The following is Chapter 4 of A Christmas Story by Mike Furches. You can see the preceding prologue and Chapters in the archives or links section of this page. This story is copyrighted by Mike Furches and intent to publish in book form in 2015. This is the variation prior to final edit prior to publication.
IN HIS STEPS
By Mike Furches
Several months passed before and the Hamm’s hadn't heard anything from Detective Hay or the Owasso Police Department. From discussions with Detective Hay the Hamm’s understood this was typical. Unfortunately, lost or stolen goods where seldom recovered. There was hope though with the robbery occurring when it did that there would be a for recovery, or at the least, partial recovery of the items and the thief or thief’s getting caught.
Turley was a small community just to north Tulsa. In the early 1900’s Tulsa was home to the largest race riot in United States History. A part of Tulsa known as the Greenwood District or The Black Wall Street was burnt to the ground and over 300 people were killed. To the southwest of Owasso was Turley, a small predominantly African American Community with a vast difference between the levels of living between the two. Owasso was an upper middle class community and predominately white while Turley is a lower income community. Separating the communities is Highway 75 and once crossing the highway it is fairly evident at the two differing neighborhoods and the environments the residents live in.
Detective Hay as was the case for most crimes committed in the Owasso City limits had filed reports with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Tulsa Police Department. It was not unusual that criminals crossed city limits to commit their crimes in the hopes of making it more difficult to get caught. Turley was small enough that the Tulsa Sheriff’s and Tulsa Police Department provided the bulk of protection.
It was during the middle of February when Detective Hay received a phone call from the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department. On the other end of the line was Sergeant Jackson. Sergeant Jackson was a large black man, in his mid thirties, standing six feet one and weighing 200 pounds. He was a local man who had been a football star when in high school at Booker T. Washington and went on to play college football at Oklahoma State University. He took joy in serving the North Tulsa community because he realized it gave him the opportunity to be a good example to the young black men and women in the neighborhood looking for a way out of poverty. While there was still a significant number of impoverished homes in the area, they had seen an upswing of better jobs and home improvements in the area. Sergeant Jackson was involved in his church which had helped see to the redevelopment of the area. He had a deep voice that reminded one of a preacher they might see on one of the local television stations on any given night. He was a deeply religious man who loved his church but also loved giving back to his community.
“Detective Hay please?” Sergeant Jackson asked when calling the Owasso station.
“Just one moment please” The receptionist said in a pleasant voice.
A few moments later, “Detective Hay here.” Detective Hay said.
“Hey Bob. This is Mike Jackson with the Sheriffs department here in Tulsa.”
“Hey Mike, how you been doing haven’t seen or talked you in a while, I guess it's been since our churches did that pastor exchange a few months ago. What was that February during Black History Month?” Detective Hay asked in an obvious good mood talking to one of his friends in the faith whom he occasionally worked with.
“Yea, I guess it has been since then. We definitely need to get together more often.” Sergeant Jackson said while at the same time in good spirits.
“Well lets make plans to go fishing next week up at Lake Oolagah. I’ll load the boat up and you can meet me here at the house around 5:00 in the morning. How about it? I am ready for a mess of crape.” Detective Hay asked.
“Sounds great. I’m off then and maybe we can have some luck with the stripped bass this time, you know I like catching those big ones as well." Sergeant Jackson changed his tone to a more serious one at this point, "Now to why I called you. Do you remember that robbery at Christmas with one of the families from your church?” Sergeant Jackson asked.
“Yea do you have something on it?” Detective Hay asked.
Sergeant Jackson responded, “You bet. We think we have at least one of the guys. Possibly the only guy. I saw a kid driving a motorcycle that fit the description of the one stolen today and pursued him. He took off through a field near Turley and ended up wrecking the motorcycle after I pursued him for a little while. He ran into a fence while he was looking back. Anyway, he destroyed the bike and tore up his leg some. He is doing fine, he had a few stitches and is down at Juvie right now. We’ve been trying to contact a parent but can’t find them. A typical story of a young man without any type of positive parental influence. Anyway, he is a young black man, 15 years old with a history of theft and gang problems. Anyway the serial numbers on the bike matched the one that was stolen. Unfortunately, the bike is destroyed. I doubt if it is salvageable except for a few parts here and there. We conducted a search of his parents house under reasonable suspicion. We also found a few things from the robbery but assume most everything else had been sold. Believe it or not though the kid, James Brisco, confessed to the theft. Is going to go before the judge on this one and may even end up doing some type of time likely also the fines and restitution that goes with it since it was at Christmas and got some press.”
“You’re kidding?” Detective Hay asked jumping in.
“Oh no I’m not.” Sergeant Jackson responded. “The judge here gets pretty ticked when some one flees an officer in pursuit, that on top of everything else, with the confession will do him in. No one here forgot about the theft, especially it being at Christmas and all. Anyway the judge indicated some time back through the prosecutors office that he wanted us to pursue this one quite seriously. We don’t know what he can to do with the restrictions on juvenile offenses and all. I know you guys get as tired of all of the serious Juvies getting off as much as we do but the judge is considering pursuing this one as a habitual Juvenile offender which could keep him locked up for at least 3 years, possibly 5.”
“Well I guess you need the Hays’ to come down and identify the recovered property to make it stick don’t you?” Detective Hay asked, already knowing the answer.
“You bet, especially if they want any of their possessions back and the chance to see this kid get his due for this crime.” Sergeant Jackson stated.
Hesitating a moment and taking a sigh of relief Detective Hay responded, “Give me a couple of hours and I’ll have Charlie and Tayra right down.”
“Sounds great, will see you in a couple, I’ve got to finish the paperwork on this one anyway. About the time I get through will be about the time you arrive, maybe a few minuets early. If I’m not in the briefing room I’ll be at the second floor break room, just bring the Hay’s on up.”
“Will do, see you after while” Detective Hay said as he hung up the phone and reached for his rolodex in the same motion.
After finding the number and making the call Detective Hay started, “Hey Charlie, I hate to bother you but you need to get in touch with Tayra right away and have her meet you at your house. I’ll be by to pick you up within the next thirty minuets. You’ll never guess what kind of news I have for you…”
James Brisco was a young man who looked no older than his fifteen years of age. His mannerisms were the only thing about him that had him seeming older. His eyes where cold and almost as dark as his skin. He had a medium to dark chocolate complexion and while he acted and looked like a tough kid it was evident by his youthful features that he was a young man. James was a little less than six feet tall but had a slender, yet, muscular build. He didn't look like a body builder but more like a long distance runner, weighing around 160 pounds. He had short cropped hair, shaved on the sides and around the lower half of the hair line. It was short and manicured, looking very nice and well kept.
James Brisco took pride in how he looked. With the exception of the tear in his pants leg where he had wrecked the motorcycle his pants where long and baggy and obviously a designer line. His jeans matched the brand of his shirt. Both were neatly pressed and Brisco, as he preferred to be called had obviously taken pride and the time in his personal hygiene. He also wore his Jordan shoes with ankle socks. Even though he had just received a few stitches he strutted when walking. He exhibited pride and confidence in his every move.
Charlie and Tayra made a positive identification of the motorcycle and the few stolen goods recovered. Detective Hay took them back behind the one way glass to view him prior to being placed in lock down. It was unusual to let a victim view the perpetrator prior to sentencing but one allowed at times due to the unusual circumstance of a crime. It was allowed here though due to the department catering to the request of one of their own from another department, Detective Hay.
Charlie and Tayra spoke a lot with each other after leaving the jail, most all of it centered around what would happen to James Brisco. Why was he so hard and confident? Why was it so important to him to look good in hid appearance and dress? It was obvious from what Detective Hay said that he didn't come from a family with money. For all practical purposes he didn’t have a family as Charlie and Tayra had known, certainly not one that seemed to care about him.
As Detective Hay drove them home he brought up the thought that carried some weight in the decisions The Hamm's would make over the next weeks. “You know I just can’t figure it out myself.” Detective Hay stated with some concern, “I find myself in conflict with my faith all the time. I mean I really appreciate the move in the department to where my job is much safer for me but also to the point where there is not as much conflict with my faith, but sometimes it is hard. I mean just think about it, here I am working with the two of you and your kids and I want to see everything done right by you, but I am also now working with this kid who has never had much of a chance. Have the two of you been by Turley before?” Detective Hay asked.
“Not lately.” Charlie answered. “Why do you ask?”
“Well to look at this Brisco kid you would think he was well to do, but in reality he lives in this little shack with 2 younger brothers and a younger sister about 1 block off of 66th Street and Lewis. I drove by there before I came to get the two of you to try and get a read on the kid. I knew it would take a few minuets for the two of you to get home so I got the address from Sergeant Jackson and drove by. Well this kid apparently from what I was told has pretty much been raising his younger brothers and sister by himself. Anyway it’s just tough sometimes.” Detective Hay responded with concern.
Tayra jumped in the conversation, “It seems like you would get used to it though Bob. What makes it so difficult?”
“Do you remember that book by Charles Sheldon called ‘In His Steps?” Detective Hay asked.
Both Charlie and Tayra shook their heads yes but didn't saying anything.
“Well you know there is a question in the book which makes me think. You know the one where you are supposed to ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do?’, like those bracelets that are so popular. Well, you see a kid who has obviously done wrong and you know the family has also likely done wrong. Well what do you do with that question about what would Jesus do? Really think about it, ‘What would Jesus do in this case?” Detective Hay just shook his head for a few seconds after asking this question again. Not so much as a point of reference for Charlie and Tayra to think about but something he was thinking himself.
As Detective Hay started to get on Highway 244 and go towards Owasso Charlie spoke up, using Detective Hay’s first name, “Bob, would you mind going ahead and going north on Highway 75 and showing us where the Brisco kid lives?” Tayra shook her head in affirmation of Charlie’s question. “I think the both of us would like to see where this kid lives as well.”
“Sure no problem.” Detective Hay answered.
Charlie and Tayra were surprised at how small the house was. It was a white frame house in desperate need of painting. It was clearly less than 800 square feet. There was a garage to the side of the house used for storage and a fence around the yard which clearly indicated, ‘Keep Out’. In the front yard was a lot of toys for the brothers and sister. The house had bed sheets hanging from the two front windows for curtains and it was clear the windows needed replacing due to either being broken. The sheets were blowing in and out due to the wind. This was a neighborhood Charlie and Tayra would not have felt safe in except for the security and sanctuary of the police car they where riding in.
Tayra asked while looking at the toys as they drove by. “What will happen to the children Bob, the two little brothers and the sister?”
“Right now we are trying to locate the parents or relatives. If we get in touch with them and they want them, then depending on the conditions of their homes and the lives they live, they may or may not get custody. Until then they will go into foster care, probably separated from each other. It all depends on a lot of different things though. It is my guess that James was raising them by himself the best he could, so they’ll more than likely end up in foster care.”
Charlie and Tayra just shook their heads in shock while at the same time thinking of the earlier question Detective Hay had asked of himself, “What would Jesus do?”.
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