IN HIS FATHER'S HOUSE - 8, Rev.
Copyright 2011, 2012 by Carl Mason
All rights reserved. Other than downloading one copy for strictly personal enjoyment, no part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except for reviews, without the written permission of the author. However based on real events and places, “In His Father's House” is strictly fictional. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. As in real life, however, the sexual themes unfold gradually. Comments on the story are appreciated and may be addressed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to numerous articles on the problems faced by juveniles incarcerated in adult prisons - especially those sentenced to life sentences without the possibility of parole - the author is especially indebted to three books: Santos, Michael G., Inside, Life Behind Bars in America (New York: St. Martin's Griffin edition, 2007); Parsell T. J., Fish, A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison (Cambridge, MA; Da Capo Press, 2006); and Gagnon, Robert J. 053803, Life at Fifteen, updated ed. (np; Robert J. Gagnon-Paperback, 2006). Echoes of each will be heard in my story that follows.
If you would like to read additional stories by this author, please turn to the "Authors/Prolific Authors" link at the beginning of the Nifty Archive.
This story contains descriptions of sexual contact between males, both adults and teenagers. As such, it is homoerotic fiction designed for the personal enjoyment of legal, mature, adults. If you are not of legal age to read such material, if those in power and/or those whom you trust treat it as illegal, or if it would create unresolvable moral dilemmas in your life, please leave. Finally, please respect yourself and those around you by practicing safe sex.
(Revisiting Chapter 7)
As they packed and had a quick supper, it was obvious that a major autumnal storm was upon them. Chances were it had hit the Catlin dam region as much as a day ago. Indeed, before they could leave the house, hail had hit the windows, winds were already blowing at a frightening level, and a torrential rain was beginning to fall. (Something of an amateur meteorologist, Hank commented that while it probably wouldn't occur during this storm, snow couldn't be far behind.)
(Continuing Our Story: Human Tragedy)
Hank always said that the fifty mile drive down to Parkersville was the roughest he had ever experienced. Nor was it any better for many of the drivers whom he marshaled and ordered to begin moving major construction equipment down to the P-ville area. In some things Hank exaggerated...but storms were not one of them. In any case, it was a good thing that he took the heavy SUV with its 4-wheel drive, for the wind constantly buffeted them to and fro. Fortunately, there was little traffic on the road. Hank, normally among the best of drivers, found himself in the oncoming lane about as often as in his own lane! He only stopped once. A young couple - the wife within days, even hours, of delivery - decided to drive into the P-ville hospital rather than chance being stranded in their rural farmhouse when the worst of the storm hit. A massive boulder, dislodged by the rain, had come bounding down the hillside and literally flattened the front end of their ancient Oldsmobile. Miracle of miracles, they received nary a scratch, but their car was going NOWHERE...ever. Jeb smiled as he helped the pretty young woman into the SUV. He could sense the new life within her...and the trembling.
From the bluffs that overlooked the industrial or "lower" section of Parkersville, the town looked like an ants' nest that had been broken open. People were scurrying everywhere. Buses of all types were picking people up for evacuation. All streets seemed to be jammed with people and vehicles, as were the two bridges over the Kennessau, i.e., the one into the "upper" section of the town and a second leading to a north-south Interstate two or three miles to the west. (There was also a railroad bridge some distance up river that handled freight trains directly serving plants in the lower town.) They could also see the railroad station on the far side of the river where a passenger train had been halted and passengers were being transferred to buses. Seeing clearly was difficult. The roads were crowded and slick in the cold continuing rain. A large factory on fire down by the river was producing a lot of smoke. Probably due to the crisis, two giant searchlights were illuminating the sky over the lower town. Carefully, Hank made his way down the bluff and over to the upper-town bridge. As they crossed at a snail's pace, sirens, bells, and even air horns up and down the river burst into a continuing alarm. Jeb and Hank looked at each other grimly and then returned their attention to reaching the hospital. They were soon able to place the young couple in good hands at the Emergency entrance.
After parking, they entered the large doors at the front of the building to be immediately met by an imposing, middle-aged woman. "Colonel Taylor!" she exclaimed with great relief. "Several pieces of your heavy equipment have already arrived and have been located according to the emergency plan. The remainder should be here before our situation gets appreciably worse. God knows, we're going to need them before this night is over. You heard the alarm. As of two or three minutes ago, the Catlin dam was breaking up. Let the volunteer desk know you're here, pick up a couple of our communicators, and stay in touch."
"Victoria," Hank said respectfully, You're busy, but let me introduce my nephew, Jeb Taylor, who's now living with me." "Jeb," she said hurriedly, "I'm delighted to meet you." Just before turning away and all but sprinting off, she winked at Uncle Hank. Momentarily returning her eyes to the younger Taylor, she laughed, "Oh my, you make me wish I were 20 years younger!" Grinning, Hank grabbed his blushing nephew's thick upper arm and pointed them towards the volunteer's desk. Feeling the need to say something... anything...Jeb sputtered, "Colonel?" "Yeah," Hank answered airily. "Well, you know... In some places you give five dollars and they make you a Major; fifteen, and you're a bird Colonel!" Jeb looked at his uncle out of the corner of his eye. Somehow he suspected that Uncle Hank meant considerably more to this community than fifteen bucks! There wasn't time to think further, for as soon as they had added their names to the volunteers' roster and picked up two high-tech communicators plus hard hats, Hank led the way outside into a little park. Near the heights of the upper town, the park provided a vantage point from which they could see the river and the entire lower area. Five-star General Chaos still appeared to be in full command.
"I thought they had stopped the trains," Jeb muttered to his uncle. "They did," Hank muttered, his brow furrowed. "I'm afraid what you're hearing is . . . " With those words, a wall of water - having swept everything from tall trees to buildings into a lethal cocktail flecked with debris, human and nonhuman - roared out of the valley above the somewhat wider plain on which P-ville had been built. The Corps of Engineers later reported that a poorly planned earthen dam some 20 miles upstream had received little maintenance over the years. The recreational lake behind it held in excess of 200 million tons of water. Forty-eight hours of torrential rain proved to be too much. As it rolled down the valley, the wall of water occasionally reached 90 feet high. By the time it reached P-ville, the crest, traveling at a rate of 20-40 miles per hour, was at least 50 feet tall. [Author's Note: Though extensive liberties have been taken, the statistics in this paragraph and the next are roughly based on those of the infamous Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood of 1889.]
Both Taylors gasped. They watched in horror as the flood simply washed across the lower town, leaving a thoroughly wrecked steel mill, two ruined railroad shops, and several factories. A number of other commercial buildings appeared to also be in ruins. Massive tree trunks in the moving water had acted like battering rams. The railroad bridge and the southern bridge were gone. The bridge to the upper town still stood, but one wondered for how long. The workers' homes? Little more than tumbled, broken boards and bricks could be seen in two neighborhoods where nearly 1700 houses had stood. (The possibility of escape long passed, many families had moved to the second floor. As first floors were swept away, the floors above crashed in ruins and, in many cases, were carried away by the flood.) Nor had the upper town escaped this tragedy. The train station was gone, as was the train that they had glimpsed as they approached the town. Parks along the river had been swept clean. Water of an indeterminate depth swirled in and around buildings in at least a fourth of the business district and a large, relatively new school complex. (The final count was grim: Over 2300 people had died, including 400 children under the age of 10. Ninety-seven entire families perished in the maelstrom.)
Unable to move - indeed, barely able to breathe - the Taylors stared zombie-like at the destruction before them. It took a loud, insistent signal from their communication devices to shock them into awareness. The message was simple: "Even now, reinforcements are rolling into Parkersville. Help where you can. Keep us posted. When more hands or equipment are needed, contact us."
For some time, Hank and Jeb worked together. Crossing the last bridge that shuddered as if its demise were nigh, they cautiously made their way back into what remained of the lower town. Several pieces of Hank's heavy construction equipment were already attempting to clear passageways through the devastation. When possible, bodies scattered everywhere in the debris were marked for later collection. Aided by several teams of State Troopers and their dogs, they discovered a surprising number of human beings who were still clinging to life. When needed, additional hands were always available to help extract the wretches from the ruins and lift them into heavy-duty vehicles. The number of Red Cross or National Guard field hospitals slowly increased. All too often, however, medical personnel had to perform their duties in the midst of the mud, splinters, and body parts that surrounded them on every side. Other volunteers - often very young teens - made their way through the area with sandwiches, fruit, drink, and encouraging, appreciative words. Unfortunately, everyone's tasks became more difficult when isolated explosions and eruptions of fire became more frequent throughout the lower town. Emergency personnel from two states were working at fever pitch to prevent a general conflagration, but everyone knew that they faced great danger.
It was a tired and bedraggled pair who finally took a lunch break in the entryway of a ruined factory. Hank was limping quite severely. Sharp protrusions and glass had badly ripped Jeb's jeans and his shirt wasn't in much better condition. Hank winched when he saw the number of small field bandages that now decorated his boy's hide. Feigning sarcasm, Hank growled, "You're collecting those things for inclusion in your personal museum?" "Yeah," Jeb replied lightly. "I think those first aid volunteers are determined that you can't develop a life-threatening infection until you've saved your quota!" "If they're female, they may have something else on their minds," joked Hank. Munching on an apple, Jeb insisted that Hank check in at a nearby MASH (i.e., a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit that the National Guard had set up not long before they took their break. Knowing something of Hank's reservations about doctors, he had personally escorted his uncle over to the tents. When he was satisfied that the man would actually go so far as to see a doctor, he wandered back to the factory. Earlier, he had exchanged a few jibes over lunch with some young people of his age. (In the main, they attended a college in the nearby county seat, although there were several others in community colleges and the like.)
It seems as if the factory had been built on the edge of the northernmost residential area, an area that had received the full brunt of the surge. In fact, most of the immediate wreckage was still under varying amounts of water. (By this time, most of the water had drained from the lower town.) Although warned that the debris caught up in the ruins made it a potentially dangerous site, the youngsters had decided that they needed a little lighter relaxation. Their attitude immediately changed when one of the women found a young boy who had evidently been caught in some kind of an air pocket. While in a bad way, he was still alive. Not many minutes passed before an Army ambulance was parked nearby and several young medics had joined the company. The air became absolutely electric when a second three or four year old was discovered and brought to the surface with the aid of several young men.
Jeb was increasingly frustrated. All he had found were dead bodies. They must have been diving in what had been an elementary school or, perhaps, a daycare nursery. The water was dark; the rubble was churned up and dangerous. He was actually caught for a moment in a pile of broken lumber heavy with nails and glass shards. Wire was snarled everywhere! He didn't think he had sustained more of the small injuries, but his jeans were in ribbons that were catching on everything. Rising up for a mouthful of air, he stripped them off and dove down once again the other side of the same thicket. (Thank God for the low-rise Jockey briefs that he had bought on the "other side of the mountain"!) It was then that he saw the blurred outline of two little ones who had to be of preschool age. They appeared to be sucking on a strange rubber apparatus, but it seemed empty and their bodies were just drifting in the dark and dangerous water. All was lost save for the fact that faint muscle movement - and Jeb's intuition - suggested they might not be dead. Clutching the youngsters to his chest, a determined kick tore him free of the wire and he rose to the surface. One vigorous lunge and he was staggering out of the water... exhausted, acting on sheer instinct, covered with oil and other muck, bleeding rather steadily from cuts on his upper thighs, back, feet, and one forearm - but with the two little ones clasped to his chest and definitely alive! Allowing one of the boys to be taken from his arms, he stood for a moment in all of his physical glory, jubilant, surrounded by a cheering group of admiring young men and women. He still held the second little boy who was naked and crying his eyes out. Noting that a press photographer was taking pictures, he surrendered the child. Suddenly, he realized that the remnants of his shirt were gone and his badly torn Jockeys sure weren't covering much, but so what? He barely realized that the light was growing dim as he was gently lowered onto a blanket-covered stretcher.
On what might have been a day...or two later, one of his uncle's men told him that Hank had been taken to the hospital in the upper town. Struggling out of the tent where he had been recuperating, he demanded clothes and a ride across the river. No one was about to deny anything to one of the real heros of the day.
(To Be Continued)