A Tale of ‘Demon’ Rights: Part Three: Continuing the Crusade

Chapter Four

The next morning after breakfast they took off for Washington. Broom made sure that Hellboy had enough room in the crate and had good ventilation. He gave him food and water and a collection of his favorite comics along with pillows, blankets, and a flashlight.

He thought his heart would break when men came aboard, closed the crate, and securely stowed it along with the suitcases in the rear of the aircraft.

The trip was a long one. They flew a circuitous route in order to refuel at several secret military bases before they finally arrived at another secret base in Virginia.

Paul was waiting with a truck when they arrived. Hellboy, who had fallen asleep in the crate curled up with the blankets and pillows, woke up as they landed. Four men carried the crate and suitcases out and placed them in the back of the truck.

Paul inquired how the trip had been. “It was a difficult trip,” Broom replied, “Especially for my son. I want to go in the back of the truck and check on him before we leave.”

When Broom was finished he got in the front where Paul was already behind the wheel and they drove away.

After about two hours they arrived at the place near Washington where Paul had found housing for them that was very private. Several secret service men were there when they arrived and they carried the crate into one of the bedrooms and then left. It was a government-owned house with two bedrooms, two baths, a living room, and a small kitchen.

Paul and Broom then got Hellboy out of the crate and Broom put him to sleep in one of the bedrooms. Hellboy was exhausted and fell asleep almost immediately. Paul informed Broom that President Truman was coming to their place of residence at 11:00am the next morning to meet with them. Broom was so fatigued from the journey that he went to bed in the room he was sharing with Hellboy without unpacking.

The next morning when Broom woke up he found his suitcases unpacked, his good suit pressed, and he could smell that breakfast was being prepared. Broom put on his bathrobe and went out into the kitchen. He usually didn’t eat bacon and eggs, but this morning the smell was enticing. He had eaten very little the day before and was really hungry.

“Good morning, Paul,” Broom said as he walked into the kitchen, “You should have called me rather than preparing all this yourself.”

“You were so tired that I didn’t want to wake you until it was necessary,” Paul said as he set down another stack of pancakes in front of Hellboy who had woken earlier and was already eating.

“Hellboy helped me a lot by bathing and dressing himself when he got up.” Paul then set the rest of the food on the table. Broom sat down and started in on the bacon, eggs, and toast.

Paul brought a pot of coffee over to the table and sat down to eat with them. He apologized to Broom for forgetting to get him tea, but this morning Broom was perfectly willing to drink the coffee. It smelled wonderful. Sometimes good coffee could be better than mediocre tea.

Since Broom seldom served coffee, Hellboy never had a chance to see it much. He was enticed by the aroma and Broom let him have a small cup of it. Hellboy found that he loved it and preferred it black. From that day on he insisted that coffee be served at breakfast.

While he was eating Broom found out from Paul that he had around two hours before his meeting with the president. This gave him plenty of time to get ready and to make sure that Hellboy looked his best.

Broom wanted to be as sure as possible that he wasn’t too nervous about this meeting. He assumed that an appearance of calm determination would get him further with President Truman than appearing overly anxious. So he took a long, leisurely bath in very hot water. He always found this relaxing.

President Truman arrived a little early for the appointment. Broom and Hellboy were waiting for him in the living room. It was hard for the president not to notice Hellboy right away, but he decided that the best thing was to speak with Broom first. So Broom sat Hellboy in a chair and he and the president sat in armchairs on the other side of the room.

Trevor Broom and President Truman discussed all of the implications of the situation. Broom explained exactly how he felt about the drastic tests that some on the congressional committee wished to see performed on Hellboy.

“Few on the committee,” Broom said in conclusion, “Have had a chance to meet with him or have taken the opportunity to do so when it was offered them. Some wouldn’t change their minds even if I could show that he was an angel from heaven. He has proven an open and affectionate child to those of us who know him well. There are those on the committee who have accused me of not dealing with him with proper scientific objectivity. I will admit to this accusation. I consider him as if he were my own son, not a rat in a maze.”

While he had been speaking he could see the president glancing over every so often at the topic of their conversation. Hellboy was sitting quietly in his chair reading the comic book that he had been reading before the president arrived.

“What I would like at this point,” said the president, “is to speak with Hellboy himself.”

Broom stood up. “Let me bring his chair over so he can sit with us.” Hellboy stopped him.

“No, Father, let me do it. I wouldn’t want you to hurt your hand again.”

President Truman, who had not noticed the small bandage on Broom’s left hand before this, was affected by the apparent concern that Hellboy showed for the man he called ‘Father’.

Broom had been too busy recently to notice certain changes in Hellboy. As he watched Hellboy carrying the chair, he realized that his son was significantly larger than he had been even just a few weeks earlier. Broom doubted that he could now pick Hellboy up and carry him as he had done on the evening of his fifth birthday.

Hellboy placed his chair where Broom indicated. As he went to sit down he picked up from the seat of the chair the comic book he had been reading.

“So, Hellboy,” asked the president, “What are you reading there?”

Hellboy held the book up, “It’s Superman—one of my favorites. Father gave it to me for Christmas.”

President Truman smiled at him, “Did you get anything else for Christmas?”

Hellboy smiled back at the president, a little more relaxed than he had been.

“Father gave me a lot of my favorite comics and a book about cowboys. I like cowboys, especially Gene Autry. The men that work with Father gave me cowboy boots. The ones I had didn’t fit anymore.”

“Did you get your father anything for Christmas?” asked the president, thinking that Hellboy seemed just like a lot of boys his age despite his odd appearance.

“The men helped me to get Father one of those neat Zippo lighters they all use,” Hellboy replied, “It’s the one with the Indian head on it. He doesn’t smoke, but I figured he could use it to light candles or something.” Broom reached into one of the pockets of his vest pulling out the lighter and showing it to the president.

President Truman looked at the two of them. What he was seeing today was not at all the picture that the majority on the congressional committee was trying to paint of Hellboy and his relationship with Trevor Broom. It was no wonder that people like Lee, the FBI liaison, and Albert Einstein wanted him to meet with Trevor Broom before making any decisions about Hellboy’s custody.

Hellboy looked down at the comic book he was holding and then looked back up, bold enough to blurt out, “I want to go home. It’s too cold here. New Mexico is lots warmer than this. I miss my dog, too.”

“The FBI would probably let you go back to New Mexico,” said the president, “but I doubt they would let Professor Broom accompany you. Would you want to go without him?”

Hellboy shook his head, “The other people there treat me O.K., but not like him. My right hand,” Hellboy raised the huge hand slightly and flexed its four stone appendages, “Sometimes, when I get really mad, I can’t control it and I break things without meaning to. Father tries to teach me how to use my right hand. Everyone else just gets scared of me when things happen.”

Hellboy put his right hand back in his lap and looked down at it. “I told him I hated him,” he said softly, “I didn’t mean it.”

He looked back up at the president. “He cut his hand when I broke a glass because I was mad at him. But he never yells at me because of things like that. He just talks to me about how I can be better. No one else does that. Father is the only one who really doesn’t care that I’m so different. Please, let me stay with him.”

Broom, who was intensely moved by this little speech of Hellboy’s, got up from his seat and started to pace. “This is so frustrating. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if he were human.” He paused, “I apologize, Mr. President,” he said after a deep breath, “It is difficult for me to remain calm.” He sat back down.

“Please, Trevor,” said the president, “There is nothing to apologize for. I would be upset too if I found myself in this kind of situation. However, I am in a bit of a bind here. I wish President Roosevelt had put the responsibility for your Bureau under the executive branch instead of under the FBI. When you deal with the FBI you have to deal with J. Edgar Hoover. I may still be president, but unless I am able to convince the FBI to change their mind about this, or in some way to change the status of your Bureau, your choices are limited.”

“What are the choices I have?” Broom asked quietly.

President Truman leaned forward in his chair, “If you wish to remain director of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, keeping your full salary and status, you must comply with the congressional committee’s dictates about the testing of Hellboy. Custody of him must be turned over to whomever they designate and they can deal with him as they see fit.”

Broom started to speak, but the president held up his hand. “Let me finish. I will allow you to keep custody of Hellboy. Frankly, I am already leaning toward making you his permanent guardian. However, you must resign your position as director of the Bureau. Your salary will be cut off and all Bureau funding will be dispersed to the FBI until they assign a new director.”

“If you choose this option,” the president continued, “The dictates of the congressional committee will be considered null and void. You will have sole responsibility for all decisions dealing with Hellboy. For the time being I will allow you to reside in your present residence rent-free. Hellboy must still be hidden from the general public. He must make his primary residence here in the United States and may not be taken abroad without prior notification.”

Broom sighed, “Can you doubt, Mr. President, which choice I will make? Thank God, I liquidated most of my assets before leaving England and can come up with enough money for us to live on for a long while. Paul Johanssen, my assistant, has chosen to remain in my service if something like this were to happen. He will, of course, be giving his notice to the Bureau.”

Broom stood up, walked to a window, and looked out at the sunny, but cold day for a few moments. He then turned to face President Truman.

“I was so concerned that the government was going to forcibly separate me from Hellboy by deporting me to England and granting custody to the FBI by default. It certainly eases my mind that you will not be taking that route.”

“However, I would like to make it clear that I am working on a more permanent solution to the issue of Hellboy’s status as a sentient being. Through the assistance of people like Dr. Einstein, I have been in contact with the International Court of Justice of the United Nations. They have convened a secret panel and are already considering issues of his legal status.”

Broom walked back toward his chair. “I hope my assistant will be allowed to return briefly to New Mexico to collect the rest of my belongings. I will, of course, leave all documentation about Hellboy with the Bureau files there, but would like to keep my own copies of such. Also, most of the books and relics collected there are my own personal property. I intend to remove these; it is quite an extensive collection. If the new director of the Bureau ever finds that he needs any of them he can spend his own money developing his own collection.”

The president agreed to this and then stood up, indicating that the meeting was now over.

Broom leaned forward, “A word in your ear, Mr. President. There are strange rumblings coming out of South America, especially Argentina. Do not think that the Nazi menace has been totally defeated. In fact, you may find that the real war has yet to begin. What I defeated in 1944 may only be the prologue to a tale that may not end in either of our lifetimes. However, these Bureau matters are no longer my affair.”

President Truman looked at Trevor Broom closely, “Is this something to be immediately concerned about?”

Broom led the president to the door.

“Let’s say this, Mr. President; the FBI may have picked the wrong time to find out that I have been accomplishing a lot more than just being a father to Hellboy.”

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