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So he stole some money — big deal. Maybe he's in a gang, maybe he isn't — the truth is nobody's business. And so what if he dabbles in drugs — he's 14, a grown man, and it's his life. Billy smacks face-first into a wall of reality and consequences when his thug-like behavior lands him on probation. Even worse, his momma tossed him out on the street. Now, the rep he fought so hard to build is all he has left. Well, that and a probation officer from the wrong side of the tracks. And the court thinks some guy named Mr. Bones is going to "fix" him? Billy has no intention of changing his ways, but Mr. Bones is determined to teach this lost boy integrity, respect, and a strong work ethic. But will he be able to change Billy's misshapen view of the world before he lands himself in more trouble? Only time will tell. Redirecting Billy is the second book in a series of clean, motivational novels about reclaiming America's troubled youth. Teenage boys and those interested in providing hope for juvenile delinquents bent on self-destruction will become enthralled with this Christian fiction series. Purchase Redirecting Billy today and challenge yourself to become a Worthy Battle warrior!
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locations, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover design by JR Thompson.
Discover more about Christian Author JR Thompson and his writings atwww.jrthompsonbooks.com
All scriptures quoted and referenced in this book are taken from the Authorized King James Bible.
Copyright 2018 JR Thompson
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior permission of the author.
I am dedicating this book to William Burpee, a faithful reader who continuously encourages me to keep writing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Other Books By This Author
From his slightly less-than-cozy seat on the courthouse steps, the reddened eyes of fourteen-year-old Billy Andrews glued themselves to passing traffic. His momma wasn’t playing when she ordered him out of the car. Still, he clutched a thread of hope. That woman loved him too much to leave him out on the streets, no matter what he had done.
“There she is,” Billy mumbled as a smaller, tan-colored vehicle slowed. He started to rise before realizing it wasn’t her. The hatchback had only reduced its speed to avoid plowing into a pedestrian.
With the sun beginning to set, Billy chewed his bottom lip. Where was he going to sleep? What would he have for dinner? She had to return; that’s all there was to it. Leaning back, the teenager rested his elbows on the concrete step behind him. He wished he could cry but perfecting the art of emotional control for so many years had locked his tear ducts.
“Billy!” a man called from a nearby alley.
Recognizing the voice, the distraught teenager turned to see his probation officer motioning for him. Nervously, he descended the steps and met Mr. Bones on the sidewalk. “What you want, Mr. B? My momma send you here?”
“Your mother told me everything, Billy.”
Billy put his hands in his pockets, “No surprise there. So, what now? You takin’ me back to the crib?”
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like that’s an option.”
“Momma’s serious?” Lifting his right foot, Billy stomped the sidewalk beneath him. “She ain’t gonna let me come home?”
“Not right now, Billy. She’s pretty upset.”
“Fine then. She can be that way all she want to. So, where you shipping me off too? The runaway shelter or some group home?”
“Neither, Billy... You’re coming to my place.”
The young cupped his hand around his ear and tilted his head toward his probation officer, “Come again, Mr. B.”
“I’m bringing you home with me… And it’s Mr. Bones.”
“That’s cool,” Billy said. “I can dig it.” Billy convinced himself it was probably some kind of a game his momma was playing. Somehow, she had gotten Mr. Bones to go along with her. It was okay. He’d rather be with his probation officer than chillin’ on those steps any day.
He followed Mr. Bones to the car. Inside, he received a firm lecture, “You and I have not yet had the opportunity to become well acquainted; I realize that. But that’s going to change right now.”
“What you mean?” Billy asked as the man started his car.
Pulling out, Mr. Bones replied, “To start with, we’re going to go over some ground rules. There will be no profanity, alcohol, tobacco, drugs—”
“Weed ain’t no problem, is it?”
“Billy, there you go with those double negatives again.”
“What are these stupid double and triple negatives you keep griping about, Bones?”
“I’ll give you a grammar lesson later. For now, let’s stick to the guidelines you’re going to adhere to. Yes, weed is a problem. You are not to smoke marijuana or—”
“You just talkin’ ‘bout in your crib or you meaning at school too?”
“Understood… What else you got?”
“You will keep your pants on your waist, not around your knees.”
That was taking things too far. “You can’t expect me to change my style! This is who I am!”
Speaking in a forcedly calm voice, Mr. Bones said, “I expect you to comply with the rules. If you don’t, you will be subjected to stiff consequences.”
“What you gonna do if you catch me sagging?”
“I’m not getting into disciplinary actions right now; you should be ashamed of yourself for even asking about them. You just focus on doing what you’re told.”
Billy shook his head and gazed out the window. He did not like that man. Mr. Bones was a bully. Gonna sit there and give him a bunch of stupid rules. Try to force him to change his whole personality. Not willing to provide any explanations. Not going to tell him what kind of consequences to expect. There wasn’t any excuse in that. None.
Mr. Bones continued, “You’re to report to my office immediately after school every day.”
Billy gave his probation officer an intense, penetrating stare. His nostrils flared as he said, “What?... Why?”
Echoing the words his own mother had bored into him when he was younger, the probation officer answered, “Because I said so. That’s why.”
As they stopped at a red-light, Billy reached for the radio. He swiftly drew his hand back upon receiving a death stare. Mr. Bones had control issues. Like it was gonna kill him if somebody turned on some music. It was too soon to make waves. Billy changed the subject, “How long we gonna be roomies, Mr. Bones?”
The light changed. Taking his foot off the brake, his probation officer replied, “Until we can convince your mother it’s a good idea for you to return home.”
Shaking his head, Billy retorted, “Like that’s ever gonna happen!”
Mr. Bones ignored his remark and pulled into the parking lot of Clover Street Baptist Church just in time to see Ms. Moles wheeling across the pavement.
Billy stared at the elderly woman’s wheelchair, glanced at the steeple, and took in the crowded parking lot, “I thought you was takin’ me to your crib?”
“We’ll be heading that direction after church.”
“Church?” Billy wasn’t having it. He didn’t know what his momma was up to, but he wasn’t about to become one of those soft, weak, Christians. “I ain’t exactly the religious type, Mr. Bones... I’ll wait in the car.”
“Wrong! You will get out, pull those jeans up, tuck your shirt in, and accompany me inside.”
What was that man’s deal? Billy thought his momma knew how to nag. Mr. Bones was grating on his last nerve. “You be trippin’, man!”
“Hurry up, Billy! Church is about to start, and I don’t want to be late.”
“I ain’t had no dinner yet, sir… I’m hungry.”
“I haven’t eaten either.”
Billy rubbed his stomach. In a whiny voice, he said, “Can’t we just skip church tonight and get some take-out then?”
“Get out, Billy!”
With a sour expression on his face, Billy complied. Not only did he get out of the car, but he pulled his britches up and crammed the bottom of his polo into the waistband. “Let me guess; this is an all-white church, right? I’m gonna stick out like a hair in scrambled eggs!”
“Actually, Clover Baptist is extremely diverse. You’ll fit right in.”
“Me? I ain’t gonna fit in at no church. No way. No how.”
The probation officer chuckled, “Maybe not, but we’re going in anyway.”
Philip couldn’t believe Billy would stoop so low the very first time he took the boy to church. Yes, he could have done worse. But did he have to open that fat mouth of his?
Billy reclined his end of the sofa. “What you keep crying ‘bout this for?... Let it go already!”
“I can’t do that, Billy. You need to understand that it’s wrong to lie,” Mr. Bones replied firmly.
“How you gonna look a brother in the eye and call him a liar?”
Pulling off his left loafer, Mr. Bones let it drop to the floor. “When you tell a bunch of teenagers you’re in a gang even though you know good and well you aren’t… that makes you a liar.”
“Who died and made you judge? You don’t know me! You ain’t know nothin’ about me! Ain’t got no proof—”
“Okay then, gang-banga, why don’t you convince me you’re in a gang?” The probation officer kicked his other shoe on the floor. “What’s the name of this gang you’re affiliated with?”
Billy’s face turned stone-cold as he said, “The Black Disciples.”
Mr. Bones should have guessed. It never failed; every time one of his clients tried to convince him they were in a gang, it was always either The Black Disciples, The Bloods, or The Crypts. Working with real gang members on a regular basis made it quite simple to pick out the counterfeits. “Really?” he asked sarcastically. “And how long have you been living the gang life?”
Sipping his iced tea, Billy raised his eyebrows, “Since I was ten... What you gettin’ all up in my business for?”
“Just trying to get the full picture, man. So how did you get inducted?”
“It’s called an initiation,” Billy scoffed. “They gave me a beat-down.”
“Do me a favor and define beat-down for me.”
Billy sat up straight, and a smirk appeared on his face. “You don’t know nothing about gangs, do you, Mr. Bones?”
The probation officer was tiring of the teenager’s cocky attitude. “Apparently I know more about gangs than you know about the English language.”
“Oh, you feelin’ another roast war? You so—”
“No, Billy. Let’s not go there.”
“You too afraid of losin’?”
Mr. Bones hadn’t meant to exchange insults with the kid before. He wasn’t about to get dragged into it again. His feelings for juveniles were difficult to explain. The rougher his clients were around the edges, the more he liked them. At the same time, there were a few who seemed to be experts at elevating his blood pressure — the young man sitting next to him was one such expert. “Just answer my question. Tell me about this beat-down you received.”
Lowering his chin, Billy shook his head. He pulled his right foot atop his left knee, started to speak, but closed his mouth before anything came out. He sucked in a deep breath and then exhaled it loudly. Clearly miffed, he finally said, “I’m trying to be respectful here. Mr. Bones, I know you find certain words offensive… I can’t rightly explain myself with these tight restrictions on my vocabulary.”
Philip smirked. Buried somewhere beneath that tough exterior, Billy was a people-pleaser. It might take a while to excavate that part of his personality, but he was sure it existed. “I appreciate that,” he said. “What did they do to you?”
Billy heavily dropped his foot back to the floor, “They beat me up. What you think they did?”
Philip gave him a once-over. The boy didn’t have a single scar on his face. He was big-boned, but certainly not muscular. The hatred smeared across Billy’s face was far from genuine. His story was becoming less believable by the second. “They beat you up when you were a ten-year-old little boy?” Mr. Bones asked.
“Yeah, man. Age don’t mean nothing in the brotherhood. That’s how they see if a guy has what it takes.”
“Uh-huh,” Mr. Bones said.
With the wildness returning to his eyes, Billy leaned forward. “You still don’t believe me, do you?”
“No, Billy, I don’t.”
“We can talk about it another time, man. You’ve had a long day, and it’s already going on 8:00.”
“You still need to get your shower, get those clothes washed, and get in bed by 10:30. “
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Billy kicked the footrest down and jumped up out of his seat. “You don’t honestly expect me to go to bed at 10:30? I ain’t in kindergarten no more, man.”
“I’m not in kindergarten anymore,” Mr. Bones corrected him. “And have a seat.”
“What? You think you’re so high and mighty that you have the right to tell me when to stand and when to sit? You be trippin’, Mr. B. I ain’t no dog!”
“It’s Mr. Bones and yes, sir. I did tell you to sit down, and you better do it right now!”
“Who you orderin’ around like that?”
Mr. Bones lunged to his feet and charged toward the thug-wannabe. He didn’t know what he was going to do if Billy challenged him but there was no way he was going to put up with any more of that lip. Somewhere along the line, Billy had gotten the impression that authority meant nothing. That was about to change — one way or another.
Fortunately, Billy was smart enough to sit down before his probation officer had to make a split-second decision regarding how far to take matters. “Look, man. I ain’t mean to start no trouble. I can go to bed at 10:30; that’s fine… but what’s up with this whole laundry bit?”
“You’re not going to school wearing dirty clothes tomorrow, Billy.”
“I don’t plan on it. Take me by my crib so I can get my stuff.”
“Not gonna happen.”
“Your decisions are what got you thrown out. You made your bed; it’s time to lie in it.”
“You trippin’ if you think I’m gonna wear the same thing every day!”
Mr. Bones nodded with a mischievous smile. He had no intentions of allowing Billy to become a long-term house guest. Too comfortable of a nest might make the young man never want to leave. One way or another, he was going to inspire the fourteen-year-old to right his wrongs.
“That ain’t okay, Mr. Bones! You got to get my stuff. I ain’t about to be ruinin’ my reputation over this.”
“A gang member concerned about being in style? Impressive… You iron your t-shirts too, big boy?”
“Whatever, dude! So, how you expectin’ me to clean my clothes? I ain’t got nothin’ to put on while they’re in the wash.”
Mr. Bones smirked. Billy might not have known it yet, but he had it made at home. Those luxuries were gone.
“Come on, man! This ain’t funny!”
“Neither is what you did back at your place.”
“What went on in my crib ain’t none of your business.”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, it is, Billy.”
The teenager’s eyes widened again, and his nostrils began to flare. “It was mine! It wasn’t none of Momma’s business what I did with it!”
“Then why did you call my cell afterward, saying you messed up and were scaring yourself?”
Billy shrugged his shoulders.
“What’s that mean, Billy?
The fourteen-year-old slumped down on the sofa. “I wasn’t thinking right when I called you. It was just a stupid mistake.”
“Right, Billy… You keep telling yourself that. You know you were in your right mind when you phoned me. Right now is a different story altogether. You’re just rattling off a bunch of nonsense.”
“Excuse me? I ain’t the one blowin’ smoke out both sides of my mouth. You the one—"
“We’re not going to fight all night, Billy. We have plenty of time to discuss things. But right now, you’re going to—”
“Who says you get to decide when a conversation’s over?”
“I do,” Mr. Bones growled. “It’s time to wash those clothes.”
“Nah, man,” Billy said, with his voice suddenly taking on a higher pitch. “I ain’t feelin’ it.”
“Suit yourself, kid. Until you follow orders, I won’t be fixing you any more meals. You’ll have to fend for yourself.”
“You think that’s gonna bother me?”
The probation officer laughed, “And you’ll get nothing but water to drink. Don’t even think about using my ice.”
Billy chewed on his bottom lip.
“And your bedtime is dropping to 9:30.”
“Man, I ain’t gotta put up with this! I don’t got to live here!”
“You’ll do as you’re told, or you’ll pay the price, Billy.”
Billy stared at the floor for a moment before mumbling something under his breath.
“What was that?” Mr. Bones asked.
“I said… I’ll do my stinkin’ laundry.”
“Good choice,” Mr. Bones replied. “There are some towels in the restroom. You can throw one around your waist while your clothes are in the machine.”
“You don’t have anything I can wear? Some sweats or something would work.”
“I’m not going to make any bones about this, Billy. You got yourself into this predicament, and I’m not going to make things easy for you.”
“Fine. Whatever,” the teen grumbled.
Scattered papers and mounds of folders on Philip’s desk served as evidence that it had been a hectic Monday — three court hearings, a new client intake, four check-ins, a petition to revoke a client’s probation, and too many phone calls to count. Glancing at his watch, he wondered if Billy was going to show up after school.
Just as the thought crossed his mind, he heard footsteps coming down the hall. Cassie marched in without bothering to knock. “Good afternoon, Philip,” she said in a very business-like manner.
Philip’s face turned a slight shade of red. He secretly hoped she had decided to give him another chance. “Good afternoon to you,” he said while attempting to look deep into her soul. Sometimes Cassie could be a hard person to read.
“How are things going with Alden?” she asked.
Philip smirked. This conversation was starting off a lot better than the ones where she was on one side of a closed door, and he was on the other. Perhaps she had finally come to her senses. “He’s a work in progress. I’m just thankful I have the—”
Cassie cleared her throat, “I wasn’t looking for a long explanation. I was simply being polite,” she sneered before whipping a necklace out of her purse and tossing it on his desk. “I just came by to return this.”
“I bought that for you, Cassie. It’s not mine anymore.”
“I don’t want the cheap thing!”
Philip stood to his feet, “Cheap? I paid over $300 for that necklace!”
“Whoever sold it to you saw you coming,” Cassie laughed. “Oh, well. I don’t feel right holding onto it — especially now that I’m seeing Nathan.”
Philip shook his head. “I’m sorry... What was that?”
“You heard me, Philip! I’m seeing a man who worships the ground I walk on. He doesn’t keep me hidden in the shadows. He doesn’t consider me the least of his priorities. He values our relationship.”
The office phone rang. “Hold on just a second, Cassie.”
“No problem,” she said. “I’m used to hanging out on the back burner.”
It was obvious Cassie hadn’t reconsidered. She was still far too immature to understand the call on Philip’s life. He only wished there was a way he could get her to open her eyes. Jealousy was an ugly thing. The girl wanted one-hundred percent of his undivided attention; that was too much to expect of anyone.
“Philip Bones speaking...,” He should have checked the caller id. Of all people to call, why did it have to be him? “Hi Alden, I was just talking about you, man… Of course, I was saying good things. I’m proud of you, bud… Unfortunately, I can’t swing by today… I have… uh…,” Philip looked up at Cassie for a moment, “I have another obligation… Is everything okay?... Alright, bud. In that case, I’ll give you a call later tonight. Will that work?... Alright. Talk to you later.” Philip hung up. “Sorry about that, Cassie… So, you’re seeing someone else? It’s a little soon. Don’t you think?”
“I believe that’s for me to decide. But apparently, I’m not the only one seeing someone else.”
Philip shook his head. “I’m still single, Cassie. To be honest, I’ve been hoping we could get back together.”
His former girlfriend took a seat. “Do you really expect me to believe that, Philip? I just heard you tell Alden you couldn’t swing by his place tonight due to another commitment. Do you doubt my intelligence? You’re crazy about that kid. There’s no way you would blow him off unless you have a hot date.”
“What’s funny?” Cassie asked.
Philip shook his head while continuing to smile.
“Cassie… I’m not seeing anyone else. I can assure you of that.”
“Really? I’d love to hear about an obligation that’s more important than your thirteen-year-old heathen.”
Philip sat back down. He knew he didn’t owe Cassie an explanation. They may have worked in the same building, but he had his clients, and she had hers. At the same time, if there was to be even the remotest possibility of a rekindled flame, he was going to have to communicate. “One of my clients got himself thrown out of his house,” he said.
“Oh… I’m sorry to hear that. What do you have to do? Give him a ride to a shelter?”
“He’s staying with me for a while.”
“You’re allowing a client to move in with you? Are you nuts?”
“Cassie, we’ve been through all of this before.”
“Yes, we have. And I still don’t understand your way of thinking. You’re asking for a lawsuit. You can’t let juvenile delinquents stay at your place. That’s a conflict of interest if nothing else.”
Philip smiled, “This decision is not up for debate. God has called me to help these young men any way that I can, and that’s what I plan to do.”
Cassie stood. Raising her voice, she said, “Well, I have to thank you, Philip, for confirming that I made the right choice! The whole time we were dating, your mentoring took first place to our relationship. Now that this new client becomes a part of your life… you’re willing to push Alden away for him. I’ll never understand you!” Cassie spun around and bolted out the door.
Philip followed behind her. “Cassie, wait!... Please... Can we talk about this?”
At the end of the hall, Philip was stunned to see Billy sitting in the waiting room and even more so to see the teen grin and flirtatiously wink at Cassie as she stormed past him.
“Be right back,” Philip said, following her into the hall. “Cassie!... Can we be adults about this?”
“Looks like you have someone waiting! Better tend to him!”
Giving up, Philip turned and walked back to the lobby. “Somebody got burned,” Billy said. “Can’t believe you let your women talk to you like that, Mr. B.”
Mr. Bones was ready to explode. It took concentrated effort not to snap. Those foolish words came from a kid who didn’t know better. Mr. Bones only had to remind himself of that about a dozen times a day. “It’s Mr. Bones, Billy.”
“Right. That’s what I said.”
“Billy!” Mr. Bones nearly shouted.
“That’s more like it.” Mr. Bones tried to regain his composure. “How was school?”
“How would I know? I’ve been hanging out at the mall all day.”
Mr. Bones was boiling. How was he supposed to stay cool, calm, and collected when the client he was bending over backward to help was making a mockery of the whole situation? “To my office, now!... And get those jeans up!”
Once they were both in the office, Mr. Bones slammed his door and stood nose to nose with Billy. “You violated your probation and the rules of my house. You cannot, under any circumstances, cut class. That is completely out of line!”
“What I want to know is why, Billy. I drove you to school. I dropped you off at the front door. How hard would it have been just to go inside?”
“Nobody said it was hard, sir.”
Oh, that boy! He had better count his lucky stars that he was a client and not the man’s son. Mr. Bones had to stay within semi-professional boundaries, no matter what was going through his mind. “So, you didn’t even go to one class?”
“No, sir… I went to all of them.”
“Why would you… wait!... You what?”
“I went to all of them. I was just pulling your leg, Mr. Bones… You should learn to control that temper.”
The probation officer shook his head. “Have a seat, Billy.”
Mr. Bones walked around to the other side of his desk, sat down, and stared intently at Billy for a second. As angry as he had been, he couldn’t stay that way for long. Grinning, he said, “You got me, kid.”
“Thanks, Mr. B… I mean, Mr. Bones.”
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