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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Phoenix from the Ashes Part 9

Written by Snarks, Rosemarie & PJ

The next morning Jeff called Oliver, his hand shook slightly in anticipation as he held the phone to his ear waiting for the lawyer’s office to answer. He was worried about Joaquin and his brothers, and whether Gideon and Ken could actually gain custody of the two children and bring them to Maine. 

After what seemed to be forever, Oliver’s secretary answered the phone and he identified himself.

"He's in court right now, Mr. Markham, may I take a message?" she asked politely.

Jeff left a short but urgent message for their friend and thanked the woman before hanging up. He turned to James and shrugged. "I have no idea when he'll actually get back to us, but hopefully it'll be today. What should we do in the meantime?"  

The resort owner sat back in his chair and regarded his friend. “We continue to care for the teen, keep him with Shorty and continue to investigate as much as we can. With Oliver, Dusty, Gideon and myself we should be able to turn up some things,” he said in a calm, no nonsense manner that characterized the man. He generally showed no outward signs of distress when he was on a mission, just fell apart after it was all over. His recent vacation had helped some, but not quite enough and cracks sometimes were evident in the usually solid veneer he presented.

His friend knew him well though and allowed the man to do things his own way as it generally gained results.


Oliver Barrett had come back to his office after court and leafed through his messages. He saw one from Jeff Markham. He dialed the resort's number, knowing the man wouldn't be calling unless it was something important.

When the phone rang James answered, "Teardrop Lake Resort, James Harrington speaking."

The lawyer smiled as he heard the familiar voice, "JW, it's Oliver."

The resort owner smiled immediately and signaled Jeff. "I'm going to put you on speaker, Oliver. Jeff is with me and we need to talk to you about an important matter."

The attorney said, "All right."

James pushed the speaker button. "Okay, Jeff and I are both here now."

Oliver said, "Hello Jeff... I got the message you left. What's going on gentlemen?"

Jeff outlined the problem to the lawyer and finished with what James, Gideon and the Sheriff were doing in the meantime. "So, what we need to know is if Gid and Ken can get custody of the boys even though they're all the way out in Seattle. Joaquin would be living with them as well, and they do have another person willing and able to help when the guys can't be home."

James added, "We'd like to expedite this as soon as possible, Oliver."

The lawyer was silent for a few minutes. "I know it won't be any problem with the laws in Maine. I'll need to contact someone I know in Washington State to find out the status of the mother and the younger boys.  Let me call around, I have a few friends there and I believe at least two of them specialize in family law. It may take some time, but I promise I'll get back to you within the hour, if you'll be available, " the man said.

"Of course," James answered.

"We'll make sure we're available, Oliver. In the meantime, I'll see if I can get a hold of Gideon. He's going to need to hear all of this, alright?" Jeff assured the other man.

"That would make sense, thank you. Hopefully this won't take very long but in family matters...," he trailed off.

"We understand, Oliver," James replied.  "Do what you need to do, we'll be here."

Hating the idea of taking Gideon away from his work, but knowing that the other man would want to be included in the conversation, Jeff called Gideon who insisted on staying on the line while he worked until they heard back from the attorney.

"He may not even be able to get back to us today, Gid," Jeff said with an understanding smile.

Gideon shrugged and raised his eyebrows a little, and even though no one could see it, they could hear it in his voice as he answered, "Then you'll call me back when he does."

It took longer than expected, but eventually Oliver called back, and on the phone with him was another lawyer.

"James, Jeff, I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Attorney Forrest Green."

The two men stifled smiles at the man's name and greeted the lawyer politely. Jeff clicked another button on the phone so that all of them would be able to hear the conversation.

"Oliver, Attorney Green, we have our friend Gideon Baker on the line as well. He's one of the prospective guardians, as well as being a social worker himself," Jeff explained.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen," came a friendly if businesslike voice. "Oliver has told me your dilemma, and I'm happy to help. I apologize for the wait but I had to track the parents down, and then the children to find out their conditions."

The new lawyer filled them in on everything he'd discovered and ended by saying, "There is a review hearing in about a month’s time, to determine whether Mrs. Striker can regain custody of her other two boys, so the sooner you file your paperwork, Mr. Baker, the better."

The men could hear it as Gideon opened a desk drawer, took something out and plopped it in his outbox. "Consider it done."

Jeff and James once again hid their grins. They'd suspected that Gideon and Ken had had those papers filled out and just been waiting for their cue.

"If the state declares the mother unfit and terminates her rights to the children, then your petition for guardianship will be considered."

"An alternative is if the mother voluntarily gives up her rights. Gideon and his partner Ken would have to undergo a background investigation, and would also have to be reviewed by the agency who would handle the procedure to approve them as fit guardians after which the court can appoint them as temporary guardians."

The lawyer continued, "There may be a period of education they’ll need to obtain before permanent guardianship is awarded. But I'm sure you must already know all of this, Mr. Baker."

Gideon desperately wanted the attorney to call him by his first name, but he knew it wasn't a good idea for the two of them to be or seem better acquainted than they actually were, so he swallowed the suggestion even though he hated to be called Mr. Baker. He heard it five days a week at work and it was nice to hear his first name now and again. Gideon sighed, yes, he was all too familiar with the red tape he and Ken would be jumping through for what could be months.

"It might be helpful if we all have a video call in James's office tomorrow afternoon, if you're all available, to discuss a plan of action.  Your Joaquin is going to need to be there so we can fill him in on what's happening. In the meantime, I'll make some more calls," the man promised.

"Who will you want there, Mr. Green?" James asked.

"Joaquin, of course," the man said, thoughtfully, "Gideon and his husband... and their friend Mark, who you're claiming as another support for the guardians when they cannot be there to supervise the children. James, if this does come to trial, we'll need you as a character witness. Jeff, would you be available to come to Washington as well, if needed?"

Jeff took a deep breath and looked at James. "I really should stay here, Mr. Green, but I'll write another statement, as I did for Gideon, and if you need me, then of course I'll be on the next plane out." 

The man acknowledged this and said, “All right gentlemen we’ll discuss this more when we conference tomorrow and I have more information to share.” Then the call was disconnected.


After all of the men had said goodbye to the other attorney, Gideon, James and Jeff stayed on the phone for a while longer.

"I've got feelers out as well," Gideon said. "I've got some vacation time built up, quite a bit of it in fact, so when it's time to head out, there won't be a problem, nor with spending time with the kids before bringing them back here... if we get guardianship. I know Mark will be available," he chuckled. "He's been dying to get out of the house for a while now. He said he loves to write but even the most hardcore writer needs a break now and again."

"Gid... are you sure you're going to be able to shuffle your schedule around?" Jeff asked worriedly, 

"I'm sure," Gideon replied with a wry smile.  “I’ll need to put in for leave, but that shouldn’t be a huge problem. Believe me, I want those boys out here as badly as Joaquin does. I just hope things go smoothly. None of those kids need any more upheaval or stress in their lives right now. Talk to you soon."


"I'm really becoming very tired of that word," Gideon groused later that evening when he was home relaxing with his husband.

"Which word?" Ken inquired. 

"If...," Gideon said with distaste. "If we can get the kids. If their mother won't be given custody of them. If, if, if. What if we don't? What if she somehow gets custody of them. What's Joaquin going to do? He'll be devastated."

Gideon sat in thought for quite a while. Ken sat nearby wishing he could think of something to do or say that would help. He put his arms around his husband and kissed his temple.

Gideon leaned into the hug and sighed. Suddenly his eyes grew wide and he grinned, "That's a great idea, Hon. Thank you!"

Ken looked at him, perplexed, but Gideon had already dialed a number and was speaking excitedly though quietly to whoever was on the other end and gave his husband some space, knowing that he would fill him in on whatever it was when he was done. 

"That's a wonderful idea, pretty Giddy!" his brother Roman said excitedly.  "What with the kids all being married and off on their own, I have plenty of room for all of you! With my Melissa gone it's been too quiet. I'd love the company."

Gideon sighed, a sound of long suffering. "Don't call me that, Ro, especially not in front of my friends, please?" he said as he rubbed his fingers across his forehead, hoping to massage away the headache that he expected to hit at any moment.  He loved his brother but he could be a royal pain in the rump sometimes.

"Awww, c'mon Giddy-up, I'll bet they'll love it!" Roman teased.


"What's the matter, I'd think you'd be feeling giddy as a school girl?" his brother asked with mock sympathy.


"Considering what you're proposing and what I'm offering..."

"Roman!" Gideon said, finally raising his voice to cut off his oldest brother's ramblings.

His brother made a derisive sound and said, "Fine, have it your way, but I still think they'd love..."

"They wouldn't, and neither would I. You don't want to make me angry," Gideon said, his voice low and menacing. "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."*

Roman burst out into genuine laughter.  "Alright, Gideon, you win. Don't Hulk out on me."

Despite his earlier frustration, Gideon finally laughed. "So, we'll see you soon?"

"I'll meet you all at the airport, my old bus'll be big enough to get everyone here and anywhere else they need to go while they're here."

Roman had been a school bus driver during the day and a mechanic at night. Due to his and his wife's good saving habits and wise investments, he'd retired early and started a book store which was doing quite well. When his old bus had been retired he'd bought it for a very reasonable price and had kept it in perfect working condition, though he had repainted it to get rid of that awful marigold orange color.

Gideon finally smiled, all signs of the impending headache gone for the time being, "Great, we'll see you there. Thanks Ro."

"Anything for my little brother," Roman replied with a grin just before he hung up. He'd gotten the bare bones of the story from his brother and hoped that the kids would be awarded to Gideon and Ken.

Grinning the whole time, Roman began to dust, vacuum and air out all the rooms before changing the linens on the beds in preparation for what promised to be a once again full house.


The next day the men congregated in James's large, handsome office.  James, Gideon, Ken, Mark, and Joaquin were there and speaking to Oliver and his friend in Washington state on video phone. Joaquin sat quietly, his hands gripping each other so tightly that his knuckles were white.

"Joaquin, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Attorney Forrest Green," Oliver said.

"Hello, ummm...," 'Keen began, unsure of how to address the man, "good morning."

"Good morning," the other lawyer said with an understanding smile.  "It's a pleasure to meet you, Joaquin. I've heard a lot about you."

"Thank you," the boy replied, blushing somewhat. "Um... same here," he finished lamely. He liked that he could talk to Oliver like another friend, but he was completely off balance with this new man and he could feel his heart beating with anxiety.

"Joaquin," the new attorney said gently, "there will be a hearing in a month’s time to decide whether or not your mother regains custody of your brothers. We may need you there to testify if the judge allows the petition filed by Gideon and Ken to be heard."

"What? But...," 'Keen began, his heart pounding so loudly that he was sure everyone in the room could hear it. He'd have to go back? The thought terrified him.

Gideon took the teen's hands in his own and rubbed the knuckles with his thumbs.  "Shhhhh," he whispered, "hear him out, Hon."

Joaquin released the strangle hold he had on his own hands and transferred it to the man whom he had begun to trust and call his friend. The boy's hands were as cold as ice.

"You'll have to return to Washington and testify against your mother, if it comes to that. I don't want to put false hopes in your head," Gideon said gently.  "In most cases the children are awarded back into the custody of the parents."


"There is a chance that Gideon and Ken could be awarded custody, but it's slim. I need you to be prepared for that."

"But... no! They can't go back with her!" the boy shouted.  "If the judge gives them back to her... they won't be safe there! You can't let her get them back!" 

James intervened, "Joaquin, please calm down.  We have some ideas in place to help you, but you need to listen quietly, alright? Just hear us out."

The youngster took a deep breath at Gideon's urging and let it out slowly before turning his attention to the lawyer.

"Given the odds, they most likely will be returned to her. James and Jeff, as much as they've admitted they'd miss you, have come up with a plan so that you can be with your brothers and not have to live in your mother's house."

'Keen remained silent, his eyes wide as he held his breath, waiting to hear what the man had to say. He resumed his clutch on Gideon's hands.

"Alright then," Green continued, "I believe that when you and Gideon first met he told you that he'd been visiting his brother in Seattle, correct?"

'Keen gave a little half shrug.  "I guess, I'm sorry, I was more worried about getting away at that point, so I wasn't listening very well." He looked apologetically at Gideon who only smiled reassuringly.

"Gideon's older brother, Roman, has agreed to hire you at his bookstore. He admitted he'd been putting off hiring someone to help out, but had said that things were getting a little too busy for him, so the timing is perfect." 

"But where..."

"Hush now," Gideon said in a somewhat stronger tone than he'd been using up to this point, "just listen, please.”

The boy took another deep breath and apologized to the men for interrupting and once again turned his attention to the lawyer on the screen. He was completely unaware that he was still gripping Gideon's hands hard enough to turn the knuckles white.

"As I said, you'll be working part time at the bookstore and James has already arranged for an apartment for you. This way, you'll be able to stay in Seattle to be with your brothers.  We'll petition for visitation rights for you."

"Do... d'ya think she'll actually let me be with them?" 'Keen asked suspiciously.  "It doesn't sound like her."

"We'll do everything we can, Joaquin. It's just a matter of being patient until the actual court date."

'Keen was sure he wasn't going to be able to wait that long, and he knew he was going to fail miserably at the patience game.


*The quote, "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." and the response 'Don’t Hulk out on me', are in reference to The Incredible Hulk TV series.

Based on The Incredible Hulk characters
by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Developed by       Kenneth Johnson
Bill Bixby
Jack Colvin
Lou Ferrigno
Narrated by        Ted Cassidy (opening narration)
Ending theme      "The Lonely Man Theme" (Joe Harnell)
Composer     Joe Harnell

Executive producer Kenneth Johnson
Producers   James D. Parriott, Kenneth Johnson and
Nicholas Corea
Production company   Universal Television
Distributor NBC Universal Television Distribution

Original network CBS
Original release November 4, 1977 – June 2, 1982
Followed by   The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)

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