Orchid is under arrest and Judge Walker has summoned them to the court. It’s a media madhouse out front, so they go in the back way. Even so, the cameras find them, following the team to the courtroom.
They walked into the courtroom in a wave of flashbulbs, camera lights and microphones. The media descended like vultures circling a particularly juicy corpse. It didn’t bother Jason, who merely waved and smiled – teeth and custom cuff links flashing as brightly as the cameras. Taylor and the FBI team did their best to keep the crowd back. Jason worked the group like a pro, but the mob scene bothered him. Taylor could see it in the set of his shoulders and the tenseness of his spine.
Finally, the media settled down when the bailiff called for all to rise.
“The Honorable Judge Honoria Walker presiding.”
Honoria strutted in, smiling. She took her seat and eyed the crowd with her hands folded in front of her.
“Normally, I don’t allow this circus in my courtroom,” she began. “But today is a special occasion. As long as you stay quiet and don’t disturb the proceedings, you can stay,” she admonished the press. “The second you get out of hand, you’re toast. Understood?”
She wasn’t satisfied until all the reporters nodded and replied, “Yes, Your Honor.”
“Good. Jason Banes, come forward.”
Jason rose, buttoning his jacket and adjusting his cuffs. Bailiff Cortland walked him up to the seat. He didn’t swear Jason in, but he did wink when the judge wasn’t looking. Folding his hands in front of him, he stepped to the side.
“Jason Banes, the charges of murder and accessory to murder have been dropped,” Judge Walker said with a smile. “And I’m glad to say that the prosecutor had the sense to re-evaluate the evidence tying you to this crime. In light of your participation on the team which captured Orchid, theft charges have also been dropped. Because of your generous contributions to the sting operation that led to her capture, you’re being awarded a key to the city.” She nodded to a man who sat nearby.
Jason recognized the mayor’s face from campaign posters. He stood as the older man approached. The mayor shook Jason’s hand and handed him a gold plated key on a plaque.
“To Jason Banes, for his heroic deeds. Your city and I thank you, Mr. Banes.” The mayor smiled and shook Jason’s hand again.
Flashbulbs flashed and they stood for a few moments, presenting a satisfactory photo opportunity for the photographers. The grin didn’t fade, nor did the twinkle in the merry blue eyes as the mayor took his place in the gallery once more.
“This is fantastic,” Jason said with a grin. “Never got a key to a city before. Thank you, sir. This is quite an honor.”
“You deserve that and a lot more,” the mayor said from his seat.
Blushing, Jason thanked him again, taking his seat. Honoria hadn’t dismissed him.
“I want to add a personal thank you,” she continued. “And there are a few more people who would like to extend their thanks.” She motioned to the gallery.
Bailiff Drover opened the gate, allowing a group of people through. Jason recognized the families of the dead hostages. He stepped down to greet them. Mrs. Prentice came up first. She put her arms around him, hugging him close.
“Thank you, darling boy, for helping my husband find rest.”
“You’re welcome,” he replied, hardly knowing how to handle the emotions that flooded him.
Each of the family members introduced themselves, thanking him and giving him gifts. Jason had never felt so welcomed in his entire life. It was almost too much.
Honoria tapped her gavel. The family members took their seats once more. She smiled at them.
“Jason, one more thing before we go. I hear you’re a bit of a security expert.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jason replied quietly. “A bit.”
Director Remington stepped forward. “I want to offer you a position with my department as a security consultant. Here are your credentials, Mr. Banes. Welcome to the FBI.”
Jason whooped, one hand shooting into the air. “Mr. Remington, you’ve made me the happiest chap in the room,” he said with a laugh. “Thank you, sir. I won’t disappoint.”
“I know that, kid. You haven’t disappointed yet.”
Honoria banged her gavel once more and Cortland called for all to rise. Before she left, Jason took her hand, kissing it.
“Thank you, Honoria,” he whispered. “How I wish I had a mum like you.”
Honoria folded him in her arms, kissing his cheek. “I’d be proud to call you my son,” she replied softly. “And I’ve always room in my heart for one more.”
She left, wiping her eyes. Jason watched her walk through the door to her chambers and a single tear trickled down his cheek.
© Dellani Oakes
Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm