Married, forty-five year old Judge Lawrence Powers enjoyed a reputation as a fair, but tough, man. He often suspended sentences for first offenders and allowed them to work community service. When a twenty-two year old defendant stood before him, Judge Powers once again, ruled in favor of allowing this man to work off his sentence by paying him to do his yard-work.
When Charlie McMullen was caught holding one of his brother friend’s bags of weed, Charlie figured he was done for. But, lucky him, he was brought before a former marine, and a man who looked scary, but maybe wasn’t.
As the judge and Charlie’s lives become intertwined, chaos follows. With fall and Halloween approaching, Lawrence wondered if this year he was going to be given a treat, instead of tricked.
The judge. Held to a higher standard? Or…just another bad boy in a robe?
Standing in his spotless kitchen, Lawrence filled his mug with coffee. After waking early and punching a bag which he had hanging in his garage, Lawrence had showered and dressed in faded jeans and a long-sleeved black pullover.
His mug in his hand, he sipped the strong coffee and moved through the home to stare out of the front window.
It looked like it may rain, but the clouds occasionally burned off before they soaked the land. He loved this time of year and wished the temperatures would be this mild all year long.
He checked the time on his gold watch and then leaned closer to his front window. When he spotted a lone hooded figure walking down the street, he wondered if it was Charlie.
As the youth turned down his front path, Lawrence walked to his door and opened it.
Charlie’s large blue eyes peered out from under his hood.
Lawrence opened the door for him. “Come in.”
His hands stuffed into his hoodie pockets, Charlie entered, but didn’t move into the room, standing still.
“Do you want a cup of coffee?”
Lawrence gestured for him to follow. He set his own mug on the counter and took a mug from the cupboard, pouring coffee for Charlie. He handed it to him. “Cream or sugar?”
“No. Thanks.” Charlie used two hands on the mug as if his fingers may be cold.
“Did you eat breakfast?”
Lawrence studied him, wondering what kind of home life this young man had.
Charlie finally made eye contact. The stare was intense but Lawrence couldn’t read him. Lawrence placed his mug in the sink and folded his arms. “How did you get here?”
Lawrence tried to figure out where the closest bus stop was to his home. “Wait. What? You rode buses here?”
Nodding, Charlie finished the coffee and rinsed the cup.
“It’s fine, Charlie, just leave it in the sink.”
“Can I hit the bathroom first?”
Lawrence showed him where a half-bath was located near the kitchen. Charlie closed himself in.
Lee, wearing pajamas, emerged from his bedroom, his hair a mess, yawning and scuffing his feet. “Is Mom up yet?”
Lee paused at the sound of the toilet flushing. “Who’s here?”
“The young man I mentioned at dinner.” Lawrence knew no one was listening.
Lee didn’t react and kept heading towards the kitchen. “Is she making breakfast?”
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask her.”
The bathroom door opened and Lawrence walked with Charlie to the front door. He stepped outside and showed Charlie where the rakes were kept; in a shed on the side of the property. “Here’s the yard-waste bin.” Lawrence rolled it closer to the front of the house. “When you fill it, and I mean, packed down, you’re done for the day.”
“Okay.” Charlie pulled his long hair back from his face as the wind blew it.
“Do you have gloves?”
“Yes. The raking will most likely give you blisters.”
Charlie looked at his hands.
Lawrence stepped into the shed and located a pair of gardening gloves. He gave them to Charlie.
As he put them on, Charlie took a look at the front lawn.
“Okay?” Lawrence asked.
Lawrence returned to the house, glancing back to see Charlie wheeling the bin to the sidewalk before he began raking. He heard talking coming from the kitchen. Wynn was up, wearing a robe and slippers, as she discussed pancakes or waffles with Lee.
Lawrence filled a clean mug with more coffee.
“Where were you?” Wynn asked.
“I was making sure Charlie was all set.”
Lawrence tried not to grow angry. “I discussed this with you last evening.”
She shrugged and removed bowls from the cupboard.
Worn out from arguing constantly, Lawrence took his coffee with him to the study, and prepared himself for a few hours of work.
Two hours later, Lawrence removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He picked up his coffee mug and peered out of the window to see how Charlie was managing.
He blinked and then laughed.
Charlie had piled all of the leaves into a mound and was taking running leaps onto it.
He dabbed at the corners of his eyes as he enjoyed his exuberance.
“What are you looking at?” Wynn approached. She was wearing her dress coat and matching blue leather gloves and high heeled boots.
Lawrence tilted his head to the window.
She took a look. “I can’t believe you asked one of the degenerates you met, to work here. I’m not happy about it, Lawrence.”
“Other than my bank account, what does make you happy, Wynn?”
She turned up her nose at him. “I’ll be out all day. I’m working with the women’s auxiliary group at the church.”
“What are the kids up to?”
“They’re already out.” She tucked her purse under her arm and left.
Lawrence watched her from the window. She didn’t even greet Charlie. He had stopped playing and raked the leaves into a pile again.
It made him smile, seeing that pretty boy being mischievous. He placed his coffee mug into the dishwasher and stepped outside, standing on the porch.
Charlie peered up at him sheepishly.
Lawrence walked towards his driveway. He turned on his heels, then stared at Charlie.
Charlie had a feeling he’d just fucked up. But, come on…how could anyone resist—
He gasped and dropped the rake when the judge jumped into the pile of leaves. “Dude! You rock!” He raced over and threw the leaves up in the air.