Chapter 20 — Quit Playing Games
Aug 17, 2004 – Los Angeles, CA (North Beverly Park Suburb)
“Josh, are you sure you can find the house?” Nikki asked, looking at Josh as he continued driving through the neighborhood, while looking around as if he was looking for something.
“I’m sure baby,” Josh replied as he stopped the car, smiling at Nikki. “We’re here, are you ready?”
“Are you sure this is the place Josh? I don’t think this would be JT’s house,” Nikki stated with a frown as she pulled out here cell phone. “Maybe I should give him a call and get directions from him or Justin.”
“There’s no need for that, this is the place,” Josh stated as he opened the car door as Nikki frowned again, allowing him to get out and walk around the car to open her door. “All we need to do is just walk up to the door and…”
“Josh look around, do you really think this is the kind of place that JT would live?” Nikki asked as she looked around.
“Well, I don’t see a gated fence, a guard tower or any security guards or dogs, running around the property,” Josh stated as Nikki rolled her eyes and then glared at him.
“Don’t start, we don’t need any extra drama,” Nikki stated, sighing as Josh held the door open, waiting for her to get out of the car. “I don’t think this is the place Josh.”
“Fine, go ahead and call him and see if he comes out to greet us,” Josh relented as he leaned against the door as he folded his arms across his chest.
“About time you showed some common sense,” Nikki said as she opened the phone and pressed a quick dial button as she held the phone to her ear. “Hey JT, I think we’re here, could you come out to greet us? Yes, I think we’re here, I’m not sure, being that I wasn’t the one that drove us here.”
“Is he saying something…” Josh said as Nikki waved her hand at him to quiet him down.
“Okay, I figured that,” Nikki said as she popped Josh on his leg. “We’ll see you guys in a bit. No, I don’t think Justin needs to come down to get us. I’m sure we’ll find it.”
“This isn’t it?” Josh asked as Nikki rolled her eyes again and then motioned with her head for Josh to get back into the car.
“I’m hungry too, so we’ll see you guys quickly,” Nikki said as Josh got into the car, started it and looked at her as she pointed in the opposite direction.
Grand Junction, TN – The Studio Apartment of Laci Greylek – The Front Yard
“Me-Ma, I’m sorry to have to do this, but she’s leaving me no choice,” the sheriff’s deputy spoke as he pulled a pair of handcuffs from a holster on his belt. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to use force to take her in. Please take PJ from her.”
“Please John Darby, please don’t do that. Just let her do things in her own way,” Esther Jenson, Laci’s grandmother said as she moved around Laci, standing at the door as she raised her hand. “Please John Darby, don’t separate her and the baby right now.”
“Alright, for you Me-Ma, for you,” the sheriff’s deputy spoke as he put the handcuffs back into their holster as he hugged her and then turned around. “I’ll be back later on this evening and she best be in a cooperating mood.”
“Yes sir,” she replied as she turned slowly and looked over at Laci and the little baby.
“Alright boys, let’s head back to the station,” the sheriff’s deputy said as the other officers got into their cars and then left.
“Girl, what did you do?” Esther asked as she looked at Laci.
“I didn’t do nothing,” Laci answered as the woman shook her head. “Honest, I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“You had to do something wrong for John Darby and his men folk to be here,” the woman said with a sigh. “John Darby never goes anywhere with his posse for people that haven’t done nothing.”
“Okay Me-Ma, I beat up someone, but they had it coming,” Laci stated as she sighed.
“Why did you beat up someone?” Esther asked, watching Laci as the young woman got up and then walked over to a chest of drawers. “What are you doing?”
“We’re leaving,” Laci replied as she lay the baby on the bed and then started taking clothes out of drawers and then throwing them into bags. “I’m not letting those fuckers lock me up! If I get locked up, I’ll never see the light of day again.”
“Who did you beat up?” Esther asked, watching Laci move around in the room frantically.
“I beat up the mayor’s daughter,” Laci replied as she shook her head and then threw some other items into another bag. “We can’t stay here, we’re leaving.”
“You can’t just up and leave,” Esther said as Laci walked over and hugged her.
“I have no choice Me-Ma,” Laci replied as a few tears fell from her eyes. “If I give in to them, I’ll probably rot in prison.”
“You won’t rot in prison,” Esther stated as Laci shook her head.
“You know as well as I do that those spoiled brats do what they fucking want around here,” Laci stated as she shook her head. “That ho deserved that beating! She took my last twenty dollars and then said I was trying to cheat her! She knew what she was damn doing!”
“What happened that lead to you beating her up?” Esther asked.
“When I was paying for the groceries, she said I didn’t give her the right amount of money and that I was trying to cheat her,” Laci stated as Esther shook her head. “That was all the money I had left and I ended up having to give that to her and then she had the damn nerve to call the police on me! Damn right she needed her ass beat Me-Ma.”
“Why didn’t you just explain that to John Darby?” Esther asked as Laci shook her head. “He would listen if you just tell him.”
“Those fools work for the damn mayor Me-Ma, they’re not going to listen to me. You see they came here to lock me up!” Laci screamed as she continued throwing items around in bags.
“Where you and PJ going to go?” Esther asked as she looked at Laci.
“We’re going to find his father,” Laci replied as she continued packing things.
Chicago, IL – The Clemons Estates – The Backyard
“Well hello Juanita,” Eddie Clemons spoke as his wife stepped into the backyard to see a party in progress. “It’s so nice of you to join us here today.”
“Eddie, what’s going on around here?” Juanita asked, looking around the yard. “You’re having a damn party, why?”
“Why else does one have a party, but to celebrate of course,” Eddie replied with a smile as he turned his back to her and walked over to the bar and then poured himself a drink. “Why you here woman?”
“What in the hell are you celebrating Eddie? Where in the hell did you get the money to throw a party like this?” She asked, looking around again. “Who are these people?”
“These are some of my new friends,” Eddie replied as he cut his eyes as the woman. “Again, why are you here woman?”
“I came here to see how you were doing,” the woman replied as he shook his head.
“Why Juanita? Why are you here now? Why do you even care about how I am doing?” Eddie asked, knocking the drink back and then pouring himself another one. “How I got the money to throw this party is no longer your damn business.”
“What do you mean it’s no longer my damn business?” She asked, glaring at Eddie. “Where did you get the money to throw this damn party Eddie?”
“Hell, you didn’t help me get it, so that’s none of your damn business,” Eddie said as he pointed his finger at the woman.
“What about Skeeter and your debts?” She asked, folding her arms across her chest.
“Skeeter got his damn money,” Eddie responded as he knocked back the drink he had.
“Why you drinking like that? Don’t you have wo…” the woman said as Eddie held up his hand, stopping her.
“What I do is no longer your business woman,” Eddie stated with a sneer. “You left here, remember that?”
“Eddie,” she said as Eddie shook his head.
“Don’t Eddie me woman,” Eddie stated as he poured himself another drink. “When I damn needed you, you were no fucking where to be found. Now that I don’t need you, here you fucking are.”
“Eddie,” she said again as Eddie shook his head again.
“No Juanita, wherever the hell you’ve been, take your skanky ass back there,” Eddie said as he took a sip of the drink and then placed the glass down on the bar-top.
“What! You can’t talk to me that damn way!” She screamed as others around, turned and looked in her direction.
“I’ll talk to you any damn way I please!” Eddie snapped, pointing his finger at her. “Again, wherever the hell you came from, take your skanky ass back there. You ain’t welcomed here no more.”
“I live here, I’m not leaving,” she said as Eddie shook his head.
“Look, I don’t need or want you here bitch, leave!” Eddie snapped as more people watched them. “You can leave here walking on your own two feet or you can go out in a body bag. Which way do you want to go?”
“What you trying to say Eddie?” She asked as Eddie shook his head and then lifted his shirt a bit, revealing a gun.
“I’m sure you know what I’m saying Juanita,” Eddie responded with an evil look on his face. “Get away from here Juanita and don’t you come back here.”
“I have things here, I am not leaving here,” the woman said as Eddie shook his head.
“You had things here,” Eddie replied, his expression not changing. “Everything that you had here that was personal to you was put out on the street weeks ago.”
“What!” She snapped as Eddie tapped the gun on his waistband. “You threw my stuff out?”
“Mr. Clemons, is there a problem here?” A tall black man asked, looking at Eddie and then looking at Juanita.
“No, there’s no problem here, she’ll be leaving now,” Eddie stated as he smiled and then turned back to the bar, pouring himself another drink. “Juanita just realized that her usefulness to me has ended.”
“Eddie…” the woman said as he shook his head.
“Your time here has ended,” Eddie stated as he shook his head. “There’s nothing here for you. Get the hell on… Get gone!”
“This isn’t over,” the woman said as Eddie smiled and then nodded his head at the black man that was nearby.
“Yes, it is ma’am,” the black man said as he pointed towards the gate to the yard as he took her by the arm. “You need to leave here and don’t come back as Mr. Clemons suggested.”
“Who in the hell are you?” Juanita asked, snatching away from the man. “You don’t know me to put your hands on me.”
“Ma’am, if I have to, my hands on you would be the least of your worries. Please leave here… Don’t make Mr. Clemons angry.”
“I don’t give a damn about making Mr. Clemons angry!” Juanita snapped as she pointed her finger in the man’s face. “Eddie, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but you’ve lost your fucking mind!”
“I’ve heard enough,” Eddie said as he pulled the gun from his waistband and then aimed it at Juanita.
“What in the hell are you doing?” Juanita asked.
“Putting an end to the headache that’s forming right now,” Eddie replied as he smiled. “I told you nicely to get gone, but it seems you didn’t want to listen to the nice version of that. Here’s the remix…”
“Fine, I’m gone,” Juanita said as she moved away from Eddie, being escorted away by the black man as the tears streamed down her face.
A Few Hours Later – Chattanooga, TN – The Bus Station
Damn, how long does it take someone to process a damn bus ticket? I’ve been standing at this damn counter for almost twenty minutes and it seems this stupid fuck-up isn’t finished yet. I already gave him my damn money, so what’s taking him so damn long? He needs to hurry the hell up, it’s almost seven and I would like to get my ass on the road, before someone notices me or something.
The way that fool is dragging his feet with setting up my ticket, it’s like he’s being slow on purpose. Hell, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think the fucker was trying to hold me up on purpose, so I’ll miss the bus and have to wait until later on tonight to leave out.
Damn, this crap isn’t funny, he needs to hurry the hell up. I’m not looking to stay around in this place any longer than I have to. The sooner I get out of Tennessee, the better I’ll feel. Since leaving Me-Ma, I’ve had this strange feeling that I’ll have to put up with some extra drama before I get to where I’m headed. This fuck-tard needs to hurry up so I can get away from here and not to have to deal with Darby and his damn crew. Right now, drama needs to keep its distance from me, I’m not in the mood for any of it.
“Sir, how much longer is it going to be?” I asked as the man turned away from the computer and then looked over at me.
“I’m sorry Miss, but the terminal is being a bit sluggish today,” he replied as he smiled and then went back to his paper as he sipped his drink from the cup.
“Is there something you can do to hurry things along? I don’t want to miss the buss when it gets here,” I said as PJ started crying. “Come on PJ, you have to be quiet for mommy right now.”
“Ma’am, the computers act real funny late in the day, there’s no rushing things,” he said as I shook my head and then turned around. Looking at the clock on the wall, noticing that it was already after seven.
Damn, he needs to hurry up. The bus heading to California will be here within a few minutes. This shit is taking too damn long. I’m getting a funny feeling here. Is he trying to slow me down so the sheriff and the gang back in Grand Junction can catch up to me or what? Is that what’s going on here? Then again, how would he know the sheriff is looking for me back home? I don’t think anyone around here knows that I’m wanted for questioning. Hell, I think I’m wanted for more than questioning, being that I beat up the mayor’s daughter and almost left her for dead for taking my damn money.
“Alright miss, here you are,” the man said as he handed me the ticket and then smiled. “You and your boy have a safe trip.”
“Thanks,” I said, reaching down and picking up my bags as I walked towards the door where the bus would arrive.
Pretty soon, all of my prayers will be answered. I’m going to forget about ever being in this sorry ass state. I’m saying buh-bye to being the poor little girl and saying hello to everything I ever wanted. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow, I’ll have a new outlook on life, PJ and I will never have to go without again.
The bus to California should be here soon and we’ll be on our way from this fucking rat trap. I can’t wait to get out of here and over to there. I just know that this is the best thing for the two of us. By the time I’m done in California, things will never be the same for us or for Justin Tanner. When I’m through with him, he’ll wish he never married that man. Hell, by the time I’m done, I think a lot of things will change and I’ll end up being more famous than Justin’s ever been. Only time will tell, but I’m sure that Baby Tanner here will shed some light on a whole lot of things for me. After all this time, it’s time to put my theory to the test.
Los Angeles, CA (North Beverly Park Suburb) – The Home of JT and Justin Poole-Tanner – The Entertainment Room
Wow, when Chad said this place was awesome, he wasn’t lying. This place looks so great, I wonder how they got it decorated so quickly. They’ve only been out here for a week and they act like they’ve been here for years. I must admit I didn’t think JT would live in a place like this, but here he is. I’m used to JT living in a military complex, not a regular house. This is so different than what I’m used to, dealing with his insecurities. I wonder what attracted him to this house, being this house is nothing like the house in Jacksonville or the place he used to live in Albany.
“So, you’re here Howard, what’s on your mind?” JT asked as he and Justin walked into the room.
“Did you enjoy your flight Howard?” Justin asked as he took a seat on the sofa and then kicked off his slippers.
“Do you want something to drink Howard?” JT asked as he walked over to a picture, pressed it as it opened up, revealing a refrigerator. Damn, that’s so cool. A refrigerator hidden by a picture on a wall. JT got himself a soda and then looked at me again. “Howard?”
“No thanks, I’m good,” I answered as he walked around the sofa and then sat on the opposite end as he put his feet up on the sofa cushion as Justin moved a bit and then started massaging his feet.
“Howard, have a seat. There’s no need for you to stand up, unless you just want to,” he said as I smiled and then sat down across from the two of them.
“Well to get to why I’m here, there’s been a development with Heather,” I said as he put the soda on the floor and then moved around on the sofa, sitting up. Okay, is this going to go as planned or what?
“What kind of development Howard? What’s happening?” JT asked, his expression changing to a scared one as he looked at Justin and then back at me. “Is Caleb leaving?”
“No, Caleb isn’t leaving,” I replied as his expression remained the same. “Caleb is staying forever, from what I have here.”
“What do you have there?” He asked, looking at me strangely.
“This is a writ from a judge,” I said, his expression still the same. “This says that Heather’s parental rights have been terminated and you are Caleb’s sole biological parent.”
“How is that possible?” Justin asked, as he moved around on the sofa and then sat up. “What’s going on? Did she do something?”
“Think about the stuff we talked about before you two left Jacksonville and add in the fact that the judge that’s presiding over her case has determined that she’s not capable of ever defending herself in her criminal case,” I stated as JT shook his head.
“Meaning, she’s acting crazy and she’s gotten away with what she did. I knew she wouldn’t be held responsible for what she did to me,” JT stated as I shook my head.
“No, that’s not the case buddy,” I said as he looked at me strangely. “The judge ruled that she remain institutionalized, until she is capable of contemplating what she’s done to you and Caleb. That judge also severed her parental rights to him, meaning that she can’t interfere with your lives in regard to him. You are free to raise Caleb without her being around.”
“Question,” Justin said as JT looked at him. “What happens when she is able to contemplate what she’s done? She gets out of the nut-house and comes looking for us to cause problems and tries to take Caleb away from us, is that it?”
“The judge severed all rights she had to Caleb. She’s nothing to him and he’s nothing to her,” I said, trying to make that clear as I possibly could. “Her rights to him have been completely terminated.”
“So, you’re saying I don’t ever have to worry about Heather again, right?” JT said as I nodded my head as Justin shook his head.
“Howard, you didn’t answer all of my question,” Justin said as he looked at me. “When she’s capable of contemplating what she’s done, she’ll be out of the nut-house. She’ll surely come after…”
“No, she won’t,” I said, trying to figure out how to put this into words that both of them would understand. “With the way the judge worded things in this writ, there’s nothing Heather can do in regard to Caleb being here with you two.”
“Are you sure?” JT asked, looking down at his hands. “I don’t want to have to put up with any drama that she could…”
“Buddy, I don’t think you’ll ever have to put up with Heather again,” I said, looking over at him. “If you deal with her, it’s because you want to.”
“I don’t want to deal with her… Justin, do you want to deal with her?” JT asked, looking over at Justin as he shook his head.
“As I was saying, you won’t have to deal with Heather,” I stated as I pulled out the other folder. “With the crimes charged against Heather, when she’s finally able to contemplate what she’s done to you and to Caleb, she’s going to jail and for a very long time.”
“She’s going to jail,” JT said as I nodded my head.
“The crime charges that are pending against her are all felonies,” I said as JT looked down and then shook his head. “That means she’ll spend time in jail for each offense she’s charged with.”
“When she gets out of the mental place, don’t they have to have a court trial or something to convict her of the charges?” JT asked.
“They don’t have to, she’s already been found guilty in a sense,” I replied as he looked at me strangely. “She can’t plead innocent to the charges, there is already enough evidence to back up all the charges against her. Everything has already been proven that she did the things she’s charged with. The affidavits from the hospital staff at Penn Med, statements from your friend Ken and his parents about what they knew of Caleb’s conception, from what she told them, Caleb’s existence is evidence and plus she keeps telling people that you two had consensual sex and…”
“So, in simple terms, she’s going to jail, regardless of what she or anyone else does and we don’t have to ever worry about her, right Howard?” Justin said as I nodded my head.
“You guys don’t have to see her, unless Caleb wants to have a relationship with her, but I surely doubt that, since I’ve gotten some very negative reports from children services,” I said as JT’s eyes widened.
“What kind of reports? Are those the reports from the shit with Glitter?” He asked as I shook my head.
“No, these are the various reports from the different state and local area social services divisions that attempted to deal with Heather’s action and abuse against Caleb. There were numerous complaints filed against her, but she never stayed around in a place long enough for the charges to be substantiated,” I explained as JT sighed and then shook his head.
“What kind of abuse Howard?” JT asked as he looked up at me.
“It seems she had a pattern,” I said as he just looked at me. “Everywhere she was, different people made the same complaints about her actions with Caleb.”
“What was the complaint Howard?” JT asked, looking like he was about to breakdown.
“It was accused that she physically and emotionally neglected him and that she had left him in the care of other people, that wasn’t family. So, there’s a big red flag there. There were even reports from her Mom about her care of Caleb,” I stated as JT shook his head.
“That somewhat explains that Shannon woman,” Justin stated as he looked over at JT, got up from his spot and moved closer to him, wrapping his arms around him. “She acted more like she was Caleb’s caretaker and…”
“He called her Aunt Shan,” JT stated as I looked at him, wondering what he was talking about. “How long was she around in his life, for him to develop that kind of relationship, to call her his aunt, when she’s not related to Heather in any way?”
“Baby, you know kids develop a liking for people in a short amount of time,” Justin said, rubbing his back.
“Maybe so, but that doesn’t… How much did Heather leave him with that Shannon woman and other people? The boy doesn’t like to be alone much and anytime that I’m out of his sight for too long, he freaks out.”
“Yeah, that’s been established already baby,” Justin said as he sighed. “Remember, I had to put up with the crying fit while you were in the pokey.”
“Justin,” JT said, rolling his eyes as I shook my head this time. “So, he’s been neglected and left alone and she’s facing charges for that?”
“Yes,” I answered as he looked at Justin. “So, as I said in the beginning, she won’t be around to bother you, either of you. Once she gets out of the institution, she’ll head off to prison. So, you guys won’t have any interaction with her, unless you want to. There’s that silver lining I was telling you about buddy.”
“I guess it is a silver lining,” he replied, half smiling as he sighed.
“Then why does it seem you’re not happy about all that I’ve told you?” I asked, watching him and Justin.
“I am happy about what you’ve told me—us Howard, but there is so much about Caleb’s life that I—we don’t know about. When we try to find out what’s happened to him, he clams up and changes the subject or runs off,” JT stated as he looked down and then sighed again as he shook his head. “We know something happened to him, you just confirmed it in a way, but we don’t know what. We figured when he was ready, he’ll tell us, but after hearing all of what you’ve said, I’m more concerned about his past.”
“We try talking to him, to get him to open up about things, but that’s not really working. We figured out a few weeks ago that Heather had to have done something to him, because he keeps freaking out, thinking JT or I is going to leave him and we’re not coming back,” Justin stated as he frowned. “We both try to get him to open up about things, but it seems we’re not getting through.”
“You two may need to get him into some kind of therapy,” I said as JT looked at me and then looked down as he shook his head.
“I—I don’t want him to get a label attached to him Howard,” he said as I and Justin looked at him strangely. “Once you get that label, people treat you differently.”
“Getting him some help has nothing to do with labels baby,” Justin said, rubbing JT’s back. “What we’re doing isn’t working. We might need to get someone better than us to talk with him and maybe he’ll open up to them about what Heather did and what he’s been through.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” JT said as he sighed.
“I don’t think it’ll hurt buddy,” I said, hoping I wasn’t overstepping my authority as he just sighed and then looked at Justin as I pulled the adoption papers out of my briefcase for Justin to sign. “Also, these need to be signed.”
“What are those… Oh yeah, the adoption papers,” Justin said with a smile as I handed the papers to him.
“Justin, are you sure you want to adopt him?” JT asked, looking Justin in the face.
“Baby, that’s the dumbest question you’ve ever asked me,” Justin stated as he took the pen from me and started flipping pages, signing the papers. “You’re my husband and pretty soon, he’ll be my son. We’ll be one big happy family.”
“Yes, you will be,” I said, wondering would Chad and I have this kind of life, well not the drama part, but the love part.
“Yes, we’ll be one big happy family,” JT said as he looked down again. “A bit screwy, but a loving family.”
“Ha ha ha, real funny baby,” Justin said as he flipped to the last page and then sighed. “Here you are Howard, I think I got all of them.”
“Let me have a look see,” I said, accepting the papers from him as I looked through the ones I had little stickies on, making sure there was a signature and initials. It looks like he got them all. “I’ll get this submitted to the courts in Jacksonville and then have them filed here in California also. Are you sure you want this?”
“Yes, I’m sure I want this,” Justin replied with a smile. “I want this, and the little man can’t wait for me to become his dad too.”
“You two talked about it again?” JT said as Justin nodded his head. “Great, well I guess that’s settled then.”
“Yep, it’s settled,” Justin said with a smile.
“I guess you could say that the glitter finally turned gold,” JT stated with a smile as he and Justin kissed.
To Be Continued…
in Book 4 – The Ties That Bind.