Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake by Colin Kelly

Curt's life takes a turn that he never expected, and he realizes that it's because he forgot something that didn't seem important at the time. He also discovers that others have forgotten things that are important and that turns out to both help him and hurt him.

Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with abuse.

Chapter 10 — Kyle Campbell

The guy who had been sitting with Beth Wolman started packing up the papers spread on their table as the two of them talked quietly. I guessed they were trying to plan their next move.

“Mr. Williams, can we talk with Ms. Wolman and find out what’s next?”

“Yes, Curt. Let’s wait for her to leave and I’ll ask when we can meet with her.”

I saw Mom stand up. She was looking around the court. She seemed to be confused. She saw me and Mr. Williams and walked over to our row.

“Hello, Curt.”

“Hi, Mom.”

Mr. Williams greeted her. “Good morning , Virginia.”

“Good morning, Michael.”

She looked at me. “Is everything alright? Do you have everything you need?”

“Yes, for now.”

She looked at Mr. Williams. “Michael, what do you think is going to happen now?”

“Honestly, Virginia, I don’t know. I was surprised when I saw that Henry Davidson was Don’s attorney. He has… let’s just say, something of a reputation. Do you know why Don chose him?”

“He was recommended by one of Don’s friends at work. I tried to have him call Legal Referral Services, but he said he’d rather use someone who was recommended by a friend who’d used that attorney. I guess it didn’t work out very well.”

“Virginia, I strongly recommend that you see your own attorney as soon as possible and relate what happened here. He will be able to give you advice on this matter.”

“Do you think I will be able to see Don?”

“Yes. Contact the County Jail and ask about visiting hours.”

“How can Don pick a new attorney when he’s locked up in jail?”

Mr. Williams shook his head. “Don will have many prospective attorneys calling on him. Attorneys have special visiting privileges when someone who’s incarcerated is looking for an attorney to represent them. He can also contact Legal Referral Services, he can ask the District Attorney’s office to assign him an attorney, and you can ask your attorney for a referral.”

“Can you give me a referral?”

“Because I’m Curt’s attorney it would be a breach of professional ethics for me to provide a referral for Don.”

“I understand.”

Mom looked at me. For a minute I thought she’d try to ask me to come home, but she didn’t.

“You’re looking a little better, Curt.”

“Yeah. It’s amazing how time can erase bruises.”

“How’s your arm?”

“It still hurts. I can’t rotate my hand. I go back to the doctor in three weeks and get another x-ray. I guess he’ll change my cast, too.”

Mom let out a big sigh.

“I’d better get going. So long, Michael. Bye, Curt. I love you.”

“Thanks. I know you do.”

She looked sad when I didn’t tell her that I love her, but at the moment I didn’t, and I’d already told her that. When she finally admits that Don is the one who caused all of my injuries then I’ll reconsider.

We watched Mom walk out of the courtroom.

“Uh, hi…”

It was the kid who’d been sitting in the second row.

I smiled. “Hi. I recognize you, but I don’t know your name. Don has a picture of you on the mantle in my mom’s living room. Don never talked about you, and the one time I asked about it he told me it was private.”

“I’m Kyle Campbell. Don is my father, but my mom decided to change our names back to her maiden name. Oh, this is my aunt, my mom’s sister, Lauren Campbell. She lives in Pleasanton.”

Mr. Williamd and I shook hands with Ms. Campbell and with Kyle.

“I’m Curt Fischer. The woman you saw talking to us is my mother, Virginia Clarey. She’s Don’s current wife. Don is my stepfather,” and I spit out those words, “and he’s not my father. This is Michael Williams, my attorney and the father of my best friend.”

“Let’s go to lunch, my treat. That way we can all get better acquainted.”

Just then Beth Wolman joined us.

“I see you’ve met. Good. I’m very tied up until late this afternoon. Can all of you meet with me at four today? You need a briefing on what the next moves are going to be, and you need to get to know each other.”

“We were just talking about going out for lunch, Beth. It’s my treat, and I’d like you to join us if you have time.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t have time. I have to wait around here and meet with Judge Effingham as soon as he’s finished with Henry Davidson.”

“Was he Don’s attorney?” Ms. Campbell asked.

“Yes. And after today’s performance I’d guess that he’s not going to be anyone else’s attorney for the foreseeable future. At least my office is going to support that resolution.”

“Ms. Wolman, I’m glad we’re going to be able to meet with you this afternoon. Where’s your office?”

“Why don’t you come with us, Ms. Campbell?” Mr. Williams said. “ Since Curt and I are meeting with her as well, we can go to lunch, then we can wait at my home until time to meet Ms. Wolman.”

“Alright, if you’re sure it’s no trouble, Mr. Williams. That would be very convenient. May I call you Michael? And please, call me Lauren.”

“No trouble at all, Lauren. Beth, we’ll see you later.”

The Bailiff walked up to us. “Ms. Wolman, Judge Effingham would like to meet with you in his chambers as soon as it’s convenient.”

“I’ll see all of you later.” With that Beth Wolman left with the Bailiff.

Mr. Williams asked, “Are we ready to leave?” and we started waking to the courtroom door.

“Excuse me, may I speak with Curtis for a moment?” It was a woman’s voice.

We turned and I recognized the older woman and the boy as the one’s I’d seen when they’d walked into the courtroom.


“I’m Andrea Hutchins, and this is my grandson Mark. He lives with me, and last Thursday we moved in next door to your house, Curtis.”

“Nice to meet you. I hadn’t seen you until today. I guess I missed seeing you when you were moving in. This is my attorney, Michael Williams.”

Mr. Williams and Mrs. Hutchins shook hands. Mark grinned and bit his bottom lip.

“What did you want to talk to Curt about, Mrs. Hutchins? Does it have something to do with this case?”

“Yes, it does. Mark and I were called as witnesses because we heard shouts from your house on the day Curtis was being assaulted by Mr. Clarey. Mark insisted that I should call 9-1-1 and I did and I asked them to send the police.”

“I’m so glad to meet you! I think you two saved my life. The policeman told me someone had called and I asked who it was, but he said he couldn’t tell me.”

I shook hands with Mrs. Hutchins and then with Mark.

“God, how can I ever thank you enough!” I said.

“I’m glad I talked grandma into calling. I know what it‘s like, what you were going through. It happened to me.”

“Really? Oh, sorry, you don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to, Mark.”

“No, it’s okay. Maybe I can tell you when uh… there aren’t so many people around?”

“Sure, that’s fine. I’ll give you my cell number and email address. I’m not living with my Mom now…” Mark nodded like he already knew that, “I’m staying at Mr. Williams’ house. There’s a problem with my Mom, so I’d rather not come to see you where you’re living now.”

“That’s okay. Um… I heard you on Saturday yelling at your mom, so when I didn’t see you around I figured you’d gone to stay somewhere else.”

“Could you and your grandmother can come to lunch with us?”

“No, I have to get back to school. I took off this morning to be a witness for the bail hearing. I’ll have to come back when it’s rescheduled.”

“Where do you go to school?”

“Los Arcos High. I’m a sophomore.”

“That’s where I go too. But it’s summer. Why are you going to school now?”

“I have some classes to make up. I got behind. I’ll tell you about it when we get together. I can do it any afternoon after about two-thirty, or any evening. Let’s exchange cell and email info.”

I asked Mr. Williams for some paper and tore it in half. He also handed me a pen and, with some difficulty, I wrote my name, cell number, and email address and gave it and the pen to Mark. He wrote his info on the other piece of paper which he handed to me, then he returned the pen to Mr. Williams. I liked the way he seemed very observant.

I smiled. “Okay, Mark, I’ll phone you this evening. Okay?”

“Yeah. I don’t know many kids because I just moved here, so it’s real nice meeting you guys.”

Mark and his grandmother left and we waved goodbye.

Kyle had been standing next to me. “I couldn’t help but listen to what you and Mark were talking about. Sounds like you’re in good shape for witnesses at the trial when it comes up. You have Mark and you have me.”

“That’s cool. You and I have a lot in common, I think.”

“Yeah, we do.”

Mr. Williams told us it was time to go to the restaurant. “Does everyone like fish and chips?” We all said yes. “Okay, we’ll go to Sailor Jake’s. They have outstanding fish and chips.”

Mr. Williams drove. It was a ten minute drive to the marina where Sailor Jake’s was located. I’d heard of it, but never had eaten there. Mom didn’t like fish, so that eliminated Sailor Jake’s. The only time I ever got fish and chips is when we went to a restaurant that had them along with other things like steaks.

We got a table, and Mr. Williams and I sat on one side and Ms. Campbell and Kyle sat across from us.

After ordering I started the conversation. “You both know who I am, I assume.”

 “Yes. You’re Curtis Fischer,” Mrs. Campbell said.

Kyle added, “Don Clarey busted you up pretty good from the look of it.”

“That’s the truth. How about you? How come you’re here?”

“I’m going to testify against Don Clarey. I’m staying with my Aunt Lauren in Pleasanton while I’m here.”

“Don’s my stepfather. What’s he to you?”

“I was adopted by my mom and Don Clarey when I was a baby.”

“You can see what he did to me. What did he do to you, Kyle?”

“Nothing like what he did to you, but it’s a long story.

“I told Mom that I was gay when I was twelve. She was okay with it, and so was my sister Melissa. Mom said I should tell Don, that she was certain that he’d be okay with it too. He’d always been an okay father to me, so I assumed Mom was right.

“We couldn’t have been more wrong. Don completely changed. He wasn’t nice to me anymore. He said being gay was a choice and one that he didn’t agree with, that I was too young to choose the gay lifestyle, that it was a phase, and so on. It was all the things you hear from anti-gay preachers. He said he was going to make sure that I wasn’t going to be gay. From then on I was on his shit list. If I didn’t do something exactly the way he wanted it done he’d yell at me. If I said almost anything to him he’d say I was sassing him and slap my face. Mom kept telling him to stop, but he wouldn’t. It finally got so bad that Mom told him if she saw him hit or slap me once more she’d take me and leave him and get a divorce.

“Don told Mom that what he wanted was for me to go to a conversion therapy center where they’d teach me to not be gay, make me understand that being gay was a choice, and to be straight the way God made me. Mom said that she’d read about these places and they were indoctrination camps that brainwashed kids, and there was no way that she’d agree to send me to one of them.

“One day about a week later I came home from school and Don grabbed me and gagged and tied me up. He took me to the First Brethren Journey Camp in Wisconsin. I was turned over to a ‘guide’ who gave me an injection of something that made me woozy so I couldn’t fight him. He carried me into a small room with a cot and nothing else and left me, still gagged and tied up. It was like a prison cell.

“I don’t know how long I was there. I guess they were watching me because I started to throw up, and because I was gagged I started to choke on my vomit. Two guys rushed in and removed my gag. They pounded on my back until I was able to breathe, and I threw up all over them.” Kyle laughed. “That was the only good thing that happened at that camp.

“They started praying over me, saying I was filled with the devil and now it was coming out, or some shit like that. Then they left and I was still tied up and lying in my own vomit. I peed and crapped in my pants and no one came in. I didn’t get anything to eat or drink. I think they were trying to brainwash me, to make it so horrible that I’d be forced to ask them for help. No way was I going to do that.

“I meditated to make myself seem to be unconscious. Two guys came in and tried to wake me up. I just stayed limp and never opened my eyes. They shook me, yelled at me, poured hot and cold water on me, pulled off all my clothes and made me lie on the cold concrete floor. I was aware of everything that was going on, but I still pretended to be unconscious.

”Another man came in and told them to take me to the hospital. He said they had gone too far with me. They carried me into the showers and washed and dried me. They put clean clothes on me. They strapped me in the back seat of an SUV and we drove for a while. When we stopped they got a wheelchair and brought me into a hospital emergency room. I opened my eyes and saw a cop there and I yelled that I’d been kidnapped. The two guys tried to wheel me back outside and the cop grabbed them and ended up handcuffing both of them. I gave the cop mom’s cellphone number and he called her.

“It ended up with Mom divorcing Don. He didn’t even contest it. She got everything, including the house. She got him taken off my birth certificate and we changed our last name back to Mom’s maiden name, Campbell. After what Don did to me, he’s nothing to me.”

“My god! And I thought he hurt me!”

“At least I was never physically attacked by him.”

“That’s true, but I don’t think I could have pretended to be unconscious like you did. What you went through is frightening. You’re lucky that you were able to escape.”

“Thinking back on it, it’s hard to believe that I did escape. But it’s amazing what you can do when you’re trying to get out of something awful.”

Mr. Williams asked, “Did Don go to jail for what he did?”

“No, Mom went to the cops but they said that Don didn’t do anything illegal since he’s my father. Mom went to court and got a restraining order against him, packed up all of his stuff, and had my uncle deliver the boxes to the company where Don worked.

“We heard that Don quit his job, and we didn’t know where he went after the divorce. One day Mom got a call from a mortgage company asking for information about Don. He was trying to take out a loan on your house, Curt. Then we started searching the newspaper websites here, the Chronicle and the Times. I filtered our search by Clarey, Don’s last name. I got a hit on a story that said he’d been arrested for battery on a minor, and that was you, Curt. Mom called the police here and talked to the officer assigned to the case. He referred her to Ms. Wolman, and she and Mom talked about the case and what we could do to help. Ms. Wolman wanted me to come here and testify against Don, and I convinced Mom that I should testify against that bastard. I got here this weekend, and while I’m here I’m staying with Aunt Lauren.”

Our lunch arrived. Because Mr. Williams said the fish and chips at Sailor Jack’s was the best he’d ever had, everybody had ordered it. The fish and chips was made with cod and was delicious and the batter was light and crunchy. The fries were extra crisp, just the way I like them. Even the coleslaw was good, and it’s not on my list of favorite foods.

While we ate Mr. Williams talked with Kyle’s aunt, and Kyle and I chatted about his school and what he was doing while he was here.

“I go to Niles West High School. It’s a good school, about 3,000 students total. It has both high school and junior high school in one big building, grades seven through twelve. There’s a GSA club, but there’s a lot of homophobes so being out can be tough. It’s not that you’d get punched or beat up, but there are a lot of nasty comments and you can be shunned by some kids. I’m not out at school.”

“Your high school is huge, lots bigger than Los Arcos. How do you get to your classes with all those people in the halls?”

“The halls are probably wider than at your high school.” He grinned. “It’s actually not a problem.”

“What about lunch time, isn’t the cafeteria crowded then?”

“We have three lunch periods, so the lunch room and the lines don’t get too crowded.”

“So what are you going to do for fun while you’re here?”

“Aunt Lauren has a pool and the weather here is great. I went swimming yesterday and it was excellent. I want to go to San Fran and take a city tour, and see the Castro district and what it’s like to be in the gay capital of the U.S.A. with gay guys walking around holding hands. What I need is someone to be my guide. Aunt Lauren works so she can’t take me during the week,” he looked at his aunt, “and she told me that she doesn’t much want to go to the Castro.”

 “Two things, Kyle. First, never call San Francisco ‘San Fran’ or ‘Frisco’. For whatever reasons, people who live here absolutely hate those nicknames. Second, I can be your guide to San Francisco. I’m taking Algebra 2 so we could go this weekend. My friend Tom will probably want to go with us.”

“You got a deal.” We exchanged cell numbers and email addresses.

Kyle and I were still hungry, so we had the Key Lime pie and it was great.

“Now that we’re finished, I suggest that we go to my house,” Mr. Williams said. “We can talk while we wait for our appointment with Beth Wolman.”

I looked at my watch. Since we ate lunch early, it was only twelve-thirty now. Lots of time to talk about the bail hearing and the trial.

When we got back to Mr. Williams’ house Tom came running down the stairs and stopped short when he saw Ms. Campbell and Kyle. I guess because he didn’t know who they were, and maybe they were there for some sort of legal meeting. He was right, but I took advantage of him being there.

“Hey, Tom! Come meet Kyle Campbell. Kyle, this is Tom Williams, my best friend.”

They said ‘hi’ to each other, and I could tell that Tom was a little unsure about who Kyle might be.

“Kyle is going to testify at Don’s bail hearing.” I left out the part about Kyle being Don’s adopted son, figuring it was Kyle’s decision whether to tell Tom or not.”

“Wait! What was that you said about the bail hearing? I thought it was supposed to be over today.”

“Yeah, but Don needs a new lawyer so it’s been held over until Thursday. We both have a meeting with Beth Wolman at four and we’re waiting here until it’s time to leave. I’ll tell you all about it when we get back.”

Tom looked very curious, but he agreed. “Okay, tell me about it later.”

“Tom, Kyle just arrived here Saturday and is staying with his aunt in Pleasanton. I volunteered to take him to San Francisco to see the sights. Do you want to come along?”

Tom grinned. “Sure! When do you want to go?”

“Well, I'd been thinking maybe this weekend, but since I don’t have anything to do until the bail hearing Thursday, how about tomorrow?”

“What about your Algebra 2 class, Curt?”

“No class tomorrow. It’s on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have off.”

“Cool. You want to come up and chill, or play a video game, or… whatever?”

“No. We need to get together with your dad and Kyle’s aunt about the bail hearing. Then we’re leaving at about quarter to four for the meeting with Beth Wolman.”

Tom got one of those ‘I just figured out what’s going on’ expressions.

“Okay, maybe later?”


I stood up, and so did Kyle. “Nice to meet you, Tom,” he said.

“Ditto, Kyle. See you tomorrow.”

I led Kyle into Mr. Williams’ office and closed the door. We sat down.

Mr. Williams spoke first. “Kyle, I found what you told us to be very disturbing. It confirms my objective to prevent him from receiving bail until his trial starts.”

“That’s what my mom and I want too. Plus him getting a jail sentence for attacking Curt.”

“When do you have to be back to school?”

“Classes start on August 23rd. I really need to be back by the fourteenth so I can pick up my textbooks on the fifteenth. Mom could pick them up for me if I have to be here past the fifteenth. But I really have to be back for the first day of classes on August 23rd.”

“We’ll speak with Beth Wolman about the schedule for Don’s trial. That can be complicated by his new attorney.”

“That’s something I’d like to find out about,” Ms. Campbell asked. “How long does he have to get a new attorney for his bail hearing?”

“Three days,” Mr. Williams replied. “If he doesn’t have an attorney by then, then he will be assigned an attorney from the pool. That’s this Friday. If he’s assigned an attorney, he can plead that he can’t afford the attorney fees and it will be paid by the county. Otherwise he has to pay what’s referred to as the ‘standard billing rate’ of $100.00 per hour. My impression is that Don has enough money to pay for his attorney. He might wait for an assigned attorney because it will cost him less.”

“Might he wait because he wants to complicate Kyle’s schedule?”

“I saw that you two sat behind Don. Did he see the two of you?”

“No. I don’t think he knows we were there. But wouldn’t Kyle be on the list of witnesses that the prosecution is going to call?”

“No. This is a bail hearing, and normally witnesses aren’t called so there’s no list. The prosecution and the defense can make a request to the judge that they have a witness who has important information about the defendant getting bail. It’s up to the judge to grant the request or not, like he did with Mr. Vanvelick. I don’t know that Don is smart enough, but a delay can cause a different judge to preside over the bail hearing. Judge Roy Everingham is known to be tough on people who abuse their children. I hope he presides over the next bail hearing.”

“That’s interesting, Michael. Might Beth Wolman know anything about this?”

“We’ll find out at four this afternoon.”

“I find it strange that he would want to remain in jail until a new bail hearing. If he’d kept his current attorney wouldn’t the hearing have been continued tomorrow?”

“He can also request that an attorney be assigned from the pool. He might do that to have his new bail hearing assigned sooner and thus shorten the amount of time he will be in County Jail. Of course, that’s assuming his bail would be granted. If it isn’t, this is all moot and he would remain in jail until his trial.”

There was a knock at the Mr. Williams’ office door, and he called out, “Come in.” It was Mrs. Williams. She stepped into the office and he introduced her.

“This is my wife, Barbara. Barbara, this is Lauren Campbell and her nephew Kyle Campbell.”

“Nice to meet you. Would anyone like something to drink? We have sodas and coffee.”

Ms. Campbell asked, “If it’s no trouble, may I have coffee, black, please?”

“Certainly. You boys want something to drink?”

I asked for a root beer and Kyle asked for a Coke, and we got them for both of us. When we all had our drinks Mrs. Williams left and Ms. Campbell turned to me.

“Curt, I’ve heard that Don attacked you, but I haven’t heard all of the details. Do you mind telling us what happened?

So, for about the fifth or sixth time, I told the long story with all of its details. When I finished Ms. Campbell looked very pissed off.

“That bastard! Excuse my language, but that’s what he is. I certainly hope he gets what’s coming to him when this goes to trial.”

“I agree, Aunt Lauren. Curt, I really like the way you said a couple of things. One is how Don is huge, and the other is that he tried to break you like a twig and he did. When I told him I was gay and saw his expression, I thought he might do the same to me.”

“You know, both of those are things I said to my mother trying to convince her that Don injured me the way he did. She still doesn’t believe me.”

Mr. Williams looked at the clock on his desk.

“It’s time for us to leave.”

We arrived about five minutes ahead of time, and met Mark and Mrs. Hutchins in the lobby.

“Hi, Mark. How was school?”

“Okay. I wish I didn’t have to go during summer session, but I need to catch up with where I should be for fall semester.”

Mr. Williams held the elevator door open. “Okay, guys. Time to take the elevator and go on up. She’s waiting for us.”

I hadn’t been to Beth Wolman’s office before. It was in the District Attorney’s offices on the sixth floor of a County office building, and had a window that looked north so we could see the river. She led us to a conference room that had the same view, and I sat looing across the table and through the window. I was going to have a tough time paying attention with that view in the background!

Beth started the meeting.

“I have some news. Donovan Clarey has requested that we assign an attorney to his case. That was done today, and an attorney is meeting with him. If they agree to be client and attorney, which I expect to happen, that attorney will file for a new bail hearing tomorrow. As a result, the bail hearing would be held on Wednesday.”

“Who do you think will be the presiding judge?”

“Judge Everingham is scheduled to handle bail hearings through Thursday. The courts will be closed on Friday. It’s a furlough day, caused by the state’s budget deficit. I’ll also be off on furlough as will entire district attorney’s office.”

“Will I or Kyle or Mark be called to testify?” I asked.

“I’m preparing a notice to call you, Curtis, and the same for Mark and for Kyle.”

Mr. Williams grinned. “Do you think Don’s new attorney will call Mr. Vanvelick?”

Beth returned his grin. “I doubt it, Michael. Mr. Vanvelick has been released on bail and is to appear in court next week on perjury charges. Those are very serious charges. But he and his attorney are considering a plea bargain. If he testifies against Mr. Davidson he will receive a reduced sentence of a fine, community service, and probation. In that case Mr. Davidson is left holding the bag. And that bag is not filled with candy.”

“When will we know the date and time of the bail hearing?”

“I hope that will be tomorrow morning. Michael, I can’t give you a more precise answer at this time. If each of you receives notification of a Wednesday bail hearing tomorrow, is that going to give all of you enough time?”

Mrs. Hutchins answered first. “That will be fine. Do you agree, Mark?”

“Yeah, that‘s fine. I’ve already told my teachers that I might be called to court at any time, and they have no problem working with me.”

“Ms. Campbell and Kyle?”

“I can get off work if I can give notice the day before, so I’ll tell my boss tomorrow morning. Kyle should be fine any time, right Kyle?”

“Sure. That’s what I’m here for. That and your pool, Aunt Lauren.” He looked at his aunt and grinned.

“Mr. Williams and Curt?”

“None of my other clients have court appearances until next month. So I’m available. Curt, you go to school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Will your teachers be flexible?”

“Yes, I only have one class and I’ve talked to my teacher. She’s fine with whatever I want to do. I’m pulling an A in Algebra 2 even though I had to take time off being in the hospital.”

“Well, here’s what I suggest. Everyone allow for a bail hearing for Donovan Clarey on Wednesday. Like the last bail hearing, this will have its own session in the court schedule. Any questions?”

No one had any questions. I pulled out my smartphone and added the bail hearing to my schedule for all day Wednesday. Then I added San Francisco with Kyle and Tom for all day Tuesday.

Fun on Tuesday. Retribution on Wednesday. As far as I’m concerned, that’s an absolutely perfect agenda.


Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Forgetting Can Be a Big Mistake

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