by Chris James
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Rated Mature 18+
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"It's pretty simple," Matt said. "When we access email on one of these computers all the attachments have to be coded or they get stripped off. You won't find spam on the State Police network."
Matt was in the driver's seat of his patrol car while BD sat on the passenger's side. With the windows open, Ed, Andy, Mitch and Bill were standing in the parking lot looking on. Matt swiveled the keyboard and monitor towards BD and told him to go ahead and call up his mail server.
The boy typed in his information and the connection was quickly made. The email that bore Monica's address was there, but without the attachment.
"Wow, that works well," BD said.
"So you think the attachment was some kind of trace?" Matt asked.
"Yes. I know they're looking for me."
BD clicked on the email and the text message opened up.
You can see by the attached photo that I am not at home ... where are you? Your father would like you to call him so you can straighten things out. You have done some bad things but all will be forgiven if you come home. Please tell Bobby I am okay. They are waiting for your reply. M
"So the attachment was just a photo," Matt said.
"I doubt it was that simple. I'm sure they don't expect me to just phone home."
"Who is Bobby?" Bill asked.
"There is no Bobby. That's our code to tell me she's in trouble."
"Have you reported her abduction to the police?" Matt asked.
"Her mother did, but I don't want my name involved, they might hurt her," BD said.
"Okay, let's go talk about this," Matt said.
They returned to the apartment and Bill ducked downstairs into the office to ask Sonny to come upstairs and join them. Sonny Lewis was his para-legal assistant, and so much more. A tough young lady, she had been dating their new Sheriff for quite some time and everyone in the office was waiting for wedding bells.
But Sonny had been a cop for six years in Southern California before she returned to town when her mother needed help, that need was over but she stayed on and for that Bill was grateful. She had one of the most analytical minds he'd ever seen and he never went into anything without her opinion on the subject.
BD was just about to explain the situation to Matt when Bill and Sonny walked in the door. The poor kid, he might have to tell this story a dozen times before this was all over. Matt and Sonny listened carefully and then looked at one another.
"You go first," Matt said.
Sonny smiled. "Nope, you wear the uniform ... it's your call."
"I'm sure we all have questions," Matt said. "Your father's church is in this state so I have the jurisdiction. Where is your place of residence?"
"Castle Rock," BD said. "The cathedral is right off Interstate 25 where everyone can see it. But my parents house is south-east of town off Ridge Road. At least that's the official residence in my father's name."
"Is there an unofficial residence?" Sonny asked.
"Oh yeah, but that's in my mother's name, Dunlop, so the media doesn't find out. I guess my father doesn't want anyone to know about it because we supposedly live a frugal life on church donations. But the real house sits on five hundred acres of land and it's a mansion."
"And where is that?" Matt asked.
"Castlewood Lake, do you know where that is?"
"I think so, at least I know it's between Colorado Springs and Castle Rock," Matt said.
"Yes. Just on the edge of the state park. The lake and the park surround the property on three sides but the house is closer to Route 83. I guess that makes it easier for them to patrol," BD said.
"Who patrols?" Bill asked.
"The militia ... that's where their headquarters is located down by the lake."
"I don't like this militia angle ... who are these people?" Sonny asked.
"I have a list of their names if you want to see it," BD said.
"I would," Matt said. "Do you know what this headquarters looks like?"
"I know where the buildings are, or were," BD said. "But I haven't seen that part of the property since I was around twelve years old. The last time I was on a four-wheeler just out running around the edge of the lake. There was an old barn and some other buildings down there, but now there's a security fence to keep people out."
"So if they have your friend Monica that seems a likely place to hold her," Bill said.
"Yes, I doubt if anybody can get in there without them knowing about it."
"I'm not sure we're ready to sneak into a place like that," Ed said. "Guys like these God's Chosen people are probably armed to the teeth and know how to use those weapons."
"You think I should give myself up?" BD asked.
"Oh hell no," Ed said. "Monica probably knows a lot about them by now and so do you, they can't just let you walk out of there."
"We don't have any legal justification for searching the property," Matt said. "We don't know if she's there, even if that is the logical conclusion."
"Then we need some kind of covert assessment, don't we?" Andy asked. "I don't think we're capable of that." And then he smiled. "But I know someone who is."
"Uh oh, I don't like the sound of that," Bill said.
"You don't know Boze, but he has people who do this sort of thing."
"I'm not sure I should be listening to this," Matt said. "It sounds illegal."
"I assure you Boze has ways of looking at things from a distance," Andy said. "There won't be any trespassing unless we discover the girl is there."
"You prove that and I'll get state resources to go in after her," Matt said.
"You have your own army?" BD asked.
"You'd be surprised. So tell me about this lake, is it in the park?" Matt asked.
"Most of it ... let me show you," BD said.
Google Earth was a fine strategic tool, although it was limited to high altitude civilian satellite technology. But Andy knew Boze had people who could take a closer look if the military had something flying overhead in that area.
Google showed them the lake and BD pointed out the section of ground on the west side that was the Dunlop property. The lake was small, only a few thousand acres or so, but then this was the dry part of the state and without Cherry Creek there would be no water resources in the area.
"I don't see any marina, do they allow boating?" Ed asked.
"The lake is pretty shallow and since the park surrounds most of the lake I don't think they allow boats," BD said. "Most of what they have around there is the pine forest and small wildlife."
"What kind of wildlife?" Ed asked.
"Raccoons, snakes, and the occasional bear that wanders down from the mountains, but I've never seen one. The park is only open during the day, mostly for hikers since they really don't have any fancy facilities there. I don't know how you'd get onto the property."
"The lake looks pretty narrow," Andy said. "My guess is that we won't have to cross the water. But if the militia patrols the property then we'll also have to be careful not to be seen."
"They might have the place wired," Ed said. "You know what kind of technology is out there, but it isn't cheap."
"Money wouldn't be a problem for them," BD said. "The church has lots of cash."
"Oh? Don't tell me you look in their bank accounts as well?" Bill said.
"I have ... I can," BD said. "All their passwords are from the Bible, that's pretty lame security if you know where to look."
"I think I need to call Boze and see if he can help us," Andy said.
"Just exactly who is Boze?" Matt asked.
"Bozeman Tibbett," Andy said. "He was born in Bozeman, Montana, thus the name. He was a Master Chief in Naval Intelligence and my boss. But he owns Bozeman Security in San Diego and they do a lot of ... um, covert things. He has access to skilled people you won't believe, but the government has used them before under the table."
"Sounds expensive," Bill said.
"He is ... we'll work something out."
Bill's cell phone rang and he looked at the screen. "I have to take this," He said and headed for the kitchen.
"Good Afternoon, Eli."
"Hello, Bill ... have you got a few minutes?"
"When a judge calls I listen," Bill said.
"Good ... and I mean that is good news, so is this. Timothy Witherspoon is being released from Providence. I though you should know."
"How is ... how is that possible, he's not eighteen yet?"
"Grant Scholtz called me," Eli said. "You know I've kept this case sub curia all this time and he knows I still have jurisdiction. He's been sending me quarterly reports on Tim's progress and he called to see when I was going to release the boy.
"Frankly, I'd forgotten that we have to give Tim credit for good behavior on his sentence and Grant reminded me of that. If anything Tim should have been released two months ago with the formula we have. I have to cut him loose with a big apology, Bill ... are you ready for that?"
"Good Lord, I just came back from up there this morning."
"I'm sorry," Eli said.
"No ... no, that's fine. Wow, what an unexpected blessing," Bill said.
"From what Grant says Tim is ready and I don't see his age being a factor in this decision. I know we said it would be at eighteen but he has been incarcerated and the good behavior rules apply. I have the release order right here on my desk.
"But when you bring him home I want to see him," Eli said. "He won't be on parole or probation so I think we need to have a chat about his circumstances. Other than that I'm also signing the order to expunge the juvenile records on his case."
Bill smiled. "It's like Christmas in May, the gifts keep on coming."
"I know you have plans for him so I hope this isn't going to change them."
"I can't think of any reason why. It may take some time to get him re-acclimated to the world out here, but I have help."
"You need anything else from me just call. I'll fax this order up to Grant right now."
"Thank you, Eli, you've been more than kind to the boy."
Eli chuckled. "He's a man now, don't forget that. The shy little boy we once knew is history. From what Grant tells me Tim is now quite the outdoorsman. Perhaps those skills will be useful in his adult life, but you'll figure it out. So go get the man and bring him home, it's about time your family is reunited. Bye for now."
"I will ... Good Bye, Eli."
Bill ended the call and stood there looking out the kitchen window. Tim would be living in this apartment ... maybe he wouldn't like city living. How far would he go to keep the boy happy? First thing he needed to do was forget calling Tim a boy. This was exciting, and if truth be told, a little frightening.
He had to tell Matt and ... damn, what was he going to say to the others? Bill returned to the living room and Matt caught his eye.
"What?" Matt said.
"That was Eli Parker on the phone ... Tim is being released today and I have to go get him."
Matt was off the chair in a flash and gave Bill a hug. The others remained silent since only Ed and Sonny knew what this was about. The hug ended and Bill smiled, it was time to explain. But Andy held up his hand to forestall the conversation.
"Go ... do what you have to do," Andy said. "Nothing is more important than family."
"Are you sure? I hate to leave before we come to some decision," Bill said.
"I have to contact Boze and get him moving which might take a few days. Why don't we meet for breakfast in the morning and you can introduce your son."
"Okay, that works." Bill turned to Ed. "Call me this evening and let me know what you've decided. It was nice meeting you all." And Bill was out the door.
He hadn't showered or changed ... none of that seemed important. It was past four o'clock by the time Bill pulled onto the Interstate. It would take him almost two hours to reach Providence, time enough to ... and he reached for the speed dial on his car phone.
"Barnhill Institute, Evan Moore."
"Evan, its Bill ... how are you?"
"You're asking a psychiatrist how he feels? I'm fine for an old man. But you sound happy."
"I'm on my way to Providence, they're releasing Tim today."
"Oh my, how wonderful for you both," Evan said. "Are you ready for this?"
"That's what everyone keeps asking and I have no idea, this is so sudden," Bill said.
"You've had plenty of time to think about it, just relax. You're doing the right thing for the both of you. How is Matt taking it?"
"Matt loves Tim as much as I do. It's intimidating to suddenly have a family ... I worry about the responsibility."
"You've never shied away from making good decisions, everything will be fine," Evan said. "Tim will be the one who will have to make the adjustments. I'm glad you've been going to see him, you aren't strangers to one another."
"But he was in captivity and now he can walk away if he wants, at least I think so."
"Not going to happen. You are the adult authority figure in his life. He loves you and respects you too much to go anywhere ... at least right away. He'll have to readjust to city life and that might be difficult, but you'll have time to talk about it."
"I'd move to the country if that's what he needs," Bill said.
"Wrong answer," Evan said. "His desires need to coincide with yours. Nothing wrong with country living, I enjoy it, but that will have to be a mutual decision. Don't give into any changes just because Tim doesn't like something. You need to give this family thing some time to grow, Matt will back you up."
"You're right, as usual. Thanks, Evan ... now I better get back to driving."
"Call me when Tim gets settled in. You should bring your family out to my house for dinner. I know Betty would love to see you again."
"We'll do that," Bill said. "Oh, and I may have a need to speak with you about something new that's developing. The case isn't put together yet."
"I'm always available, you know that. Give my regards to Tim."
"Good Bye, Evan."
Traffic on the Interstate was heavier as Bill approached Colorado Springs, but then he took the Cheyenne exit and headed towards the mountains. The Providence facility was nestled in the arms of a valley in the foothills of the Rockies. A magnificent view for the boys and an immediate physical challenge.
Tim had excelled at the challenges Grant and his staff offered. Like all of the boys who first entered the school, Tim had gone through some rigorous physical training. For six months it was like a military boot camp until the conditioning allowed each boy to participate in the challenge of living outdoors.
By the time Tim was sixteen he had gone on a two week hike into the Pike National Forest, climbing up the rock towers of Bison Peak to a level of twelve thousand feet. Grant and three other certified climbers had led fifteen boys to the trail head.
But this was a novice trip, Tim acknowledged, an easy venture, and yet it was a major accomplishment in his young life. There were more challenges on the way in the classroom and in the mountains. Bill embraced the boy's enthusiasm and just wished these things had not come at such a cost.
Bill had called ahead and when he finally drove up the long entrance road he found Tim sitting on a duffel bag at the front doors. Grant was standing there as well and smiled when he saw Bill's car. Tim hefted the duffel bag and Bill toggled the trunk lid before he got out.
"He's all ready to go," Grant said as he shook Bill's hand. "I think he can't wait to leave."
Tim laughed ... the joy evident on his face. "Hey, I love this place, Grant."
"Love is a relative emotion," Grant said. "You learn to love the rest of the world and I'll be happy for you."
Tim gave the man a hug and Grant smiled, handing over an envelope.
"What's this?" Tim asked.
"Your certificate as a rock climber. Providence is a certified school and you rated third class this year. It might even help you get a job, but I'll give you a reference any time you need it."
"Thank you," Tim said, and then he turned to Bill. "I guess we can go."
"Thank you, Grant. Good luck with your program," Bill said as Tim climbed in the car.
"He's going to be just fine," Grant said. "Wish I could say that about all of them, but I will. It just takes time."
They shook hands and Grant walked back in the building. Bill slid behind the wheel and started the car.
"You're gonna have to teach me to drive," Tim said.
"We can do that," Bill said.
"So ... should I still call you Bill or would you prefer dad?"
"You can call me anything you want ... all this is going to take some getting used to."
Tim sighed. "Yes it is. Thanks, Bill."
"You're welcome. Shall we go home?"
There was silence in the car as they drove down the gravel driveway towards the county road. Bill could only wonder what Tim was thinking. He was finally free of this place, although it had been the best kind of experience. Maybe there were regrets ... and then Bill heard Tim quietly laughing.
Tim laughed out loud. "We just said good bye this morning and spent the last two days talking about so many things ... I don't know what to say to you now. Well, did you have dinner?"
"No, and I missed lunch."
"Then let's stop and get something. Not eating is one of your bad habits I suppose," Tim said.
"I just get so busy ... yeah, you're right. Let's go eat."
They took the Lake Avenue exit in Colorado Springs and passed a Denny's. Bill shook his head to show it wasn't the kind of food he liked. A few blocks down he saw a sign for Carrabba's and decided they could do Italian. Tim agreed and in just a few minutes they pulled into the parking lot.
A hostess seated them and they were handed menus. "What's in the duffel bag?" Bill asked.
"Work clothes, this is the only nice outfit I have," Tim said.
He was wearing jeans and a work shirt, nothing fancy. "We can take care of that. Do you need anything before we get home?"
"Not really. I'll wait until we can go to a mall and get a few things. I still have some money left," Tim said.
"Good. But we may not get there tomorrow, I have another problem. Ed brought me a new client with a mess on his hands."
"You want to tell me about it?" Tim asked.
"I can, but you just remember it doesn't involve you. It was Ed who called me away this morning and when I got back to town ... "
Bill described most of what he had seen and heard, leaving out a detail here and there. Tim listened without interruption until he was done.
"This Christian militia sounds like the Hutaree organization," Tim said.
"Oh ... I don't know them."
"They call themselves Christian patriots and the FBI said they were out to overthrow the government, but they never got enough evidence to prosecute. I read about them last year for my social studies class. But this God's Chosen just sounds like a hate group."
"I don't know what they're objectives are, but BD says they hate gay people. That's nothing new since a lot of groups survive on hate."
"That makes it personal," Tim said. "We better be careful."
"Look, they don't know we exist. If Ed and Andy go looking for answers to this kidnapping then we'll be the support crew that gets left behind. This Ernest Tilden sounds like a dangerous man."
"I don't know much about him," Tim said. "But what I hear isn't good."
"He preaches fear and stirs up hate in his church, but it's all about the money. Just how these militia people are involved we haven't figured out. But BD seems to know a lot about them."
"He sounds interesting ... you said he was gay?"
"He's a very bright and somewhat scared young man at the moment," Bill said. "The gay part we haven't discussed except it seems that's what started all this."
Again silence reigned in the car for a while and then Tim sighed. "I haven't made up my mind on the issue of being gay. It isn't like I've had the chance to explore those feelings."
"Everything will become clear with time. I spent a lot of my life thinking about it before I made the decision. But you've been busy with other objectives the past couple of years. What is this third class certificate all about?"
Tim looked grateful for the change of subject. "It took me almost a year to achieve the goals of a third class climber and Grant said that was quick. But that was all free climbing, nothing too dangerous. I don't mind the height and climbing like that is all in the planning. Grant took six years to reach first class.
"Free climbing is rated differently than climbing with equipment. Bison Peak was just a walk on steep trails, but Grant went up El Capitan two years ago, that's in Yosemite Park. Three thousand feet straight up ... that took balls."
Bill nodded. "I hope you don't plan on anything like that in the near future."
Tim laughed. "Don't worry ... I'm not ready for that."
The apartment was dark when they got home. There was a message from Ed on the kitchen table and a stack of paper. The note said he would not call this evening and intended to leave Bill and Tim alone for some private time. He suggested eight in the morning for breakfast out at the Dutchman Diner off the Interstate.
Bill looked at some of the papers and saw that BD had printed out a bunch of documents. A list of names, addresses and phone numbers ... the militia. He could read this material later, but then Bill knew it would be better off locked in the office safe when he was done.
Tim walked around the apartment and nodded. "I remember this place ... I could live here."
Bill remembered that Tim had spent two nights here after being sentenced to the Providence facility. Eli had thought they needed the time to bond and he was right.
"You do live here, for as long as you want," Bill replied, and held out his arms.
Tim moved into the hug and gave Bill a squeeze.
"Uh ... you're not a little kid anymore, take it easy on me."
Tim gave him a kiss on the cheek and then held Bill off at arm's length. The face was somber, some difficult emotions tumbling inside Tim's head.
"You're the only man who ever loved me," Tim said. "I don't know what I did to deserve that."
"Evan and I talked about that," Bill said. "I was scared for you and what might become of your life. All those bad things that happened to you ... it didn't seem fair that one person should have to endure that much pain.
"But you're strong and I admire that, you persevered. Evan says we're alike and that's the attraction. I needed love and so did you, and now we're a family. You still need to think about allowing me to adopt you."
"Aren't I a little old for that?"
"No, but it will make your life easier. As a gay man I don't have anyone to leave my estate to and the adoption will change that. But no hurry, I don't plan on going anywhere except maybe into the shower. I've been wearing these clothes since yesterday."
"Okay, you go shower and change. Can I use your laptop?"
"Sure, let me log on and set up an account for you," Bill said.
He did that and then left Tim writing an email to his friend Mike, a boy who had been with him in Barnhill several years ago. Bill didn't think he could dominate Tim's attention so it was good he had friends.
Bill enjoyed the spray of hot water from the showerhead and realized something. Tim was used to the outdoors and the primitive ways of life on the trail ... as a lawyer he was not. A hot shower, a shave and a clean suit every day had been a part of his life for a decade, but it seems that was about to change.
By the time Bill was done he found Tim in his room unpacking the duffel bag. Shirts, pants and underwear were laid out in small piles on the double sized mattress. There wasn't much of a variety but it all looked clean, although slightly worn. Standing in the doorway Bill watched Tim fold the duffel neatly and place it at the foot of the bed.
"You need clothes," Bill said.
"This was a week's worth at Providence. I left my uniform stuff with a boy who didn't have much ... I don't think I'll need that here."
"I didn't know you guys wore uniforms."
"Just some military issue camo gear. Grant was big on war games because it embraced all the survival skills he taught us." Tim smiled. "It was a tough school, but I liked it. Where can I put all this stuff?"
"That dresser is empty and you have a closet. We'll go to the mall and buy you some new clothes. Why don't you settle in, shower if you want, but we have a breakfast date in the morning with Ed and those other people I mentioned."
Bill looked around the room and saw how empty it was. "I guess we should get you a computer to put on that desk, maybe a television, and some posters on the wall ... whatever you want. This is your room now so you can do whatever it takes to make it yours."
Tim nodded. "One day at a time. I know it's going to take a while to adjust, finish my school work, and maybe even get a job. Don't worry about me ... I'll be fine."
"I have a parent's concern, that's all."
"I figured as much," Tim said, and then gave Bill a hug and a kiss. "Okay, Dad ... let me do my thing."
He opened the closet door and laughed. "What's this?"
Bill turned to look and smiled. "That's the suit you wore to court, the one Sonny picked out for you."
Tim held it up and the absurdity of it being here was apparent. "A little small, don't you think?"
"We'll donate it to Goodwill," Bill said.
"This is going to take a while, isn't it? You still remember the boy and I've tried to forget him. I have a new life here and I'm grateful that you made all this happen. Thanks, Dad."
Fifteen minutes later Bill was sitting at the kitchen table looking at the printouts when he heard the sound of the shower turning on in the bathroom. Dad ... so this is what it was like. Tim would make a fine son. Life around here would change but that wasn't a bad thing. No, it wasn't a bad thing at all.
On to Chapter Three"
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