Both Lance and Peter came into the mad room, both having their guns holstered. Aberly was tempted to take advantage of the situation and incapacitate them quickly, but he was also curious about what they had to say as they didn’t have Jarrel or the boys with them. So, he waited.
Peter spoke. “I think we’ve found a fair compromise. Lance and I were doing some thinking, and you’re right about the boys needing better care. We can’t contest that. However, I still feel that we are right in protecting ourselves. So here is the plan.”
Peter filled the group in on the plan in regards to the alteration to their story. “Floyd gave the boys to his brother when social services showed up five years ago but had no idea where Lloyd moved them off to as they’ve had no contact, which is the truth. At least as far as we know they haven’t. Then we say the boys simply showed up out of the blue without warning from the woods this morning and Doc treated them but realized that they need further medical care. That will also explain why Lance was out in the woods, looking for Lloyd and the cabin that the boys said they were in. Of course, we’ll play it out that he didn’t find it. Then we just need to fill the boys in on what they need to tell the authorities about their father giving their custody over to their uncle, rather than the kidnapping story. The rest can remain the same. Though I doubt Mike will admit to the authorities that he killed Lloyd. They won’t be complicit with the fire, because it literally had taken them days to get back to town, and even if it hadn’t been days the fire didn’t start until late afternoon and the boys were here with us at that time. So, there’s no way they could have set it. Likely they’ll think one of Lloyd’s victims killed him and escaped. So, the only thing we’ll be keeping from the authorities is the truth of the boys’ disappearance five years ago; that they were kidnapped. This way they get the help they need and we keep our asses out of the fire, and you three don’t end up locked up in Jarrel’s mad room. Agreed? Hank? Does that work for you?”
Hank sighed, but then nodded. “As long as we do the right thing for those boys, then okay. I still don’t like it. I still think the truth needs to be told or in the end, it’s going to bite us in the ass, let alone that it’s the right thing to do. But yes, I am willing to accept this compromise. It disturbs me, however, how far you two were willing to go in keeping this swept under the rug.”
Peter shrugged. “We panicked. We have a lot on the line here, Hank. Our careers, our freedom. You know darn well; Lance and I would both lose our jobs and likely serve prison time over this. I get that we made a grave mistake five years ago. I can see that clearly now, but what was done was done, and the important thing is that the boys are home safe with us now and that we’re going to get them the help they need. I understand that you’re uncomfortable with the lies, but if it comes down to the truth being revealed in the end, I will personally exonerate you of any complicity. I’ll tell the authorities that you were against the idea and that we locked you up at gunpoint. At that point, it won’t matter much in regards to our asses being in the fire anyway. You can simply say you were in fear of your life, and when offered this compromise you took it for the sake of the boys. That their welfare was your number one priority.”
Hank frowned. “I doubt that would fly in regards to keeping my own ass out of trouble, but as you said the important thing is the boys’ well-being. So, let’s just focus on that now. Go talk to Floyd to get your story straight and let’s get these boys to the City where they can be tended to by specialists.” Lance shook his head. “We’re going to bring them in the morning when they awaken. It’s not unreasonable that the Doc would keep them under his care through the night then transfer them after assessing their condition. I want to be able to speak to the boys in the morning so that they know what to tell the authorities before they’re questioned. Alright? They’ve been treated and are stable and resting…”
Hank continued to frown. “What about Luke’s leg. Eight, ten hours might make the difference between saving it and losing it, Lance.” He turned to the doctor for confirmation, who shrugged. “I cut out the dead flesh and cleaned the wound and sutured it. They’re on antibiotics and IV’s for fluids and nutrition. They’re stable. I don’t think a few more hours are going to make a difference in regards to his losing or keeping the leg, Hank. They’re either going to be able to save it or not at this point. It really just requires a specialist to assess the damage and situation as opposed to treatment.” Hank shrugged. “Alright. Morning then. Are we free to go tonight? Or are you keeping us locked up until morning?”
Peter spoke. “You’re free to go as long as you agree to the plan.” Hank glanced at Aberly and the Doc who both nodded and then after another deep sigh, he nodded top, before angrily shoving his way past the Sheriff and Judge. He didn’t like his integrity compromised as it was being, but for the moment he didn’t see an alternative, short of him being locked away in a basement for the rest of his life.