We sat in the police station's waiting room, My wife was crying, I was mad. Why would she do something so stupid. I know she's not guilty my wife sobbed, She wouldn't do that, she doesn't need money. She confessed I replied. She is guilty, she took the money. But why? It's so stupid. Who knows? I guess she thought she wouldn't get caught. My wife couldn't stop crying. Where's the lawyer? Will she get bail? Damned if I know, this is all new to me. He should be here any time. He walked in, are you her parents? Yes, can we get her out tonight, my wife asked? I don't' know as I want to get her out, I said. Maybe she needs a lesson. Maybe a night in jail would be good for her. But she so scared, my wife sobbed. She was crying when she called. "Please mommy get me out of here. I don't like it in here". She seem so scared.
She damned well ought to be, embezzling $30,000 dollars is no joke. The lawyer said he would see what the charges were and if bail had been set. He went in to talk to her.
As we sat there waiting and wondering, my mind went back to my youth.
I was in my parents back yard. They had friends over, people they had know for 30 years. I could picture them as if I was right there. Tom and Brenda Parks. Tom worked with my dad at the steel mill. They were both pipe fitter welders. Tom and Brenda were also rock hounds as my parents were. They belonged to the same club and had gone rock hunting together for years. They were truly close friends. Tom was a big strapping man, tall, strong and proud. But that night he was a defeated man. His wife was sobbing then as mine was this evening.
Back then they had faced much the same problem as we did this evening. Evan, their only son, had committed a crime. He stole some money. But he didn't steal from a store like our daughter had. He stole from them. He stole from his parents. But it was much more complicated that that. Evan was mentally handicapped. Not severely handicapped, but handicapped. He went to regular high school but had to receive special tutoring. He did graduate but only because they couldn't do anything more for him.
After high school he made friends with a wild group. They took him with them because he would do anything they asked. He liked them because they were the only friends he could find. The "friends" dreamed up a plot where Evan would steal his parents check book and they would get some money to party. It wasn't a great amount, only $500.00 but it was enough to be classified as a felony.
Of course Evan got caught by his parents. Instead of handling the crime at home, Tom chose to call the police and have Evan arrested. Tom was really mad. The boy needed a lesson. He wanted no thief living in his house. Over his wife's pleading he pressed charges. A little prison time would do him good. Evan went to prison. 2 to 5 for check forgery. They said he would be out in 6 months. Fine Tom said, he will damn well not steal when he gets out. He will be a better person. Every man has to pay for his mistakes.
It didn't work like that. Evan was bitter. He hated his parents. He never wanted to see them again. He had been forsaken, abandoned. He didn't understand. He was sorry, but for Tom sorry wasn't good enough. The boy must be taught a lesson.
Evan was a bitter prisoner. He couldn't adjust to prison life. He was a dummy. The other prisoners tormented him. He fought back. His Sentence was extended. He refused to see his parents.
He was killed in a prison fight eight years after his father had him put in prison. The lesson had worked. Evan would never steal again. Tom's heart was broken. He knew he had been wrong. But now it was to late. Tom would live the rest of his life with a broken heart. He had wronged his own flesh and blood.
The lawyer came out. They set bail, he said, $50,000 dollars. I know a good bail bond company. If you can come up with $5000.00 dollars, we can get her out tonight. Call the bail people I said . I'll put it on my credit card. Will she have to go to prison? She did confess. Well sometimes, he explained, if this is the first offense and restitution is made the store won't press charges. Then it's up to the D.A.'s office if they want to prosecute. Most of the time they do not.
I said, I'll take a loan on my house. I'll pay every dime back. I don't want any child of mine in prison.