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Two for the Price of One

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Judge Vinson said, “Tim truly is gifted. I’ve seen it before in a rare social worker or two. They just know how to handle boys. It’s not something that can be taught. Now we get to you Rebel.”

Rebel stuck his jaw out and looked like he was preparing himself for a whipping.

Detective Monroe said, “We just picked your mother up for a DUI.”

Rebel said, “That was predictable. She got some money so; she was off to the liquor store.”

Judge Vinson said sadly, “You know she’s an alcoholic and, she can’t take care of you. You’ve been taking care of her. Tim has offered me a solution that will put you in a much better position Rebel. He wants you…”

Rebel jumped in my lap and hugged my neck. I said, “Easy there Tiger. Never interrupt a Judge. You might miss something important.” Rebel vibrated with excitement in my lap and the Judge smiled.

She said, “I think we can take that as Rebel approves of the situation. As I was saying Rebel, Tim wants to take care of you and, he has offered your Mother a way out. If she goes to a long term rehab and sobers up, he’s offered her a good job. She can land on her feet and have a life again.”

Now the ornery little cuss that didn’t take crap off of anybody was hiding his face in my shirt sobbing.

Judge Vinson said, “I’ll expect him to see Dr. Chang and Patrick tomorrow with Matty.”

Detective Monroe said, “Judge, this place has an excellent kitchen. Could I buy you a hot dog?”

“I’d be delighted.”

They left me alone with Rebel still silently sobbing on my shirt. I stood and flipped the bright lights back down so the room was cool and dim and sat on the couch and held him for a while. I let him get it out of his system.

“Are you OK Rebel?”

“Uh huh. Better than ever. She said you wanted me.”

“I do. I know your secret. Behind your tough guy persona, you’re a really sweet kid. I saw you put your ass on the line for Matty. He was kid you didn’t even know and you risked your life. You’re amazing Rebel and I’m glad to have you.”

That started him sobbing again but it soon abated. He choked out, “Nobody has ever wanted me. I’m always in trouble. I get in fights. I steal stuff. I get detention…”

“You do all of that because you don’t get the attention you need Rebel. I’m going to fix that. You’ll have umpteen brothers that’ll love you to pieces. Nobody will force you to do anything and, you won’t have to trick to eat. You won’t have to get in trouble to get attention. I’ll be there for you.”

All of the tension in Rebel eased. It drained out of him like air in a balloon. He said, “My name isn’t really Rebel. That’s just what people call me. My real name is Joey.” Everything was different about him, even his voice. He sounded younger and not so tough and cocky.

I said, “Nice to meet you Joey. We need to go by your old house to get your things.”

He said, “I don’t want to go there. Bad things happen there.”

I got a very uneasy feeling and asked, “Where is Rebel?”

Joey’s voice answered, “Rebel is asleep now. We’re safe. Rebel is strong and brave and protects us. I’m just Joey. I’m little and scared all the time. I haven’t been out in a long time. Rebel says you’re our new Daddy? Is it true?”

“Yes baby, I am.”

“Rebel won’t have to do… that anymore?”

“No baby, not unless he just wants to.”

Joey began to cry. It wasn’t Rebel. Rebel would never, ever wail and weep and sob out loud. It was Joey. I knew it was Joey, the sweet little boy inside the armor he had created to protect himself called Rebel.

I said, “Joey, you and Rebel are going to be all right”, even if I wasn’t sure it was true. “I will love and protect you and give you brothers who will do the same. You won’t have to be alone and afraid anymore.”

Joey’s voice said, “I love you Daddy.”

Rebel’s voice said, “I do too.”

I said, “I lucked out. I got two amazing boys for the price of one.”

Three different voices laughed so... maybe it would be OK.


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A very interesting twist on a deeply serious subject.  I'd look forward to more, James, if the spirit moves you.

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