In the living room we have three small picture frames, each holding a photo of one of the kids when they were young. One is grinning into a camera from her kindergarten classroom, another is sitting on Grandma’s brick hearth, and the final kid is sitting well clad in a snowdrift.
Each is precious. The children have all grown beyond their initial innocence and the pictures are not a sappy remembrance of how things used to be. They are simply a way to recall what it was like having kids who didn’t drag us into court.
When Kristin answered the knock on the front door she had no way of knowing that the nameless gentleman on the porch would be dragging us into legal proceedings. Until he handed her an envelope stamped “Summons.” Then she knew it was serious.
The individual named therein was a certain Kyle Baxter, a minor, our son; a good boy with a not exactly spotless record. Nothing to concern yourself with, but let us not say that he was a choir boy. Because he wasn’t. Except for that time he was in the school choir. That was completely different.
Once Kristin got past the heart attack factor, it turned out that Kyle was being summoned to appear as a witness against a burglar who had traipsed through our neighborhood the previous summer. The criminal in question had scampered over a neighbor’s fence and into our backyard as Kyle watched from a second story window.
The perp dropped a few salient items in our yard and Kyle, ever the trustworthy and responsible citizen, picked them up and delivered them to the investigating officers. After the future felon was cuffed and sitting on a neighbor’s lawn. That’s when the boy learned that it would have been better to have just alerted the authorities, rather than actually moving the items. That made him a material witness.
“Cool!” Kyle said. He told all of his friends as soon as possible. “I’m going to court!”
Kristin and I tried to impart the seriousness of the event. Without success.
“No, really! I have to sit on the stand right next to the judge. It’ll be like an episode of Lawn Order!” I didn’t have the heart to correct him.
I was, however, a little concerned about the entire event. It didn’t seem likely that the accused would have a posse of hooligans ready to knife my son once he left the courtroom, but what do you do when faced with such a possibility? I asked the Assistant District Attorney over the phone. He assured me that there shouldn’t be any such problem, and that he would be happy to talk to Kyle before he actually took the stand. There was even the possibility that the guy would plead guilty and the trial would be averted.
We would be kept abreast of all developments. Or so we were told.
The trial date approached and Kyle was still stoked. He would be able to skip a day at school, and this would no doubt be a positive item to be listed on his application for the police academy. He has considered law enforcement a possible career ever since his eighth grade exhibition project on the academy. He has treated the idea seriously ever since, and I have no reason to hold him back.
If it turns out that’s what he wants to do, I am not going to tremble in fear every day that he has a dangerous job. After all, fat and lethargic in a cubicle is no less dangerous. At least from a health standpoint.
The trial date arrived and was postponed for a few weeks. Unfortunately, as the new one drew near, we received no further updates. Instead of being told what day Kyle should be in court, we sat in a quiet and dark house wondering what had happened to the criminal justice system. I called and left a message for the formerly responsive Assistant District Attorney, but never heard back. The week came to an end, and I don’t know if the trial commenced, or if the perp pled to some equal or lesser charge.
I don’t know if Kyle’s participation will still be required, and I don’t know if the ADA is still alive. Could the accused somehow have coerced an associate to commit some heinous such as causing the ADA to “disappear”? Has the entire event turned into something unsavory and dangerous?
And what’s that strange car that’s been parked across the street from the house for the last three days? And who are the fellows in it that are watching our house through binoculars?