Three weeks have passed since Ian’s been back to work. Blake finished his first semester at the alternative school. Ian’s done with finals and is now getting ready for the new semester and his normal classroom routine. Trace and Blake are both a little nervous about Blake starting at Tylerville East High School. Ian, on the other hand, is excited about his son starting school. Meanwhile, Ian is hanging out in the office. He’s working on his lesson plans, when there is a knock at the door.
“Come in, Blake, and pull up a chair.”
Blake comes into the room and grabs the chair from Trace’s desk.
“Dad, do you think that I’ll fit in at school?”
Ian never thought of that being a problem for his son.
“Honestly, I think you’ll do just fine. Don’t expect it to happen right away though.”
Blake knew he wanted to be out at school, but he’s worried about that as well.
“Do you think that I’ll be okay if the kids know that I’m gay?”
Ian carefully considered Blake’s question. He knows there are kids who will make fun of other kids no matter what. There is also honesty to be considered. Blake doesn’t need anything sugar coated. Hopefully, he’ll listen and not panic.
“Blake, it may not be as bad as Idaho, but I can’t promise you that the kids won’t bother you.”
His son sat quietly as he thought about what Ian told him. He stood up, said, “Thanks, Dad,” and walked out of the room.
Blake went back to his room. He pulled out his journal and grabbed his trusty pen.
“I asked Ian if he thought that I’d get teased for being gay. He didn’t give me the answer I wanted to hear, but at least he was honest. With Trace and Ian, I’ve never felt that they’ve lied to me or held anything back from me. Guess I’ll have to do my worrying and deal with whatever comes my way.”
As he was writing, Trace walked into his room, turned around and walked back out. Trace was hoping to talk to Blake about school, but he knew that Blake’s journal was a private matter. This could wait. When he was finished with his entry, Blake put away his journal and laid down for a nap. He kept thinking about school as he tried to relax.
Trace walked into the office to play a game. Ian turned around and spoke.
“Blake asked me if the kids at school would tease him for being gay.”
“And what did you say to him?”
“I told him that it may not be as bad as it was back home in Idaho, but that I couldn’t promise him that he wouldn’t get teased here.”
His partner agreed with what Ian said, but now Trace has a question.
“Why do you think he’s worried about it?”
“Well, maybe he’s tired of hiding from everyone.”
The thought never occurred to Trace that Blake would be tired of hiding, especially since there was no longer a reason to hide. At least, Ian will be in the building with him. Trace still wanted to talk with his son about school. Maybe he could make him feel more at ease. The talk may be for Blake’s sake, but it’s also for Trace’s peace of mind. Trace is worried about Blake’s safety.
Trace remembers quite clearly the day that Mark came close to kidnapping his son. A day doesn’t go by where he’s not looking over his shoulder for signs of any problems. It’s pretty clear that Mark wasn’t acting alone, so there is always the possibility of revenge, or more attempts at kidnapping Blake. The group behind the kidnapping remains very secretive, and the secretive nature of the group terrifies Trace. It’s easy to go to the store or out to eat because Ian and Trace are with him. At school, Ian is there, but even he can’t be with him the entire time. He doesn’t want Blake to know about his fears.
Blake woke up and went to the kitchen to snag one of the pears that Ian bought, and as he sat down, Trace walked into the kitchen.
“Have a minute?”
“Sure!” Blake says to Trace.
“Ian and I were talking and he said that you were worried about school.”
At first Blake was upset at Ian, but he calmed down when he suddenly he realized, that’s what parents do; they talk about their kids’ problems. Blake is actually happy that Trace wants to talk to him.
“So what exactly is worrying you about school?” Trace already knew, but he wanted to hear it from Blake. He wants his son to be as comfortable as possible.
Blake told him what he told Ian earlier. Trace could tell that his son was still troubled.
“Blake, I’m going to tell you the same thing that Ian told you, and maybe some stuff that he didn’t as well.”
The younger male wondered if he should be taking notes or not. Trace thought carefully so he would say what Blake really needed to hear.
“The first day of school is always rough. There is no escaping that, unfortunately, but you can make it better by being friendly and by looking for opportunities to say ‘hi’ or times when you can help someone out. Don’t be shy either! If someone asks you a question, answer it. If you need help with something, ask another student. Now, when it comes to being gay, honestly, I don’t have any magical advice for you. What Ian told you is true, but my suggestion to you is to tell people on a need-to-know basis. You don’t have to hide it, and at the same time, it doesn’t need to be shouted from the mountaintops either. Does that make sense to you?”
Blake was not thinking that Trace would say so much to him.
“Yeah, Dad, it does make sense to me.”
“Cool, is there anything else bugging you?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
Blake might be cool, but Trace was feeling more and more like school was a bad idea. At the same time, he knows that Blake has to be in school. He may need to swallow his fears and just let it go. Trace got up and said, “Let us know if anything else is bothering you. We can’t always fix things, but we can always offer our support,” and he walked away.
Blake returned to his room and was turning on the Xbox when Ian knocked at the door.
“Hey, I downloaded a copy of the class catalog and the class request form. Why don’t we go through it? Of course it doesn’t mean you’ll get these classes, but it’s worth a try.”
“Okay,” Blake said.
“If you want to wait, we can do it later.”
“No, let’s do it now.”
Ian was glad that Blake was willing to work with him.
“What classes were you taking at the alternative school?”
“I was taking Algebra II, Sophomore English, Earth Science, World History, and Quest.”
Blake really enjoyed his classes and his teachers.
“Okay then, let’s see what we can do at the computer.”
Ian and Blake left Blake’s bedroom and moved to the office.
In the office, Ian called up the class schedule on his computer. Blake’s eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing; the list was huge. If only there was a way to get a schedule that matched his old one…
“Can I get the schedule that I had the alternative school?”
“We can try to get you into those classes.”
Ian knew it would be rough with only having a day or two before the new semester started.
As Blake and Ian are going over the courses available, Trace walks in and looks over their shoulders.
“Okay so we want Algebra II, English, Earth Science, World History, and hopefully, Quest,” and Ian typed the classes that Blake wanted to take.
“There’s a problem. Quest is offered as a semester class, so do you want to study or… hey, there’s a digital photography class. It says here that it’s a trial run to see what kind of response the class would have. Of course, you could take Choir in place of Quest…”
“What is Quest?” Trace asks.
Ian answers. “It’s an Interpersonal Relations class. You know that Dale Carnegie book you have – `How to Win Friends and Influence People’? This course is similar.”
“OK, but it would be a lot easier to understand if they just called it `Interpersonal Relationships.”
“I’ll mention that to the School Board,” Ian kids.
Ian had Blake fill out the course selection form and then Ian printed it out. Blake signed it and dated it followed by Ian doing the same, and then all that is needed is to get Trace’s signature and date, which he provides.
Three days later, school has started for Ian. Blake and Trace are waiting on a call from him. Around 10:00 am the phone rings; it’s Ian telling Trace to bring Blake to school. Blake grabs his course selection sheet and they head off. Blake’s heart begins to pound as they get closer to the school. It gets even worse as Trace parks the car and they get out and start moving up to the front doors. Trace pushes the button on the door and waits for the office to respond.
“Can I help you?”
“Yeah, I’m bringing my son in to register for school.”
“Come on in!”
Blake opened the door when the buzzer sounded and held it for Trace. Trace was hoping he had grabbed the right the folder. Ian put together a file folder with all kinds of documentation to be used for Blake’s registration.
As they stepped into the office, a woman in her early forties with shoulder length blonde hair stood up and called them over to her.
“Hold on, Trace, I’m going to page Ian for you.”
“Okay, is he on prep?”
“Yes, classes don’t begin until tomorrow,” she said as she grabbed the phone and paged, “Mr. Richards, please report to the office.”
Upon hearing that, Ian smiled; his first thought was, “The kids would have a field day over this one if they were here.”
Ian quickly made his way up to the office.
“Are we ready for this?” He was addressing both Trace and Blake at the same time.
“Sure!” Trace was nervous, mostly out of sympathy for Blake.
“Not really!” Blake’s response was not what Ian was hoping for, but at least he was honest.
The lady on the other side of the desk handed them their visitor’s passes.
“Here are your visitor’s passes. Please sign in and then you’re all set to go.”
Blake felt like he was somehow signing his life away. Trace was feeling a little bit calmer. Ian and family were ready to begin getting Blake enrolled in school. It felt like a huge step to Ian.
Now comes the paperwork; Ian wasn’t looking forward to this at all. Mrs. Hall, the office secretary, was known for being on top of registrations and she was also known for being very strict about the paperwork.
“Mrs. Hall, we need to register this young man.”
“Okay, Mr. Richards, I need the paperwork that I told you to bring.”
Trace handed her the folder. She took her time thumbing through the papers and then walked over to the copying machine. The papers were stuck back into the folder and in the same motion, she handed the guys papers to fill out. Blake kept watching for activity through the big windows in the office that looked out into the hallway, hoping to catch a glimpse of the kid in Ashley’s photo. But with school not starting until tomorrow, there wasn’t much chance of that happening. Within in 15 minutes, Ian and Trace filled out all the paperwork.
“Next step is guidance,” Ian said, secretly beaming over getting his son registered in school.
Trace and Blake followed Ian to the guidance office.
The guidance office sounds pretty official to Blake. Ian opens the door to the office and he holds it open for both his husband and his son. Once he is inside, he starts talking with a young man sitting behind the front desk in the office. He didn’t mention the young man’s name, but he did ask if Tonya was free. The 20 something year old guy has hazel eyes, dark brown hair, and a very warm smile; nothing gets past Blake. The young man picks up the phone and dials a number.
“Mrs. Green, Mr. Richards and Mr. Andrews are here to register their son.”
“You can send them into my office.”
School suddenly became very concrete in all their minds, knowing that the guidance counselor was on the other side of the door. For Blake, she might be an ally. She already knew that Ian and Blake had worked on the schedule at home. Ian gave her the class schedule that he and Blake had put together. It hit Ian just now that he should have grabbed Blake’s grades from the alternative school. Mrs. Green worked away on the class schedule. After siting forever, or so it seemed, she finished his schedule.
“Okay, you’re going to have Mr. Martinez for World History, Digital Photography with Mrs. Curtis, Earth Science with Mr. Richards, Algebra II with Mr. White, Speech with Mr. Hales, and Quest with Miss. Stevens. You’ll have “A” lunch so that, if you choose, you can have lunch with your dad. Now, I just need you to sign here and date it, and then I need your parents to sign here and here and date it.”
Everyone signed their signatures and Mrs. Green printed out his schedule and made sure to assign Blake a locker.
“How about I take you to find your locker and give you a chance to practice your combination?” she suggested.
His insides are feeling a bit like jelly at the moment. He wasn’t ready for school to start, but then again, neither was Trace. She led him and his dads to his locker. Looking down at his schedule, he started working on his combination.
“15, 23, 30,” he thought to himself.
He then looked up and noticed that it was next to room 104. With luck, he flew through the combination. Now if it’s just that easy tomorrow morning…
“Are you ready to head home?”
Blake looked at Trace and said “Yes!” He just wanted to get out of this building.
Blake started to miss his friends from the streets and the people from the alternative school as well. Maybe, he could talk Trace into stopping by the school.
“So, any plans for the rest of the day?”
As they drove, Blake kept an eye out for the kids from his old life. As bad as it was, he sort of missed it. He’s just not sure what part of it he’s missing exactly.
Blake grabbed his backpack and lined everything up that he would need for tomorrow. All of the notebooks and binders are ready to go, even if he doesn’t feel ready to go yet. He knew this day would come, but he wished it hadn’t come so fast. A part of him worried that maybe he wasn’t ready to be back in public school. `Dumb’ described how he felt right now. Just then, the phone rang and Trace called out, “I’ve got it!”
It was a good thing that Trace answered the phone because the call was for him anyway. He is expected to show up at the station for a quick meeting. He didn’t need any of his gear, which was nice. What bothers him is that no one said what was going on; he was just told to be there. He’s afraid that whatever is going on somehow involves Mark or one of the street kids. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel right to him. Things have been really quiet since Mark was arrested and now, just in time for Blake to go to school, something is up. Dread is building in his chest, very much like the butterflies did to Blake on his way to school.
Trace was about to walk into the station when a teenage male approached him. It’s pretty obvious by the way he is dressed that the kid is from the streets.
“Are you a police officer?”
“Yeah I am, but I’m off duty right now. What’s up?”
“Well, the guy who helped my buddy, Blake, was a cop and I was wondering if you could tell that cop thanks for me.”
The officer’s heart burst for a little bit.
“I can do that for you. What’s your name?”
“Thanks! I’m Jerry Welch,” the kid said, as he reached out his hand to Trace, who gladly accepted it.
“You’re welcome, Jerry.” The kid smiled, then turned and left.
Trace opens the door to the station and notices how alive it seems to be. Something had to be going on now and he needed to find out what. No one seems to notice him, so he pops into the Chief’s office and knocked on the door just enough to announce his presence. Another officer, a state trooper, was already sitting in the office.
“Officer Trace Andrews, this is Officer Michael Hooks. Officer Hooks is here as a part of a taskforce that is looking into the disappearances involving our street kids.”
Officer Hooks seems to be studying Trace.
“So, how can I help you?”
“To be frank, you can put that “son” of yours back out onto the streets. We need a decoy to catch this group red-handed.”
“No way! Not with everything that he’s been through, I’m not sending him back out into the lion’s den.”
Officer Hooks turned to the Chief. “He’s your officer; straighten him out.”
The Chief looked at Trace and motioned at the door. “Officer Andrews, would you please step out for a second?”
Trace could tell that the Chief was ready to explode. He didn’t have a good feeling about this guy.
He walked out, sat down outside the office and waited for almost 15 minutes. When the door opened, Trace was called back into the office.
“So, your son helped get one of the ring leaders off the streets, huh?” Officer Hooks looked at Trace, waiting for a response.
“I don’t know about that, but I do know that we almost lost him because of that creep and I won’t ask him to go through any of that again. I’m the cop, not Blake.”
The Chief looked at Officer Hooks and then returned his attention to Trace. “We will not be asking your son to endanger himself.” He turns his head to the state trooper. “The state will just have to find another way to handle this situation.” Then the Chief turns to Trace and says, “Officer Andrews, you are free to go home.”
It felt good, for once, to be dismissed by the Chief and it’s good to know that the man has his back as well as the back of his son.
= = =
This is Book Two of the Blake Saga. You can find Book One on sale at Amazon. Visit www.imagine.csob.me/store/ChuckB/
by Chuck B. © 2011