this but they probably thought they’d never hear the name again. He probably would have taken the man two offer if he had known. He looked at Steve and said in that same measured, quiet voice, “Rick Torrenson was a young freshman at Mark’s high school when he was a senior. He didn’t make it to his sophomore year because he died a few weeks after school ended. He committed suicide by hanging himself in his bedroom. According to what was found on the computer in his room, Rick, or Ricky as his family called him, was being harassed online and at school that year by various students. One of the last messages directed to Rick on a social media site was, and I quote, ‘why don’t you do the world a favor and just kill yourself all ready you stupid worthless faggot.’ The message was sent by someone with the screen name, ‘Mark Simpkins.’”

Kyle tossed the file towards Mark and Steve. “Mark was a senior and he was eighteen at the time of the suicide. Try stopping that from getting through. And I can’t wait to hear how you’re going to manage to gloss that over with a jury.” His face had gone cold as stared at the defendant with disgust. Steve only barely picked up the folder as he looked at his client who was trying his best to disappear in his chair. Glancing at the contents and then back at Kyle who was in the process of standing up. “I’m gonna give you some time alone with your client. The offer now is man one. 20 years. You take the deal today, we’re fine. If you don’t we go to court,” Kyle’s face darkened as he glared at the defendant and said in a quiet voice, “and I. Will. Win.” Kyle and his female associate turned and walked out the door, closing it behind them.

“Damn, Kyle. You looked like you wanted to peel his skin off,” she said in a mixture of admiration and concern as she leaned against the wall in the hallway.

Kyle just sighed sadly and rubbed his eyes. The moment was over and he realized that while he may have won, there was still a family without their child and no victory of his would bring him back. “I hate bullies, Steph. It’s that simple. That’s all he is. And if he isn’t stopped now, he’ll just get worse.” This was his first homicide of this nature. It had been months of work and investigation, some done on his own. He knew he had done his job well but it had come at a cost. Listening to hours and hours of witnesses and families that had been affected by pain and sometimes the loss of a loved one had been difficult. Outwardly, he handled it all with the same cold detachment he handled everything else at work. Internally, it was bringing back unwanted memories of his own he wished he could forget.

“Have you always seen the worst in people, Kyle,” she asked with her head tilted curiously.

He looked at the floor and chuckled once. “I think there was a time when I thought people could be redeemed. I tried to see the best in them when I could. Then...” he paused, thinking back caused his voice to unconsciously soften, “I don’t know. I figured I was wrong.”

Stephanie, his associate and closest friend from college, shook her head, “I think you’re lying. I wanna believe you’re lying. I remember a much nicer young boy back in college who looked a lot like you.”

Kyle sighed even as he smirked. His bright brown eyes a mixture of regret and acceptance. “That kid died a long time ago.” He meant to make it sound like a joke but inwardly he was disturbed as to just how true that was.

Steph grimaced a little as she inched her way verbally towards a potentially sensitive subject. “Speaking of dying... “ Kyle raised his head to glower at her. She understood the warning he was giving her but she pressed on. “Kyle, he’s your father. You should go see him.”

“I’m busy,” he replied simply, motioning to the room they had just left.

She frowned at him, readying her arguments. “You can make the time after this and you know it. How many chances are you going to pass up before it’s too late?”

“Who’d you hear this from, anyway,” he asked curiously but maintaining his customary frown when anything about his obscured past is brought up.

“Someone named Troy Adams called here and left a message for you. Friend of yours?” Her brow arched and a slow smile played on her lips as she pulled a small note from her pocket and handed it to him. She’d never heard a name from his past before. She found it amusing to needle him with that far away past he has always refused to speak of. Like many others, she knew how quiet and reserved Kyle would get. She remembers meeting him in law school and how his personality had shifted suddenly not too long after. Stephanie had always considered herself a good judge of character and ignored most of his cool exterior back then and maintained a respectable friendship.

Kyle felt an ache in his heart at the mention of Troy’s name. He managed to just nod and say simply, “an old friend from home. We were on the swim team together.” He looked down at the note, guarding his thoughts carefully. He folded it and shoved it into his pocket.

“I called him back,” she ignored his baleful glare and continued, “it seems pretty serious.”

“I have no intention of going back there, Steph,” he said.

“What about your son? Our son,” she demanded. Their mutual son was the one trump card she could always turn to whenever he started to get in a sour mood. Most of the time just mentioning the child was enough to lift the dark cloud around him.

Kyle’s eyes went cold as he stared at her, “don’t even start.”

She frowned at him, unafraid, “I’m pretty sure we’re just getting started on this.”

The door to the meeting room opened and Steve stood in the doorway. He looked at Kyle and said, “man one. Twenty to twenty-five years.”

Kyle’s eyes went from Steve to Stephanie blandly as if he was expecting this coming before he nodded. “Done. I’ll get the paperwork started.”

He and Steph started down the hallway as Steve said, “Kyle, you’re a ruthless son of a bitch, you know that?”

Kyle awarded himself with a small smirk and kept walking.

Later in the day, he was sitting in his small office, bent over the desk as he was reading over notes from a new case when he heard a rapping on his door frame. He looked and sat up in his seat as the District Attorney, Jeff Masterson, stood there looking at him with a small grin. “I heard you got a plea on the Simpkins case today.” Jeff was a man in his mid 60’s and had been a trial lawyer since before Kyle was born. He liked the young man and appreciated his efforts and energetic take on the law. Jeff’s hair was white and thinning but he still had a somewhat handsome look to his face and his bright blue eyes. He saw the people working under him as his family. Kyle was dependable and likeable enough and knew he could be a terror in a courtroom when he was at his best.

Kyle smiled slightly and glanced down at his desk, “just trying to do the right thing for the family.”

Jeff walked in slowly, closing the door behind him for privacy. “I also hear you were a little ruthless with them as well. I’d like to see the particulars before the end of the day, if you don’t mind.” He settled himself in one of the chairs facing Kyle’s desk.

Kyle nodded, “we should have it on your desk within the hour. It’s pretty cut and dry. First degree manslaughter, twenty to twenty-five. He might be out of prison before forty.”

Jeff chuckled, “you dug deep into the boy’s past. How’d you find all that?”

“When I first saw him, he looked like a bully to me so I went from there. Despite how well his lawyer trained him to keep that lost and scared look on his face I could tell it wasn’t genuine.” He shrugged casually. “I back tracked to his high school. Asked a couple questions and did some digging. Nothing major.”

“It was smart thinking,” Jeff said, “don’t sell yourself short. So, what’s next for my young energetic ADA?”

“I’m looking it over now.” Kyle looked back down at the file in front of him.

Jeff looked him over for a moment and chuckled to himself, “I always had a feeling you’d be good for this job. I remember stepping into a meeting room where you were an intern not six months out of passing your bar exam, peppering some domestic battery defendant with question after question like you’d been doing it all your life. I stood there with the ADA and we just watched you go to town on the bastard. You must’ve been up half the night going over every piece of evidence and every statement and memorized it. Just another twenty-six year old fresh face trying to impress the boss. But you seemed to get in the guys head and knew how to set the trap and snapped it shut around his neck.” He chuckled at the memory as he shook his head.

Kyle just offered a shrug, looking back down at the file he was reading as he stated simply, “I’m just doing what I can.”

Jeff nodded and let a moment of silence pass before he spoke up again. “Stephanie tells me you need some personal time,” Jeff said, watching him carefully.

Kyle looked up, keeping his voice neutral but his displeasure was clear. “Did she now?”

Jeff nodded and went on, “she said your father is sick in the hospital and it sounds bad.” Kyle was silent, leaning back in his chair, his face a frozen mask, hiding his feelings from the world like he always did. The DA looked at his subordinate carefully. His concern was that whatever was going on in Kyle’s personal life could affect his behavior. He also noted he was one of the few members of his staff who didn’t share much beyond being a single father. “Kyle, I think it would be best, since you just finished a pretty big case, that you take some time off. You’ve spent months on this and God only knows how many extra hours here and out running down leads. If I remember right, you haven’t taken any vacation time in over a year. Take a week. Hell, take two weeks. Go see your dad.”

The younger man shook his head, “I’m really not interested in taking time away from work right now.”

Jeff frowned in disapproval and made sure he heard it in his voice. “He’s your father.”

Kyle’s lips thinned, suppressing his irritation. “We haven’t spoken in years, Jeff. I doubt there’s much that could change now.”

Jeff sighed, wondering just how cold this kid was. He added a little authority to his voice to try and get his point across. “I don’t know what’s going on exactly. What I do know is that if I was dying or even just in the hospital, I’d want my son there. I’m sure he does too.”

Kyle’s voice remained measured but he couldn’t keep all the venom out of his words as he replied, “I wasn’t aware you were elected to give out personal advice to your employees.”

Jeff heard the veiled anger and grinned as he countered casually, “I wasn’t. What I was elected to do was to run a competent, fair and intelligent team of lawyers to administer justice for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Dauphin county and I’d like to think I’ve done that. What I’m seeing here is a young ADA who is having a personal problem and it needs resolved. Before he returns to work, he should get it resolved so when it’s time to come back to work, he is well rested, re-energized and ready for his next assignment.”

Kyle sighed, suddenly feeling too tired to argue his way out of this one. “Jeff, I appreciate it. I really do. But I haven’t spoken to my father in over six years and I see no reason to break that streak.”

Jeff looked at the young man thoughtfully. “What was your dad like when you were a kid growing up?”

There was a moment of silence as the mask cracked slightly, thinking of the many parents he had spoken to over the last few months. Some who would never get to see their children again. In his mind, he could see a strong face with kind, brown eyes and a bearded smile looking down at him. His guard slipped and he muttered in a quiet voice “he was my hero.”

A look on sincere pity touched the old man’s face as he pressed. “So, what changed?”

Kyle wasn’t sure what to say and he couldn’t tell the truth. “Everything.”

Jeff looked at Kyle suddenly looking younger than his years as he eyes seemed to be fixated on something from his past. Figuring there was more to the story but not wanting to press, he said solicitously, “Kyle, he’s still your hero. Unfreeze the ground and bury the hatchet before it’s too late. If you don’t and he dies, every nasty thing you want to say to him and everything you want to hear him say to you will be lost and while your anger may be legitimate, you will never forgive yourself for passing up the chance to have one last moment with him. Go. Finish your work here today and go home and pack. Understand?”

Kyle’s face was inscrutable as he stared at his desk. After a few silent moments he finally relented and nodded his assent. Satisfied, Jeff got up and headed towards the door. “Two weeks, Kyle. No less than that. If things with your dad takes a turn for the worst, call me and let me know and we can extend it out. Fathers and sons shouldn’t go this long without talking to each other.” With that final word, Jeff walked out of Kyle’s door.

****

“Stephanie, why the hell can you not leave my personal shit alone?!” Kyle ranted as he slammed the door closed to her office.

She casually looked up from a file she had been reading, leaning back in her seat as she responded in an unperturbed tone, “Hello, baby-daddy.” They both knew she was the one person in the world that was never intimidated by him which only served to both endear her to him and infuriate him to no end.

“Do you know what Jeff just talked me into?!” He stood there, glaring at her with all his anger but she remained unimpressed and unmoved. They had been friends since his time at Dickerson. They bonded along with another friend of her’s and stayed close. She remembered how he had changed seemingly overnight not long after meeting him from a charming, outgoing and compassionate guy to a more reserved and suspicious man.

“When are you leaving?” She asked with only a ghost of a smirk on her face.

“Tomorrow. You’re gonna have to keep Matt while I’m gone to,” the thought of being away from his son for two weeks wasn’t a pleasant one.

“For how long, exactly,” she asked. Their son wasn’t one conceived out of a one-night stand or a fumbled drunken night at a frat party. Kyle had approached her and discussed it and she agreed to be his surrogate. Before she gave birth, they decided instead of Kyle raising the baby alone, she would step in as the mother and help out, but they remained friends and never lovers. The latter was impossible considering Kyle was gay but only a few people at work knew that.

“Two weeks,” he said.

“Uh uh, no no no.” She shook her head with an uncomfortable laugh, “That’s way too long. I’ll keep him for the weekend and then you’ll have to take it from there. He’s three years old. I can’t keep up with him that long plus work at the same time. Why don’t you take him with you? Wouldn’t you like him to at least meet his grandfather?”

“That’s not something I want to deal with right now.”

Stephanie glared at him and her voice gained an edge to it that he didn’t hear often, “I get that you’re pissed or whatever. But, this Troy guy made things sound pretty serious and while I know you can be an asshole when the spirit moves you, I know you’re not a horrible person. You can’t stand here and tell me that you don’t care because if you did I’d call you a fucking liar. In fact, I am calling you a liar right now. And you mean to tell me that you would keep your son away from your father for what? Spite? Don’t tell me it’s to protect him.”

“Steph, please don’t,” he closed his eyes and shook his head. Already starting to feel tired having discussed his past once already against his will today.

“Too late for that,” she pressed her attack to see if she’d finally found a chink in his armor, “You forget, I was there and saw you change overnight. I remember Jason introducing me to you and thinking how cute you were with your bright eyes and charm. I was there when you left and came back a few days later totally different. Kyle, you had so many friends at school and you just shut everyone out. You kept being gay pretty under wraps for whatever reason you had the entire time we were in law school together. Remember Jason practically throwing himself at you any chance he got? He had such a crush on you but you never acted like it was that big of a deal. Come to think of it, you were kind of still in the closet or at least acted like it. He spent years trying to crack through that shell and you started pushing him away. I think he honestly was in love with you but you always had this sharp edge to keep people at a distance. I don’t blame him for leaving you.”

The last statement bothered him. Another moment he’d rather forget. “He left when he decided he didn’t want to have kids. I didn’t ask him to leave but I also didn’t stop him either,” he replied defensively but his brown eyes were starting to look strained.

“I’m coming over to your place tonight,” her eyes narrowing in a challenge to him. “We’ll have dinner together. After Matt’s asleep, you’re gonna tell me the story. All of it.”

Kyle looked pensive which was out of character for him. This had started as a fun verbal sparring match for Stephanie but now she could see that there was some genuine distress in Kyle’s eyes. She stood up and walked over to him, putting her arms around him to comfort him. The only movement on his part was to lean his head down onto her shoulder. She rubbed his back and said to him, “you are a good friend and a good person and I love you. But you have got to stop keeping all of this bottled in. Get it out and deal with it before you’re suddenly dealing with it when you show up there tomorrow. You’d probably look crazy if you suddenly started ranting and raving in a hospital room or breaking down in tears and pulling your hair out or something. Six-thirty tonight. Your place. I’ll bring dinner and we can put Matt to bed and talk the rest of the night no matter how long it takes. You do that, I’ll take Matt with me in the morning. Deal?”

“Fine,” Kyle replied sullenly.

“Okay then,” she smiled, pretending she didn’t hear his sniffling. “You’re officially done for the day, counselor. Go home. Get some rest. Pack. Go see your son and have him give you great big hugs and I’ll join you in a couple hours.”

Kyle nodded wordlessly and slowly moved towards her door. She moved back to her desk to resume her work when Kyle interrupted her again, “Steph?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Thanks for being my friend.”

She smirked, hoping that was a good sign. “Go home. We can take it from here. I’ll send the final paperwork on the Alberra case over to Jeff in a few minutes.”

Kyle gave her a slow nod. When she turned back to her work, Kyle turned and quietly walked out of the room. As he exited the building a while later, a small group of reporters and a few cameras hurried up to him and started asking him questions about the Simpkins case. He revealed that a plea deal had been made and accepted by the defence and that the details will be released to the public in the coming days. When he was finished with them he continued making his way to the building’s parking lot. Getting into his car, he started up the engine before leaning back in the seat. He stared at nothing for a moment as his thoughts started drifting back to home.


*****

At seventeen and nearing the end of his junior year of high school, Kyle was feeling good about himself. The swim team was ending the year with probably a couple new medals for all of them, his braces were finally off so he could show off his white even teeth and he and his friends have been having probably one of the best years of their lives, getting ready to start their summer vacation in two months. His natural charm and friendly attitude made him a guy everyone in the hallways would greet as they passed from one class to the other. He got a lot of compliments from girls on his lean figure which made him sputter and blush so much it would send the girls into fits of giggles. Only half an inch of golden brown hair stuck up from his scalp. His sacrifice for his friends on the swim team along with the rest of his friends. He disliked shaving his body every week just to stay competitive but at least he wasn’t alone. Someday, he promised himself, after high school he’d actually let his hair grow even if he would miss swimming.

As he walked down the crowded hallway heading towards his fourth period chemistry class he heard a banging noise and a whimper of pain. The noise brought him to a stop as he looked around for the source. Bodies were crammed close around him as students were moving through the halls going from one class to another so it was difficult to identify the source of the odd noise. He took a couple steps before hearing it again and the whimper sounded louder. Over that, he could hear indistinct words in a dark and menacing tone. He came to a complete stop which only served to slow down the movement of boys and girls trying to get to class before they were late. He knew what he heard though and a feeling of compassion nagged at him to find where it was coming from.

He finally noticed a dark haired guy about his height with his back turned to him facing a locker. Between him and the locker was a smaller, thinly built boy small enough to be a freshman with fear in his eyes. Kyle’s lean body cut through the swarm of students around him as he moved closer to them. He heard the sound again and now he could clearly see the dark haired boy’s fists clenching the smaller kid’s shirt. As he got closer, he could hear a growling voice suddenly spit out, “Oh, what, so suddenly you think talking trash wasn’t such a great idea?”

Kyle glowered. Without thinking his next move through, he shoved his way between the two of them and giving the taller kid a slight shove, enough to break them apart. As the older boy was balling up his fist, Kyle grabbed him by the arm as it raised, his hand barely fitting on the guy’s bicep but it didn’t deter him from yelling loud enough to be heard, “what the hell do you think you’re doing to this little kid?!”

The dark haired kid seemed to stop and stare at Kyle for a moment before he turned his attention back to the younger student and growled, “none of your fucking business.” All around them, a few students stopped to watch the exchange between them.

“Kyle, what’s up?” Three other boys joined the group, having heard Kyle’s voice. Fellow members of Kyle’s swim team and long time friends, he always knew he could count on them. They all looked at the older kid and frowned. The taller of the trio was flanked by the two shorter blonde haired friends. He glanced around at the situation before he said to Kyle with a head tilt towards the dark haired kid, “this guy giving you trouble?”

Kyle’s eyes narrowed as he stared down the guy and said to his friends, “depends on what he’s gonna do next. If he let’s the kid go, we’re good.” The bully finally looked back at Kyle and he paused. His face remained covered in an angry frown but his eyes seemed to have something in them Kyle couldn’t quite place. Even though he was suddenly free, the smaller boy stood there, unable to move out of fear.

In the silence between their slowly growing group, Kyle spared a backward glance at the freshman and said to him, “Get out of here.” That was enough to get the smaller boy moving and he hurried his way through the thinning stream of students moving through the hall.

Kyle remained standing there, staring at this guy he didn’t know. The first thought in his mind as he stared at him was that the guy had the nicest eyes he’d ever seen. He had a well defined face with a strong jawline. His raven black hair was a little long and straight which accentuated his face. His skin was a little pale overall with a couple pimples and some faint yellowish blotch on one side of his face. But it was those eyes that grabbed Kyle’s attention. They were like blue ice and bright. Staring at them made Kyle’s stomach knot up slightly which made him both nervous and excited for some reason. He had wanted to yell at this asshole but now he couldn’t think of anything to say.

“What the fuck’s your problem,” the kid asked him defensively as his voice cracked, going from a baritone to an alto for second before returning back to normal. If Kyle didn’t know better, the boy’s anger was only just hiding his sudden fear.

"Look, I, ah,” Kyle stumbled over his words not knowing what to say and yet wanting to talk to him. “It would have been a bad idea to beat up on some freshman no matter what he said or didn’t say about you. Beating the crap out of someone doesn’t solve all your problems.” Hearing his own words, he felt like an idiot.

The kid sneered at him. “Oh, yeah, like you give a shit anyway.” His face started to flush slightly redder than it had before Kyle started talking to him.

Kyle frowned and a little anger tinted his voice. “Look, I just didn’t want a fight starting. Do whatever you want but don’t be picking on kids smaller than you. Doesn’t make you look big. Just makes you look like an asshole.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say so he turned and walked away, heading to chemistry class. His friends gave him an odd look and then looked at the other kid before shrugging and moving on.

Kyle arrived to his chemistry class just in time and got in his seat. Even as he opened his book, his mind was preoccupied with what he could have or should have said to that kid. He couldn’t find a good reason for why he didn’t just call a teacher or someone else in charge to handle the situation instead of him. He didn’t even know the guy, really. Or did he? He did look familiar. But he couldn’t put a name to the face. He didn’t remember seeing him in gym class or any other class. But those eyes. He’d never seen eyes like those. They were so… deep. His voice wasn’t too bad either. Slightly deeper than most juniors in their school, except when it had suddenly rose, probably out of nervousness at being suddenly outnumbered four to one. Maybe if he wasn’t so much of an asshole to people he’d be more popular, Kyle reasoned.

He kept his eyes on the teacher in the room but could only barely follow along with the lesson. His mind kept seeing those eyes and remembering how the guy’s arm felt when he grabbed it. And each time he dwelled on it, he got that funny feeling in his stomach again and his leg was restless. Before he knew it, everyone was getting up from their desks. It took him a second to realize the class was over and it was time to head to his history class. This time the trek from one side of the school to the other was uneventful. There was a sense of disappointment this time, hoping to see that guy again.

He walked in and joined his friends in their desks towards the back of the room. His best friends for most of his life, Troy, Andy and Brian were already sitting there as he joined them. As they talked about the upcoming swim meet and their plans for the weekend, Kyle had a sudden urge to look up. When he did, his heart jumped in his chest. There was that kid again and those eyes. They were looking right at him. The guy wasn’t glaring at him or trying to intimidate him. He was just staring at him. Kyle felt his mouth go dry suddenly and he found it hard to look away. Eventually the kid looked down at the floor and moved to the back of the room as far away from Kyle and his group as he could.

“Who is that guy, anyway,” Kyle asked his friends in a whispered voice.

He didn’t realize he was actually saying it out loud until he heard Andy answer back, “That’s Jake Eaton. He’s just a loser, dude. Don’t let him bother you.”

“Loser? Why’s he a loser?” Kyle was mentally kicking himself. Why was he asking this?

His friend Troy just shrugged and replied in a dismissive tone, “you saw how he treated that freshman. Daddy probably doesn’t spank him enough or something.” The rest of their group snickered and looked over at Jake. Kyle’s eyes followed but he wasn’t laughing. He saw Jake staring down at his textbook, almost like he was reading it. But he saw those eyes again and from his clenched jaw, he could tell Jake had overheard them. Kyle didn’t know what to say so he said nothing. The class started and Kyle turned his attention to the teacher. But, every once in awhile, he found himself looking back over at Jake and those blue eyes.

And Jake was looking back at him.

Copyright © 2018 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

I too would like to add my comment on what a great opening chapter. Looking forward to what happened in the past and how it effects the present.

 

 

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17 hours ago, Hunter of Porn said:

Very promising start. 

Thank you!  

 

I'm hoping to have another chapter up by the weekend.

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15 hours ago, mayday said:

Great start! Really well written. Lots of lines to follow, gaps to fill. I also like the various facets of Kyle's personality, although there seems to be a serious split somewhere. Thanks for sharing!

 

The gaps are intentional.  Kyle is an interesting character as you'll learn later on.  This has been a story that started in my head seven months ago and has pretty much taken up all my free time.  

 

I'll go ahead and apologize now for the frequent use of flashbacks but they are only in the first few chapters. :) 

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10 hours ago, joebuck said:

I too would like to add my comment on what a great opening chapter. Looking forward to what happened in the past and how it effects the present.

 

 

Thank you.  I spent the last couple days going over very word and punctuation before posting it.  I always feel the first few chapters of a book are the most important ones.

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Fantastic start to this story. Really well written, very good description of Kyle’s personality. Lots of questions asked, lot’s of answers needed. Looking forward to finding out the answers about the past and the present.

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A great start to what looks like a great story. Excellent for a first attempt at posting a story, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more. 😀

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17 hours ago, Jdonley75 said:

 

The gaps are intentional.  Kyle is an interesting character as you'll learn later on.  This has been a story that started in my head seven months ago and has pretty much taken up all my free time.  

 

I'll go ahead and apologize now for the frequent use of flashbacks but they are only in the first few chapters. :) 

no need to apologize for flashbacks. And your gaps convince, too. There is no point in spilling all your beans in the first chapter... what would be the point of reading, after all?

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11 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Fantastic start to this story. Really well written, very good description of Kyle’s personality. Lots of questions asked, lot’s of answers needed. Looking forward to finding out the answers about the past and the present.

One of the things I've kind of done in the entire story is to have a kind of hook the segues into each flashback.  A little something that would trigger a memory of Kyle's that he's kept buried for years.  The flashbacks are only going to last in the first part of the book overall.  Once he finally goes home they will end.

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11 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Fantastic start to this story. Really well written, very good description of Kyle’s personality. Lots of questions asked, lot’s of answers needed. Looking forward to finding out the answers about the past and the present.

There are indeed many questions and there will be answers.  But some of the answers Kyle isn't going to like.

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13 minutes ago, 1brokNangel said:

Wow.....what a ride, I'm hooked !!!

Hehe.  Thank you.  I promise, it will likely be an interesting ride.

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 while I’m gone to, - while I’m gone too

 

A promising start and the flashbacks so far don't feel like they are interrupting the flow of the story. Hey, I'm still reading and haven't fallen asleep yet!

 

 

,

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1 minute ago, Will Hawkins said:

 while I’m gone to, - while I’m gone too

 

A promising start and the flashbacks so far don't feel like they are interrupting the flow of the story. Hey, I'm still reading and haven't fallen asleep yet!

 

 

,

Yeah, I missed fixing some of those through the final rewrite.

 

But, hey, no one's perfect! :)

 

thanks for staying awake. 

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Reminds me of the start of one of my favorite movies of Robert Downy Jr called the Judge. I hope I enjoy this as much as that one.

 

J

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Five years as an assistant district attorney, he has learned to use any and every advantage he could to put a defendant off their game. The more control you can exert on a situation the better the outcome can be for you. - Which is usually all fine and dandy until you end up on the receiving end of this. When you were the one that was hit. And the other driver was not only unliscenced, but also tried to embellish their injuries to get more money from their insurance company. *shudders* 

How things are going on your end with the offer of second degree manslaughter - Oh man, just what did the youngin'DO?

I will personally make sure of that by showing up at every possible parole hearing he ever gets. And I will tell the story of Jeremy Alberra to the parole board with such eloquence and passion that they will lock him right back up every time. - Whoa, talk about dedication...if it's true, that is.

Does the name ‘Rick Torrenson’ mean anything to you, Mark? - Oh, man. Sounds like something was covered up.

Kyle felt a little sorry for Steve being kept in the dark by his clients like this but they probably thought they’d never hear the name again. - Yeah, poor Steve.

Kyle’s face darkened as he glared at the defendant and said in a quiet voice, “and I. Will. Win.” Kyle and his female associate turned and walked out the door, closing it behind them. - Whoa. Intese, much?

“Damn, Kyle. You looked like you wanted to peel his skin off,” she said in a mixture of admiration and concern as she leaned against the wall in the hallway. - I know, right?

“What was your dad like when you were a kid growing up?”/ There was a moment of silence as the mask cracked slightly, thinking of the many parents he had spoken to over the last few months. Some who would never get to see their children again. In his mind, he could see a strong face with kind, brown eyes and a bearded smile looking down at him. His guard slipped and he muttered in a quiet voice “he was my hero.” - *clutches shirt* My heart...what happened, my workoholic buddy?

“Stephanie, why the hell can you not leave my personal shit alone?!” Kyle ranted as he slammed the door closed to her office. - Now now, don't take it out on Steph.

Kyle had approached her and discussed it and she agreed to be his surrogate. - Ooooh. Yeah, that's what besties do.

And you mean to tell me that you would keep your son away from your father for what? Spite? Don’t tell me it’s to protect him. - Buuuurn.

--

The whole time I read the flashback scene with Kyle on the swim team and Jake, I couldn't get Blue Moon out of my head.

Blue moon~ you saw me standing alone~
 

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On 4/6/2019 at 8:43 PM, Thirdly said:

Five years as an assistant district attorney, he has learned to use any and every advantage he could to put a defendant off their game. The more control you can exert on a situation the better the outcome can be for you. - Which is usually all fine and dandy until you end up on the receiving end of this. When you were the one that was hit. And the other driver was not only unliscenced, but also tried to embellish their injuries to get more money from their insurance company. *shudders* 

How things are going on your end with the offer of second degree manslaughter - Oh man, just what did the youngin'DO?

I will personally make sure of that by showing up at every possible parole hearing he ever gets. And I will tell the story of Jeremy Alberra to the parole board with such eloquence and passion that they will lock him right back up every time. - Whoa, talk about dedication...if it's true, that is.

Does the name ‘Rick Torrenson’ mean anything to you, Mark? - Oh, man. Sounds like something was covered up.

Kyle felt a little sorry for Steve being kept in the dark by his clients like this but they probably thought they’d never hear the name again. - Yeah, poor Steve.

Kyle’s face darkened as he glared at the defendant and said in a quiet voice, “and I. Will. Win.” Kyle and his female associate turned and walked out the door, closing it behind them. - Whoa. Intese, much?

“Damn, Kyle. You looked like you wanted to peel his skin off,” she said in a mixture of admiration and concern as she leaned against the wall in the hallway. - I know, right?

“What was your dad like when you were a kid growing up?”/ There was a moment of silence as the mask cracked slightly, thinking of the many parents he had spoken to over the last few months. Some who would never get to see their children again. In his mind, he could see a strong face with kind, brown eyes and a bearded smile looking down at him. His guard slipped and he muttered in a quiet voice “he was my hero.” - *clutches shirt* My heart...what happened, my workoholic buddy?

“Stephanie, why the hell can you not leave my personal shit alone?!” Kyle ranted as he slammed the door closed to her office. - Now now, don't take it out on Steph.

Kyle had approached her and discussed it and she agreed to be his surrogate. - Ooooh. Yeah, that's what besties do.

And you mean to tell me that you would keep your son away from your father for what? Spite? Don’t tell me it’s to protect him. - Buuuurn.

--

The whole time I read the flashback scene with Kyle on the swim team and Jake, I couldn't get Blue Moon out of my head.

Blue moon~ you saw me standing alone~
 

Steph is a foil for Kyle in many ways and will push him in directions he would rather not go.  She can come off as as cold at times, but she does because she's a real friend. Someone who's going to tell him the truth even if he doesn't want to hear it.

You may be thinking Blue Moon now, but later on, there will be another song that may stick in your mind.

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Well a bunch of my friends got here a year before I did! So I get to play catch up for a change. I’m not sure how and why I missed this story when it was first posted, but Book Two looked interesting and there are a ton of Comments for both parts!
;–)
 

I was all prepared to hate the bastard.

Over the years, I have shifted from a tough on crime advocate due to my conservative religious upbringing in conservative Navy Town San Diego in the Seventies. As I have gained life experience, I have learned that simplistic throw-him-in-jail-and-throw-away-the-key attitudes don’t make things better. And when an ex-con gets released, they’re worse off than when they first went in. They are prohibited from so many thing legally or informally that many feel like they have no choice but to continue to commit crimes – just be better at avoiding detection and re-imprisonment.

The inequities of the system block opportunities for many. Unequal distribution of wealth, inadequate schools in certain areas, insufficient wages in many categories of employment, unjust taxing, unfair law enforcement, the list is endless. It’s not that some people start out with a leg up on others, it’s more that some people are driving Teslas (and planning vacations on SpaceX paid for with trust fund money that they never earned) while others haven’t even learned to crawl yet because they’ve been caged like veal calves in inner-city slums and earning poverty wages at the MallWart.

I still don’t like him, but he’s the single daddy of Matt. I can just imagine what it will be like for poor teenaged Matt. Each and every casual friend will be cross-examined for signs of suspect behavior. And I don’t even want to think what it will be like for whomever Matt eventually tries to date (private investigators? credit checks? DNA screenings for genetic diseases?).
;–)

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2 hours ago, droughtquake said:

Well a bunch of my friends got here a year before I did! So I get to play catch up for a change. I’m not sure how and why I missed this story when it was first posted, but Book Two looked interesting and there are a ton of Comments for both parts!
;–)
 

I was all prepared to hate the bastard.

Over the years, I have shifted from a tough on crime advocate due to my conservative religious upbringing in conservative Navy Town San Diego in the Seventies. As I have gained life experience, I have learned that simplistic throw-him-in-jail-and-throw-away-the-key attitudes don’t make things better. And when an ex-con gets released, they’re worse off than when they first went in. They are prohibited from so many thing legally or informally that many feel like they have no choice but to continue to commit crimes – just be better at avoiding detection and re-imprisonment.

The inequities of the system block opportunities for many. Unequal distribution of wealth, inadequate schools in certain areas, insufficient wages in many categories of employment, unjust taxing, unfair law enforcement, the list is endless. It’s not that some people start out with a leg up on others, it’s more that some people are driving Teslas (and planning vacations on SpaceX paid for with trust fund money that they never earned) while others haven’t even learned to crawl yet because they’ve been caged like veal calves in inner-city slums and earning poverty wages at the MallWart.

I still don’t like him, but he’s the single daddy of Matt. I can just imagine what it will be like for poor teenaged Matt. Each and every casual friend will be cross-examined for signs of suspect behavior. And I don’t even want to think what it will be like for whomever Matt eventually tries to date (private investigators? credit checks? DNA screenings for genetic diseases?).
;–)

Well, welcome aboard.  :)

Kyle....  It's the nicest or best person in the beginning.  And you'll notice there is a big difference in attitude between his adult self and teenage self.  Beyond that, I'll only say that as the representative for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, his job is to give a vigorous prosecution with no holding back.  He's got a dead teenager he needs to get justice for.  

As for Matt, I'd say he'll do okay. ;)

Thanks for reading!

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I could not resist the temptation to read, once again, this fabulous book, The Acquittal, which I already consider my favorite.

This time, I'm reading slowly, enjoying every word, every sentence, every dialogue, to immerse myself deeply in the narrative brilliantly created by JDonley, not forgetting to give my "likes" 👍 and "hearts" ❤️ as I read the chapters, something I failed to do in the first reading.

The emotion is the same.

It's like watching a movie you love a lot, pausing and backwarding to see the special scenes, like the glances shared by Kyle Howard and "Jake" Eaton at the end of this first chapter.

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4 minutes ago, Dante Lucas said:

I could not resist the temptation to read, once again, this fabulous book, The Acquittal, which I already consider my favorite.

This time, I'm reading slowly, enjoying every word, every sentence, every dialogue, to immerse myself deeply in the narrative brilliantly created by JDonley, not forgetting to give my "likes" 👍 and "hearts" ❤️ as I read the chapters, something I failed to do in the first reading.

The emotion is the same.

It's like watching a movie you love a lot, pausing and backwarding to see the special scenes, like the glances shared by Kyle Howard and "Jake" Eaton at the end of this first chapter.

LOL.  I've tried twice to correct all the mistakes in this book and there's still some left over.  At some point, I'll find the time to go back and do it right.  

But, I have to admit, I still get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I read this.  I imagine it's not unlike how one regards their first born child. 😄

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