Where the hell is LJ? Bill is completely pissed off that asshole has not shown up with his ride. It has been two days since the job. What is going on? He has called his cell, it just goes to voice mail. His cell rings.
“You have a collect call from Multnomah county detention center. An inmate is attempting to call. Inmate name ‘LJ’. To accept press one.” Bill pushes the button.
“Hey buddy what you doing in the slammer dude?” Bill says like his best friend in the world is calling.
“I rolled a light on Saturday night. There were some complications.”
“What you drunk?”
“Something like that was involved. But good news, my sister showed, she hired a hot shot lawyer, thinking I will be outa here in the AM.” LJ says. He’s no fool. he is watching what he says he knows these calls are recorded. He also knows Bill has a throw away cricket phone so this phones life is about to end.
“Your sister? Didn’t even know about no sister.”
“Yea last saw her when I was like eighteen.”
“Is she hot?”
“Dude its my sister.” LJ is repulsed by the thought of Bill even ever seeing Sophie, never.
“So hot is hot, I am always on the look out.”
“My sister is not anyone you need to look at.” LJ is getting mad. “Just don’t even think about it.”
“She must be smokin the way your acting.” Bill laughs. “She just moved to my hook up list.”
“I’m done. When I get outa here I will call. Text me the number k?
“Gots you. Later.” Bill ends the call.
Never will Sophie ever be exposed to him ever. That is a part of his life she has no need to ever see. LJ is starting to really feel it. He is getting shaky and needs a drink and a fix. He needs to get out of here soon. He goes back to his cot and lays down trying to relax. Just got to get through to tomorrow.
Sophie’s alarm sounds. She rolls out of bed and grabs her running clothes she needs a run, clear her head, get read for the day ahead. She has never been in court before, she is completely unnerved at the prospect. That and it is a probablity she will be seeing Pete. She has to stay calm, she cannot let her emotions get to her. As she jogs she feels the tears slide down her face. She lets it out now, alone, no one can know how very shook up she is today, she has to stay strong.
Back at the condo she showers and dresses in a navy suit. She pins up her hair in a conservative french roll, and applies minimal make-up. She has a cup of coffee, but cannot force any food down right now. She heads to the courthouse ready as she will be for what lies ahead.
She meets Mr. Shrinner in the hall outside one of the courtrooms.
“Good morning, Mr Schrinner?” Sophie reconizes the lawyer from the photo on his website. He is fiftyish with black hair graying at the temples. He looks like a lawyer. She holds out her hand for a hand shake.
Martin Shrinner did not expect this. This woman is well put together, and strikingly beautiful after spending hours with her brother yesterday he expected someone else entirely.
“Ms. Johnson, pleasure to meet you.” He takes her hand and shakes it. “You are quite a surprise, I had pictured someone else in my mind.”
Sophie smiles. “I get that a lot. Especially from lawyers representing my strung out older brother for me. They figure I am going to be more like him.”
Martin laughs. “Yes I guess you could say that is what I was expecting. Please call me Martin.”
“Call me Sophie.”
“Well heres whats going to happen. We are going to go into the courtroom and wait for your brother to be called. Once he is called they will bring him in. Our part will be over in a few minutes. Then it is just waiting for LJ to be processed.”
“Martin, please call my brother Lance. LJ is a stranger to me.”
“Lance it is.” Martin smiles at me.
“Thanks. shall we go in?”
Sophie and Martin enter the courtroom. It is crowded and humid. It smells a little like sweat. On one side there are benches. Across the front is the judges podieum, as well as the court reporters desk. Off to the side is the clerks desk. As the hours go by people come in and out, pay their fines and go on with their lives, Sophie and Martin as well as a few others still wait.
The doors by the benches open. In walks several people in suits, including Pete. When Sophie sees him she looks away to the front of the room. Martin moves next to her and whispers in her ear.
“The detectives are here, the criminal cases are starting.”
Sophie whispers back. “Why did we get here so early?”
“We had to report at a certain time, or else they would have held Lance over to a later hearing time. Sorry this has been so uncomfortable.
“No worries Martin, just adding it on to the bill of ‘I owe you one sis’s’ Lance is compiling. I do believe he will be cleaning my toilet when he is eighty.”
The clerk announces. “Counsel for Lance Johnson to the bench.”
Martin gets up and strides to the front. Lance enters in his orange jumpsuit. Words are exchanged quickly between Martin and the judge. The judge is hesitating to release Lance. Martin assures him he is going to stay with his sister. Lance is sweating and pale, he looks sick. The judge asks if his sister is in the courtroom. Martin turns to Sophie and motions for her to come forward. Sophie goes to the front and stands with Lance and Martin.
The judge looks her in the eye. “Are you willing to seek care for Mr. Johnson, after which he will be boarded under your guardianship?”
“Yes sir I accept responsibility for my brothers treatment, which I have already arranged for him at Providence Substance Abuse Center.” Sophie reaches in her bag and presents the judge with a copy of Lances admitting paperwork. Lance looks at Sophie likes she is crazy.
The judge looks at Lance. “Mr Johnson, Ms. Johnson has arranged for your care at a treatment center and has agreed to provide you lodging after you have completed treatment. Are you willing to take advantage of the chance Ms. Johnson is offering you?”
“Do I have any other options?”
“You would be held here for 30-90 days, pending further charges and your behavior, without any treatment plan.”
“I will accept Ms. Johnson’s offer.” Lance replied. His voice is shaking.
“The court releases Lance Johnson into the custody of Sophie Johnson under the condition of substance abuse treatment must be provided for Mr. Johnson. Next case please.”
Sophie, Martin, and Lance head over to the court clerk and sign the needed papers. Lance is escorted back to the holding area to get changed. Sophie goes with Martin. As she leaves the courtroom she sneaks a peak across the room at the benches. Pete is gone.
Once outside the courtroom she looks at Martin.
“Am I crazy?”
“What do you mean?”
“Trying to help Lance is it going to blow up in my face?”
“I hope not.”
“Well it doesn’t matter now. I am in too deep. Where do I go from here to get my wayward brother.”
Martin shows Sophie to the check out area where she will have to sign Lance out of the jail. He leaves her there to wait for Lance. Sophie takes a seat while she waits. She is looking at her email on her phone and is not paying attention to the people milling around her. Someone sits down in the chair next to her. She glances up and is taken a back.
“What the hell are you doing Sophie?”
“What am I doing? What are you doing talking to me while I am waiting to check your chief suspect out of jail.”
Pete glares at her. Never in his life has he been so mad and so scared for someone at the same time. “You cannot get in the middle of this. It is too dangerous. LJ is involved in stuff you have no idea.”
“ I know my brother is in trouble and I am going to try to get him out of it. Lance is still in there. I just have to help him remember what he once was.”
“What if he doesn’t want to remember. What if he wants to be who he is today. Sophie you need to accept the fact your brother you loved, he is gone, the man you are trying to save, is not worth it.”
“I can’t accept that. I have to help him.”
“Sophie please don’t do this.”
“Pete I have to do this. It is who I am. I have to help him, I know I can.”
Sophie’s name is called and she walks up to the window. Pete leaves, he knows he did no good trying to get her to listen, she thinks she can help him.
Lance may be strung out but from the counter where he waits for Sophie to sign him out he see’s the detective that questioned him leave. He was talking to Sophie. She looks upset, so did the detective. What was that all about?
Sophie goes through the process of claiming her brother. He comes around to her side and for the first time in years they are face to face, no barrier. He looks down at her, she is so amazing. He hugs her to him, he doesn’t want to soil her with his corrupted touch, but he does love her, she is his baby sis.
“Sis it is so good to be with you again.” Lance says as he tries to control the shakiness in his voice, as well as his whole body.
“I missed you big brother so much. Now lets get out of here. Lets get you some help so you can be my brother again.” Sophie squeezes him tight. He smells like yesterdays garbage, he is shaking, skinny, and probably some level of a criminal, but he is still her brother.
She takes his hand and they walk out of the detention center together into the afternoon sun. The sun hurts Lances eyes, and he squints, Sophie notices and hands him her aviator glasses.
“They may have purple rims, but they will help your eyes.”
“Thanks sis.” He puts them on, he looks ridiculous and Sophie smiles at him. She walks with him down the block and round the corner to the garage her baby is parked in. As they exit the elevator Lance takes the glasses off in the darkened garage. He spots the red Mustang Bill has on the top of his list parked down the lot about half way. Bill would crap to see that thing just sitting there. Sophie digs in her purse for her keys, she pushes the button unlocking her car. The lights on the Mustang blink in answer to Sophies remote. Lance misses a step, he is going to be sick, no stopping it. He ducks between two cars, and throws up. Sophie is there in seconds, rubbing his back and whispering soothing words to him. No matter how awful the situation, this woman seems to be there for him. He has to return the favor. He stands up wiping his mouth on his sleeve, he is now shaking uncontrollably. Sophie helps to her car and opens the passenger door for him. Even buckles him in the seatbelt. She goes around to the drivers side and climbs in.
“You okay? Let me know if your going to do that again, so do not want puke all over my baby. If you have an accident its okay but if you know its coming let me know. I will get you to the treatment center as fast as I can.”
Lance had no intentions before of doing the treatment, he had every intention of beating feet as soon as he could, not now. Bill wants this Mustang bad. He has to get better, he has to stop Bill from trying for this car. As the car rolls out of the parking garage and purrs down the streets of Portland, Lances slides the glasses on, and closes his eyes. No matter what, he has to protect Sophie, even if it means getting strait for a while he will do it. He knows Bill, he would kill to have this car no question about it. He saw the look in his eyes when he went after the last chump with the bat, the violence he gets off on it.
With his eyes closed Lance did not see the man in the little red car as they passed it crossing the bridge. If he had he would of realized how right he was. Bill saw Lance though, riding shot gun in his Mustang. Fine looking hoe driving it, for now that is.