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I answered the phone and Ken Robson said, "Burgs, you need to watch the 11 o’clock news."
"Can't you just tell me what's going on, Ken without leaving me in suspense?" I said rather annoyed.
"Trust me, just watch."
The news started and the lead story was about a large child pornography ring that had just been busted. The leader of the ring was Sean's grandfather and they were showing him being arrested at the motel he was staying at in town.
"Is that why you've been worried all day, Pop?" Sean said from behind me.
I was startled. He had been wakened by the phone call and I hadn't heard him come down the stairs to the media room. He saw the whole news clip and recognized his grandfather. He walked over and sat down beside me.
"I can't put anything past you, young man, can I," I said as I smiled at him.
"Do I have to guess what was going on or are you going to tell me?" he said as he looked at me.
He just shook his head as I told him everything that had happened. He said he wasn't surprised at the charges and told me of numerous times that his grandfather had made him uncomfortable as a child. He had made suggestive remarks to him and touched him inappropriately many times when no one was looking.
Just then the phone rang and it was Katharine.
"Well I guess that obstacle is taken care of, Uncle Al. Did you know what was happening?" she asked.
I told her that I was as much in the dark today with what was happening as she was. She explained that it didn't matter that the grandfather had simply been charged not convicted, that this was enough to satisfy CAS' burden of proof to disqualify him.
While we were talking I could see on the call display that Joe Hoskins was calling through. I said goodbye to Katharine and took his call.
"I guess you've seen the news by now. Ken left it up to me to fill in the details," he said with a cheery voice.
He explained that Gilles, the Montréal Police chief, had told Ken that there was a big undercover operation by the Child Pornography Unit of the QPP (Québec Provincial Police) and that they had rounded up 25 men across Canada that morning.
"The QPP couldn't locate Sean's grandfather, as he had given them the slip. When you had shared the information about my investigation, Ken contacted me. I had a pretty good idea where he was and shared that. I was correct and the rest is history," Joe said.
"You don't know what a weight you've just lifted from my shoulders, Joe. I can't thank you enough," I said.
I made a note to myself to call Ken in the morning and thank him as well.
After I hung up I put my arms around Sean and gave him a big hug.
When we broke the hug he said,"What was that for, Pop?"
"Just because, young man. Just because."
The next morning Diego and Dana arrived at the same time. They were a little late, as there was a storm the night before that had dumped 10 cm (4") of snow. It was a little difficult driving as the plows were a little slow in clearing the streets. Sean and I were just finishing breakfast as we both slept in. I was catching up on lost sleep from the night before and Sean was being his usual teenage self. Even though he was still sleeping in many days, he wasn't as difficult to get going as he had been. I was hoping most of his depression was in the past.
Dana gave him a big kiss and hug as she arrived. She decided to start cleaning the downstairs media room first, as I was still tidying up the kitchen after Breakfast.
Diego and Sean went to the Den to start their session, which would be the last one they would have. Sean would be going to school hopefully for the rest of the term, after we came back from the March break.
"Sean, did you empty your garbage can?" I said as I leaned into the Den and interrupted their session.
Sean's eyes opened wide and he took off through the doorway.
"And bring your laundry down too," I said as he disappeared up the stairs.
"It's a guy thing, Diego," I said as I smiled at him. "Ask Sean when he comes back down."
I put the laundry on and was in the Kitchen making a list of last minute things to take care of before the trip when a call came in. I could see from the call display that it was Katharine. She wanted to tell me that she got the job, as they had told her that morning. I congratulated her and said I was very happy she was the successful candidate.
"Thanks, Uncle Al. I also have some other news about the adoption hearing," She said.
She told me that the hearing was slated for the last Friday in March and that the CAS recommendation was going to be that they favoured the adoption and that there were no impediments as far as they were concerned.
"I didn't write the recommendation, so there can't be any complaint about bias. However, we may have a small problem," she said.
She explained that the Family Court judge assigned to the case, Judge Steenhof, was a bit of a stickler and liked his i's dotted and his t's crossed. The fact that the grandfather hadn't been convicted may cause him to delay the adoption. As well, he often took the conservative view of the parents and had on a few occasions refused single parent adoptions.
"I'm calling Ray this morning to bring him up-to-date. I think I'll see if he'll represent us at the hearing," I said.
"Bringing out the big guns isn't a bad idea. Has Ray done any Family Law lately?" she asked.
I wasn't sure but I was about to find out as I called Ray as soon as I had hung up from our conversation.
"He was an old stick-in-the-mud when he graduated in 1976. I've known him for many years," Ray said.
He told me that he always had the utmost respect for Judge Steenhof when he was a practicing lawyer and that he was a fair judge, but cautious.
"It's been awhile since I've practiced Family Law, but I'm retired with nothing to do," he said as he chuckled.
He told me he would be happy to represent us at the hearing and in the meantime he would do some research to prepare.
"I hope this young boy is worth it, Burgs."
"He sure is, Mules."
By now Diego and Sean were finished their session and they came out into the hall while Diego got ready to go.
"You have a good time, young man and we'll see you at the After School Club when you come back," Diego said as he smiled at Sean.
Sean came over to him and wrapped his arms around him in a hug and said, "Thanks Diego. You're a really great teacher."
Diego had been more than his teacher, as Sean and he had really bonded. Like Rickie, Diego treated Sean like a little brother. They said their goodbyes and Sean went into the Kitchen to help Dana make lunch.
I wanted to touch base with Diego before he left.
"You know, Al, Sean's very anxious about going back into the classroom when you come back," Diego said with a lot of concern in his voice.
He had confided in Diego that he was frightened of going into a new school where he didn't know anyone. I knew I had to have a talk with him now to tell him about my plan with Stéphane and show him his timetable.
After lunch I took Sean into the living room to calm his fears about starting back in school.
"You're going to be just fine, young man. You know Stéphane and he's going to meet you outside the school the first day to get you settled," I said as I put my arm around his shoulder and brought him into my side.
I showed him his timetable and told him about all the great teachers he had. He seemed to relax and smiled at me. I also told him Stéphane was in most of his classes.
"You're a smart boy, Sean and you won't have any trouble fitting in. You'll just have to worry about beating back the girls," I said as I laughed.
He screwed up his face and hit me on the arm.
We needed to pick up Jake's suit and as well, I wanted to pick up the pictures I left at the camera store and get Sean and Jake cameras for the trip. We left Dana and went out.
"I'm disappointed Giacomo couldn't come with you today, Mr. Burger," Lou said as he greeted Sean and me.
I told him that Jake was in school and that we were going to be taking his clothing on the plane when we went the next day. He put Jake's suit in a garment bag and wished us a great trip and told us the Italian phrases he wanted us to say to ‘Giacomo' for him.
When we got to the camera store, I told Sean to look at the cameras to see what he thought would be good choices for Jake and him. While he was doing that it gave me a chance to look at the framed pictures I had ordered, without Sean seeing them. I was very pleased with the way they turned out and I was sure Sean would be too.
"Well which camera choice do you think is the best, Sean," I asked.
He told me he had boiled it down to 3 models and asked if the salesman could help us decide. After the salesman pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of the 3 models Sean chose the Canon SureShot as the best choice and we bought two of them.
When we arrived home I asked Sean if he wanted me to sit down with him to figure out how to work the camera and he smiled and said, "I think I can figure it out, but if you want to help me ... "
Just then Dana was coming down the stairs and was on her way to the Kitchen.
"Is there anyone who would like to help me do some baking for your trip tomorrow," Dana asked with a big smile on her face.
Sean smiled, "Maybe later, Pop, if you want?" and quickly followed her to the Kitchen.
This gave me a chance to place the framed pictures where I wanted them without Sean seeing them first. I had two 5x7" table top pictures; one of him as a baby and the other with his grandmother in Marineland with him in his t-shirt with a picture of Teddy superimposed onto it. I used Photoshop to do this before I gave it to the camera store. The baby picture would go on the end table in the living room with my girls' pictures and the other one would go in his room. I also had the 8x10" picture that my brother-in-law David took of the family for the wall. The other pictures I had would be put into a scrapbook that my niece Janet would do, as she ran a scrapbooking business and was very talented at it. Dana and Sean were so busy with their baking that they didn't hear me hammering in a nail to hang the family picture. When I had the picture hung, I went into the Kitchen to join them.
"We made 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies and 3 loaves of banana bread for the trip," Sean said with a big smile on his face.
"You mean 2 of each, with 1 dozen and one loaf for today," I said with a big smile on my face.
I asked both Dana and Sean to come into the living room to show them the pictures. He saw the family picture first and he gave a big smile. When I pointed out the baby picture on the end table, he turned very serious as he moved closer to it. When I handed him the picture of him with his grandmother, t-shirt and Teddy, both Dana and I could see he was getting choked up.
"That's for your room, Sean," I said as both Dana and I put our arms around his back.
Finally, after quite a few moments he said in a shaky voice, "Thanks."
"Why don't you take it up to your room and put it where you want it," I said as both Dana and I smiled at him.
"That was very sweet, Al," Dana said as she gave me a peck on my cheek after he had left the room.
I hadn't expected it and I blushed a little. When I recovered, I gave her a big smile and a hug.
Before Dana went back to work, I remembered I needed to talk to her about something I wanted her to do while we were away. Dana was going to be checking the Townhouse, as she had a key.
"I've called Kendra Boulanger at the paint store, to redecorate Sean's room while we're away," I said to Dana.
I told Dana that Kendra was the professional decorator we had used many times before, who worked for the paint store. She freelanced to provide a complete decorating service.
"You're great with that stuff too, so I hope you don't mind working with her. You know Sean and you can provide the background information she'll need," I said.
She thought that was a great idea and naturally she didn't want to be paid. I insisted and she finally gave in. We talked about colour schemes we thought he'd like and what might be suitable 'artwork' for the walls. We also went over what furniture would need to be replaced and added.
"This will be interesting, Al, as my experience has been with girls," she said as she chuckled.
"Mine too, Dana, that's why I'm leaving it up to you two," I said as I smiled at her.
"I guess you don't want any pictures of nude women hanging on the walls," she said as she laughed.
"Sean might ..... but no," I said as I smiled.
By now it was later in the afternoon and we needed to get going on getting ready for tomorrow's trip. Sean had now come back downstairs from his room.
"Sean, you'll need to get things packed up and put in your new suitcase," I said.
I told him to pack a few warm things in case the temperature turned chilly in Florida. I was hoping the temperature would stay in the 18 to 21 ° C range as it had been all week there, but this was not a given at this time of the year. I told him to pack some Playstation games as we would buy another controller down there for the house. I also told him that we would be buying a lot of summer clothing when we got there, as the selection would be much better. The stores in Canada were still clearing out winter clothing and hadn't got much spring and summer stock as of yet.
A little while later, I decided to check on his progress and looked in his room as I was bringing my suitcase upstairs. He was just finishing his packing and was lugging the bag off of the bed and was going to roll it on the wheels to the corner of his room. I thought it looked a little heavier than I expected.
"Here let me help you with that, it looks a little heavy," I said as I lifted it up by the handle.
"Sean, what did you pack?"
He listed off what was in the bag, which amounted to virtually everything in his drawers and cupboard.
"Sean, we're only down there for 10 days and it's not Winter there, so I don't think you need 5 pairs of jeans, 4 pairs of cotton twill pants, 3 heavy sweaters,.........."
He had a bewildered look on his face, as I put his bag back onto his bed and opened it. We emptied a lot of the items back into his cupboard and dresser drawers. I was however, glad to see that my talk on hygiene had sunk in ..... almost.
"So one pair of socks for 10 days?"
"And the pair I'm wearing now," he said with a serious look on his face.
"I don't think either pair of white socks are going to go well with your dark blue suit," I said trying to keep from laughing.
He looked at me with an embarrassed smile on his face and went over and got out more socks and put them in his bag.
When we were finished, he decided to use the computer in the Den to download some music to his iPod. I told him he could use his VISA to pay for it.
"Do you want me to help you with the online VISA payment part?" I asked.
"I can figure it out," he said matter-of-factly.
He certainly was tech savvy, as were most kids his age, but more importantly he had his confidence back. This was a far cry from the young boy I rescued some weeks ago, that couldn't figure out how to use an electric toothbrush.
He was just finishing loading up his iPod when I walked in the Den.
"So what did you download?" I asked.
"Some Black Eyed Peas and Shania Twain."
He certainly had an eclectic taste in music.
"What, no Zamfir?" I said with a straight face.
He didn't know who that was, so I told him to do a Google search and download a song to see if he liked it, as I left the Den.
"Pop, that was mean!" he yelled a couple of minutes later from the Den.
By now it was time for Dinner. Dana prepared a great meal and we were able to persuade her to stay and eat with us. She stayed for awhile and left about 7:30.
We were saying goodbye to her at the door and she gave Sean a big hug and kiss. I stepped forward after they were finished and hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"You have a great trip you two and stay out of trouble," she said to the two of us with a big smile on her face.
When I closed the door and looked at Sean, he had a big smile on his face and he raised his eyebrows at me.
"We're just good friends, that's all," I said as I smiled at him.
I had a couple of calls to make and Sean went upstairs to do a final check to make sure he had everything. He had written a detailed list of what he had to do before the Limo picked us up at 7 a.m. the next morning for the 9 a.m. flight. He was quite the detail person, as he liked to be prepared and have everything organized. I could tell he was really looking forward to the next 10 days and was very excited.
"I hope you know what you're getting into Mr. Burger, as Jake is beside himself with excitement," Pietro said as he chuckled over the phone.
I asked Pietro to write a letter giving me his permission to have Jake out of the country with us and to send it with Jake when he left on Friday. I wasn't sure if I would need it, but it didn't hurt to be on the safe side. I also asked him to email it to me, so I would have a copy as well. He thanked me again for being so good to Jake and I told him we were looking forward to having him with us and that it was my pleasure.
The next call was to Ken Robson to thank him for everything he had done for us.
"I should be the one thanking you, Burgs. Without you, that slimy bastard may have gotten away," he said.
I told him about the possible snag we may encounter with the judge and that I had contacted Ray Mueller to give us a hand.
"Steenhof doesn't stand a chance with Mules taking your case. What's he charging you, a $1000 bucks an hour?" he said as he laughed.
Again I thanked him, hung up and went downstairs to join Sean.
We spent the rest of the night watching TV in the media room, as I had cancelled my hockey game and asked Rick to get a spare goalie.
When I went into Sean's room to say goodnight to him I noticed the picture prominently displayed on his dresser. I smiled to myself and didn't make any comment to him in case he became upset again. We were both tired and thank goodness we fell asleep quickly, as the next day was going to be a big one.