Children of Starlight, part 3 episode 20 of “The Starlight Trilogy” by Thea Washington
The character “the Rock Star” is based on Adam Lambert.
The videos in Part 3 feature Adam Lambert, Queen, Depeche Mode and Savage Garden.
Chapter 39 – FAR APART
Lover was allowed to go home after posting a $5 million bond and surrendering his passport. Their attorney had been prepared for both.
“It is so good to be home.”
Lover and Angel were in bed late that night, comforting each other and thinking about what would come next. The arraignment, motion hearing, continuances, more hearings–there was no way to tell how long the whole thing would take. It could be months, it could be years.
They’d decided that Lover’s plea would depend upon what he was charged with. He’d been interviewed on video by the detectives and had told them the whole story of what had happened with Snake. They told him they would take the information to the District Attorney, who would decide what charges to bring against him. There would probably be some psychological testing, too, about the effect of the trauma on his memory.
It was to his advantage that he’d confessed to the crime soon after the memory surfaced. When being interviewed he had been completely honest about working for Pimp Dealer from the age of 8, through the molestations and that day on the roof with Snake. He talked about how his life changed after that, Twin and his birth family, his academic and professional achievements, his contributions to and volunteering with social-welfare organizations, his relationship with Angel, the children, how they’d gotten Twin and Niecy settled into their own apartment not too far away.
It didn’t matter what they asked, he answered honestly and with integrity. He let them know that he wasn’t perfect but that he tried to live a good life that was about more than money. And, in this case, the money itself was an unintended part of the problem.
What worried him was that the Detectives seemed interested only in Snake’s death and the chair incident with Angel. They weren’t that interested in anything else. Neither were the tabloids. They literally smelled blood in the water and told each other this was too good to be true. Stories about “The Billionaire Murderer,” Twin, and that night that Angel threw the chair were everywhere, just like the Reporter had predicted.
The only difference? He wasn’t getting a penny for it. And, rumor had it, he was very popular in jail.
Every effort was being made to protect Son and Daughter, and this time Niecy, too. When things got really bad at school for the siblings and their new cousin, home schooling began. The kids missed their classmates but not the ugliness. Those parents who really knew the family still let their children come over to visit but a lot of families stayed away.
Niecy had never been to school and didn’t know how to read or do fundamental arithmetic. Even the new wardrobe didn’t help; she also didn’t know how to deal with the (privileged) students around her. She got it the worst until she cussed out a classmate. Although she couldn’t tell her, secretly Twin admired her guts. The Principal and the student’s family, however, didn’t.
Lover and Angel’s hearts broke for the little girl, for all the children. Even the Guitarist’s kids were targets because they were friends of Son and Daughter, but they were older and had better coping skills. Watching Niecy in action made them think about it, though.
One morning, after another semi-sleepless night, Angel and Lover again asked the Guitarist if the kids could come for a sleepover. It had been about a month since all the children had really had a chance to play together, so the kids in both homes were more than happy with the suggestion and the answer. Since the Guitarist was an old friend of Angel and Lover, he’d been kept informed of everything as it happened. He’d proven his allegiance to their love and their family more than once.
His kids were like older sisters and brother to Son, Daughter and Niecy. Their ages were close enough that they didn’t mind. Plus Son and Daughter were so smart, funny and imaginative like their fathers that life was just more fun and interesting having them around. The Guitarist’s older boy seemed especially fascinated with Niecy until … well, Niecy (bless her heart) had a lot to learn about a normal life.
The kids were packing for the sleepover when the doorbell rang. Angel answered it, afraid there would be a pack of camera-toting paparazzi at the gate, maybe even some on the doorstep. Lover didn’t need that.
He was wrong about the paparazzi. There on the doorstep stood the two detectives they’d met the day before and two women, both clothed in jackets and slacks and ID lavaliers. Immediately Angel’s heart dropped.
“Good morning, sir,” said Detective #1. “Is Mr. Lover here? We need to speak with both of you.”
The Rock Star showed them into his office and went to get Lover. When he told him who was waiting for them, Lover’s eyes widened in alarm. He’d had enough contact with Social Services as a child that he knew who they were without setting eyes on them.
“What do they want, Angel? Why are they here?”
Angel couldn’t answer Lover’s questions. He was just as nervous as Lover but he had to be strong for him and their family.
The four visitors stood and introduced themselves, showing their identification as the two men walked into the room. The Rock Star called some people he knew at Police Headquarters and Child Protection Services to verify their visitors anyway. As usual through all this, he was being objective and thorough. He wasn’t taking any chances.
“Sirs, we are here to remove the children from this residence until it can be decided if this home is suitable for them.”
Lover blinked his eyes, his body shaking, his mouth dropping open.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “Our children are healthy and happy. Why wouldn’t their home be suitable for them?”
“Sir, the District Attorney is reviewing both your cases. The recent disclosures of a domestic-violence incident between you and your husband, combined with the determination of the charges which may be brought against you in the death of Mr. Snake and your twin’s history require the State of California to remove your children from this residence until these matters can be settled.”
The Rock Star was getting angrier and angrier by the minute. He knew he couldn’t show any of it to these people, though. He was thinking about the Reporter and what he’d said about tearing their family apart. He wanted to tear him apart.
“That ‘domestic-violence incident’ was settled right after it appeared in the tabloids. What could it possibly have to do with the State of California taking our children away from us?”
Lover chimed in. “Yes, I mean, no charges were ever filed. I have no intention of bringing charges now. All that is ancient history. And my sister and her daughter,” he added, “have a place of their own.”
Social Worker #1 spoke. “We know that no charges were ever brought against the Rock Star, but it does indicate a history of domestic violence. As Detective #1 said, we’re not sure what the District Attorney is going to do about your cases. Until that is decided we must make sure the children are in a safe and healthy environment. Plus we haven’t had the opportunity to evaluate your sister yet.”
The Rock Star couldn’t hold back any longer. He fought to keep his voice down so that the children wouldn’t hear.
“Look, if you take the children you’ll be punishing them for something they didn’t do.” He looked at Lover. It was clear to them both what had to happen next.
“Take us instead,” the Rock Star said reasonably. “Leave the children here, where they’re comfortable and safe with people they know.” He refused to give in to these people. He would hold it together, not showing any hint of the anger he was feeling. They would not take their children away, not if he could help it.
Quietly but strongly Lover pleaded, “Please, I’m the one with the most serious situation here. Leave the children with their father, my husband, so their lives aren’t disrupted by all this. He’ll guarantee their health and safety. If it’s me you’re after, please, for their sake, just take me and leave them here. Please.”
The love in his voice was so ‘there’, everyone in the room heard it, felt it. And it was clear from the sounds coming from upstairs that the children were happy.
Detective #2 said, “I’m sorry about this, gentlemen. From what I can see and hear, it would be nice if we could leave them here and take you instead. But the State’s decided what’s to be done here. We have no authority to change that. I’m really sorry. I really am. It’s the State’s responsibility to make sure the children are in a healthy environment. Until that’s determined, they have to leave.”
Both Angel and Lover looked as if their very hearts had been torn out of them.
“Where will they go?” asked the Rock Star.
“We’ll place them in temporary foster care until a more permanent decision can be made.”
Lover was horrified at the thought of their children in one of those places. They’d be with children from all kinds of situations, terrible circumstances ranging from drugs, sex abuse, habitual criminals, to gangs and street violence and murder. Children like Niecy, who’d been through horror and who showed the signs of it. Their children had never been exposed to anything close to that. And those places had mold and fungus and bedbugs, too, and no telling what kinds of problems the other children there would have–developmental, physical, or emotional. Some of them might be sexual predators already. He had to think of something and think of it fast.
It came to him like a bolt out of the blue. The Guitarist. That thought gave him the additional strength he needed. He was fighting for their children and no one, no one was going to stop him until he made sure they were safe.
The idea had come to Angel at the same time. The one who’d known him the longest, he knew their kids would be safe there, their normal lives preserved as much as possible. The husbands looked at each other, their thoughts identical. They knew each other.
“I have a suggestion,” said the Rock Star. “What if we know a home where the kids will be just fine, a place they already know with people they love and who love them? What about that? I mean, you said yourself that no charges had been filed against either of us. It can’t be set in stone that they have to go into foster care until all this is settled. That might take months, even years.”
The Social Workers looked at each other. The Detectives knew their role; they were there only to see that the law was being followed and in case removing the children got ugly. There were two policemen outside, too, being watched by the Security men as they watched them. As far as Child Protection Services went, however, this was the jurisdiction of the Social Workers.
Social Worker #2 looked at Social Worker #1. She, too, had an idea and knew that, if it were even to be proposed, both of them would have to agree. When Social Worker #1 nodded, she went ahead.
“There is a way. It’s a little unusual, but it could work.” She again looked at Social Worker #1, who again nodded, so she outlined the process. The Social Workers could keep the children with them for up to four hours. There were three options: a judge would have to rule either that they could be returned to their home, or placed with a family they knew who agreed to take them in while the District Attorney reviewed the case, or they could be placed in temporary foster care. They were right, this could take weeks or months or years. The family would have to agree that the children could remain with them for the duration of Lover’s case. A Social Worker would have to make an immediate determination of the suitability of the “foster” home and make weekly visits. In addition, s/he could make up to 2 unannounced visits per month.
It was a strict procedure but it looked like the only “out” they had. Angel called the Guitarist and his Wife, who immediately said “Of course.”
“Can we at least be the ones to tell them?” asked Lover.
There was some leeway here.
“Yes,” said Social Worker #1, “however, one of us will have to be with you at all times.”
As much as they hated that, they had to agree.
Chapter 40 – TRUE HELL
The children had heard the doorbell and peeked around the corner from upstairs to see who the visitors were. Since they seemed to be grown-ups on grown-up business, they decided to ignore them. For a while Dad and Papa talked with them in Daddy’s office. Then they heard Daddy and Papa coming up the stairs. There was a lady with them.
“Hey, kids, change of plans. We have to wait a little while for the sleepover. But guess what? You’re gonna have a mini-vacation at the Guitarist’s house!”
“Yeah,” said Papa. “How’s that for a surprise?”
Dad was smiling with his lips but not with his eyes, thought Son. Daughter just ran into Papa’s arms. She could tell something was wrong, too.
“Why?” asked Son. “What happened?”
“Well,” Dad said, “you know we’ve been helping the police solve a couple of cases, right?” Both children nodded their heads vigorously. They knew their fathers were part of something but they weren’t exactly clear what it was. The Teachers at school had made sure they were around them all the time.
“It’s good to help the police,” said Daughter. “They get the bad guys and make them go away.”
“That’s right,” said Papa, thinking about the Reporter. “And we’ve got to help them today. But while we’re gone, we need to make sure you’re safe and happy. So this nice lady is going to take you to her office so you can stay with her while your friends get ready for you to come stay with them and we help the police and the detectives.”
“Then, when we’re done,” said Dad, “either Papa and me or the Guitarist and his Wife will come and get you. That way we can help the police without worrying that our little sugarlumps are OK.”
Son hated being called that so he just rolled his eyes at the whole thing. Daughter, as sensitive as Papa, knew for sure something was wrong now. She couldn’t keep from crying.
“But we don’t know her, Papa,” she whispered. “What if she’s a bad person? You told us never to go with strangers.”
“I know, Baby Girl. I checked, though, and these are definitely not bad people. All they want to do is make sure you’re OK while we help them.”
“I don’t wanna go,” said Son, stomping his foot. “Why can’t we just stay here with Nanny and Housekeeper and Cook? The Security men will keep us safe. Why do we have to go somewhere else?”
“Well,” said Dad, “because when you help the police you have to follow the law. And the law says this is the right way to do that.”
Both children remembered the time when all the people with cameras were everywhere and they’d had to stay at the Guitarist’s house. “Will you come see us every day?” asked Daughter. She had a bad feeling. Papa was teaching her to trust some of her feelings but not others. This was one of the ones to trust.
“Yes,” said Dad. He held up his hand as if taking a pledge. “We promise to come see you every da–if this takes that long.”
Papa held up his hand to pledge, too, and smiled for them.
“So get your sweaters. No, baby girl, you can leave your things here. You can take Teddy Bear with you if you want, though.”
Now Daughter knew this was bad. She really burst into tears. Papa held onto her and looked at the Social Worker over her shoulder. She was fighting back tears, too.
“OK, are we ready?” asked Dad. “OK, here we go, it’s Adventure Time!”
Neither child believed him. And on the Orion Nebula, Starlight was being comforted by all of the Ethereal. It felt like every Spirit just wanted to be home.
Tomorrow in “Children” – Angel makes a tough but right decision