Cover image courtesy of a good friend and fan of this story: “Logan”
LINCOLN, THE FAMILY I NEVER EXPECTED
Copyright ©2017-2018 Lindon Weztser & CSU Productions. All Rights Reserved.
Full disclaimer may be viewed at http://cornercafe.us
Part – 1
Monday, February 15th, 2016. My eyes flickered from shut to open, as they tried to adjust to the bright light beaming from the ceiling. I quickly looked at my clock to check the ftime. It was just after 5 am, and I heard, “Garret?”
“Can I sleep in here, I had a bad dream.”
“Yeah, uhh just shut off the light and hop in,” I replied trying to see as my eyes didn’t quite adjust yet.
“Okay,” the voice said as he shut off the light and walked over.
“Yeah?” He replied as he crawled under the covers.
“Come on, let’s try to get back to sleep,” I said as I pulled him closer to me, and gave him a kiss on his head.
“Love you,” he whispered.
“Love you,” I replied as I rubbed his back. I’m not sure who fell asleep first, but if I were a betting man, I would put the money on me. I was able to get another hour and 45 minutes of sleep as my alarm clock rang at 6:45. I hurried to shut it off before Jacob woke up, and I sat up in my bed. For some reason, my body felt achy and tight, and I thought a good warm shower would loosen my muscles.
I was correct, a warm shower knocked the tightness right out of me, and I was ready to go for the day. I made it downstairs at 7, and Rita had just entered through the garage. We said our hellos, and she asked how Lincoln did through the night. I told her he did surprisingly well, as we didn’t have another PTSD attack, so that was good.
She began making breakfast, but it was something she never made before. I believe she called the creation, breakfast quesadillas which included bacon, chopped onion, eggs, avocado, and peppers. Hot sauce was an option, and I love my hot sauce so I asked for it on the side. Since this was a new experiment for Rita, she said it would take 45 minutes to cook which was perfect because the boys would start waking around that time.
In between waiting for breakfast and going to wake the boys, I received a phone call from Keith.
“Hey what’s up?” I answered.
“Good morning, I just want to give you the address of the building we are looking at this morning. I’m gonna send it by text.”
“Alright,” I replied. “Just got it, give me a second to check it out.”
“It’s a beautiful piece of property with a building already constructed,” Spoke Keith
“It’s only about 30 minutes away from my house, what happened to the idea of locating the building in the city of Columbus?”
“Well for one, we are just looking. We haven’t bought anything yet, so if you want to be in Columbus, we can.” Said Keith, “however, I think outside of Columbus is a better idea for a few reasons.”
“Better schools for one, we also take kids out of the inner cities where they are more likely to do drugs and commit delinquent activities, closer for the both of us, and also safer… a lot safer.”
“Just because it would be located in the city doesn’t mean that kids would fall to drug use and stuff,” I said.
“No you’re correct, it doesn’t mean that. The chances of them using drugs and being on the streets do increase though.”
“Depends on where in the city.”
“Why are you stuck on the idea of placing the building in the city where land will be more expensive as well.”
“Umm,” I said, “I don’t know, to be honest. I just thought our original idea was to place the facility in the city. I mean, I don’t know, I have to see this property first.”
“Yeah, let’s save the judgment for after we see the property,” laughed Keith.
“Yup, works for me. See you then,” I said and hung up. Before long Clayton was the first one up and he walked down to sit on my lap.
“Morning kiddo,” I said as I lifted him up.
“Morning,” he replied as he gave me a hug and nestled into me.
“Rita is making us something different for breakfast.”
Rita started, “a quesadilla with cheese, chopped bacon, and more. I think you’ll like it.”
“Sounds good,” Clayton said as he licked his lips.
“Smells good too,” I commented.
“What will we be drinking today mister Clay?” Asked Rita as she brought over an empty glass.
“Oh no,” I laughed. “Milk or apple juice?”
“Finnne,” exhaled Clayton “umm juice please.”
“Good choice,” I said.
“Yes, excellent choice!” mentioned Rita. Soon Jacob was next to come down.
“Hey buddy,” I said.
“Morning,” he replied as he laid his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms around me.
“How’s the nose?” I asked.
“Good I think,” Jacob replied.
“Let me take a look,” I said, and he lifted his head. “Well looks way better, thankfully I don’t think it’s broken.”
“Good I was scared it was,” Jacob commented.
“Morning sleepyhead,” Rita said to Jacob.
“Breakfast should be ready in 5 minutes. Garret you mind waking the others?”
“Nope, it’s about time they should be awake anyway,” I said as I lifted the sleepy Clayton off of my lap and kissed the top of Jacob’s head before walking out of the kitchen.
“What would you like to drink Jacob?” I heard Rita ask as I proceeded upstairs.
I went into Ryker’s room first and woke him up. He threw on a pair of shorts, gave me a quick hug and headed downstairs.
Walking into Lincoln’s room, I found him awake and ripping the sheets off his bed.
“Another accident? Did you have another PTSD attack?” I asked the naked boy.
“Yeah,” Lincoln replied as he lowered his head in embarrassment.
“No big deal,” I said as I walked over and helped him remove the sheets.
“I’m, I’m… I’m sorry,” Lincoln said as he started to cry.
“Hey,” I commented as I bent down to be face to face with him. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is,” I said as I pulled him towards me by his arm for a hug. “It’s completely okay.”
“I feel like a baby, even Clayton doesn’t pee the bed anymore.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said as I rubbed his back.
“I’m sorry,” Lincoln repeated.
“You say sorry one more time, and I’m gonna pee on your bed.”
“What?” Giggled Lincoln.
“There’s that laugh,” I said as I released the hug.
“You said you would pee on my bed?”
“Yup! Want me to prove it?”
“No!” Laughed Lincoln.
“Thought so,” I chuckled. “Go clean up really quick. Rita made a new type of breakfast. I’ll take care of the sheets.”
“Okay,” he said as he went to the bathroom. I removed the rest of the sheets and put them by the side of the bed. I went to his dresser and grabbed a pair of underwear and shorts. Lincoln walked out of the bathroom, and I tossed both clothing items his way.
“Thanks,” Lincoln said as he quickly put them on.
“Alright, let’s go!” I said.
Lincoln ran over to and gave me a quick hug before we exited his room and spoke, “Love you. Thanks.”
“Love you too Lincoln,” I replied as I kissed the top of his head.
We went downstairs to join the others at the table. Rita brought over the quesadillas, and the boys loved every bite. So to say that breakfast was a success, would be an understatement. Before the boys took off to get ready, I started, “So Lincoln and Jacob, I will be picking you up early from school to go see Mrs. Ainsworth. We have our first appointment at 3 so, I’ll be picking you both up at 2:20. Ryker that means you’ll be picked up by Rita, you all understand?”
“What about me?” Asked Clayton.
“You?” I joked, “hmm what are we gonna do with you… any ideas, Rita?”
“Could let him walk home,” Rita said.
“Sounds like a good idea,” I said.
“We are teasing. I will pick you up at the normal time.”
“That would have been a really really long walk,” Clayton said.
I couldn’t help but laugh at his statement. Before long we were out the door, and the boys were dropped off at school.
On my way to look at the potential building, I received a phone call from Kelly.
“Hey, just on my way to look at a building we may purchase, what’s up?” I asked.
“Oh, should I be there?”
“No no, not yet at least. We are just looking around.”
“Oh okay good, it’s super chaotic here.”
“How come?” I asked.
“Ohhh everything, we just received word about an abusive household, and everyone is racing to get the kids out of the environment.”
“Whoa, geez. I’m sorry.”
“It’s part of the job,” replied Kelly. “Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I received the birth certificate and it is not the original copy. I will look into more, and we will see where this goes.”
“So what does that mean?”
“Nothing yet, but hopefully the real document is around somewhere.”
“Where could it be?”
“By the way, what is happening with the boys’ old house?” I asked.
“I think the state is selling it, and whatever money gets divided to the boys when they turn 18.”
“Well that won’t be much,” I said.
“Well, keep me updated, I am almost at the property.”
“You keep me updated as well,” replied Kelly.
“Will do!” I said and hung up. I arrived at the site and was met by Keith along with the real estate agent Amanda. She was a beautiful looking woman in her mid-40s, and she has known Keith for ages. She was the one who suggested this place after Keith mentioned our idea to her. She may have picked a winner, because the property was gorgeous, and we could develop the area around it.
“Why does this building look so familiar?” I asked.
“Well,” began Amanda, ” it’s an old community library before they built a new one about 20 minutes south of here.”
“Oh that’s right,” I said. “How long has it been on the market?”
“About a year now, the city decided to gut the entire building and just leave the external walls and inner support structures as the library was pretty open. All the book selves and everything is removed,” mentioned Amanda.
The building itself was 3 stories, shaped like an L. It was more stories than we needed, but maybe we could think of another idea or use the first level as a general area and offices while the top floors are for rooms. Luckily an elevator is already installed so if we run into some children with disabilities, we can accommodate them.
The exterior of the building is a light brown brick, with a vast parking lot in the front in which we don’t really need. In the back, there is a garden with a few benches to sit on and a pond sitting towards the end of the property line. However, if we were to buy this building, many renovations would be needed to the exterior. Most likely to add a sports area and playgrounds, but we are thinking too far ahead. One thing that Amanda bring up to us was the ability to fence in the property which I never thought of but is very important for the safety of faculty and children living at the facility. Overall the building is an A-, not perfect because of the enormous parking lot and too many stories. However, that being said, the building was close to perfection.
“Just curious, what is the listing price?” I asked.
“Umm let me see here,” Amanda said looking through her paperwork. “So the asking price is $2,790,00, but it comes with 5 acres of land.”
“Hmm, very well. Do you have extra copies of the listing information so I can take home with me?”
“Yes, actually I a bunch. One for you and one for Keith.”
“Thank you,” Kieth replied.
“Well thank you for your time, Amanda, I bet you will be hearing from one of us in the near future,” I said.
“Pleasure to meet you,” she replied. Keith and I walked towards our cars, and I wanted to discuss what he thought of the property.
“So, what did you think?”
“Honestly I love it. It’s a neutral spot between us, and we won’t find a piece of land like this in the city.”
“Yeah I hear ya,” I said.
“I mean this property is gorgeous, plus the interior is completely empty, so we can design it, how we want.”
“Yeah but three floors?”
“I know, I was caught up on that as well. It’s more room than we need.”
“Tell me about it,” I said. “I was thinking of having the first floor be offices and a common area for kids to interact. While the second floor is for girls and the third for boys.”
“That’s a solution,” Keith said.
“Yeah, but I mean we will have to increase the number of rooms by at least 5 on each level and most likely increase our support staff.”
“Hmm… that will drive up costs even more. We may need to start campaigning for money sooner from other sooner than expected,” Keith said.
“I don’t know if I can commit to that yet, I’m still getting the boys settled into school and dealing with… well issues in the past.”
“You okay man?” Keith asked.
“Uhh Yeah, I’m good.”
“Alright,” Keith said with a hint of suspicion.
“Well, umm I’ll get back to you with my thoughts on this property. In the meantime, I would say to keep looking for more.”
“Alright, I don’t think we are going to come across anything this nice.”
“Yeah, we have to keep looking. Can’t narrow down our options after the first property we see,” I said and opened my car door.
“Hey Garret, I’ve known you for a while now. What’s going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you were hesitant when I brought up the idea of leaving earlier to campaign for money. I mean this is what we have been discussing for so long, and we are finally within reach.”
“I know, I know. I just can’t leave my foster children at the moment.”
Keith thought for a second before speaking, “look I’m not going to say I know what you are going through with raising these boys, but we have the ability to help a lot of children in need. I can’t campaign for money by myself because you are the one with the story, idea, and name of the organization. This organization is you, you are more important to the success of this organization than I am. I need you out there campaigning with me.”
“I know, just… just give me some time. I never said I wasn’t going to campaign, I just need a few more weeks before I can give you an answer Keith. Just focus on looking at other properties, you did amazing with this one, and I expect the next one to be just as damn good.”
“We need to own a property sooner than later,” Keith reminded me.
“I just want to see another one,” I said.
“Alright, sounds good,” Keith said as he turned and walked away. I could tell he really liked this building and wanted to move forward with it. He was giving me some attitude, but I don’t blame him since Keith has devoted more of his time to get the organization running.
“Keith,” I yelled as I stepped into my car. “Good job.”
“…. thanks,” he replied.
Between viewing the property and driving back and forth, it was time to go pick Clayton up. I arrived at the school and picked him up, but was stopped by his teacher, “Hi, I am Mrs. Lispik. I’m Clayton’s teacher.”
“Oh,” I said. “I’m Garret Hamel, is everything okay?”
“Yes, actually everything is perfect. I’ve wanted to talk and give you an idea where Clayton stands in my class.”
“Well for starters, he is an amazingly fun and has been such a joy to teach so far. He interacts well with everyone and generally finishes ahead of everyone else.”
“That’s terrific!” I said.
“So terrific, that I would like for you to consider enrolling him in our gifted program to start 1st grade. Now you don’t have to make the decision at this moment, but midway through this semester we could sit down and discuss future options,” Mrs. Lispik said.
“Whoa, that’s uhh. That’s awesome.”
“Yes, it is. Right now he is tracking above any student in my class. It may be a bit early for, especially since I have only taught him for a week, but I believe he has a chance to do very well academically.”
“Well thank you, please keep me updated.”
“Will do Mr……”
“Hamel, but please call me Garret,” I replied.
“Alright, will do Garret. A pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise,” I replied and signed Clayton out of school.
“Hey, kiddo!” I said to Clayton.
“How was school today?” I asked as we walked out of the school and towards the Mercedes.
“It was good! Finished my homework in class.”
“Well, we will look it over when we get back to the house. You hungry?”
“Good, we can stop for something to eat,” I replied.
We went to a local diner that was quick and cheap. The food was average, but Clayton seemed to enjoy it. He even received a free cookie at the end of the meal for behaving and using his manors, to which he devoured in no time. We made it back to the house, and I looked over his homework. As always, he had done everything correct and was free to do what he wanted, so Clayton turned the TV on for some cartoons.
I went to my office to call around for some local skating lessons, and much to my surprise I found a number. I gave it a call, and an oldish sounding male answered. After a few minutes of chatting about the experience and knowledge the boys hold of ice skating, we quickly set up a time to meet at the ice rink on Thursday nights for lessons. I learned that his son who is still in High School playing on the hockey team would be giving the lessons. The guy on the phone assured me that his son has been skating since he was 3. I thought worst comes to worst, the boys don’t learn anything, and we terminate the lessons, so it is worth a shot. I hung up the phone and went to the family room to sit with Clayton and watch some cartoons. I mentioned to him about the ice skating lessons, and he was thrilled. I think he went for his iPad and started watching videos on how to skate.
Part – 2
It was time for me to go pick up the two boys and take them to therapy. I arrived back at the school and went into the office. The secretary rang each of the boy’s rooms, and they were called down. First to enter the office was Lincoln.
“Hey Garret,” Lincoln said as he wrapped his arms around me for a quick hug.
“Hey bud, let me take this book bag,” I replied. “Oh, it’s heavy this time, do we have a lot of homework tonight?”
“Yeah, but guess what?”
“I got to sit next to Carter!”
“That’s awesome!” I said.
“And I was able to meet Devin, he is Carter’s friend.”
“Look at you go,” I said playfully nudging him on the shoulder.
I was just thankful that he didn’t have another PTSD attack during school because I don’t think those around him would know how to handle it. Jacob was next to arrive, and I took his backpack and carried. Jacob stated he had homework as well, and that he and his friend Adam got along again. The boys loaded into the truck, and we were off to see Mrs. Ainsworth. On the car ride there, I told them about the skating lessons, as both gave me positive and excited reactions to the idea.
We arrived, and Jacob went in first, so Lincoln and I went into the waiting room, and he turned to me and asked.
“What if I don’t want to tell her stuff?”
“Umm… what uhh… what if I don’t want to tell her everything that happened.”
“Well,” I said. “Umm, whatever you feel comfortable talking about, you might not even have to discuss anything. You can just take this time to get to know Mrs. Ainsworth and if you want to, you can tell her how you feel.”
“Ya but, I don’t know.”
“It’s up to you, no one is going to force you to talk to her about your past. However, it may be helpful Lincoln. Don’t be afraid to talk to her about anything, she is a professional,” I replied.
“Talk when you want to talk and talk about what you feel comfortable saying. No one here is going to judge you, okay?”
“Okay,” Lincoln replied as he rested his head on my shoulder.
“Love you, buddy,” I said.
“Love you too,” Lincoln said looking up at me with a smile.
“Tomorrow is haircuts for you boys.”
“Yes please, this hair is too long.”
“Sort of looks good on you though.”
“Should I keep it?”
“Well it’s up to you, I know Ryker wants one and Clayton could definitely use one as well.”
“Would you like a short haircut on me?”
“I think you could pull anything off,” I replied. “So do what you want.”
Lincoln thought for a minute or two and then spoke, “yeah I think a haircut would be good.”
“Alright sounds like a plan,” I said as I kissed the top of his head. Before we knew it, Jacob’s session was over, and Lincoln stepped in.
“How was it, buddy?” I asked Jacob.
“Umm it was good I guess, we just talked.”
“Well that’s good… how was school today?”
“It was fun, we learned about the presidents today.”
“Oh interesting, what did you learn about them?”
“Ummm we learned about the first president, and we umm learned about the current president.”
“So who was the first?”
“Very good,” I said. “Who’s the current president?”
“Excellent! What else did you learn about the presidents?”
“Umm… uhh I have to know presidents 1 through 11 by Friday… In order.”
“IN ORDER?” I enthusiastically said.
“I know, it’s gonna be tough.” Jacob said, “but I already know 1 through 5.”
“Let me hear!”
“George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, uhh umm… James Madison, and James Monroe…”
“Good job bud! Number 6 is super easy though.”
“Because he was the son of one of the presidents you already listed.”
“Oh um um I know I know, it’s uhh… John Quincy Adams.”
“Now you know 1 through 6!” I said.
“Don’t mention it, but while we wait for Lincoln. Why don’t you start your homework, so you don’t have to do it at home.”
“Okay,” Jacob said. We had to run to the truck to grab his backpack, but we returned to the waiting room, and he started doing his math homework. Before long Lincoln walked out of the room and he didn’t appear too happy. Lincoln just had a down expression on his face. However, it was now my time to enter and discuss.
“How did today go?” I asked as I took a seat.
“Well,” Ruth began. “Not very well, to be honest, at least with Lincoln. I tried to get some dialect between us, and he was very reserved with his comments. I felt like he wasn’t expressing much thought, and just answering me to get through.”
“I don’t know if this is important or not, but before entering his session. While we were in the waiting room, he asked me what would happen if I didn’t want to talk to Mrs. Ainsworth.”
“I see… how did you respond?”
“I said he didn’t have to tell you stuff if he didn’t want to, I mean I wasn’t going to force him to open up to you, but I also stated that you could help with the PTSD attacks if he communicated.”
“Well we can’t force him to talk, I agree. That would only cause hi stress and damage his and my relationship with each other, so good call. How were the past two weeks been for Lincoln living at home?” Asked Ruth.
“Excellent until last Wednesday. He found out about the rape through his PTSD attacks and took it hard, I mean really hard. But I don’t blame him, he was so innocent and I… well I guess I wish he didn’t know he was raped, that sounds awful. Also, there was something concerning, he started stating that he didn’t want to live anymore.”
“Uh huh, I see I need to work harder to gain his trust. The only thing he mentioned was reoccurring flashbacks, but he didn’t tell me what they were about.”
“I call them PTSD attacks because he says he can physically feel the pain. You should see him, it’s like he is possessed and I feel so helpless at times. He tells me that it’s like he is actually there again.”
She didn’t respond, just wrote down what I was saying to her.
“How severe would you call these attacks?”
“On a scale on 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst. I’d say 10.”
“Uh huh,” said as she wrote in her notebook. “Mr. Hamel, I would like to increase Lincoln’s visits to twice a week every week. Monday and Thursday, if that works for you?”
“Could you do Wednesdays?” I asked.
“Wednesdays are tight, but umm… yeah I can do Wednesday at 5.”
“Alright and what about Jacob?”
“Jacob was very open.”
“Really?” I was shocked.
“As you know about the abuse history involving his father, I found that he doesn’t feel like he can trust a male figure. However, I think he likes your father, as he mentioned him a few times. Also, he is afraid of letting you down.”
“Whoa,” I said. “Why is he afraid of letting me down?”
“I haven’t gotten that far, but I would guess that he never felt he was good enough for his father. From his past experiences with a father figure in his life, it hasn’t gone well. He didn’t directly say this, but I picked up on the fact that he always feels like he has to be his best around you?”
“I… I just, I don’t know what to say… umm how do I fix that?”
“I believe you already are fixing it, just keep being yourself and helping him through this tough time. Your everyday activities will slowly help. There is a lot to him, I can tell. He is bottling his emotions deep inside, and it might take a while, but I think with time, you will crack open that bottle.”
“Any idea of how I should start?”
“Well, a good method would be to have 1 on 1 time with him. Read a book, umm go for a walk, or find something you both like. From my perspective, I believe he has trust in you, but it is very minuscule.”
“Okay. Does he need extra sessions?”
“Umm yes, but not to the extent of Lincoln. I would like to see him every Monday. We will see how that goes and can reduce or increase the number of visits.”
“Alright,” I said. “I will see you Wednesday.”
“Sounds good Mr. Hamel,” Ruth said as we both stood up and shook hands.
“Alright boys, let’s head home,” I said to both of them. We hopped in the truck and headed for home. We pulled into the garage around 5:30, and the boys took off inside. I closed the garage door and walked into the kitchen, where Rita was making dinner.
“How were Ryker and Clayton?” I asked.
“Good, Ryker is a bit down though. We did his homework, then he went upstairs to his room. I haven’t seen him since.”
“I’ll go check on him,” I said as I put my coat jacket on the barstool seat by the kitchen island. “Jacob… Lincoln, finish your homework before dinner,” I loudly spoke to them in the family room.
“Okay,” was all I received as they both made an effort to their backpacks.
Part – 3
I made my way upstairs and into Ryker’s room, where I saw him laying on his stomach on his bed using his computer.
“Hey bud,” I said as I sat down at the end of the bed.
“Hi,” he softly spoke.
“How was school today?”
“Yes, but I finished it.”
“Alright, I would like to go over it though,” I said.
“Okay, my homework is downstairs in my backpack.”
“Alright, after dinner then.”
“Uhh yeah, I’m okay.”
“Yeah? Something is up I can tell,” I asked as I started rubbing his back.
“Umm, it’s Hannah again. During lunch, she wanted to sit by me, but I sat with Dylan and his friends. Then at the end of school, she grabbed my hand again as we were leaving the classroom.”
“Ohh I see,” I replied. A feeling of relief came over me as it was nothing major. “And?”
“And, well… Mr. Green let us leave to go home, and when I was walking out of the classroom, she grabbed my hand and said ‘hey boyfriend’ in front of Dylan and his friends. I… I… I didn’t know what to do or say so I… umm I ripped my hand away and said I’m not your boyfriend and called her ugly.”
There went my feeling of relief, I began, “Ryker I’m very disappointed in you. You don’t ever treat people that way.”
“I know,” he began crying. “I made her cry, and she ran away.”
“I’m disappointed Ryker.”
“I feel really bad.”
“And you should feel bad. That was not the way to handle the situation.”
“But Dylan and all his friends were laughing at me when she held my hand.”
“were they laughing after you said she was ugly?”
“A few were, but not everyone. I laughed though because someone else yelled it, after me.”
“So you not only called her ugly, but you laughed as she cried and ran away? Am I correct?”
“Yeah, but-but, people were laughing at me before,”
“Ryker, I don’t care. What she did was harmless, but what you did was bullying. Just because you don’t like a situation you’ve been put into, does not mean you can treat others poorly and say harsh things to people. There was a proper way to handle it, and I’m afraid you didn’t handle it correctly.”
“What should I do?” Ryker asked.
“What do you think you should do?”
“I don’t know… I guess… say I’m sorry.”
“That would be a start,” I said in a firm tone.
“What else?” Ryker asked.
“Who are you apologizing to?”
“Well, I uh… I uh… I don’t know,” Ryker cried.
“Okay so let me put it to you in this way. How would you like to be called ugly and embarrassed in front of others.”
“But I was embarrassed,” Ryker pleaded his case.
“No, no you weren’t. It was awkward, not embarrassing. Those kids were laughing at the situation, they aren’t used to seeing people hold hands. But what you did, could hurt someone emotionally and mentally Ryker. Now try to think, you like to look good and you like to wear nice things right?”
“What if someone said you were ugly and your clothes were stupid. How would you feel?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ryker,” I said. “You know exactly how you would feel.”
Ryker paused for a few seconds before answering, “yeah, I guess I wouldn’t like it, especially if someone said that in front of others.”
“No one likes it… Hannah definitely didn’t like it. Hannah’s parents definitely don’t like to see their daughter being hurt. So how are we going to fix it?”
“Say I’m sorry.”
“Yes, but to who?”
“Hannah?” Ryker asked.
“Umm… umm I don’t know.”
“How about Hannah’s parents, and you are going to tell those boys that were laughing at Hannah, that you were wrong and you didn’t mean to say those things.”
“Do I have to?”
“No, you don’t have to… but if you don’t, you are grounded for 2 months. No tv, laptops, games, no anything. Thursday we start skating lessons, you won’t be able to participate in that.”
“That’s not fair!” Ryker said.
“Oh it’s fair, you need to see that your actions have consequences. You are responsible for your actions which include the things you say. When you say mean things to people, there are consequences.”
“No buts… you have a choice here. You can apologize to Hannah, Hannah’s parents, and tell those boys that you were wrong to call someone ugly or you can take your punishment and accept your consequences. You choose Ryker, I expect an answer before dinner. Do you want time to think about it?”
“No,” Ryker responded. “I think I know what’s right.”
“Alright, dinner should be ready in 20 minutes.”
“Are… are you mad at me?”
“I’m not mad, just not happy. I thought you would have known better. However, everyone makes mistakes, it’s part of life.”
“Do… do you still love me?”
“Of course I do, just because I’m not happy with you doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I’m tough on you because I love you. I want to correct mistakes you make and let you learn from them because I love you.”
“Save the apologies for Hannah,” I said, “now get ready for dinner.”
“Okay,” Ryker said as he sat up and gave me a quick hug. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” I replied and went to leave his room. There are a few things I can’t stand in life, and one of those is a bully. It’s just something that has always pissed me off, I guess because I was bullied a little in school.
Dinner was fabulous as always. Rita had made some meatloaf, and side dishes of pierogis, corn, and green beans. Surprisingly, the boys never really protested against eating anything. Actually, I think the vegetables might have been their favorite thing. After everyone finished eating, the boys cleaned the table, and I went over everyone’s Homework. Most of the answers were correct, and then I helped Lincoln with his new list of spelling words. This one seemed a little more difficult, so we went over it twice.
I went upstairs to Jacob’s room to review the presidents with him, and after, I decided to try and get some 1 on 1 time with him outside of school work.
“Good job on the president’s kiddo, we will go over them again tomorrow! Sound good?”
“Yeah, thanks for helping.”
“No problem. So since your finished with homework, what are you planning on doing?”
“Umm… I don’t know, probably play Minecraft.”
“Minecraft? I don’t think I have ever played that. Can I join?” I asked.
“I mean, that’s if you want me to.”
“No no, I want you to!” Jacob said excitedly.
“Alright. You are going to have to teach me how to play though.”
“It’s pretty easy,” Jacob stated. For those who don’t know Minecraft, it’s a creative building/survival game. We could play two players, and I quickly caught on how to play. So we started from scratch, that means Jacob and I’s first objective was to build a shelter. I was following his lead, and unfortunately he and I both died. It caused some great laughs, because I accidentally fell off a cliff, and Jacob was eaten by this zombie thing in the game. It was some great bonding time, as I felt we connected over this game. While we were playing, Jacob shifted to rest his feet on my lap as he laid down on the bed.
“How are you playing this game while laying down?” I joked.
“Oh, I see,” I said.
After about an hour of playing, we had successfully built our shelter, and the next step was to begin to look for food. However, that would have to wait until next time as it was getting late and the boys needed to have showers and baths. When I mentioned it to Jacob, he agreed but asked if we could play for 5 more minutes. I decided there was no harm in that, and thought he was enjoying our extra time, which he was, but he had other ideas. Somehow, he found a bow and arrow in the game and killed me.
“Hey,” I giggled.
“Sorry,” Jacob laughed.
“I’ll show you sorry,” I said and started tickling his ribs. I didn’t know how ticklish he was until now, but I wasn’t surprised. All preteen boys are ticklish. He was squirming left and right and turned to his stomach, which left his feet exposed. I grabbed his left leg and started to tickle his foot. It was all over after that, I had found his weak spot. His feet were super sensitive as he kept laughing and laughing.
“Say uncle!” I laughed.
“Uncle uncle uncle,” he called out through his laughter.
“Alright alright,” I said as I let go of his foot.
“I almost peed,” he said turning back around.
“That would have been funny.”
He caught his breath before he looked at me and spoke, “thanks for playing Minecraft. That was fun.”
“Thanks for letting me play Jacob. We have to do this more often.”
“Yeah, I mean if you would like to.”
“Yes!” He said as he got up and gave me a hug. “That was so much fun.”
“Good,” I chuckled as I released his hug. “So do we have to start over next time or does the game save?”
“The game saves, so we don’t have a new game. But we have to build our defenses and get food.”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” I said tussling his hair.
“Yeah! Love you,” he said and gave me another hug.
“Love you too,” I replied and kissed his head. “So you doing a bath or shower tonight?”
“Umm, I’ll do a bath if others are.”
“Why I’m sure Clayton will do a bath, so start getting ready, I’ll have a bath ready for you in my room in ten minutes,” I said as I got off the bed and headed to the door.
“Okay,” Jacob said as he stripped his shirt off. “Garret?”
“Yeah,” I said as I turned around.
“Are… are my brothers and me gonna stay here forever?”
“I sure do plan on keeping you guys. Would you like that?”
“Umm.. yeah, a lot.”
“Sounds good to me,” I said as I left the room. I just hope this birth certificate thing works out, that’s what was in the back of my mind.
I went around the house, to see if anyone wanted to join in on the bath, and it was only Clayton as Ryker was still in a weird mood, and Lincoln was just about to get a shower. Before I put Jacob and Clayton in the tub, I saw Rita out the door. I noticed that she was starting to stay later and later each night. It was beginning to worry me because I didn’t like the idea of her traveling by herself this late.
As I headed back upstairs, I was greeted by two naked boys jumping on my bed giggling their butts off.
“Get down you two monkeys,” I laughed as I walked past and started the bath. They slowly listened to me, and walked over and hopped into the filling bathtub.
As they settled down, Clayton asked, “can we play a game?”
“Umm sure,” I said as I thought of a game. “Want to play the alphabet game?”
“What is that?” Asked Jacob.
“Alright to start, let’s have someone give me a topic.”
“Animals!” Blurted Clayton.
“Alright so animals are the topic, to start, I would say Alligator is for A. Jacob would be next and he would have to repeat my animal and think of an animal that starts with B, so let’s say umm… baboon. Clayton you would have to say alligator, baboon, and come up with something for C. We go all the way through the alphabet. Wanna play?”
“Can I go first?” Asked Clayton.
“Sure, so name an animal that starts with A.”
“Umm… uhh… Ant,”
“Alright, Jacob your turn,” I said
“So do I repeat his and then say mine?”
“Alright, good job, so Ant, Beetle, Crocodile,” I said.
“Ant, beetle, croc… croca…. how do you say that? Asked Clayton.
“Sorry buddy, we will change it to cat… crocodile is a hard word to pronounce.”
“Okay, so Ant, Beetle, Cat, Dog,” Clayton spoke.
“Ant, Beetle, Cat, Dog, Elephant, “stated Jacob.
“Ant, Beetle, Cat, Dog, Elephant, and umm… Frog,” I said as I began washing the boys.
“Ant, Beetle, Cat, Dog, Elephant, Frog, Goat,” laughed Clayton.
“Goat?” Giggled Jacob. “Okay umm, Ant, Beetle, Cat, Dog, Elephant, Frog, Goat… uhhh Horse!”
“Nice,” I said. “Ant, Beetle, Cat, Dog, Elephant, Frog, Goat, Horse, Iguana.”
I could hear Clayton singing the alphabet as he didn’t know the next letter, so I told him J, and he began to list the animals. “Ant, Beetle, Cat, Dog, Elephant, Frog, Goat, Horse, Iguana, and umm I don’t know any animal that begins with j.”
“Come on you got it!” I encouraged.
“Yeah you got it, Clay,” said Jacob.
“Umm, an umm… gerbil!”
“I like the effort kiddo, but gerbil begins with a G and not J, want to ask for help on this one?”
“Oh, that’s stupid.. it should start with a J!” Commented Clayton.
I laughed my butt off, “well I will call Merriam-Webster Dictionary and have them change it.”
“I don’t know who that is, but you should. Gerbil should start with a J,” stated Clayton.
“Oh boy,” I laughed and helped him out. I gave him jaguar, and the game continued. With a little help from google, and a mythical creature, we made it through the alphabet, and the boys were clean. It was a more prolonged bath than usual, but it was worth it. I wrapped each of them in a towel and carried Clayton to his room while Jacob went to his. I put Clayton’s PJs on and kissed him goodnight.
I went to Jacobs room, where he was just putting on one of my big t-shirts, so I caught a glimpse of his cute butt. I tucked him in, and kissed his forehead when Jacob spoke, “Thanks for a fun day!”
“Anytime bud, love you.”
“Love you,” he replied and kissed my cheek. I returned a kiss on his forehead and went to Ryker’s room.
I saw Ryker in his underwear, getting ready for bed and said, “Ready to be tucked in?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Alright, come on,” I said. He crawled into bed and threw his underwear off. “Naked tonight?”
“Yeah, Lincoln said I should try it.”
“Alright,” I said and pulled back the covers. “Sleep, however, makes you comfortable.”
“Okay,” he said as he laid down and I pulled the covers over his body.
“No, I feel really bad about Hannah.”
I took a seat on the side of his bed and started scratching his head. “Its called guilt, you feel guilty because you made someone else feel bad.”
“Will it go away?”
“Yeah, it will go away, especially when you apologize.”
“What if she doesn’t like me anymore? Like friends?”
“Well that’s her decision, she has the right to not like you anymore. It may take some time before she forgives you.”
“Yeah,” Ryker said.
“It’s okay buddy, everything will work out,” I said as I kissed his forehead.
“I hope so.”
“Love you kiddo, goodnight.”
“Love you, Garret,” he replied as I gave him a hug and stood up. On my way out, I picked up his underwear and put it in the dirty laundry basket. I was on my way to Lincoln’s room next.
I saw him laying on the top of his bed naked while reading over his spelling words.
“Well, I don’t know if I have ever seen someone studying naked,” I laughed.
“Huh…. oh,” Lincoln giggled. “Yeah umm… it’s a new method, they say the airflow around the body helps you remember things better.”
“Oh is that so?”
“Yeah, you should try it.”
“I think you’re full of bologna,” I said as I sat down and likely poked him in the ribs.
“No, I’m not,” he giggled. “Wanna taste?”
“No I’m good, but it is time for bed,” I stated as I started undoing the top of his bed sheets.
“Fine,” he sighed.
“Come on, we can chat for a few minutes. Just get under the covers.”
“What?” He said giggling, “too much nakedness?”
“Umm yeah,” I responded as he crawled to the top of the bed.
“There’s no such thing!”
“What am I gonna do with you,” I joked as I pulled the covers over his body.
“Nothing, I hope.”
“Yeah you’re right,” I said as I laid down on the top of the covers. “So how was therapy?”
“I don’t know.”
“did you tell her much or were you quieter today?” I asked.
“Umm quieter,” Lincoln replied in a dejected tone.
“That’s okay,” I replied and started scratching his head. “I know you were going back and forth about opening up and stuff.”
“Yeah, I guess I should have said more.”
“No, you said what you were comfortable saying. That’s okay, keep doing that though.”
“Really? You don’t care if I have to keep going back?”
“No, not at all. But there is one thing, umm… you are going to start to see Mrs. Ainsworth twice a week, every week.”
“Well, she wants to get to know you more. So you’ll see her on Mondays and Wednesdays.”
He didn’t look happy, and I understood. However, if this started taking away his PTSD attacks, then we would both be on board with more therapy appointments.
“Fine,” Lincoln stated. “Can we talk about something else though?”
“Absolutely! What did you have in mind?”
Lincoln yawned, “umm about you.”
“Alright, what about?”
“What were you like as a kid?”
“Well that would be a better question for grandma, but I can tell you I liked sports as I played almost every sport. Hockey, football, soccer, baseball, but as I grew up, I had to stick to one sport, and I went with football. I sort of regret that, because I was good at hockey, and I only went with football because I had close friends in that sport. However, outside of sports, I was with my family a lot, because we moved around so much, which meant I spent a lot of time with my brother Lucas. He was closer to me than any other of my siblings.”
“Uncle Lucas is cool,” Lincoln softly said as I sensed he was getting tired.
“Yeah, Kelly and Calvin were around but just never formed the relationship I did with Lucas. However, now we are all really close, so it doesn’t matter now. But back to when I was a kid, I had a lot of energy and loved exploring things. Like taking toys and stuff apart and putting them back together. I was sort of a nerd.”
Lincoln giggled at that remark.
“Hey now,”I laughed. “I was a cool nerd! But yeah, taking things apart and building them back together was something I found so fascinating. I like to know how things work, so when I was bored, I amused myself with that. I was also into cars, and still am. Something about cars, just intrigue me!”
Lincoln had finally dozed off around 9:30 and I left his room to go watch an episode of Game of Thrones. I poured myself a half cup of whiskey and started the show when I received a phone call from Calvin.
“Hey brother,” I said.
“Hey, how are you?”
“Good good, just got the boys down for the night. Everything good?”
“Oh yeah,” Calvin said. “I meant to call earlier, but George’s birthday is March 5th, which is a Saturday. We are having a party at the house and would love for you all to come and celebrate.”
“Count us in, I’m sure the boys will be excited to hear about this. Who’s all coming?”
“Unfortunately, Lucas and company can’t make it, but everyone else on our side is coming. Mom and dad might be asking to stay with you, and then Charlotte’s side is coming.”
“Full house,” I joked.
“I know, tell me about it. It’s gonna be chaotic!”
“Should be fun though. Anyway, so it’s two weeks from this Saturday?”
“Yup! Oh, tell Rita she is welcome to join.”
“Alright sounds like a plan. Love ya man,” I replied.
“Talk soon!” Calvin stated and hung up. I was just about to turn the episode on when I received a call from Kelly. She was just saying that Christian was able to come and stay the weekend. I was delighted, as the boys were questioning when they would be able to see him again. Kelly said Christian was excited as well, and before we hung up, she informed me that there is no news on Jacobs birth certificate as they haven’t had much time to look into it. That was fine with me, part of me didn’t even want to know what she might find, so the longer, the better.
I was finally able to start my Game of Thrones, and I binged watched three episodes until 1am. I knew it was going to be a rough morning, but I just could not stop watching. That damn TV series is just too good. However, on my way up, I heard some noises coming from Lincoln’s room.
I entered, and he was having another attack. After an hour of getting him to relax and calm down, he finally went back to the bedroom, and I went to my room and collapsed on my bed. I set a quick phone alarm, and I was out.
Two paths in front of me, one that is apparently better than the other. One seemed darker, less favorable while the other drew me in with bright, colorful lights. The shining path just looked so fun, but there was a piercing sound that took my attention to the dark side. I couldn’t quite comprehend what the noise was, but the level kept increasing and increasing. The sound was laughter mixed with fear and screams. I was intrigued by it; I wanted to know what the noise was, so I took one step forward, my heart beating like a drum as sweat filled my palms. I took another step forward and another step. I started to notice someone sitting in front of me, I took another step, and the person looked at me.
I couldn’t figure out who the person was, but as I got closer to the figure, the noise kept getting louder. I took another step, and the path became lighter, but the sound still pierced my ears. I took another step, and the figure started to take shape. It was a boy, it could have been Lincoln, but I couldn’t tell. I took another step down the path, and bags of money were burning as they zoomed by my head. Images of drugs, blood, and sounds of cries echoed around me. I took another step, and he was staring me right in the eyes. It was Lincoln, definitely Lincoln and he looked in pain. This was the first time I recognized the person in my dream. I began running, as objects flew by my head. Sounds of crying and crashing noises rang throughout my ear. I was 10 feet to reaching Lincoln, and I was stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t move forward, and I saw some other figure heading his way. I couldn’t tell who it was, but it looked to be an adult. The person started sprinting towards Lincoln, and I started screaming for Lincoln to come to me, but he couldn’t hear my screams.
The guy closed in and, I shot out of my deep slumber to a sitting position. “What in the world could this dream even mean,” I thought. It didn’t make sense to me, I couldn’t comprehend what I was supposed to do. Was I suppose to take the lighted path? I don’t know, but I looked at the clock, and it read 5:17 in the morning. I knew I had to get back to sleep or I wasn’t waking up for tomorrow morning.
To Be Continued…