“Royal.” He mentioned the young policewoman’s name softly. “I’m so glad that the only person that got hurt was that loser my daughter was hooked up with.”
I squeezed the bridge of my nose. “If the police officer hadn’t been there that night it might not have been the case. The boyfriend went in armed and pulled a gun on Mr. Cross. This entire situation could have had a much worse outcome.”
The man on the other end of the phone went silent again and then muttered, “I am well aware of what could’ve happened, Mr. Jackson.”
I felt like a little kid getting a scolding for speaking before the teacher called on me. That was an impressive feat. I very rarely felt put in my place and this man had done it with his tone of voice and a few carefully chosen words. Again, I wondered how his daughter had trailed so far off the straight and narrow when she seemed to have such a strong support system in place.
“I can’t tell you why Avett didn’t call you, Mr. Walker, but I can tell you that she is in pretty big trouble. Her arraignment hearing is tomorrow, and while I’m almost certain that I can get her released on bail, it won’t be cheap and the judge won’t let her go unless she has a stable, safe, and permanent address to go home to. He may even put her on house arrest considering her uncanny ability to find trouble. If that’s the case, she’ll have to have an address to register the ankle monitor to.” I paused to let all the information sink in. “She mentioned she was living with the boyfriend. Understandably, that is no longer an option.”
There was rustling on the other end of the line that sounded like he was scraping his hand through his hair, only rougher and scratchier. “So you’re asking me to pay my daughter’s bail and to bring her home with me, even though she was involved in an armed robbery that could’ve resulted in people I care deeply about getting injured … or worse?”
When he laid it out like that, it sounded like an insane request. It was my turn to sigh. “If it makes any kind of difference Avett didn’t want me to call you. I felt that if there was an option to save her from having to spend time behind bars while we wait for the preliminary hearing, we should pursue it. From your reaction, I’m guessing she didn’t call you because she knew it would be a waste of time.” I didn’t know the man, barely knew the girl, but I was oddly disappointed in his reaction. One more thing about this entire case and situation that made no sense. My reactions were totally out of character, but instead of worrying about it, I kind of liked the thrill of it. Being numb was boring.
I paused and as I was about to thank the man for his time there was suddenly a chuckle that sounded like thunder rumbling through the mountains coming from the other end of the call.
“She didn’t call me because she’s scared and embarrassed. That girl.” Even though I couldn’t see him, I knew the man had to be shaking his head ruefully. “She’s always been a handful, and she’s always had a knack for finding the deepest, hottest water to jump feetfirst into. Sometimes I wonder if she’s testing me and her poor mother to see just how much we can take. She doesn’t realize when you’re a parent there are no limits on the love you have for your child. I’ll take whatever she dishes out and come back for more. Her mother is a firm believer in letting Avett suffer the consequences of her foolish actions alone—she thinks it’s the only way she’ll learn—but I’m more of a ‘walk through the fire side by side’ kind of parent. Tell me what time the hearing is and I’ll be there, with bail money or a bondsman and with whatever proof you need that my daughter has a permanent place to stay with me. I’ve always been her home and regardless of what she’s done that will never change.”
I wanted to breathe a sigh of relief. I wanted to pump my fist in victory even though the battle hadn’t even started yet. Maybe my job and the recent collapse of my marriage had made me too jaded. I was so used to seeing the bad in people, so accustomed to believing the worst by default, that I needed this man to have unconditional love for his child in order to keep some sort of faith in humanity alive.
I ran through what he would need to bring with him for the arraignment proceedings in case the judge needed proof, and warned him that his daughter was going to look worn down and was dressed like a convict. It could be jarring to see someone you loved like that, but the man assured me he would be fine and he would be there to take care of his little girl.
I thanked him for his time and was getting ready to hang up when he stopped me with a quietly spoken question. “Can I ask why you took the time, after what I’m assuming was a long workday, to call me yourself, Mr. Jackson? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the personal touch and the obvious commitment to my daughter’s well-being. I can’t say I’ve had a ton of experience dealing with attorneys, but something tells me this isn’t standard operating procedure.”
It wasn’t, but there was something about the girl so I told him the truth because I had a suspicion that this man would be able to smell a lie or a dodge from a mile away. “It’s not and I’m generally not the type to bring a case home with me. I try to leave the law at the office and in the courtroom, but there is something about your daughter.” I paused and it was my turn to shake my head. “She isn’t exactly blameless, but she doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the kinds of violent criminals I deal with on a daily basis either. She’s still young enough to have a shot at something better. I want to help her out.”
“Avett’s always been special and maybe a little lost. Her mother and I tried to show her the right way, but the girl is stubborn and determined to find the path she’s meant to be on in her own way. This is another speed bump, albeit a big one, for her to navigate her way around. I appreciate your help, son. I’ll be getting on the phone with Asa as soon as I get off with you. That boy is coming from a good place, but this is a family matter so I’ll be taking care of your fees from here on out.”
I rubbed a hand over my face and sat up. “I’ll let you fight that out with him. As long as I get paid, I don’t care who pays the bill.”
There was another deep and rumbling chuckle. “You serve in the military, son?”
I blinked in surprise at the offhanded question and looked down at my oxblood Burberry wingtips and the legs of my custom fit, navy Canali suit. I was miles away from the rebellious and untrained eighteen-year-old that had enlisted what felt like a lifetime ago. No one asked me about those four defining years of my life. They asked about finishing my undergrad in record time, they mentioned law school, they talked about passing the bar, and they questioned me about defending a well-known serial killer and getting a sitting congressman acquitted of vehicular manslaughter charges. Most of the time, I forgot about the kid that had been shipped to the desert to fight hostiles and insurgents on endless miles of bloodstained sand. I was too busy being the guy in the suit with a slick haircut and perfectly placed accessories to show how successful, how good at my job I was.