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Early Saturday morning Dana and I were by the pool with our Lattes. The boys weren't usually up this early as the three of us usually took off for the golf club about 8:30. However, they came out on the main floor balcony about twenty minutes after we sat down.
"Dad, can we call over to see if Chas is Ok?" Sean called down to us, as the two of them were leaning over the railing.
I told them that maybe we should wait until we got back from the club in the afternoon to give Mark and Charles some time to get themselves together. They disappeared and in a few moments they came bounding out the patio door to poolside and stood by the patio table still in their pyjamas.
"We don't want to go today in case Chas calls us this morning," Jake said.
I could see that Charles' welfare was foremost in their minds and that golf was taking second place. I told them I'd cancel our tee times and to wait until ten o'clock, and if we hadn't heard by then I would call over. They then dropped big hints about the fact that they were hungry.
"You know, you two are good cooks. Why don't you whip up something for all of us while we finish our coffees?"
I was surprised as the two of them thought that was a good idea and were about to take off into the house. However, looking at them in their pyjamas reminded me of something.
"By the way, I don't remember seeing any pyjamas in your laundry baskets this week," I said before they got going.
"Boys!" Dana said as she gave them a motherly frown.
They looked at us and gave a sheepish grin as they shrugged their shoulders and bolted for the patio door.
"Remember, Dana and I like our eggs scrambled. And put those pyjamas in your laundry baskets for the next wash," I yelled as they disappeared.
The boys whipped us up a great breakfast, but by the time they were finished cooking, it looked like a bomb had hit the Kitchen. Dana and I cleaned up since the boys cooked and then we went out to the upper deck with our second lattes of the morning. The boys went downstairs to the media room to practice on their guitars. About 10 minutes before 10 o'clock they came back upstairs and plopped themselves on the chairs on either side of us on the deck. Sean had brought out the portable phone and had laid it down on the table in front of me.
"That's really a subtle hint, you two," I said as Dana and I laughed.
I made the call and Mark answered. He told me that Charles had a good night as the pain killer really knocked him out. He had got up about a half hour beforehand, and wasn't in too much pain. The anti-inflammatory had started to reduce the swelling in his ear, and he was able to hear some sound from it.
"Do you think he'd like some visitors, or do you think maybe you two would like to join us at the pool?" I asked.
He said he knew Charles would love to come over and swim but he wasn't sure if he should with his ear problem.
"I'll call Scott and find out," I said.
When I got off the phone I had two pairs of eyes glued to me.
"He's better and I'm just going to ask Dr. Scott if he can come over and swim," I said as I chuckled.
Scott was glad to hear that there was improvement and that hopefully when he examined him on Monday there wasn't a rupture in the drum. He said that he could go in the pool as long as he didn't go under the water and that he put a cotton ball with Vaseline on it in his ear to protect it.
He then went on and said, "I had a call from Katharine as a heads up about an hour ago, and it seems that Ms. Evans' brother is making a lot of noise. He called CAS and was irate, threatening to take legal action. He then called me at home, forcefully questioning my judgment."
Scott told me that he had called Katharine back to relay the news about the call and she told him that she was going to ask for a restraining order against the brother in addition to the one issued against Marjorie. He then went on to say he then called the Law Society about the brother's behaviour. Apparently the Law Society indicated that this was not the first complaint they had had about him and took down the details.
"I don't know how he got my personal unlisted number, but that certainly aroused the interest of the investigator at the Law Society when I told him that detail. If he ever shows up here at my door, they'll have to take a squash racquet out of his ass in emergency," Scott said with a chuckle.
I called over and relayed the news to Mark about Charles being able to swim. He told me that he wanted to spend some time with Charles alone and then suggested they come over shortly before noon.
"We'll have something ready for lunch, so don't eat before you get here," I said.
The four of us brainstormed what to make and went up to the Kitchen. Jake and I took care of making a mushroom quiche and Sean made a mixed greens salad with balsamic dressing. Dana whipped up frozen yogurt sundaes in parfait glasses and put them in the freezer. The boys assured us that Charles wasn't a fussy eater and that he would like what was on the menu.
When Charles and Mark arrived, I could see the cotton ball in Charles' ear and the mark on his cheek wasn't quite as noticeable. He was glad to see the boys, as much as they were to see him.
We had a great lunch, and Charles and Mark seemed at ease. The boys were certainly right about Charles not being a fussy eater, as there wasn't anything left on his plate or in his Parfait glass when he was finished. For that matter, there wasn't anything left on Sean or Jake's either.
Charles wasn't in pain, as he took some milder medication shortly before he arrived. It was obvious to Dana and me that Charles was much better off with Mark than his mother. He was more relaxed, confident and outgoing than we had ever seen him. It was if someone had transformed his personality overnight. We could also see that Mark was a good father and that he truly loved his son.
"Despite the circumstances, waking up this morning and having my son with me in the house was wonderful. I realized just how much I missed that, and I'll be damned if I'm going to give him up now," he said with passion after the boys took off and went into the pool.
We were so happy to see his reaction and the fire in his eyes. Dana put her hand on his hand and I put my hand on his shoulder.
"Then we have some work to do, my friend," I said as I gave him a smile.
I told him that I had an initial discussion about custody agreements with Ray and I asked him what the circumstances were that led to his agreement with Marjorie.
"I was very vulnerable at the time, and I had a bad lawyer which I realized too late. I was being portrayed by my ex-wife and her son-of-a-bitch brother as a womanizer."
He told me that they contended that he was seeing someone from Marjorie's staff and that the woman had filed an affidavit to that effect which was a key point that led to his limited custody rights.
"I told my lawyer that wasn't true, and the woman was lying, but he said I had little chance of success fighting it in court. I was basically boxed into a corner," he said as he let out a big sigh.
"Well you've been given a way out of the corner now," I said as I smiled at him. "How about I call Ray and you two can work out how you're going to get your son back?"
I dialed Ray's number and gave him the bare bones information and handed the portable phone over to Mark. Dana and I went into the pool to play with the boys and give him some privacy. After about twenty minutes he called me over and said Ray wanted to talk to me before we hung up. I dried off, took the phone and Mark joined in the fun in the pool.
"This isn't a slam dunk, Al. I'm sure I can get joint custody, but a lot depends on the outcome of the charges. We need to dig up some information on her," he said.
I told him that I could take care of that part, and he said when he got a copy of the file from the Family Court he would call me.
"In the meantime I'll sick my private investigator on her," I said with a devilish grin on my face.
After a while Mark and Dana got out of the pool and joined me at the patio table. The boys had taken off inside to play some video games as they had been in the sun for a fairly long time.
I decided to talk to Mark about the cost of all of this and I fully expected that I would have to fund some or all of the costs, which I was more than willing to do. However, he seemed unconcerned about that and was focused on getting full custody of Charles.
"Money isn't a problem, Al. My parents owned the River Creek Dairy when I was growing up, and when they passed on I inherited a comfortable sum of money," he said.
He told me he was an only child and came along later in his parents' lives. He didn't have the head for business and had no desire to run the dairy so his parents sold it when they wanted to retire.
"I know what having older parents is all about. I was a later surprise to my parents as well," I said as I gave him a smile.
He told me that he was fairly frugal and his wealth didn't mean too much to him as he took it for granted. He rarely used the income from his inherited funds, which was a bone of contention when he was married. Marjorie liked to live an extravagant lifestyle and was constantly living beyond the means of their salaries. He also told me that his parents had been wise before they got married and made him draw up a pre-nuptial agreement protecting any future inheritance from Marjorie. Apparently they weren't too fond of her and had the foresight to protect their son's interests.
"I don't care what it costs. I want my son back," he said with resolve.
He then went on to tell Dana and me that he was a little nervous about raising Charles by himself and we could see that he had doubt about his ability as a parent.
"You know kids don't come with instruction manuals," Dana said as she gave him a smile.
"I sure know those two didn't," I said as I motioned to the media room and chuckled.
"You have to trust your instincts. Al and I can see you're a good father and you're going to be just fine," Dana said as she put her hand on his arm. "Besides, the two of us have been through this before and we're here to give you any advice or support you need. You just have to ask."
I told him what Ray had said and that I wanted to get my private investigator Joe Hoskins on the case to see what he could find. I also asked him if he was OK with me being involved.
"I'm not very good at confrontation and things like this, so I'm grateful for the help," he said with a look of relief on his face.
I made the call to Joe and gave the phone over to Mark after I had given him some preliminary information. Joe said that he would touch base with Katharine and Ray on Monday and start putting together a course of action.
Mark and Charles stayed for most of the afternoon, and we invited them for dinner, but they declined. Charles was getting tired and his ear was getting a little sore. The boys were sad that he wasn't staying, but they were happy that he was feeling better and that he was with his father.
"Charles said he was scared that he'd have to go back to his mother," Jake said after they had left.
"Not if his father and I have anything to say about it," I said as I smiled at the two of them. "I'm sure his father is going to be successful getting him back."
They both had big smiles on their faces at that news. After dinner Katharine called to give me an update.
"Ms. Evans' brother is as much a piece of work as she is. He tried to bully us and went on about taking legal action against CAS. I finally had our legal department talk to him and lay it on the line."
She went on to tell me that she had applied for a restraining order against him to go with the one against Marjorie, after Scott had relayed to her the details of his confrontation with him. She had just heard a half hour before, that they were successful.
"Just so you know, neither one of them is to have any contact with you or your family as well as Charles or Mr. Depew. If that happens you are to call the police immediately," she said.
She told me that I was to call Dean Balderson at the police station, and she gave me his direct line as well as his cell number. I told her I would pass on that information to Mark.
"Let's hope we don't need this," I said.
Sunday was a quiet day, as the boys, Dana and I went to church in the morning and stayed around the pool in the afternoon. It was a stinking hot day (32°C) and humid. Charles came over in the afternoon while Mark went back to his house in the city to get some things he needed. We had agreed to let Mark and Charles stay at least the next two weeks, as Dana was staying at the house. The first week was unplanned, but the second week the boys were at Leadership camp and we had made arrangements for us to be together.
Mark had also made arrangements to take the week off and it was better for them to stay in town so Charles could be close to his friends. We had some meetings lined up with Ray, Katharine and Joe to go over strategy. I was glad that they were close, as I felt that it was important for Charles to be in a familiar environment, since the years living with Marjorie had left him as an insecure kid. Even though there were two restraining orders in place to keep the mother and her brother at bay, I didn't for a minute think that would insure nothing would happen, so being nearby would be convenient in case they needed our assistance.
The boys were playing in the pool for a couple of hours, but because of the heat they decided to retreat to the media room and the air conditioned environment. They were going to do some 'jamming' as they put it with their guitars and a couple of drumsticks that Charles had brought over. Apparently Marjorie didn't know about his love of drumming as Charles would play on some of his textbooks in his room. He had bought the drumsticks himself without Marjorie's knowledge. Dana and I stayed by the pool under the patio umbrella reading our books and chatting. After about a half hour, Sean came out the patio door and came over to the table.
"Dad, can you come and play with us. We need another guitar player," he said with a serious look on his face.
Dana and I chuckled and we both went into the media room. They told me that they were playing 'Lyin' Eyes' by the Eagles and that they needed me to play the rhythm part while Sean played the lead. Jake was going to play the Bass and Charles the drums on some hard cover books. I was surprised that Colin the guitar teacher was having them play songs like that, but I went and got the Gibson, sat down and asked where the music was for the song.
"I downloaded the song to my computer from your CD and then to my iPod and we sorta learned it from that," Sean said as he went over and was going to play the song for me from the iPod deck.
"I think I know the song, Sean. What key are you playing in?" I asked as both Dana and I gave them a big smile.
They told me what key and that when Jake nodded his head they started playing.
"Why doesn't Charles tap his drumsticks four times and then we start," I said as I chuckled.
We had a couple of false starts, but finally we all started together and managed to finish the first verse, which is all they had practiced. It actually was somewhat recognizable and I was impressed that the three of them were able to put it together without music. It took me back to my garage band days, as that was the way we learned all our songs.
"You know the song has words and you boys have good voices. Can you sing along?" Dana asked as she looked at the boys.
She left and said she would come back when we were ready for the performance. They smiled and I spent the next hour showing them some tricks of the trade. I showed Sean how to play the double note part of the solo and how to 'bend' and 'slide' on the strings to vary the pitch of the lead part. Jake pretty well had figured out the bass guitar part and was playing it on the last four strings of his guitar. Charles had the beat nailed, but because he was using books as drums and didn't have cymbals or high hat, it lacked a little punch. I had a suggestion for Mark that I was hoping he would agree to when he came back to the house.
We put the musical parts together in a scaled down version of the song and then we worked on the singing part. I downloaded the words of the song for them and helped them with some of the harmonies.
"So who's going to be Glenn Frey?" I asked.
They decided that Jake would sing the lead as Sean had to concentrate more on his guitar part than Jake did.
"Then I guess you're Don Henley singing harmony, Sean," I said as I laughed and patted him on the back.
Charles didn't want to sing as he was a little shy. We did a few run throughs and it sounded reasonably good. What it was missing was the high falsetto part when there was three part harmony.
"You know we're missing Timothy B. Schmit, Charles. Why don't you give it a whirl?" I asked.
After much cajoling from the boys he agreed and I helped him with the few parts in the song he would sing. He was quite able to carry a tune and because his voice hadn't started to change yet he didn't need to sing in the falsetto range.
After lots of rehearsing, we called upstairs to Dana. She came down and had a big smile on her face as we performed. After we were finished she clapped and told us how good it sounded. The boys were beaming and were high-fiving each other. Then she looked at me with a big smile on her face and said, "I'm not sure who enjoyed that more." I guess it was obvious I got as much out of the session as the boys did as I was smiling from ear-to-ear.
When Mark came back, we gave him a concert as well. He enjoyed watching Charles get into the drum part and was very pleased at how uninhibited he was as he played along. He was also surprised that we talked him into singing.
"I haven't heard you sing since you were in the school choir some years ago, Son," he said as he put his arm around his shoulder and gave him a squeeze.
Charles blushed a little and looked down as he smiled. Afterwards I took Mark aside and gave him my suggestion.
"Why don't you get Charles a beginner's electronic drum kit for him to see if he really likes playing the drums. They're not that expensive, and you can plug in headphones so the neighbours won't be at the door," I said.
I didn't have to do much persuading, as he smiled and asked me if I knew of a good music store. I also told him that Colin, the boys' guitar teacher, probably knew someone who could give him drum lessons.
We packed everything up and the boys stayed in the media room and watched a Blue Jay game that was almost finished. Dana, Mark and I went upstairs to the living room to leave them alone.
"I need to get the rest of Charles' things out of my ex-wife's house. How do I go about that?" he asked after we sat down.
I told him that I could find out for him by calling Katharine at home.
"I'll call the mother now and tell her we need access to Charles' personal items. She'll need to make arrangements for access as she and her brother can't be there because of the restraining orders," she said.
Monday morning, Mark took Charles over to Scott and was his first appointment of the day. The ear was much better and Scott was able to finally see inside and determined that the eardrum was not ruptured. It did look quite tender though, and he told him to take it easy for the next few days, and for Charles not to hook himself up to his earphones on his iPod.
Mark came over to the house with Charles afterwards, as he was dropping him off to stay with Dana and the boys while Katharine, Mark and myself were going to go to Marjorie's house to get Charles' things. Basically Mark was going to clear all of Charles' belongings out of her house and we were going to transport everything back to the Townhouse in the Lexus and Mark's van.
Katharine had been informed by Marjorie's brother that a representative from his firm would meet us there to monitor what we were doing. Katharine was in agreement, as was Mark, who was glad that he wouldn't have to face either his ex-wife or her brother.
We were met by a young law clerk, who let us in and followed us throughout the house as we gathered Charles' belongings. We were just about finished when the brother-in-law showed up at the door. Gary Evans was a big man, about six foot and two hundred pounds. Katharine quickly stopped him in the foyer as he was coming into the house.
"I'm sorry, I thought you'd be finished by now," he said as he barged past her.
Katharine followed him as she was telling him to leave or she would have to call the police.
"Calm down, sweety. There's no need to make such a fuss. That order's not that restrictive that I can't talk to my brother-in-law," he said as he made his way down the hall to get to Mark.
Mark was coming out of Charles' room and was startled as he came face-to-face with his former brother-in-law. I had followed as had Katharine and I got in between the two of them before Gary could speak.
"You heard Mrs. Planter. You're in enough trouble now; don't make it worse," I said as I stared him down.
"You must be that teacher I'm going to destroy in court," he said as he sneared at me.
By now I could see Katharine on her cell phone making a call.
"I don't think I'm going to have to worry about that. Looks like you're going to have lots of legal problems though," I said as I glanced over his shoulder at Katharine who was still talking on the phone.
Now he was fuming, and I could see him clench his fists.
"I'm not going to throw the first punch, but if it comes to that, I can tell you I'll be throwing the last one," I said calmly as I glared at him.
He was very angry and paused for a few long moments, and then turned and barreled out of the house. The four of us followed, and when he got into his car two cruisers pulled up and blocked his exit. The police officers rushed out of the car, pulled him out and put him spread eagled across the hood.
"I thought you called Dean," I said to Katharine.
"I called 911. I didn't know what he was going to do," she said as I could see that she was really shaken. I put my arm around her shoulder and comforted her.
"Why did you do that? You must be crazy. He would've decked you," Mark said to me. I could see he was also visibly shaken.
"I doubt it," Katharine said with a sly grin, as she had now recovered.
He looked at the two of us with a puzzled expression.
"Don't judge a book by its cover. I've been known to take care of myself on the hockey rink," I said as I smiled.
The next day I got a call from Joe Hoskins in the afternoon.
"I guess you didn't realize that Mr. Evans had hired a Private Investigation firm to watch your house and the Townhouse," he said.
He told me that since there was a restraining order in place he was doing a routine monitoring of the two places to make sure there was compliance. He said that he knew how the brother-in-law operated and he was checking to make sure things were Ok. The guys he hired weren't too discreet and he spotted them right away. Apparently not many PI firms in the city dealt with him as he had quite a reputation as being difficult to deal with, so only the 'hacks', as he put it, would take his business.
"Don't worry, they're gone. I called the police right away, and within twenty minutes they were told to move on."
He told me that little detail would make things a little more difficult for Marjorie and Mr. Evans in court. I told him of the incident the day before and I could tell that he had a big smile on his face on the other end of the line.
"Well I guess that's him out of the way," he said as he chuckled.
He told me that it was a matter of time before Gary would cross the line with his tactics. He had a reputation as being a bully in and out of the courtroom. He was surprised though at how much he had stepped over the line this time.
"Not even he can talk his way out of this one. He's got himself in deep doo doo legally and with the Law Society. He's likely to have his right to practice law suspended."
He then went on to tell me what he had discovered about Marjorie.
"I have some interesting information on Ms. Evans."
He told me that the woman that filed the affidavit against Mark at the time of the divorce was coerced and forced to sign it by Marjorie. She was threatened with being dismissed and feared for her job, as she was a single mom with no other means of support. He had made contact with her and she was more than willing to rescind the affidavit, as it was made under duress. She was also going to lodge a complaint with the Labour Board against Marjorie for harassment.
"She's now with another organization and she has her life in order. She wants to go after her and try to make things right."
He also uncovered the fact that Marjorie was having an affair at the time of the divorce. Apparently Marjorie and Mark's manager at his office had been having a steamy romance for about a year before the breakup. They had met at Mark's office Christmas party.
"She certainly is quite a hypocrite. She set up her husband and was falsely painting him as a womanizer while she was secretly cheating on him," he said. "Apparently it ended acrimoniously, as Marjorie showed her true colours."
"Of course I assume you have proof," I said knowing full well he did.
"Al, you know me better than that," he said with a chuckle. "I may even have a bigger surprise for you."
I quizzed him as to what he meant, but he was playing things close to the vest and wouldn't reveal what he was up to.
"You'll have to wait and see," he said as he laughed.
A video of 'Lyin' Eyes' from the Eagles concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, July 2008.
Eagles Concert, July 2008