And a little drama to mark the closing of the 2012 London Olympics!
November 6, 2000
“Morning,” I said in a grumpy tone.
“You still jet lagged?” Leticia asked.
“You have no idea,” I groused. Rosa came strolling into the kitchen. “Rosa, this is Leticia. She’s my new guard.”
“It is nice to meet you,” Rosa said nicely. Rosa said her name but slaughtered it, cracking me up.
“Just call me Tish,” she told Rosa.
“She is not a handsome man,” Rosa said, grinning at me.
“I molest the handsome men,” I joked with her. Tish just shook her head. I ate a quick breakfast, and then hopped into the Chevy Tahoe Tish had picked up from our garage. “So do you have any family here?” I asked her.
“Nope. I got no one here. I came out here to be a singer, but that didn’t work out.”
“That sucks. It happens to a lot of people,” I said philosophically.
“Back in Arkansas, I had a beautiful voice. Here, people tell me I sing nice.”
I laughed. “But you decided to stay here?”
“You ever been to Arkansas?” I shook my head. “You go there, you’ll understand why I’m here.” She dropped me off, and I told her when to pick me up, and showed her where I’d wait. I made it to class just in time. Ryan was sitting in the back, looking happier than normal.
“Hey,” he said cheerfully. “When did you get back?”
“Yesterday. I’m seriously lagged.” The teacher came in and started talking, and kept us pretty busy for the whole class. It was boring, but at the same time it was refreshing to be back in an environment that was familiar, doing familiar things. I walked out with Ryan as we headed to our next class. “So you want to hear all about my drama in Norway?”
“Dude, everything you do has drama.”
I frowned. “Yeah, but this was more dramatic than my normal drama. Hang out with me after school.”
“Can’t. Got plans.”
“That’s cool,” I said. I didn’t want to pressure him, but it would have been nice to hang out with him.
School seemed to grind on after that, until lunch. I got to the cafeteria and waited for Ryan to get there so we could go through the line together, then I saw him already getting food. He was going through the line with Shiloh. I got in the line by myself and watched them, and saw all the little signs of two people who were together. No wonder he looked so happy this morning. No wonder he didn’t want to hang out with me. I got my food and headed out to the road, where our group normally hung out.
“Hey,” Lance said, being friendly. “You’re back.”
“Aren’t you brilliant,” I joked. I told them about JJ’s performance in Norway, and about the trip, leaving out most of the bullshit, but the big news was clearly Ryan and Shiloh. That had created a bit of tension. I noticed that Felicity wasn’t around today, and Devon looked pretty pissed off.
Ryan had class with me after lunch, and Shiloh’s next class was in a totally different area, so that served to separate them, and let me talk to him alone. “Dude, you two are together again?”
“Yeah,” he said, grinning.
“Awesome!” I said, high-fiving him.
“I, uh, I was hoping you’d think so.”
“Dude, what’s that supposed to mean?” I asked him, and not nicely.
He pulled me aside, out of earshot from anyone else. “I didn’t want you to be mad at me because we have to be, you know, just friends.”
I actually laughed at that, and that pissed him off. “That’s really thoughtful of you,” I said, giving him more shit. “Seriously, I’m happy for you. I know you love her, and you’ve been wanting to be with her.”
“You’re still my best friend,” he said earnestly.
“And you’re my best friend. And it’s OK if you don’t want me to suck your dick anymore.” That made him chuckle.
“I didn’t say I didn’t want you to, I said it wasn’t allowed.”
“Well, see if you can save an afternoon for us to hang out, and I’ll tell you all about my mother and JJ.”
“Let’s shoot for tomorrow,” he said.
“Sounds good.” School seemed to crawl by after that, but it was finally over, and I hurried out to find Tish waiting for me, just like she’d promised.
“And how was your day?” she asked cheerfully. I frowned at her. I didn’t like to chat a lot right when school was out. I needed some time to decompress. She seemed to get that, just like she seemed to sense my mood this morning, and left me alone.
I got home and went straight to the kitchen, where I found Dad and Robbie having an afternoon snack. “How was school?” Dad asked me, trying to be friendly.
“Fine.” I sat down at the table, and as soon as I did, they started to hurry and finish up their food so they could leave.
“How do you like your new guard?” Robbie asked me nervously. He was obviously still feeling guilty about Mr. Martin.
“Her name is Tish, and I like her. She’s nice, she’s efficient, and she doesn’t piss me off.”
“That’s probably a major achievement, not pissing you off,” Robbie said, grinning at me.
“Well, I’ve got some work to do,” Dad said. He and Robbie started to get up. Like they could get away from me that easily.
“We have a few things to discuss,” I said to them. They both sat back down, and I saw Robbie roll his eyes at my dad.
“What do we need to discuss?” Dad asked, with dread in his voice.
“What’s going on with Jeanine?” I asked.
“Your mother,” he said emphatically, to stress that he hated it when I called her Jeanine, “is in the hospital. She’ll be staying there until she’s better.”
There’s a news flash. She was staying in the hospital until she was better. “And when do they think that will be?”
“They don’t know, but they’re hopeful she’ll be out within a month, and then she’ll be able to come home,” Robbie chimed in.
“I assume that ‘home’ means here?” I asked.
“This is her home, Will,” Dad said firmly, then mellowed. “Look, this has been a hard journey for her, and she’s going to need all of our help when she gets out. I’m hoping you can let your anger go toward her, and give her another chance.” He had altered his tone to sound caring and nice, but I didn’t alter my tone at all. My tone remained firm.
“When we were in Norway, I told you that I wanted her to be out of my life. I wanted you to remove any controls she has over me. I want to have her parental rights terminated. That was the deal.”
“The deal?” he asked, implying that there wasn’t one. It took all of my energy not to just go ballistic on him for that.
“You see, this is why I was demanding that we address the issues there, because I knew you’d say anything to get us home, then you’d feed me a bunch of crap.” I stared at him, making sure he could see how resolute I was. “She isn’t going to have any right to mess with my life.”
“Do you really think that’s fair to her, to do that when she’s in a mental hospital?”
“Actually, I do. I’m guessing that being mentally ill is a damn good reason for her not to have control over me.”
“When she comes home, she’ll be better,” he said.
“Just like last time,” I said sarcastically. I held up my hand to stop him. “So your response to my request to eliminate her control over me is ‘no’?”
“I think it’s premature,” he prevaricated.
“We’ll call that a ‘no’,” I said, in my snarkiest tone. “What about Michael? What happened to him?”
“He is no longer employed by us,” Dad said. “You don’t see him around here, do you?”
“Was he terminated for cause? Was he given severance pay?” I could see him trying to rationalize a way to tell me it was none of my business, so I stopped that. “Don’t give me any bullshit. I have a right to know.”
Dad looked at Robbie nervously. “Michael was let go, but I opted to accept his resignation rather than terminate him. He got his accumulated vacation time as a severance package.”
I was livid, but I held it back, and turned it into sarcasm instead. “Nothing else? No parting gifts and prizes?”
“No, just his vacation days.”
“How many days did he have accumulated?” I asked.
“I don’t remember.”
“Can you look it up?”
“I’ll work on that,” he said.
“I’ll wait,” I said. I leaned back with my arms crossed.
“Alright Will, what are you doing?” Dad asked me suspiciously. “What kind of game are you playing here?”
“This is no game. I don’t trust you. You lie to me every chance you get. You lie to me not by telling me things that are wrong, you do it by withholding important information. So you have to prove it.”
I was having a hard time fighting back my anger, such a hard time. “Back up what you said about Michael!” I’d yelled that, so I paused for a minute, and then started talking in a very level, even tone. “Let me get out my crystal ball and tell you how this is going to play out. You’re going to stall me, and give me incomplete info, and dick around with this stuff, but finally I’ll pin you down, and you’ll tell me that Michael had “X” number of vacation days accumulated. Then we’ll go through the whole thing again when I ask you how many days he was paid for, and we’ll find out he was paid for more than he had accumulated. You may lie to me then, and tell me that there was a payroll mistake, but eventually you’ll finally come clean and tell me that you let him quit and sent him away with some severance pay, hidden in his vacation allowance, to just hush this whole thing up.” I watched him recoil at how well I’d summarized it, but he still hid it pretty well. That didn’t matter, because Robbie was an open book, and his expression told me that I’d nailed it.
“We don’t need any high-profile scandals about this. It’s not good for Pop, for me, or for JJ. If that got out, it would definitely make the press.” In other words, I was being a selfish asshole by wanting this guy to pay for what he’d done.
“Are you suggesting that I have something to be ashamed of? That an adult man who worked for us, and took nude pictures of me and JJ, is somehow blameless, but we have to worry about the scandal?”
“That’s not how it works. It will damage the three of us. It would be nice if you would consider our situation here, and not just think of yourself,” he said coldly. I saw Robbie get uncomfortable.
“Have you talked to Stef, Grand, and Aunt Claire about this?” I asked.
“It doesn’t involve them. It involves us.”
“It’s a family matter. I think they need to know what’s going on.”
“I don’t need you stirring up problems right now,” he said.
“Well that’s really too bad,” I said, being a total smartass, “because I’m going to stir them up. I’m going to make sure this is resolved fairly, one way or another.”
“You are not doing that, embarrassing me in front of the whole family!” he roared, which showed just how much I was bugging him.
“The hell I’m not!” I yelled back just as loudly, and then got all sarcastic again. “Gee Dad, your decisions are so sound, and your rationale so amazing, that you should be more than willing to tell them what a brilliant plan you developed. You should be proud of yourself.” I looked at Robbie. “I can’t wait to see the look of pride on your face when he explains this to Aunt Claire and Uncle Jack.”
“I don’t have to put up with your smart mouth,” Dad snarled, getting in my face.
“And I don’t have to put up with your lies,” I told him, posturing back just as aggressively.
“Will, give us a few minutes,” Robbie said, moving to put himself in between us. That was a sure sign of how pissed off we both were.
“I’ll be in my room if you need me. Thank you for your, albeit less than candid, answers.” I strode calmly out of the kitchen, and headed up to my room.
I’d only been up there for about half an hour when they came up. They sat on my sofa, while I sat in the big chair, and none of us said anything for a bit. “I’m sorry that you don’t like the decision that I made on Michael. I had to take into account all kinds of considerations. I had to think about our individual reputations, the reputation of our family, the time it would have taken to generate and press charges against Michael, the different jurisdictions that were involved, the fact that your mother would have been implicated, and the anguish it might cause JJ. I weighed all of that, and decided that it was best to send him on his way, and get him out of our lives.”
I nodded at him, acknowledging that he at least had told me what he was doing. “You made these decisions all by yourself, without involving the rest of us. Your focus is on time, inconvenience, and your precious reputation. Not once have you asked me how I felt about having that man take those pictures of me. Not once have you asked me how it made me feel to know he was doing that to JJ. I guess after all the other crap you’ve put me through that should pretty much be a non-event.”
“I don’t have to consult you on every decision I make,” he snapped. I saw Robbie grab his hand, to try and calm him down.
“No, you don’t. But then again, if you want me to buy into it, and to go along with it, then you might want to spend some time convincing me.”
“In any event, it’s a done deal,” he said, trying to close the door on it.
“For you, it’s a done deal. For me, it’s not.”
“You cannot go and stir up trouble with this!” he said loudly.
“Because all you will do is create a big issue that I’ll have to go in and clean up.”
“What if Michael brings up your liaison with Jeff?” Dad demanded.
“Did he threaten to do that?”
“No,” Dad said.
“Did you tell him about that?”
“Are you implying that somehow I’m being blackmailed? Are you saying that it’s alright for men to take nude pictures of me without my consent just because I slept with an 18-year-old guy?”
“I’m not saying that,” he said hastily. “I’m just pointing out that there are risks here.”
“No, you’re just trying to think of excuses to let Michael go. You’ve made your decision, but I haven’t made mine yet. That’s where it stands.” He glared at me. “You still have to justify this to everyone else.”
“I don’t have to explain myself to them!”
“Yeah, you do. If for no other reason than because they used to look to you for leadership.” Putting that in past tense hit him hard. “Next topic. What are you planning to do about Jeanine?”
“I’m going to wait until she’s out of the hospital to see how she is.”
“And what if she hasn’t changed? What if she treats me the same way she has these past six months?”
“I don’t see that happening.”
“I do.” I eyed him carefully. “I let all of that go in Norway, and did it under the premise that she would give up her parental rights. Now that I’m back, you’re changing the story.”
“I never made that promise.”
“Let me refresh your memory. You wanted to go work one of your slick deals, your big political bargains, and smooth things over with the Norwegian authorities, and you needed my consent. I told you that I would, but you had to start with the premise that Jeanine was not my mother. Did you forget that?”
“She’s still your mother,” he argued lamely.
“This is why I don’t trust you.”
“You don’t trust me?” he asked, and I could tell by his tone that he was both angry and hurt.
“No, I don’t.”
“Well, that changes nothing. You can be mad at me if you want, but Michael is gone, and your mother will be coming home when she’s better. You can choose whether to give her a chance or not.”
“You don’t understand at all,” I said to him severely. “This changes everything. I don’t trust you to watch out for my safety or my interests, which means I have to do that myself.”
“I expect you to talk to me before you run off and do something,” he said to me authoritatively.
“I promise to do that,” I said. “I promise to honor that commitment in the same way you’ve honored your commitments to me.” In other words, I’d told him I was lying.
“You won’t do anything. You’ll see the logic in the end. Even if I don’t appreciate your smart-ass mouth, and even if I think you’re holding me up to a higher standard than anyone else, I think in the end that you’re smart enough to see that I made the right call.”
“I’m holding you and your decisions up and comparing them to the decisions other members in our family would make, and you come up short, very short. They know it, I know it, Pop knows it; you’re the only one who doesn’t.” He made to argue but I stopped him. “You’ve made your choice, so that tells me what I have to do. I don’t think there’s really anything left for us to talk about.”
“You go out on a limb and do something stupid, don’t expect me to come in and clean it up for you,” he snapped.
“I wouldn’t trust you to wipe my ass,” I said. Robbie ushered him out before he lost it completely.
I’d known this was coming, I’d been expecting him to do this, and so I’d started drawing up some plans. I’d learned a lot about dealing with conflicts, battles, and wars from watching my father, and the key thing was to be prepared. And so I was. I got online and looked up the phone number for Sean Massey, Wade’s attorney. I was kind of surprised that he actually took my call.
“You’re back in the country?” he asked in a friendly way.
“I am. I need a referral from you. Can you help me out?”
My tone was serious and businesslike, so his changed to match. “I can help you out, Will, but Wade is my client, so if I do, I’ll need to tell him what we talk about.”
“That’s fine,” I said, after I thought about it. “Just ask him to talk to me before he talks with anyone else.”
“I can’t make that decision for him.”
“I’m not asking you to, I’m just asking you to pass that message on,” I said, and I’m sure I sounded irritated.
“I understand. I can do that. So what do you need?”
“I need an attorney specializing in family law.”
“You going to divorce someone?” he joked.
“My parents,” I responded evenly. I heard him rustling through some papers for a few minutes.
“Here are a couple of names,” he said, giving me contact info for two people.
“You’re alright, aren’t you?”
“Not really. One of our guards decided that it would be fun to take nude pictures of me and JJ. My dad decided that his penalty for that would be to allow him to resign, and to give him a nice severance package on his way out the door.”
“That’s probably a criminal issue, not one that a family law attorney would help you with.”
“I agree. But I wanted someone I could trust, someone working for me, who would tell me the pros and cons of dealing with that issue.”
“Smart boy,” he said. “Good luck. I don’t mind talking to you about things, but you have to know, like I said, that I need to keep Wade apprised of our discussions.”
“If Wade violates my trust, there’s not much left for me to rely on,” I said. That would be devastating, worse than this shit with my dad.
“You’re lucky. He’s about the most honorable guy that I know.”
Sean had given me the name of two attorneys. I called the first guy, and got a receptionist who more or less blew me off. The next guy took my call.
“Darrin Burkhardt,” he said officiously.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Burkhardt. My name is Will Schluter. I was referred to you by Sean Massey. He says you’re a good family law attorney.”
“He’s right,” he said playfully. “I haven’t talked to Sean in a couple of years. How is he doing?”
“Really well,” I said.
He picked up on my businesslike tone and got to the point. “So what can I do for you?”
“I have two issues that I need your advice on. One involves an employee of our family taking naked pictures of me, and the other involves revoking my mother’s parental rights.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m 14,” I said.
“So you’re a minor,” he mused.
“That presents some complications if I am to represent you, but nothing we shouldn’t be able to overcome. I can meet with you tomorrow afternoon; say at 3:30pm?”
His office wasn’t too far from our house, and it was real close to Gary Anderson’s office. “I should be able to make that.”
“Excellent. We’ll also need to discuss payment. Nothing’s free,” he joked.
I laughed to ease his tension. “That won’t be a problem.”
I pulled out the disk Jeff had given me, and decided to look at the pictures. I hadn’t looked at them before this, because the whole thing really bothered me. I copied them onto my hard drive, and then started flipping through them. I thought again about how hot the ones of Shane blowing me were. Damn, that boy knew how to suck a cock.
I figured that Jeff would have just given me the pictures of me, but there were also pictures of JJ on the disk, and those were all taken here in Malibu. There were a couple of series of JJ jacking off. I took a few minutes to notice that he was pretty cute. He’d grown a few pubes, and he had a decent sized dick. He was looking at a porno magazine, and it looked like it had women in it. Was he bisexual? Or was he into women, and just practicing making out with Evan? Who the fuck knew. I flipped through them, until the end, where it showed JJ lying there, the magazine at his side, totally relaxed, with a little pool of cum on his abdomen. Did my father see these? Did he even look at them?
November 7, 2000
JJ came down for breakfast, looking as shitty as I’d looked yesterday. “When did you get back?” I asked.
“Yesterday afternoon,” he said simply.
“Did you have fun?”
“Not really. Everyone was asking about you, and where you went,” he said with a sneer. I ignored him, and that bothered him. “How are things here?”
“Shitty. Dad and Pop decided to allow Michael to quit and gave him a severance package.” He looked at me, and just shrugged. “Doesn’t it bother you that he took pictures of you?”
“Not as long as they don’t get out.”
“It doesn’t bother you that he took pictures of you jacking off?” He looked at me, a little more shocked. “I see that you figured out how to cum.”
“You looked at them?!”
“Yeah. You were pretty hot,” I said, grinning to try and cajole him out of his bitchy mood.
“I just want to forget about the whole thing,” he said.
“I’m pissed off that he got away with it.”
“He lost his job,” JJ said. “Isn’t that something?”
“Big deal. He’ll get another one, and do the same thing to some other kid.”
“Well, then that’s that kid’s problem.”
“You really don’t give a shit about anyone but yourself, do you?” I asked him petulantly. “I bet you’ll end up pretty lonely.”
“Whatever,” he said.
“You boys ready to go?” Tish asked. “I’m supposed to take you both to school today.”
“Tish, this is JJ. He’s a little bitch,” I said. I gave him a dirty look, grabbed my back pack, and went out and got in the SUV. JJ followed along after me, and gave me a nasty look for sitting in front.
“I have to go to the rink after school,” he announced.
“Well, I have an appointment, so you’ll have to wait for me, or set up your own transportation.”
“Dad said that Tish could take me after school.”
“Tell Dad that he should hire you a new guard,” I responded. “I have my own shit to do after school.” I pulled out a card and handed it to him.
“The limo service I used. Get used to it.”
School was weird. Everyone was talking about the election today, but it really didn’t register on my radar. I couldn’t vote, so what difference did it make? Besides, my confidence in the adult world was pretty limited at this point. Still, there were kids at school who were all into it. I found them annoying.
Ryan caught up with me right before lunch. “Dude, I can’t hang with you today. Let’s try for tomorrow.”
I had a feeling that this would be an ongoing thing, and that my time with him would be seriously reduced in the future. But no good would come from making him feel guilty, and besides, I had plans anyway. “That works out better. I have an appointment after school anyway.” He smiled to thank me, then we had lunch, but even then, he spent almost all of his time focused on Shiloh. I was happy for him, but I was a little jealous too.
I was about to go to class, when my phone rang, and the caller-ID told me it was my dad. “Hello.”
“Are you in class?”
“If I were in class, I wouldn’t have answered my phone,” I said logically.
“JJ says that you have plans and that will delay him getting to the rink.”
“What plans?” I said nothing, just let the silence linger. “Well since your plans aren’t important enough to tell me about, then Tish can take JJ to practice, and then take you where you want to go.”
“She’s my guard, not JJ’s. If he needs to be somewhere, then have a car pick him up. If she’s JJ’s guard, then let me know, so I can work on hiring someone.”
“She’s your guard, but JJ has a commitment and I need to get him to practice.”
“Then your solution is to haul him there yourself, or have a car take him. I’m not sharing Tish.”
He sighed. “Fine, I’ll have a car pick JJ up.”
“Thank you,” I said, and hung up the phone.
After that exchange, I was wondering what would happen when school got out. I was actually surprised that he did what he said, and that Tish was waiting for me. “You’re here,” I said with a smile.
“I am, and people sure are curious about where you’re going.”
“Well then, why don’t you drop me off at my shrink’s office. It’s in Malibu. I’ll show you where it is.”
“That where you’re going?”
“Maybe,” I said, grinning at her. I showed her where Gary Anderson’s office was, and then she let me out. It was only two blocks down to Burkhardt’s office.
I got to Burkhardt’s office and had to fill out a bunch of forms. I turned them in and was ushered into his office shortly after that, which was just enough time for him to review them.
He was an older guy, probably in his late 40’s, and seemed friendly enough. “So tell me what brings you here.”
“It’s a long story,” I said, the resignation in my voice apparent.
“That’s why attorneys bill by the hour,” he joked. I chuckled, and found that the humor helped relax me.
I spent the next hour and a half telling him all about my relationship with my mother and about my issues with my father, including my running-away episode to Hawaii. I talked about our reconciliation, which made me actually tear up when I realized how that hadn’t lasted very long. It was like a long speech, with me talking and him stopping me to ask pointed questions. He focused a lot on Mr. Martin, which seemed logical. I told him about our trip to Norway, and about the two key issues that happened to me there.
“Your wrist is still bruised, but seems to be healing well enough. Did you report this to the Norwegian authorities?”
“We did.” I told him all about that, and about the deal I’d made with my father to terminate my mother’s parental rights. He nodded at that, so I took that as my cue to go on and talk about Michael. He asked me a lot of questions about that.
“Do you have the ability to support yourself financially?” he asked.
“I think so,” I told him. “I mean, if I need money, I usually get it from my dad, but if I can’t get it from him, I can get it from my grandfather.”
“I suspect he has some to spare,” Burkhardt said. He’d done his research, and knew who I was.
“He does,” I agreed.
“I was thinking of trusts or other things like that, where you are guaranteed an income.”
“I guess I never really worried about those. I can check on them though. Why?”
“Well, I’m thinking that we can probably get the courts to remove your mother’s parental rights, and we can probably get the DA to at least cause this former employee some problems, but I’m thinking that the key issue for you is to remove both your parents from the control of your life.”
“That’s pretty much it. I’m planning to move up to Palo Alto around Christmas, and I’ll be going to school up there.”
“Have you told your father about that?”
“You’re the only person who knows about that.”
“I’m thinking that your best course of action is to file for emancipation.”
“Emancipation?” Wasn’t that what they did to free the slaves?
“It’s like granting you adult status a bit early. You are responsible for yourself. You can get a job, you can own real estate, you can sign contracts, and you can even sue people. Your parents can’t tell you what to do anymore. But you still have to go to school, you have to be at least 14, and you have to be able to prove that you can support yourself.”
“What if my father doesn’t agree?”
“I think that we can work up a deal where you agree to forego any actions against this former employee, against your mother, and against him and your, uh, Pop, for endangering you. If he doesn’t go for it, we explain it to a judge, and see what he says.”
“So I’m a legal adult?”
“Well, except you can’t have sex. Emancipation doesn’t remove the statutory laws on sex with minors. You can’t drink. You can’t vote. But otherwise, it’s pretty much like that.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“Two things. First of all, if there’s a trust for you that gives you income when you’re legally an adult, that would help show you have the means to support yourself. We want to show that you’re independent of them. The second thing is that you should show that you have a very organized plan to continue your studies. You’re supposed to have your own place to live, away from them, but I think if you have a plan to do that, it will be sufficient.”
“When do you need these things, and when can we get this done?”
“I need that information from you as soon as you can get it. We can file for a hearing in a couple of weeks. How about if I get something set up for the Monday before Thanksgiving?”
“Sounds good. How secretive do I have to be about this?”
“If it gets out, it gets out, but it would be better for you if you were able to spring this on him. That’s more for your protection, so you aren’t subject to recrimination from him.”