I came into the mall parking lot and pulled up to the curb, switching my rear ambers on, as I exited from the vehicle and headed inside the store.
I went to the back, into the office, where a woman came out, and whom I took an instant dislike to. She identified herself as the assistant manager, and proceeded to tell me that several children had been apprehended, attempting to use a stolen credit card. She was downright nasty about it, and I didn't care for her attitude at all.
I asked her, "do you think its possible that they might have a credit card or be authorized to use the one they had?" which got a disdainful look from her, as she told me,
"children do not have gold cards, much less credit cards in their names, so no, I do not consider it a possibility." she primly informed me.
Then she went on and said, "Also you might check, because they all have cell phones as well, they are probably stolen."
I don't know why it didn't dawn on me up to that point, but when she said the last, I got a sinking sensation in my stomach.
Sammy had a gold card in his name, and all of them had cell phones, except Peter.
"Why don't you take me to these children, and we can find out what, exactly, is going on here," I told her.
"Very well, they have been nothing but trouble, and won't shut up, they insist that..." she was droning on
"Just take me to where you have them." I interrupted her.
She shot me a dirty look, but took off down the corridor, and I followed.
There was more to this, because, if it had been them, they would have called me immediately upon encountering a problem, and they hadn't.
She led me to a room, and opened the door saying, "Well, here they are," as I stopped in the doorway.
All of them looked up as we came into the room, except Peter, and all looked defiantly at the woman, except Peter.
Peter was crying and clearly scared, even though Sammy had his arm protectively around the boy.
While I could most likely forgive a misunderstanding, I couldn't forgive that, not after what Peter had just been through.
I didn't say anything, and neither did the kids for a moment, then I said "what have we here?"
Sammy, was looking at me intently, and said "we have tried to explain to this..." but the lady cut him off.
"I have told the officer exactly what you have done, and I have told you to keep silent, now do so."
I turned to her and said, "I would like to hear what they have to say, for themselves if you don't mind."
She gave me a dirty look, but said "fine," almost spitting it out.
Peter was looking at me, obviously confused, but Sammy whispered something to him, which caused him to smile a little, which made me feel a bit better.
"You were saying?" I prompted,
"We have all tried to explain this, but she won't listen to us, and when we tried to call our dad, she took our cell phones away from us. We asked to use her phone but she wouldn't let us do that either."
I nodded my head and then addressed the woman. "Is what he said true?"
"Yes it is, I don't need nor want to listen to a bunch of hooligans lie to me, nor do I want problems until you could get here."
"So you took their cell phones away from them, and refused to allow them to call their parents?"
"I just said that didn't I?" she replied.
"I see. Did you ever think that if you had contacted the parents, that the situation might have been resolved fairly quickly, without traumatizing the children with all this?"
"Traumatizing, they are a bunch of thieves they are lucky I didn't have security put them in handcuffs, and I don't need to deal with parents that is what you are for." she said nastily.
I was seething, but I could see the twinkle in Sammy and the terrors eyes, as they were awaiting what was about to come down on this bitch, only Peter didn't understand.
"I see," I told her "I would like your manager to come down here immediately please."
"She doesn't need to be bothered with the likes of this," was the reply I received.
"I don't think you understand; I wasn't asking," I said in a deadly cold voice.
She took one look at my eyes and headed out of the room. I quickly held up my hand and the boys remained silent as I softly told them,
"Don't worry; everything is going to be alright."
A few minutes later the woman returned with another younger woman who came up to me and smiled, saying,
"My name is Deborah Adams, and I understand you requested to see me," she said.
"Yes, Miss Adams, I did, your assistant manager has informed me that she took these minors into custody, without any evidence except suspicion, refused to allow them to contact their parents, and furthermore took property from them, also on unfounded suspicion. They have been held here, and after repeated requests, were still denied access to contact their parents." I finished.
The assistant manager's mouth dropped open part way through my speech, and before I was half way through, she was protesting vehemently that I was lying.
"Sammy, did you tell them that the credit card was yours, given to you by your father?" I asked Sam
"Yes." he replied
"Did they at any time run the card through the machine?"
"Did you try to use your cell phone to call your parents?"
"Did she take your cell phone away as well as the other's cell phones?"
"Did you and the others ask repeatedly to call your parents even after your cell phones were taken from you?"
"Did you try to explain the situation to her?"
"Ok now did you ask to leave at anytime once you were brought in here?"
"Yes, several times"
"Ok final question for you, did she at anytime allow that you may have been telling the truth?"
"No she wouldn't listen, she just called us thieves and said we were going to jail for a long time, and she made Peter really scared, dad."
There was dead silence, broken only by her gasp, as she looked from the children to me, and back again.
Miss Adams also had a shocked look on her face, finally saying "dad?"
"Yes Miss Adams, Sammy, and the youngest, over there are my sons, and the others are my nephews, whose father by the way is Sheriff Carlson."
You could see Miss. Adams' complexion pale at that news, but Miss Bitch turned absolutely white, before starting to sputter incoherently.
"I want my son's and nephew's property returned immediately." I stated, and Deborah told the other one to get it.
As she left the room Deborah started apologizing profusely, for what had happened to me, before I interrupted and told her, I wasn't owed the apology.
She then turned to the boys, and apologized to them, as the other one came back into the room.
"Mrs. Green you owe these boys an apology," Deborah told her.
"I did what was proper under the circumstances and I won't apologize." was the response she received.
"You will apologize now!" Deborah told her.
"Or what, you will fire me?" Mrs. Green challenged her.
"No Mrs. Green, you will apologize, because it is the right thing to do for what you have put these children through, as to your job, you are already fired!"
Leaving Mrs. Green looking apocalyptic before she said, "you can't do this, and I won't apologize for anything."
Deborah replied, "I am not surprised at all, sadly, but I can do this, and I already have. Gather your things, and get out of my store."
"You bitch!" she said, as she started forward and I must say I took pleasure in being able to do what I did next,
"Yes you are." I said as I pushed her down on the table pulling her arm behind her back, then reaching for my cuffs, which I placed on the one hand while she was screaming, then grabbing the other as I told her quite gleefully,
"Mam, you are under arrest for five counts of kidnapping, unlawful detention of a minor, theft, assault and battery and assault on Miss Adams, oh and you can add disturbing the peace."
"Oh and, SHUT UP!" which brought stunned silence.
I keyed the mic and called dispatch "41 Sam 10-15 x1 request a unit to 911 B me at Penny's in the mall for transport."
"10-4 41 Sam, unit to 911 B 41 Sam at Meadowview mall in 5 or less?" the dispatcher said.
"37 B 3 in 2" was the response. followed by dispatch again "37 B 3 911B with 41 Sam at the Pennys in the mall for transport."
He acknowledged the transmission, and we waited. Mrs. Adams excused herself and left suddenly, and soon enough, the other unit showed up and took Mrs. Green off our hands, with Mrs. Adams returning at the same time they were leaving.
She walked up to the boys, and said, "I am truly sorry for what happened, and it never should have. I hope that you can forgive us for allowing someone like that to remain in a position of responsibility; we never should have allowed her to continue on. Now I understand you were doing some shopping, so how about if I take you around and you get whatever you want, and it's on me today, ok?"
That was a mistake as I saw 4 sets of eyes light up brighter than at Christmas time, causing me to quickly intervene.
"Mrs. Adams, I appreciate the offer but..."
"Dad," came from Sammy, as I just looked at him.
"SamSam, it is a very generous offer, but I don't think her store is quite ready for you guys, and 'anything you want'."
"Daaaaaaaaaad" was the cry "she said anything."
"Sammy," I said, and he just looked at me.
Mrs. Adams was watching this, avidly looking back and forth between us, as Sammy responded,
"Ok, sorry dad"
"Really Mr. Reynolds, it is quite alright, I am sure my establishment can withstand 5 young boys for one afternoon."
I started to say something but before I could, I saw the renewed predatory gleam in 4 sets of eyes, and I broke out into laughter instead, which of course got Mrs. Adams looking as if I were ever slightly insane, before I could get control of myself and tell her,
"Mrs. Adams, truly you don't know my bunch very well, you would probably be declaring bankruptcy within an hour."
"Daaaaaaaaaaaad!!!" came from Sammy as Unnnnccccccccclllllllllllleeeee Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikkkkkkkkkeeee" came from the others while Peter just stood there with his mouth open, looking kind of bedazzled.
"We're not that bad." Kevin mumbled,
"You're right guys," as they looked on, now with suspicion, rightly, as I continued, "it might be closer to two hours," which broke the munchkins up in giggles.
Mrs. Adams was back to looking at me as if I were slightly off, so I finally decided to make a small point.
"Sammy, what's your favorite toy?" which was an easy question for him
"You mean my Lear jet dad?"
I just smiled, as Mrs. Adams face registered complete shock. Damn it would be nice to have a camera about then for her look, was priceless as she stuttered,
Then Sammy just added to the poor woman's torment with, "yea its sooooo cool, I just flew it back last night from Reno, you don't sell helicopters do you? I really want to learn to fly one of those." all with a sweet innocent look on his face, and a smile a mile wide.
Poor Mrs. Adams was standing there looking like she was going to faint, as the enormity of her offer began to sink in, and she realized that I could quite possibly have been right, in my estimation regarding her store's continued solvency.
You could read her thoughts that were flowing at warp speed across her face, as she began thinking. She had made an offer that she was trying someway to figure out how to back out of, quickly without offending anyone, while doing it and at the same time not seeing a way out.
I finally took pity on her, and said, "Look, they were here to buy some things for my new son, Peter, so how about, if the offer is still open, you take them around and let them get some things for him, and you can be the final arbiter of what they buy."
The look of relief was so plainly evident on her face, that I had a very hard time keeping from laughing, unfortunately the 5 of them didn't as they broke out in laughter.
Mrs. Adams regained her composure somewhat, and asked, "What exactly were you looking for?"
"Well he came to me with only one set of clothes, and I was going to have them just buying him a few things to tide him over, until I could come back, and do the major shopping." I told her
"Alright then, well I think we can handle that, don't worry I'll take good care of them," she said.
I still could see the predatory look on the boy's faces that they were trying to hide with feigned innocent expressions, so I quickly said,
"You guys think you can help Mrs. Adams pick out some stuff for Peter and behave?" I said the last word strongly while looking at the instigators of the bunch.
"Yes dad," and "yes Uncle Mike," came from four voices.
What scared me was that I could still see that gleam in their eyes; my angels were up to something.
I just hoped that Mrs. Adams would survive it.
With that, we headed out of the office and into the store, as I told the boys goodbye, and admonished them once again to behave, getting their angelic looks once again.
I was worried make that scared especially for Mrs. Adams.
I took Peter to me and gave him a big hug and asked, "Are you ok, little one?" When he released me, he looked up at me and said, "Yea, now I am," with a smile on his face.
I was glad, as I had worried about the effects this whole adventure may have had on him.
I kissed the top of his head and that of course got four other little monsters coming over wanting their share as well. So after a bunch of hugs and kisses were given and I had told Sammy and the trinity that I was proud of the way they had handled themselves I finally was left to get on my way to explain to Eric what had happened and try to prevent him from killing the bitch.
By the way, Eric didn't take any more kindly to people messing with the trinity than I did, in case you weren't aware.
As I turned to leave with a couple of last minute admonishments about them behaving themselves, to their rolling of eyes, I noticed Sammy get a strange look on his face, and suddenly take off at a dead run towards the back of the store.
"SAMMY!!!" I called, but he didn't answer me.
What the hell?
At the same time the trinity suddenly got intense looks on their faces, and took off in the same direction, yelling "Sammy needs help!"
All this about the time I started running towards where my son had disappeared to, with Peter hot on my heels, Mrs. Adams I didn't worry about.
I got to where Sammy was, to be confronted by a sight, that once again had my blood turning to ice, in an instant, as I pulled my gun and screamed
"DROP IT!" to the teenage boy advancing on Sam, with a knife in his hand.
The scene, as is often the case, was in slow motion, as I had taken in everything when I arrived.
Sammy was standing protectively, in front of a young boy, in a wheel chair, who was crying, while there was a boy on the ground moaning nearby.
The trinity were standing nearby, with another boy, on the ground, clutching his stomach, while the third boy, the one with the knife, was walking towards my son.
"I SAID DROP IT, NOW!"
The boy had turned at my shout, but was still holding the knife in his hand, and he was way too close to Sammy for my comfort.
"41 Sam immediate assistance Penny's in the mall 417A one at gunpoint," I yelled into my mic, while telling the boy,
"Drop it, you don't want to die for this," while he just looked at me clearly uncertain at this point.
I watched as he looked from me, back to Sammy, and back to me again, weighing his chances, it seemed.
I didn't want to shoot a kid especially with where Sammy was in relation to the boy, but if he took one more step towards my son...
I could hear the radio chatter but wasn't paying it much attention at this point, although I knew help was on the way.
The trinity was frozen with the scene in front of them, and fear for Sammy was plainly visible on their faces.
"Drop the knife, now, or I WILL shoot." I told the boy, who had been looking with hatred at Sammy, before quickly returning his gaze to me.
"You won't shoot me." he said with false bravado in his voice, which broke slightly as he said it.
"Trust me son, I will." and there was no mistaking the steel in my voice, or my total determination when I said that, but I was totally surprised to hear the next words.
"And if he doesn't I sure as hell will, DROP THE FUCKING KNIFE, NOW!"
Eric doesn't like people messing with his kids, by the way.
I was never so happy to hear a voice as I was at that moment.
Apparently the kid believed Eric more than me, as with a suddenly pale complexion, the knife clattered to the floor, and suddenly, deputies were swarming the kid, and taking him into custody, along with the two on the ground.
I started breathing again, my focus entirely on Sammy, who was still standing there immobile, and looking at me.
Nothing else in the world mattered right now, except that boy, as I started towards him and we both said at the same time
Then my heart stopped as I heard the next words from his lips
"I...I'm sorry, I guess I have to learn to duck better." as for the first time I noticed the blood dripping down from him, forming a pool at his feet, and his legs began to buckle.
I ran the last few feet catching him as he fell in my arms, both of us going down to the ground as I cried
"Sammy no, no!"
I could hear Eric screaming to get medics here, but I wasn't paying any attention as I gazed down into those deep brown pools, and told him "hang on Sammy, please hang on you're going to be alright," more begging it than anything else.
He tried to give me a little smile, and asked, "Is the boy ok?"
What boy and then I realized that he meant the boy in the wheelchair who I looked up at and found him watching us and crying, while nodding his head yes.
"Yes SamSam, the boy is fine, you hold on," I told him, and could feel Eric there, as well as the trinity. Eric was trying to stop the bleeding, which I hadn't even checked on, while my entire focus was on Sammy.
"I love you daddy." he said to me, softly, and it was too much like he was saying goodbye.
"I love you too, but you hang on, you hear me." I could feel my voice break as I choked on the next words, "you have to hang on, Sammy!"
He just smiled up at me, as I kissed his forehead, and looked at me with the saddest eyes imaginable, that I was lost in, as he said in a whisper, "I love you daddy," and I watched as the light slowly started to fade from them.
"Sammy NOOOOO" I cried out as the sobs racked my body.
I could feel the trinity trying to comfort me, even through their own grief, and sobs of pain but all I could say was,
"Please, no," in a soft desperate whisper as I begged, watching, as it was finally gone.
With it went my world.