"Umm" was my response. They had cut Sammy's clothes from him, in the ER no doubt, and I hadn't gotten a chance to get any more.
"DAAAD," he said just looking at me,
"Well...I kinda...its just that...well,"
"Where are my clothes?" he asked, patiently looking at me.
Eric was grinning, and I could have shot him, as I finally worked up the nerve to tell him.
"Umm, you don't have any," wincing at the response I knew would be forthcoming.
He just looked at me as his eyes widened, "What do you mean?"
"Well, SamSam, they cut all yours off of you, and I haven't had a chance to get any to bring to you," I told him.
"What am I supposed to wear outta here?" he said.
"I can't just go naked!" he said in disbelief.
"Of course not, but you will just have to make do with the hospital gown." I told him.
I could see he didn't like the idea much, what eleven year old would, but then Brian chimed in.
"That might be fun to see," with a giggle, and I shot him a dirty look, he didn't need to give him any ideas.
Sammy froze, before turning to look at Brian, then back at me, with a grin on his face, as he said, "Hey...!"
"Don't even think it!" I told him.
"Why not, Dad, don't you think I look cute?" he said, with an evil grin, as he lifted up his gown completely, and walked around like he was on a runway in a fashion show or something, while all the boys were giggling non-stop at this display.
Then again, they had been giggling for a while now.
"Yes, you're cute, and no you can't run around the hospital nude." I told him, trying to suppress laughter at his antics.
Yep my SamSam was definitely back.
"Ok Dad, I'm ready to go." he said, and then started running for the door.
"SAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMMY!!" I was screaming in horror, as his hand reached the handle, and he turned his head and said,
"Yes dad?" with a smile, and twinkle in his eyes of pure devilishness.
"If you go out that..."
"GOT YA!" he crowed, breaking into hysterical laughter, along with the others. Even Eric joining in pointing, saying between attempts at catching his breath,
Yeah very funny, no doubt, if I could have been sure he wouldn't have done exactly that.
Well, over the next few minutes I got a gown on Sammy's backside, facing front this time to completely cover him, and tied it with knots that would require scissors to get him out of, which we didn't have, thankfully and then proceeded to get Chris dressed in clothes his mother had obviously brought for the occasion.
Finally, the doctor came back in, and gave me detailed instructions on both Sam and Chris, before two nurses came in wheeling chairs for our kids' rides out of here.
It was a very happy group that headed out and down to the ER entrance, where Eric had gone, a few minutes before, with my keys, to bring the suburban around.
We exited the ER just as Eric came around into the bay. I lifted Chris and got him settled in the back, and Eric did for Brian, while the rest of the group crawled into whatever seats they could find, with Sammy and Peter taking the front.
I had just shut the door, when I noticed a news crew filming the whole thing, and turned away in disgust. Unfortunately they didn't take that to mean anything as the reporter and cameraman started running towards me, as I made my way quickly around to the driver's side door.
I didn't make it in time.
They cornered me before I could get into the vehicle.
"Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Reynolds please, can we have a moment, please?" They cried to me.
I turned around plastering a neutral expression on my face, as I faced them.
"I'm sorry, I don't have anything to say." but of course they wouldn't let it go at that.
"Mr. Reynolds please? What is the condition of your son, our viewers are very concerned for his welfare?" she said.
I decided to give them a brief statement.
"Alright, I and my son, appreciate your concern, and I would like for you and your viewers to know that we appreciate it. My son is fine, and I'm taking him home right now." I finished.
"But Mr. Reynolds, I understand he was critically injured in yesterday's events?"
"He sustained a knife wound, which was not all that serious, thankfully, but did cause a large amount of blood loss, which had all of us quite worried for a time." I said, smiling and thinking that is a bit of an understatement.
"Can you tell us what happened?" She asked next.
"I'm sorry, that is an ongoing police investigation." I told her, as I started to turn away.
"Mr. Reynolds, please one more thing, what do you have to say regarding allegations from child protection authorities that you needlessly put your son at risk, twice in less than a day?"
I froze at those words, because they could only have come from one source.
"Well Mr. Reynolds, do you have a comment regarding the allegations?"
I started to turn around when I felt Eric's hand grab a hold of my arm, stopping me, effectively from saying anything, as he stepped forward.
"I'm Sheriff Eric Carlson, and I don't know where you heard such baseless lies, but I would suggest you learn to check your facts a bit better, before making such allegations in a public venue." Eric told her coldly.
"I can assure you that they are far from baseless, Sheriff." she said venom dripping from her voice.
"We have checked our facts, and the allegations are valid, would you like to make a comment for the record Sheriff?"
"I just did." Eric told her, turning away, as I once again reached for the door.
"Maybe, Mr. Reynolds, you would care to comment on further allegations, that you beat a man bloody in your capacity as a police officer, for trying to stop his son from being molested by an older brother, and then not only arrested that man, but placed the victim back with the abuser?"
That was it, as I saw red, turning towards her again, and stepping forward, as Eric suddenly grabbed my arm, pulling strongly saying,
"I guess you don't understand simple English, do you lady? You need to check your facts, before saying such things. I hope you have a good attorney." and with that comment, Eric started pushing me back to the door, ripping it open, and pushing me through, which was a good thing, as the reporter started screaming.
"If you think that threats are going to trouble me in the slightest, then you are mistaken, Sheriff," and then I watched, as Eric got truly pissed, and turned on the reporter saying,
"Lady, if you think beating the holy shit out of a young boy, is justified, for any reason, much less the lie he told to excuse his conduct, then I sincerely hope you don't have any children, now get the hell off hospital property, before I have you arrested for trespassing!"
"You can't." she started to say when he pulled out his cuffs, and advanced on her quickly retreating form.
Eric came back and said, "You need to call your attorney right now, and get him onto the station, as well as calling Millie."
I was kind of in shock, and could only say,
"Go home Mike, and I'll send a couple of guys out to keep an eye on your property, I'll also check on Samantha, and make sure they don't corner her."
"Ok," I said, as I started the car, and put it in gear, pulling out of the drive.
"Daddy?" A small voice asked, and I looked over to see Sammy, staring at me worriedly. "It's going to be ok, SamSam." I said, and then louder. "It's going to be ok," as we drove home in silence, only I wasn't sure who I was trying to reassure more, them or me.
When we got home, I got everyone settled, in a daze, before going into my office and picking up the phone.
"Jet Services, may I help you?" the voice said.
"Yes, this is Mike Reynolds, account number 038488Alpha4" I told her.
"Yes Mr. Reynolds, I have your account pulled up right here." she told me.
"I want a crew on standby for takeoff at my home base, 24 hour alert, until further notice." I told her.
I heard her suck in a breath, before saying, "Umm sir, do you understand the cost involved in that?"
"I don't care, you have a 1 million dollar line of funds to draw against, so there shouldn't be a question, other than can you provide the service?"
"Uh well, yes, of course, just let me check something here, yes I can have a flight crew there within 30 minutes, and the other one within 3 hours. Let me confirm this please, you want a crew available 24 hours a day, for immediate takeoff, until further notice?"
"That is correct." I told her.
"Very well, your crew will be there within 30 minutes, Sir." She told me, and then gave me a contact number for the crew.
"Thank you." I told her, before hanging up.
I would not lose my kids.
Taking a deep breath, I called my attorney, and filled him in on what happened with everything, ending with the reporter, and the plane.
"Mike, that would be breaking the law, and I can't tell you to do that, but I will say I hope you don't have to use it."
"I hope so too." I told him, before hanging up, and taking another deep breath. He said he would contact the station, and try to get an immediate injunction, as well, but he didn't hold out much hope of being successful with either.
Then I called Millie.
"Millie, it's Mike," I told her, when she picked up.
"Hi Mike, how's everything going?" she asked.
"Not good." I told her.
Millie, like Eric, would drop the banter, and become dead serious in a second, as she asked me,
"Well, it seems our friend has been speaking to the media," I told her.
"That fucking bitch," she said.
"Yeah," was my response.
"How bad?" was her next question.
"Very bad, everything." I told her.
"Shit!" was her only response.
"She never showed up today either." she added.
"No, she was too busy talking to the media." I said to her, bitterly.
"Mike, we'll get through this." Millie tried to comfort me.
"Yeah we will, I can't lose them, Millie, I can't." as I felt myself sob, and the tears started running down my face.
"I've got to go." I got out, before hanging up the phone to Millie, saying something or other.
I couldn't listen right now. I wouldn't lose my babies, I wouldn't.
I just sat there crying, with my head in my hands, until I felt arms around me, and I raised my head, to find Sammy there.
"Oh SamSam." I cried, reaching out and pulling him into my lap, holding on for dear life.
I wanted to kill that bitch so badly, right now.
"It's going to be ok, Dad." he said, into my chest.
"Yeah, you're right honey, I just worry." I told him, trying to reassure him. It wasn't his place to reassure me, it was mine to take care of him, and sitting here crying, certainly wasn't doing that.
He pulled his head back, and looked at me, with a small smile on his face, as he said softly, and with great determination,
"It'll be alright Dad."
That was my baby, as I just pulled him back to me, and held him. I knew it would be alright, because one way or the other I would make it alright.
After a while, Sam looked at me and said he was going back to the others, and that they were kind of worried, so I told him to tell them that I was making some calls, and would be out in a little while.
I didn't like sitting here where anyone could find me, yet I wasn't sure what to do, because checking into a hotel would be worse. Just as Sammy left, the phone rang, and I answered it to hear an old friend on the phone.
"Hello." I said.
"Mike, it's Ken Barstow, channel 9," he said.
"Ken, how are you? It's been a while." I told him.
"Yeah Mike, it has, and I won't play games with you, I'm calling because of some things going on around here." he told me.
Ken was someone who you could work with, and had become a friend, several years ago, even though he was a reporter.
"I know Ken; I got sandbagged outside the hospital, by channel 4." I said.
"Bitch got ya eh?"
"Oh yeah." I replied to him.
"You would be interested in a rebuttal?" he asked.
I laughed without humor, as I said, "I'd love to, but it involves several police investigations, as well as a child abuse investigation."
"That kind of ties your hands, doesn't it." he told me.
"Yeah, you could say that." I responded.
"Damn, how bout off the record, Mike?" he asked me,
I knew I could trust him, so I began, starting with coming home the night before last, and what happened with Peter, all the way through Sammy, finding Brian, and then Chris, and what had happened there. I then told him about Mrs. Higginbottom, whom the other station was using, as a valid source, even though she had been fired, and ending at the meeting with Channel 4's reporter, a while ago.
"Wow, that's something, Mike, but you got problems, I'm hearing some things I don't like." he told me.
"What things?" I asked, with a feeling of dread in my chest.
"Well, let's just say that certain quarters are being stirred up a bit."
"What does that exactly mean, Ken?"
"Look, Mike, lets just say, I'm checking into some things, and if they pan out, you got some problems, I'll call you the minute I have anything concrete." he told me which didn't make me feel a lot better, even though I knew I could trust him.
The fact that Ken was telling me at all, told me I had something to worry about.
"Alright Ken, thanks, and let me know what you find out, please." I told him.
"I will Mike, you take care, and take care of those babies, too." he told me.
"I will Ken, thank you." I said, as I hung up the phone.
"SAMMY!!!!" I yelled, and in seconds, he was in the room.
"Yes Dad?" he asked, with a worried expression on his face.
"Sammy, I don't want you to get upset, but we may need to leave, and do so quickly, so I want you to go and pack suitcases, for yourself and try to find some things for Brian, Chris and Derek, as well. You probably won't find anything for Peter, but see what you can do."
"Dad?" he asked, with so much more in that one word.
"I don't know honey, but I'm getting a bad feeling about where this might go, and I'm not going to lose you guys." I told him.
He came over and gave me a hug, and said, "I love you dad." before heading out of the room.
I got up and looked out the window, and could see several county units out front, keeping the media back. It looked like a circus.
If we had to go, I didn't know how we would get out of there, as I stood watching it all, and rapidly came to a decision.
I went back over, and picked up the phone, calling Jet Services again.
"Jet Services, may I help you?" the same lady answered again.
"Yes, this is Mike Reynolds, account number 038488Alpha4." I told her.
"Yes Mr. Reynolds what can I do for you?" she asked without saying "this time"
"I need something else, as well."
"Certainly, what can I help you with, sir?"
"I want a helicopter on the pad, and ready to roll at a moments notice, indefinitely, that can seat between 4 and 10, with a wheelchair and luggage."
"Yes sir, can you please hold while I check availability?"
"Yes, but if there isn't one, then get one, and get it now." I told her.
"Yes sir." she said crisply, as I began to listen to music.
Several minutes later, she came back on and said, "I can have one there at the airport within an hour, that meets your requirements, sir."
"That would be fine, you need to tell them that they will, if contacted be flying to the following co-ordinates, to pick up passengers, and it will be a hot pick up, including children, then returning to the airport where they will need to land as close to the jet you have ready for us, as possible."
"Yes sir." she replied.
She then gave me the contact information for the copter, and I gave her the co-ordinates for my home, before ending the call.
One nice thing about this service, is they were used to rather bizarre requests, and while she may think a lot of things, she wouldn't concern herself further. This company was very discreet, and handled a number of interesting things, including I had been told once, things for the government.
I had just hung up with her, when the phone once again rang.
"Hello." I said again.
"Hello." I said again.
"This is just the beginning." click.
I held the phone for a moment, before replacing it in its cradle, then picked it back up and called dispatch, asking them to try to trace the caller, before replacing it once again.
The phone rang again, only this time the caller was displayed, Eric.
"Hi." I said.
"Hello, how you doing?" he asked me.
"Well, I stopped crying a while ago." I told him shakily, although I could feel some tears waiting again.
"I'm sorry, Mike," he said, with deep feeling behind the words.
"So am I," I told him. "So am I."
"I'm not losing them Eric." I said softly, into the phone.
"I know Mike, I know." was all he could say.
"I have made arrangements, just so you know."
"I thought you might." was his reply.
"What do you want me to do with the trinity?" I asked him.
"Take them to safety too, if it comes to that, Mike, I'll catch up with you all later." he told me, with absolute certainty.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Yeah, very." he said.
"Ok, Eric, I'll take good care of them, I promise." I said, with everything in me, as my voice broke on the last word.
"I know, I know." was all he could say, and I could hear the pain in it.
"Come with us." I said softly.
"I can't, you know that, I have to stay and fight, if it comes to it." he told me, equally softly.
"I just can't believe it Eric, I was so happy this morning, and now it all feels as if it's crashing down..." I told him as I felt the tears falling, finally.
"I know Mike, but it'll be ok, you have to keep believing that." he said.
"I know, but I can't risk them." I told him, and he knew who them meant.
"Mike, I know its been a really hard couple of days, but we'll work this out, don't worry. If you need to get them out of here, then that's what you'll have to do, consider it a vacation, if you like, but just do what you need to do, ok?"
"Yeah, don't worry Eric, I will, it's just that it's been so much."
"I know, but you've got the most important things right there with you, I am going to go to the house, and get some things for the boys, and I'll be out there shortly, I should have some stuff that'll fit Peter as well, that Danny has outgrown."
"Ok thanks Eric." I said.
"See you in a bit." he told me, before hanging up.
I took a couple of deep breaths, and got myself together, before I headed out to face the kids. I had to get control of myself, as they would be scared enough as it was, and didn't need to see me in this shape.
Hell, I didn't need to be in this shape.
I finally stood up, and headed to the door, finding my SamSam standing there, as I opened it.
He took one look at me, and came forward, wrapping his arms around me, as I lifted him up, letting him wrap his body around me, while I just hugged him back.
"What's going on dad?" he asked, in my ear.
"Well, I've made some contingency plans, in case we need them, but for now, we just stay put." I told him.
"Ok." he said, completely trusting me to keep him safe, which actually helped me get it together, as I had 7 other little ones depending on me, for the same thing, and I couldn't afford to do what I wanted, and had been close to doing, which was lose it.
I took a deep breath, and told him, "lets go see the rest of the munchkins, ok?"
"Ok." he replied, as I started walking out to the living room, where I found everyone sitting down, obviously tense, and worried, making me immediately sorry that I had taken so long to come out in the first place.
As I walked into the room, all eyes instantly locked on me, following my every movement, as I came over and sat next to Chris, on the couch.
All the kids came over and tried to crawl into my lap, or as close as they could, with a couple on the floor, and Peter next to Sam, as he said,
"I'm scared daddy."
"I know you are, you all are, and to tell you the truth, so am I." I told them, as they watched my every word.
"I don't know what's going to happen, but I can tell you this, you are all going to be safe. I will keep you safe, and nothing is going to happen to you."
They all looked at me, until finally Chris said, "this is all my fault isn't it?"
"NO, it's not, this is the fault of an evil bitch, who couldn't get what she wanted one way, and is now trying to get it another." I told him, allowing the anger to show in my voice.
"But..." he started to say.
"No buts, Chris, or any of you. Let me make this very clear, she may try to do a lot of things, but she will NOT succeed. I am going to keep you safe, and NO one is taking any of you away from me, you all hear that?" I said forcefully.
I could see them looking at me, and I didn't break eye contact with them, as they just looked at me.
I could see that it was starting to have an effect, albeit slowly, as I told them again,
"No one is going to take you away from me."
"But, what if they come to get us?" Brian asked softly.
"Well, you need to know, that I have made contingency plans, to get us out of here, if they try." I started telling them.
"If we learn of them coming, to take any of you, I have a helicopter standing by, ready to go, and a jet at the airport that can reach a lot of places that none of them can. You need to know that if we get word to get out of here, then we will be moving really fast, and you won't be able to ask questions or anything, until we are on the plane, so be prepared. If you have any questions, you can ask them now." I told them.
"Where will we go?" Derek asked.
"What about us?" Randy asked.
"Will we be able to come home?" Sammy asked.
"What about mom?" Chris asked me.
"Well, I don't know, probably Russia, and your dad wants you to go with us, guys; he's coming over with some things for you soon. Sammy, I don't know the answer to that question honey, I'm sorry, and your mom, I think will be coming with us, baby." I finished and could see tears in the trinity's eyes.
Sammy and Peter had been watching this, and both moved off of me, without anything being said, as the trinity launched themselves into my lap, crying.
I felt my own tears falling, as I held them. Sam and Peter had joined me in wrapping my arms around them, holding them.
We just sat there holding onto each other, Derek was holding Chris, and Peter had got up and went to snuggle with Brian, while we all waited.
Some time later, the doorbell rang, and Sammy jumped up and went to answer it.
Eric was there, with Samantha, and both were looking worried, as they came in, carrying suitcases.
The boys jumped up and rushed into their father's arms, for some hugs, as Samantha came over and gave some to her boys.
Finally Eric came over and said, "I need to talk to you, now."
I nodded and followed him back to my office, where he shut the door, and began.
"This has exploded, Mike, the bitch seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth, and no one can find her anywhere." I nodded my head, as he continued.
"Some sources of mine say that the state is getting involved, and may be coming in to take the kids," which caused me to straighten up in shock, but before I could say anything, he held up his hand and continued.
"I am waiting on confirmation of that, but it looks bad, the state doesn't want to be seen as doing nothing, if her allegations are true, and they see the easiest way out as taking all the kids, and then sorting it out from there."
"Eric, that would devastate these kids...I started to say.
"I know Mike, I know, but that's what I am hearing, I'll get word in time, but you need to know." he told me.
"Ok." I told him, "I'm going to call Millie." I said, but he stopped me. "I haven't been able to get a hold of her, Mike." which scared me.
Millie would never duck our calls.
Something must be wrong, very wrong.
At about that time, the phone rang, and before I could even answer it Eric's rang as well.
I picked up my phone to hear Ken, "Mike get out, and get out now, they're on the way, an hour or so at most." he told me.
I felt a cold shiver of fear hit me like an icicle, down my back, as I numbly said, "Thanks Ken, th...thanks." before hanging up the phone.
I turned towards Eric, who was clicking his cell off, and had gone quite pale, as he looked up in shock from the phone to stare into my eyes.
"They're coming Mike." he said, in a voice clearly shocked, and disbelieving. I don't think he actually thought they'd do it.
"They're coming." he said again, as he just shook his head.
All I could think was Oh God.