When Truth Comes Knocking Chapter 21
Home of Derek Morgan – Next Morning-
“Come on Handsome, if we don’t leave now we’re going to be late.”
It had been another sleepless night for both of them. Derek had once again been plagued by nightmares and she’d spent the night helping him wrestle demons to no avail. Yesterday’s phone call had sent him spiraling into a quiet distracted place and he’d walked through the rest of the day on autopilot. She was glad that she’d come back to talk it out with him instead of going to the spa. When she found him in the garage he seemed a million miles away.
“I know I don’t deserve to ask, but please don’t give up on me.”
The desperation in his voice still resonated in her ears. She’d never heard it before and she’d never seen the dark far away look in his eyes before either. Of course she wouldn’t give up on him, she loved him too much to ever consider that. Today would be a test of that resolve and promise to him.
Morgan buttoned the last two buttons of his shirt and grabbed his wallet and phone sliding them both in his pockets. He didn’t want to go but he had no choice. He had no idea who was behind this inquiry or who outside of his team knew the details of his life. He felt panicked as he reached the front of the house where Penelope waited patiently for him.
Federal Building- FBI Headquarters – 1 hour later –
“Listen to me, it’s going to be okay. Whatever happens we’ll get through this, okay?’
He shook his head and tightened his grip on her hand as they headed down the hallway toward room 1106. He’d been in this room before. It was the place where the team had been questioned after Ian Doyle’s death. His stomach was in knots and the air seemed heavier, thicker suddenly. This was his day of reckoning and if he didn’t know better he swore he could hear bells chiming in the distance. Maybe it was just his sanity finally slipping away. If that were true he prayed that somehow beyond sanity he would find peace.
Derek and Penelope turned to face a small-framed woman dressed in a standard bureau business suit.
“I’m Agent Arthur and I’ll be serving as the clerk for today’s proceedings.”
“Okay? Can you tell me what this is all about?”
“We’ll be starting in about ten minutes. I’m sure all of your questions will be answered at that time.”
“If you would both wait here, I’ll come and get you shortly.”
Without waiting for further response Agent Arthur turned on her heels and headed down the hallway. The two watched as the woman disappeared through another doorway. Derek began to pace nervously with his hands shoved in his pocket. He had no idea what awaited him inside the room.
A few minutes later the door opened and Agent Arthur appeared and ushered them inside. The room was empty and chilly. Like several years ago, there was a long panel of chairs on an elevated platform with nameplates mounted on the front and facing on the floor level was a long table with several chairs lined up side by side. Then there was a typical courtroom galley behind swinging doors.
“Agent Morgan, you can take a seat here at the table and Ms. Garcia if you just take a seat her in the galley I’ll go get the others.”
Agent Arthur pointed to the seats and left the room. Morgan glanced back at Penelope who was seated in the first row directly behind him.
“It’s going to be okay, Handsome. I’m here, right here.”
Morgan shook his head and turned to face the empty panel just as three women and two men entered and took the seats in the panel. Agent Arthur followed taking a seat at a small desk nearby.
“Shall we begin?”
The woman’s nameplate read, “Dr. Amira Alves.” The others nodded agreement.
“Good morning Agent Morgan…”
“I’m sure you are wondering why you’ve been called here today.”
“Yes, Ma’am I am.”
“Please rest assured that it is not a legal proceeding in the traditional sense but some information has come to our attention here at the bureau that we need to address.”
“On your initial application with the FBI many years ago, you did not indicate that you have a criminal record.”
“You are aware that any false statements or omissions could result in your dismissal, agent.”
“Yes, but my record was expunged…it no longer existed when I applied to the FBI.”
“Agent Morgan, these charges were…are very serious.”
“My record…doesn’t exist!”
“Agent Morgan do you know Carl Buford?”
The white-haired man, Russell Beard looked familiar to Derek. He was on the last panel during the Ian Doyle investigation. He’d been very quiet and seemed the least hostile toward the team.
“Yes Sir, I do.”
“He was killed in our last case. We discovered that he’d been molesting young boys under his care at the community center in Chicago.”
“A community center that you frequented as a young boy, is that correct?”
Derek felt the temperature begin to rise in the room as he fidgeted slightly in his chair.
“Yes, that’s correct.”
A red-headed older woman leaned into her microphone to speak next.
“Agent, were you a victim of Carl Buford?”
“What does that have to do with…?”
“Please just answer the question. Carl Buford left a legacy of abuse and even death. We want to know if you had anything to do with it.”
“If I had anything to do with it? Are you serious?”
Derek felt Penelope’s hand on his shoulder as she leaned over the rail to remind him that he was not alone. Her heart broke for him as he sat enduring the pain of his childhood secrets in front of strangers.
“We’re not accusing you, Agent…”
“But it sounds like you may be accusing yourself, Agent.”
It was the first time the youngest of the panelist had spoken. His nameplate read, “Jamal Henson, MD.” He was also the only African American on the panel.
“What?” Derek responded breathlessly.
“I said, it sounds like you may be accusing yourself.”
“Accusing myself…of what?”
“Of what happened after you…after you left Chicago and went on with your life.”
“Look, man you don’t know me!”
“I think I do. You chose law enforcement especially the BAU to make up for your past…”
“Just stop. I don’t understand what this has to do with why we’re here today.”
“There were at least thirteen other victims after you left for college.” The redhead added.
“What are you saying?”
“What do you think I’m saying, agent?”
“I thought I was the only one…he told me I was his favorite…”
“That’s what he told the others too.” Jamal interrupted.
Morgan felt the sweat on his forehead. He felt nauseated and he wanted to run but the weight of his body seemed to be too heavy to move. He watched as suddenly, Jamal stood and descended the three steps and approached the table where Derek sat. The looming figure of the man slightly leaning over the table caused Derek to lean back to create some space between them.
“That’s what he told me!”
“Yeah. After you left for college, Carl turned his eye to me. He said I was going to be his next star…he was going to make me even better than the great Derek Morgan.”
“I’m so sorry, man…I-I didn’t know…I-I-…”
“He took me to his cabin…that’s when it really started…that’s when he…”
Jamal stood straight closing his eyes to gather himself and to shake the memory of his time with Carl. Derek watched the man who seemed a few years younger than he was. He was distinguished looking and according to his title he was successful too.
“I got out of the neighborhood thanks to Carl but it came with a price. I kept my mouth shut…he was helping me…yeah, I thought I had to keep my mouth shut all the while my life was hell…he did things to me, Agent…just like he did to you!”
Derek dropped his head shielding his face with his hands as he wept. The mask that had been erected by his pride was no longer able to hide his shame and humiliation. He owed this man…Jamal more than an apology…he owed him his life.
Then he felt a heavier hand on his shoulder replacing the smaller lighter one that eased away. The room was silent except for his sobs that bounced off the walls echoing his agony and his truth.
“I’m sorry…it’s my fault…I’m so sorry…”
“It’s not your fault, Derek. Just like I wasn’t the first, you weren’t the first. None of us is to blame for the other’s abuse, do you hear me Derek?”
“I was so scared…everybody loved Carl…no one would have believed me…he said he’d hurt me and my family…and…”
“…And you’d go to jail, right?”
Derek looked up, his face wet with tears. He was surprised that Jamal was crying too.
“Yeah, Gordinski suggested I go see Carl after I got into trouble. Me and my friend accidentally broke Old man Winter’s window…he called the police and we got arrested.” Jamal continued.
Their stories were so familiar. Gordinski and Buford had made a life of preying on the poor boys of his neighborhood. Derek was just one of many who’d had too much time on their hands being raised by single mothers who had no choice but to leave their children on their own and pray that they’d be okay when they returned from work each night.
“Did you tell?” Derek asked.
Jamal looked down at the distraught man.
“Not until now.”