Excerpt for Please, Just let me Die! by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Please, Just Let Me Die

Tony was in a hurry to get home. His science teacher had kept him after class to discuss his most recent test. It was a legitimate reason for being late, for most families, but, Tony’s family was not your typical family. Actually, it was the foster family that he had lived with for five years. They were very strict and Tony knew what to expect if he was late.

Since he had missed his bus, Tony took a shortcut through a couple of neighborhoods between the school and his house. When he was ten minutes from home, he heard a boy calling for help. Tony followed the sound of the boy’s voice and found him near a retention pond. The boy told Tony that his two younger sisters had fallen into the pond and they weren’t good swimmers, and neither was he.

Tony could see that the girls were struggling in the pond. He knew that he should go home, but his instincts told him what to do. He jumped into the pond and began swimming out to the girls. He told the younger girl to climb on his back, while he took the hand of the older girl and began swimming towards the shore. By the time he reached the edge of the pond, he was worn out. He noticed that the older girl had stopped breathing and when he got both girls onto dry land, he began giving the older girl mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive her, like he had learned at school. By that time, several neighbors had arrived and were using their jackets to warm up the younger girl. One of them had already called 911 and within minutes, the paramedics arrived, just as the older girl began breathing again. She was spitting up water and gasping for air.

The paramedics asked what had happened, and the boy, who said his name was Adam, told them that his sisters had fallen in, and that the older boy had saved them from drowning.

When the paramedic asked Tony what his name was, Tony knew better than to bring any attention to him or his foster family, so he quickly made up a name. He said his name was George Carter, picking two names from U.S. presidents. The paramedic began asking more questions, but Tony interrupted him and told him that he had to get home and ran off.

When Tony arrived home, his foster father was already awake. He was very angry that Tony was thirty minutes late. Joe Montello was a Los Angeles police officer who often rotated shifts. He was in the middle of a string of night shifts, and he slept during the day.

Tony tried to explain why he was late, but Joe wouldn’t let him talk. He told Tony to take off his wet clothes in the front yard, and then made him do his homework in the front yard without any clothes on. When Tony started banging on the door to be let inside, Joe finally let him go inside the house. After Joe shut the door, he slapped Tony across the face. When Tony tried to pull away, Joe struck him a few more times. Joe was becoming more and more angry, and finally, threw Tony down the stairs leading down to the basement. He told Tony to stay down there for the rest of the night and not to bother coming up for dinner.

Tony knew Joe’s routine. He would drink a couple beers and then pass out for a while. Tony waited until it was quiet upstairs and then snuck up to his bedroom. He looked at himself in the mirror. He had a swollen lip, several bruises on his body and one eye was swollen shut. As he reached up to touch his face, he felt pain in his left arm. It was swollen and was bruised.

It was at that moment that Tony decided that his foster parents wound never lay another on him. He quickly and quietly got dressed, and took his knife from under his mattress and stuck it in his sock. Then, he went into his parent’s room and opened the drawer where Joe kept his personal hand gun. Tony carefully loaded bullets into the gun, and placed it in his backpack. With the backpack slung over his shoulder, he climbed out of his window and onto the roof. He hesitated for only a moment and then jumped ten feet down to the ground.

Tony stood up, and began running as fast as he could. When he reached the park, he was out of breath, and since the park was deserted, he sat down on a bench contemplating what to do next. He carefully took the loaded gun out of the backpack. He came to a decision. He had only one option. He was tired of getting beat by his foster parents.

Tony was startled when he felt a hand on his shoulder. When he turned around, he saw a police officer standing there. “Give me the gun, son,” the officer said. “There’s no need for anyone to get hurt.

Tony handed the gun to Officer Barnes and that’s when the officer saw Tony’s swollen, bloody face. Tony refused to give his name or tell the officer what had happened to him. Officer Barnes drove Tony to the nearest emergency room, where his wife was an ER physician.

When Officer Barnes walked into the ER with Tony, he walked over to his wife, who was talking to a paramedic.

“That’s him,” said Chuck, pointing to Tony. “He is the boy who saved your daughters.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Officer Barnes. “Nancy, are the girls okay? What happened to them?”

Nancy told Dan that their girls were fine, and the paramedic, Chuck Collins repeated what he had just told his wife about how the boy had dived into the pond to save their daughters.

“What’s your name?” Dr. Barnes asked Tony. Tony remained silent, for a while. Nancy was very patient, and talked very softly to him and finally, Tony told her his name and address.

While Nancy looked at Tony’s face, Dan called Tony’s home. Dr. Barnes thanked Tony for saving the lives of her daughters. When she asked him what happened to his face, Tony clammed up and refused to anything more.

The ER was very busy, and Dr. Barnes had several patients waiting. She helped a nurse get Tony onto a gurney behind a curtain and the nurse gave Tony a patient gown. She told him to get undressed and to put on the gown.

Tony made sure that the curtain was completely closed before he got undressed. He left his socks and his undershorts on, and put on the gown. As he sat back on the bed, he became very frightened. He knew that if he let the doctor examine him, she would see the scars from previous injuries and when he got back home, he would get beaten even worse. He thought about getting dressed again and sneaking out of the ER, but he was very tired and every bone in his body ached.

Tony knew that if he told the truth, about the abuse at home, that nobody would believe him. Besides having a cop for a foster father, Tony had something else going against him. His foster mother worked for the Department of Children and Family Services. She was a social worker who investigated the homes where child abuse was suspected.

Tony had once told a teacher that he was being abused at home, and she called DCFS. Diane Montello told her co-workers that Tony had fallen out of a tree and she grounded him for climbing the tree. Her co-workers bought her story, and dropped the investigation. That happened when Tony was nine. He was beaten again for telling the teacher, and he never told anyone else about the abuse at home. He was too terrified of what they might do to him the next time. He was terrified of dying.

But now, four years later, Tony was terrified of living. Tony saw the curtain opening and across the ER he saw his foster parents talking to Officer Barnes. Dr. Barnes began walking towards him, with Joe and Diane Montello following her. Tony slowly reached into his sock and removed the switchblade. He pushed the button that ejected the knife. As the adults got closer, Tony said, “I’m not going back with them. I’d rather die.” Before anybody could stop him, Tony grabbed the knife with both hands and thrust it into his chest. He then pulled it out and did it a second time before Dr. Barnes reached him.

When Dr. Barnes reached Tony, she could see his gown turning bright red from the blood. She yelled for a nurse to alert the OR and then she held pressure on the wound as she and another nurse began rushing the gurney towards the OR. As Tony was wheeled into the OR, he said something to her that she would never forget, “Please,” he begged, “just let me die so that the pain will go away.”

After her shift ended, Nancy and her husband Dan waited until Tony was out of surgery. Four hours later, the cardiac surgeon met with Nancy and Dan. He told them that the knife had entered the heart twice, but by some miracle, they were able to remove the knife and stitch up the heart before Tony bled to death. “God was watching out for that boy. Then, Dr. Pierce took Nancy and Dan into the Recovery Room to see Tony who was still intubated and sedated from the anesthesia. “I want to show you something, Nancy” said Dr. Pierce, and he removed Tony’s hospital gown. Dan and Nancy were shocked and sickened by what they saw. Not only were there fresh bruises, but old wounds as well. There were also several scars all over his body, which Nancy recognized as cigarette burns. She had seen several abused children in the ER, but none as bad as Tony. Dr. Pierce also showed Nancy the x-rays that were taken in the OR. They showed several old fractures, and a new fracture of Tony’s left arm.

Dr. Pierce told Nancy that he planned to keep Tony In a medically induced coma, for a while to give his body a chance to heal. And he could get some much needed rest.

Dr. Barnes and Dr. Pierce contacted the hospital social services office, who contacted the DCFS. Upon Dr. Barnes’s advice, Mr. Davis asked to speak with the Psychologist in charge of the agency, who was able to get a court order placing Tony in protective custody and had Mr. and Mrs. Montello removed as Tony’s foster parents.

Dr. Barnes asked Mr. Davis to contact all of the ER’s in Los Angeles and search for any other medical records of visits for Tony. The next day, while Nancy was working in the ER, Mr. Davis asked if they could meet somewhere in private. Nancy was curious as to why Mr. Davis wouldn’t give her any information over the phone. As the two of them sat down in a private office, there was an awkward silence as Mr. Davis took a stack of papers out of his briefcase.

“Tony has not just been abused just by his current foster family, but by others as well,” said Mr. Davis. “This boy has had a horrific life so far. His birth mother was raped, but chose to keep the baby anyway. However, every time she looked at him, she was reminded of the sexual assault. Eventually, she was reported to DCFS for neglect. When Tony was taken away from her, he was listless and had not grown as much as he should have. His mother admitted to the social worker, that she found it hard to hold him or love him. She agreed to go to counseling, but little changed. She regained custody of him, but soon abandoned him in a park, and then left the area. Tony was barely two at the time.”

Mr. Davis paused for a moment and took a sip of coffee before continuing. “A few weeks later, Tony was placed with his first foster family,” said Mr. Davis. “They were a young couple and it seemed that it was a good match. But, the couple used drugs recreationally. Gradually, the foster mother began to resent Tony, because she felt tied down. She couldn’t go out drinking with her friends and her husband was rarely at home in the evenings, because he was out with his friends. When Tony was three and a half, he was found in a locked car in a shopping center parking lot. The temperature inside the car was over 100 degrees. A police officer had to break a window to get to him. The boy was close to death and was taken to the hospital.”

“The police officer waited by the car for another hour before the foster mother returned. She claimed that she was only in the mall for a few minutes. She was charged with neglect and child endangerment and sentenced to probation. She seemed relieved when Tony was removed from the home.”

“Does this story get any better?” asked Nancy.

“I’m afraid not,” said Mr. Davis. “His next foster parents seemed very promising. He was a lawyer and she was a stay at home mom. It seemed like a good fit. DCFS had no complaints about them, and they made a few unannounced visits to the home, and everything seemed to be going okay. But, then, when Tony was in the third grade, his teacher contacted DCFS. She told them that Tony had become withdrawn and his schoolwork was suffering. When she sat down to talk with him in private, he confided in her that his foster father was molesting him. When DCFS investigated, the whole story came out. Tony’s foster father had been molesting him from the beginning and he threatened to hurt him if he told anyone.”

“Didn’t his foster mother suspect anything?” asked Nancy.

“Oh, she knew what was going on,” said Mr. Davis, “but she liked staying at home and not having to work, so she pretended that nothing was going on, and looked the other way.”

“That’s when he was placed with The Montello family,” said Mr. Davis. But, since then, there has been nothing reported to DCFS.”

“That’s because Mrs. Montello works for the DCFS,” said Nancy. “We need to talk to Tony and find out what has been going on.”

“When Tony wakes up, we will have a child psychologist talk to him,” said Mr. Davis.

When Nancy’s shift was over, she went home to her family. She hugged all four of her children and told them how much she loved them. Her daughters were feeling a lot better after their near drowning incident.

When Nancy returned to the hospital the next morning, she was informed that Tony was awake and was talking with Dr. Matthews, a child psychologist. Two hours later, he called Nancy and asked to speak to her and her husband. That afternoon, when Dan arrived, he and Nancy met with Dr. Matthews. He was very concerned about Tony’s mental health. “Tony has had suicidal thoughts for quite some time now,” said Dr. Matthews. “For the past five years, Mr. and Mrs. Montello have convinced him that he is nothing, that he is worthless. They not only abused him physically and mentally, but emotionally as well. His former foster families were not much better.”

“When I asked him what made him decide to go into that pond to save your daughters,” said Dr. Matthews, “he told me that knew what it felt like to drown and he didn’t want your girls to go through that.”

“You mean that he felt like he was drowning in his own life?” asked Dan.

“No,” said Dr. Matthews. “That’s what I thought at first, but apparently, when his former foster father began abusing him, he took him to a nearby lake and he held Tony under the water. When he brought Tony’s head out of the water, Tony started gasping for air. He was scared to death. That bastard did that a few more times and then he told Tony that if he ever told anyone what they did, then his death would be much worse than drowning.”

“From the bruises and x-rays, we believe that the Montello’s have been abusing him as well,” said Nancy. “Can we bring charges against them?”

“That might be a problem,” said Dr. Matthews. “When I questioned Tony about them, he clammed up and refused to talk anymore. I think that he is afraid that they might get custody of him and that things would be even worse. Maybe, if you talk to him, as a mother, not a doctor, he might open up to you. But, I must warn you. Tony feels absolutely worthless. He has never had anybody love him before. Every parental figure he has ever had in his life has treated him horribly. When I asked Tony if he took the gun so that he could shoot his foster father, he told me that he had planned to kill himself, so that the pain would go away. I believe that he would have, if Dan had not arrived when he did.”

Nancy felt sick to her stomach. When Tony told her that he wanted to die, so that the pain would stop, she thought he was referring to the pain in his chest or in his broken arm. She now knew that he was referring to the emotional pain that he had felt all of his life. She told Dr. Matthews that she needed a few moments to compose herself before she talked to Tony. In her fifteen years as an ER doctor, she had never felt so helpless. She couldn’t begin to imagine how helpless and alone Tony was feeling.

When Nancy, Dan and Dr. Matthews walked into Tony’s room, his eyes darted back and forth between them. Nancy could see that he was very worried and frightened. “Hi, Tony,” she said. “Remember me? How are you feeling?” When Tony remained silent, she said, “I want to thank you again for saving our girls.”

Tony was silent for a moment and then asked, “Are they okay?”

“They are just fine,” said Dan, “thanks to you.

Nancy sat down in a chair by the side of Tony’s bed. “Tony,” she said, “We need to know how the Montello’s treated you when you were living with you.” When Tony remained silent, she asked, “Why are you protecting them?”

“I’m not protecting them,” said Tony. “I’m protecting me, okay? I’m protecting me. If I tell you what they did to me, and they find out, he will kill me.”

“Tony, I promise you that neither of them will ever get near you again,” said Dan. “I promise you. They will never hurt you again.”

Tony began to relax a little, and little by little, he began telling the three adults about the years of abuse he had suffered while living with Joe and Diane Montello. He told them that he got beaten if his grades were below a B at school; He was also beaten if I didn’t clean the house after school. Tony told them that he was burned with a cigarette if he looked the wrong way at Joe. He told Nancy of the many nights that he went to bed without any dinner, because the meal wasn’t ready when Joe got home, or if the house wasn’t clean enough.

“What happened on the day that you saved our daughters from drowning?” asked Nancy.

“I knew that I would get in trouble for getting home from school late,” said Tony, “but when I got home, Joe was already up and he was furious. He asked me why my clothes were wet. I tried to explain, but he wouldn’t let me. He hit me across the face. He told me that I wasn’t going into the house with wet clothes. He demanded that I remove my clothes in the front yard. There were neighbor kids playing in their yards. I was embarrassed and I said no. Joe hit me again, but much harder. I quickly undressed, and he took my clothes inside the house. I tried to go into the house, but he told me that I couldn’t go into the house until I did my homework. Then he slammed and locked the door. Within ten minutes, a crowd of kids were staring at me, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I began banging on the door demanding that Joe let me in. The door opened up, and Joe pulled me into the house, by my arm. After he closed the door, he hit me several more times. Then, he threw me down the basement stairs and told me not to come back up until morning and to think about my attitude. When Joe passed out, I snuck back upstairs, got dressed, grabbed my knife and Joe’s gun and then climbed out my window. I ran as fast and as far as I could. I will never go back there, and if you make me, I will kill myself.”

“I promise you,” said Nancy, “you will never go back to that house.” Did Mrs. Montello ever hit you or abuse you?” she asked.

“She didn’t hit me too often,” said Tony. “Mostly, she would slap me in the face, and cuss at me, when she was mad, and then when Joe got home, he would beat me. A sudden look of terror crossed Tony’s face.

“What’s wrong?” asked Nancy.

“What if Joe and Diane take in other foster kids?” asked Tony. “They will be in danger too.”

“We won’t let that happen,” said Dr. Matthews.

“Can you guarantee that?” asked Tony. Both of them have connections.”

“We promise you that we won’t let that happen,” said Dan.

“That’s not good enough,” said Tony, “but I know something that might put them both in jail for a long time.”

“What do you know about them?” asked Dan

“Before I tell you,” said Tony, “You have to promise me that they will never know I told you, because if they find out, they will kill me.”

“I promise you that you will be safe,” said Dan, “now tell us what you know.”

“For as long as I have lived with them;” said Tony, “I often overheard Diane on the phone agreeing to lie on the state reports, so that parents could keep their children if they would agree to pay her money. I also saw her receive money several times over the years.”

“Joe was much worse,” said Tony. “One night, I overheard him tell Diane about getting a payoff from some drug dealers if he agreed to look the other way, and not arrest them.”

“Are you sure about that?” asked Dan.

“Yes,” said Tony. “One afternoon, I looked into their bedroom, and I saw Joe lift up the end of their bed and prop it up with a piece of wood. I saw him lift up a door on the floor and put some money in the hole in the floor. The next day, when he and Diane were both at work, I went into their bedroom. I lifted up the end of the bed and propped it up like Joe did. When I lifted up the door in the floor, I found a lot of cash, and bags of white powder, that I think were drugs. I started counting the money, but stopped after I reached two hundred thousand dollars.”

Dan asked Tony if he had mentioned it to any of his teachers or friends. Tony told Dan that he had told no one else.

Since Tony was getting tired, Dr. Matthews, Dan and Nancy got up to leave. Before she left, Nancy tried to give Tony a hug, but he just pushed her away. He wasn’t used to getting any affection from anybody, and didn’t know how to respond. He also didn’t want to get to close to anybody, because he believed that if he didn’t let anybody get close to him, that he wouldn’t get hurt again.

Dan called a friend who worked in narcotics, and told him what Tony had said about Joe. His friend told him that there were several officers who were suspected of taking bribes and kickbacks from dealers, and that Joe Montello was on the list. Joe’s captain was informed, of the new information and Joe was put under surveillance.

Meanwhile, Mr. Davis and Dr. Matthews contacted the director of DCFS, who began to investigate the cases that Diane had been involved with over the past several years.

That evening, Dan and Nancy came to a mutual decision and discussed it with their children, who all approved.

The next morning, Nancy and Dan visited Tony in the hospital. They asked him if he would like to live with them and their children. Tony had a blank look on his face. He was quiet for a moment and then replied, “No offence, Ma’am, but I just want to go to a group home. I’m done with foster families.”

“No, Tony,” said Nancy, we don’t want to be your foster parents, we want to adopt you. We want you to become a part of our family permanently.”

Tony was happy on the inside, but he tried not to show it on the outside. Each time he got his hopes about a new family, he just ended up getting hurt again. He agreed to go home with Dan and Nancy on a trial basis before he made any decision.

When Tony was released two days later, Dan and Nancy took him shopping for a complete new wardrobe, since he had only one set of clothes. Besides clothes and shoes, Tony got a new coat, boots, gloves and a suit. When Tony saw that the total was over one thousand dollars, he felt bad. Nobody had ever spent that much money on him before, and he didn’t think that he was worth it. He told Dan and Nancy that it was too much money, and that he didn’t deserve the clothes. Nancy told him that it was time for him to start living the life of a normal teenager.

After the purchases were loaded into the van, Dan, Nancy and Tony headed towards the Barnes residence. When they arrived, four children came out of the house. Tony recognized the three younger ones. Cindy and Brittany ran up to Tony, hugged him and thanked him for saving his life. Adam hugged him as well. The other boy walked up to Tony and introduced himself as Ryan. Tony stuck out his hand, but Ryan pushed it away. “A handshake just won’t do,” said Ryan. “You saved my little sisters. I can never thank you enough for that,” and then he hugged Tony. Ryan also insisted that Tony share his bedroom with him.

Tony felt uncomfortable in his new surroundings. It was a beautiful home with many nice things. Nancy suggested that Tony take a shower, and change into some of his new clothes. After taking a nice long hot shower, and changing into some new clothes, Tony felt a little better. He asked Nancy if he could get rid of his old clothes, the last ties to his former life. Nancy put the old clothes in the laundry and said that she would take them to Goodwill with the other clothes that she had ready to donate.

Tony insisted on helping Nancy to prepare dinner. He even set the table. Throughout the meal, Dan and Nancy were impressed with Tony’s impeccable table manners. When they complimented him, he told them that he wasn’t perfect in every way, he would be punished.

After dinner, Tony began to clear the table, like he always did, but Nancy told him that he didn’t have to. She told him to relax. Ryan took Tony into the family room and asked him if he wanted to play a videogame. Tony explained that he didn’t know how to play, because he had never been allowed to play them, or watch TV. Ryan showed Tony how to use the game controller and how to play the game. Within twenty minutes, Tony got the hang of the game and began to relax and have a good time. When he noticed Dan watching him from the doorway, he quickly stood up and began straightening the room.

“Sit down, Tony” said Dan. “It’s okay to have fun and relax.”

At ten o’clock, Nancy told Ryan and Tony to get ready for bed, since they had church the next morning. When she asked Toney what religion he was, she was met with a blank stare. ‘What church do you go to?” she asked.

“I’ve never been to church,” said Tony. Then, after a moment, he added, “The truth is, I don’t believe that God exists.”

Nancy tried not to look shocked as she asked Tony why he felt that way.

“If there is a God, why would he let me be hurt my entire life without trying to help me?” he asked.

“Why don’t you come to church with us tomorrow?” asked Nancy. “You can talk to Pastor Brian and maybe he can answer your questions.” Tony agreed to go to church, but just to talk with Pastor Brian.

The next morning, Tony attended church for the very first time. It was St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. After the service, while the others attended Sunday school, Pastor Brian sat down with Tony and attempted to answer his questions. At the end of the session, Tony agreed to meet with him each week, to learn more about God and the Lutheran faith.

On Monday, Tony started classes at his new school. Because he got punished for bad grades, he had become a very good student, and he found most of his new classes rather easy.

Tony had a hard time adjusting to his new home. His bed was always made, and the room that he shared with Ryan was always immaculate. Tony was constantly cleaning around the house and he helped with the meals as well. One afternoon, when he and Adam were in the kitchen, Adam dropped a glass and it shattered when it hit the floor. When Nancy went to check on the noise, Tony immediately confessed to dropping the glass and he offered to pay for it. Nancy told him that accidents happened and that it was okay. She told him that he wasn’t in trouble. It was just an accident.

Later that day, Adam told his mother the truth that he had broken the glass and that Tony was just covering for him. Later that evening, Nancy and Dan sat down with Tony. They asked him why he took the blame for the broken glass. Adam hesitated, and finally told them that he didn’t want to see Adam get punished. Nancy and Dan explained that they didn’t beat their children if they did something wrong. They discussed any problems and if punishments were indicated, they were constructive ones that would help their children to do better the next time. Nancy also told Tony that though she appreciated all of his help around the house, he didn’t have to do so many chores. She told him to relax and have some fun once in a while.

Nancy and Dan set up an appointment for Tony with a child psychologist, to help him learn to talk about his anger and pain. After the first appointment, Tony began looking forward to the sessions. He was able to express his feelings in private, and let go of his anger. Over time, his anger and insecurities began to fade. Tony also continued his sessions with Pastor Brian as well.

Tony began feeling like he was actually a part of the Barnes family. He and Ryan had become very good friends and he became a role model for Adam, Cindy and Brittany, who all adored him.

One Saturday afternoon, Dan took Tony to the park to kick a soccer ball around for a while. When they returned home, Tony was surprised with his very first birthday party. He had a great time. Dan and Nancy told him that the family had a tradition in the family that each child got to pick any restaurant for a special birthday dinner for just them, Dan and Nancy. Nancy asked Tony where he would like to go for his special dinner. At first, he picked McDonalds, because he didn’t want them to spend a lot of money on him, but Nancy told him to try again and not to worry about the cost. She told him to pick someplace he had never been to. He finally chose a Chinese restaurant that he had heard about from kids at school.

The next evening, Tony was dressed up in his suit. Nancy and Dan were dressed up as well. They went to the restaurant and had a great time. As they were finishing dessert, Nancy asked Tony what he wanted more than anything in the world for his birthday. Tony told her that there were two things he wanted. Nancy and Dan immediately agreed to both of them.

One week later, Tony and his new family were dressed up in their church clothes as they stood before a judge in the Family Court. Tony smiled as the judge decreed that “Anthony Robert Jackson will be known from this day forward as Anthony Daniel Barnes.” Tony had asked Dan if it was okay if he took his name as his new middle name. Tony looked up at Nancy and Dan and asked’ “Is it okay if I call you Mom and Dad now?”

“Of course,” said Nancy, “because we are the only parents you will have for the rest of your life.” Then, Dan handed Tony an envelope. When he opened it, he found a college fund with his name on it. Tony hugged his mom and dad and it felt good, because he could feel their love for him; something that he had never felt before in his first fourteen years of life.

After the Barnes family left the courthouse, they headed to St. Mark’s Church for the second birthday wish. Pastor Brian baptized Tony and the certificate had his new name on it. After the ceremony was over, Tony went up to the altar and thanked God for his new family and apologized for not believing in him before. Tony was happier than he had ever been before. He was finally part of a family who loved him and whom he loved.

Later that night, Dan told Tony that his former foster parents had been convicted of many crimes and would both be spending the rest of their lives in prison where they could never hurt Tony or anyone else again.

The End

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