Chapter 23. The Houseguests

Within ten minutes there were three big uniformed men in Abbey’s bedroom—two paramedics and a police officer.  After the head paramedic revived her, they monitored her vitals, and started to ask her questions.  They asked her what day it was, what year it was, who the President is, and who Audrey was, which was the only question that Abbey answered correctly. 

They looked around Abbey’s bedroom and saw the empty “water” bottles, and determined in short order that they had been used for alcoholic beverages.  

The paramedics engaged Audrey and Andy in conversation about what had happened, their age, and the school they attended before telling them that they would take their mother to the hospital under a Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150 hold for observation and treatment.  They told them that she would probably be held for 48 to 72 hours.  

A police officer, whose nametag said “Rodriguez,” asked them if there was a friend or relative who they could call to stay with.  The officer was obligated to try to locate a family friend or family member to stay with the minor children before removing them from the home and processing them into the formal foster care system.

Audrey responded that there was someone that they could call and said she would make the call. She and Andy walked out of Abbey’s bedroom together.  

When they were out of earshot of the officer, Andy said, “Who can we call?  Nana lives in Moreno Valley and is too sick to come here now.  I don’t want to go to a foster home, and they’ll probably split us up, and we wouldn’t even be able to go to our own school.”

He walked around the kitchen with his head down and fists clenched. “This sucks!” he yelled angrily. “What about our game with SaMo on Monday?”

Audrey said calmly, “Keep your voice down Andy. I’ll call Cathy. She will come over, I’m sure.” 

But Cathy was in Las Vegas for a few days and couldn’t come. 

“What do we do now?”

“I have an idea.” Audrey pulled her cell phone from her pocket and found the number in her contacts.


“Gee whiz! ! Who can be calling at this hour?” Liz asked, looking at the clock. It was after 11 pm, and she had been asleep for an hour. 

“Hi, Mrs. Martin. It’s Audrey.  I’m so sorry if I woke you up, but we didn’t know who else to call.  When I got home tonight, we realized that my mom was sick, and we called 911. The paramedics are saying that they need to take her to the hospital, and they can’t leave us here by ourselves.” 

Brian opened his hands as if to say, who is it? Liz covered the receiver and whispered, “Audrey. Her mom has to be taken to the hospital.”

“I mean, we would be fine on our own, but they’re talking about putting us into foster care.  Can we stay with you for a few days?  She’ll only be gone two or three days.” 

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom.  I hope she’ll be alright.  Of course, you can stay with us.  Brian will come and get you two. He’ll be there in a few minutes.  Just pack what you need, and if you have a house alarm, be sure to put it on before you leave. You can sleep in Anna’s room, and we’ll put Andy up in Liam’s room.”

She added, “You can go to church with us in the morning.”

“Thank you so much, Mrs. O’Connell. We’ll be ready for Mr. O’Connell.”

After Brian left to pick up the Martin twins, Liz went to the linen closet for towels, sheets, pillows, and blankets to make up the trundle bed in Anna’s room and the futon in Liam’s room, and to tell them that Audrey and Andy would be staying with them for a few days.  


The paramedic’s truck was parked in front of the Martin house with its lights flashing when Brian arrived.  Abbey was on a gurney in the middle of the street being lifted into the truck.  Brian spoke briefly to the paramedics and told them that he was a family friend, that he and his wife have four children at home, and that they would be happy to care for Audrey and Andy while their mother was away.   

Officer Rodriguez walked over to his patrol car and came back with a clipboard with a form attached to it. He started asking Brian questions.  Brian answered the questions, gave them his business card, showed them his driver’s license, and his state bar card. 

“What kind of a lawyer are you?” the officer asked. 

“I do insurance defense work, mostly.”

Brian replied.

The officer said that he would call it in and let him know if he was approved to take the kids.  Brian assumed that they would be doing a criminal record check on him before releasing the kids into his temporary custody.   

Officer Rodriguez told Brian that it was a 5150 hold, which Brian knew involved psychiatric problems with or without the involvement of alcohol or drugs.  Poor kids. 

Audrey and Andy were in the foyer ready to go. They each had packed a small duffel with clothes and personal items, and were wearing their back packs.  He spoke to the kids briefly to make sure that they had their keys and everything they needed.

When they arrived home, Liz got them settled in Anna’s and Liam’s rooms and went back to bed. Brian had mentioned the 5150 hold to Liz, who decided to wait for the twins to tell them anything else in their own good time.