Haven Book Two

Chapter 02

While Tom and Leo spent the evening talking, the boys were doing the same up in their suite.

Neal was the first to knock on Adam's door.  He waited until he heard Adam invite him in.  "Neal?  Why didn't you just come in?" Adam asked.

Neal smiled and sat on Adam's bed next to David.  "No way.  We always knock, and nobody will come in if you don't say so."

Adam obviously didn't believe that, but didn't say anything.  Just as Neal was getting ready to ask Adam about himself, there was another knock.  This time it was Todd and Monty.  They were followed by Moe, Brian and Jimmy.  Adam's bed now held all seven boys. 

Neal made sure everyone was settled.  "Okay, Adam, how much crap like today have you had to put up with?"

Adam lowered his head, "I'm sorry, Neal, I'm glad you helped, but I didn't want you to get in trouble."  Adam was about to cry in front of everybody.

"ADAM!  Would you stop?  Look, you were being picked on.  You didn't do anything to be sorry for!" Neal told his new brother.

Adam sat there looking at the bed in front of him, not saying anything.

David spoke up, "He gets picked on all the time.  Boys play tricks, 'cause he can't see so good.  An' they steal his hat outside, and he gets hurt from the sun.  They try takin' his glasses, and hit him and trip him, an' it makes me so mad, but I can't do nothin', I'm too little."  Brian hugged David, and held him while he settled down.

David's out burst brought memories flooding back to Brian...


*   *   *    Flash Back    *   *   *

Little six year old Brian was standing in the office.  His foster parents were telling the woman that he was a terrible child, and he had to come back.  He couldn't figure what he had done that was so bad.  He had forgotten his pj's when he had his bath.  He had walked from the bathroom to his room.  His foster parents had had company he didn't know was there, and they saw him walk by.  Now he was being brought here.

Soon they left, and the woman was saying a bunch of words to him that he didn't understand. He was then led down several halls, and into a huge room with beds.  About halfway down the room, the woman pointed to a bed, and told him it was his.  And then she left him standing there.  He then lay down on the bed, and cried.  The other kids came in, and a few noticed him and made comments about another crybaby in the dorm.  The next two years flashed by, Brian the little kid, was picked on, teased, tormented and very unhappy.  Then one day a new boy arrived.  He stopped another from taking Brian's desert, at dinner.  Brian ate cake for the first time in two years.

The new boy let him tag along with him.  As Long as Brian stayed close to Neal, he was safe.  Brian wanted to be like Neal.  He worshiped his friend.  Neal was a year older, but took care of Brian.  Brian felt like he had a big brother, he so wished Neal really was his older brother.  The next year was wonderful for Brian.  He had a real friend.  He now was more assertive, and wasn't being bullied anymore.  He even started protecting the younger boys.  It felt good to help, and make others smile.  Before Neal came, there wasn't much smiling.

One day he and Neal had been looking for some boy's missing toy, and found a small space behind a wall in the back of a closet.  This became their secret place.  Over time, they found pillows and blankets and other things, and made it into a fairly comfortable hideout.  It was in this room Brian had his first experiences with another boy.  The following few months were the happiest Brian had had since being brought here. 

Then Neal's tenth birthday came.  At first we were very excited, because that meant he moved up to be with the 'big' boys.  Brian would miss his friend, but in a year, he would move up too.  Brian remembered crying most of the day Neal left.  After dinner, Neal came to visit, and seemed excited about his new place.  They were actually in rooms.  There were four boys to a room.  He was the smallest, but he was hopeful he would make friends soon.  Then the next day Neal came and ate his meals with Brian, but was very quiet.  This continued a couple of days and Brian was getting very worried about Neal.  Then Brian noticed the bruises.  Then about a month after leaving, Neal didn't show up for breakfast, and Brian was worried.  When Brian had finished his morning lessons, he went to the secret place, and there was Neal. He was in very bad shape.  He wasn't making much sense, he was pretty beaten up, and mumbling something about his ass. 

Brian stole food at lunch and dinner, and brought it to Neal.  The Keepers were looking for Neal.  The older boys were very quiet all day.  After bed check, Brian went back to Neal.  He heard the whole story of what had happened.  The verbal abuse, the oral rape and then the anal rape.  Neal cried and held Brian.  Both boys were afraid for Neal to return.  So they tried to figure out what to do.

Brian found he was afraid of this happening next year to him, but was even more afraid of what was going to happen to Neal.  When he returned to bed, he thought about how to get Neal out.  In the morning he took all the money he had and asked some of the others if they would give some to help Neal.  Lunch had several boys giving Brian food for Neal.  Brian woke Neal, and gave him the food and helped him get to the bathroom to shower.  Brian cried, seeing how bruised Neal was.  Luckily his clothes covered most of them.  They managed to get Neal back in the secret place.  After dinner Brian took more food and helped Neal get ready to run.  Neal wanted Brian to come too, but Brian had thought about it and knew that together they would be caught.  Neal's only chance was to run alone.  Later that night, Brian helped Neal go through the older boys' stuff, while they slept, and to gather as much of Neal's belongings as they could, and helped Neal out the window to freedom.

That was the last Brian heard of Neal.  He continued as before, but really missed his friend.  He hoped that it was good news that Neal had not returned.  Two months after Neal had left; Brian was called to the administrator's office.  He was handed a suitcase and told he was leaving.  Just like that he was gone.  They put him on a bus, and that was that.  When he got to where the ticket said he got off, got the suitcase and a man in a suit came and asked if he was Brian.  The man was nice, and took him here to Haven.  Brian had cried when he discovered this was where Neal had ended up.

*   *   *    End Flashback    *   *   *

Todd and Monty were both looking at Adam.  Todd spoke first, "Adam, that isn't happening any more, We are stopping that right now.  I know those bullies, and they know to steer clear of us, and now you are one of us.  They mess with you and they deal with ALL of US!"

There was agreement from all.  The boys them went around, each telling Adam a little of their story.  When Brian spoke, he said, "I was always picked on 'till Neal came.  Then he got me out of Juvy, and I won't let any bully hurt anybody else if I can help it."

The other boys were stunned by the emotion that flowed from Brian.  This was a side of him that hadn't been out in the open before.

Neal moved the conversation on, making a note to himself to talk with Brian about this. 

When the boys broke up, and went to their rooms, Brian was still holding a sleeping David.  Adam said, "You're Brian, right?"

"Yeah, you learned the names real quick."  Brian observed.

"Not really.  I knew Neal and Jimmy already, and knew who Todd and Monty were.  So really it was just you, Moe and Pat I didn't know.  I've got to say, David really took to you.  I've never seen him trust anybody so fast.  He must know you have a good soul."

"Thanks, Adam.  I meant what I said.  I really hate bullies.  If David says anything, you let me know, k?" Brian said.

"You bet I will.  He usually doesn't have a problem though.  I get a lot of shit, cause I'm different.  I look weird, and then have to wear dark glasses, and get up and walk up to the board.  God, it's so embarrassing."

"I bet it is.  Look, you should talk to Dad about it.  He is good at fixing stuff, and all.  He can do stuff cause he's got the money, but he don't spoil us either.  We got rules we got to follow." Brian said.

"Rules?" Adam asked.

"Oh, nothin' bad.  We got to go to school, and try our best, keep our rooms clean, none of us are good at that, except Monty, help with chores and never, ever lie to Dad.  That last one is the most important, and so far, none of us has broken that one." Brian replied.

"What happens when somebody breaks a rule?  Do you get beaten?" Adam wanted to know.

"No way!  Dad isn't like that.  He just makes you fix it, and apologize, try it again.  The apologizing is the hardest part.  Sometimes we might get grounded, or have to do extra chores, but he never hits or nothin'." Brian explained.

David stirred some, and lifted his head off Brian's lap.  "What?" he said groggily.

"It's okay buddy." Brian said, as David sat up.  Brian patted him on the back and got off the bed and followed his brothers to bed.

David looked at Adam, "What did I miss?"

Adam shook his head, "I can't believe how this day turned out.  I get slapped around, and end up here with you, and these other great guys, and Mr. Richards seems terrific.  I guess I'm afraid it's all going to collapse or something."

"I hope it doesn't.  I really like it here.  You know we didn't get yelled at or slapped even once since we got here?  I sure hope it stays like this."  A big yawn and the two brothers stripped to their briefs and got into bed.

When Brian entered his room, Neal was stretched out on his bed.  "Hey, Neal.  What's up, bro?"

"You were kind of intense in there tonight.  Want to talk about it?" Neal asked.

"I'd just been thinking about our old home, and the shit I had to put up with until you got there, and how we could stop that bully crap.  It really made me feel so good, every time we did that."  Brian was getting wound up all over again.

"Wow, I don't remember all that.  I remember you being my friend, and us doing everything together."  Neal commented.

"Well, I remember you sitting next to me, at dinner and stopping Shewmacky from taking my cake.  That was the first cake I had had in two years!  You did that, Neal.  I didn't get picked on any more, and the bullies backed off, when you came into view.  Then I found that since I was your friend, they backed away when I came.  I could protect the little guys.  I could make it better for them, than it was for me.  God, I love you, Neal!"  Brian wrapped himself around a speechless Neal and cried, releasing emotions he had kept inside for years.

Neal held Brian and was totally blown away.  He had no clue that Brian felt like that.  He didn't ever remember the cake incident, and had never noticed his effect on bullies.  He had known how bullies pissed him off, but hadn't known the effect he had.  When Neal came back to reality, Brian had cried himself to sleep.  Neal hugged Brian and settled into sleep.

Tom and Leo had spent a delightful evening together.  They found they had several interests in common, and they had made plans for the weekend.  Tom went to check on the boys, and found them all asleep.  It was the first time since school had started, that Neal and Brian were together.  Of course they were both still dressed.  He spent several minutes getting them stripped of their outer clothes, and under the covers.  He wandered down the hall to check on Alice, Genny and Pat.  Alice's lights were out, but there was still light coming under Pat's door.

Tom knocked softly.  "Come in." came Pat's instant reply.

Tom opened the door and stuck his head in.  Pat kept her room about as neat as any of the boys, except Monty.  'Hey kiddo.  How you doing?"

"Hi.  I'm okay, I guess."  Pat's answer was less than enthusiastic.

"Something you want to talk about?"  Tom asked.

"Kind of, I tried talking to Mrs. Gunther, but it just wasn't working." Pat said.

Tom opened the door completely and stepped into the room, and sat in the chair, (after clearing the junk out of it).  "Well I'm a pretty good listener."

Pat took a deep breath, "Well, first is, what is going to happen to me?  All Mrs. G says is she doesn't know.  The boys know, why is it so different for me?  Is it 'cause I'm a girl?"

Tom smiled at her, "No sweetheart, it's not because you're a girl.  It's because we need to figure out where your real father is, and if you can live with him."

She shot back, "No way!  He disappeared and left me with my mother, and that, that..."

"Oh, sweety, we don't know that.  I think you need to consider the possibility, that your mother left him and took you.  If he had just left, we would have found him already.  The name your mother gave does not exist, your Social Security Number is a fake, and so she was covering her tracks.  You will be staying here, until he is found, and it is determined that he is suitable for you."

"Mr. Richards, sorry, Uncle Tommy, I want to stay right here.  I'm starting to feel like I belong here, like it's my family.  The guys feel like brothers, well most of them," she admitted.

"Who doesn't feel like a brother?" Tom's curiosity was in high gear.

Pat blushed deeply, "Ah, I didn't mean, ah, oh crap, it's Monty."

Tom was flabbergasted, "Monty?"

"Yeah, he's so cute," she was glowing.

'Oh my God,' Tom thought.  "Ah, Pat, you know Monty thinks he's gay."

"Oh sure, but he's not," she said with confidence.

Tom didn't want to know.  Oh, hell, yes he did.  "How?"

"Oh that's easy, Todd is a horn-dog and has to rub Monty to get his interest but I can swell his jeans across the room, just by giving him a look or showing a little extra skin.  Anyway, I'm trying to figure how to get him to really notice me, as a girl." she admitted.

Tom considered that for a moment, "Well my advice is don't rush things.  Girls develop both physically and emotionally, before boys.  You both are twelve, and it may be another year or even two before he really shows much interest.  Try not to push him too much.  Okay?"

Patty grinned, "I'll try."  She giggled, and then gave Tom a hug and goodnight kiss on the cheek.

He wondered just how all that was going to work out, as he walked back to his room.  Once in bed, his mind replayed the day, and he made some mental notes to contact the school board, Linda, Fred and Dr. Lisa Billings.  He drifted off to sleep, with very pleasant thoughts about a certain local doctor.

Early the next morning, Neal woke up feeling disorientated.  He looked around and realized he was not in his room.  He tried moving, but was being used as a mattress and pillow.  Then he remembered last night.  Unfortunately, his bladder was remembering how full it was.  Just then, Brian's alarm went off and Neal got a knee where he really didn't want a knee.  After a groggy wrestling match, the alarm got silenced and both boys were standing side by side getting their morning relief. 

Before Neal left, he hugged Brian.  "Hey bro, thanks for telling me those things last night.  I didn't know, but it's like way kewl.  Let me and the others know, if you need help with anything, 'k?"

"Sure Neal.  You need to know how much you mean to us.  You are one special dude." Brian hugged Neal back.

Neal went next door to wake up Adam and David.  He smiled when he saw them.  David was between Adam and the door.  It was like he was protecting his big brother, even in sleep.  "Hey Adam, hey David, wake up time!" 

Both boys groaned, and opened their eyes.  Neal giggled as he watched the confusion then when memory returned.

"Neal?  What the, ah, what time is it?" Adam got out.

"It's a little before seven.  Time to get up and dressed.  Breakfast is at seven thirty, and the bus arrives at eight, so, move it, Move It, MOVE IT!" Neal did a passable Drill Sergeant.

Neal returned to his room, and took a quick shower and dressed.  On his way to breakfast, he remembered he was suspended.  It suddenly felt real weird.  Soon his brothers and friends were going to go to school, and he was going to be here.  Well at least he and Adam could get to know each other better.  In the dining room, Brian, Moe and Todd were already filling their plates.  So Neal got his plate and began loading up.  By the time he had his plate loaded, the others were there.  Adam and David Just stared.

Neal noticed and said, "Guys, get a plate and load up.  Mrs. G, Dad and Doc will be down soon and they usually clean up everything."

The boys cautiously got plates and fixed their breakfast.  As they sat down the adults came in and sure enough, Tom was last and finished off the platters.  Adam was surprised, when Tom stopped and put more link sausages and eggs on his and David's plates.  "You're my boys, and you need to eat to grow." Tom said, and patted each boy on the back.

Tom watched the kids, as they consumed the mounds of food.  The myth that girls are dainty eaters is BUSTED.  Pat and Genny certainly were putting away as much as any of the boys.  For that matter, Alice was eating as much as Tom and Leo.  Soon the adults were saying their goodbyes, and the kids were out the door.  Brian had thought to ask his Dad for a note to give the bus driver so David could ride. 

Alice and Leo left then, and it was just Tom, Neal and Adam.  "Okay, boys, let's let going."

"Where to, Dad?" Neal asked.

"First to Dr. Jones.  I called yesterday, and got an 8:30 appointment, and then we need to get some clothes, and school supplies.  That should take care of the morning.  You two didn't think you were getting a vacation did you." Tom joked.

Adam said, "Oh, no sir.  I'll do whatever you ask, really I promise."

Neal stared at Adam for a few seconds.  "It's okay, Adam.  He's teasing us.  He's evil that way, sometimes.  Hey, Adam, have you been to Dr. Jones before?"

"No.  What kind of doctor?" Adam asked.

"Optomerist" Neal started.

"Optometrist, an Eye Doctor." Tom corrected gently, trying to make up for teasing Adam.  He made a note to go easy around him for awhile.

"Yeah, anyway he's nice, and has really cool glasses if you need those." Neal informed him.

"I hope he can fix mine.  I really need then.  It hurts outside without them."  Adam explained.

Neal was curious, "Hurts?  How can just being outside hurt?"

Adam said, "Thanks for asking Neal.  I sunburn in just a few minutes, because I can't tan and the light caused me a lot of glare and just hurts my eyes, it's so bright."

"Wow, that sucks, man.  Oops, sorry Dad." Neal said.

"Well, it does suck."  Tom returned.  "Adam, do me a favor, let me know when something is difficult for you.  You just taught me more than I knew, about Albinism."

"Ah, yes sir."  Adam had never in his twelve years ever had an adult ask him anything like that. 

Before long they arrived at Dr. Jones office.  There were the usual papers to fill out, but eventually they were done.  The technician came and took Adam back, Tom and Neal went too.  She reviewed the history form, and made a few additional notes.  Then she did several tests, with different machines, and then it was back to the exam room.  Adam could see the E and none of the others.  The technician left, taking the remains of Adams glasses.  She came back a few minutes later and had found an old frame to hold the lenses.  He actually did worse with his glasses. 

Tom was concerned at how little Adam was seeing.  He seemed to do so well, but this was bad.  Then Dr. Jones came in.  He asked Adam a few questions, did the which is better thing, and looked inside Adam's eyes.  Then he pulled his stool around.

"Well Adam, you're nearsighted, and of course there is the glare.  We can get you some glasses.  I recommend a constant tint, for indoors and a polarized sun clip for outside.  Have you ever had a Low Vision evaluation?" Dr. Jones asked.

"Low Vision?  No sir." Adam replied.

"Well I think there may be some things that can really help you.  There some providers in Pittsburgh, and a large clinic in Philadelphia." Dr. Jones told Adam.

Tom asked, "Doc, if you need to go where would you go?"

"Actually, I have a friend in Tidewater Virginia that I would go to but that is quite a way to go.  Do you have a preference?" the doctor asked.

"I think we can go to Virginia for Thanksgiving."  Dr. Jones was surprised by Tom's answer, but said he would have the staff call and make the appointment.  We went out, and Adam selected some frames.  Dr. Jones looked, and recommended a larger lens size, to provide better shading.  He got another frame, and the optician said they had the lenses in stock, and should have them ready after lunch.  Tom paid for the exam and glasses.

Then they crossed the county to the mall.  Adam knew David's sizes, and they did a complete wardrobe for both boys.  Then they had a nice lunch.  Adam was pretty much in shock.  He had never had anyone do so much for him.  After lunch, Tom stopped in the BSA HQ and bought two uniforms and patches.  Adam asked for a long sleeve shirt to protect him from the sun.  Then back to Dr. Jones.  The glasses were ready, and Adam was so excited.  He had more control over light with the clip-on. 

Tom noticed that Adam was looking around on the trip home, not just sitting with his head down and shading his eyes.  When they arrived back at Haven, Linda was waiting.  She was in the library when Tom and the boys entered. 

"Hello, Linda, where are the two boys?" Tom asked as he entered.

Linda smiled up at her friend, "Jim has taken them out to the stables to meet Frank."  She turned and faced the boys, "Hi Neal, Adam, how are you?  I like your new glasses."

"Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, I'm doing fine today.  I do wish I hadn't gotten Neal into so much trouble." Adam said.

"It's no problem.  I'd do it again." Neal announced.  Adam gave him a look, which the full impact of, was hidden by the dark tint of his glasses.

Linda jumped in before the boys could get going, down that road. "Adam, you are now temporarily assigned to Mr. Richards, for foster care, your brother is also.  I will be checking back periodically to be sure everything is fine.  Do you have any questions?"

"Are we going to have to go back?  I don't want to.  Mama always promises to do better, and acts that way for a few weeks, then it starts again.  I was real scared by this last boyfriend; he was looking at me and David weird."

"No, Adam, I think this time you are out for good.  Your mother is going to be in jail for some time.  How would you feel if she were declared an Unfit Parent?" Linda asked.

Tom knew where this was headed, and nodded to Linda, and placed a comforting hand on Adam's shoulder.  Adam looked back and forth between the adults, Neal said, "We've all been there Adam.  Just tell Aunt Linda how you feel."

"Well, kind of okay, and scared too.  What would happen to David and Me, if she is?" Adam responded.

"Usually, you would be placed in a foster home.  If you have no relative to care for you, then you would go to a foster home and possibly adoption." Linda explained.

"Would we be split up?  Mom always told us if we complained about her, that CPS would separate us, and we'd never see each other again." Adam said.

It was all Tom could do, not to swear and call the boy's mother some pretty nasty names.  Linda, who heard this kind of thing every day, simply said, "Adam that was a lie.  The man behind you wants to be yours and David's foster father.  And I'll bet he will want to become your real Dad if things work out that way."

Adam turned and said quietly, "Really?"

"Yes, Adam, really.  I can't think of anything I would like more than that right now." Tom gave Adam's shoulder a gentle squeeze.

Neal wrapped his arms around Adam and gave him a hug, "Me too.  Would you be my brother?"

Adam burst into tears, and sobbed, "Yes."

Tom looked up at Linda, just as she was wiping a tear from her eye.  She said, "I already talked to Fred.  He is working on it, and has his P.I. Checking on any possible relatives.  So far we don't know of any."

There were the usual papers to be signed, then Neal and Adam went up to see how Samuel was doing with the wall.  Tom and Linda decided to go see how the two bully-boys were doing.  Frank had them sweeping the tack room.  "Hey, Boss.  These two are working out so far."

"That's good to hear," Linda said. 

Tom wandered over to the door, and looked in.  One boy was sweeping and the other was looking longingly at the riding gear.  "How are you guys doing?"

They both jumped.  "Ah, fine," the one who had been looking at the gear said.

"Look, When you finish your time, and if you do a good job, Mr. Frank might consider lessons in trade for some work.  If you're interested."

"Really?" they both said.

"Sure, you guys just made a mistake, about who you let lead you.  Correct the mistake, and make good on the damage, and there isn't any problem." Tom told them.

"We never got in trouble before.  Dean's Uncle always bailed us out." the sweeper said.

Tom assumed Dean was the ringleader.  "So where is his Uncle now?"

The two boys looked at each other, then back at Tom.  "You know Sheriff Fastaff."

Tom busted out laughing.  When he recovered, "Boys, looks like Dean is about as smart as his uncle.  Fastaff is in the State Penitentiary, serving his time.  A lot of time.  Didn't Dean figure his shield was gone?  Look guys, you are smarter than Dean, don't let him screw you up.  You don't want to end up in Juvy with a seventeen year old boyfriend.  You have a Haven here if you want it."

"Thanks, sir."  The boys went back to work.

Tom returned to Linda and Frank.  "Well," Linda said, as Tom approached, "I'll collect the boys and take them home.  Tomorrow let me know if they aren't here by nine.  They live in Havendale so they can walk."

Frank grinned and said, "Don't worry, I'll let you know."

Linda got the boys, and left.  As Tom was walking back to the house, the bus pulled in, and the herd came tumbling off.  When they cornered him a little later, they were talking about the stories going around school, about what had happened.  They each had heard the same tale.  Three eighth graders had caught two sixth graders giving each other blow jobs, and had tried to stop them, and a fight resulted.  To say Tom saw red, was mild.  He told the kids to go play, and not say anything to Adam and Neal.

Up in his office, Tom dialed Fred Clements, his lawyer.  "Fred, I need you.  There is a problem at school, and I want to get to the bottom of it."

It took about fifteen minutes for Tom to catch Fred up on what was going on.  Fred said, "Interesting that the same story was in both the Intermediate and Middle school.  Okay, there is a school board meeting tonight, can you be there?  I'm on the board, and I think we need to be the ones checking into this.  There is no way Adam should have been suspended and probably not Neal either.  I'll see you at eight o'clock in the High School Auditorium."

Tom was pretty much speechless, as he hung up the phone.  How could such a malicious rumor get started?  Why would anyone want to make up a story like that anyway?

Author's Note:

Adam's condition, albinism, has a great many consequences, and vision is only one of them.  As we get to know Adam, we will get to see and hopefully understand how a simple genetic change can affect someone's life.  Adam is a fictional Character but the information about albinism is not.

Editor's Note:

Str8mayb is right. I hope I can be of some assistance in this story. I am an albino, and have suffered some of the same things that have been described in the story, concerning Adam.

You might just learn a few things about your humble editor as the story progresses, and as my memory of my childhood brings forth some, (I hope) interesting happenings. Of course that was many years ago so many things have changed since then.  There are many advances in optical aids, which have come about since I was twelve years old.

I have a very good friend that is an optometrist.

He has given me information that has helped me tremendously. I have always been curious about my eye condition, and also what albinism does to the person besides the poor vision. I learned why I have the poor vision that I do, and a lot of details that I had never known.  If he ever reads this story I would like to dedicate my part in it to him, and thank him for giving me the kind of treatment that Tom gave Adam, in this story. I met him because he read a story that I had been editing, and e mailed me to tell me he enjoyed my comments and my commas.  We have been friends ever since. As I write this note, today, he is suffering from a sore throat. I hope by the time you read this he is well and feeling much better. Get well soon, Tom, I miss talking to you.



Fort Chief Editor's Notes:

Why people especially children have to pick on or bully people who are different is beyond me. Children with vision problems have enough to deal with in life with bullies. I really like the way Str8mayb portrays his characters as real to life with all of the flaws and foibles we all have. Please keep up the great work and Paul and Ice and the rest keep looking for the hidden messages and beware of Red Herrings.