We couldn't stop laughing at that, and several boys, at one point, ran rapidly for the bathroom, holding on for dear life, still laughing the whole way, and we all could hear the over exaggerated groans of relief as they took care of their little problem, or maybe not so overly exaggerated.
Eric had fallen out of his chair, and couldn't get back up, and I could only be glad that I was lying in the bed, or I would have been on the floor as well.
The detective finally showed up, to find us in that state, and the look on his face was so comical that it broke all of us up again.
While he went back to where I pointed, we continued to have repeated spells of laughter, and I realized that it was a lot more than just how funny the situation was, but it was also a counter strike against the stress and emotional turmoil we had been through earlier.
We desperately needed the relief, and this one thing was cleansing to us, and helped more than anything else could have at that point.
If I thought it had been funny before, it became more so as Samantha pulled the curtain back after the detective had left, showing us the boys, who upon seeing us looking at them, turned the absolutely cutest shade of bright red imaginable, and trust me blonde's turn the most adorable red, everywhere.
"It's not that funny." Samantha said, in an attempt to be stern for her children, but you could see how hard her mouth was fighting turning up at the corners, a fight she lost, as well as the laughter clearly evident in her eyes.
All any of us could do was point at the two behind her, who when she turned to look, caused her to lose it as well stuttering "oh you're so cuuuuuuuuuute, when you do that."
Which got "mmmoooooooooommmms" out of both of them, while it set us off again.
It was just too much.
I don't know how long we were there before Millie knocked, and walked in, before we could say anything, that was Millie.
"Hi guys, well everyone seems to be doing quite well, what's so funny?" she asked, smiling.
Several of us tried to answer as two young voices said together,
"DON'T TELL HER!"
Which only led to all of us starting to laugh hysterically again.
"I got to get me whatever they're giving you in here," was her comment, as she came over and pulled up a chair.
"So how's my favorite monster today?" she asked.
"Which one?" I asked
"Daaaaad" was the response amongst giggles.
"I hear your trying to take both your dad's and my jobs away from us little one." Millie said
"Nah, you can keep em, I'll just help out sometimes." Sammy said impudently, while giggling.
"NO, you won't" I, along with Eric and Millie all said, at the same time.
He sat up, looking at us with his most innocent look, saying, "What?"
"Samuel Patrick Reynolds," I said sternly, as he lost the war between playing innocent and giggling, as he collapsed back in my arms.
"It's not funny." I said while trying to maintain a scowl on my face, and in my voice.
I don't know if I have mentioned this, but it is very hard to stay mad at SamSam for any length of time, like more than a few seconds.
Although the time he accidentally erased the hard drive on my computer, I did manage it for about 10 minutes or so, I think.
It's kind of hard with those puppy dog eyes looking up at me, with incipient crocodile tears present; then again they might be real.
Ok, ok I'm just a sucker, I'll admit it.
"Sam don't you ever do anything like this again, you hear me, child?" Millie told him.
"I promise I won't get hurt like this again," Sammy said, suddenly completely serious.
All of us looked at him suspiciously, because of the way in which he worded it, but he looked so earnest and said,
"I won't," to our looks that we let it go, as I whispered in his ear,
"I don't think I could take it again, honey."
"I know dad," I heard him reply simply.
"I love you." he told me, as I squeezed tightly, and told him, "I love you too, little one."
He snuggled back into position, getting comfortable, as Millie looked on and asked, "So who are your two newest babies?"
"I ain't a baby, I'm six," was the response from Peter, with indignation plainly evident in his voice.
"Well, you must be Peter then, and just so you know, when you get as old as me, all children are babies." she said with a smile on her face, and in her voice.
Peter looked at her suspiciously, still not quite believing her, I think, before I said, "and this is Brian," who was looking at Millie with some trepidation clearly on his face.
"Well Brian and Peter, I am Millie, and I am the one who is going to let you live with Mike, from now on, if that's what you both want." she told them, but they were both nodding their heads wildly, before she had the chance to finish.
"Well I'll take that as a yes." she said, still smiling.
Brian still looked as if he was unsure, and Millie told him, "Brian, I know you have been shoved from place to place, and its kind of hard to believe what I'm saying, but this placement will be forever, unless YOU want out, do you understand?"
Brian looked up at me, and then back to Millie.
"That's what Mike said you all wanted, so yes, forever unless you don't want that." she said kindly.
"Yes, oh yes, I really want to live with Sam and Mike and Peter, its just..." with his voice tapering off,
"It seems too good to believe, or like it's a dream?"
"Yeah." he said, softly.
"Well, I'm sorry to say," and I could feel Brian tense up, "that its not a dream, little one. Its real and its forever. Its just going to take time for you to believe it, but don't worry, Mike will give you all the time in the world, and so will SamSam."
You're not going anywhere, you're my brother now," Sam said softly to him, while I just hugged a little harder.
"Yeah really." both of us said, as I reached out and cuddled Peter to me. "You too baby boy."
I could almost feel them purring at hearing that, even if Peter was a big boy now.
I knew I was.
"So then, I have to hear it from each of you, speaking it, do you Peter, and you Brian, want to live with Mike and Sammy, from now on?"
"YES!" came from two voices at once, while I just smiled.
"Well, I can see that it is unanimous, so both of you are placed into permanent placement with Mike and Samuel." Millie said, with great formality, which of course caused both boys to look at me and say,
I laughed as I told them, "It means you're mine, all mine now." but was surprised amongst the giggles to hear two voices once again speaking simultaneously say,
"So Sammy are you really ok?" Millie asked, concerned.
"Yeah, just a little cut, is all." Sammy said.
I guess he could feel me tense up, as he quickly added, "I kinda lost a little blood, too."
"A little?" I muttered, as I watched his face blush.
Millie quickly said, "Well I am really glad to see that you're ok, honey."
"Me too," Sam said with a small giggle.
We sat and talked for a while, until I eventually gave Millie a brief outline of Chris and Derek's circumstances, and asked if she could speak with them.
She readily agreed, and went over to their side of the room, while I chatted with my boys, and Eric, mostly just holding on for dear life.
After a while, Samantha came back with Mille and Derek in tow, and Millie said that Chris was out and they were going to go someplace private, and talk for a bit.
I told her fine, and we would be here if Chris woke up, and they left.
I am not sure when, but sometime shortly after that, I must have dozed off. I didn't realize how tired I was, from everything, but sometime later I suddenly woke, to find a state police officer I knew, named Karen, standing there with a woman I didn't know, and she was obviously arguing quietly with Eric.
I noticed that the others had also fallen asleep, although if Sam had been, he wasn't any longer, as I could feel him tensed up in my arms.
I guess the woman had seen me or Sammy awake, or maybe both, because suddenly she headed in our direction.
She had a sour look on her face, that made me take an immediate dislike to her, as I sat up and navigated myself free of kids, I wanted to be on my feet for some reason.
Karen was right behind her as she walked up to us.
"Are you Mike Reynolds?"
"Yes I am," I told her.
"Good, my name is Mrs. Higginbottom, and I am with Child Protective Services."
"Oh good you're here about Derek and Chris, and their situation." I said with relief.
"Well yes, I am, but I will get to that in a moment."
"Ok, well if you want information, I would prefer to take this somewhere private." I told her.
"Oh I have all the information I need on that situation," she said with a strange tone in her voice,
"I'm not sure how, since I haven't written the report yet, and a lot of details weren't relayed." I said, puzzled.
"I'm sure, but I have spoken with someone intimately involved in the situation, and I will make sure the children are taken care of," she said, again with that odd tone in her voice, that I was beginning to like less and less.
"Exactly, what does that mean? Who could you have possibly spoken with?" I asked her.
Something smelled here.
"That is confidential, but I am aware of all pertinent facts in this matter," she told me.
"Look, I don't know what you think you know, but the father is in jail, and the mother is present with both children." I said to her
"Yes I am well aware that you have placed the father in jail, for trying to protect his youngest son," she said.
"Excuse me? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"I believe I said it plainly. Enough," she retorted.
"Mrs. Higginbottom, that man physically abused both boys, to the point one of them has had to be hospitalized with broken bones, for God's sake. How can you even think it was justified?"
"Mr. Reynolds, there is no evidence of abuse by the father. The actions taken against the older boy, while a bit excessive, are understandable, under the circumstances, and he has been counseled regarding what are acceptable and unacceptable, forms of punishment, in the future."
I was rapidly losing my temper, as I said hotly, "under the circumstances, in the future, lady there is no excuse for what he did under ANY circumstances, and there will never be any, "future," here, as he is going to be in jail for a long, long time, and the mother certainly is never going to allow him near those children ever again."
"well you seem to be misinformed, as to what is going on, Mr. Reynolds, suffice it to say that their father is not the one to blame here."
"Lady, you really need to learn what the facts of this case are, and I strongly suggest you do so, before opening your mouth again." I told her coldly.
"Mr. Reynolds, it is you who need to learn the facts of the case. The father found the older boy molesting the younger, and tried to stop it, and was attacked. He defended himself, and you arrested the wrong person, based on two little perverts' lies, the younger boy, will be removed and undergo intensive counseling, before being returned to his father, and the older boy will be charged, and placed in a juvenile detention facility, in an attempt to treat his disorder. We also have information that the mother was complicit in the assault on her younger child."
I was seeing red by this time, the woman was insane, those kids were never getting near that man again, and I started to step forward, when she went on,
"That though is beside the point and will be taken care of later, I am actually here about your children."
To say I was stunned, was an understatement. It brought me to a complete halt.
"I don't understand what would my children have to do with anything?" I asked her.
"Well actually it is only one of 'your' children, the others are here illegally."
"What? You don't know what the hell you're talking about." I told her, all the anger back in an instant.
"The guardian of the crippled boy has filed a complaint for your abduction of him, and you took a six year old from the scene of an incident last night, I believe as well, not to mention this is twice in 24 hours that you have placed your adoptive son into serious danger."
"God ,you're an ass." Sammy said bluntly, which got the sour look to become even worse, as she said, "And apparently manners are not taught either."
"Look lady you don't know what you're talking..."
"I do Mr. Reynolds, and we are going to return the crippled boy to his rightful guardian, and take the other two into protective custody, as of this time."
She reached out with her hand and I got in front of her, as Peter said "Dad," "don't touch my children." I said in a cold voice, that should have given her a hint not to
"Officer," she said, while looking at Karen.
"I'm sorry Mike, I have no choice," she said, clearly not happy to do this.
"Karen, she isn't taking them anywhere she doesn't have the authority," I said and then heard a voice say, "get your hand off me you bitch."
I turned back around to find her pulling on Sam's arm while he was struggling to get away. I was surprised her hand wasn't broken by that time, as I started towards her.
"Don't touch my children."
"Officer," she repeated herself,
"I said get your fucking hands off my son." and the chill in my voice had dropped to sub freezing levels, along with the volume.
Eric grabbed on to me saying, "Don't Mike," which was surprising to me, until she told him.
"That's right sheriff get a hold of your man, or I'll make him pay."
Then it was Eric's turn to say "oh, don't worry about my 'man' he'll be fine, but if you don't take your hands off my nephew, in the next three seconds, I will break your Arm." in a perfect conversational tone, as if he was discussing the weather, which sent chills down my spine.
It apparently had a similar effect on her, as well, as she suddenly released Sam, who scooted back on the bed.
I was still furious, as I could see Brian and Peter both looking scared, along with the trinity.
"Sheriff, you don't want to cross me, I could have you arrested, you know. That is why I brought the state police in with me, you can't control them."
Eric just looked at her before saying, in the same calm voice, "true, but I could have a hundred men down here within a very, very short amount of time, and that's just from my department alone. I am sure the city would be more than happy to send a bunch over here as well, how many state officers do you think you can come up with?"
I could see her face pale, as she spat, "you wouldn't dare."
"Oh I would, and I will." he said as he reached down and turned his hand held radio on.
I was so proud of him, me, I just wanted to kill her.
"Officer, I want these children out of here now." she said, ignoring us for the moment.
Eric and I just looked at Karen, who really had an, "I'm so screwed", look on her face, before she stood up and said, "Mrs. Higginbottom, I don't think now is a good time to..."
"I didn't ask what you thought, I told you to remove these children this instant, now do It." she interrupted screaming, and I could swear there was froth at her mouth.
Then as I stood there shaking with rage and fear, I heard a sweet and kind voice say, from across the room, in a perfectly normal conversational tone,
"Now Agnes, why on earth would you want to do that?"
Thank God, Millie.
I watched as the color completely drained from Agnes's face, and while I thought it had gone pale before, now it was white.
"Ah, Miss. Hendricks, ah I'm having a slight problem here."
"I can see that," Millie said, walking over to where we were standing, with Eric still restraining me.
"Umm, well I was here investigating several related complaints, and these men were interfering with me." Agnes told Millie.
I started to get worried as Millie was being so nice with her
"You were, I didn't know that." Millie said, and then asked, "What kind of complaints?"
"Well, placing a minor in a dangerous situation, on two occasions, unlawful possession of a ward of the court, and taking a child without social service approval, for one thing, and sexual assault on a minor, battery on a parent, and possibly sexually inappropriate conduct on the part of another parent," she told Millie.
"Those are very serious charges." Millie stated.
"Yes they are, and I was trying to remove these children, when they began threatening me."
"Oh my they threatened you?" Millie asked.
"Yes they did." Agnes replied. Primly, and much more in control of herself.
Millie was nodding her head, and then she asked which of these children are guilty of the assault charges?"
"Those would be the two brothers, one of which is in the bed across the room."
Agnes was much happier now. And I was getting worried and I could feel that Eric was tense as well, as this wasn't like Millie at all.
"Tell me Agnes, did you happen to do the slightest bit of investigation before coming down here?" Millie asked again sweetly.
"Well of course, you just don't make determinations without as many facts as you can obtain." Agnes said, obviously affronted at the implied insult.
"No, you most certainly do not." Millie said, with a little less sweetness, and I could see that Agnes had noticed it as well.
"Tell me Agnes, did you speak with the two brothers in question?"
"Well no, but..."
"Did you speak with the mother, maybe?"
"I spoke with someone intimately involved with the situation, who could give me all the information I needed, to make a determination." Agnes stated primly.
"Oh you did, that's strange, because the only ones 'intimately' involved in the situation, as you put it were the two children, who you admit you haven't interviewed, and the man who was abusing them." Millie said, again, ever so sweetly, as I started to relax, and Agnes began to sweat.
"Well, I of course, can't discuss complainants, but I am sure of my facts, in this case. The older boy was molesting the younger one..." she was saying when Millie interrupted her.
"Agnes, come now, you must have spoken with the step-father."
"Well...umm...yes, he called in the complaint, and I interviewed him in depth," she told us.
"Ah good, then you know that he kept them prisoners in their own home, wouldn't allow them to go out, wouldn't allow them to have any friends over, psychologically abused and generally terrorized them, threatened them, threatened their mother, and beat the living shit out of them, constantly, right?" she said still in that same sweet voice.
"Umm, no, that's not exactly what I've been told." she said, going pale once again.
"Ah, I see, so you went and took the word of a man in jail, for child abuse, and never thought to speak with the children?"
"Umm well...umm he told me what had been going on, and..." she was saying when Millie interrupted her again.
"Agnes dear, I'm curious, did you happen to check the computer, about any of these children, before coming up here?"
"Umm, ah...well no." Agnes almost mumbled in answer.
"Ahh, ok, so let me get the straight, just to be sure I have all the facts right. You went, and spoke with the step father of the boys in question, believed him, without any further investigation, even though he is in jail, for abuse, are willing to devastate two abused children, one, with a criminal charge, and the other with shame, and the people here aren't too happy with that?" Millie recounted.
Agnes was now not a happy person, not that I think she ever had been, but she now replied with venom in her voice.
"I know no one has denied the molestation charges yet, which makes me highly suspect the father was telling the truth, I know that it's not these people's place to be happy with anything, and especially when they are under investigation themselves. I also know that if the older boy did molest the younger one, then he should be in jail, and not the father. Not only that but the younger one will need extensive counseling, to negate the deviance that he has been exposed to." she finished while Millie merely looked on with open contempt on her face.
Poor Karen didn't know what to make of this whole thing, and I watched as she looked back and forth between us, just glad to be off the spot right now.
"Well I'm not going to give you a lesson, or maybe I should say, another lesson, on child development and sexuality right now, since you apparently haven't paid attention to any of the others so far..." Millie started to say, but this time Agnes cut her off.
"Oh yes, I have been to your 'so called training seminars,' and I certainly don't need to hear any more of that." she said nastily.
"Really, so you are telling me that you deliberately are not following department guidelines, with respect to cases having a sexual aspect to them?" Millie said to her.
"I will never see perversion as acceptable, and many others feel as I do, don't think, just because no one says anything to you, that they like your sick policies." Agnes said, all cares thrown out the door, as she ranted on.
"That boy molested his brother, and deser..."
"THAT WILL BE ENOUGH!" Millie screamed, which was such a shock coming from her, that we all jumped, and poor old Agnes was left standing there with her mouth open.
"Mrs. Higginbottom, you did not investigate this case properly, in any way, you failed to follow even basic departmental policy, as regards investigating complaints. Further, by not doing so, you further traumatized two children, and their family. You have willfully disregarded departmental policies and procedures, such as the sexuality training, and investigative guidelines in place, to prevent occurrences such as this, and you have no intention of ever following them, when it comes to your pet little obsessions, of which sex is one of them. Further more, in regards to Mr. Reynolds, you apparently haven't done the slightest bit of investigation there either. Peter and Brian, as well as Samuel, are my cases, and you had no right to interfere with them. There is also absolutely no truth to your allegations, which if you had checked anything at all, you would have found. Mike is licensed to take children, on an emergency as well as permanent basis, and we knew he had Peter within an hour of the incident last night, which, by the way, is in the computer records, you didn't check. Also, Brian is in Mike's custody, as of several hours ago, as also noted in the computer." Millie paused at that point, looking at Mrs. Higginbottom.
I had been watching her as well, and I was beginning to get worried, as she had been decidedly looking more and more unwell, as the speech from Millie progressed, that or she had swallowed something she didn't like, maybe both.
Millie went on "Your coming here, with your allegations and attacks, has been detrimental to two families, you have scared a group of children, for absolutely no reason, and while I am sure you are correct about not all the people liking my policies, they are my policies, and hence those of the department, and since you can't or won't follow them, and you certainly haven't followed them, or even basic ones, that have been in effect long before I took over CPS, it is with great pleasure, that I can tell you that you don't have to worry about following anything anymore." she concluded.
"Just what exactly is that supposed to mean?" Agnes said to her.
"It means, that you may come to the office tomorrow, at precisely 10 am, not 9:45 and not 10:05 but at exactly 10, where one of Eric's deputies will escort you to claim your belongings, and then escort you from the property." Millie told her, with that same sweet voice, and smile on her face.
"You...you can't do this." Agnes sputtered.
"Oh, but I have. You're fired!!!"
"Well I've never..." Agnes started to say, when I heard a voice say, "you should it might help," and accompanied by some giggles.
Agnes's face went from white to red and she shot glares towards the boys, before turning and heading out of the room in a huff.
"Oh and Agnes," Millie called, causing her to stop half way to the door, although she didn't answer her.
"You can tell all your friends, that don't like my 'policies', that they're next."
I could see Agnes stiffen, and she said, "This isn't over, you bitch," and started walking to the door, as Millie muttered, "Oh yes it is."
Just as Mrs. Higginbottom got to the door and pulled it open a small voice called out,
"Mrs Higginbottom," causing her to stop in the doorway and turn to face Sammy, "yes." she said to him, clearly not happy.
Then I got scared as I looked at SamSam, to see him with one of his angelic looks on his face, as he said sweetly, "my daddy did teach me manners, maam..." pausing long enough for Mrs. Higginbottom to start to turn away, and me to really worry, as he continued causing Mrs. Higginbottom to turn back once again, "just not to waste them on those who could never understand them." he finished in the same voice, and with the same smile.
Mrs. Higginbottom was sputtering in rage, and tried to slam the door as she left, but hospital doors were built to preclude, having even that go her way this evening, as she finally settled on, storming away.
To the sound of boy giggles, I was left to wonder if this day was ever going to come to an end.