As the judge was leaving, the bailiff came to us and made it clear that that the Judge would like to speak with us in his chambers. He explained "The Judge wants to see you, both Mr. Walkers and Mr. Crouch and your two body guards in his chambers."
The bailiff ushered us to Judge Yeager's office. The Judge was sitting behind a desk. He looked at the bailiff, "That will be all, Harry, we have two of Iowa City's finest here, so I don't think anything out of the ordinary will be happening."
The bailiff left and the Judge started, "Look, this is an informal meeting but I would like to get to the bottom of this mess now. I think Chad and his family need to bring closure to this part of their lives. I'm pleased that only Chad was in today's proceedings. It would probably have broken my heart to see the other young people here."
Judge Yeager looked at Chad, "Chad, I guess that Mr. Crouch is the lawyer handling your affairs?"
Chad looked very sheepish, "Actually sir, I have three lawyers. Mr. Crouch is the lawyer here in Iowa City and Uncle Frank Wilkins and Granddad Peter Long are handling things in Des Moines."
Judge Yeager looked skeptical, "Chad, you're doing a job on me aren't you. I know Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Long by reputation. How in the world can you afford their fees?"
Chad was at a loss for words, he looked at me and held up his hands as if asking for help.
I spoke up "Judge Yeager, if I may, I would like to answer that question. As Chad would say, I live a unconventional lifestyle with my partner who happens to be the son of Mr. Long and the brother-in-law of Mr. Wilkins. We have taken the Harmon children into to our home and have tried to make sure that we could take care of them. As Chad said during the hearings today, he was made responsible for the rest of the children. He told you how he met us and what subsequently happened. But I have papers assigning me as the guardian for both Chad and Tim."
Judge Yeager made a time out sign, "Look, while you all were stuffing your faces at lunch, I was on the phone with Mr. Stone in Des Moines. Chad, I have no idea what you did, but Jerry is walking on pins and needles. He's afraid to even touch your case right now, so I think you will be safe for a while."
Judge Yeager looked at the clock, "Look guys, I forgot to eat lunch. Could we go get a bite to eat after Chad calls to make sure everything is fine in Des Moines. Here, use my cell phone, while I go to the bathroom."
Chad was standing by the window talking when Judge Yeager returned. We listened to Chad's part of the conversation, "Thanks for helping Kendra. … So everything is going okay. Who's crying? … Let me talk to Bobby, please. … Bobby, why are you crying? … Why did Tim threaten to put you into time out? … What did Tim tell Jason? … Bobby, please get Tim for me. … Tim, why did you yell at Bobby and say nothing to Jason? … Look, Tim, if we are living together we have to treat everyone the same."
"Tim, is Grandmother there? … Kevin drove her to the grocery store? … What? Already? … Okay, I'll warn Dad and Granddad. … We need to visit when we get home. … We'll tell you what happened when we get home. .. Please sit down and talk to Bobby and Jason and let them see if they can work out their differences. … Later."
Chad handed the phone back to Judge Yeager, "Thank you, sir. I'm starving let's get something to eat."
Detective Frazier spoke up, "I would like to be excused, if I may? I promised my family to take them to Chicago; we have tickets to the Bulls' game tomorrow."
Chad went to Detective Frazier and shook his hand, "Thanks for everything, Sir. How many children do you have, Sir?"
Detective Frazier smiled, "We have three teenage sons. One of them is just about as old as you. All three boys are into basketball."
Chad nodded, "Give each of them an extra hug tonight and tell them you love them. I don't care how old you are; it is always nice to hear someone tell you they love you."
Detective Taylor looked at Detective Frazier, "Why don't you go ahead. I'll stay near Chad until he is safely out of town. I'm sure I can get a ride back to the station."
Chad looked at Detective Taylor, "Sir, you really don't need to be worrying about me anymore. I can't imagine anything else happening. Maybe you can go spend some quality time with your family."
Both Detective Taylor and Detective Frazier started to laugh. Chad looked confused. Detective Taylor added, "I live an alternative lifestyle as you call it, and my partner is out of town at a convention and won't be back until tomorrow."
Chad's response caught everyone by surprise, "So, are you shacking up with a broad or another stud?"
Detective Frazier laughed, "On that note, I'm leaving." Chad hugged him as he left.
Judge Yeager looked at Detective Taylor, "Well, answer Chad's question?"
Detective Taylor was undaunted, "I'll answer when you guys are having your snack. You both look like you are about to drop. Dad, stop giving me a hard time."
All eyes turned to Detective Taylor and Judge Yeager. They started for the door so we followed. Chad was driving and followed Judge Yeager as he led us to a small restaurant. We were seated immediately. Since it was early, our choices were limited and after we had placed our orders, Chad started, "Somebody has a lot of explaining to do. Detective Taylor you called Judge Yeager, Dad. Did he also know the details of the cases before hand and why did you call him Dad?"
Ray Crouch answered before anyone else could answer, "Dad, did not know all of the particulars in your case. He knew the general story, but neither Dave or I told him of the particulars. Judge Yeager is our father-in-law and we all live in the same house. I was married to Judge Yeager's daughter. We had a son who would be about your age if he had lived." Ray couldn't continue he was so choked up.
Judge Yeager took over, "My grandson died when he was nine of leukemia. His mother, my daughter, was heartbroken and died of an accidental overdose of pain killers. I have been a widower for twenty years and have been living with Jimmy and Ben since then. When my daughter died, Ray had a nervous breakdown, and we moved him in with us. Jimmy and Ben have been a source of strength for both of us."
Chad had tears streaming down his face, "What does Uncle Jimmy do?"
Ben Taylor answered, "Jim, is a child psychologist. He deals primarily with abused children. He is a professor at the university and has become rather famous for his writings. He has been in London addressing some society this week."
Chad stood, "Grandpa Yeager, we need to get going. Uncle Ray and Uncle Ben, you be good. We can never have too many Grandpas or Uncles. Maybe you can help us with the rest of children. Uncle Ray, I'll have Uncle Frank and Grandpa Long contact you and maybe we can get everything squared away next week when we need to evacuate the house."
Judge Yeager looked confused, "Where are you all going to stay. Won't it be a little costly for you all to stay in a motel or some place?"
Chad grinned, "Grandpa, we have my parents' old house and both Grandpa Walker and Grandmother Walker have houses here. Heck, we'll be able to even accommodate you and your three guys."
Chad hugged the three of them as Dad paid the bill. As we were leaving Chad looked at me, "Dad, I don't really want to drive, I need some time to think and regroup. Things have been happening so fast. I need to think how we are going to be able to make everything work without disrupting everyone's lives."
Dad sat in the front with me and Chad sat in the back and it was like he was mentally making a list of everything that he thought we should do. When we pulled into the house, the first thing Chad did was to go check on his sons.
Michael was home and he started in on me, "Doug, we've got to do something and do it now. There is no way that all of us are going to be able to live in this house. I feel like I am the old woman in a shoe who had so many children she didn't know what to do."
Chad overheard Mike's remarks, "Dad Mike, we'll leave and I'll take my family back to Iowa City. We'll figure a way to make ends meet. Tim and I can surely get some sort of jobs."
Mike turned white, "Chad, I didn't mean for you to hear that comment. When I got home today Jason was crying and Bobby was lying on their bed sobbing. Everyone needs some private space."
Chad was upset, "Dads, something happened today and it wasn't handled very well. I would probably have screwed it up too if I had been here. We need to have a family meeting and talk about what we young people should do. We can't let ourselves think as if we are three or four families. We need to think of ourselves as one big happy family. I'll get everyone together and we can have a meeting."
Chad had everyone assembled in the living room. Mike and I pointed to him to indicate that he should proceed. Chad took a deep breath, "I want everyone to listen and listen well. There will be no more threats in this house. If there is a problem, take it to someone who is older and let them help you work through it."
"If a door is closed, that means you must knock. We will do the same if your door is closed. I know we are living in close quarters now but I understand that is about to improve and besides most of us will be in school starting on Monday so this place is going to seem like a skating rink to Mark and Jon. Grandmother and Granddad are going to be bored out of the gourd"
"Each of us will be assigned specific tasks and if we don't do them, our allowances will reflect the negligence. If you have any complaints, I would appreciate if you would come to me or Tim and if we can't remedy the problem, we will suggest who you should talk to."
"Next weekend, we need to vacate the house so the construction workers can get a head start on the work to give us more space. We are lucky that we have three houses where we can go to in Iowa City. It will also give Grandmother, Granddad and us a chance to decide what to do with the things in our houses."
"Now, would everyone under the age of twelve get ready for bed. I'll fix a bedtime snack before you brush your teeth and go to bed."
Chad turned around and saw Frank and Elaine and the twins. Frank said, "Chad, Mr. Crouch called me and told me what happened today. I have already spoken to Dad Long and we will all be going with you next Friday to resolve all of the issues that need to be tied up. I took the liberty of contacting a real estate agent to handle the sale of your house so you can invest the money. Judge Yeager has agreed to meet with all of us at four o'clock so he can sign the necessary paperwork to do what you want done."
Chad started to leave the room and it seemed like he just crumpled and fell to the floor. Mike went and checked his pulse and he seemed fine. We laid him on the sofa and put a cold cloth on his head. Kendra and Grandmother took the twins to get them ready for bed. Tim and Kevin went to get the four youngest boys ready for bed.
Dad fixed hot chocolate for the children. Chad still hadn't awoken or come out of his trance. I think even Mike was getting concerned. After all of the younger children were in bed, Dad came in and shook Chad, "Chad, are you okay?"
Chad muttered, "I'm so tired."
Dad looked at everyone and practically mandated, "I'll stay with Chad while the rest of you get some rest. If there seems to be a change for the worse, I'll let you know. Now got to bed. We still have ten other children to worry about."
Poor Chad, He is so overwhelmed. He is certainly one incredible young man. Let's hope that things can be straightened out so that everyone can have a good fulfilling life. Somehow I have the feeling that things will work out well.
I guess we will just have to wait for the next chapter to see what happens, and I hope it will not be very long before we see it.
Darryl A KA The Radio Rancher