Chapter 42: The Judge's Decision
When Judge Matthews heard the news, he wasn’t at all pleased.
“Escaped!” he cried at Charlie, spit flying from his mouth. “How did it happen? I demand answers!”
“Well,” said Charlie, fighting for words. Standing before the judge, he felt like a small child being severely punished. The judge was a bit smaller than him but wider. He was a big black man who right now was staring at him with imperious brown eyes.
“Tell me, Charlie,” he said calmly, but Charlie was still struggling.
“They must have slipped out,” he finally said.
“And how would that have happened?” he asked incredulously.
“It would happen because Charlie abandons us every night,” said Mark from behind Charlie. He had a sponge in his hand and a pail of water in the other; he had been cleaning the outside walls of the group home so that they looked bright and shiny for the judge. Charlie gave Mark a look of so much loathing that Mark had to fight all his instincts from hitting him.
“Is this true?” asked Judge Matthews.
Charlie didn’t know what to say; he had been pushed into a corner with no means of escape. He couldn’t lie to the man in front of him, a man who had been such a good friend to him even when he had a bad case of anger management. The judge had always placed his faith in him, but had never known the dark secrets about the place they were standing in. Charlie thought it had been too easy to work here, and with the judge being friends with him, he thought he could easily use him to his advantage. But of course, behind his back. When the judge was in front of him, this angry Charlie couldn’t speak, let alone lie to him; something that had been very easy for him.
Charlie tried to come up with a story that might sound convincing but he had a feeling the judge would see right through it.
“We sometimes go out, yes. Is that really a problem?”
“We? Who’s we?”
Shit, he thought. Now he had done it. He was tripping up words like a little kid. How could this happen? He was a fully-grown man of 35. He could easily avoid the wrath of this judge. If only he could think clearly.