Copyright © 2006-2018 Str8mayb. All Rights Reserved.
Richards had dreaded school starting, and his herd of boys being gone
all day, but after a couple of weeks, his routine settled down and
Jim, his personal secretary and Valet, was finding more and more to
keep him busy. Actually too busy. Here it was a couple of
weeks before Thanksgiving break, and he was so involved in running
Haven Enterprises, that he had lost track of his sons. Seeing
them at dinner and breakfast, and occasionally to help for a few
minutes of homework. He sat at his desk and pushed away the
quarterly reports, and then buzzed for Jim.
"Yes, Tom?" Jim said as he entered Tom's office from his.
"What do you call someone who handles the daily business decisions and implements the business plans of the owner of a large corporation?" Tom asked Jim.
"That would be the CEO, Chief Executive Officer. Why do you ask?" Jim replied.
"I want one. Now! ASAP. Do you realize I don't know what the boys are doing? I don't know what classes they love and what they hate? How is Alice doing with Pat? Leo has been living here for four months and he and I haven't had a decent conversation in all that time." Tom suddenly felt the walls closing in. "I am talking the day off." He got up and walked out, leaving Jim standing there with his mouth gaping.
Tom paused by the front door to put on a jacket and walked out. He wandered around, not really paying any attention to where he was going. His mind drifted back to the wonderful summer after the court hearing. He and Alice had reached an agreement on her living in an apartment, made from some rooms, and she paid rent. She was registered with Child Protective Services as a foster parent, and so was I. Linda had Fred Clements draw up a contract, so the state could place children of both sexes here, just like they could with a married couple. So far Pat was the only foster child, since we couldn't locate her father. The private investigator had very little to go on. The copy of her birth certificate was in very poor shape, and mostly illegible. The Social Security Number her mother had used for school belonged to a fifty eight year old black man in Bangor, Maine.
Each day during the summer, Tom spent with his guys. He went horse back riding, hiking and even a camping trip, back to the cave. They swam, and Tom helped get Jimmy and Brian ready for their grade in school. Matt and Nick, two older boys from Scouts, were with them, and were such a big help. And now Tom didn't spend any quality time with them. That, he decided, ended now. The boys were far too important.
He looked around and wasn't exactly sure where he was. He had walked around behind the house, and there was an orchard of leafless trees, in the center there appeared to be a gazebo. The word Macadamia was carved into the seat. He walked to it and sat down, just enjoying the sights and sounds. He had been sitting there thinking for some time when his stomach reminded him to get some food. Then for no reason he could imagine, he thought of the word galoshes.
Tom was only a few minutes late arriving in the dining room. After lunch he got into the van and drove into town. There wasn't much there, except for the stores on Main Street. He passed them, and on the other side of town was the school complex. There were four schools here and they served the entire county. There was the Valley Elementary (K-2), Valley Intermediate (3-5), Valley Middle (6-8), and Valley High (9-12). He parked in a visitor place and entered the Intermediate school.
There was a boy running down the hall, and into the office, Tom held the door for him. "Mrs. Jones! Adam needs help!" he yelled as he slid to a stop.
A lady behind the counter picked up the phone and dialed. "Hi Sandy, David says Adam needs help again." Pause "Thank you, I'll tell him."
"David they are checking it out now." the lady said.
The boy looked pretty much terrified. "He sent a 911 to me." he held up a cell phone with a text message. "I set his up so he had a panic button to text me. Please they got to hurry." The boy who was probably a third grader, had very dark coloring, black hair, black eyes, he could easily passed as Moe's little brother.
Tom's attention was drawn away from the distressed boy. When the woman asked if she could help me. "Oh, I was in the area and thought I would pick up my boys if that was possible."
"What is his name?" she asked.
She's not paying attention, Tom thought. "Moe Richards and Brian Richards." Tom said.
She looked through some papers. "Oh here they are," she picked up a microphone and said, "Moey and Brianne Richards please get you things and come to the office your Daddy is here." It was the school wide PA.
Tom looked at her in total disbelief. She just turned his sons into girls in front of the whole school!
The other boy was still there waiting. He looked at his phone, "He sent again. Oh God! Please call again, he's in trouble."
"David, I just called, I'm sure they are helping him." The woman went back to her desk and back to whatever she had been doing.
The office door opened and Tom's two youngest ran to him and gave big hugs. 'How had I let that get away from me' Tom thought as he hugged back. David was looking and watching with longing written all over his face. Tom explained to Moe and Brian that nothing was wrong, he was just out and thought to stop and pick them up so they didn't have to ride the bus. That was cool.
Then there were sirens and Tom looked out and saw an ambulance and the sheriff's car come barreling past and stops in front of the Middle School. David screamed something and ran at the door. He slipped and Moe caught him. Tom's cell phone decided to ring at that moment. Seeing Moe had little David safe he answered the cell phone.
"Tom, Jim here. School just called Neal's in trouble and you need to get there."
"Okay, thanks Jim." He put the phone away.
"David, they need you at the Middle School." the woman said not even looking up.
"Moe, you and Brian help David. We need to get next door, Neal's in trouble." The boys were right behind Tom as he left. The woman was yelling something about signing something but they weren't turning around. They were all running when they got outside.
Just before they got to the door the new County Sheriff, Sheriff Eric Henry, stepped out of his car. "Tom, how did you get here so fast?"
"I was next door when I got the call. What's happening?" Tom asked.
"Dispatch said fight in the boy's room, with injuries." the Sheriff said.
They entered the School and followed Eric down the hall to the crowd in the hallway. Eric quickly got the teachers to herd the kids back and then Tom and the three boys followed into the bathroom. Neal was in the doorway of a stall looking like the defender of the Crown Jewels. Lying on the floor holding his nose was a kid that must have been an eighth grader, he was big. Two more big boys were against the back wall with two men, my guess was assistant principals.
One of the suits turned as we entered, "Sheriff, good. This boy (he pointed at Neal) assaulted this one (Bloody nose), there are two witnesses (the other two)."
"Let me get this straight. Little sixth grader comes in to pee. Sees three BIG eighth graders and for no reason decides to punch one in the nose? Tom? Does that make any sense to you?" Eric asked.
Before Tom could answer there was the sound of crying and David shot out from behind him and right past Neal into the stall.
Sheriff Eric asked, "Neal, what's going on?"
"Well Uncle Eric," Neal began, the principal's jaw fell open, "I came in to pee and these three were picking on Adam, and callin' him names and slapping him and they broke his glasses, and I told them to stop and leave him alone. Then they laughed at me and called me a bad name and he (pointing to bloody nose) hit me so I punched him in the nose."
The Sheriff looked in the stall. He handed Neal over to Tom, and then bent and helped a boy up off the floor in the stall. David helped too. They emerged with the most beautiful boy Tom had ever seen in his entire life. Platinum blond hair, pale blue eyes, darting back and forth, his hair was naturally that color, since is eyebrows matched. His nose was just perfect for his face, and his ears were covered by his longish hair. When he got into the bright light of the bathroom he squinted his eyes some. David guided him over by Neal and his Dad. Tom noticed Bright red marks forming, and they were without a doubt slaps, very clear hand prints.
"Sheriff?" Tom said to get Eric's attention. He held Neal's hand by the red hand print; Neal was definitely not the slapper.
David was holding the two pieces of Adam's sunglasses. They did not look like cool kid sunglasses, the looked like prescription glasses with dark lenses. Tom felt sure he was missing something very important.
The EMTs came in when Eric gave the clear. He had them check Adam first then the bloody nose.
Eric asked the principal what he was doing with the boys.
"Well board policy is quite clear; there is a zero tolerance for fighting. All five boys will be suspended for a week."
"What did Adam do? He's the victim! They were beating him up!" Neal was incensed by the injustice.
"Young man, you are only going to make this worse on yourself." the principal said.
Tom found the principals attitude appalling. Neal was completely correct. He wasn't even pointing out he was a good guy too. The other three were the bullies and the aggressors.
Neal started to protest but the principal just added three days, Adam spoke up and got an additional three himself. The bullies thought it was pretty funny and were giggling and laughing. They did not receive any additional days. When the EMTs left we went to the office. Eric took Neal and Adam into the principal's office. David, Moe and Brian were left in the outer office. The principal had the other three in another room. Tom asked one of the secretaries to notify Jimmy and Monty to meet here. She looked them up and sent a student to tell them. She was trying to notify other parents.
Tom was very surprised when Linda Thompson arrived. David ran to her and totally broke down. While he was clinging to her, Tom filled her in on the events.
"David, it's over now, I promise every thing will be okay." Linda looked at me and motioned to go out in the hall.
"What's up Linda?" I asked.
"David and Adam are recent cases of mine. I just got them away from a very bad home situation, no dad, and mom on drugs bad, bad, bad." Linda said.
Tom looked at her accusingly, "Just what are you going to do with them?"
"I'm looking for a family that can handle special needs." she said.
"Where are they staying now?" he asked.
"Well, Tom, ah..." she sputtered.
"Damn it! Linda! Call Fred, you two know the drill. Your brother will help too. Those two are NOT staying in a group home one more night." he said.
"Tom, Adam, has special needs. He is visually impaired. He has a condition called Albinism. He can't be in bright light. He sunburns very quickly." Linda explained him.
"Linda, you don't, honestly, think that matters to me," he opened the door and stomped back into the office.
He picked up David and sat down. "How do you think your brother would feel about coming and living with us?" I asked him.
"He likes Neal. He talks about him a lot. I think it would be good for him." He got very quiet and began to cry.
Suddenly Tom realized his mistake. "Well, David that's good, but do you think you would like it with us too?"
It was so cute, his head snapped up and he looked Tom right in the eye, then he grinned ear to ear and wrapped his arms around Tom's neck and hugged the stuffing out of him. "Um hum, yes, yes, yes."
The door to the office opened, Neal, Adam, and Eric came back in. Adam came over and stood by the chair Moe was sitting in. "I'm okay, Bro."
David jumped down and went to his brother. "I'm over here, Adam." and took his hand and led him over to Tom.
"Hi Adam. I'm Neal's Dad." He said.
"He is so lucky. He's told me about how cool you are. I wish I could have you for a Dad, too." He said.
Neal turned on the 'look' full power, but it was ignored. Little did he know, Tom was already lost on these two. "Well, David and I have been talking, and we think that is exactly what should happen."
"Huh? Oh! Really?" Adam said.
Neal ran over and hugged Adam and Moe and Brian hugged David and then they all hugged me. I heard the bell ring and the principal returned with the three smiling bullies.
Eric walked over to them. "Well, boys, think you're real cool. Let's see eighth grade, thirteen or fourteen. Did you realize when you use hateful language, and assault someone, you are committing a felony? It's called a hate crime. You could be looking at Juvenile detention until you turn eighteen. And do you have any idea what cute little boys like you would be doing with those seventeen year-olds, every night. You would be shared. Maybe eight or nine every night. Think that would be fun? Let me tell you, it wouldn't be fun, even if you were gay." The boys figured it out real fast and their smug smiles disappeared, and looks of terror replaced them. The smallest of the three had a tear run down his cheek. "Yes you should be scared. I happen to know a lad that got in that kind of a situation. He is very lucky to be alive. You might not be so lucky."
They were not smiling, now. The one kid looked like he was about to lose it completely. He came over to Adam, "I'm sorry, man. I didn't know Jerry was gonna do that. Sorry."
The other boy stayed where he was but said, "Yeah, man, sorry."
Bloody nose just glared.
Tom considered these boys for a few minutes. Then he pulled Neal and Adam closer. They whispered together for a few minutes then both boys nodded. Tom stood and approached Eric. "Sheriff Henry, Neal and Adam want to give the boys a chance. Now Adam is going to have to replace his glasses. That will cost about three hundred dollars." The two boys who apologized got kind of pale. The head bully still seemed unphased. These two," Tom said indicating the two worried boys could have stopped their friend and didn't, I will cover their part of the debt with one day's labor at Haven. Now the other lad, has five days labor to pay off his debt." The two were nodding agreement. The other just stood there.
Eric, looked at him, "Son, this is as good an offer as you're going to get. Frankly, I wouldn't have made the offer. If it were up to me you would go and spend a few years as Bubba's boy toy. Your choice, work your butt or..."
"You fuckers ain't doing nothin' to me. Shit I done worse than this and nothing ever happens." he said.
Eric calmly took his handcuffs off his belt. In a flash he spun the kid around and had him cuffed. "Charles Daniels, you have the right to remain silent, and I highly recommend you use it. You are under arrest for assault and battery, two counts, threatening minors on school property, violating the federal hate crime acts," Eric was searching him as he spoke, He reached into a pocket and withdrew a pocket knife, "Possessing a weapon on school property."
Eric keyed his radio, "Unit 1 to dispatch, request transportation for a minor from my 20 to station for booking."
"Dispatch, 10-4, one. ETA 5" the voice on the radio replied.
"Roger that dispatch, one out."
By now the students had left and the boys' parents were arriving. The two boys who had apologized mothers arrived at about the same time.
The principal began explaining and The Sheriff couldn't let the sugar coated version go. "Ladies, your sons were involved on the wrong side of an assault of two sixth grade boys. The assault also qualifies as a hate crime and is extremely serious, and they could be looking at three or four years in the state juvenile facility. However Mr. Richards has offered a deal, which your sons would like to take advantage of. It is an exchange of labor, at minimum wage to cover the costs of the damage. Unfortunately, Charlie here has refused and is on his way to jail. So it will take a bit longer, if you agree, I will pick your sons up tomorrow morning at seven. They will be returned by six. Now there are several things that need to be done, and it will take several days to complete all this, so you may consider the first three days of their suspension to be mine. The last two are yours."
"Yes, sir, we'll be ready." One of the boys said.
The other said, "Mom, please, I don't want to go to jail, Please!!?"
"Thank, you Sheriff, he will be ready." She turned back to her son, "Now young man, to the car. We're going to have a nice little talk, and you better have good answers." The other Mom led her son out.
The third mother showed up. I could smell the booze on her from across the room. Her eyes were very bloodshot and basically she looked like hell. Eric told her that her son was under arrest and she should get him a lawyer and come to the station. "I ain't gettin' no fuckin lawyer. He can get a free one." She looked at her son, "I hope they keep you, you little fuck-up, ain't been nothing but a little shit." She turned and walked out.
Linda rose and went to Tom, "Could you keep him?"
"Linda he tried to beat Adam and Neal! No, I can not keep him!" Tom protested.
"Aunt Linda, If he can behave himself we will," Neal said.
Eric came to Tom's rescue. "He isn't going anywhere except jail right now. It will be a couple of days before he has a lawyer, and his preliminary hearing. Until then he is my guest."
They left then. On the trip home Neal sat in front and the other boys were crowded in the back. Monty and Jimmy were busy filling Adam in on things and Brian and Moe were telling David.
Neal said to Tom, "Dad, Charlie can't help how he is, look what he has had to deal with. His own mother hates him. That would twist any kid. He's like Jimmy would have been if he hadn't gotten away."
Tom looked at Neal. Sometimes that kid was scary. He was right; Jimmy could have turned out like that. Was it too late for Charlie? Could he be given another chance? Why is it my responsibility Tom wondered? "I'll think about it." he finally told Neal.
When they pulled up to the house David said, "You live here? Wow."
Tom got the boys out and headed into the house. Tom watched Adam as he climbed out of the van. He held his eyes closed and let David lead him. David told him there were stairs and counted them to the top. Then inside, Adam relaxed inside and was independent again. Tom was confused about this; he thought that brighter light should help Adam see better but it seemed to do the opposite.
Neal was waiting for Tom when he came in. "Dad? Brothers?" was all he said. Tom just nodded and Neal was off to catch up with the others.
Tom followed and Neal was telling Adam and David the house rules, "You got to keep your room clean, help out with chores, do your best in school and most important of all Never Ever Lie to Dad." All the boys agreed.
Tom waited a few seconds before strolling into the boy's common room. "Adam? David? Do you two want to share a room or want separate rooms?"
"Share," said David
"Separate," said Adam.
David looked confused. "Don't you need me?"
"David I need your love and hugs. We have always HAD to share a room. I think it would be nice to have our own space. We are still living together, okay?" Adam explained.
About that time Todd and Pat came thundering in. "We were, like, real worried none of you guys were on the bus. Hey, Adam, you visiting?" Todd rambled.
Tom spoke up, "No, Adam and his little brother, David," David waved, "are going to be living here."
"Kewl," Patty said. "Hey, Adam, Do you like to ride horses?"
Adam's blush was amazing; he really turned pink, poor kid, that was teasing just waiting to happen. Sex Ed was going to kill him.
"Ah, no. I can't be outside much. Sun hurts." he said.
"Wow, really? Hey we could teach you at night. There are lights out there. Would you like that?" Patty was excited by her idea.
Adam was awestruck, "I can't think of anything I'd like more."
"I'll talk to Mr. Frank, and set it up. Bye, see ya at dinner." She turned and disappeared down the hall.
David pulled on Tom's arm to get his attention, "Mr. Richards? There is only one room empty."
"It sure does seem that way. But on the other side of this wall is another suite just like this. I'll have Samuel come up tomorrow and take down this wall and you'll have six more rooms to choose from." Tom explained.
David replied, "I want the one next to Adam's."
"How about you sleep in his room tonight, then when you get home tomorrow we'll have you all set up?" Tom asked.
David Smiled and gave his new Dad a big hug.
Tom left the boys to get settled and went in search of Jim. As expected, Jim was in his office. "Well the rebel returns."
Tom smiled sheepishly, "Yeah, but I meant what I said. I've had it. I just happened to be in the right place today, but I need contact with my boys."
"Yes, you do. I was getting worried. The boys were starting to close up. I think you need to take some time with each one. Get those lines of communication open." Jim's lecture fit right in with what Tom had been telling himself the past few hours.
"Exactly. Get an Ad out for a CEO or whatever you do. I need Samuel to take out that wall to enlarge the suite. I think we need to look at Alice's suite and how the girls are settled." Tom was starting to pace. "Oh, and we need a paving company, the streets in Haven Estates are terrible. We need them done before it snows."
"Tom, the job has already been listed on the net, and we should be getting responses soon. I'll get Samuel to come over in the morning. I'll find a company to do the streets. There are a couple of other projects you have mentioned in the past, and I have some preliminary plans, whenever you would like to see them." Jim was all business.
Tom started to sit, and then realized he was getting sucked back in. "No, I'll discuss those when we have our CEO."
Tom hadn't been in his room five minutes when there was a knock. He wondered what now. He wanted to change and get comfortable and go spend some time with his boys. "Come in."
The door opened and Neal came in leading a reluctant Adam. "Dad, Adam and I need to talk to you."
Tom sat in a chair facing the love seat that the boys sat on. He felt so wonderful that his boys came to him. Wow, he had really missed this. "Adam, I'm glad you came to talk. I want you to know that you can talk to me anytime, about anything."
Adam looked skeptical. His experience was that adults didn't want to be bothered by kids and especially blind kids.
Neal began, "Dad, Adam did absolutely nothing today."
Tom smiled at the boys, "I know that. I also am very proud that you did what you did. It was a very brave thing to stand up to those bullies."
Neal blushed, "Only Charlie is a bully. The other two hang around, but they never pick on anybody. I think if they had been in Scouts they might have learned to stand up to Charlie."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Richards, I don't mean to be a problem." Adam said, in a soft timid voice.
Tom looked at Adam very closely. Fear and uncertainty were radiating from him. Linda's quick history ran through his mind. "Adam, there are some things we need to talk about. They are kind of personal, I'll let you decide if you want Neal to stay or go."
Adam let go of Neal's hand and indicated he could go. Neal looked at his Dad then smiled and left, closing the door on the way out.
Tom moved over and sat in Neal's place right next to Adam. He put his arm around Adam's shoulder and pulled him back against him. "I know things must be pretty scary for you. Your whole life has been turned inside out. Well, you are safe, now. This is your home now. I want you to consider that I would like to adopt you and your brother."
Adam snapped his head around, and stared at Tom, his eyes swinging back and forth. "No."
"Yes, I would, but only if you and David want that too. What I want you to understand is that you belong here now. You have no less right to be here than any of the other boys. Do you understand?" Tom asked.
"No, you can't mean that. I'm a freak, a blind freak." Adam stated with tears beginning to fall.
Tom pulled him into a hug. "You have a genetic condition, that isn't your fault; any more than being a boy is your fault. I admit I don't know much about Albinism, but I'm going to learn. You are not a freak, or did I miss something?" Tom proceeded to find where Adam was ticklish.
When Adam finally regained his breath, he was in a much better frame of mind. "I still don't understand."
"I know. It will take time. Talk to the other boys. They have all been in your position here. I think you will find them very understanding, and they want to be your friend." Tom was still holding Adam and felt him slowly relax.
"What should I call you?" Adam asked.
"What ever you are comfortable with. The other boys call me Dad, but it is probably way early for that. Uncle Tom is an option or Mr. Richards." Tom wanted this boy to call him Dad very badly, but knew that had to be his choice. He would have to earn the boy's trust and respect to have that honor given to him. He gave him a little squeeze and let him go.
"Come on, Adam, it's dinner time. Let's go wash up and go eat." Tom showed Adam into the bathroom, and watched as he washed his hands and dried them. He was very curious about this blindness thing. Adam could see.
Adam and David were all eyes, in the dining room. There were several spoons and forks at each place, and the cloth napkins in silver rings. Very fancy. Neal picked up on their discomfort. "Guys, just use the spoons and forks from the outside and work your way in. Weird, I know, but what the heck we don't have to wash them."
David said, "We don't?"
Brian jumped in, "No way! We got men's chores to do. We got to muck the horse stalls, on the weekends."
David looked lost, "Muck the stalls?"
Moe piped up, "Jeez, Brian, don't go scaring him, he's my little bro. You mess with him you mess with me." Moe managed to hold the serious expression almost five seconds, before he laughed. Soon all the boys were chattering away. Patty was joining right in, and Alice was watching very closely. After the food had been decimated, the kids went their ways Alice left too. Tom caught Leo before he could disappear.
"Leo, will you join me for a drink in the lounge?" Tom asked.
Dr. Turnman was surprised by the invitation. "Sure Tom."
The men went into the lounge, and fixed a drink. Leo sat and waited for Tom. When Tom sat it wasn't in the chair facing Leo but on the sofa next to him. "Leo, I want to apologize to you."
Leo turned to face his friend, "What on earth for?"
"I've let myself get so involved in other things, and we have not spent any time together." Tom said.
"So, do you want to spend time together?" Leo asked cautiously.
Tom took a deep breath, blushed and said, "Yes."
Tom is now back on track. He has a lot to do now, with a couple of new boys and getting to know Leo. Now the boys have two more brothers to bring into the family.
E-mail is welcome at email@example.com
Neal now has e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like his take on events.
I agree, Tom has his work cut out for him. Believe me when I tell you
I know how Adam feels about being treated differently.
I am very lucky to have been adapted by people who loved me in spite of my condition, or maybe they adapted me because of it. I will never know for sure. I thank them both and I miss them both.
I am glad that Tom found Adam and is going to adopt him. You will be able to see through his eyes how a young boy with a handicap
Fort Chief Editor's Notes:
Well it definitely looks like Tom and Str8mayb both have AAKD in a big way. I like the fact that Tom is putting his kids ahead of Haven Enterprises now. If only more parents' were able to do that the world would be a better place for all. You have to take your hat off to someone who takes in kids because they need TLC no matter what their physical or mental issues and who ignores their different sexual orientations. He has a big heart and luckily a big house. I am looking forward to seeing how Adam and David integrate themselves into the Haven household. Got to go 'Goos' wants to go flying,