I Love Corey, Chapter Ninety-six


     I know, you can't wait for another disclaimer. Yes, you are among those who read this just for the disclaimer and don't care about the story. With that in mind I'll try to satisfy you and write another, but you need to understand that I'm getting tired of them. I mean really, this is the ninety-sixth time I've tried to warn you and if you don't get it by now, what would make me think that another would accomplish that goal. Ah well, I'll just have to hope that this one is the one that succeeds.

     Therefore, all minors need to leave immediately. You know you don't belong here and that if your parents catch you, you will be in trouble. Understand that I don't care if you read the story, but I'd hate to be the cause of you being grounded or worse. Heed my advice and leave now.

     To those who become upset (or perhaps become something else like aroused) when reading descriptions of gay sex, leave now. I promise to put some of those in this chapter.

     Sadly, there are areas in which the reading of anything not approved by some governmental body is not approved of, and I haven't submitted this story to such governments for approval. Therefore, you can be assured that they will disapprove of this story and will not look upon you with favor should you read it. It is up to you whether or not you wish to be a good little boy or girl in the eyes of your government. Should you wish to remain on good terms with them, leave now.

     As usual, the story is fiction and none of the characters described are real. None of the events took place either.

     Be nice and credit me for any quotes and as for sharing money gained through a commercial us of this story, I doubt that such a thing is possible. Should you be much smarter than I am, and come up with a way to make money from it, please think kindly of me and share some of it with me. Doing so will insure that I continue writing.

     Don has once again worked his magic and most of my errors in spelling or words should be corrected, that is if I didn't overlook any of his suggestions in the sea of red ink he returned. It is hard to spot all of them when the whole page is red, but I think I got most of them.

     Should you have questions, suggestions, comments, or complaints you may send them to the usual address of "fritz@nehalemtel.net" and I will try to answer. Don't forget to put "I Love Corey" in the subject line so you don't get deleted. Thoughtful criticisms will be responded to thoughtfully, snarky criticisms will be responded to snarkily. Let's not argue over whether or not `snarky' is a word. I like it, and Merriam-Webster defines it as "sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner," so there. And yes, `snarkily' is the adverb form of it. With all that said, I hope you enjoy the following chapter. Fritz


                    I Love Corey, Chapter Ninety-six

     The whole world was against me, at least it felt like it. I wanted more sleep, and four little hands were sure I'd had plenty. I could hear Corey encouraging them and for once in my life I felt like strangling him.

     "Get his ribs," Corey directed them. "He's ticklish there."

     "Like this," Kristen asked. Corey didn't need to answer because by now I was squirming around and desperately trying to get loose. I don't know why he thought he had to direct them because they were well aware that I was ticklish and also knew where my most sensitive places were, well all except a few that they weren't old enough to know anything about. At least my falling out of bed got me away from those little fingers.

     "We won!" Kevin shouted, his high-pitched voice grating on my badly abused senses. I could hear Corey's giggling behind Kevin's, "We're king of the bed!"

     I was too confused to bother to correct him and tell him it should be kings and not king. Thank God they were going home this afternoon. Much more of the giggle box treatment and someone would have to send for the men with the white coat with all the buckles on it. If the floor had been just slightly warmer I might have rolled under the bed and gone back to sleep, but it was rather chilly laying there. I finally managed to focus my eyes on my wristwatch and found it was fifteen minutes after five. What a ghastly hour to get up on a Sunday morning.

     By the time everyone went through the shower and was dressed I could hear other noises in the house. Those noises turned out to be Uncle Matt and he was looking out the window trying to see if the rain had stopped when I made it out of my bedroom.

     "The suns out. Looks like it's going to be a great day," he said with a big smile on his face.

     I poured myself a cup of the now somewhat stale coffee and collapsed at the table.

     "The paper isn't here. I wonder what happened to it." Corey said.

     "It's in the family room by my recliner," I mumbled.

     Corey looked at me like I was nuts, but walked to the family room and returned with it. Soon he was reading the comics to Kevin. I had neither the strength nor the energy to tell him I had already read those very same comics to Kevin earlier this morning. Instead I nursed my coffee while trying to get my mind working.

     "Where's breakfast?" Kristen's shrill little voice penetrated my still non-functioning mind. "I'm hungry."

     I could tell things weren't going to improve, so I struggled to my feet and headed for the kitchen. I turned the oven on and got out the link sausages and started poking holes in them with a fork. By the time I had poked holes in every one of the eighty sausages, the oven was heated up and I put the sausages in a large flat pan and put them in the oven. When they were almost cooked I'd brown them in a pan on top of the stove, but by cooking some of the fat out in the oven it didn't take nearly as long to prepare them. I had the griddle heating for the huckleberry hotcakes I'd promised the giggle boxes yesterday.

     By the time the sausages were cooked, I had the batter made and was ready to start cooking. Corey had squeezed plenty of orange juice and now joined me in cooking breakfast. He started browning sausages and I started cooking eggs and hotcakes. I loaded the griddle with hot cakes and then sprinkled some still frozen huckleberries on each one. Then I quickly filled a frying pan with eggs, turned the hotcakes, and soon people were eating. Somewhere along the way JJ and LT had showed up and set the table so they were among the first to eat, along with the giggle boxes. Kyle and Sarah were the last two to show up. I expected that sort of thing from Kyle, but Sarah was normally faster in the mornings. Then Sarah happened to say something about we needed better facilities for bathing small children, so I finally figured out what had taken her longer than normal. I felt almost human by the time I finished my breakfast, and the huckleberry hotcakes were delicious.

     "Let's get going," Uncle Matt said. "We can leave the women here to fix lunch and they can bring it out."

     That didn't appear to upset Sarah or Aunt Sandy; in fact they seemed thrilled at the idea of not having to watch Uncle Matt run his tractor. The boys like the idea also, and before I could come up with any complaints, boys were dashing off to get their boots on and get ready. The only ones who weren't happy were the giggle boxes when Uncle Matt said they couldn't go with us. I sighed and went to get ready. It was pretty obvious I didn't have any say in the matter.

     We left the Gator for the women and took the pickup and Corey's mom's car. I had to stop and get the diesel, but after that we hurried and soon were looking things over.

     "I don't know," I told Uncle Matt. "That backhoe doesn't look like it will reach far enough to reach the remains of the roof. If we could get it a little higher it might."

     "I didn't remember the walls being so high," he replied. "Come on, we'll try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

     He turned and headed for the barn with the rest of us following along behind. I poured part of one can of diesel in my tractor while David checked the oil. I could hear the boys arguing about who got to run it first, but I fooled them.

     "All right you knuckleheads," I told them. "It's my tractor and so far I haven't had a chance to run it. My turn first."

     Needless to say that didn't win me any popularity contests. If glares could have killed they would have soon been charged with murder. They didn't have any better luck with Uncle Matt, so amidst many scowls Uncle Matt and I started our tractors and headed over for the old building with the Duesenberg in it. The worst part was that I knew that any of the boys could do a better job of running the tractor than I was doing. Still, it was my tractor and I needed to learn how to operate it.

     I was right. The boom on Uncle Matt's backhoe wouldn't reach. We stood there scratching our heads, trying to come up with a solution. It didn't miss by much, but it didn't take much to bring that idea to a halt.

     We were just about agreed we would have to hire someone to bring in a bigger machine when David tugged on my sleeve.

     "I think you could reach if you put the John Deere on your trailer," he told me. His expression was one of fear, like he was afraid he'd done something wrong.

     "I think he's right," Uncle Matt said with a big grin. "Go get the trailer. We can load the tractor and you can back up to the building and that ought to just do it."

     "Good idea," I grinned at David. "Come on and help me hook the trailer up."

     It didn't take long to hook the trailer up and soon Uncle Matt was loading his tractor on it. I had to put the pickup in four wheel drive to get it to back up on the wet grass, but with several tries I managed to get the back of the trailer almost touching the wall of the old building.

     I don't think I'll hire Uncle Matt to run equipment. David could do better with both hands cut off, but at least the added height of trailer allowed the backhoe to reach far enough. That was great, but it didn't solve the problem of what to do next. That optional grabber thing had nothing to get hold of so there we stood, trying to figure out what to do.

     "Maybe we need a chain. That way we could chain some of the rafters to the bucket and lift them that way," Bruno offered. "There're plenty of holes to get a chain in where the shingles have blown away."

     "I didn't bring any chain," I told him. "We'd also need a ladder so someone can get up there to hook it up."

     A little more discussion and Bruno and Corey took off with the pickup, that is after we unhooked the trailer. Corey knew where the chain and ladder were in my shop, so he could show Bruno, and the rest of the boys wanted to run the tractors. I thought about going myself, but David was sticking close to me and I thought maybe he would say something and he didn't act like he wanted to go back to town. He seemed caught up in wanting to teach everyone how to run tractors, but was afraid to say anything. He'd looked terrified when he told me that we had better unload Uncle Matt's tractor before we tried to unhook the trailer. It was a good thing he suggested that because with the tractor on the back of the trailer, the tongue would have flipped up when I disconnected it from the pickup and could have hurt me.

     Uncle Matt was having fun charging brush on his new tractor. While it may not have looked much bigger outside of the tires, it was capable of doing a lot more than mine was. It wasn't so much that it had more power, although it had about twice as much, but the extra weight and the agricultural tires gave it more traction on the still damp ground. Where it took LT a couple of passes to get a clump of vines pulled down, Uncle Matt could get them the first time. Everything was going fine until Uncle Matt got stuck. He got a wheel in a low spot and had the bucket down and before he knew it, the wheels had spun. Since the ground was soft right there, he was stuck before he knew what had happened. Picking the bucket up didn't help, and the more he did, the deeper the wheels dug in.

     "Looks like I'm stuck until Bruno gets back," he said after he had admitted defeat and quit trying to get moving. "We need the tow line to pull me out."

     I was wishing I hadn't been so neat and put it back in the pickup after we pulled the old cars away from the barn. I was just about to agree with him when David tugged on my sleeve. When I looked at him, I could see he wanted to say something.

     "What?" I asked.

     "Use the backhoe to get loose," he said.

     "What do you mean?" Uncle Matt asked him.

     "You reach out with the backhoe and drag yourself out," David replied.

     "Show me," Uncle Matt said.

     David started the tractor and then lowered the front-end bucket so that it was flat on the ground. He continued lowering it until the front wheels were slightly raised. Then he turned around and with the backhoe bucket reached out almost as far as the bucket would reach. Then he started like he was going to dig a trench towards the tractor. The downward pressure of the backhoe bucket helped lift the back wheels of the tractor and the front wheels were held up by the bucket of the front-end loader, so the tractor quickly started sliding back towards the backhoe bucket. As soon as the wheels were clear of the holes they had dug, David brought the backhoe bucket back up to the travel position and lifted the front-end loader bucket and proceeded to drive over to Uncle Matt where he shut the tractor off and climbed off of it.

     "Well I'll be damned," Uncle Matt said. "I'd have never thought of something like that. Thanks," he said to David, giving him a big grin and a pat on the back. "I'm going to have to hire you to show me what to do."

     "Charge him lots," I told David while laughing. "He can afford it."

     David blushed and cast his eyes down towards his feet.

     Uncle Matt got back on his tractor and started in on the brush again, but I noticed he was more careful about how he attacked it. After we stood and watched for a couple of minutes, I went over and sat down on the trailer. David followed me over and sat down beside me. I decided to see if I could get him to talk a little.

     "You must have spent a lot of time with Kenny to learn so much about running a tractor," I started out. I had my arm across his shoulder and could feel him tense up. That surprised me, but a few seconds of thinking led me to an idea.

     "Was Kenny your boyfriend?" I softly asked.

     David hung his head. That was all the answer I needed. Now the question was what to do with that knowledge.

     "Would you like to call him and talk with him?"

     David's head swiveled around and he looked at me. The expression on his face was one of hope mixed with fear.

     "Do you remember his phone number?" I asked.

     I got a bunch of head nods on that, so I took out my cell phone and handed it to him. After showing him how to work it, I walked over and watched as JJ and LT switched places on my tractor. I kept glancing back at David and I could see he was talking a mile a minute. He was talking softly, and I couldn't hear what was being said, but for the first time his face looked truly animated.

     David was still talking twenty minutes later when Bruno and Corey returned. I managed to get him off of the trailer while we hooked it up and loaded Uncle Matt's tractor back on. Then it was back it up to the building again and start in. David handed me my cell phone just as I was ready to place the ladder against the wall.

     "Did you have a good visit?" I asked. I got a big smile for a reply.

     "You can call him again when we get home," I told him. His smile got even bigger.

     Tearing the old building down was a bigger project than I had thought it would be. Fortunately my chainsaw was still in the pickup because we needed it. First we took the chain and tied it around some rafters and onto the bucket of the backhoe. Then we discovered that the roof section we had a hold of was still attached to the walls. With the aid of the chainsaw we cut that section of roof loose and finally got it off. We were still removing sections of roof when the women showed up with lunch. When we broke for lunch, David was still smiling. His smile was no longer as wide as it had been, more like a big grin, but it was clear he was happier than I had ever seen him. He even took seconds without me having to ask him and appeared to enjoy every bite of them.

     Shortly after lunch we finished removing the roof. There was a lot of debris on the car, but outside of a few dents in the roof and hood it didn't appear damaged much from where the building had been trying to collapse on it.

     "Wow," Uncle Matt said as he stood on the ladder looking down at the Duesenberg. "The hood on that thing's longer than my whole car."

     That was an exaggeration, but the hood was long. The whole car was huge, and the building wasn't much bigger.

     "Now what?" Bruno asked. "Do we try to roll it out or tear the walls down?"

     We discussed that for a short while and decided that it would be best to remove the walls. One of them was sagging in pretty badly and it looked like opening the doors might allow it to collapse, that is if we could get the doors on the building open. The way the building had sagged the bottoms of them were resting on the ground and it looked like they might even be pressed into the ground.

     We fastened the chain to one side wall and hooked it on to the back of my tractor and tightened it up to prevent that wall from falling inward. Then Uncle Matt took his tractor and with the backhoe reached up and hooked the other side wall. Bruno grabbed my chainsaw and cut through the top plate at each end of the wall Uncle Matt was working on. When everything looked ready, Uncle Matt gave a tug with the backhoe and the wall flopped over. For all the work we'd done, it was rather anticlimactic. Part of the wall hit Uncle Matt's tractor and scratched the paint on the backhoe, but didn't do any damage.

     Now that we had it figured out, it didn't take long to pull the two end walls over and when the last one fell, the wall my tractor was attached to fell outward and that was that. There the Duesenberg sat with nothing to obstruct our view.

     The boys dashed up to it and to my amazement, the doors easily opened. Kids were crawling all over and in it. It was a most impressive car, perhaps tank might be a better word. It was simply huge. It was sitting on blocks and had wire wheels and was painted a dark royal blue. The doors to the back seat opened from the front, something I seemed to recall being called suicide doors.

     "It's getting late," Uncle Matt said, glancing at his watch. "Let's put a tarp over it and you guys can figure out what to do with it. Sandy and I need to head home so the munchkins can go to school." The giggle boxes immediately started protesting the announcement they were going home and back to school. It didn't do them any good and soon we had the car covered with a tarp, the tractors put away, and were headed home. Boys were chattering away, talking about how big the car was and everything they had seen on it.

     Aunt Sandy had packed before coming out with lunch, so as soon as they had cleaned the giggle boxes up, they headed north to Medford. I got big kisses from Kevin and Kristen, and so did everyone else. I also got a kiss from Aunt Sandy, as did Corey, but the rest of the boys didn't get a kiss from her, only a hug. Soon they were off and the rest of us went back in the house. Dog would have gone with them willingly, but Aunt Sandy stopped that. While he would miss the giggle boxes, he had the rug rats to occupy him.

     "What are we going to do about the car?" Bruno asked once we were relaxing in the family room.

     "I don't know," I answered. "I suppose we need to find someone to restore it. Man that thing is impressive. I can just see it in a parade."

     "Any ideas on where to get it restored?" he asked.

     "I can't even make a guess," I replied while rubbing Dog's belly, much to his delight. Dog was taking one of his rare breaks from watching kids and hadn't had as many belly rubs as normal, so he was really enjoying being on his back on my lap and was groaning like crazy over his rub.

     That was all it took to send the boys off to search the net for automobile restorers. It didn't take them long to discover they didn't know what they were looking for in that many of the shops listed worked only on newer cars. After a while they gave up and reported we would need to find out where to go some other way. When I went in and looked at what they had found, I changed the search and found several that I thought might be worth checking out. I made a list so Bruno could call or visit them. That got me to thinking and I suggested that we go out tomorrow and take some pictures so we could show the various shops what we had. That would give them a better idea of what they had to work with. I had no idea what all was wrong with it, but most of the car appeared in pretty good shape. It had California license plates so that was another thing I needed to check on. Unless we could get a title for it, it didn't make any difference whether or not we found a good shop.

     Things were a lot calmer without the giggle boxes charging around. The rug rats were busy, but they couldn't reach as high. Candy was now sixteen months old and Lisa was three and a half. They were happy to play with Dog most of the time and he was more than happy to play with them. They still kept us busy, but not nearly as busy as the giggle boxes. Then again, maybe it was because there were now only two small kids to worry about. It had been easier to keep up with the giggle boxes before Bruno and Sarah had shown up.

     Chinese food won out, and when it was dinnertime we called and ordered take out. That was a new service of the restaurant and this was the first time I'd used it. I had enough containers to feed an army when I picked it up, but my army pretty well demolished it. I was surprised to learn Dog liked rice.

     It was nice not to have Kath under foot. Now if I could just get rid of my relatives things might get back to normal, as if things ever were normal in my house. Our agreement was she wasn't supposed to work on the weekends and this was the first time it had actually worked out that way, at least for one day. We still had things to get straightened out, but I was becoming more comfortable with her in the house and she appeared to be adjusting to me. I wondered if I would become used to Bruno and Sarah under foot, but at least that was supposed to have an ending date of whenever their new house was completed.

     As we relaxed after dinner, I decided it was time to make another attempt with David. The boys were arguing over what television program to watch so they never missed us when I led him to my office.

     "I need to apologize," I started. "I totally forgot about taking you to get a bike and I'm sorry. We'll take care of that tomorrow morning after I make a few phone calls. Next time I forget something, please remind me."

     I didn't get any verbal response, but he did look up. I wondered what to talk about next.

     "By the way, did you have a good conversation with Kenny?" That seemed like a good place to continue.

     He nodded his head and smiled, but still didn't say anything. Getting him to talk was like pulling teeth.

     "Would you like to call him now?"

     Finally I got an answer. "He's not home now. He always goes to his grandma's house Sunday evenings," he said in a soft voice.

     "Well, you'll just have to call him on evenings he's home," I responded. "You guys can work it out, but you can call him a couple of times a week"

     For that statement, the smile, which had been rather small, increased. However, a smile was still not much of an answer, so I decided to plunge ahead.

     "After you look at bikes we can stop and pick up an entertainment center for your room and check and see about your laptop. I don't know if they'll have one in stock, but if not we can order it. How's that sound?"

     He got a troubled look on his face and didn't say anything. I had a problem and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Why did the thoughts of a new bike, a laptop, and an entertainment center make him unhappy? I had never met a kid who wouldn't be thrilled over such things and David reaction was making me confused.

     "What's wrong?" I asked.

     He didn't answer right away, but when I continued looking at him and didn't say anymore, he finally responded. "Why are you doing this?"

     "Why am I doing this?" I started, being more than somewhat startled over his question. "Don't you understand? You're now part of my family and you need those things. The other boys have them and you're entitled to just as much as they are. I know I haven't had much time to talk to you, but once things get back to normal I promise to try to explain stuff better. I know I didn't get you as many clothes as others have, but you're pretty thin right now and I thought you might like to wait until you filled out a little before getting more. We can also look for beds if you want a different one, and if you'd like a different color in your room, I can have it painted. You're family now, and you get treated like everyone else. If we stay here, I'll even have a bathroom installed adjoining your room." I wasn't sure he was going to keep the old sex room as his room, but so far he had not suggested otherwise.

     David's eyes closed and his head dropped. In a soft, almost broken voice he asked, "You mean you want me?"

     "Of course I want you. Why wouldn't I?" I blurted out. Then it dawned on me that maybe we weren't talking about the same thing. "I mean I want you to be my son. I want you to be my son just like JJ and LT, or Kyle and Mark. I want to help you grow up and be happy."

     "You don't care about this?" he asked, waving his stump at me.

     "Good heavens no. I mean I'm sorry you're missing a hand, but that doesn't affect who you are. It only means that a few things are going to be more difficult for you and I wish it didn't have to be that way. I wish your stepfather hadn't abused you, but he did. I wish I could wave some kind of magic wand and make everything right, but I can't. All I can do is try to help you and love you for who you are.

     "A missing hand isn't much different than a missing tooth. The only thing is that it is more visible because they can make false teeth that look real and will do everything a real tooth would. They can't make an artificial hand that will do everything a real hand will, so you'll have to learn to do some things differently. So you have to learn to write with your left hand, so what? It won't change who you are. Lots of people write with their left hands..."

     I didn't get a chance to say any more because I had my arms full of boy, specifically full of David. He was babbling something about he hadn't believed I wanted him, and from his reaction I was pretty sure he now believed it. All I could do was hold him and feel bad because I hadn't managed to let him know that I wanted him sooner. With all that had been going on I had dropped the ball, but now maybe I could pick it back up.

     When he had calmed down slightly I started in. "David, I'm sorry I didn't do a better job of explaining, but with everything going on I never seemed to have the time or chance. A missing hand isn't who you are, just as being gay is not who you are. Everyone is different and some people have physical problems, but that isn't who they are. You are who you are because of what's inside you. I don't care about all those little things, like being gay, or having one hand missing, or if your hair is short or long. I care about who you are inside and when I look at you, I see a nice young man inside a body with a missing hand. The missing hand isn't important, only what's inside. I like what I see inside. I see a smart young man who figured out how to get a tractor unstuck. I see a nice young man who told us how to do a better job of clearing brush. I see a nice young man who doesn't ask for much. By the way," I said while chuckling, "He needs to do a better job of asking for things or he's going to get the short end of the stick. Anyhow, I don't see anything not to like and lots of things to like."

     To my surprise he started crying harder. I didn't know what to say and so I said nothing, instead holding him a little tighter and patting his back. I wanted to say more, but was afraid I might say something wrong.

     After a while he stopped crying, but he made no effort to get off my lap or loosen his hold of me. If anything, his arms held me tighter. After a while he shifted his position slightly and he asked, "What do you want to know?"

     "Huh?" I responded, not having a clue as to what he was asking about.

     "You said I needed to tell you about myself."

     And so he told me about himself, or at least he started. Things were going well until he got to the place where his stepfather had found the house David was found in. After that what had been about medium abuse had turned into horrid abuse, plus I knew we needed to tell the police. His stepfather had left his old town ahead of the bill collectors and I don't mean the regular bill collectors. It seems the stepfather had a gambling problem and those were the bill collectors he was trying to dodge. Since all his father knew about was working on a farm and peddling dope, and in fact had been working on the farm Kenny's folks owned, that meant it wasn't easy to find a job in the middle of the winter. What he did find was a bunch of drug dealers and he went back to dealing drugs to support his gambling habit. As a small time dealer he didn't make enough to cover his gambling debts so they kept moving. David's mother had finally said enough was enough when they broke in and started occupying the house outside of Redding. That sent the stepfather into a rage and the result was not nice. David's older brother John had tried to stop the beating and gotten beaten himself, as had David. Then he had been forced, even with his broken wrist, to help dig a grave for his mother and brother. Several beatings followed with the stepfather telling him that if he ever told anyone what had happened he would be beaten to death. He had also started abusing David sexually right after killing his mother, apparently saying that he needed someone to fuck and it might as well be his little queer boy. I noted in all that he told me he never mentioned his stepfather's name, always referring to him as `my stepfather.' The only name he mentioned was Kenny's and his brother's. His mother was just ma, and it was clear that while he was telling me much about what had happened, he still was afraid to tell me the whole truth.

     As he continued, he told me how that went on for a couple of weeks with his stepfather, William Mossburg, tying him up when he went out and stole groceries, and releasing him when he got back. Then, on one of the beatings the broken bone in David's wrist had punched a hole in his skin and a few days later an infection started. David was again beaten for getting sick and the next thing he knew he woke up in the hospital with his hand missing. I could well understand how seeing your mother and brother beaten to death would make you fear someone.

     "David," I said softly. "You need to tell all that to the police. You need to help get your stepfather caught and put away where he can't hurt anyone."

     "I can't. I'm scared," he said.

     "If you don't, he'll probably kill someone else," I replied.

     "But what if he finds out and comes after me?"

     So it went, with me trying to talk him into telling the police and David telling me he was afraid. I knew I was going to have to convince him to tell, but was making no headway. I hated to have to tell him what I already knew, fearing that he might think I was trying to trap him, but saw no way around it.

     "David, Children's Services has discovered who you are and who your stepfather is. Believe me, they're going to try to protect you from Mossburg and so am I."

     When he heard me say his stepfather's name all the fight went out of him. He sagged against me and was silent. After a while I heard a soft voice.

     "How did you find out?"

     "Children's Services finally tracked down who you are. After you disappeared, their counterparts in Oklahoma started investigating and discovered a lot of things about your stepfather that they hadn't known. One of the caseworkers stopped in Friday and told me."

     "Oh," he said. After that he was quiet.

     He stayed there on my lap, not moving or saying anything. I wondered if I should say any more, but couldn't decide if I should or even what I would say if I did, so I sat there silently holding him. Finally he sighed.

     "When do I have to tell them?"

     "When would you like to tell them? It's getting late so maybe tomorrow would be better," I answered. "We could stop and talk to the police on our trip to the bike shop."

     David finally agreed that tomorrow would be a good time to talk to the police. Judy had told me the name of the contact officer so I could call him and see when he wanted to interview David before we left. Tomorrow was shaping up to be a busy day. I wondered how long the interview would last, but had no way of knowing. I knew I needed to talk to someone about it, but wondered who. Judy would know what would be best, but her interest in the case wasn't the same as mine. As much as she tried to help kids, I now had a more personal interest in David, and where she might be more inclined to want information, I wanted to protect him as best I could. Of course the usual name popped up.

     "David, could you move so I can call my attorney. I think he needs to be there to look out for you." After a brief pause, he got off my lap and allowed me to go to my phone.

     David started to leave, but I told him he needed to stay and listen to the conversation. Thankfully Russ was home, and after I filled him in he agreed that he ought to be there to watch out for David. Fortunately the case he had been working on had been completed late Friday so he said he would be able to be there and represent David. He suggested that we allow him to call the police to set up the interview and that he would contact us as to the time and place. He told us that the police would probably want the interview to take place as soon as possible and to be prepared to leave for it first thing in the morning.

     Once that was taken care of I asked David if he had any questions, but he said he didn't. I told him that he was free to ask questions anytime he thought of any, and soon he headed off to see what the other boys were watching on the television. When I went to see, they were watching a basketball game and were trying to decide if they wanted popcorn. The third quarter of the game ended and boys exploded into action, some heading for the bathroom and others for the kitchen. The sound of the microwave was soon heard, followed by the popping of popcorn.

     I went into the living room and Bruno and I discussed how to handle all the projects that needed doing. In talking it over we decided it was likely that the fuel distributor probably opened by eight a.m., so I was going to call him and see about having tanks put in and filled. Then I was going to call Jim's Auto Wrecking and see about arranging for having the old cars removed and if they had any value. Bruno could start calling the restorers and see if any of them sounded like what we were looking for as soon as he returned from talking some pictures of the Duesenberg. If Russ had any ideas on how to proceed with a title check I could call Bruno and set him to work as soon as I learned what needed to be done. The boys were whining because I told them the lawn was getting shaggy and that they needed to mow it and also the rest of the property. They didn't mind the mowing part, but when I told them I expected all the grass clippings to be raked up, I got some complaints. They were still complaining when I went to get out my digital camera for Bruno. He took one look at it and told me I needed a better one and that he would use his own. Corey immediately perked up and agreed with Bruno and soon the two of them were peering at Corey's laptop, trying to decide which make and model I needed. There they were, trying to decide how I should spend my money and I wasn't even allowed to get involved in the discussion.

     David came over to me and asked how many people would be there when he told his story to the police and I spent the next twenty minutes trying to convince him that he had nothing to be ashamed of for what had been done to him, and that he shouldn't be embarrassed about it. I pointed out that all he had done was try to survive and that was the proper thing to do, but he was upset that he would have to tell people how his stepfather had sexually abused him. The whole time that was going on I could hear Bruno and Corey comparing notes on the cameras, Sarah chasing the rug rats around and trying to keep them out of things, and the rest of the boys chattering about how poor the basketball game was.

     I'm not sure David totally believed me, but he finally headed back to see how the game was going and about that time Bruno turned to me.

     "Do you like your SLR?" he asked.

     "Yes," I answered, wondering why he was asking something like that.

     "What focal lengths do you use the most?" he continued.

     "Oh gee, I don't really know. I use the twenty-four to forty a lot, and then I use the eighty to two hundred. I don't use the normal length lenses as much, but I wouldn't be without them," I answered. "Probably the twenty-four to forty."

     Corey and Bruno went back to looking at digital cameras and I went to check on the rest of the boys. The game was over and they had found a silly martial arts movie and were poking fun at it while munching popcorn. LT looked up and said, "We're out of popcorn."

     Jeez, it seemed like I'd bought a box just a couple of weeks ago and the box had something like thirty-six bags in it. I added stop at Costco and pick up more popcorn to my list of things for tomorrow. I left the boys to their movie and retreated to my office. At least I could check and answer my email
     There wasn't much to answer, but there was a lot of junk to clear out. I had things pretty well finished when Corey and Bruno walked in.

     "We found just what you need," Bruno said. Corey had a big grin and nodded his head.

     "What's that?" I asked.

     Boy was that ever the wrong thing to say, but I'm not sure that there was a right thing to say. Anyhow, they proceeded to show me what they thought I needed. I had to admit that it did look nice. It happened to be a Canon Eos 1Ds. As I read the review of it on "Steve's Digicams" I couldn't help but be impressed with all it offered. Bruno pointed out that it had a full-size sensor and that meant that any lenses worked at their marked size rather than having to add to them because of a smaller sensor. That meant that a twenty-four to forty was a twenty-four to forty and not a thirty-eight to sixty-four like most digital SLR's. It was an eleven point one megapixel unit and any of the Canon auto focus lenses should work. Bruno pointed out that Canon had some image stabilization lenses available, and the more I read, the better I liked it. While I didn't have any Canon lenses, I knew they made very good lenses. I wasn't convinced I needed a new digital camera, but my Olympus was pretty old and was only one point three megapixels, so it probably wouldn't hurt to upgrade to something a little newer. Corey would likely enjoy the added capabilities of the Canon and he was the one who used the digital camera the most. Plus, another digital camera would be nice to have around because while the rest of the boys didn't have as much interest in photography as Corey did, there had already been a couple of times with more than one person wanted to use the Olympus at the same time.

     Everything was going fine until I started on "Steve's" conclusion. He was explaining that the 1Ds was only one of two cameras with a full-size sensor, meaning the sensor was the same size as a thirty-five millimeter film image, and that the other one was a Contax N Digital. That was when I found out what it cost.

     "But," I blurted out. "But this means the camera costs around eight thousand dollars," I sputtered. "That doesn't even include any lenses," I added, my voice getting a panicked sound to it that I couldn't stop. "My Olympus only cost four hundred," I added somewhat hurriedly. "My God, what do you think I'm made of? Money?" I finished in a rush.

     "Calm down," Bruno said. "How much have you got in your Hassey?" he asked.

     "With the lenses, a little over ten grand," I babbled. "But that's different."

     "Oh, why is it different? Are you telling me that you can afford a Hasselblad and not afford a nice digital camera?" Bruno asked.

     "But, but," I sputtered.

     "Take a deep breath and relax," Bruno advised. "From what Matt said, I doubt that you'd starve if you bought it. The street price is probably lower than that anyway."

     "But I need to buy David a bike and a laptop and an entertainment center, and, and," I couldn't think of what else to add to that list so I trailed off into silence.

     Bruno grinned at me. "You mean someone who is thinking of building a new home worth a half million bucks, and even building his housekeeper one like it, can't afford a new camera? Just call Matt and tell him he needs to make you an extra eight grand so you can have a new camera."

     I started to reach for the phone before it dawned on my how silly I was acting. It wasn't a question of could I afford such a camera. The only question was, was it worth it to me?

     Suddenly it was like nothing else existed and I was seeing things clearly for the first time. I had always been ashamed of being gay and so had overcompensated for that by trying to be the perfect person and not doing anything which might make anyone jealous or give them anything to criticize. It had bothered me that through Uncle Matt's skill my money had grown to where I had more than I needed, but I was afraid to spend it because people might think less of me. That was so silly because I never paid any attention to how much money someone had, or how they spent it. Why was I so worried that someone might think I was trying to show off? It went with my fear of being found out. As long as I didn't attract any attention, people were less likely to figure me out. The only problem with that was I seemed to attract attention no matter what I did. I was always getting called upon to answer questions, or work on various things. Now, knowing that some, if not many, of those people who were always dragging me into things knew that I was gay and didn't give a damn about it brought me up short. If they didn't care about it, why was I so afraid of it? Intellectually I knew being gay was nothing to be ashamed of, but emotionally I still hadn't accepted it.

     "Bruno, does it bother you that I'm gay?" I suddenly asked him.

     His eyes widened. "No, why the hell should it? Have I ever given you any reason to think I'm a bigot?" He was starting to get angry.

     "No, of course not," I jumped in before he could get really mad. "It's just that I've always been afraid. Afraid that some people would hate me."

     "What's that got to do with a camera?" he asked.

     "Nothing and everything. All my life I've been afraid of being found out. Then I learned that I had been found out and it didn't make any difference. All my life I was afraid to buy things or do anything which might attract attention, but I attracted attention anyway. I was afraid of what others might think of me." I stopped to consider how I should go on.

     "Sam," Bruno interrupted my thoughts. "You can't live your life worrying about what others think of you. You have to live your life doing what's right for you."

     "Yeah, I now know that, but it's hard to make the change," I answered. "I was worried that buying the camera would make others jealous and, well I don't know, maybe they wouldn't like me."

     "Do you like everyone?" Bruno asked.

     "No, of course not," I answered.

     "So why was it so important that everyone like you?" he responded. "Surely you know that it's impossible to have everyone like you, and silly to even try for that."

     Bruno was right and I knew it. In fact I had always known it, but for some reason had not been willing to look at myself in that light. I had always known there were people whom I didn't like, and not because they were bad or evil, but just because we didn't click for whatever reasons. Many were perfectly nice people yet I didn't care for them. Now it was apparent that there must be others who looked at me the same way. And it was crystal clear that I couldn't spend my life worrying about how they felt, but instead needed to spend my life doing what I thought was right. I shouldn't worry about what others thought, but should try to do the best that I could.

     "You're right. I'm going to quit worrying about other people and what they think," I said.

     "Fine," Bruno answered. "Now what about the camera?"

     Bruno had a one-track mind, something that probably helped make him a very good football player. He never lost sight of his goal.

     "The camera? I don't know. What else did you find?"

     It didn't take them long to convince me that if I wanted the wide-angle performance, I only had two good choices and the Canon was the cheaper of the two. Now the only question remaining was simple. Was the camera worth it to me?

     "I don't know," I said. "I need to think on this a little. The D60 only gives up some of the wide-angle performance and costs a lot less. Give me a couple of days to think about it," I finished up. I could see Corey wasn't thrilled with that answer, but Bruno seemed to think it was fine. I could hear Sarah gathering up the rug rats so she could put them to bed, and there was still noise coming from the family room indicating the television was still on, so I decided to check and see what the rest of the boys were up to.

     Kyle was finishing his homework. I was proud of how he was raising his grades, and liked the fact that I rarely had to encourage him to do his homework. I was becoming more impressed with Kyle the longer I knew him. Those thoughts got me back on the subject of David. I still needed to figure out what to do about his schooling and so far I hadn't done a thing about it. Maybe I could find time to talk with Jerry tomorrow and see what he suggested. Tomorrow was going to be busy what with all the things I needed to do.

     By the time I finished looking over a couple of Kyle's homework assignments, it was time for the boys to go to bed. I chased them off and when Sarah, Bruno, and I looked at each other, we decided that sounded like an excellent idea. I was a little surprised at Sarah and Bruno deciding that they were tired, but not at my own feelings. I'd gotten in a habit of going to bed at the same time as the boys and when their eyes started to droop, so did mine. Add in that I hadn't gotten as much sleep as normal and I had lots of reasons to be ready for bed. I started closing up the house as boys made one last check of the refrigerator, hoping to find some tidbit the others had overlooked. That was only the third or fourth time each of them had looked in it since dinner and I had no idea as to why they would think something would magically appear, but it was a nightly routine and they all did it. To my surprise even David took his turn standing before the open door and causing my power bill to go up. I swear that if I could keep them from standing there looking for hours on end I could save enough money to buy that camera. Well, probably not, but it would be a significant savings.

     Things were working out just right. Corey and I headed for my bathroom at the same time and I was sure things would get better, much better. Of course I was right, and after a quick pass with our toothbrushes, it was into the shower. I was so excited I wasn't sure where to start, and Corey didn't seem any better. As the hot water streamed over us I did something I'd missed ever since Uncle Matt and Aunt Sandy had arrived and that was wrap my arms around him and kiss him. It felt so wonderful to have him in my arms and his tongue was toothpaste flavored, but still very much the flavor of Corey. Our kisses had been stolen and short and now was the time to make up for that. We did. I swear that my legs were like jelly by the time we broke our lip-lock. We looked at each other and started giggling.

     "God that was good," I said softly while Corey and I stared into each other's eyes.

     He didn't say anything, but started to sink to his knees. I know what was going to happen, but his warm mouth had to be the best thing I'd felt in what seemed like forever. Our few minutes in the shower the other morning were forgotten and I was lost in pleasure.

     Sadly such pleasure didn't last very long because I was so hot and ready to go. I would have been terribly disappointed except I knew this was only the start, and that with no giggle boxes to interfere it was going to take a while before we were ready for sleep. As soon as I had control over myself, it was time to enjoy Corey.

     As I knelt down I was faced with the most beautiful sight. Little Corey was standing proudly at attention and looked simply delicious. I could see the delicate tracing of veins on it, and see it jump slightly in time with his heartbeat. Judging by the way his testicles were drawn up, he wasn't going to last any longer than I had. Oh well, we would do better on the next round. In the meantime Little Corey was mine to enjoy.

     It seemed like I had no more than wrapped my lips around little Corey when I could feel it pulse and taste the reward of my labors. Corey sagged back against the shower wall and I could hear him panting, but I wasn't about to give up. I kept him in my mouth, savoring every last drop.

     "Awesome," he sighed. "Really awesome."

     Now that the worst of the pressure was over it was time for a good shower. We each spent a lot of time scrubbing the other, and I suppose anyone could guess which parts received special attention. By the time we each decided the other was clean enough, it was almost as if our opening salvo had never taken place. Little Corey was once again rigidly at attention and in need of service, and it wasn't alone. As he grabbed Junior and led me to the bed he giggled, "Not bad for an old man."

     If I hadn't been so busy being led around by my penis I would have slapped his ass, but as it was, I was under a slight handicap and could only follow quietly along. He had such a cute and mischievous look on his face that I couldn't wait to see what he had in mind.

     Corey was in a take-charge mood and when we reached the bed he spread a couple of clean bath towels on it and told me to lay on them. I wasn't about to resist and quickly complied. Then he poured a little massage oil on me and the next thing I knew I had a Corey blanket. That was the best blanket in the world because it wanted to kiss me and it kept squirming all over me. He'd been somewhat generous with the oil and I got a little of it on my hands and started rubbing my hands over his back as he continued kissing me. My hands slowly worked their way downward and soon I had those two perfect globes in them. As he squirmed around I could feel the muscles in those globes tense and relax. I wondered if he would ever share what those globes partially protected, but so far he hadn't offered and I wasn't going to insist. I still felt guilty about the way I'd started with him and no way was I going to compound that by suggesting anything. He would have to make the first move in that direction, and if he didn't, it wasn't that important. What was important was that we loved each other and even if there was never anymore sex that love would go on.

     Owing to our episode in the shower, the frottage wasn't going quite like normal. That was good since it was taking longer than normal to get anywhere and the longer it took, the more I got to have Corey in my arms. The longer it took, the longer I got to kiss him. He was still young enough that most of the time he climaxed before we had spent enough time loving each other, but he was improving. Of course we had both been on the hair trigger side in the shower, but the giggle boxes had prevented any meaningful loving so I had known he wouldn't last. I had been a little surprised that I hadn't managed to hold on a little longer, but it had felt so good that I'd allowed myself to react to his tongue much more quickly than normal. Yet now my reactions were slowed because of that and so we continued taking turns sucking on each other's tongue while I kneaded those globes and let my fingers occasionally reach down between them and tease that cute pucker. Such teasing always made him squirm more, and I was pretty sure I could encourage him along, but I was in no hurry. How could I ever want to hurry with Corey in my arms?

     I was drifting along in a foggy haze, wondering why Corey was willing to share his life with me when it happened. Apparently he was in need of relief and I felt his hand reach between us and he pressed Little Corey and Junior together. Once he had them pushed tightly together, he grasped them. Both his hand and Little Corey were like fire, and I started jerking and twitching with pleasure as he warmed me. As I continued massaging his globes, my fingers spent more time in that valley between them and his jerking and squirming became more frenzied.

     He finished first and stiffened up. As his body pulsed, it drew me along. He was no longer kissing me and had his head pulled back and was panting. Suddenly I joined him and as my second shot took place, he collapsed against me. He was finished for now, and shortly thereafter so was I.

     After our hearts had slowed I chuckled and said, "I think we made a mess. What are we going to do about it?"

     "You taught me to be neat so we'd better clean it up," he giggled. With that he rolled off and started licking me.

     "Hey, that's not fair," I said. "I want my turn."

     That was the end of the licking and we started chasing each other around the bed. Corey was giggling and each time I thought I had him, he would roll or squirm away, leaving me with nothing except the bed. Sometimes there are drawbacks to king sized beds. By the time I captured him and had him in my arms, there was nothing left to clean up and the bed was a mess.

     "Should we change the sheets now or wait for morning?" I asked.

     "Now," he answered. "My ass is on a wet spot and its cold."

     A little work with a warm washcloth solved part of the problem, and two clean sheets solved the rest of it. Had we been slightly less rambunctious the towels would have caught all the mess, but our scrambling around and chasing each other had rendered them almost useless.

     As he snuggled up in his usual place he asked, "When did Kevy and Krissy start sleeping with you?"

     "Oh God," I chuckled. "I think Krissy was about three and a half and I was visiting Uncle Matt and Aunt Sandy. Krissy woke up in the middle of the night and decided I should read to her. So there I was, sound asleep when she showed up with a copy of "Horton Hatches the Egg," for me to read to her. I found out later that Uncle Matt and Aunt Sandy wouldn't read to her in the middle of the night, but I didn't know that so I gathered her up and put her beside me and started reading. I wasn't very alert and neither was she and we both dropped off to sleep long before I made it through Horton. The next morning Aunt Sandy found her sound asleep beside me with Horton still open on my chest. I got kidded a lot about child abuse and how mean I was to their kids.

     "That was bad enough, but the next night she decided that it would be handy if she slept with me because that way she wouldn't have to come and wake me up. We tried to talk her out of it, but she was pretty insistent and the next thing I knew I had a pile of books and one niece in my bed.

     "When Kevy figured out what was going on, some months later, he was jealous, so after he threw a fit I wound up with both of them in my bed and reading to both of them. Confidentially I got a little tired of "The Cat in the Hat," "Green Eggs and Ham," and "Horton Hatches the Egg," but they've slept with me ever since.

     "I never thought it would last this long, and that Krissy would outgrow it and become modest, but so far it hasn't happened. Then you came along and where they used to put me in the middle, now they want to be between us. I don't know if they look upon you as their brother of if they have any idea of what's going on, but I guess we're stuck with them until they decide otherwise."

     Corey didn't say anything for the longest time, and I was beginning to think he'd fallen asleep when he surprised me.

     "When I'm grown do you think we could get a couple of young kids?"

     "Huh?" I grunted.

     "I mean I could take care of them during the day while you teach, and you could watch them in the evenings while I'm painting," he replied.

     Talk about surprised, Corey had been reluctant to talk about his future and here he was planning it. I didn't know what to say.

     "I don't know, but we can sure look into it," I answered. "I don't know if any court would allow it."

     "Maybe they will by then," he said and snuggled down more. Shortly he relaxed and his breathing steadied. I would have probably stayed awake thinking about what he had said, but my body felt so relaxed and peaceful after our loving that I soon joined him in sleep. There would be many opportunities to talk about kids before he was old enough to implement such a thing. For now the important thing was that he was beside me. All was right with my world.

               To be continued...

     Steve's Digicams is an excellent site to check out digital cameras. As for the model mentioned, remember this story is supposed to be taking place starting with the 2002/2003 school year. There are now newer models available, but not many which use a full-sized sensor. Most interchangeable lens digital cameras usually use a sensor somewhat smaller than a thirty-five film frame and so on most you have to multiply the focal length of the lens by some factor, typically 1.3 to as high as 2 with the majority falling in the 1.6 or 1.7 range. That would mean that the standard 50 mm lens on a film camera would be equivalent to an 85 mm lens when used on a DSLR using the 1.7 factor. On most applications that isn't much of a problem, but it you like to use wide-angle lenses, then it becomes a factor. My favorite lens is a 24 to 40, but I also love my 17 mm. 10 mm lenses are expensive and big, and to get down to 17 mm you would have to find a 10 mm lens, a focal length wider than Canon makes. They do make one very wide zoom, but the fixed length lenses starts at 14mm.