Chapter 43: Home at last
udge Matthews couldn’t send Mike back to Smiley’s Home because all of its residences had been removed. It wasn’t as simple as removing Charlie Butler and Steven James and replacing them because that took time and money, which were two things the Judge preferred not to do. Instead, the only option was to send all of the current Smiley’s Home young offenders to other group homes. Everyone was sent to another group home except Mike. Due to the fact that Mike had escaped from Smiley’s Home with Cindy and Ian, his case was being reviewed. Judge Matthews was thinking of sending Mike to a much stricter group home than Smiley’s Home as he felt that the old group home was not sufficient for someone like Mike.
Currently, Mike was sitting in the Judge’s office with his parents, Cindy, and Ian.
After Mike had escaped, he had stayed over at Cindy’s house for the night until he could safely get home in the morning. But as he opened the door to his house, his mother caught him as soon as the door opened an inch. She was making coffee with curlers still in her hair and looked absolutely shocked to find her son home.
“What are you doing home, sweetie? Did they let you leave early?” inquired Mike’s mother.
“I escaped,” Mike said matter-of-factly.
Mike’s mother blinked once she heard this. She was still groggy and thought that maybe she had not really listened to what Mike had just said.
“You escaped?” she asked making sure she had heard correctly.
“Yep,” said Mike.
“Well, you have to go straight back,” said Mike’s mother taking a hold of Mike’s arm.”
“No, mom. I’m not going anywhere.”
“JIM!” his mother screeched as Mike’s father jolted awake from the piercing sound. He threw the covers off of him and soon his large feet were thumping down the stairs.
“Nice shorts, dad,” said Mike noticing that all his father had on were a pair of bright green boxer shorts.
“What’s going on?” asked Mike’s father half asleep.
“Your son is home,” said Mike’s mother.
“Mike? ” Mike’s father rubbed his eyes and then stared again at the boy in his doorway. “My God, it is you! They let you leave that place?”
“No, I escaped,” Mike said again. He enjoyed saying it.
“You, escaped? ”
As Mike’s father thought about this latest sentence Mike’s mother said,
“Dear, would you kindly close the door so all our neighbours don’t see us.”
Mike’s father nodded as he closed the front door.
Mike thought his family would make a great sitcom: his mother with curlers in her hair and in a pink robe, his father in just boxer shorts, and him dressed in actual clothes with his brown duffle bag slung over his shoulder.
Make a great opening pilot for a show, thought Mike as he stared at his dumbfounded parents.
“We should call the Judge,” Mike’s mother finally said.
“Why?” asked Mike.
“Because he needs to know what you’ve done. Damn it, Mike, you might’ve just given yourself another six months in that penitentiary. What were you thinking?”
“Dear, think reasonably,” said Mike’s father. “Doesn’t he have like a month left?”
“Even so, it is wrong and I will not allow this kind of behaviour in my household.”
“Oh, shut up Jim! It’s your fault he was even in there.”
“The rebellious attitude comes from your side of the family, not mine.”
Jim was too tired to argue with his wife. “Could we at least let Mike get settled before we bicker at each other?”
“Bicker!” screeched Mike’s mother, nearly spilling her coffee. “You think that’s what this is, bickering?! Your son shoots a boy, robs a store, and now escapes a group home! Next thing you know, he’ll be raping that poor girl!”
“Celia!” cried Mike’s father in shock.
Mike didn’t say a word and was rather enjoying the back-and-forth banter between his parents.
“I’ll have you know, he’s your son too,” Mike’s father said. “And Mike’s too young to be that aggressive let alone get it up.”
“Jim Roberts! ” Now it was Mike’s mother to be shocked.
“What? It’s not like he’s had sex or anything. You do masturbate, right son? I mean, that’s just healthy.”
“Jim! ” cried his mother again.
“What? It’s a common fact of nature. I mean, he’s only fourteen.”
“I’m almost fifteen,” Mike corrected. “My birthday’s in September; don’t you remember?”
“Your father has lost his mind as you can tell,” explained Mike’s mother.
“Wow, you guys really changed when I left. Imagine if I had actually been in jail.”
Mike almost witnessed his mother faint at the sound of that. Soon, she was heading towards the kitchen crying,
“I’m calling the judge!”
As Mike watched his mother press the numbered buttons on the portable telephone, Mike’s father said,
“Your mother is very worried about you. As you can see, she’s not herself. She really thinks you’re a real wrongdoer and that you’re going to become a problem child for us. But you and I both know the truth.” Then he winked at his son while patting him on the back. “Just give her time to come to her senses.”
At that moment, Mike’s mother hung up the phone.
“He’s meeting with us at 10 A.M.. Apparently you had help, Mike.”
The only reason Cindy and Ian were seated in front of Judge Matthews was because after Mike’s mother had called the Judge, Mike had telephoned his friends and had alerted them about what the Judge already knew. Cindy never liked hiding secrets and soon had convinced Ian for them to confess about their actions.
“It seeMs.. you’ve had a very troubled life, Michael Roberts,” said Judge Matthews as he placed his reading glasses down on his mahogany desk. He had just finished reviewing Mike’s file. “As it stands, you have two months left of your sentence to serve. Because of your escape, I should be adding more months to your sentence. The reason no lawyers are present at this meeting is due to the fact that your mother phoned in on your behalf. I do not want to seem as the bad guy.” With this, the judge stared straight into Mike’s light green eyes. “You’ve made many bad decisions so far but I do not find that you are actually a bad person. The escape aided by your friends is concerning and considering the circuMs..tances, I should probably be sending them to group homes too but that would cost the court money and time I wish to not fulfill. I’m sure you understand. If I did waste more of the court’s money, I would also be wasting more money in order to get your friends into group homes and that would take time as well but I won’t bore you with the details. As I said, with no lawyers present I want to make this meeting of a friendlier atmosphere. I know that a judge’s office can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. I could send you to another group home, but again, that costs money that I’m not willing to spend. Therefore, I’ve concluded to put you under house arrest for the remainder of your sentence.”
Mike didn’t know what to say. He was pleased he didn’t have to go to anymore group homes but wasn’t excited about being locked up in his house for two months.
“You will have an ankle bracelet on you at all times just in case you do decide to run off so the police can escort you back to your home. If this happens more than three times, I will be once again reviewing your case and will be adding additional months to your sentence. You will also be sent to a group home and I’m sure that’s not what you want. One of your parents is authorized to stay in the house with you at all times. Of course they can alternate but you can see why I can’t leave you alone in the house. You are not allowed any visitors and unfortunately neither are your parents. Of course, I’ve gone over this information with them before you came here. If you cooperate, all should be fine and soon you’ll be a free man. And I hope for your sake and mine that I will never again see you in court tried as an offender.”
With that, the judge dismissed them.
Mike walked out of the judge’s office feeling depressed. What had escaping Smiley’s Home accomplished? Sure, Charlie had gotten caught and the group home had been shut down probably to never reopen but Mike was stuck in the same situation but in a different scene. Instead of in some strange home, he’d be trapped in his home. Could he even go outside to breathe non-condensed air? He wasn’t sure.
“Kind of sucks, eh?” asked Ian as he, Mike, and Cindy waited for Mike’s parents.
Judge Matthews was now talking with them privately about the details of Mike’s house arrest.
It seemed that Mike wasn’t going to lose his friends just yet.
Cindy kissed Mike on the cheek.
“It won’t be so bad,” she comforted.
“At least your home,” said Ian.
“Yeah,” Mike said sarcastically. “Home at last.”