It’s almost always good to have a plan.
But what do you do if something happens and you don’t have a plan?
This is a sequel to the story One Cute New Neighbor.
Jeremy was awakened from his nap by his cellphone. It was on both ring and vibrate, and he pulled it out of his pocket and turned it on as quickly as he could so it wouldn’t wake Mike, but it did anyway. Jeremy didn’t recognize the phone number. It was local, the 925 area code, but the name was shown as ‘Out of Area.’
“Is this Jeremy Sievers?” It was an older woman’s voice.
“Yes, who is this?”
“It’s me, Mrs. Markenie, your across-the-street neighbor. There were some official-looking men at your house, and I saw them when I happened to look outside through my front window and saw two big black SUV kinds of cars and these men so they might have seen me looking out my window at them, and they rang my doorbell and said they were looking for someone named Leonard Rivers or something like that and I said I never heard of anyone by that name so then they asked for your mother Vivian Sievers and I said I didn’t know where she was, and they asked when the last time I’d seen her and I said I don’t get outside very often because of my arthritis except in the morning to get my newspaper, so I don’t remember the last time, and I said her son Jeremy Sievers lives there too and I’d seen you leave on your bike this morning when I went outside to get my newspaper, and you’re always a very nice boy, and you’d smiled and waved to me.”
She said all that in a sort of wheezy voice that ran the words together like it was one sentence.
“Mrs. Markenie, are they still there?”
“No, they left, but they gave me some official-looking business cards with a gold emblem and something about Department of Justice and initials ATF and asked me if I see your mother or you then have either of you call them, but if I see a strange man around there I should call them myself right away and let them know. So that’s why I’m calling you to tell you about it.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Markenie. I’ll be home in a little while. I’ll come to your house and get one of their cards, and I’ll give them a call right away.”
“Alright, just ring my doorbell, Jeremy, but it might take me a while to get to the door because of my arthritis.”
“I’m at a friends house. I’ll come by as soon as I get home. I’ll see you later. Bye, Mrs. Markenie, and thanks again.”
Mike was sitting up, leaning on his left elbow, looking at Jeremy. “You look pretty serious. What was that about?”
“That was my across-the-street neighbor, Mrs. Markenie. Some men from the Department of Justice had been at my house looking for Leo and left some of their business cards with her. They asked about my mom, so Mrs. Markenie told them about me. They want me to call them right away.”
“I think you should talk to an attorney first and have him on the phone with you when you call. If they want to see you, it’s really important to have an attorney with you.”
“I don’t know any attorneys.”
“Yes, you do. My granddad was and still is licensed as an attorney in the State of California. Let’s call him right now.”
“Okay. Thanks. I gotta tell you, this freaks me a lot. Maybe Leo is sneaking around my house.”
“Could be. Jeremy, I don’t think you should go home. Stay here tonight, and longer if you need to.”
Mike grabbed his cell and called his granddad. When he finished the call, he turned to Jeremy.
“Okay, he’s on his way. He lives a few blocks from here; by car, it’s maybe two, three minutes, tops.”
When Mike’s granddad arrived, he met Jeremy and Mike in the family room with Mike’s mom and dad joining them.
“To start, I think what I need to do is tell you some things about me and my mom,” Jeremy said. “I don’t know who my father is. My mom has been a waitress and bartender. The restaurant where she worked closed, and she was out of work for several months. While she was out of work, she met this guy, Leo Rivers. He’s a real jerk. He kept saying he wanted us to move to Texas, where he could get a job in the oil industry. He’s an auto mechanic. He worked at a car dealer and got fired for smoking on the job. I’d think that is really dangerous. So he started coming to our house during the day and eating all the food. Mom would go out at night, and she and Leo would eat out and then go to bars. My mom stopped going grocery shopping and giving me money to buy food. I had to steal money from her purse so I could buy lunch at school and those two-dollar frozen dinners they sell at Safeway to have something to eat at night. She had enough money to eat out and go drinking with Leo but not enough to buy food for me. That really made me mad.
“My mom came home one night and was happy because she said she had a second interview at a new restaurant the next day, September ninth. I was happy because that meant money would be coming in for food. The day she was supposed to have the interview, she didn’t come home. Since she usually worked nights, I figured that she started her new job. In the morning, she still wasn’t home. I checked, and her suitcases and a lot of her clothes were gone, her car was gone, and so was Leo. I couldn’t believe that my mom would just up and leave and not tell me. I don’t know where she could have gone. She didn’t leave me a note which meant either she didn’t care about me or that Leo forced her to leave.
“I freaked. Here I was, fifteen years old. I turned sixteen on November seventh with no money, almost no food in the house, no way to pay bills, and I didn’t even know what bills there were to pay. Call the police? If I did, CPS would put me in a foster facility, I’d probably have to change schools, and I definitely didn’t want either of those things to happen. I decided that I’d have to figure out how to live on my own.
“So I began digging into Mom’s desk. I found her checkbook and her credit card down in the bottom of the drawer, which was weird. If she was traveling, shouldn’t she have taken her credit card? Maybe she was trying to hide it, maybe from Leo.
“I went through her checkbook. The only checks she wrote were to pay bills like the homeowner’s insurance.” Jeremy looked at Mr. Butler. He knew what he was about to tell him was something that was probably illegal. “Her signature was real sloppy, so I could sign the checks the way she did and pay bills if I had to. I went online to her bank account and logged on. I found her password, it was my name and birth date, run together. I looked at the account balance. There was over $27,000 in the account. That sounds like a lot of money, but I discovered that she paid bills using the bank’s automatic bill pay system. That meant each month, bills like PG&E, water, cellphone, cable TV and internet, and more were taken out of her account. Her credit card bill was paid in full each month.” Jeremy took a deep breath and let it out, then continued. “There’s no mortgage on the house it’s paid off. I found the property tax bill, and it was due by December tenth, so I paid that. It was almost $1,400. The next payment is due in April. The property tax is the biggest bill.
“There were messages from the bank, so I read them. One of the messages said there had been attempts to access her account so her password had to be changed. That really freaked me because if it had been Mom, she’d know her password. That meant it was probably Leo trying to get into her account. There was a message that there’d been an attempt to transfer $3,000 to a bank account number in Hermosillo, Mexico, and it had been refused because the bank doesn’t transfer funds to accounts at Mexican banks. I changed the login ID and password for her bank account. I found her credit card bill, and most of it was restaurants and bars. It looked like she’d been paying for Leo’s meals and booze. There hadn’t been any charges since she left. So I also changed the login ID and password and the PIN for her credit card account.
“There was an offer to add a family member to the credit card account, so I signed up to add me. All they wanted was the login ID and password for the credit card account. I set the limit to $1,000.00 and made it auto-pay in full each month. I just use the card for food and maybe clothes for school.
“One thing that worries me is income taxes. She got a refund, and it was in the checkbook, but I didn’t find any income tax folder in her desk. Maybe she filed online. I read about how you can do that on the internet.
“There haven’t been any emails or texts from my mom or Leo since she left on September ninth. It seemed to me that Leo had been trying to get into her accounts. Now I have him locked out.”
Jeremy looked at Mike’s granddad, then blinked a few times to keep from tearing up.
“I’m really worried about my mom, Mr. Butler.” Then he took a deep breath and continued.
“So, today, I got a call from my across-the-street neighbor, Mrs. Markenie. She’s an old lady, a widow. She called me to say men were looking around my house. They saw her peeking out of her window, so they went to her door and asked her if she knew Leonard Rivers and she told them she didn’t. Then they asked if she’d seen my mom, and she said no because she didn’t get outside much. She told them about me, and they gave her some business cards and asked her to give them to my mom and me when she saw either of us and have either of us call them. They told her that she should phone them immediately if she saw a strange man around our house. That freaked me out because it means maybe Leo is trying to get into the house. She said the business cards were from the Department of Justice and marked ATF. I don’t know what that means. I didn’t have time to look it up.
“Mike said I needed an attorney before talking to anyone from the Department of Justice or the ATF. Can you do that, Mr. Butler? Mike said you’re an attorney. Can you help me decide what I should do? Should I call those men who were at my house today? Can you be there if I see them?”
“Yes. I think I need to be there. One thing, someone from the Walnut Creek police will probably be there, too.”
“I don’t want the police to be there. They might get nosy and want to know who’s takeing care of me because I’m not old enough to be living all by myself. If that comes up, they might contact CPS.
“I want to continue living in my house, my mom’s house. I want to continue at Las Lomas High and graduate. It’s important so my classes don’t get messed up so I can maintain my straight-A average. I want to get a full-expenses scholarship to U.C. Berkeley or U.C. Davis. That’s the only way I’ll be able to go to college. To do that, I need to continue taking the AP classes — that’s Advanced Placement and means I get both high school and college credit for them — that I’m taking at Las Lomas and that I’ll take when I’m a senior. I’m afraid if I go into foster care, I’ll have to move and maybe change schools. That could be a real problem to get the AP classes I need and keep my grades up so I can get a scholarship and go to college.”
Mike’s granddad had been looking directly at Jeremy, which made him anxious. But then Mr. Butler relaxed and nodded.
“Jeremy, the ATF is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It’s a law enforcement organization that’s part of the United States Department of Justice. You should phone them. That means we need to get the business cards from your neighbor. What are her name and address?”
“Mrs. Markenie. She lives across the street from my house. I don’t know the address, but my house is at 1447 Bearwood Lane.”
“I can drive you to pick up what the ATF left for you,” Mr. Butler said.
"I’ll need my bike to go to school, and I want to go to my house and see get my laptop and some textbooks. So, I’m thinking I should ride my bike there and back. I can do that before dinner.”
Mike repeated what he’d said that Jeremy shouldn’t sleep at home until the police know it’s safe. Jeremy nodded that he agreed.
Jeremy decided to stay at home anyway, and didn’t think it would be dangerous. If the police were still looking for Leo, it meant that he wasn’t around. Besides, he’d been in Hermosillo, Mexico, and Jeremy looked it up. It was eleven hundred miles to drive from there to Walnut Creek.
The kitchen in Jeremy’s house didn’t have an island; his mom wanted it when they looked at houses. But that feature was only included in very expensive houses. Instead, it had a U-shaped kitchen, with the sink, dishwasher, and stove along the outside wall. The refrigerator was against the end wall. The wall opposite the sink was a long counter with drawers and cupboards underneath; above the counter, it was open to the dining room.
Jeremy stood inside the kitchen at the counter, spooning some applesauce from a jar into a dish for a late-evening snack. He saw a movement outside the living room windows. There were two windows, each seven feet tall and three feet wide, providing a view onto the front yard.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash and glass from a window was shattered and flew into the living room along with a concrete block from the edge of the flower bed at the front of the house. Jeremy couldn’t believe who he saw stepping into the living room. It was Leo! He had a nasty grin, and he walked slowly and unsteadily across the room to the opposite side of the counter where Jeremy stood.
As soon as Jeremy saw Leo, and without looking down, he opened the drawer just to his right. It was where his mom kept the kitchen knives, the kind of knives she used for cooking. One of them had a long, thin blade — his mom called it a boning knife. She would use it to bone chicken and other meat. She’d always sharpen it after each time she’d used it. As a result, it was very, very sharp. Jeremy grabbed the handle and held the knife pointing down alongside his right leg.
“What the fuck do you want, asshole?” Jeremy growled.
“Ya locked us out of th’ credit cards an’ bank account, an’ I’m gonna make you put it back so’s we can use her money an’ cred’ card.”
There was a strong smell of booze and stale beer on Leo’s breath. He was squinting, and his eyes were bloodshot. He was drunk but dangerous because he was much larger and stronger than Jeremy.
“No fucking way. I’m not going to do that. If Mom wants to have access to her accounts, she can come home and do it for herself, in person. Until then, get outta here and go fuck yourself.”
Leo reached across the counter with his left hand and held onto the edge of the counter next to where Jeremy was standing. At the same time, he reached across with his right hand and grabbed the neck of Jeremy’s T-shirt in his fist, and pulled, trying to drag Jeremy across the counter and into the dining room.
Jeremy swung his right hand upward and then down, thrusting the blade of the boning knife into the top of Leo’s left wrist. The blade went all the way through his wrist. Leo screamed, let go of Jeremy’s T-shirt, and tried to pull his left arm away. Jeremy twisted and pulled the knife, blade down and parallel to Leo’s arm, and then he held the knife-handle as tight as he could with both hands. As Leo tried to pull his hand away, it sliced through the skin from his wrist across the top of his hand and then through the muscle between his thumb and index finger. Leo screamed again in pain. There was blood everywhere, on the counter, on Leo, and on Jeremy.
Jeremy pulled the knife out of Leo’s hand and ran around the end of the counter into the dining room. Leo was standing, holding his left hand against his stomach with his right, trying to stop the flow of blood.
“You fuckin’ li’l shit! I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you!” Leo screamed.
Jeremy didn’t say anything. Holding the knife handle with both hands and the sharp edge facing up, he ran at Leo and thrust the boning knife into Leo’s lower abdomen. He’d aimed for Leo’s crotch but missed when Leo tried to pull away. Still, it went into his abdomen and probably his intestines.
Leo moaned and tried to grab the knife handle with his right hand, but Jeremy pulled the knife out of Leo’s abdomen, and Leo ended up gripping the blade of the knife instead of the handle. Jeremy pulled the knife up and out. Now there was a deep, bleeding cut across Leo’s right palm.
Leo screamed again, his eyes going wide. He yelled something, but Jeremy couldn’t understand him.
“Get the fuck out, or I’m going to cut off your dick and balls!” Jeremy shouted. He aimed the knife at Leo, who turned and stumbled toward the window he’d broken getting in. Jeremy stepped back and leaned against the dining room table. He was having trouble catching his breath.
Leo lurched across the living room, trying to get to the window and away from Jeremy. He made it to the window but tripped over the sill and fell face-down about three feet to the ground below. The fall drove dirt into the cuts on his hands and wrist and sent waves of pain through the gash in his gut. He cried out and rolled onto his right side, pressing his injured hands to his abdomen where he’d been stabbed. He lay on the ground, writhing in pain, and began moaning. He became less intelligible, mumbling about needing to get to his car and getting away from Jeremy.
In the house, Jeremy dropped the boning knife on the kitchen counter. He was shaking and sweating and felt like he was about to vomit, all caused by a combination of the sudden decrease in the adrenalin buildup that had allowed him to defend himself against Leo, and fear that Leo would come back. He was dizzy, so he sat down at the dining room table. He pulled his cellphone out of his jeans pocket and, with a shaking hand, dialed 911 and set the phone on the table. When the dispatch center picked up the call, he shouted into the phone.
“I was just attacked by a guy who broke into my house. I used a kitchen knife to stop him from getting to me. I cut his wrist and both hands with the knife, then I stabbed him in his stomach. His name is Leo Rivers. He was my mom’s boyfriend. He just jumped out of a window he’d broken to get in.”
“Is anyone with you, a parent or a friend?” she asked.
“No one’s here but me. He and my mom went to Mexico, and he came back to bust in and steal my mom’s credit card and checkbook. She didn’t come with him, and I haven’t heard from her. I’m afraid that he’d either hurt her or killed her.”
“What’s your name and the address where you are right now.”
“I’m Jeremy Sievers.” He spelled his first and last names when the dispatcher asked. “I’m at my house, 1447 Bearwood Lane in Walnut Creek.”
“Is that where you were attacked?”
“Is the attacker still at this location?”
“He’s not in the house. He jumped out of the window that he busted to get in, then ran off. He probably has a car down the street.”
“I’ve dispatched two police cars and an ambulance. Are you injured? Do you need an ambulance?”
Jeremy looked at the blood on the counter and the floor and blood leading across the carpet to the window. “I’m not injured, but it looks like I cut Leo pretty bad. There’s a lot of blood all over the kitchen counter and the floor, and the living room rug. He’ll need an ambulance.”
“You need to go to a safe location until the police arrive.”
“I think I’m in a safe location now. I don’t think Leo’s going to come back.”
“Where is the knife you used?”
“It’s on the kitchen counter.”
“Are you near the counter where you put the knife?”
“No. I’m sitting at the dining room table.”
“What is your age, Jeremy?”
“What’s the age of the man who attacked you?”
“Maybe thirties or forties. I’m not real good at telling an adult’s age.”
She asked him for his phone number, and he gave her his cell number. After the dispatcher finished her questions, she told Jeremy she’d stay on the line with him, and to not turn off his cellphone.
“I want to call my boyfriend. His granddad is a lawyer. I want him to come over and be here when the police get here. We don’t have a landline phone. I use my cellphone. I’ll put you on hold and call then pick up this line.”
“Can you put a call on hold and make another call?” the dispatcher asked.
“I think so.”
“Okay. If I lose you, I’ll phone you back.”
Then Jeremy called Mike.
“Mike, Leo was here and broke in, and I stabbed him. He got away. I called the police, and they’re on their way here. Can your granddad come over and be here when the police get here?”
“Jeremy, are you okay?” Mike shouted.
“Yes. Please call your granddad.”
“I’ll call him right now, and I’ll tell my dad, too. We’ll leave right now and come to your house.”
“Mike, don’t come with your dad! It might be dangerous. Leo might be around, and when he sees you coming to my house, he could grab you!”
“My dad’ll be with me. You know how big he is, so we’ll be okay. I’m going to hang up and call my granddad, and then my dad and I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Mike ended the call. Jeremy wished Mike had listened to him about staying away.
It took some time for Leo to get up from where he had fallen in the dirt in front of Jeremy’s house. He couldn’t use his badly cut hands to push himself off the ground, so he rolled onto his right side. Using his legs and elbows, he was finally able to get on his knees and shakily stand. He leaned against the side of the house until he felt like he could walk.
As he stumbled down the street, he mumbled to himself, “Gotta get th’ car an’ th’ hospit’l, get th’ cuts fixed. Aft’r that gonna get my gun outta th’ trunk an’ come back an’ kill that fuck’n kid.” The gun was one he’d bought earlier off the street in Oakland.
When he got to the car, he tried to get the keys out of his right side pants pocket, but the pain and blood made that usually trivial task impossible. He had a knife in a sheath on his ankle. He pulled it out and, despite the cuts, used his right hand to carefully slit open his right pants pocket. Once he got the keys, the tasks of opening the car door, getting into the car, and putting the key into the ignition, seemed almost impossible to Leo and thus took a long time. Long enough, he was still trying to start the car when the police cars arrived, followed by the ambulance and a fire engine. The street was blocked, and Leo knew that he was fucked.
Leo thought about what he could do next while waiting for the cops to walk up to his car. He’d tell them that Jeremy had attacked him without provocation. He knew that word; it had been used in charges when he’d been arrested several times for beating up guys that had given him trouble.
Jeremy’s fear was increasing. He was shaking and felt like he might faint. He recognized that he was about to collapse, so he crossed his arms on the dining room table and rested his head against his arms. At first, he wasn’t sure what else to do. He was still shaken by what happened and how he’d responded. He looked down and saw all the blood on his hands. He got up and washed them in the kitchen sink, then he wet the dishcloth and used it to wash his face and the back of his neck, which made him feel better. He returned to the dining room and sat down at the table, and picked up his cellphone. The little window for the 911 call he’d placed was still open. He clicked it.
“Uh … hi. This is Jeremy Sievers. Are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m the dispatcher you were talking to, Jeremy. My name is Karen. Are you okay? Did you get in touch with your boyfriend and his granddad?”
“I got a hold of Mike, he’s my boyfriend, and he was going to call his granddad and then tell his dad. He said he and his dad would be coming over. I said he shouldn’t come because Leo could be outside somewhere.”
“Well, the police have just arrived and found a man in a car near your address. He had injuries to his hands and his abdomen. The police should be at your house in a minute or so.”
“Okay,” Jeremy replied. About ten seconds later, someone banged at the front door, followed by a shout, “Walnut Creek Police! Open the door and step back!”
“Okay, they’re here, Karen. I’ll hang up now. Thanks for helping me.”
“Don’t hang up, Jeremy!” she shouted. “Put the phone on the table. When he comes in, tell the policeman that the police department dispatcher is on the line,” she said.
“Okay, I will. That’s a great idea. Thanks.” Jeremy put the phone on the dining room table. He got up and walked to the door, opened it, then stepped back about five feet with his hands up. “I’m Jeremy Sievers. I called 911.”
A young policeman stepped inside. He saw a large amount of blood on Jeremy’s clothes and the floor leading to a broken window. “You can put your hands down, Jeremy. I’m Officer Brian Silva. Are you alright? Are you by yourself? Are you injured?”
“Yes, I’m alright, I’m not injured, and I’m here by myself. Except for the dispatcher, Karen. She’s still on my cellphone, there on the dining room table.”
Because of the blood, Officer Silva left Jeremy’s cellphone on the table and spoke to the dispatcher for a few seconds.
“You can end the call, Jeremy,” he said.
“Did you get Leo?” Jeremy asked.
“Yes. He was in his car trying to get the key in the ignition. He claims you attacked him, stabbed him multiple times, that it was unprovoked, and that he escaped by jumping through your living room window.”
Jeremy shook his head. “He broke in through that window and got in the house that way. He threw a concrete block through it; it’s lying on the floor over there. You can see all the glass on the floor. He was drunk. He said he was going to force me to give him my mom’s checking account ID and password and her credit card. I was in the kitchen, on the other side of that counter. Leo reached in, grabbed the edge of the counter next to where I was standing, and grabbed my tee-shirt right here.” Jeremy pointed to his t-shirt at the neck where it had been torn. “He was trying to pull me across the counter. I grabbed a knife from the drawer, stabbed him in his left wrist, and cut him between his thumb and forefinger. He was screaming, so I ran around into the dining room. He yelled that he was going to kill me, so I aimed for his crotch, but he pulled back as I shoved the knife at him, and it went into his lower abdomen instead. Then he tried to grab the handle of the knife with his right hand, but I pulled it back, and he grabbed the blade instead of the handle, and it cut his right palm real bad. There was lots of blood. I shouted that if he didn’t get out, I’d cut off his dick and his balls. He jumped out the broken window and fell on the ground outside. You can see his blood on the ground.”
“Where’s the knife?”
“There, on the kitchen counter.”
“Whoa!” Officer Silva exclaimed. “That’s a professional boning knife like butchers use. Where’d you get that?”
“It’s my mom’s. She used it sometimes to bone chicken or meat for dinner. She always warned me that it was very sharp, and I shouldn’t ever touch it. Protecting myself from Leo was the first time I actually touched it. I think it saved my life.”
Another policeman came in. “Brian, we found a gun in the trunk of the perp’s car.”
“Was it loaded?”
“Yes. That guy asked me to give it to him, that it’s his gun.”
“He asked you to give it to him? He thought you’d do that?”
“He said he wanted it so he could ‘shoot that fucking kid.’ That guy is totally out of his mind.”
That made Jeremy shiver. “He actually said he wanted to shoot me?”
The second policeman turned to Jeremy. “Yes. Of course, he’s so drunk and so cut up I don’t think he could hold a gun. It’d slide right out of his hand from all the blood. By the way, I’m Lieutenant Kevin Barnett. I assume that you’re Jeremy Sievers.”
“Yes, sir. My mom’s been gone since September ninth. She and Leo went to Mexico. I know because they tried to get cash transferred from her account to a bank in Hermosillo, but her bank here wouldn’t do it. But I haven’t heard from her since they left. I’m really worried about her.”
Another policeman came in and consulted a notepad. “Lieutenant, there are three men and two teenagers out here. One says he’s Roger Butler and is Jeremy Sievers’ attorney. One of the teens says he’s Mike Butler and is Jeremy’s boyfriend, and one of the men says he’s Alex Butler and is Mike Butler’s father. The other teen says he’s Lyle Welter. He said he and his parents live down the street and that he’s a friend of Jeremy. His father says he’s Robert Welter. The attorney says he wants to be present as a responsible adult and as his attorney when Jeremy is questioned. I have everyone’s addresses and phone numbers.”
“They can’t come inside because this is a crime scene. Jeremy, we’ll contact you and ask that you come to the Walnut Creek Police Station so we can take an official statement and get your fingerprints. Your attorney can be with you then. Right now, Officer Ted Deering can take you outside where you can talk to your attorney and the others.” He turned to the third policeman. “Jeff, what is Leonard Rivers’ status?”
“He’s been taken to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek by ambulance, accompanied by an officer. The vehicle is being towed to the impound lot. We’ve contacted Donaldson Construction to come out here and board up that broken window. The crime scene people have just arrived. Jeremy, do you have a house key we can have? We want to lock the premises when we leave. We’ll return it to you after the CSI’s finish up.”
“Yeah, there’s an extra house key in the desk.” He opened the file drawer, and in the folder for the property tax, located the extra house key and handed it to Officer Silva.
“Here’s a property receipt for the key, Jeremy. Hang onto it; you might need it to get your key back.” Jeremy put the property receipt into the folder and closed the file drawer.
“I assume I can’t stay here tonight, so I’ll need some clothes and my books and backpack, my bike, cellphone, and keys. I can stay at Mike’s house. He lives about five minutes from here by car.”
“Okay, why don’t you get what you’ll need. I’d like Mike’s address and home phone number, please.”
Jeremy told him Mike’s information, then went to his room to pick up what he’d need for a few days.
When Jeremy returned, Officer Silva was speaking to a woman who had CSI printed on the back of her jacket. Jeremy went to the desk and took the checkbook and credit card. He felt it would be better to hang onto those to be safe. He wasn’t sure how secure the house would be while he wasn’t there.
“Officer Silva, when do you think I can move back home?”
“I’m not sure it will be when the CSI people are finished. Cindi, when do you think you’ll be finished here?”
She stopped and thought for a few seconds. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be finished by the end of the day tomorrow.”
“I usually get home around four o’clock. Can I get in then?”
“Sure. We might be checking around outside, but I’ll make sure we’ve finished in here by then. I’ll also return your house key at that time,” she said.
“What about all this blood and stuff on the floor and rug?”
“You can have it cleaned. Contact your homeowner’s insurance company. They’ll come out, take a look, and then they’ll call in a company that specializes in cleanup work. They’ll also arrange to have your window replaced.”
“Thanks. I’ll need to look up the name of the insurance company before I leave.” He went back to the desk and went through the file drawer. He found a folder for State Farm Insurance Company and, instead of going through it, he put it into his backpack.
“Will I get my mom’s boning knife back?” he asked.
“Yes,” Officer Silva said, “but don’t plan on boning any chickens for a while. We’ll need it until the court says it’s no longer needed as evidence. We’ll contact you and let you know that you can come to headquarters and pick it up. Cindi will give you receipts for it and everything else the CSI’s take away.”
“Are you going to take anything else from the house? Like cut up the carpet, or something?”
Cindi shook her head. “We’d only cut up your carpet if we needed it for blood evidence. That’s not an issue here. We’ve taken enough blood to test and confirm if it’s from the perpetrator or from you.” She pulled out a camera and started taking pictures of the broken window, the glass on the living room rug, the concrete block, the blood trail from the counter in the dining room to the broken window, and the bloody knife on the kitchen counter. She also took Jeremy’s picture, with some closeups of the blood on his clothes.
“Officer Silva, my neighbor across the street, Mrs. Markenie, called me when I was at Mike’s today after school. She told me that some guys were looking for Leonard Rivers; that’s Leo’s name. They told her they were from the Justice Department and the ATF. She said they wanted to talk to me or my mom about Leo. They left business cards with her. I was going to go across the street and get one of the cards from her but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.”
“Thanks for that information. We’ll contact your neighbor and ask her for one of the cards, and we’ll find out what they want with Leonard Rivers. Now that we have him in custody, the ATF will have to wait until our case is turned over to the D.A. You can ask your neighbor to give you one of the cards.”
“Is there anything else you need me for?” Jeremy asked.
“Nope. You can go now. Can I assume the phone number I have for you is your cellphone?”
“A word of advice. Clean the blood off your phone now while it’s still wet. Once it dries you probably won’t be able to clean it. And don’t use alcohol or bleach to clean it.”
“Okay, thanks. Say, when is this window going to be boarded up?”
“We have a contractor who takes care of things like that. They’ll board up the window and make sure the house is secured. They’re on their way, and Cindi will be here until they’ve finished. Cindi, here’s the house key.” He handed it to her. She put it on a tag with the house address.
“Okay. Thanks, Brian. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon, Jeremy. What time will you get home?”
“Between three-thirty and four o’clock.”
She waved, and Jeremy grabbed his backpack and gym bag and walked out the front door.
Mike ran to him and hugged him. “Are you okay? Did Leo hurt you?”
“Yes to the okay part, no to the Leo part, although I still feel shaky,” Jeremy replied.
Mike’s dad came over and hugged Jeremy, then so did his granddad. Then Lyle and his dad did the same.
“This guy was your mom’s boyfriend?” Lyle asked.
“Yeah. Now you know why I don’t like him.”
“We’re so glad you weren’t hurt,” Mike’s granddad said. Mike and Lyle repeated the same thing.
“Yeah, me too!” Jeremy said. “I’m just glad Leo was drunk. If he’d been sober, it would have been a different story.” That made him shiver, just thinking about what might have happened.
Mike let out a little gasp. “Do you think he’ll try again?”
“He can’t if he ends up in prison,” Jeremy said. “What’s the chance of that, Mr. Butler?” he asked Mike’s granddad.
“I’d say it’s very probable that Leo will be sentenced to prison. In the meantime, what I’m going to do is meet with the district attorney and make sure that bail is not granted. We don’t want him wandering around on the loose.”
“What are the chances that he will get out on bail?” Jeremy asked.
“I’d think that would depend on the district attorney and the judge. What he has against getting bail is that he asked for his gun so he could shoot you,” Lyle’s dad said.
“So you heard about that, too,” Jeremy said.
“We were walking by when the policeman found that guy… Leo?” Jeremy nodded. “Then he found Leo’s gun in the trunk of the car. We heard the officer ask him if it was his gun. Leo said yes, and he wanted the officer to give it to him. The officer seemed amused by that request, so he asked Leo why he wanted it. Leo said he wanted it so he could shoot Jeremy.”
“Dad,” Lyle said, “he didn’t say that. He said he wanted the gun so he could ‘shoot that fucking kid.’ Quote-unquote.”
“According to one of the officers — his name was Kevin something — what Lyle just said is what the officer told me,” Jeremy said. “Mr. Butler, shouldn’t that mean a lot when Leo is asking to get out on bail?”
“That’s going to be part of my argument when I meet with the district attorney,” Mike’s granddad said. “But it’ll still be up to the judge. I’m sure Leo’s attorney will ask for bail.”
“What about my mom? I haven’t heard from her. The last thing I know is that they were in Hermosillo, Mexico. Is there a way to have the district attorney or the police find out where she is?”
“I’ll talk to the district attorney assigned to Leo’s case and see if there’s anything he can do. He may want to talk to you, too. I’ll be there when you’re interviewed. From now on, you’re not to talk to anyone unless I’m with you.”
“Thanks, Mr. Butler,” Jeremy responded. “You know, they did ask me questions when they got here, and I answered them. Was that okay?”
“Yes, that was fine. That wouldn’t have been a formal interview that would be recorded. As your attorney, I need to be present in the future.”
“Jeremy, I see you’re carrying your backpack and your duffel bag,” Mike’s dad said. “I assume that means you can’t stay in your house tonight.”
“That’s right. Is it okay if I stay over with Mike?”
“Of course. You’re always welcome in our home, at any time.”
“Hey, don’t I have any say about this?” Mike asked, acting affronted.
Mike’s dad and granddad both said, “No!” simultaneously. That made Mike and Lyle laugh, and Jeremy smiled. It felt good for him to be able to smile about something.
“I’ll need to bring my bike to get to school tomorrow.”
“Are you sure you want to go to school tomorrow?” Mike’s dad asked. “Maybe you should stay at home with us and get over what happened for a day or two, then go back.”
“I have two important exams tomorrow that I’ve studied for and want to take. If I’m at school, I’ll be focused on what we’re doing in each of my classes. I think that’s better than sitting around at your house with nothing to do but think about Leo trying to attack me and threatening to kill me.”
“Jeremy, I’ll drive you to school and pick you up after school,” Mike’s granddad said. “Just leave your bike here.”
“Thanks, Mr. Butler.”
“You seem rather calm about what happened tonight, Jeremy. Are you really okay?” Mike’s granddad asked.
“I freaked out a couple of times right after it happened. I might freak out again. I don’t know. I’m just glad that I was able to prepare when I saw Leo at the living room window.”
“What do you mean you were able to prepare?”
“I was in the kitchen at the counter that faces the dining room. I saw Leo throw a concrete block through the window, so I opened the drawer with the cooking knives and grabbed Mom’s super sharp boning knife. Picking it was just luck. Then Leo got in….” Jeremy continued, telling them the details about what had happened.
“Damn!” Mike and Lyle said simultaneously, then looked at Jeremy like they were in shock. “Note to self,” Mike said, “never get Jeremy mad at me.”
Jeremy grabbed Mike in a hug. “I’ll never be mad at you, Mike, or you, Lyle.” Then he started to cry. “Shit!”
Mike’s dad put his arm around Jeremy’s shoulders. “Let it out, Jeremy.”
They stood in front of Jeremy’s house until he finally stopped crying. “I feel so stupid, standing in the middle of the street in front of everybody, crying.”
“It’s not stupid at all,” Mike’s dad said. “You’ve been through a dangerous situation with a lot of stress. Crying is a good way to relieve stress and recover. Come on, let’s go home. You need to get in bed and go to sleep.” What he didn’t say was that he planned to contact a counselor for Jeremy to work through what had to have been a horrible and traumatic situation that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to encounter.
“Jeremy, what are you going to do about that broken window?” Lyle’s dad asked.
“The police called someone to come over tonight and board it up. The crime scene woman said she’ll be here until they finish. You don’t have to stick around.”
“I think it’s a good idea if I talk to the police and stick around to make sure it’s done and done in a way that someone can’t easily break into your house.”
“The house has an alarm. If you can set it when you leave, that’d be great.”
“Okay, I can do that. Is there any reason the police will want to get back in tomorrow?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe.”
“I’ll find out. What are the codes for turning the alarm on and off, and where’s the alarm box?”
“The box is on the wall on your right after you come in the front door. The code to set it is star-star-five. You have like ninety seconds to leave once you set it. Here, I’ll write down the code to unset the alarm if the police need to get back in.” Jeremy pulled out a notepad from his backpack, wrote the arm code and the disarm code, and handed it to Lyle’s dad.
“Thanks a lot, Mr. Welter.”
“I’ll see you at school tomorrow, Jeremy,” Lyle said. “If you decide not to go, I’ll meet with each of your teachers and find out what you need to do about tests and homework.”
“Thanks. I’m almost positive that I’ll be at school. But that sounds like a good backup plan.”
Mike had his own backup plan. They’d go to bed and lie together and hold each other. He’d show Jeremy how much he was loved. Then they’d go to sleep. They’d repeat this each night until Jeremy was able to finally let go of the memories of Leo and what happened.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing One Adversary
If you enjoyed this story,
you can read the other stories in the series on Codey’s World:
|One Warm Coat|
|One Best Friend|
|One Perfect Boyfriend|
|One Complicated New Year|
|One Sexy New Neighbor|
|One Cute New Neighbor|
|One Questionable Outcome|
|One Satisfactory Outcome|
|One Confusing Phone Call|
|One Acceptable Outcome|
|One Life Changed|
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