Portal – Chapter 8

Michael’s mouth dropped but his shock was unmatched to Eugene or the prosecutor. They had never seen anything like this. Criminal Enhanced went to Fort Leavenworth, period. The prosecutor gathered her files, shook Eugene’s hand, and quickly left the courtroom. Michael’s mother looked like she was dancing on cloud 9. Director Lehrer, however, was not. He  would have incinerated the judge and the entire courtroom  if he had the Enhanced power to do so. Director Lehrer’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Michael.

“The new recruit class starts on Monday, Mr. Larson. You will be there,” Director Lehrer commanded. Michael knew that look on his face from his mother. He was angry, very angry, and would probably go have several strong drinks of alcohol. As Director Lehrer left, the four JTF agents followed him.

Michael leaned over the bar, hugged his crying mother and held her close.

“How did you find me?” he asked her.

“When I woke up,” she started, “you were already gone. I realized that I may never see you again but I had no idea where you were. I got dressed and Mrs. Chen from 3B drove me to the JTF offices. When I told them who I was, Director Lehrer took me to his office and started asking questions about you. A few minutes later, an angry young woman opened the door and said the judge had kicked her out of the courtroom. Director Lehrer drove us over here and I followed him to the courtroom.”

“I’m glad you made it. Thank you,” Michael said as he hugged his mother. His eyes closed and a smile spread across his face.

“Mr. Larson,” boomed the voice of the judge again, “please come to my chambers when you have finished. We have things to discuss about your sentencing.” The judge disappeared through a door behind the bench.

Michael’s mother gave him another kiss on the cheek before telling him to go. She  started shaking Eugene’s hand and hugging him.

Michael walked over to the judge’s chambers. The bailiff was still in the courtroom and watched him closely. Michael knocked on the ornate wooden door that separated a judge’s public and private life.

“Come in, Mr. Larson,” said the voice on the other side. The judge knew exactly how loud to speak so only the person at the door would hear him.

Michael opened the door to the judge’s chambers. The office was not very big, about the size of his mother’s living room, but it was a lot cleaner and organized. The judge had rows of law books on his shelves, perfectly aligned and in order as Michael walked pass them. Judge Thompson was sitting at his desk, his black robe hanging on the coat rack in the corner of the room. The chamber door gave a loud thunk as it closed automatically.

“Please sit down, son,” the judge said kindly with no hint of the commanding voice he had used earlier. As Michael sat on the ornate, padded wooden chair, the judge continued.

“When you get home, make sure you to give your momma a big hug and tell her you love her. I was ready to send you to Leavenworth, you know. You really screwed up using your power like that. She saved your butt after you jumped on the fire Director Lehrer lit for you.”

Michael looked down and knew the judge was right. Lehrer had taunted him, trying to get a reaction. He had taken many tests, psychological, physical, and Enhanced-skill based, when he was first arrested. He was required to visit the JTF psychologist once a month to report any changes. He was sure short-tempered was highlighted on the his file at the JTF.  In the end, it was his mother that calmed him down and probably saved Director Lehrer’s life.

“How high were you going to drop him?”

Michael came out of his thoughts. “Your Honor?”

The judge laughed, “You are not in my courtroom anymore, son. Enough with the ‘Your Honor’ formalities. My name is Ronald. And I asked, how high were you going to drop Director Lehrer?”

“Judge, I mean Ronald, I have to ask. Are you Enhanced?” asked Michael very curiously.

“You wouldn’t be the first to ask. Not according to any JTF test. I’m just a boring mundane. I’m just very good at watching people, a skill many have lost, including the JTF. I was a cop on the Indianapolis streets for 20 years and I’ve been a lawyer and judge ever since. That Mentalist was simple to read. She’s a new agent so she thinks herself better than everyone else. Her tell was the way her breathing and blinking changed when you turned around to look at her.”

Michael smiled. The judge, Ronald, he would have to remember that, was a poker player. A tell was the way players anticipated their opponent’s intentions by subtle changes. Michael learned to play poker last year at school and had considered it as a way to make more money.

“By the way, her callsign is Nightmare,” Ronald added.

“Great”, Michael responded sarcastically, “I got her kicked out of the courtroom.”

“As for you, your eyes glazed over and you were looking out the window with a smile.”

“I was going to drop him from several thousand feet,” Michael finally admitted.

“And that would have been your last mistake,” Ronald replied, nodding his head.

“Why do you hate Director Lehrer so much?” asked Michael, curious to know more about Ronald and the JTF.

Ronald leaned back, his large chair  creaking loudly. He look intently as Michael as if deciding how much to burden on the young Enhanced.

“Director Lehrer is dangerous. He’s a snake and I’ve been taking on people like him my whole life.” Ronald spoke passionately. Michael knew this was something he felt very strongly about.

“People always think it will be someone else, another tribe, who gets hauled away in the middle of the night. I’m sure Mr. Stein’s ancestors could tell you how wrong they are. My ancestors sure could. I detest people like Director Lehrer that believe they are untouchable. One day the JTF is going to swat at the hornet’s nest and the hornets are going to sting back and the people of this nation will be caught in the middle and forced to takes sides. The mundanes will claim innocence too, just like the Germans after World War 2. History always repeats.”

Michael did not have much experience with the JTF until 8 months ago. Most mundanes did not interact with the JTF unless they were related to an Enhanced or on the wrong side of the law. Those people usually did not like to let the world know they were criminals so not much was public.

“Then why are you sending me to join them?

Ronald took a drink of his water.

“The older you are when you Reveal, the more challenges you will face, like your nausea and blackouts. They can help you adapt. Plus,” Ronald stated sternly, “you need some stability and structure in your life. And I like swatting the JTF back.”

Ronald grinned. Michael suddenly thought Fort Leavenworth might not be so bad after all.