It's Not Easy Being a Tree

Chapter 21

Pastor Sparks led Lucas and me down a narrow hall to what appeared to be a conference room. The wall facing the hallway was made of glass with thin blinds. The blinds were opened, so anyone walking past could see us. Lucas’s father had us sit down at a long table, and he scooted a seat beside his son. There was a briefcase opposite us, so I assumed that was where Detective Davis would sit.

We waited for about five minutes for her to arrive. She entered, smiled at us and then took a seat. “Welcome,” she said smilingly. She looked at Lucas. “You are Lucas Sparks?” She appeared to be about fifty. Her hair was cut short, and she made no attempt to cover the grey hair that was beginning to appear, unlike my mother. She seemed rather pleasant and friendly, not what I was expecting a detective to be like. I had been expecting someone like Mr. Calloway- big and mean.

“Yes, Ma’am,” he replied politely. She then looked at me.

“And you are Woodward Fields?” I glanced over at Lucas when he started giggling.

“I’d like to be called Woody,” I requested as I cast Lucas a nasty glance.

“Very well, Woody,” she replied. She then looked over at Pastor Sparks. “Reverend Sparks has been asked to be present to represent you.” She looked at me. “Do you object? Your mother waived her rights to be present and agreed to this arrangement.”

“Okay,” I replied sadly. Even though I didn’t want to have my mother present, it still hurt to know that she didn’t want to be. Since Dad hadn’t even bothered to show up, I was certain they both now resented me.

“For the record,” she stated firmly, “I need you to state clearly if you agree or disagree.”

“I agree,” I replied.

She opened her briefcase and took out a folder. After thumbing through it for a minute, she sat back and stared at Lucas and me before speaking. “I jotted down some of the information your father provided me last night on the phone.” She glanced over at Pastor Sparks before leaning forward. “I don’t have to tell you how serious these charges are. Lives are at stake here. I don’t want any innocent person to be subjected to false accusations.”

I gulped, and in the silent room it echoed off the walls. Even though her demeanor was friendly, it was obvious that she took her responsibility very seriously. “I don’t want you to say anything or accuse anyone of something that you are not sure of beyond a doubt.” She stared intently at us. “Understood?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” we said in unison.

“Very well,” she replied. “Let’s begin.” She pulled out her phone and called someone. “You may come in now.” A minute later, the secretary at the front desk entered carrying what appeared to be a tape recorder and sat down beside Pastor Lucas.

Detective Davis looked over at her and nodded. The secretary turned on the recorder. Detective Davis then looked at us and ordered, “Raise your right hands.” Lucas and I looked at each other and raised our hands. “Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give will be truthful and it is being given without any duress or force?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” we again said in unison.

“For the record, Ms. Ortega, a court secretary, is present and will record your testimony. We looked over at the young secretary. “Also for the record, Mr. Jeffrey Sparks, father of witness, Lucas Sparks, is present. Mrs. Fields, mother of Woody Fields, a complainant, has waived her right to be present.”

And the interrogation began. She questioned Lucas first. For the third time I had to listen to him explain how Mr. Dewberry had been molesting him since he was twelve. Detective Davis was thorough, and much came out that he hadn’t told his father or mother earlier. It was particularly difficult to listen to him relate tearfully how he had first been forcibly penetrated when he was fourteen. He reluctantly gave the names of other boys that Mr. Dewberry had forced him to have sex with at summer camp. A few of the boys’ names I recognized from church, although none I considered friends. His testimony was emotional, and Detective Davis had to stop several times until he could continue.

His testimony took about forty-five minutes. It was almost 10:30 when he finished. “I think we should take a break now,” Detective Davis declared. “There’s a coffee shop downstairs if you’d like to get something to drink or eat.” She looked at her watch. “Let’s meet back here at 11:00. I think we can wrap this up by noon.” She then left the room, followed by Ms. Ortega.

When we rose, Pastor Sparks held Lucas tightly. “Are you all right, Son?” Lucas nodded and then looked sadly at me. “Let’s go downstairs. I think we all need a break.”

On the way to the elevators, Lucas grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the restroom. Once inside, he locked the door, turned to me and opened his arms. “Hold me, please?”

He looked like he was about to break. I rushed over, took him in my arms and held him tightly. It felt strange because he was much bigger than me. “I’ve never been so scared in my life,” he uttered mournfully. He then pulled back and looked tearfully at me.

“Why did he do it, Woody?” Tears were falling down his cheeks. “Why did he have to do those horrible things to me.” I couldn’t give him an answer. To say that bad things happen to good people sounded shallow. Mr. Dewberry was a monster. What he did was much more horrific than being bad.

He asked sadly, “Why didn’t I have the courage to stop him?” I pulled him into me and hugged him tightly. “I knew what he was doing was wrong, but I couldn’t tell him no.”

I couldn’t understand it, either. Lucas wasn’t small like me. Perhaps when Mr. Dewberry started messing with him, he was too small and scared. But now, he was no longer a child. He was almost a man. I had been wondering why he didn’t tell Mr. Dewberry to stop.

However, Lucas was ashamed of anyone finding out what had been happening. Over time, Mr. Dewberry had convinced him that telling anyone would lead to embarrassing consequences. I had almost been prepared to follow the same path. Ironically, Lucas, who could not save himself from Mr. Dewberry, was the person responsible for rescuing me.

We jumped when someone pounded on the door. “Are you boys all right?” Pastor Sparks shouted out. I walked over, cracked the door slightly and assured him we were okay. He tried to peer in, but I closed the door and locked it.

Lucas was at the sink drying his face with a paper towel. He looked in the mirror and smiled. I remembered back several weeks ago when we had been in the restroom in the church basement.

I smiled at him when he stared at me and said, “I’m such a baby.” He blew his nose and then stepped over to the urinal. As he unzipped his pants, I walked over to the sink to wash my hands. I took a quick glance at his cock.  Like I had done earlier in the morning, he took a slight step back so I could get a better look.

I could tell he was nervous, because he was straining hard to piss. His cock appeared rather small as he pulled on it. “Must be a grower, not a shower,” I thought to myself.

He looked over, then stepped back toward the urinal so I could no longer see him. “I’m pee shy,” he announced embarrassedly. “I can’t go if someone is watching me.” I laughed and told him I’d be outside.

“Is Lucas all right?” His father asked when I entered the hall.

“He’s really upset,” I informed him, “but he’ll be all right.”

Pastor Sparks smiled warmly. “I’m glad he’s got a good friend like you to help him through this.”

“Thank you, Sir,” I replied just as Lucas came out of the restroom. We then took the elevator to the first floor. After finding the small café, Lucas and I ordered hot chocolate and a doughnut. His father had coffee and a bagel.

I was too nervous to eat. I nibbled on my doughnut, but I was too afraid I would get sick if I ate much. After watching how upset Lucas had been during his testimony, I was afraid I would never make it through mine. My hands were shaking so bad, I could hardly take a sip of my chocolate without it spilling on me.

“Relax,” Pastor Sparks said after I had put my cup down after a second attempt to drink. “You’re going to do just fine. Perhaps it would help if you got up and walked a bit.”

“Do I really have to do this? I asked. “Doesn’t she have enough on Mr. Dewberry without me saying anything.” After seeing the hurt look on Lucas’s face, I regretted making that statement. He had helped me from the sexual advances of Mr. Dewberry; now I was ready to abandon him after he had put so much on the line.

I hung my head shamefully. “I’ll do it,” I muttered softly. I looked up when Lucas touched my hand.

He smiled gently and said, “You don’t have to if you don’t want.”

“No,” I assured him, “I’ll do it. If you can, then so can I.” His father sat back and smiled at us.

Detective Davis looked at me as we sat around the large conference table. “Ready?” she asked. I took a deep breath and nodded.

It wasn’t as bad as I expected. Detective Davis was a good interrogator. She didn’t seem surprised at anything I said. She asked me a lot of questions, however. She wanted to particularly hear about how Mr. Dewberry had shown his cock to me, and how he had reached out and stroked me.

“Now, Woody,” she asked in a professional tone. “This is extremely important.” She leaned toward me and stared into my face. “Did Mr. Dewberry at any time forcibly make you do anything you didn’t want to do? Did you ever feel you were coerced into doing something against your will? You also said he blocked the door when you tried to leave. Did you feel that he might hurt you if you did attempt to do so?”

I thought for a second and then related how he had forced me to my knees and pressed his cock against my lips just before Lucas started pounding on the door. I told her how scared I was and that I felt he might hurt me if I didn’t do as he asked. I also told her that I was afraid he might hurt me if I did try to leave the room. She nodded, sat back and wrote something on a form in front of her.

She then questioned me extensively about Brandon’s involvement. She wanted to know exactly what he had said to me and the tone he used. I told her how he had sent pictures to my brother and the reaction he had when he received them.

“He only sent pictures to your brother?” I glanced quickly at Lucas.

“No, Ma’am.” I then explained how he had sent out the picture to other students. I told her about Ross, Kate and Jeff receiving the picture.

She looked at Lucas. “Did you get it?” He looked quickly at me and nodded.

“May I see?” she asked as she held out her hand. My face reddened as Lucas took out his phone, brought up the picture and handed it to her. Her expression didn’t change as she looked at the picture. She then looked at me. “Do you have it on your phone, as well?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied as I took out my phone and handed it to her. She handed the phones to Ms. Ortega.

“I’m afraid we’ll be keeping these as evidence.” Lucas and I exchanged worried glances. My heart stopped beating when she looked at Ms. Ortega and said, “Prepare an affidavit for the seizure of Jon Fields’s phone.”

“Do you have to?” I asked nervously. Jon would kill me if someone took his phone. I also wasn’t sure if he deleted the pictures I had taken of him that he sent to Debbie.

She nodded her head. “From what you have told me, it contains some incriminating evidence.”

She shuffled some papers together and looked at me and Lucas. “I think we are finished here, unless you have anything else to say.” We looked at one another and shook our heads.

“What will happen now?” Pastor Sparks asked. Detective Davis looked over at Ms. Ortega and nodded. The secretary then rose from her seat and left the room, carrying our cell phones.

Detective Davis sat back and sighed. “It’s going to be a very busy afternoon.” I looked up at the clock. It was 11:48. “Ms. Ortega is now going to fill out affidavits for arrest warrants for Mr. Dewberry and Brandon Metzger. We will also prepare search warrant affidavits for Mr. Dewberry’s cell phone and his school and home computers. Brandon’s cell phone and home computer will also be seized.” As an afterthought, she looked at me and added, “And your brother’s cell phone.”

“You’re going to arrest Mr. Dewberry?” I asked excitedly.

“Of course,” she replied sternly. “I will personally take the affidavits to a judge as soon as Ms. Ortega has them completed. After the judge has signed them, then I will make a call to police officers who will be waiting outside the school to immediately take Mr. Dewberry and Mr. Metzger into custody.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “So soon?”

“Yes, Woody,” she replied. “If we don’t act quickly, then important evidence can be compromised.” She looked at her watch and then rose from her chair. “They should be in handcuffs in about an hour.” I looked over at Lucas. His expression must have been as surprised as mine.

“An hour?” I asked.

“An hour,” she stated assuredly. “Time is extremely critical.” We stood and she shook our hands. “You boys are very brave,” she said smilingly. “Your testimony is very reliable. I don’t think we’ll have any problem getting a felony conviction against Mr. Dewberry.”

“What about Brandon?” Since Brandon was sixteen, like me, I wasn’t sure what they would do to him.

“He’s an accomplice in this matter,” she said. “I guess it will be up to the prosecutor how he wants to charge him.” She looked at her watch. “I must be going.” She turned to Pastor Sparks and asked, “Can you keep these boys in your charge for at least the next two hours.” He nodded his head. “And don’t let them make any phone calls.” She looked at us and added, “To anyone.” She then hurried from the room.

Pastor Sparks took us to a nice restaurant downtown. The owner was a member of the church, so we received special treatment. We were seated at a table nearest the street window so we could look out.

“I’m proud of you boys,” Pastor Sparks remarked as we were eating a spaghetti lunch. I had already eaten a large salad and three bread sticks. After all the emotional turmoil of the past week, I was finally able to eat without feeling I was going to get sick.

“I don’t feel very proud,” replied Lucas. I looked at him and started laughing. He had a piece of spaghetti hanging on his chin. He sucked it into his mouth with a big slurp.

“Well, you should,” his father responded with a smile after watching his antics. “You did the right thing by putting a dangerous man behind bars.”

“What will happen now?” Lucas looked anxiously at his father. “If they arrest Mr. Dewberry, won’t it be all over the news tonight?”

My heart sunk when he said that. I had only been thinking about the interrogation with Detective Davis. I hadn’t even had time to think about what the next few hours could bring. The clock on the wall read 1:20. We had left just a little after noon. She said they could have the warrants signed by a judge in an hour.

If everything went according to plan, Mr. Dewberry and Brandon would now have been arrested…at school. Rumors would be flying, and by school’s end, everyone would know what happened. I wondered how long it would take people to piece everything together.

Sensing what I was feeling, Pastor Sparks reached for my arm. “It’s going to be a rough couple of days.”

“Thanks,” I remarked sarcastically as I glanced over at a worried Lucas.

“I’ve helped many people through a crisis,” he assured me. “I’ll be with you all the way on this.” I nodded appreciatively, but I was still scared. How could I even begin to walk down the halls of school with everyone knowing that I had been the one responsible for getting Mr. Dewberry arrested. Brandon was one of the most popular boys in our school. People would hate me for telling on him.

There were two women seated at a table beside us. I noticed them when we sat down, but I hadn’t paid much attention to them until one of their cell phones started to ring. Suddenly, I heard her exclaim loudly, “Oh, my God!”

“What’s wrong?” her friend asked worriedly. The woman on the phone raised her finger to silence her. A minute later she closed her phone.

“You won’t believe this!” she said excitedly. “That was my daughter on the phone. She’s in class at the high school. She says the place is on lockdown and police are everywhere!”

I looked worriedly at Lucas when the other woman asked, “What’s happened?”

“I don’t know,” she said as she threw her napkin on the table and stood up. “She says no one is allowed to leave their classroom. I better get over there.”

“Oh, Dear!” exclaimed her friend. “I hope it isn’t one of those school shootings.” They went to the cashier, paid for their meal and hurried from the restaurant. When I looked back at Lucas, he was visibly upset.

After lunch, we returned to the church. I guess, being a minister, Pastor Sparks felt it was necessary for us to pray about what had happened to us. We quietly entered the sanctuary and followed him. We sat beside him on the front pew. It was eerie to be in the church with no one around but the three of us. I could hear the gentle wind blowing against the stain glass windows.

“You’re going to need a lot of strength,” Pastor Sparks said in a whisper, “to face the evils of an unjust world.” He turned to us and gently smiled.

“I don’t want you boys, however, to think that everyone in the world is bad.” He reached out and held Lucas’s arm. “I’ve taught you that the world is filled with wonderful, marvelous people.” Lucas nodded his head.

“Unfortunately, I never prepared you for people like the Nathan Dewberry’s of the world.” I watched as tears filled his eyes. “I was hoping you would never have to experience their evil.”

He turned toward the front, bowed his head and began to pray. I didn’t know what to do. It seemed like such a personal moment for him. I sat quietly as he put his arm around Lucas, pulled him into his chest and held him tightly.

A few minutes later, he said, “Amen,” and they both sat up. Lucas reached over and took my hand, squeezing it tightly.

His father looked down at our entwined hands. “You boys need to be careful,” he warned. “It’s obvious you are becoming close. This has brought you together.” Lucas nodded at his father as he squeezed my hand again.

“Most people today understand that love doesn’t have boundaries,” he said. “That has been my main message as a minister of the Lord’s word. Jesus, our Christ, told the world to love each other as I have loved you.”

He sighed deeply. “However, some people pervert the word of God to their own standards.” He looked down at our entwined hands. “Some people won’t accept your love.” We both nodded our heads.

“So be careful,” he warned again. “If you need me, I’ll always be here for you.” He stood and opened his arms. Lucas and I stood as he pulled us into an embrace. After a minute, he pulled away.

“When this thing is over,” he said as he looked into our eyes, “I want to sit down with you and discuss what is beginning to develop in your relationship.” He stopped and gave us a puzzled look. “I’m assuming that a relationship is forming between you?”

Lucas looked down into my eyes. He squeezed my hand as I smiled and nodded.

“Good then,” his father replied when he saw us staring at each other. “I will talk to you as I would if a young man and woman came to me wanting advice.” Lucas released my hand and hugged his father tightly.

“I love you, Dad,” he muttered softly. His father looked at me and motioned for me to join them. For the second time, we hugged each other tightly.

We broke our embrace when his cell phone started ringing. He looked at who was calling and walked toward a side door. After he left, we sat down and held hands again.

“You okay?” I asked as I looked over at Lucas. He looked beautiful as a stain-glass window as a sun ray cast a glow behind him.

“Are you?” he asked. I nodded my head.

“I think so,” I replied as I took his hand in mine. “Did you really mean it when you said you wanted a relationship with me?”

His face reddened. “Yeah,” he replied as he smiled gently. “I do.”

“Me, too,” I giggled slightly as I squeezed his hand. I was starting to lean in to kiss him when his father entered the sanctuary. He looked down at us worriedly.

“Is everything all right?” Lucas asked as his father sat down on the pew.

“I was just on the phone with Detective Davis,” he informed us. “Mr. Dewberry and Brandon Metzger were arrested just a little while ago. She says that detectives are questioning them now. She couldn’t tell me much, but it appears that Brandon has confessed to everything.”

“Good,” I responded. At least no one would dispute what I had told them. One of my biggest concerns was that everyone would think I had made the whole story up and they would try to protect Mr. Dewberry.

He turned toward me. “She says it is probably safe for you to go home now.”

“Do I have to?” I asked nervously. I wasn’t looking forward to facing my parents and Jon. Mom’s reaction at the police station indicated that I was probably not going to be welcomed. In fact, I was scared they might not want me to stay after everything I had done.

Pastor Sparks smiled and put his arm around my shoulder. “I’m afraid so,” he said. “If things become too difficult for you, you can always call me and I’ll come get you.” Lucas grabbed my hand and squeezed it.

“Great,” I thought. His remarks didn’t assure me that my parents would accept me. If he thought they would, he would have said so. Instead, he told me to call him if it became difficult. I was more disheartened than ever.

On the way home, my heart was pounding. I was sitting in the back of the SUV, and Lucas kept turning around and looking at me worriedly. When we pulled into my driveway, I was afraid to exit the car. At least I didn’t see Dad or Mom’s car in the driveway.

Sensing my fear, Pastor Lucas got out and came around to the passenger’s side door and opened it. “You’re going to have to go through a lot of things the next few days that you won’t want to,” he said as he took my arm and gently pulled me from the car. “This will perhaps be the worst.”

“Thanks,” I remarked sarcastically as I stepped out.

“Just remember,” he replied as he gave me a hug. “It is times of adversity that makes us stronger.”

I waved to Lucas as I headed to my house. “I’m a little sapling,” I said softly to myself as I walked onto the porch. “I’ll never be strong.”