What Lies Ahead
Chapter 17

I was so shocked at what I’d heard, I dropped my book. From the look on her face I knew Vicki had heard it, too, and was equally as shocked.

The CPS agent at the door had just said we were being taken away from Mom. I was stunned.

Since Vicki and I were the closest, we had heard everything that was said, but everyone else was sitting on chairs and couches, and even the floor in Tina’s case, further from the door that lead out to the front entryway, and apparently hadn’t been paying attention enough to hear anything.

I got up, with Vicki hot on my heels.

“Mom, what’s going on?” I asked walking up to her.

Outside the front door was a middle aged woman with two uniformed officers behind her.

“Who are you?” The woman asked fairly rudely.

“Caspian Grey,” I replied.

“He’s on the list,” she said to one of the deputies behind her before turning to me. “Please go with these officers.”

“Why?” I said.

I knew why, having heard enough from the other room, but I wasn’t prepared to make it easy on her.

“You are being taken into protective custody for your own safety,” she said, not really explaining anything. “Ma’am, could you please bring any other children you have living in this house to us. Otherwise the deputies will be forced to come into your home and check for them.”

“Ok. But they have some friends visiting.”

“I have a list of the children under your care. Those are who we are looking for.”

“Nora, Kids, could you please come here,” Mom yelled into the house, calling for Vicki’s mother and everyone else.

After a moment the front entry way was filled with people. The woman from CPS looked stunned for a moment.

“These are all kids under your care?” she said incredulously.

“No, like I said, we had visitors for dinner, and the kids had some friends over studying. This is Nora Hollabrad and her daughter Vicki, who were visiting. Also Tami Smith and her sister Judy Smith were over visiting Caspian and Tina, respectively.”

“Tina Grey is a name I have on my list,” the woman said, trying to regain some control.

“What’s going on?” Tina asked, concerned.

“We are here to take you into productive custody,” the woman said haughtily. All hell broke loose, as everyone started talking all at once.

“Hold it,” Mom yelled. “We will take care of all of this, but they have a court order. Until Jonathan can do his thing, we have to follow the orders of these two officers.”

“My paperwork says there should be a Caspian Grey, Tina Grey, Zoe Bell, and Emily Deakins currently in your custody.”

“I’m Caspian Grey, like I said. This is Tina, Zoe and Emily,” I said pointing out each girl.

“Children, please come out and go with these deputies.”

“Ma’am, please don’t do this. Something is going on here, and when we get to the bottom of it, there will be blowback on anyone involved. Do yourself a favor and let us stay here until we can work it out.”

“Do I need to have the deputies escort you out,” she said, sounding annoyed.

We all looked at each other, terror in our faces, especially Emily, who looked ready to burst into tears.

“Kids, we need to do what she is asking, for now. I will call Jonathan and get him to sort this out. Making a scene will only make his job harder,” Mom said.

She had her Mom voice on in full force, and it was clear arguing with her would do no good. We looked at each other with worried glances, but filed out the door as she asked.

I looked back at Mom and, no matter how forcefully she was telling us to follow the CPS woman’s instructions; she was not ok with what was happening. She looked as mad as I’d ever seen her.

“Mrs. Bell, here is the paperwork. The children will be taken to our local offices. There we will find temporary housing for them until they can be placed in either a youth facility or foster home. Here are the court documents telling you when your case is going to be arraigned, and what your recourse is.”

“You will be hearing from my attorney,” Mom said.

“I’m sure. Have a good day,” the woman said and walked away, shooing us in front of her.

“We will take the boy with us if you take the three girls,” one of the deputies said.

“I don’t think...” the woman started.

“They can’t all go to the same facility, and there are some additional questions we have, on another case.”

Since we had some warning from Jonathan beforehand, I hadn’t been all that worried ... until that moment.

“He has to have a legal guardian,” she protested.

“We will make sure he gets his rights. You need to worry about those three girls ... and yourself. Do you understand?”

“I ... yes. Come along girls,” the woman said, looking frightened herself.

The two guys pushed me roughly towards a cop car. This was different than thugs coming after me. I couldn’t just beat up two uniformed officers, especially not with this CPS thing hanging over us. For now I would have to play along and find out what was happening.

“Go with her,” I told Zoe, Emily and Tina. “I will be ok. Watch out for each other. Jonathan will take care of it.”

“But Cas,” Tina started to say.

“Tina, go. Now. Just do what they tell you to do, and stick with Emily and Zoe.”

“Shut up and get in,” one of the cops said, pushing me into the car.

Through the window I could see Zoe pulling Tina with her and Emily. All three looked over at me as their car went one way, and mine went another.

I knew the separation was temporary, and Jonathan would get it all straightened out, but that didn’t keep my stomach from tying into knots.

It took me a moment to realize that we weren’t headed towards town, where the police station was. Instead we were headed to the southern edge of town, eventually pulling up in front of a warehouse.

“Where are we?” I asked through the cage that separated me from the officers.

“Shut up,” the officer in the passenger seat said.

Both men got out of the car with the passenger walking around to the driver’s side and backing up quite a bit, unsnapping his holster.

Only when he was in position did the driver open my door and wave me out. As soon as I was out of the car he spun me around by my elbow and pushed me into the side panel, keeping my arm behind me. He reached down and pulled my other hand behind my back and I felt the cold press of metal on my wrist as handcuffs were applied. The entire time he was handcuffing me; his partner was a few steps back with his hand on the butt of his weapon.

I could see a few ways out of this, even as the handcuffs were being applied. One aspect of Krav Maga is fighting in real world situations, often using prop guns and knives. With my enhanced strength, I was pretty sure I could take out both of these guys.

My problem was, they were cops. Even if they were dirty, which was starting to feel like a real possibility, being wanted for assaulting police officers would make things harder.

For now I was forced into a ‘wait and see’ mode. A lot of people, from Mom and the girls to the CPS woman, all saw me leave with the officers. If I disappeared or something happened to me, it would easily trace back to them. The open way they took me with them suggested they didn’t actually plan me bodily harm.

Or at least that was what I started telling myself as the cop behind me pulled me off the car and started to march me into the warehouse.

The warehouse itself was totally empty, except for a few chairs sitting in the middle of the floor and a hook hanging from the ceiling. It was like a scene out of a bad horror movie.

The officers led me over to the hook. When they undid the handcuffs to clip them in front of me, I was still debating if I should fight my way out of this, but the equation had changed. While one guy was right next to me, his friend was well back, and this time his gun was out of the holster and in his hand. There was no way I would be able to get to him, at least not without getting shot.

My hands were secured and then raised up and looped through the hook. I wasn’t forced on my tip toes, but it did make me stand up straight, leaving me mostly defenseless. Because of how the handcuffs were looped over, I didn’t have much leverage and wouldn’t even be able to lift my feet off the ground if I needed to defend myself.

I was well and totally screwed. When the door on the other side of the warehouse opened, my concern jumped into overdrive.

I instantly recognized the guy walking towards me, having run into him twice now, once in front of my house, and again in Arnold Petti’s office.

I wasn’t the least bit surprised that he had again managed to skate through going to jail.

“You’ve been a pain in our ass,” he said when he reached me.

He nodded to one of the cops and pain shot through me as a fist connected with my kidney. I was groaning as four more blows landed across my mid-section.

“Don’t worry, we aren’t going to kill you, if that’s what you’re thinking,” the goon said. “We just need to convince you to stop getting in our way, and to start helping us.”

“F•©k you,” was the cleverest thing I could think of.

In response a fist connected with the side of my face. Blood started dripping down my nose, and if felt like a tooth was lose.

“That’s not a good attitude,” he said.

The guy was really enjoying this and playing it up to the hilt. I started working through the possibilities in my head, and I knew beating me up wasn’t how they planned on getting me to go along with whatever they wanted. I had a good idea what they would use, and was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“But first, I think I owe you something.”

Instead of giving a signal to the two dirty cops, he stepped forward and smashed his fist into my face. Pain seared through me as blood started pouring down my face. Even after the hit, the pain didn’t subside and I was pretty sure he had just broken my nose.

He then started in on my body with hit after hit. I had been in a lot of fights over the last year or so, but generally I had been lucky and hadn’t been hurt much. I guess that is if you don’t include getting shot the one time.

I hadn’t taken a pounding like this. Everything hurt and it felt like my lungs were on fire. He reached back and took a huge swing just below my chest. I felt pain rip through my side, and it didn’t go away. I wasn’t sure, since it had never happened to me before, but it felt like a rib was broken.

“Ok,” the goon said, slightly winded from the beating he just delivered. “I think we are about even now.”

I glared at him, trying to keep from crying, the pain was so bad. I could feel tears rolling down my cheeks and mingling with the blood flowing from my nose.

“Now let me explain to you what’s going to happen. You blocked our purchase of some property in Houston. A real estate company will be contacting you about buying that property, and you will sell it to them, at the price they offer.”

“Fat chance,” I said with a wheeze.

“I think you will cooperate. That is, unless you are fine seeing that woman you live with go to jail for child abuse, and all your little friends end up in the foster system.”

And there was the other shoe. The CPS investigation had been out of the blue, and never really made sense.

“She hasn’t done anything wrong.”

“Like that matters. We’ll figure out something, and the Judge will go along with it. You’re outclassed, kid. Get with the program or your life will be shit from here on out.”

So they had a judge in their pocket. That explained some things, but also made me worry. Clearly whoever this guy worked for had a hold on the police department ... and not just the one here in Alice.

He had somehow walked out of the mix up in Houston, too.

“F•©k you, you can’t buy everyone.”

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Story tagged with:
Coming of Age /