Arron’s POV - Thursday, 4:30 pm, City Council Chambers
The Training Class traveled over to City Hall once all the Parents had been contacted. Both my Mom and Dad said they would be there at 5 pm. When Devin tried to call his parents, he was only able to get a hold of his Mom. She told him that his Dad was in a meeting, but she would call his Secretary and have him pulled out and they would be there as well. Once we arrived the Instructor took us to a conference room where he said that if anyone needed to talk to a counselor they are available. We were also told that we would be notified once our parents or guardians arrived. We would then be taken to the Council Chambers where the Detectives would explain the developments in case and why the Police wanted to call a news conference. Devin and I were sitting together, and I asked him if he thought it was a good idea to talk to a Counselor. He agreed, but only if I was there with him. The Counselors were grouped together in private interview rooms. We walked into one of them and Devin face brighten up. Sitting in a chair at the table was a man that looked to be in his early 30’s. He had kind eyes and an easy-going smile. Devin ran over to him and gave him a hug. Devin introduced me to Dr. Abel Aimbinder, he was the therapist that he went to see about his depression. I shook Dr Aimbinder’s hand and introduced myself and we sat down he told us just to call him Abel.
Abel asked why we came together, and we told him that it was Devin’s idea and that I agreed to be there to support him. Abel smiled and said that was fine. Devin then went through his reaction to the news that we were told in the classroom earlier that day and how I had found him a few minutes later and how I had just held and comforted him until he calmed down. Abel looked at me and I just shook my head. Devin went on to tell Abel about his reaction to the class from his first reaction to the story John Walsh’s story to meeting the K9 Team that found Trevor’s body. Devin was shaking as he recounted his story to Abel I just took his hand in mine and tried to push my strength into him. Abel looked surprised at my actions, but he could tell that there was something special between us but kept it to himself. He reminded Devin about the tools that he had taught him while he was seeing him. Devin said he has tried to use them, but it was very hard and if it wasn’t for my support this week he would have quit the class and his job at the Swim Club. Abel just smiled and thanked me for being there for Devin. Abel took our hands in his and told us that the class that we were taking would be difficult for anyone and he was surprised that there weren’t more of the teenagers talking to counselors. He told us to keep our channels of communication open with those we care about and each other. He praised me for being there for Devin when he needed me and to keep up the good work. He then gave each of us his card and told us that if we need to talk to him about anything to just call his office. He also reminded us that anything we talk about would be held in the strictest confidence. I looked at my watch and saw that it was nearly 5 pm. We thanked Abel for talking with us and went to find our parents.
We walked into the main lobby and I saw my Mom and Dad talking to another couple, with their backs to us, like they were long lost friends. As we moved closer Devin’s eyes went wide and it looked like he was going to have a panic attack. He took my hand and pulled me out a side door. He looked at me and asked “What the hell is going on? Why are our parents talking like they are old friends?” I said, “I didn’t know and that maybe they met during last summer’s Swim Team season.” That seemed to calm him down and we went back in to meet up with them. Dad saw me and Davin come in and waved us over. When we got to where they were standing, Dad introduced me to Devin’s Parents. Dad explained that he and Devin’s Dad went to Cornell together and had lived in the same dorm on Campus. They had lost touch with each other about 5 years after they had graduated and were surprised that they had showed up. Devin asked his dad why he didn’t put 1 and 1 together when he gave him my Dad’s contact information the other night. His Dad told him that he had, but in college he was a bit of a practical joker and wanted to see his face when they walked through the door on Friday. I heard my Dad say under his breath “you can say that again.” My dad explained that in their junior year at Cornell, Paul and he got a group of other guys and hoisted the Dean of Engineering’s Car to the top of campus Clock Tower without a scratch. The Dean was so impressed that he made it a team challenge every year.
Right when Dad finished his story the Detectives asked for everyone to enter the Council Chambers so they could start the briefing. As we were entering Devin saw Trevor’s parents walking towards the Chambers entrance. Devin walked over and gave them both a hug. Both sets of parents looked on and there was a look in Gwen and Paul’s eyes that showed a lot of compassion. I knew at that point that Devin did not need to worry about his parents when the time came for his confession. When Devin returned we took our seats and the Detectives filled everyone in on what had transpired earlier today. They finished by saying that the lead that lead them to the suspect’s house was discovered by the training class. It was the lynchpin that they were looking for and they commended the entire class for helping solve the case. Although now they needed to try and identify all the other children that were on those video tapes. It could take years for all those kids to know that they did not have to fear the man that took their innocence. The Detectives asked and received permission from all the parents for their sons and daughters to appear during the news conference.
At 5:50 pm we were lined up and walked outside to where a riser and podium was placed in front of City Hall. Every local TV & Radio Station, Newspaper had reporters there we even saw a Cable News Network’s Satellite Truck pull in and rush to get setup. Promptly at 6:00 pm Governor Mike Castle walked to the podium and made a few opening remarks then turned the news conference over to the Chief of the State Police. The Chief provided the reporters with a detailed the chain of events that brought them to the home in the Green Acres Development. The Chief recognized the efforts of the Detectives and officers that were evolved with the investigation. He went on to say that if it wasn’t for a Training Exercise that the State Police developed for the Code Trevor Training Class that we would not be here today. We could tell that the reporters were getting antsy for the meat of the story and the Chief finally gave it to them. He announced that due to the efforts of the State Police they had found the person who had abducted and then murdered Trevor Jones. The police had found video evidence that Trevor had been in the house for more than 2 weeks before he was killed. The Chief then told the gathered reporters that the suspect had killed himself when the Police tried to take him into custody.
Once the Chief had completed his statement he took a few questions then turned the news conference back over to the Governor. The Governor answered some additional questions about the Code Trevor Training and what it was all about, that was when he invited John Walsh to join him. Mr. Walsh told the reporter what the training was all about and how it came to life. He was very proud of the participants and asked those gathered to give us a round of applause. It was too much for some of us and we had tears running down our cheeks, but instead of tear of sorrow at the thought of losing Trevor, they were tears of joy knowing that we had a small part in finding his killer. At that point the Governor ended the news conference, but before he did he asked the media not to interview any of the Code Trevor Training Participants as they do not have any other information. This was back in a time when the media listened, and they allowed us to leave without being hounded with questions.
We returned to the lobby of City Hall and met up with our parents. They told us how proud they were of the team's accomplishment. Paul asked my Dad, “Ed, what do you have planned for dinner tonight?” He looked at Sydney, my Mom and she just shrugged. Dad said, “Nothing, what did you have in mind?”, Paul said Why don’t we all meet at Cafe Riviera (1) at the Concord Mall, my treat.” Mom and Dad thought that was a great idea. Devin and I said that we would need to take a rain check as we need to head back to the community college to get his car. We were invited to have dinner with Jerry and the rest of the team from Timbre Oaks, but they should go and have dinner tonight to get reacquainted. With that Devin and left to meet up with Jerry at Pizza Hut.
On Friday morning mom dropped me off at the community college. Today was the final day of the class and I was still riding high from yesterday. It was hard to believe that something we found in the pictures lead to finding Trevor’s killer. When I walked into the room Devin was already there and I walked over and sat down next to him. We talked for a couple of minutes making plans for our ride to my house for our planned dinner with our parents and my Uncle when Mr. Walsh got our attention. He started by telling us how proud he was of this group and knew we would be a force to me reckoned with in the years to come. He then told us how the rest of the day would lay out. We would start with the Role Plays that we had been working on. Then our instructors will review what they had trained us on and how to apply that knowledge in the real world. There would be a short test and then finally we would receive our Certificate of Completion. Jerry had told us that he would collect these and place them in our personnel files at the pool’s office.
There were 8 different role plays and all the teams did a great job, they wash were able to use the techniques that we were trained on this past week to show a positive outcome. Jason’s Team from DelVets Swim Club received the highest marks on their role play, but Jerry just teased him from his seat “That OK Jason, we will just whoop your butts at our Swim Meet in June.” Jason responded, “Bring it on!” and flipped Jerry off. The entire room broke out in laughter at Jerry and Jason’s banter. Once all the team had presented their role plays, the Instructors started their review and told the class that our safety must come first. If you cannot be safe then there is no way the person that you are trying to protect will be safe. They also informed the group that a donation had been made to the State Police to provide additional police coverage around the Day Camps and Pools is Delaware. Jerry asked the question that was on everyone’s mind, “who made the donation?” The instructor smiled and said that the donation had come from the Eugenia DuPont Foundation and would be given each year for the sole purpose of assisting the police in preventing the tragedy of last summer.
When it came time for us to be tested the Instructor handed out the test booklets face down. He explained that we would have 60 minutes to complete the test and once we were done we were to come to the front of the room and hand in our test and then we were free to leave the room until 4:30 pm. He reminded us to read the instructions very carefully before we started to answer the questions on the test. He held up a timer and started a countdown. When he reached zero we all flipped our tests over. I filled out my information at the top of the first page and then started the read the instructions at the top of the page. The last line of instruction directed me to turn to the last page of the booklet. Written on the last page of the test was the line “Do not answer any questions.” I stopped to look around the room ad Devin caught my eye; he had the same confused look the I must have had. We closed the test booklet, got out of our seats, took the booklet to the instructor, and left the room. As soon as we closed the door, we both burst out laughing and walked down to the Cafe for a snack. Jerry joined us a few minutes later saying he could not believe the instructions and read them three times before he was able to grasp what the meaning of the test was. You see the test was the test, they wanted to see who would take their time and read the instructions and not just jump into answering questions.
When we returned to the classroom at 4:30 the instructor had everyone’s name on the board and the amount of time they spent on the test. The last name on the list had 10 minutes by their name. The instructor then told the class that this was our final lesson for the class and that was to read the situation before you jump into it. It was good advice and something that we could use wherever we ended up in the future. Mr. Walsh then walked to the front of the room and said that he was very impressed with this group and wanted to congratulate all of us for finishing the class. He looked directly at Devin, then to me and finally to Jerry and said that he understood that parts of the past week had been hard on some of us, but with good friends and managers we could talk to we would be able to protect those around us. With that said he called each of us up to receive our Certificate and shook our hands. When he was finished the Instructor dismissed us. Jerry called out to all of us to make sure he received our Certificate for our personnel file at the pool.
Devin and I left the campus and headed to my house. But before we had driven more than a mile he turned towards Otter Valley Park. He asked if we could talk for a few minutes before we went to my place to join our parents for our celebration dinner. Devin was still nervous about telling his parents about his secret. I then told him about their reaction to him going over to Trevor’s Parents the night before and how I had seen a mixture of pride and sadness in their eyes at his actions. Devin looked at me as if I had grown a 2nd head. He asked me if I was sure that I was talking about his parents. I told him that it was exactly how I described and continued to say that I think that things would work out just fine, at least I hoped so.
Devin and I turned into my driveway a little after 5 pm and I saw my Mom and Dad’s cars in the driveway. We walked into the back door and were assaulted with the aroma of my Mom’s cooking. My Mom loves to cook for large groups. Typically, family get togethers happened at her house so she could have the fun of cooking the feast. She had to compete with her Brother, my Uncle Sam, who lived in New York City. When it was his turn to cook he usually came down a few days before the event and kick my Mom out of the Kitchen. It was funny to watch because they both were so headstrong and stubborn. But they loved each other and usually my Mom would back down. I went to my Mom and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and asked what smelled so good. Mom said that she was making her world-famous Chicken and Rice bake and asparagus. It was then that Mom turned around and saw Devin. She walked over to him and while she was giving him a hug she whispered something in his ear. Devin’s smile looked like it would split his face. Mom then asked me and Devin to add a leaf to the dining room table and to use the good China and Silver to set the table. Devin and I started working to set the table when Mom walked in and told us to remember to add the White Wine glasses and water goblets. She also said to make sure that Devin and I had wine glasses as well. Devin was a little perplexed at being included with the wine drinkers, but I didn’t think anything about this as my parents would allow me and my siblings to have wine at special dinners. We finished setting the table to Mom’s satisfaction we excused ourselves and went up to my room.
We entered my room and Devin walked around and looked at everything. On one shelf I had my Swimming Trophies and Ribbons from my time on the Timber Oaks Swim Team. There was also a shelf with my Ice Skating accomplishments. Devin was amazed that I competed in both Swimming and Ice Skating on the Regional Level. He asked why I wasn’t still competing in Ice Skating and I told him that I had fallen out of love with the sport. That was a lie, I still loved ice skating and on occasion would talk Rick into private ice time very early in the morning to keep my skills up. So why did I stop competing you ask, it was the politics of the sport. No matter how hard you trained and well you skated in competition the judges had their favorites and would make sure that they were the ones to advance. As an example, I was at the Skate Philadelphia Competition during my time at the Junior Level and skated a flawless long program. My scores were excellent, and I was 2nd going into the last skater. That skater fell twice during his program, but still scored better than me and pushed me to third and out of contention to move on to the national competition. My coach, Maud DuBois, was so mad at the judging that she filed a complaint with the International Skaters Union. Anyway, Maud said that there was really nothing they could do at that time. I was so mad that I didn’t return to the Skating Club for more than 6 months and I stopped competing all together. I could tell that Devin was taking this all in and trying to process what he had just heard. I was sitting on my bed when he came over and pulled me into a hug. He said, “I know I watched you teaching the kids how to skate on Wednesday, but I would love to see you really stretch your legs on the rink sometime. We stayed like that, sharing each other’s warmth and touch that we didn’t hear the knock at my door. Dad had slowly opened my door and was watching with a small smile on his face. He told us that Devin’s parents were going to arrive shortly and that we should head downstairs to greet them.
About 10 minutes later Devin’s Mom and Dad knocked on the front door. Dad and I welcomed them in, and Dad offered them a drink. I showed them into the Living Room where Devin was already sitting on the Loveseat where I joined him. Dad said that he had picked up a couple of bottles of Bully Hill (2) Goat White. Paul was shocked when he took the wine glass from my Dad and asked, “How did he get this wine?” Dad told him that he had asked the manager of the liquor store if he had ever heard of a New York Vineyard called Bully Hill? When the manager said no, he suggested that the manager look it up and stock some of their wines. The Manager was thankful for the advice since they can’t keep it on the shelves. Gwen and we boys were looking at the two long lost friends like they were nuts. Dad then explained that the Vineyard is about an hour west of Ithaca, NY, where Cornell University is located. Paul and my Dad had stumbled upon the Vineyard one Fall while camping at the Urbana State Forest and fell in love with the wine, but at the time it was only being sold at the Vineyard. Paul savored the wine and said, “now that brings back some great memories.” My Dad responded, “Yes it does, but we will have time to tell these folks all about them after dinner.”
A short time later Uncle Leo and Asher arrived and were introduced to Devin and his Parents. Uncle Leo shook Paul’s hand said if he was the same guy that Ed would talk about from College. Paul said he was one in the same. As all the adults talked Devin and I just sat there amazed at the way everyone was getting along. Paul asked Leo about his career and Leo told him that he was the Principal at Concord High School and Asher was the Director of Guidance for the Brandywine School District. Both Paul and Gwen were listening very closely as they still had not decided about where Devin would attend his Junior and Senior Years of High School. They asked about Concord’s Academic Curriculum as well as what extracurricular activities were offered. My Uncle Leo talked about his High School as if it were his own child. By the time my mom said that dinner was ready Devin knew that was where he wanted to finish his high school career. Gwen and Paul also liked what they were hearing and would come by the school for a tour in the next week or so.
We sat down to a fantastic dinner thanks to my Mom. Our parents allow Devin and I a small glass of wine as a reward for completing the training class. They were proud of our accomplishments and they raised their glasses to honor us. The conversation centered around what happened during the class today. We told our parents about the final lesson and how we were the first two to realize what the test was. My Dad laughed at the simplicity of the lesson and said that he agreed with what the instructor had told us. When we finish eating dinner we went back into the Living Room to continue our conversation. Leo and Asher asked about the news conference and if there was any additional information Devin and I could add to what was reported. We told everyone about the Observation Exercise with the pictures and how we had to study the pictures and then list out our observations. It was those observations that the Detectives used to break the case. We said that the Detective would not tell us what it was that broke the case, but we thought it was the observation of kids’ dirt Bike that was leaning against a house, but we were not sure if that was it or not.
Devin’s Mom had made a Chocolate Bread Pudding topped with fresh whipped cream for dessert. It was delicious, melt in mouth delicious. It was during dessert that Devin told his Parents that he had something to tell them. His Mom and Dad looked on and gave him their undivided attention. Devin continued as he grabbed to hold my hand, “I would like to attend Concord High School to finish out my High School Career and Aaron is my boyfriend.” Paul and Gwen were a bit surprised at what Devin had just said, but then the full statement registered in the heads. Gwen got up from her chair and went to her son. Pulled him up out of his chair and wrapped her arms around him and said, “It’s about time”. Paul joined his family and hugged his son and wife and continued “Son, we have known about you for a while, Dr Aimbinder also had his suspicions when you were seeing him. He suggested that we wait and let you tell us instead of us confronting you. With the way you took Trevor’s abduction and murder it was clear to us that you and he were more than just friends. We did not want to interfere with your relationship with him and we only wanted to help you when you came out.” Gwen continued, “We love you and will be there for you for the rest of our lives.” Trevor, Gwen and Paul all had tears streaming down their cheeks; it was a beautiful sight.
Gwen then turned to me and said, “Aaron I am counting on you to be good to my boy, if you hurt him you’ll answer to me!” I said, “I understand, and I hope the Devin and I will be together for a long time.” With that she grabbed me out of my chair and placed me and Devin together in their group hug. Devin turned to me and gave me a kiss which I returned. My Mom, Dad, Uncle and Asher applauded us and then My Dad raised his glass and we toasted to understanding and love. We finished dinner and went back into the Living Room as we were talking Devin mentioned to his parents that we had gone Ice Skating earlier in the week and how much he enjoyed it. He went one to tell them about my competitive skating and why I no longer competing. My Mom asked if they wanted to see one of my competitions? Of course, Devin was all for that and Mom went to get the video tape of my Short and Long Program from Skate Philadelphia, my last competition. After watching the video, everyone agreed that I was robbed, and my performance should have sent me to the National Competition. I smiled weakly and thanked them all for their opinion.
We spent the rest of the evening talking about what was next in our lives and how we would tell our close friends about our relationship. Uncle Leo reminded me of our conversation earlier in the week and how we will need to be careful about who we trusted with our secret. Both Devin and I had talked about how we were going to extremely careful and not let anyone suspect that we were gay. He went on to say with Devin and I going to Concord he would need to amend the Harassment Policy to include sexual orientation. Everyone in the room turned to my Uncle with a bewildered look on their faces. Leo went on to say that he was aware of at least 20 students that were gay, and he suspected at least 30 more were questioning their orientation at the school. Asher chimed in that the School District was already in the process of developing a policy that protected students based on their orientation and were going to combine it with the policy that my uncle had been piloting at Concord. Leo looked at Asher and said “When did this come about and why was I not informed about it. It not like the Superintendent doesn’t know about us. At least now I know how well you can keep a secret.” Once that was said they turned to each other and kissed not caring who saw them. It was a beautiful ending to what started as a stressful evening.
To be Continued.