This story is the sole property of its author and may not be copied in whole or in part without the permission of the author. The posting of this story on any web site must be with the author's prior knowledge and permission.
This story is based loosely on events in the lives of the members of the group *Nsync. What is depicted in the story came from the imagination of the author. The author has never met any of the members of *Nsync or to his knowledge have not met any angels or had any personal dealings with God.
This story is offered for your enjoyment this holiday season. With the chaos of today's world I'm offering this little story as a beacon of hope. May this holiday season be a happy one and the coming new year a safe one.
It was late as the lone person in the airport terminal looked out the big windows. A light rain was falling, giving the runways a shiny look. Scanning the sky he noticed the blinking lights of an approaching plane. Making a wide sweeping turn the plane lined up on the main runway. The planes powerful lights came on, as it made it's decent into Jackson International Airport. The man held him breath as the wheels touched down sending a spray of water high into the air. Placing his hands on the windows he could feel them shake as the pilot threw the planes engines into reverse. The deep rumble now could be heard as the plane moved its way across the field slowing as it approached the far end of the field. The plane made a sharp left turn as it made it's way back toward the terminal.
The uneasiness he had felt all day now came to a head as the plane slowly approached the gate. The ground crew quickly directed the pilot into the proper position bring the large plane within inches of the jet-way. With wheel blocks in place the head of the ground crew chief singled the pilot to cut his engines.
It was only a few minutes later the flight attendant opened the door to the jet way allowing the few passengers to disembark. He realized there weren't going to be many passengers on the flight; a couple businessmen who had late meetings in Atlanta came through the door first. A flight attendant pulling a small-wheeled case bid good bye to her friend standing beside the door. He began to feel nervous as what seemed like a long time passed with no one getting off the plane.
The attendant turned into the door and said, "Thank you for flying with us. Enjoy your stay in Jackson."
"Thank you," came a voice from inside the jet way. Seconds later a tired looking young man stepped through the door. Glancing around the young man smiled as he approached his ride home. "Hi, Dad," Lance Bass said as he dropped his carry on bag and gave his father a hug.
Jim Bass pulled his son into his arms giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Welcome home son." Pulling away Jim finally was able to take a good look at his son. Lance was thinner from when he last saw his son almost two months ago. He also noticed behind Lance's glasses there were definite dark rings under his eyes. Reaching for his sons carry on bag Jim asked, "How was your flight?"
"Way too long. With layovers it's been," Lance looked at his watch. "Thirty-four hours, give or take ten minutes."
"How many bags do you have?" Jim asked as they approached the baggage carousel.
"Only my carry on. I shipped everything else home."
"So that's what those boxes are that came for you this morning," Jim said.
Lance laughed, "I should have climbed into a box myself. My stuff made it home before I did."
The two men stopped as they stood outside the terminal looking into the soft rain. "Where you parked?" Lance asked.
"Right over there," Jim said indicating the car parked about thirty feet away. The two men made a mad dash for the car. Jim pressed the button in his hand deactivating the alarm as they approached.
Both men rode in silence. It was well after midnight when Jim pulled the car onto the expressway. There was almost no traffic this late at night. Jim glanced over at his son and smiled when he found him with his head slumped, sleeping.
It was almost two in the morning when Jim pulled the car into the driveway. Smiling to himself he noticed that there were still lights on down-stairs. Pulling into the garage he hit the remote to close the garage door before trying to wake his son. "Jamie, were home," Jim said giving his sons shoulder a gentle shake.
Lance opened his eyes briefly before quickly covering them from the unexpected brightness of the garage. After giving himself a few seconds for his eyes to adjust Lance got out of the car to find his mother waiting in the doorway. Diane Bass held out her arms as Lance approached. Lance fell into his mother's arms as he wrapped his own around her. "Welcome home, baby," Diane said softly.
Lance didn't say anything just held him mother tighter as he let out a shuttered sob. Diane looked over at her husband with concern. "It's alright baby, you're home now. Everything is going to be alright," Diane softly said as she rubbed her sons back.
Jim added his hand to Lance's back as they both tried to comfort their son. "Jamie, you are exhausted and we all could use a good night's sleep. Let's get you to bed."
Lance pulled away from his mother's embrace and nodded; the three of them headed into the house.
Lance walked into his bedroom and looked around. Nothing had changed from the last time he was home except the big pile of boxes in the corner. Lance shed his clothes as he made his way across the room to his bed. He just wanted to crawl under the covers and sleep for a week. Just as he was settling down in his bed there was a light knock on his door. "Come in," Lance called out.
Diane stuck her head in and smiled. "Just checking to see if you needed anything?"
"No, mama, I'm fine," Lance said through a yawn.
Diane walked over to the bed and tucked Lance in. Leaning over she gave Lance a kiss on his forehead. "Sweet dreams, baby."
"I love you, mama," Lance said softly as he drifted off to sleep. Diane was still standing there looking down at her son when a shadow fell across the bed. Jim walked up behind his wife and pulled her in tight to himself.
"Come on, honey. Let's try and get some rest ourselves," Jim whispered as he guided his wife out of the room.
As Jim pulled the door shut Diane turned in his arms. "He is hurting so much. What are we going to do?"
"He needs some time to come to grips with this," Jim said. "If we give him the space and time he needs I know he will talk to us about his feelings."
"You're right," Diane said as she gave her husband a kiss. "Let's get to bed."
Diane was sitting at the dining room table looking over a stack of contracts she needed to deal with. She had hoped Lance would take some interest in her Free Lance work. But again today he was "not up to it." Looking out the window she could see him sitting out back under a large tree just staring off into space.
The ringing of the phone tore her attention from her son. "Hello."
"Christopher, how are you doing honey?"
"I'm doing okay. How is Lance doing?"
Diane sighed as she looked out into the yard. "There hasn't been much change he's still not talking to anyone."
"Do you think he'll talk to me?" Chris asked.
"All I can do is ask."
Sticking her head out the door Diane called out. "Jamie, phone call for you."
Lance looked up, "Who is it?"
"It's Chris. He'd like to talk to you."
"I really don't want to talk to him right now. Tell him I'll call him later."
Going back to the phone Diane said. "I'm sorry, honey, he's not ready to talk yet. He said he'd call you when he was."
"I understand," Chris said thanking. "Have any of the other guys called?"
"Yes, Justin and Joey called yesterday. He refused to talk to them, he seemed upset that they even called."
"Has he caught any of Justin's interviews this week?"
"No, he walks out of the room when ever he's on."
"It must he hard on him to see how well Justin is doing with his solo album. And how well Joey is doing on Broadway."
"I think they just remind him how much of a failure he thinks he is," Diane said sadly.
"We all know that's a bunch of crap!" Chris stated. "It wasn't his fault they couldn't raise the twenty million. He's worked his ass off training for that flight. He should be proud of himself for getting as far as he did."
"He's not looking at it that way," Diane said. "You know how driven he is. He feels like he let us all down by not making it into space."
"Diane, is he talking to anyone?"
"No. Not really. He spends his time either in his room or sitting out in the yard."
"That's not good. You need to get him to talk to some one. Maybe a therapist would help?" Chris suggested.
"We're going to have to do something soon. He is driving the rest of us crazy."
"Well I hope you can come up with something," Chris said. "Tell him I miss his ugly face and to give me a call."
"Will do," Diane laughed. "Bye, Chris."
After hanging up Diane sat looking out the window watching her son. She knew she had to do something and soon. Picking up the phone she made a call.
Diane looked up as her husband came into the kitchen for breakfast.
"Is he up?" Jim asked.
Diane nodded as she indicated the backyard.
Jim sighed, "Did he eat anything this morning?"
"He was eating a bowl of cereal when I came down."
"At least he's eating. What's the plan for today?"
Before Diane could answer the doorbell rang. "That should the first part of my plan now," Diane said as she went to answer the door.
Lance was idly walking around the back yard when he heard the screen door slam close. Looking up he let out a soft moan. Walking toward him was Pastor Williams from his family's church. Lance offered his hand, "Pastor Williams, I haven't seen you in a long time."
Pastor Williams grasp Lance's hand, "It's good to see you, James. Or is it Lance now?"
Lance chuckled, "I'll answer to either one, Pastor Williams."
"I think I'll stick to James. This Lance thing isn't the boy I knew. But you're no longer a boy are you."
"Yeah, it's been a few years, Pastor Williams."
"James, please call me Ted. You're no longer a kid in my Sunday school class."
"Okay, Ted," Lance said shyly. "I was just wondering. Did my mom ask you to come and talk to me?"
"I'm not going to lie to you. She did call me last night."
"I figured so," Lance sighed. "I don't need a counselor."
"Good," Ted said. "I've never gotten into doing that."
"So then why are you here?"
"To collect something you owe me," Ted said with a mischievous smile.
"What do I owe?" Lance asked perplexed.
"Sixty hours community service."
Placing his arm around Lance's shoulder, Ted said. "Before you became a big pop star you signed a contract to do community service with the church teen outreach club. And I still have that contract."
"You can't expect me honor that contract?" Lance asked.
"Now don't tell me you don't have the time."
"Well I don't. I'm busy."
"Doing what, James? Driving your parents crazy?"
Lance was silent for a long while he didn't know what to say. "Sixty hours? Are you sure it's sixty hours?"
"Now would I lie?" Ted asked as he looked over the top of his glasses.
Lance sighed, "I guess not. . . What do I have to do?"
Smiling, Ted knew he had him. "You are coming with me. I have a group doing service work at the county home."
"I'm not going to get out of this, am I?" Lance asked.
"Nope," Pastor Ted said with a smile.
Pastor Ted and Lance had to swing by the church to pick up three more volunteers. Lance was a bit nervous because the three were teenage girls. "Girls, this is my friend, James. He will be working with us today. James, this is Abby, Cheryl, and Lisa."
The three girls giggle. "Hi, James," the girls say in unison.
Lance rolled his eyes. "Hi, girls."
The county home was actually two different organizations that shared the same building. One wing of the building was an old folks home. Not a nursing home but limited care home. The people that came to live there could not afford to go anyplace else. One of the requirements was the person must be self-sufficient. They must be able to feed, bathed and dress themselves. The county provided supervision over their medication, and diet.
The other wing of the building was the children's home. The residents there were mostly short term. Children temporarily removed from their parents' homes due to abuse or the parents legal problems landing them in jail. There were also abandoned kids and kids who lost their parents and had no other relatives to care for them. As foster homes became available the children would be sent there, the big problem was that there was nowhere near enough foster homes. Over a time there developed a core of children that would become long term. Older children and children with physical or mental problems made up the long-term residents.
After signing in at the front desk the three girls donned their volunteer smocks and picking up trays of supplies headed for the senior wing.
"Where are they going?" Lance asked.
"It's Saturday, they are going to open their hair solon."
Lance looked a little puzzled. "There are ten senior women that live here. The volunteers get together with the women and they wash and set their hair. They do other things like paint their nails and make up stuff. My wife started this program so I'm not really sure of all they do. The one thing I do know these ladies come out looking and feeling better about themselves."
"Is that where I'm going to be working?" Lance asked skeptically.
"No. You and I will be working with the children," Pastor Ted said as he handed Lance a volunteer vest.
Standing outside the children's day room Lance saw only six kids. Two girls that looked like they were twin sisters around age six. And four boys age five to ten.
"Is this all the kids?" Lance asked.
"There are four older boys but they have school activities this weekend."
"What about the younger ones?"
"Right now there aren't any. Infants and toddlers get placed quickly into foster homes."
"And these?" Lance asked.
Pastor Ted sighed. "These are the left-overs. The twins, we don't want to separate them and that makes it hard to find a home willing to take both of them. And the boys, their age makes it difficult to place them."
"So they are stuck here. Where no one loves them," Lance said sadly.
"Yes, they live here. But you're wrong about nobody loving them. They have sixteen grandparents just down the hall."
Lance couldn't quit grasp what the Pastor was saying. "I don't understand."
"This is really a home. In the true sense. . . . These kids go to school like other kids. When they come home they come home to a home filled not with parents, but grandparents. The staff here encourages the two to interact. They eat together. The grandparents help them with their homework. The kids love to listen to the stories the grandparents tell. They've grown to need each other, they've become a family."
Lance nodded with understanding. Looking out into the day room he saw the children at play. The girls were having a tea party while most of the boys were playing a board game. "Why is that boy sitting all alone?" Lance asked indicating the boy in the corner.
Pastor Ted sighed, "That's Mikey Donivan."
"Why is he all alone?"
"Mikey has a hard time trusting people."
"Why doesn't he trust people?" Lance asked.
"Because most of the adults in his life failed him. Mikey lost him mother when he was four leaving him to be raised by his father. His father started slapping him around about a year after he lost his wife. His teachers didn't see or chose not to see the abuse. It took a neighbor filing a complaint to get social services into the picture. But the social worker failed Mikey by not doing her job. Mikey's father told her Mikey was always falling down hurting himself. He was just a klutzy growing boy. The social worker failed again when she didn't follow up on her visits. His father started drinking and it was affecting his work. His boss saw what was happening but he failed to do his job. The company they worked for has a substance abuse program. But his supervisor wouldn't recommend him for the program because he feared the cost would lower his profit sharing. Mikey's father started missing work because of his drinking and he lost his job. He used the excuse of losing his job to go out and get shit-faced drunk that night. He came home and started beating on Mikey. The neighbor heard Mikey's cries and called the police. The police took over an hour to respond, the police failed Mikey."
Lance noticed a tear run Pastor Ted's cheek. Clearing his throat the Pastor continued, "The officers could see Mikey's father sitting in the living room holding Mikey's lifeless body. They had to break down the door to get to Mikey. The officers, who I may say were very emotional at the time, took almost fifteen minutes before anyone checked Mikey's condition. Someone who had no medical training took it upon himself to declare Mikey DOA. It was another hour before the Assistant Medical Examiner arrived. He had just come from the scene of his second shooting of the night. He was tired and he failed Mikey by not doing his job and checking Mikey out. He just signed off on the boy and had him taken to the morgue. The boy lay on the autopsy table for almost four hours before someone noticed the boy wasn't dead."
Lance was in shock.
"You can understand why he doesn't trust many adults."
Lance nodded. "What's being done to help the boy?"
"He's getting counseling. It took us several weeks to find someone he would talk to."
"Why so long?"
"Mikey won't talk to a male counselor. He shuts down when ever an adult male tries to talk to him. We've gotten him a tutor. She comes in every day and works with Mikey. She tells me he is a very bright boy."
As they stood there they saw one of the older boys walk over to the girls and started picking on them. Mikey watched what was happening and frowned. He walked over to the boy and placed his hand on the boy's shoulder.
"What's going to happen?" Lance asked.
"I'm not sure," Ted said as he watched the confrontation.
"Leave them alone, Eddie," Mikey said with conviction.
"What's it to you?" Eddie asked as he tried to shrug off Mikey's hand.
"I'm not going to let you bully anyone. They are not doing anything to you so leave them alone."
"Who's going to make me?"
"I will if I have to," Mikey said while looking Eddie in the eye. "I don't want to fight you but if I have to I'll do my damned best to beat the shit out of you."
Eddie eyed the boy in front of him sizing him up. They were about the same height and weight and Eddie thought he could take him. But the look in Mikey's eye told him Mikey could beat the crap out of him. Eddie stepped back, "All right, I'm going."
Lance looked to Ted who was smiling. "That was the most words I've heard come out of that boy in three months."
"Well. Are we going to stand here all day? Or is there something we should be doing?" Lance asked.
"Let's get to work," Ted said as he gave Lance a nudge into the room.
For the first hour Lance was a curiosity. The kids asked a million questions that Lance tried to answer. But soon the novelty wore off and things calmed down. Pastor Ted suggested that everyone move outdoors to take advantage of the nice sunny afternoon. Three of the boys started to toss a baseball around while Lance gave the girls pushes on the swings. The girls tired quickly and asked if he would read to them. Lance agreed, and one of the girls ran inside to get their favorite book.
Ted kept an eye on everyone as the afternoon progressed. Lance and the girls settled down under the shade of a big tree. The boys continued to toss the ball until they noticed what the girls were doing and they slowly made their way over to find out what was up. Lance had only been reading for a couple minutes when he looked up and saw most of the kids were sitting around him listening to the story. Even Mikey showed some interest as he slowly crept closer. Ted watched from across the play yard as Mikey moved closer. Little by little Mikey moved closer.
As he read Lance noticed Mikey's movements out of the side of his eye. The boy kept moving closer as Lance read on. Trying not to spook the boy Lance didn't acknowledge the boy as he sat on the ground next to Lance. As Lance came to the end of the story the girls clapped.
The children were called in to get cleaned up for lunch. Everyone headed in but Mikey, he continued to sit next to Lance. Slowly turning his head he looked down at the boy who seemed to be studying him. Lance smiled down at the boy before softly saying, "Hi."
"Hi," Mikey bashfully said. "You read real good."
"Thank you. My name's James. What's yours?"
Mikey frowned, got up, and started walking away.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Lance asked.
Mikey turned back with a tear running down his cheek said, "Why does everyone have to lie to me. I know who you are."
"Who do you think I am?"
"You're Lance of *Nsync."
"You're right," Lance said as he knelt down in front of the boy. "That's one of the names I'm known by. James is my first name. Lance is my middle and stage name. And Bass is my last name."
"Oh," Mikey said a little embarrassed.
"And you are?"
Lance smiled, "I'm glad to meet you Mikey."
Mikey looked up to his right side and nodded. "I'm glad to meet you, too, James." Mikey offered Lance his hand.
Taking Mikey's hand Lance found a firm handshake.
Mikey looked off to his right again as though he was looking at something.
"Do you like him?" Ethan asked.
Mikey smiled and nodded.
"Why don't you ask him to eat lunch with you," Ethan suggested.
"Okay, I will," Mickey whispered.
Lance looked to see what Mikey was looking at. "What was that?" Lance asked.
"Sorry, I was just checking with someone," Mikey sheepishly said.
"Who? There is no one near."
Mikey once again looked to Ethan for guidance. Ethan nodded that it was all right.
"Ethan said I should ask you to have lunch with me." Mikey said looking up at Lance.
"Who is Ethan?" Lance asked.
"Oh! I understand you have an invisible friend."
"He's not invisible," Mikey giggled. "I can see him most of the time."
"You can? Why can't I see him?"
"Because he's not yours."
"What do you mean, he's not mine?"
"Ethan? You can't see him because he's my angel."
"You have an angel?" Lance asked.
Mikey nodded, "God sent Ethan to protect me."
"Ethan is your guardian angel." Lance now understood.
"Yea I guess so. . . . Well are you?"
"Am I what?"
Rolling his eyes Mikey said, "Do you want to have lunch with me?"
"Yes I'd like that," Lance said with a smile.
Mikey took Lance's hand and dragged him toward the common room for lunch.
Pastor Ted stood at the window watching
Lance and Mikey. A smile spread across his face when he saw Mikey
take Lance's hand.
Feedback is always welcome.