> a Man loves a Boy - book 1 <
- CHAPTER 1. That first day of the rest of my retirement.
"But, Dad always warns us never to talk to 'danger strangers'!"
"Jeez, I only want to see who lives in Harry's house now..."
"Is this our new neighbor? To me, he looks more like an old man."
"With such a beard, he looks more like some ancient grandpa!"
What? Had I heard this correct? Waking up from my slumber, I just couldn't believe my own ears! Feeling a bit affronted, I opened my eyes and glared at a bunch of young children who approached my newly bought house while discussing the bearded newcomer they hadn't seen here before. Who were these cheeky kids, and what did they want from this 'old man'? Although I normally loved working with children and always enjoyed their boundless enthusiasm and spontaneous honesty; this time, their unexpected forwardness about me being 'some ancient grandpa' caught me off guard. Ultimately, I was only sixty-five years old, while my inside felt much younger! Everybody else always told me I still looked relatively young, despite my grayish hair and neatly trimmed beard.
Glaring at my cheeky neighbors, I counted five young kids, three boys and two girls. When they saw that I opened my eyes, they abruptly stopped their bantering. Hesitantly, they went to the braided iron fence that surrounded my yard, and leaned against its closed gate. What did they want from me, and why did one of them call my newly bought abode 'Harry's house'? Although 'Harry' was my own first name, nobody in this small village could possibly know that. Perhaps, the deceased former owner of my house had been named 'Harry' as well, sort of an odd coincidence? Well, the former 'Harry' had left this house two months ago; although he did it involuntarily, by passing away. Thus, from now on, my young neighbors would have to get used to me being the new inhabitant. What were they waiting for, still leaning against the closed gate while staring at the 'old man'? I had bought this nice 'two-story house with a surrounding garden' in this small village to live here in peace and quiet for the rest of my retirement, and not to be gawked at by some curious neighborhood youth. My new property was not a zoo, displaying 'old men' and 'ancient grandpas'. Did they pay at the entrance?
Because my upset 'ego' still felt insulted and just wouldn't stop muttering, I decided to do something about my disturbed feelings first. Ultimately, as a 'professional', I didn't need to feel annoyed by what turned out to be only a bunch of cheeky neighborhood kids, for crying out loud! Quickly, I analyzed my emotions, to be able to discard them and be in control again. As a well-trained psychotherapist, I should always be at peace with myself and in control of my own feelings, anywhere and under all circumstances! Why did those childish words, 'old man' and 'ancient grandpa', have such a profound impact on my habitual inner calmness and professional easiness of mind? For a second, I fell silent, while concentrating on my inner self. Then, I started to smile, because I found out that my perturbed 'ego' felt rather upset with being branded as 'old', while it always assumed its owner still looked relatively young. And, of course, at least in the eyes of these inexperienced children, any sleeping grownup with 'such a beard' could be only very old...
At seeing my unexpected smile, a small girl piped up, ending her question with a soft giggle:
"Do YOU live in Harry's house now?"
Before I could respond, a somewhat older boy admonished her:
"Of course, silly, can't you see that's obvious?"
At hearing the word 'silly', the small girl turned around, forcefully punched the boy's arm, and sent him a murderous dead look; making the other kids chuckle and nudge each other. Obviously, she didn't like being called names, although she really acted a bit giggly... Then, all the children resumed leaning against the closed gate while staring at the 'ancient grandpa'. Fortunately, I could now see my young neighbors in a somewhat different light. My inside had a gut feeling as if they really wanted to talk to me. Only, now that I had reacted angrily, they didn't know any more what to do. Probably, they were now waiting for ME to take the first step... Well, that would be understandable from their point of view; because my insulted ego hadn't behaved too nicely, by glaring at them and looking insulted.
Up to now, the first day of my retirement in this small village had been a peaceful day. Sitting on my new porch for the first time, I already started to feel at home in my newly bought house and its peaceful surroundings. Some time ago, my wife and I had decided to go our separate ways. Our two grownup daughters were living their own lives in another town, and we didn't have any grandchildren to spoil. During the last year, my wife and I had been living in the same house, but we didn't even share the bed any more. One evening, we had an emotional talk; and then, we easily made our decisions. We divorced, sold our house, and went our own ways. My wife moved towards our two daughters; and I rented a temporary home while looking for something more appropriate.
After some searching, I found this two-story abode in this small village, and instantly fell in love with it. The same moment I saw this house, everything in and around it offered me a sensation of 'coming home'! According to my realtor, the house had belonged to a single man who had lived here all alone for more than twenty years and suddenly passed away two months ago. His family sold the house to me for a reasonable price, and I bought it without much haggling, hoping to enjoy my retirement and the rest of my life here, preferably in peace and quiet. Fortunately, my new property was in reasonable condition; and I only had to make a few minor adjustments to enjoy the happy feeling that, from now on, this would be MY house.
Today, I lounged on the porch of my new residence for the first time, dreaming away while contemplating my life. This morning, the movers had unloaded my cardboard boxes into my new garage and helpfully put my most bulky possessions in place; so that my new sitting room already held a desk, a couch and two easy chairs, my kitchen was usable, and my bedroom had a comfortable double waterbed. After opening a few cardboard boxes and gathering the most urgent necessities, my home was livable and ready for the night. Tomorrow, I would first empty the remaining cardboard boxes and put all my possessions in place. Then, I wanted to clean up my new yard, which looked overgrown and clearly needed some work. I also wanted to have a closer look at some strange spot I had seen in a corner of my new backyard, after I accidentally stumbled over a couple of painted stones. Because I didn't have a so-called 'green thumb'; to me, the spot looked just like another bunch of abundantly flowering weeds. Only, somebody seemed to have marked it out by several white cobblestones, as if it could be a special little garden. Who could have placed such a little garden here, and why?
Around three o'clock in the afternoon, my old and clearly rusty muscles started to feel too tired from the unaccustomed work, and I decided to call it a day. I brewed a cup of coffee, brought a folding chair to my new porch, sat down, sipped my coffee, and closed my eyes. Granting myself the luxury of being lazy and enjoying the peacefulness of my new surroundings, I slowly dreamed away, while contemplating my past life and my possible future.
All my life, I had been working as a freelance psychotherapist, helping troubled young children and their mostly desperate parents. Now I had reached the so-called 'age of wisdom'. At least, I hoped so, as I was a fairly bright and rather energetic sixty-fiver who still felt much younger. I stopped working and retired, planning to enjoy my newly found freedom and to relish the rest of my life here, in my newly bought house, hopefully in peace and quiet. That is, until five cheeky neighborhood children harshly pulled me out of my reveries, by calling me an 'old man' and an 'ancient grandpa'...
Again, I silenced my upset ego, this time by unselfishly forgiving the children for calling me 'old'. Now feeling a lot better, I decided to help them break the ice. After all, these kids seemed to be my new neighbors, thus we were to be around each other for a long time. I also didn't want them to think I was a grumpy grandpa or an annoyed old whiner, because I was not. Besides, it always pays off to befriend your new neighbors and their offspring. After forcing my face to relax, I smiled at the still waiting children.
Surprisingly, all five children reacted immediately, by softening their faces and looking relieved. Obviously, my gut feeling was right and they really wanted to talk to me, although they didn't know how to initiate our conversation... Well, okay, now that I already felt generous, I would also try to help them. First, I raised my right hand to greet them, using the universal greeting gesture.
Then, still smiling at my young neighbors, I told them:
The oldest boy immediately smiled back at me, while lifting his own hand to greet me in return. The boy had a warm and open face and seemed to be a nice kid. For a split second, a hint of recognition crossed my mind, as if my inside remembered this particular boy with his happy smile and deep brown eyes. However, I couldn't remember where I had seen him before, so I let it go. In the meantime, the other children still hesitated, probably because their parents or wardens had told them never to talk to 'danger strangers'...
Involuntarily, I started to feel cautious. Ultimately, nowadays, we were living in an extremely mistrustful world, where every single man easily could be seen as a potential child molester. What would happen if their worried parents showed up, to rescue their kids from being assaulted by this 'ancient grandpa'? As an old 'danger stranger', I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks...
A second later, the smallest girl started to giggle, while she pushed against the closed gate as if trying to open it. When the gate didn't give in, she started to pull at it, also to no avail. Clearly not feeling fazed, she started to fumble with its rusty lock; until the gate suddenly opened with a squeaking sound, and all five children tumbled over each other into my driveway! For a split second, they stared at each other with shocked faces. Then, they started to shriek with laughter, while trying to disentangle from their disordered pile.
Although I really tried to behave as a 'responsible grownup', I too started to bellow with laughter at seeing five shocked looking neighborhood children unexpectedly piling up in my driveway. This comical incident could easily be the catching introduction to a funny slapstick! Fortunately, my heartfelt laughter seemed to convince the children that I wouldn't be too angry with them for trespassing. After disentangling from each other, they hesitantly stepped into my front garden, while giggling and furtively pushing each other as sort of collective encouragement. Then, they stopped again and looked at each other, as if not knowing what they should do next.
Only the oldest boy took a couple more steps into my driveway. From there, he craned his neck, as if trying to look around in my backyard. Sounding a bit sad, or maybe disappointed, he turned towards the others and asked them:
"Does Harry know that someone else now lives in his house?"
This was very strange! Why would the oldest boy be looking for some 'Harry' in my new backyard? Then, I had been wrong in my earlier assumption. According to my realtor, the former owner of my house had died two months ago, so the 'Harry' this boy was looking for had to be someone else! And, why did the oldest boy call my new house 'his house', as if my newly bought abode also belonged to 'Harry'? Was this unknown 'Harry' still living around here, after the former owner of 'his house' had passed away? That wasn't likely, as the deceased owner had been living here all alone.
Perhaps, the demised man had left the kids a cat, or a dog? Yes, of course! That had to be what the children were looking for... Well, I had always liked domestic animals, and it would be fun to have a cat or a dog around. Wanting to help my young neighbors find their lost animal, I asked them:
"What exactly is this 'Harry' you are looking for?"
As if I had slapped them, all five children suddenly stared at me, wide-eyed and with suspicious faces, as if they didn't understand how I could ask them such a horrible question. They also glanced at each other, furtively, as if they didn't know what to think of this weird stranger and his strange request. What could be their problem? Didn't they want me to help them find their lost animal? Were they afraid I would try to harm it or chase it away? Or, could their lost cat or dog be dangerous to unknown strangers, and were they trying to protect it from harming me? Well, so far, every unknown dog or cat had always been friendly to me, even when others assumed it could be dangerous; probably because the animal sensed my Inner Love and Compassion and reacted to the feeling. Therefore, I wasn't afraid to help my young neighbors find their lost cat or dog. On the contrary, I now felt even more curious about the unknown 'Harry' they were looking for.
While beckoning them over to my porch, I explained:
"Of course, to let me help you find your 'Harry', you first have to tell me what kind of animal it is..."
This time, all five children plainly GLARED at me, with angry faces and fire-shooting eyes, as if they felt severely insulted and shocked by my request! Why were my new neighbors reacting so hostile to my offer to help them find their lost animal? What did I do wrong, at least in their eyes? Perhaps, they didn't WANT me to help them find their lost dog or cat, or they were trying to keep it a secret from a newcomer they had never seen here before? If so, they hadn't acted cleverly, by mentioning their mysterious 'Harry' while I could hear their bantering! What should I do now, now that they obviously didn't trust this 'ancient grandpa'? Hesitantly, I first lifted both hands into the air, to show them the universal sign of surrender.
Then, I tried to put in some silly joke, to make them laugh:
"Of course, this 'old man' is no longer a stranger to you, because I have bought this house and am now living in it. I only hadn't planned to bite any unknown neighborhood children, at least not yet. However, as an 'ancient grandpa', I might try to take a small nibble... but only a tiny one, to spare my false teeth."
For a few seconds, all five children stared at me with confused faces, as if they had to translate my words first. Then, they started to relax their frowning faces and angry looks. They even started to chuckle and nudge each other, while looking more relaxed and at ease. Obviously, they decided that this 'ancient grandpa' might act a bit strange, but he wasn't dangerous enough to be afraid of.
A boy with long yellowish hair started to laugh, and that seemed to be their signal for take off. Daringly, the boy climbed the few steps to my porch, and all the others followed him. Giggling and furtively pushing each other, five young children huddled together on my porch, although they still kept a safe distance from me. I estimated them to be from the age of the about nine-year-old youngest girl to the around twelve-year-old oldest boy. They seemed to be nice kids, and I already regretted my unfriendly behavior. At the same time, I also wondered why they were paying their new neighbor so much attention. Was it something to do with the mysterious 'Harry' they seemed to be looking for? Still feeling curious, I tried to rephrase my 'impossible' question and asked them:
"Could any of you please tell me some more about 'Harry'?"
Again, all the children looked at each other, this time with doubtful eyes, as if they didn't know whether they could trust this unknown stranger, or not. However, I still didn't understand why my young neighbors were behaving so distantly. Could they be sharing some secret, and didn't they want me to find out what it was? How could I make it clear to them they could trust me, and that I only wanted to help them find their lost animal and nothing more?
Fortunately, next to being an experienced psychotherapist, I had also trained myself in using 'alternative remedies' like sensing and healing 'auras', reading 'emotional body language', and sending my 'Universal Love'. Therefore, I opened my heart towards my young neighbors and started to send them lots of Universal Love. That always helped my little clients feel more at ease, so that they calmed down, opened up, and trusted me some more.
Sending them my Universal Love seemed to help again, because, within a second, the oldest boy took a step towards me and stared directly into my eyes.
With a slightly quivering voice, he explained:
"Harry is not an animal, he is our friend! This is Jack's former house, and Harry used to be here all the time; until, two months ago, Jack suddenly died. Now, Harry still cries every day, because he still misses his Big Friend. Please, sir, could you try to be nice to him and not chase him away? Harry is our best friend and my adopted little brother; and we all love him very much."
The about twelve-year-old boy had a nice and open face, with two inquisitive dark brown orbs that now pierced straight into mine. Did I really see a couple of tears, welling up in his sad looking eyes? This boy seemed to care quite a lot for his 'adopted little brother', who missed his former 'Big Friend' and still cried every day. Perhaps, as a trained psychotherapist, used to helping troubled children, I could help 'Harry' overcome his obvious grief and sadness? However, then, I had to meet him first! Only, where could he be, and why didn't he join his friends on my porch? Perhaps, I had looked too grumpy while glaring at my too cheeky neighbors?
Unexpectedly, an odd feeling struck my inside and made me gasp for air! Suddenly, my heart was SURE I recognized this twelve-year-old boy with his inquisitive brown eyes, although my confused brain told me I had never seen him before. In my heart, this boy already felt like my dearest friend, or like my long-lost blood brother... This was very strange! Could this young boy resemble someone else I once knew but forgot about, sort of an odd coincidence?
Surprisingly, the boy also made me think of my own little brother, Joshie. Supposed little Joshie had survived death, this twelve-year-old boy could easily be Joshie's own son and therefore my nephew! Feeling more and more uneasy, I quickly pushed my unwelcome remembrances out of the way. After living through my own extremely difficult youth, I had carefully suppressed all the horrible memories from my past, and I wanted to keep it that way.
Only, my strange feelings of recognition didn't go away. Faint 'remembrances' showed up in my mind, of the grown-up boy and I sitting together around a crackling campfire, talking and drinking coffee. We were trappers in a dangerous forest, of around the same age, and I had a little son who was very fond of our mutual friend; until a hungry grizzly bear killed all three of us and we went to 'heaven'. From 'the beyond', our 'Beloved Ancestors', 'Cosmic Friends', and 'Spirit Guides' asked us to return to our confused Planet Earth, to work closely together and help transforming our so terribly deranged 'playground' into a much better place to live on...
Feeling shocked into my deepest core, my baffled brain just didn't know what to think of my unexpected 'remembrances' from our so-called 'past lives'. Up to now, I had always assumed that dead is dead, and death is the definite end of everything. Everybody knows that! Therefore, I refused to accept my strange remembrances, and quickly forced my confused mind to go back to the boy's answer that had clarified the mystery. Of course, the mysterious 'Harry' turned out to be another boy! I should have guessed it myself. Only, why was that other boy hiding somewhere in or around my backyard, instead of joining his friends on my porch? Could this unknown 'Harry' be afraid of meeting the new owner of 'his' house, while he used to be here with his deceased 'Big Friend', Jack? Had I looked THAT grumpy?
All the time, my twelve-year-old 'former friend' continued to stare into my eyes, as if he tried to read my inner thoughts by probing directly into my soul. My heart was now sure that he recognized me too, and he felt just as confused as I was! Could this boy be experiencing the same strange 'remembrances' from our 'past lives', including being trappers of the same age and he babysitting my little son, until a hungry grizzly bear killed us and we went to 'heaven'?
Bashfully, the boy wiped his tears away with a sleeve of his shirt. At the same time, I felt a couple of tears dripping down my own face! What the heck was happening to me? Was I suddenly becoming senile, at this way too young age? This certainly was not my normal 'professional' behavior as a well-trained psychotherapist! Desperately, I tried to suppress my unwanted emotions. What would my young neighbors think of me now, at seeing this suddenly blubbering 'old man' or 'ancient grandpa'? Feeling more and more irritated and angry with myself, I worked my handkerchief out of my pocket and wiped my unwelcome tears away. Then, with a sudden feeling of compassion, I handed my handkerchief to the silently sniffling boy.
The boy offered me a thankful smile, while he wiped his teary eyes and blew his nose in my handkerchief. Looking apologetically, he handed the wet thing back to me. Without thinking, I stuffed it back into my pocket, while heaving a couple deep sighs of frustration. Desperately, I tried to understand what could be happening to me, and why I was feeling all those unexpected and disturbing sensations. Why did my inside suddenly feel this emotional, obviously without any reason? I was a trained psychotherapist and should always be in control of myself and of my emotions, for crying out loud!
Yet, my inside had a strange feeling as if I still loved this young boy dearly, because he and I had been close friends during at least five thousand years, including the boy's 'adopted little brother', Harry... Still feeling very unsure, I looked back at the twelve-year-old boy who continued to stare in my eyes, as if probing my deepest intentions. My gut feeling told me that he wanted to tell me a lot more about his little brother, 'Harry', but hesitated. Although his inside recognized me too, his confused brain wasn't sure if he really could trust this unknown stranger he had never met before in THIS life.
Out of professional habit, I switched into my usual 'therapist mode', by 'tuning in' into the boy's emotional aura. Reading people's protective auras, and interpreting what they told me, always helped me see things clearer, by sensing the hidden feelings and emotions of my little clients. I also probed the boy's deep brown eyes, to contact his soul and find out what could be his problem...
Feeling shocked again, I sensed an intense feeling of sadness and loneliness, as if nobody around this boy really cared for him. After living through Jack's sudden death, he now felt even more alone. He too seemed to miss Jack badly; just like his 'adopted little brother', Harry, missed his former 'Big Friend'. I even thought the boy could have seen Jack as sort of a 'replacement father', and he now felt abandoned. Could the late Jack and this sad looking boy have been 'Big Friends' too, although the boy didn't want to get in the way of his 'little brother' who clearly had first rights?
Another overwhelming sensation welled up in my inside, this time of 'coming home'. Now, I didn't believe myself any more. Totally unexpectedly, my heart was sure our meeting was 'predestined' and that our lives were rapidly reaching their 'final destiny'! My former friend and I were brought together so that we could work together as a powerful team, including 'Harry'. At the same time, my heart nearly overflowed with Pure Love for this young boy, as if we once loved each other dearly and still loved each other very much...
More and more 'remembrances' started to show up in my confused mind, of the grownup boy as my best trapper friend, while 'Harry' was my own little son. Plus, in another 'past life', I had been a 'Beloved Gypsy Monarch', while the grownup 'Harry' had been my trusted Vice Leader and best friend, and this young boy had been Harry's own son who was totally devoted to me... This time, I really thought I was becoming senile, at this way too young age.
Strangely, at the same time, my inside was sure that all my strange memories from our 'past lives' were genuine, and that both this twelve-year-old boy and his little brother 'Harry' really belonged to me and to each other, for now and for all eternity. Never before had I felt such an extremely strong feeling of 'belonging' to each other, not even with my own spouse and daughters!
Again, I stared into the still probing eyes of my twelve-year-old 'former friend', while trying to contact his soul and find the truth... This time, I felt like drowning in two deep brown orbs, while my heart started to jump around in my chest with pure joy, because it was now sure it recognized my best friend from several of our past lives. My gut feeling told me that my 'former friend' was experiencing the same overwhelming feelings of Pure Love for each other, making him feel at least as confused as I was. Could this boy and I really recognize each other from our former 'reincarnations' or 'past lives'?
A long time ago, an old Indian Shaman had tried to convince me about his belief that our 'immortal souls' were living temporarily in our mortal bodies. After we died, our souls returned to our 'Timeless Eternal Realm', from where they would be reborn into another human body, to gain more Cosmic Powers and develop even more Eternal Love and other 'Cosmic Abilities'. According to the old Shaman, my soul already possessed many abilities, but I would be able to use my powers only after I first met a couple of 'former friends' from several of our 'past lives', and we started working together as a team, helped by all our Beloved Ancestors and Spirit Friends.
At that time, I didn't believe the old Shaman, although he also told me several private things he absolutely couldn't know. However, now that I obviously met one of my 'former friends' from our past lives, and we really seemed to recognize each other, I started to doubt. My Inside seemed to be absolutely sure that this boy and I had been close friends during many 'reincarnations'; including the boy's little brother, Harry, who once had been my own little son, and who also had been my grownup best friend and our Vice Leader when I was a 'Beloved Gypsy Monarch'. I only never thought that my 'former friends' would turn out to be such young boys...
As if he could have picked up my thoughts, my twelve-year-old 'former friend' stared deeply into my eyes while he went on:
"Until two months ago, Harry used to live here, in what is now your house. He and Jack were close friends, and Jack always helped Harry with everything that he needed. Only, we kept it a secret from the other people in our village, because Children's Protection Services could take Harry away from us and put him in an orphanage, and that would break his heart. Officially, Harry is in our custody; but, in reality, he lived with Jack and had his own room in the house, upstairs, second door to the left. Please, sir, don't betray us, because CPS can still take my little brother away from us..."
Well, this clarifying answer explained quite a lot, especially to an experienced psychotherapist who had helped many abandoned or neglected children. Apparently, 'Harry' was such a neglected child, and he had sought shelter with 'Jack', the deceased former owner of my newly bought house. I only wondered how Jack could have gotten around the rather bureaucratic CPS. However, I decided to ask my own questions later on. For the moment, I only wanted to let my young neighbors know they could trust me and had found a friend.
Again lifting both hands as in surrender, I started to promise:
"Of course, I will NEVER betray any of you! I also promise I will help you and be there for you, when and wherever I can. From now on, you can always count on me and ask me for anything that you need, because I want to be a friend. Cross my heart and hope to die!"
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- Some excerpts from all the wonderful emails that you've sent me up to now:
"Some of my favorite books are ones where I can’t tell whether it's real or not. Now, I DO know that this is fiction, but because the writer has crafted such an engrossing, rich story filled with complex characters and tense emotional situations, I get so engrossed in it that it seems real! Rarely does one encounter a story that has as much personal, raw experiences embedded in it.
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