Chapter 12

The Aftermath

After the initial excitement wore off, Mathew went into the kitchen. He put his elbows on the table and buried his face in his hands. He tried to hold back his tears but he just couldn't. Kiko saw him and pulled up a chair beside him. "What's wrong, Mathew?" Mathew didn't respond. He couldn't. "You're worried about what's going to happen to you, Lee and Beth now, aren't you? Now that the police know about you, you're worried they'll take you back to your father."

"We can't go back there, Kiko, we just can't. I won't. But it's not fair to them to live like street rats either. I don't know what to do." He looked up at Kiko, hoping he had some answers.

"Didn't you say you turn eighteen soon?" Mathew nodded. "You can apply for custody of them then. In the meantime, the three of you could live with me. I need more help at the restaurant and you could all work there. You'll have a steady income and that will help you get custody when you are eighteen."

"You'd do that for me after everything I've done?"

Starsky was standing in the doorway and heard the last part of their conversation. "What you've done, Mathew, is save a bunch of kids from God only knows what. It took a lot of guts to do what you did, kid. Don't let anyone tell you different. You are a real hero."

Mathew wiped away his tears as he looked into the other room and saw his brother and cousin. Lee noticed him looking and gave him an 'everything's-going-to-work-out' smile.

Because it was Saturday and Child Protective Services didn't want to go through a bunch of 'red tape' and they knew Molly, Kiko was allowed to take Mathew, Lee and Beth home for the rest of the weekend. Kiko explained to the three that more would have to be worked out, but for the weekend they could stay with him.

Starsky and Hutch didn't want Tyler and Michael to spend the weekend in juvenile hall and obtained permission for Hutch to take Tyler with him. Starsky had the green light to take Michael home for the weekend. They each called their wives and boys and even though they didn't know all the details, they were happy to help. Hutch asked Debbie if they would pick up some clothes for the boys. He looked at the tags on the shirts and jeans they had on and told Debbie what sizes to get for them. He also asked her to pick up some shoes that were two sizes larger than the ones they were currently wearing. By the time Starsky and Hutch made it to Hutch's, Debbie and Jeanne were back. Davey and Kenny went with them to make sure they didn't pick out anything that was too 'lame', to use Kenny's words. They were each given a pair of jeans and a pair of Khakis and two new shirts. They were also given a pack of new socks and underwear. Tyler and Michael were overjoyed with their new clothes and they fit perfectly, even the shoes. They all had a big spaghetti dinner at Hutch's that night. Starsky and Hutch explained what the assignment was and how everyone involved had been arrested.

The four boys slept in Davey's room Saturday night. Even though there were two beds in the room, they all slept on sleeping bags on the floor. Tyler and Michael explained everything that had happened to them and how they got into the position they were in. Davey and Kenny reassured them that they were safe now and their dads would see to it that they would find good homes for them.

"Whatever happens now can't be as bad as what I've already been through," Tyler said, as he laid his head on his pillow and drifted off to sleep.

Sunday, Johnson and Reynolds went to the station and did a thorough check on Tyler Parker and Michael Garrison. Johnson found out that Tyler was telling the truth. His parents were both drug addicts and never reported him missing. They were picked up and put under arrest for child neglect and some drug charges. Johnson also found a very concerned uncle and aunt that lived in northern California and they had no idea Tyler was living in such dreadful conditions. The last time they saw Tyler he was only three and seemed to be very happy. They were eager to see him and were more than willing to take him in. They would be arriving on Monday afternoon. Johnson said that Hutch and his family were taking good care of him and assured them he was fine.

Michael Garrison had run away from Los Angeles. It seemed his mother just didn't want him anymore. When he ran away, she never reported him missing. Michael never knew his who his father was but Reynolds was able to locate him quite easily after talking to Michael's mother and suggesting to her that she cooperate.

His father lived in Texas and Reynolds talked to him on the phone. His name was Alan Garrison. Alan explained that he never knew he had a son, Michael's mother never told him. Reynolds heard the man crying on the phone as they were talking. "I have a son. I've always wanted kids. When can I see him?" Reynolds explained that things would have to be worked out through Child Protective Services and asked when he could come to Bay City. Alan said that he would be there by noon tomorrow. When he hung up from talking to Alan Garrison, Reynolds did a complete background check on the man. He found out that Alan Garrison was a widower who never had kids. He was the executive of a big company that had something to do with solar power. He had a clean record and by all accounts appeared to be a very nice man. Reynolds thought Michael's going to be very happy.

Johnson and Reynolds met with Starsky and Hutch with Tyler and Michael. They explained that they had found family members that really wanted the boys. They said they would like both boys at the station at nine the next morning. Johnson told them that Child Protective Services had been notified and a representative would be there to meet with the boys as well as their prospective guardians. A DNA test would be performed on Michael and his father just to make sure Alan was his father.

At nine on Monday, Starsky and Hutch brought Tyler and Michael to the station. Understandably, both boys were a little apprehensive as they walked into the meeting room across from Chief Sterling's office. Tyler and Michael both were wearing nice khaki pants and polo shirts. They had shoes that actually fit them and looked very nice. They had felt dirty and ugly for so long the new clothes made them feel good about themselves again.

Hutch sat next to Tyler and put his hand on the young man's shoulder, "It's going to be all right, Tyler." Tyler gritted his teeth and although he was still scared he nodded.

Starsky took a seat between Hutch and Michael. As Michael sat down he whispered, "After all this time, I get to meet my Dad. Mom told me he didn't want me."

"From what Reynolds says, he's always wanted a son. You have my phone number?" Michael nodded, "You call me anytime you want, okay?"

Michael smiled as he said, "I will. Thank you, Starsky. Thank you for everything."

It wasn't long before Stan Elder from Child Protective Services entered the room. He explained to Tyler and Michael why they were all there and that he was proud of them for assisting in the arrests and bringing Keith Marshall and the others to justice. He told them about the family members that would be arriving soon to meet them."

It wasn't long before Tyler's aunt and uncle were escorted into the room by a uniformed officer who picked them up at the airport. Tyler was allowed to go to a private room to spend some time alone with them.

Alan Garrison was not far behind and was brought into the room by a uniformed offer. One look was all it took to realize that this man had to be Michael's father. Michael was the spitting image of him right down to the same way they parted their brown wavy hair. Alan looked so happy as he saw his son for the first time. He was speechless as he stared at a younger version of himself. Michael pushed his chair back, stood up and walked over to the man, giving him a hug. "Michael, I'm so sorry. I never knew."

"It's okay, Dad. I know you didn't."

The following week was spent with the detectives and Molly talking to each of the children in the parolee system and their parents. Timmy was the first child Molly wanted to talk to. Johnson asked his mother to come with him and he would explain everything that was going on. She looked at her young son who had seemed so troubled a couple of weeks ago and now it appeared as if the weight of the world had been lifted of his young shoulders. "It's okay, Mom. Detective Johnson will tell you what I can't." She followed Johnson into another room.

Timmy walked into Molly's office not sure what to expect. He was ashamed of what he had done. Stealing was wrong and he had been forced to do a lot of it. Timmy sat down in the chair next to the one Molly was in. "Mr. Baxter, I wanted to see you first to thank you."

"Thank me, for what?" He asked, shyly.

"It was because of what you said to Beth about me and how much I trust Starsky and Hutch that they came to us. We were able to find out what Keith Marshall was doing. That was very brave of you to take that chance."

"I wasn't brave. I was scared."

"Being brave doesn't mean not being scared. It means doing something even though you're afraid to. You asked the older kids for help and let them know who they could trust even though they might have turned you in to Keith Marshall. That was so very brave, Mr. Baxter." Molly reached over and gave him a hug.

Timmy sat a little straighter in his chair when Molly let go of the hold she had on him. "What about my Mom? Is Detective Johnson telling her everything?"

"Yes, he is. He's telling her what a wonderful son she has and how proud she should be of you. He's also telling her that you are now off parole. I think you've proved that you can be trusted these past few weeks that we can release you now."

"Thank you."
"I'd like to ask you something, Mr. Baxter."

"What's that, Ms. Ramos?"

"What are you planning on doing with your life?"

"I'm not sure, yet. I have a record, so I don't know…"

"You're a juvenile and what you did to be put on parole won't show up in any record you may have as an adult. The fact that you assisted us in apprehending Keith Marshall will. You can do or be anything you want."

"I think I want to be a parole officer and help kids like me. Only I'll be a good one like you."

"I know you will be."

Molly talked to the rest of the kids that were on parole under Keith. Each case had been carefully reviewed and each child was given reduced time on parole and some, like Timmy Baxter, were released from parole altogether. Similar discussions were taking place with the children and parents in the other three cities.

All the children from Bay City agreed to come back for Keith Marshall's trial the following month and testify against him. Starsky and Hutch talked to Tyler and Michael to make sure they were as happy as they appeared to be. Tyler said he was on the swim team at school and felt really loved for the first time in his life. Michael told them that he was learning his Dad's business and was doing very well. He also said that he felt very much loved and wanted. It was obvious that both boys were doing great. Kenny and Davey had the opportunity to see them too. They had become friends in that short weekend they spent together. They all agreed to keep in contact on Facebook.

Keith Marshall was sentenced to twenty years in federal prison for everything he did. The judge told him that if he could he would make sure he never got out of jail, but twenty was the most he could sentence him.

A couple of months later, Mathew was sitting at a table as Kiko brought out a special cake he made for Mathew's eighteenth birthday. Mathew blew out the candles. Everyone clapped. There were a lot of people in attendance as this was a very special day for him. Starsky and Hutch were there along with their wives and boys, Chief Sterling and all six of his detectives were present along with Molly. This is what Mathew had been waiting for. Mathew, Lee and Beth had been working hard the last couple of months so that Mathew could gain custody of Lee and Beth. Mathew was working as much as he could with Kiko at the restaurant, hoping to be promoted to assistant manager soon. He had found a three bedroom place they could afford with the child support Mathew would be getting from the state if he was awarded custody. Kiko was getting the money now to help support them. Mathew didn't know it, but Kiko was saving the money to give to Mathew when he was granted custody. Lee and Beth were working hard to get caught up in school and staying out of trouble. They were allowed to stay with Kiko but that was just temporary and if Mathew was not granted custody, Lee and Beth would both be sent to foster homes. Mathew and Lee's dad had been arrested for abuse and neglect and they would never have to go back to him.

Stan from Child Protective Services handed Mathew an envelope. Smiling he opened it and struggled to hold back the tears. "Well?" Demanded Lee. "Did we do it? Did we do enough for you to get custody of us?"

"It says…" He sniffled, "Yes. You are both now in my custody."

"You deserve it, young man. You have worked very hard and proved yourself to be capable of raising your brother and cousin. You are ready to get your own place and I can see that you have plenty of support. My department will have to keep checking on you, but I don't think there are going to be any problems."

"Support he has. Now that he's eighteen, I'm going to promote him to assistant manager and he'll be getting a nice raise. Happy birthday, Mathew." Kiko handed him the money he had been holding onto for him and now Mathew had the money to move into the apartment.

As everyone was celebrating with Mathew, Devon walked over to Davey and Kenny and said, "Can we be friends?"

"Of course we can." They said, in unison.

"Good, cause I'd hate to have you two as enemies."

Chief Sterling told Devon that a commendation would be placed in his file for the outstanding work he did. He also said that he was very proud of him and he would let Captain Glass know what a great officer he was getting.

The end