Joel: Book One - Escape From Abuse

Chapter Eleven

"That man is toast!" Benjamin said as he broke out laughing. "If that outburst doesn't get him a judicial reprimand I don't know what would."

"I don't care about him. What about the boys? What is going to happen to them?" I asked.

"They get to stay with you for the time being," he started to explain to me.

That is all the farther he got. Hearing that they were going to stay with me, I immediately jumped up and ran to them. They didn't know what was going on when I got there. "You guys want to go home with me?" I asked them.

Almost simultaneously they all yelled "Yes, yes!" TJ jumped up and hugged my neck. The other boys crowded around hugging us both. Hildy even joined in our celebration.

I turned to Benjamin as he walked up to our celebration. "How much time do we have? You said they could stay 'for the time being', what does that really mean?" I asked.

"According to the scant information I have on the stay order, you have custody until Judge Yates has time to review the transcript of the hearing and make her decision. That may take anywhere from a few days to weeks. Knowing Judge Yates as I do, she will probably take no more than a week at the very most," he answered.

"Does that mean we have to have another hearing?"

"Not necessarily. She could simply reverse Judge Frank's ruling which I think she will do. Or, she could order a new hearing with a different judge. The other possibility which is a very remote one is she will affirm his decision."

"So you mean we will have to sweat this out for another week? God, I don't know if I can handle that. But, I suppose there is nothing that we can do but wait," I said with resignation.

By this time Dr. Sam and Dr. Adams had joined our little group. "I want to thank both of you for coming today. Dr. Adams, your presence was unexpected but very much appreciated. It looks like we will be able to make that appointment tomorrow," I said shaking his hand. "Sam, I had a sneaking suspicion that you would show up. You're a good friend and I thank you for that."

Turning to the boys and grabbing TJ's hand I said "Let's go get a snack. I know a place that serves some great sopaipillas. Everyone's invited. Come on."

The Mexican restaurant I was thinking of was only a couple of blocks from the courthouse so we decided to walk. Thankfully, it had cleared up, and the sun was shining brightly. Dr. Adams and Gary Everett were the only ones present at the hearing that could not join us. That is except for the judge.

I had to show the boys how to pour the honey on the sopaipillas and eat them. They had never experienced the joy of getting the honey and powdered sugar all over their faces, but they learned quickly. We must have eaten five dozen of the sweet treats among the 11 of us before I had to call a halt to the boys' eating binge. I took the sticky boys to the restroom to wash away the honey from their hands and faces before heading back to the car and home.

It suddenly dawned on me that I didn't have any real toys for the boys to play with. They had never complained about the lack of playthings. I guess they never had much to play with in their home. Since we had to pass close to both a Toys R Us and a Circuit City on the way home I decided to rectify that situation.

Our first stop was at Circuit City where I knew they sold video game machines. I had heard the boys on the little league team talk about all the neat games that they played on them. Frankly, I had never been a fan of computer games. I never saw the purpose in them, but who was I to judge. The boys were awestruck when we walked into the store. I must admit it was quite impressive with all the TV's, VCR's and DVD players on open display. I caught one of the salesperson's eyes and asked him where the PlayStations were. He was happy to show us.

"Do you guys know what a PlayStation is?" I asked.

Joel responded, "I saw one at a friend's house once."

"Have you ever played with one?"

They all shook their heads no.

"Well, I think that we need to correct that," I said turning to the friendly clerk. "I want two complete systems with joysticks or whatever they need. Don't leave anything out that they might need to play any game."

The clerk was delighted and quickly assembled the list of items that he thought was required to meet what I had outlined. He showed me the list on his sales register and suggested that we might need some games to go with the hardware.

"Joel, take your brothers over there to that display of video games. You can each pick out one game. The only requirement is that they are not violent. They should be rated for everyone," I told him.

Turning to the clerk I said, "You probably know more about the games than they do, please steer them to something that is appropriate for their ages."

While the boys were looking at the video games I went to look at the TV's and at the same time keeping an eye on them. I only had one TV in the house since I only watched the news on it, but the boys would need something to hook the PlayStation's up to. I found a 32 inch Sony that had a great picture so when our clerk returned with the boys and their games I told him to add two of the TV's to the list. I check the game that the boys had pick out and was pleased that they heeded my request to pick out the non-violent ones.

When the clerk asked if we wanted to take our purchases with us, I declined requesting that they be delivered tomorrow. He looked at his delivery schedule and said that would not be possible. The delivery to the Canyon Lake area would not be made until Monday.

"Young man," I said looking at his name tag, ."..Carl, do you want to make this sale?"

When he said he did I continued, "I don't know what you have to do to get my purchased delivered tomorrow but you better get it done. I can drive over to the other side of this shopping center and get the same thing, maybe even cheaper, and I'm sure that they would be happy to deliver tomorrow. You have two minutes to figure out how to get it delivered or you can start processing a return. Am I making myself clear?"

It took him slightly more than the two minutes I had given him but he came back with the store manager who tried to convince me that he just couldn't make a special trip for this one order.

"Very well," I said. Would you please process a return of the merchandise I have just charged? I have always liked shopping here and my company has done a considerable amount of business with you. I'm sure that any electronic equipment that we need in the future we will be able to acquire at one of your competitors."

Turning to the boys I said "Let's go over to Best Buy and see what they can do for us. If they can't, I'm sure Bjorns can."

Realizing that I was serious and he was going to lose a two thousand dollar sale, the manager relented and said that he would arrange a special delivery for us sometime between two and four tomorrow afternoon.

The boys took their games with them as we left the store.

Our next stop was at Toys R Us. I had never been in one so I didn't know what to expect. Thank goodness there were not a lot of people in the store. I guess Thursday afternoon is not prime toy shopping time. Larry, Lenny and TJ were in heaven running from one display to another. There were so many more things for them than there were for Joel. The only thing that he found was another video game for the PlayStation. TJ found a Tonka Truck that he wanted. The twins found a couple of radio controlled cars.

"I think you will have time to play with your new toys for a while when we get home before Hildy has supper fixed for us," I told them. "Joel you will have some time to read your book or even go swimming if you would like."

The day had begun to catch up with the boys by the time we got home. They had not said very much on the way home and I think that TJ took a short nap. I was beginning to feel the strain myself. I needed to get in the pool and swim some laps. It had been almost two weeks since I had done my usual routine. BB, before boys, I swam laps for at least a half an hour every night when I got home from work.

Hildy apologized that she didn't have much time to fix a big meal and that we would have to make do with a tuna casserole. That sounded great to me after all the sweets we had eaten this afternoon. I went to swim. Joel grabbed his book. TJ and the twins unwrapped their new toys.

After we ate, I had the boys get out their homework and get started doing it while I gave Joel an abbreviated math lesson.

Showers completed and pajamas donned the boys gathered in the family room where I was reading the newspaper. I could tell that they had something on their minds. TJ climbed up on my lap brushing the paper out of my hands.

"Okay, guys, what's on your mind? I can tell something is bothering you," I said.

They looked at each other to see who would speak first when TJ spoke up, "Are we going to get to stay here, Uncle Crane? Please!"

"Yeah, are we? Huh?" the twins chimed in.

Joel just nodded his head in agreement.

"Well, you see guys it's like this. The answer is yes and maybe. Yes, you can stay at least until another judge says yes or no. That should take about a week. Mr. Cross, our lawyer, believes that you will, but even he cannot be certain. I know I am going to do everything in my power to make it possible for you to stay. I wish I could tell you that you would be here forever but I don't want to tell you a lie. We just have to believe that everything is going to be all right. When I find out anything, I will let you know," I said trying to keep the emotion out of my voice. I continued to hold TJ as I got up. "I think you need to go to bed. It's been a busy day."

Going through my usual bedtime routine except this time I tucked Joel and TJ in first before doing the same for the twins. I was not far behind in hitting the bed.

Friday was almost normal. I put TJ and the twins on the school bus and Paul Coulter arrived to start tutoring Joel. I called my office and talked to Carol and Foster to see if there was anything that needed my attention. Everything seemed to be running smoothly without me. I didn't know whether to feel good about that or bad that they could run things without me. Foster told me that Eric, my partner in the business, wanted to talk to me when I had time. He wasn't in the office right then so I had Carol put me through to his voice mail. I left him my schedule for the rest of the day and told him he could try to call me on the cell phone, page me or he could try me at home.

I talked to Hildy and asked her if she would be around this afternoon to accept the delivery from Circuit City. I told her what I wanted to have done with the TV's and where they were to be hooked up in the boys' rooms. She could tell the delivery people that all they had to set up were the TV's. I would take care of setting up the PlayStations.

I told her that Joel and I would leave for his appointment with Dr. Adams about 1:15 and probably wouldn't return much before four o'clock.

We even had time for Joel's math lesson before we took off for the doctor's office. I didn't want him to get too concerned about meeting Dr. Adams. As we drove to the appointment, I tried to explain to him what was going to happen. That all Dr. Adams was going to do was talk to him and ask some questions. Joel seemed to be okay with that. I hoped so.

We arrived at Dr. Adams' office a few minutes early. I filled out the paperwork that all doctors require. I didn't have any insurance coverage on Joel and the other boys other than what CPS would pay. I didn't think they would pay Dr. Adams' fees anyway so I put down 'No' in the question about insurance coverage.

Dr. Adams came into the reception room on the dot of two. I liked punctual people. I really hate waiting especially when I have an appointment.

"Crane, it's good to see you again," he said extending his hand.

"Dr. Adams, this is Joel. You were not properly introduced yesterday and for that, I apologize. Things were a little hectic and I was not thinking clearly," I said shaking his hand and then turning to Joel. "Joel, this is Dr. Adams."

"Hello, sir," Joel said and to my surprise, he extended his hand to the doctor.

"I am very glad to meet you, Joel. Did your foster father tell you what we were going to do today?"

"Yeah, Uncle Crane said we were going to talk and you were going to ask me questions."

"That's right. Please come with me. Your Uncle Crane will be right out here" he said leading Joel into his office.

Oh, how I wish that I could have been in the office with them. I must have looked at my watch a hundred times while they were in there. I squirmed in my chair, tried to read a magazine, and paced the floor but nothing made the time go faster. Finally the door opened and Joel and the doctor came out. He had his arm on Joel's shoulder and Joel was smiling up at him. At least that was a good sign, I thought.

"Joel why don't you sit down for a minute, I want to talk to your Uncle Crane," Dr. Adams said.

Motioning for me to follow, he went back into his office.

"Sit down, Crane," he said. "From this very preliminary evaluation I believe that Joel will need to have psychological support. However, I don't believe that he needs extensive treatment. He has become very attached to you and the security both emotionally and physically that you provide for him. If for any reason he was removed from your custody it could destroy the amazing progress he had made from the severe trauma that he suffered as a result of seeing his mother murdered. He also seems to be dealing quite well with the sexual and physical abuse that he suffered at the hands of his father. He is a strong young man."

"You said he needs psychological support. What does that mean?" I asked.

"I would like to see him every two weeks for a while to continue monitoring his progress. What he needs most is a lot of physical contact and someone to listen to him. And of course someone to love him, someone who can be a father figure for him," he said.

"God, I love him and his brothers. They couldn't be dearer to me if they were my own flesh and blood," I said with tears welling in my eyes. "On another matter, the police want to interview Joel concerning the sexual and physical abuse. They also want to talk to him about his mother's murder. What do you think? I want to see that asshole of a father disappear from the face of the earth, but to make that happen Joel will have to testify."

"That is a tough call. If you were present when the interview took place and if it was done in a non-threatening environment it would probably be alright. The interview would have to be conducted by someone who is experienced in handling cases like this. I know several of the officers who have such experience. When you find out when they want to do the interview, ask them who is going to do it. Give me a call and I'll let you know if they are ones I would trust to handle it. If they are not, you can ask for someone else.

"I think we have kept Joel waiting long enough," he said showing me out of the office.

"Are you ready to go home?" I asked Joel.

"Yeah, let's go. Goodbye Dr. Adams," Joel said grabbing my hand and pulled me out the door.

We just got to the car ,and it dawned on me that the little league team had a game today. "Damn," I thought as I reached for my cell phone and dialed Jack.

"Jack, this is Crane. Hey, buddy, I'm not going to be able to be there today. I have too many irons in the fire. I hope this doesn't put you in a bind."

"That's alright, Crane. I know the boys will be disappointed but they will get over it. I hope you can make it next week. It's the final game of this season," Jack said.

"I promise you that I will be there. Will you make sure that the boys get their McDonald's treat after the game? I'll reimburse you for the damages. There is a stash of the coupons in that locked box in the equipment shed. The key is on the ring with the key to the shed," I told him.

"I'll take care of it. I hope your life gets simplified soon. Oh, by the way, the two cases that Joel will have to testify at have been consolidated into one. A Detective Silver will be calling you to set up an interview with Joel. She is great with kids and is probably one of the most experienced interviewers of abused children that we have in the department. I'll see you next week," he said as he hung up.

I immediately dialed Dr. Adams' number hoping to catch him before he left the office.

"Hello, this is Crane Johnson. We just left the office a few minutes ago, and I was wondering if Dr. Adams is available for a minute."

"Just a moment Mr. Johnson, I'll put you through," she said.

"Crane, what can I do for you?" Dr. Adams asked.

"I just got the name of the person that is going to interview Joel. It's a Detective Silver. Do you know her?" I queried.
"Yes, I know her. She is very competent and a good-looking woman to boot. She will do a good job. Just make sure that you insist on being present at the interview. Good luck!" he responded.

"Thanks, doctor," I said putting my phone away.

We had just gotten turned onto 281 and started toward home when my cell phone rang. It was my business partner, Eric Olsen.

"Eric is it possible for me to call you back in about 35 or 40 minutes? Traffic is getting heavy, and I'd rather not be on the phone while I drive," I said.

"Sure, I'll be at the office. Talk to you then. Bye," he said and hung up.
I wondered what Eric wanted. He had been doing a project for us in Dallas for the past three months so I had not seen or talked to him very much except to say "Hi" as we past in the office when he was in town. Eric was one heck of a good project manager. He had been doing consulting work for over 20 years and helped to found ACC about 15 years ago.

We arrived home before the rest of the boys got home from school. Hildy met us at the back door as we came in from the garage.

"The delivery truck left not ten minutes ago. They got everything set up. They even hooked up the PlayStations," she said.

"Great, let's go check them out," I told Joel.

Joel's eyes were like saucers when we entered his bedroom. He didn't realize that he and TJ were getting a TV for their room. "Is this all ours?" he more pleaded than asked.

"Yep, it sure is. There is one just like it in the twins' bedroom," I said.

"Thanks, Uncle Crane, I don't ever want to leave here. Please!" this time there were tears in his eyes.

"Why don't you turn everything on and see if you can figure everything out before your brothers get home. I'm sure they will need you to help them. You're their big brother and that's what big brothers do," I said giving him a hug before I left to call Eric.

I was starting into my study when Hildy stopped me. "A Detective Silver wants you to call her. She said that it was urgent. I put her number on your desk."

"Thanks," I said disappearing into the study.

I called Eric first. "Eric, it's Crane. What can I do for you?"

"Well now that you asked, you can buy my share of the business," he said.

"What? Are you going to retire or what?" I said completely stunned.

"I guess you could say I was going to retire. I told you a couple of months ago that I was having migraine attacks. Well, I finally went and had an MRI and they discovered a tumor the size of a golf ball in my brain. It is inoperable and malignant. The prognosis is not good. We are going to try radiation starting next Wednesday. Even with that, they are not giving me much of a chance. That's why I want to liquidate my part of the business. I want my estate as simple and in order as possible so my wife will not have to worry when I'm not around," he finished.

"Oh my god, Eric, I am so sorry! Is there anything I can do?" I asked stupidly.

"No, I've taken care of almost everything. The business is the last detail I need to handle," he said.

"Of course, I will buy your share of the business. You know I have wanted to ever since I bought out the other partners four years ago. Do you have a price in mind?" I said.

"The last audit completed two months ago valued the business at $3.54 million. I don't think the value has changed significantly since then. Unless you want another valuation of the business I would settle for 20% of that which comes to $708,000" he concluded.

"No, that sounds fair. Shall we have Carlos draw up the papers? Since he is familiar with us, it would probably be easier if he did it," I said.

"Yes, in fact, I have already talked to him and he should have everything drawn up late next week. I'm leaving for Houston on Tuesday and won't be back until Friday. I have to stay in the hospital one day for observation after the radiation treatment. My son will drive us back to San Antonio," he said.

"Good, I'll talk to you on Monday to work out how you want the payment scheduled," I said and hung up.

I immediately called my accountant to find out how I could come up with the money with the least impact on my tax bill. He told me he would look over my assets and let me know.

With that taken care of I decided to call Detective Silver.

"Detective Silver, this is Crane Johnson. My housekeeper told me you called. What can I do for you?"

"Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. As you are aware, your foster son Joel is a possible witness to his mother's murder by his father. There is also a report filed by Dr. Greene that he has been subjected to physical and sexual abuse by his father and possibly others. I have been assigned to interview him as part of the investigation and to provide a statement from him to the DA to assist in the prosecution of Mr. Andersen," she said.

"Yes, I am aware of that. Where and when would you like to interview him?"

"We want to do this as soon as possible. Could you bring him to the police headquarters tomorrow at ten?"

"No, that would be much too traumatic for him. His psychiatrist has advised me the interview should be conducted in familiar surroundings where he doesn't feel threatened. I believe that the best place would be here at the house in my study. He is comfortable here and certainly doesn't feel threatened. I will, of course, be present during the interview."

"Oh no, we can't permit you to sit in on the interview..." she started.

"That is what you think Detective Silver. If you want to talk to Joel, you will do it with me present or you will not see him at all. Save your breath. That is the way it is going to be," I said with as much determination as I could force into my voice.

"Very well, it is highly irregular but if that is the only way I can get to see him we'll do it that way. I need to videotape the interview so I'll have to transport my equipment."

"I have state of the art video equipment here if you care to use it. Bring your own tape. You are using VHS aren't you?"

"Yes, how do I get to your place?"

I gave her directions and told her I would expect her at ten o'clock tomorrow morning.

I had heard the boys come in from school while I was on the phone so I went to see if they had learned how to use their new toy. Joel had the boys hovering over his back as he showed them how to manipulate the figures on the screen.

When they noticed that I was there, Larry and Lenny ran to me and jumped into my arms and gave me hugs and a kiss on each cheek. "Thanks, Uncle Crane, we didn't know we were getting a TV too. Thanks, you're the neatest!"

"Is Joel teaching you how to play the games?" I asked as I set them down. "How about you TJ, do you think you can learn to play the games?"

"I'll try, it looks fun," he said.

"Now that we are all here I want you to know the rule about playing the video games. You can play them for one hour each school day and only after you have finished your homework. On weekends, Saturday and Sunday, you can play them for two hours. School vacation days are the same as weekends. Do you all understand?" I asked.

"Yes, Uncle Crane" they said in unison.

"If you don't obey the rules, then you can't play the games for a whole week. These games can become very addictive and that is all you will want to do. I want you to have fun playing them but I also want you to do other things as well. Now go back to having Joel show you how to play them. We will make an exception to the rule for tonight since you are just learning how to work them, but starting tomorrow it's two hours," I told them.

I went back to my study to set up the video camera for tomorrow's interview. I tried to position the camera so that it was as unobtrusive as possible and still capture the spot where Joel and I would be sitting. Shortly thereafter, Hildy called the boys and told them to get washed up for supper. I think that it was the first time I had ever heard them complain about getting ready for something to eat, but they knew better than to disobey Hildy.

After we ate I guided Joel into the study.

"Joel, tomorrow a lady is going to come here and wants to talk to you about the things that have been done to you and about the things that you might have seen the day your mother was hurt. Do you think you can do that?" I asked.

"Do I have to, Uncle Crane?" he asked, his lips beginning to quiver.

"I think that you should. I will be with you all the time. You don't want your dad to hurt you anymore do you?"

"No," he said as the tears began to flow.

"It's alright," I said cradling him to my chest. "You can tell her everything that happened. You know I will always love you and I won't ever let anyone hurt you. You know that don't you?" I asked.

I felt his head nod, but he didn't say anything. I continued to hold him and stroked his back. The back that had been so badly beaten the first time I saw him without a shirt. I could still feel the old raised welts as I ran my hands over his back.

"God, I would like to get that son of a bitch alone and see how he would like some of his own medicine," I thought.

"Dry your eyes and go see how your brothers are doing with their new game," I said and kissed him on the forehead.

When eight o'clock came around I stopped in their rooms and told them to put the games away. I was surprised that they didn't put up a fuss but I think the thoughts of one of Hildy's snacks were even a stronger pull than the video games.

After I got the boys in bed, I turned in also. I knew tomorrow was going to be a difficult day for Joel and I wasn't looking forward to it either.

The boys slept in Saturday morning. It was nearly 8:30 before they started straggling into the kitchen for breakfast. They revived quickly as they wolfed down mounds of scrambled eggs, ham, biscuits, and jam along with a gallon or so of orange juice.

As their eating slowed down I said to them, "A lady is going to come here this morning to talk to Joel. While she is here I want you guys to be real quiet. You can play your video games or watch TV. I think there are cartoons on that you could watch. I don't want you to go swimming until I can be there to watch you. Do you understand? Good! Now go get your teeth brushed and get dressed. The lady will be here in about an hour."

Shortly before ten, the gate buzzer sounded. The security camera showed a car with what looked like two women in it. I activated the gate opener and went out the front door to greet our visitors.

As the car approached the house I observed that there were actually three women in the car. I was not prepared for a crowd to be present for the interview and was beginning to have second thoughts about it.

The driver stepped out of the car and introduced herself, "Mr. Johnson, I'm Barbara Silver. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Dr. Adams was correct. She was definitely a good looking woman. I was slightly taken aback by her appearance but managed to recover without making a fool of myself.

"Let me introduce Sylvia Brown with the DA's office and you already know Joyce," she said as the other women exited the car.

I shook hands with all the women before turning to Barbara, "I didn't realize that there was going to be a crowd for the interview. I'm not very comfortable with all of this. Is it really necessary?"

"Sylvia needs to be here to determine whether additional criminal charges should be filed based on what results from the interview," Barbara replied.

"I can almost understand that, but I'm not entirely convinced that it is absolutely necessary. What's Joyce's role?" I asked.

Before Barbara could respond, Joyce spoke up, "I'm here to protect the interests of Joel..."

"Yeah, I'm sure," I said with as much sarcasm as I could muster. "Just like you tried to protect the boys at the hearing, if you had been successful the boys would be in some awful group home instead of here where they are loved. Don't talk to me about protecting the boys."

Turning back to Barbara, I said "Give me a good reason why Sylvia has to be physically present at the interview. Wouldn't viewing the video tape provide her with the same information?"

"Yes, it's just that we always have the DA's office present when we do one of these interviews," Barbara said.

Joyce interrupted "Mr. Johnson, those boys are under my protection and I am going to be there for the interview."

"Ms. Gehrig, don't you even think of defying me on this. I will not hesitate to get my lawyer, whom I know you remember, to tie you and CPS up in so many knots and lawsuits that it will take you years to untangle. You know I have the resources and Benjamin Cross has the legal know how to do it. Now I will give you a bone of sorts. I will let you speak to Joel privately after the interview if, and I stress if, he wants to. Take it or leave it, it is your choice," I almost snarled at her.

"Well... well... I... ah..." she stuttered.

"That's settled. Now let's get back to why Ms. Brown needs to be present," I said turning back to Barbara.

She clearly was shocked at my verbal exchange with Joyce and it took her a moment to recover. Glancing over at Sylvia she said, "What do you think? Do you really have to be there? I think that the atmosphere would be better if we did as Mr. Johnson asks."

"Well, I don't know..," she started.

"Look Ms. Brown, I don't want to be a shit about this but I am very protective of Joel and his brothers. This interview is going to be extremely stressful for him as it is. The bigger the crowd the more stress it will put on him. There is no one who wants to see that scumbag father of his put away more than I do. But I don't want to see Joel hurt any more than he already has been. I don't want to interfere with your duties, but if there is no compelling reason for you to be present, then I insist that you not be there," I said.

"Okay, I suppose. I don't like it but if that's the way it has to be then I'll go along with it," Sylvia grumbled.

"Now that all of that is settled, please follow me. Barbara, let me show you my video setup. Joyce and Sylvia, you are welcome to go see the boys. I think they are in their bedrooms playing video games. Ask Hildy to show you the way," I said leading Barbara to the study.

Having satisfied herself that she understood the workings of my video setup, she indicated that she was ready to proceed.

I went to Joel's bedroom and asked him to follow me. His eyes betrayed the fear that he was feeling. I gave him a hug and then looked him straight in the eyes and said, "Don't be afraid. I will be there with you all the time. Please believe me, I love you and I don't want you to be hurt. This is necessary so that your dad can never do anything bad to you or your brothers again. Do you understand?"

He nodded his head, but he clearly was not happy about what he had to do.

"Barbara, this is my son Joel. Joel this is Barbara Silver," I said as we entered the study.

"I'm very pleased to meet you, Joel," she said extending her hand to him.

Joel reached out, took her hand and in a barely audible voice said, "Hi."