by Wayne Telfer
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Logan's Living – Chapter 8
Every one of the local news programs ran the story as their lead news item that night. Logan had to admit that he and Benny had looked pretty good. The two newspapers had been unable to alter their print for that day's paper, but this fact had given them the time to put together very impressive cover page stories in the following day's editions.
They'd all gathered in Oscar's media room for the news hour and were thus able to watch four programs simultaneously. The first thing they all agreed on was that Jackson had done a top notch job in obtaining the video recording. There was none of the shaking and out of focus shots one usually associated with amateur video productions.
The video began with a wide shot of the room, showing the milling boys. There would never be any mistaking where they were. Then, as Logan and Ben had entered, the video had slowly panned in just behind them so that by the time the incident actually started, you could clearly see all the participants. The faces of the boys not involved had all been blurred, so that left Logan, Ben and Brad being confronted by Mr. Whitfield. Mark and Jess had also been left unaltered since they'd been part of the press conference.
What was not surprising was that the Boy Scout headquarters had been unavailable for comment.
Just as the evening news was ending a house staff member rushed in and whispered in Oscar's ear. He immediately jumped to his feet. "Everyone come with me to my office." He then rushed out of the room, leaving it to Phillip and Reed to escort everyone. They hurried, but were still well behind Oscar, so that by the time they reached the office he was standing in front of his desk repositioning his computer.
Logan didn't say anything, but he was shocked to see Arthur Puckett on the screen.
"Margaret and gentlemen," said Oscar, "Allow me to introduce Arthur Puckett."
"Oh, my," whispered Margaret.
"Good evening people," said the computer image. "Margaret, Logan, what a pleasure to meet you at long last. And this must be young Benjamin. Congratulations, young man, on your new family."
"Thank you, sir," said Ben hesitantly.
"Ralph Maxwell, you're taller than I thought you'd be," he said laughing at the old joke.
"All right, Arthur," said Oscar, "Just what is so pressing that you had to call and demand to talk with everyone?"
"Before I answer that I need to ask Logan and Benjamin if your intentions were to confront this Boy Scout issue directly at any press conference they had." He paused for only a fraction of a second. "Oh, and by the way people, I expect you to address me as Arthur. I have a feeling we'll be dealing with each other closely in the near future, so let's dispense with all the formality." He then looked back at Ben and Logan. "So, boys, what did you intend?"
Ben was too stunned to answer, but since he'd already had one experience with him, Logan didn't suffer from that limitation.
"Yes, Arthur, we had intended to be present at their press conference."
"To what end, Logan?"
"Simply to make the nation aware of their duplicity. They embrace many different religions and peoples and yet they refuse to acknowledge the gay youth of our world. They tout everyone about citizenship and yet they promote prejudice and bigotry."
"My goodness, young man, you really do have a vocabulary, don't you?" smiled Arthur.
"My mother got me hooked on reading, Arthur. You can blame her."
Arthur laughed. "Good for you Margaret. Well, the simple answer to why I asked to speak to you is that I've gotten word that the Scouts intend to hold a press conference on Saturday at noon."
"Great," said Benjamin.
"Ah, but Benjamin, they are hoping to avoid any direct confrontation with you two by holding the thing outside their national headquarters...in Irving, Texas. They've instructed everyone in your area to avoid the media at all costs."
"Damn!" said Logan. "I hadn't expected that."
"Well, if you're really set on this course of action, I believe I can help. And the reason I'm willing to help you is because I think your cause is just, Logan, Benjamin." He then looked pointedly at Margaret. "So, Margaret, what would be your opinion of allowing your sons to continue their fight in person?"
"You mean in Texas?" she asked. He nodded. "I'd be concerned about their safety."
"And rightfully so, I believe. But I can assure you that any of you who wish to attend this press conference will be as well guarded as the President of the United States." He chuckled. "Maybe better."
"Why, Arthur?" she asked. "Why are you willing to put so much effort into this?"
He grew very serious. "Because, Margaret, prejudice offends me. It offends me greatly. Especially when it is directed at the future leaders of our nation. There are very remarkable people being overlooked in our nation simply because of that bigotry. The only way to change the general mind set and apathy of our nation is to allow people like your sons to step up and be heard." He paused to let that sink in. "If there is one truth I've learned over the years, it's that people will respond more openly to an abuse that is perpetrated against a child."
There was silence for several moments.
"Margaret, your sons have obviously put a lot of thought into this action. They went to last night's meeting knowing precisely what would happen and they went prepared to obtain incontrovertible evidence of the abuse. They then brought the episode to the attention of the media as quickly as they could. That all speaks of a determination to stand up and be heard."
He then smiled at her. "It also speaks very highly of a parent that has taught her children that being different doesn't mean hiding and being ashamed. You are a remarkable woman, Margaret Justice. You have single handedly raised one son to recognize that he is a part of a community. That he has a responsibility to that community to confront and combat injustice and need. And now you have taken on the responsibility of raising a second son, late in his teenage years. The boy that stepped out of that basement two weeks ago was a frightened, insecure child; abused and unloved. The young man I see in this room is nothing like that child. In two short weeks you and Logan have taught him that he is worthy of every good thing that can happen to him."
Arthur moved his gaze and locked his eyes on Benjamin's. "Benjamin Grice, why..."
"Excuse me, Mr. Puckett, but my name is Benjamin Justice!" he said with some heat.
Arthur smiled. "Yes, it is Benjamin." He then looked back at Margaret. "See what I mean? Can you imagine the boy of two weeks ago being able to confront a man of my stature like that? This is a young man that is much more confident in whom he is. And he is rightfully proud of the heritage you have given him. Not Benjamin Grice, the name he's lived with for nearly sixteen years, but Benjamin Justice, the name I believe he intends to take through the rest of his life."
"How can I know of two young power houses such as these and not want to help?" he concluded. "As I told you in my letter, my mission in life these days is to support young people exactly like your sons. THAT is why I'm doing this. But...even though they want to do this, it is your decision as their parent whether or not to allow it."
He was right, of course, thought Margaret. Her sons did want to do this and she was very proud of their passion. But their safety was her responsibility. She couldn't help but feel that there was some sort of conspiracy against her boys. Too much had happened over the past two weeks to ignore that possibility. But it also made her supremely angry that her sons had apparently been singled out for all this abuse. Just like her sons, she wanted to strike back. Her biggest concern was whether they were striking at the right target.
"Oscar," she said, "Pull up some chairs. I have no intention of standing here while Arthur grills us from a seated position."
Arthur roared with laughter as the boys all scrambled to assemble enough seating for everyone. Margaret and her sons sat in front on the sofa, while Phillip, Oscar, Ralph and Reed took seats behind the sofa.
"All right, Oscar," began Margaret, "I want to know everything that's been learned."
When he'd completed outlining all the information they'd managed to pull out of the private investigator, everyone waited in silence.
"So...it seems that our boys are the targets simply because they were the most visible at the time these people were ready to act."
"That's what we believe, Margaret."
"That means that they haven't done their homework and won't have a clue how we'll respond," she said.
"Arthur, would I be correct that you are somewhat accomplished in dealing with intrigue of this nature?" she asked finally.
"You would be correct. That's why I have the means to guarantee everyone's safety. The organization that will be seeing to your security makes the secret service look like a bunch of girl scouts with pompoms." He smiled at her disgusted look. "They are also well respected by the government and will not be interfered with should they have to take direct action."
"My, my, aren't we the power broker," she quipped and then paused. "All right, I think we need to do this. I'd like to see the people responsible for this harassment against our boys brought to justice."
"Very good, Margaret. Here's how I think we should proceed. Oscar, have your security people email me all the information they've obtained thus far. I'll have my security organization comb through it and they will take care of bringing the FBI and Homeland Security into it as necessary."
"Whoa," said Ben.
"Truth time, Benjamin, Logan and Reed. You've apparently been singled out because Logan became such a media hit and they believe him to be a homosexual. You two are implicated because of your close association with him. I believe they want to force the three of you back into your closets, as they see it. Any gay person who buckles under their pressure makes them look good."
"You've already educated them in the error of their thinking. But now they're off balance and unprepared. That makes them dangerous. Perhaps very dangerous. That means you boys may very well be in physical danger. I believe I can protect you. But you need to think about this most carefully. Is this truly what you want to do? Are you prepared for the control my people are going to place on you?"
The boys looked at one another and each of them nodded. But when Ben and Logan looked at their mother, they could see that she was truly frightened and was simply staring at Arthur. Logan motioned Reed to move up as he and Ben each took one of her hands. Reed stepped up and knelt behind the sofa and wrapped his arms around her.
"Mom," said Logan softly, "We have to do this or we'll spend the rest of our lives hiding from these types of people."
"They have no right to do this to us," said Ben. "All we want is to live our lives. But we can't let them dictate how we will do that. You're my mom and you don't restrict me because of who I am. Why should I allow a bunch of..."
"I believe the word you wish, dear, is assholes."
"Yes ma'am, it is. We can't let them restrict us if you refuse to."
"But Arthur says this could be very dangerous," said Reed, taking up the gauntlet. "I'm not going to tell you that we're not scared...because we are. But I have to admit that I'm more afraid of not having enough courage to follow through with this. What we accomplish could benefit a lot of people."
Margaret released her sons and pulled them into an embrace while she turned her head and gave Reed a kiss on the cheek. They were a remarkable threesome.
Reed then got up and went and stood before Oscar. "Dad?" At which Oscar pulled Reed down to sit in his lap and hold him.
"I'm as frightened as Margaret, son. This whole situation has rapidly become very complicated. What started out as a simple case of one angry man shouting faggot at a press conference has turned into a major conspiracy. And that conspiracy is directed at my youngest son. So, you're damn right I'm scared. And yes, I'm tempted to refuse you three permission to proceed." He paused to let that sink in as Logan and Ben turned to look at him.
"But...I've known Arthur for many years. The man has more influence than any one man should be allowed to have." That got a chuckle from the computer image. "If he says that he can protect you three, then I have accept that and allow you to make your decision." He then hugged his son tightly to him.
"I don't suppose encasing them in armor would do much good," said Margaret.
Arthur smiled. "Not armor, Margaret, Kevlar." He paused and looked into every eye. "So, we're agreed?"
"Yes, Arthur," answered Margaret and Oscar together.
"Then we have to move on this fast."
They spent the next hour in planning. McKensie was called and told to fully mobilize his organization. It was decided that this would be a week and a half trip. They'd begin with the press conference and then proceed to Arthur's undisclosed hideaway for a week of relaxation.
By the time all documents had been sent where they needed to be and Margaret and the boys were ready to leave, the front of the residence looked like a command post. There were Hum V's everywhere as they prepared to chauffeur the three of them home, help them pack and then return them to the residence.
By midnight, everyone was back at the residence. Margaret had emailed her research to Arthur while they were home, then ensured that the man in charge of her home's safety during her absence had all the security codes and phone numbers.
Ralph had run off with four of the security people to ensure that the salon was adequately secured and protected. He planned to call all his employees in the morning and tell them that they were taking a long three-day weekend in appreciation of all their recent hard work.
Everyone was sitting around the dining room table first thing in the morning finishing their breakfasts when McKensie, who looked very worn around the edges, entered with a new man beside him.
"Good morning, everyone," said Mackie.
"Jesus, Mackie," said Oscar, "Didn't you sleep at all last night?"
Mackie smiled. "Oh, I managed an hour or so. I'll catch up after you leave. We think we've got all the bases covered at our end. We're going to gather our principle leaders and review everything in an hour to ensure we haven't overlooked something." He then turned slightly toward the newcomer. "Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Reed Armstrong, the head of the organization that will be looking after your welfare for the next couple of weeks."
"Good morning, folks. First off, to avoid any confusion, just call me Armstrong. We wouldn't want young Reed to throw his neck out every time someone calls my name." That got a laugh from everyone. "It's a pleasure to see you all. Arthur sends his regards and is really looking forward to your visit. It's not often that he gets visitors just for the sake of casual socializing."
"So, Armstrong," said Oscar, "Is there anything new to report?"
He smiled, and there was just a touch of a wicked gleam in his eyes. "Just that the FBI and Homeland Security are frantically trying to catch up. But they assured us that everything would be in place when the time came."
"You make it sound like a major military operation, Armstrong," observed Margaret.
"Actually, Margaret Justice, you are not far from the truth. It seems that Homeland Security already had some of the names on our list of persons of interest on their own watch list. It seems that McKensie and his organization has managed to collect more information in the past few days than Homeland Security's been able to get in the past year."
"We do what we can," smirked Mackie.
"So, folks, Arthur's private plane is being refueled even as we speak. The flight from here to Dallas/Fort Worth will be about four hours. Arthur has already made reservations at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. You will have the entire twenty-second floor of rooms and suites for you and our security personnel."
"Isn't that just a bit excessive, Armstrong?" asked Margaret.
"Not according to Arthur. His instructions were very specific. `I want these people protected better than any head of state.' That means we leave no room for error. To that end, we have over two hundred people engaged in this operation from our organization alone. That doesn't take into account what the FBI and Homeland Security will be bringing to the table."
Reed Armstrong looked carefully around and could see the fear evident at this pronouncement. "I don't mean to frighten you, but after talking with the two federal agencies, we've determined that this is much more complicated and involved than even McKensie and his people have uncovered. The only reason that the feds haven't acted before now is because they were never able to identify the head of the snake. But thanks to McKensie we now know where that head is located and between us we are going to take this organization down in one mighty effort."
"We did?" asked Mackie. "How could we find what the feds can't?"
Armstrong smiled at the local security specialist. "I know, it doesn't seem possible, but it's true. I promise that once this is all over, you and I will sit down over a one hundred year old scotch and I'll give you what details I can. You and your people have the right to know what you've accomplished."
Just then a staff member entered. "Mr. Oscar, Mr. Puckett is on your Skype and would like a moment with all of you."
The all marched down to the office.
"Last chance, people," he said in greeting. "You get one final time to back out of this."
It was Ben that laughed at that. "After everything Armstrong has just told us, won't there be just a whole lot of people pissed off at us if we do?"
"That's not your concern, Benjamin," answered Arthur. "I have to know that you still want to do this after all you've been told. I have to admit that I'm astounded by how far reaching this simple harassment has gone. I can't tell you much more than you already know. But I CAN tell you that this operation will reach all the way to the legislative halls of Washington, D.C."
"Holy shit," breathed Reed. "Oops, sorry."
"Don't be, son," said Margaret. "Those are my sentiments exactly."
It was Logan that looked around at each individual to gauge their commitment to this. He got nods all around. Some of them hesitant, but nods none the less. He then stepped up directly in front of the computer, leaning forward so that his head filled the screen. "Arthur Puckett, we are now officially scared. BUT...we are all willing to go forward. But know this, sir; you are going to owe us one whale of a week when we come to visit." He smiled, despite the way his insides were turning upside down.
"I'll do my best, Logan," he answered as Logan moved back to join his mother. "I'm not sure I'll be able to manage the whales, but I'll do my very best."
Just then Armstrong's cell phone chimed. He listened briefly, then hung up without saying a word. "The plane is ready," was all he said.
"Then get going," said Arthur. "I'll see you all on Saturday night." The screen went blank before anyone could blink.
Since their luggage had already been taken from the residence, all that was left to be done was load themselves into the parade of vehicles that would take them to the airport. The short drive was a quiet one. Ben and Logan simply held their mother's hands in one vehicle, while Phillip and Oscar held Reed's hands in their vehicle. When they arrived on the tarmac and exited their vehicles, they were shocked to see, not a corporate Leer jet as they'd thought, but a DC-10 that had no distinguishing marks on it.
"Oh, yeah, that's subtle," said Phillip as they stood there in disbelief.
Well, obviously, no one was the least surprised by the interior. As the crew scurried around and made all their final preparations for departure, the guests were given a quick tour. The rear of the place was dedicated to four staterooms, each with a king size bed and its own `facilities', which were much more roomy than any had seen before on a plane. There was a formal dining table just in front of the staterooms, with an open kitchen so that guests could watch the food preparation if they so desired.
Just behind the cockpit was the crew work space, then was the bar for the guests. Between the bar and dining area was a huge lounge with sofas and lounge chairs, enough for a couple dozen people. Well, everyone agreed that if they were headed into trouble, this was definitely the way to get there.
It was a pleasant flight that included a lunch just before landing. The food and service were superb, as they'd expected it would be. Their arrival was a bit of a surprise though because they didn't just taxi up to a terminal, they taxied directly into a huge hangar and were not allowed to exit the aircraft until the large doors were closed.
When they final walked down the stairs to the hangar floor it was to find a dozen identical vehicles awaiting them. Armstrong explained that there would be three convoys of vehicles, each going to a different hotel via vastly different routes. The two decoy convoys already had people inside, he explained, that were similar to each of them in size and age. This would leave enough doubt in the minds of any watchers to ensure that no one would really know where they were being housed.
They entered the hotel through a service entrance and were immediately hustled into a service elevator that was used by hotel staff. They never saw a soul as they entered. In fact, the first people they encountered were the people that would be seeing to all their needs on the twenty-second floor. These, it turned out, were people sent here by Arthur Puckett from his own staff. They would be the only people allowed to casually use the hall between the rooms without first ensuring no one was present. They would be the only people, besides security, that would have any interaction with hotel staff.
There were four suites on the floor along with six `standard' rooms. All looked equally luxurious as they caught glimpses through opened doors as they were led to the suite at the end of the hall. But it was as they entered the suite that they got their biggest surprise. Standing in the middle of the room was the man himself: Arthur Puckett.
He was, as Logan had initially thought, a man that was in fine shape. It was obvious that he took great pains to keep a toned, fit body. He was in his mid forties, stood about five and a half feet tall. His hair was dark brown with just a hint of gray at the temples. The most remarkable feature was his smile. It lit up the room and was genuinely welcoming.
"Welcome to Texas, my friends," he said in greeting.
"Not that we've been able to see much of it, you rascal," said Oscar as they approached and hugged one another. Then it was time to introductions and hugs all around.
"Come, come, everyone take a seat," said Arthur briskly.
As everyone found a suitable location, three staff members walked around and took everybody's drink orders. Other staffers arrived with trays of finger foods that they set within easy reach of everyone.
"Well, we've had our ears to the rumor mills," said Arthur, "And we haven't heard anything that would lead us to believe that anyone has a clue you're here. It seems they believe that you've all gone into hiding at Oscar's place. They're being rather smug about the fact that they've forced you all into taking cover. They're certain that if they can simply allow the Boy Scout organization to have their uncontested press conference that you're story will shortly become yesterday's news and they can simply continue as they began."
"That's one point you need to be aware of," he continued. "The Boy Scout organization has no clue that they have been infiltrated by this radical bunch. So please, Logan, don't imply that they are in any way responsible for the actions that have been taken against you."
Logan thought about that for a moment. "All right, I can see your point. But Arthur, if they were better at policing their organization, these fanatics wouldn't have been able to get the foothold they have."
"Hmm. That's a point you could take advantage of, I suppose," said Arthur.
"Look, Arthur, I'm not out to destroy the Boy Scouts of America," said Logan. "It's basically a great organization. There's a lot of good teaching taking place that today's youth need." He then looked over at Ben who nodded his agreement.
"I've loved my time with the scouts," added Ben. "No one's ever questioned my right to be there before this. Based on what Mark and Jess told us, none of the guys gives a damn about my sexual preferences, so long as I'm not trying to pick guys up at meetings and events. My time in scouts has never been about the guys. It's been about what I could learn and having fun."
"But they need to stop being so damn paranoid," said Logan with some heat. "You've read the information my mom found on the internet, so you know that they are being totally rabid with their approach. This little confrontation will cause more public venues to withdraw their support and force the scouts to reevaluate their position...I hope."
"Well, I think you have a handle on this, Logan, Ben," said Arthur with a smile. "I was just worried that you'd approach this as some sort of vendetta."
"Not against the scouts," smiled Logan wickedly. "The fanatics? That's another story."
"Yeah, well they are not long for this world, I promise you," said Armstrong. "Between what McKensie learned and what the feds already had, that organization is going to be out of business within the next thirty-six hours. The feds are in position to arrest three hundred and forty-seven people this minute. By the time of the press conference they hope to be able to take seven hundred and twenty-three verified members of this organization into custody. The arrests will continue for some time after that as they begin questioning the ones they arrest tomorrow."
"Can I use that information tomorrow?" asked Logan.
"I'll ask," answered Armstrong. "Once the arrests start, I don't think it'll much matter one way or the other. The cat will be out of the bag and any remaining members will be scrambling to hide anyway. But I'll verify." He left to do just that.
"So, I'd take you on a tour of the Dallas/Fort Worth area if I could, but under the circumstances that's a little impractical."
"Actually, I think Ben and I need to spend some time making notes of what we'd like to say," said Logan. Then he looked over at his mother. "Mom, could you give us a hand with that? You always have such a good sense for what you'll need at your fingertips."
"Of course I'll help."
"Marcia," said Arthur to one of the staff, "Could you show Margaret and her sons to their suite?"
"Can I come too?" asked Reed.
Logan got a thoughtful look on his face as he looked at Ben. "What d'ya think? Should we have our hunk of burning love tailing along behind us?"
Ben smiled. "I don't know...it might be a big distraction." Then they laughed and grabbed Reed and followed along behind Marcia.
Supper was served in Arthur's suite and was everything they could have desired. No one lingered afterwards, however. Sleep seemed to be what everyone wanted most.
The boys took one bedroom of the suite while Margaret had the other. But Logan could not seem to settle; he kept tossing and turning.
"What's the matter, Logan?" asked Reed finally.
"Mom," was his simple statement.
It took Reed a moment of thought to realize what Logan was getting at. When it dawned on him, he thought even more of his friend and lover.
"Go. Benny and I will do just fine together. Mom shouldn't be alone."
He hugged them in gratitude and headed across the suite to his mother's bedroom. The door was ajar and the light was still on, so he simply pushed the door open and stepped in.
"You should be getting some sleep, Mom," he said as he walked up to the side of her bed.
Margaret had a book in her hands, but she hadn't really been looking at it. Logan knew that she never read in bed unless there was something troubling her. So he lifted the covers and slipped into bed with her. He gently took the book from her hands and set it on the night stand.
"Logan, shouldn't you be with..."
"No, Mom. I should be right here with you." He leaned against the headboard and pulled her toward him and hugged her. "It's been a long time since I've crawled into bed with you."
"Well, it's been a long time since you had a nightmare and got scared," she sighed and leaned into him embrace.
"Yes it has. But Mom, I'm scared now, and so are you."
That got a chuckle out of her. "You always were good at reading my moods...just like your father. Yes, dear, I'm afraid...afraid for you."
"I know. And I'm afraid for me too, Mom. I don't think I've ever been so afraid."
They were silent for several moments.
"But you're still going to go through with it." She said it as a statement, not a question.
"Yes, ma'am, I'm still going through with it. I have to. It's not just about me and Benny any longer. It's about giving the feds their chance to take down these assholes. But it's more than that. It's about maybe opening peoples' eyes to the prejudice and bigotry of a respected youth organization. Their children are being indoctrinated into a world that excludes gays and lesbians. They're being taught that this is okay. Well it's not okay. It's wrong. And the only way it's ever going to change is if someone stands up and says, `No More'. Benny and I want to be those someones."
Margaret hugged her boy tighter. "Yes, sweetheart, I'm afraid. But more than that, I'm proud of you and Benny. My boys are becoming men...men of action, not just words. Just promise me that you'll do what they tell you to."
Logan chuckled at this. "Oh, Mom, Benny and I are DEFINITELY going to do as we're told. Arthur's promised us a week long vacation like we've never seen...you bet we're going to be careful." He paused a moment. "Can you believe that we are on the twenty-second floor of a luxury hotel with Arthur Puckett just down the hall?"
"Actually, no. It still feels like a dream."
The both laughed and there was a lessening of their tension.
"Well, speaking of dream," said Logan, "Come on, Mom, let's get some sleep." They each reached over and turned out the bedside lamps, then scooted under the sheet, kissed and went to sleep facing one another.
After Logan left, Reed and Ben simply lay together in silence. But Reed wasn't fooled, he could sense Ben's tension. After several minutes of silence, Reed decided that Ben wasn't going to open up on his own, so he pulled the smaller boy over and rolled him up so that Ben was laying on Reed's chest.
"It might help if you talk about it, little brother," he whispered.
That was all it took. Ben wrapped his arms around Reed's neck and wept softly for several minutes. "I'm scared, Reed," he said finally, after calming down. "I'm so scared."
"So am I, Benny, so am I; for you and Logan. And I'm scared for me too, just a bit. We've just found each other and I'm so afraid of losing you. I've been a very lonely boy, Benny, since I moved in with Dad and Phillip. But now I have a little brother and a lover. I don't want to lose that." He paused to let that sink in. "You know...you don't have to do this."
"But I have to, Reed. If it was just about me getting kicked out of scouts it wouldn't matter. But there are bad people out there that want to control our lives. I can't let them get away with that. That's what my parents did to me all my life. But now I know what it's like to have some control...some say in what I want. You, Mom and Logan have helped me see that. If I walk away from this, I might as well go back and live with my parents."
"You're being very brave, Benny."
"I don't feel brave; all I feel is the fear."
"But Benny, that's what real bravery is. You're afraid, but you still go out and do what you know is right, despite the fear. You don't let the fear rule you." He hesitated. "That's what I was doing by living like a hermit these past two and a half years. I was letting my fear of being rejected rule me. I was miserable...until Logan came along...and now you. I've even hooked back up with some of my friends from school. If I'd been brave like you, I'd have learned that they still liked me and still wanted to be my friends. I've learned that it's all right to be afraid, so long as you don't let it be all that you are."
Ben hugged him tight again. "You're so smart. You and Logan are the best brothers a guy could have."
Reed laughed as he rolled them over so that they were laying on their sides looking at one another. "I'm trying, little brother, I'm trying. Now, you think you can get some sleep?"
"As long as you're here with me," he answered as he pushed Reed onto his back and simply draped his arm over the older boy's chest and lay his head on his pillow.
"Always here for you, Benny," he whispered.
All of them slept quite peacefully that night, despite their worries. Their morning was relaxed as they each showered and dressed in robes. There was no need to get fully dressed if they weren't going anywhere until later in the morning.
Armstrong arrived at nine o'clock with the boys' Boy Scout uniforms, cleaned and sharply pressed...and an addition.
"Margaret, I seem to remember you requesting full armor for your boys; how about a bit of modern armor instead?" He held up two white vests and handed them to the boys. "You'll wear these over your t-shirts and under your uniform shirts." Both boys looked skeptically at the flimsy vests. "Trust me, boys, nothing short of a howitzer shell will get through that stuff. I've tested it personally. I took a dozen nine millimeter rounds at point blank range."
He then brought in a communication's specialist with a briefcase full of tiny ear buds. He carefully fitted each boy with one. He then showed them the tiny microphones that had been sewn into their uniform lapels. Armstrong had them wear the ear buds for the remainder of the morning so that they could get accustomed to the feel of them.
At eleven, everyone dressed and went down to their vehicles. On the way to the Boy Scout headquarters, Armstrong gave them the last of their briefing.
"We've done everything we can, boys. We've got sharpshooters positioned all over the area. But there is only going to be one man on your frequency. I've been letting you listen in on the other frequency this morning so that you could get used to the sound. But Blakely is resetting your frequency even now. The man on your frequency will be wearing two of these buds. His name is Jack." He reached up to his lapel and pressed something. "Jack, say hello to the boys."
"Hey guys," said the cheery voice in their ear. "All you have to do is whisper and I'll hear it."
"Hi, Jack," whispered first Logan and then Ben.
"That's perfect guys," said Jack. "So here's the way it works. I won't say a word unless there's a danger. The thing for you to remember is that I can see the situation better than you can, so you are going to have to follow my instructions EXACTLY when I give them to you. Think you can manage that?"
"Yes, sir," they answered together.
There was a pause. "You guys scared?" asked Jack.
"Yeah, Jack, we're scared," answered Logan as Ben nodded.
"That's good, boys. It means you'll be alert, and that's a good thing. You see anything out of the ordinary, anything at all, you whisper it to me and I'll have my partner check it out."
"Thanks, Jack," said Ben.
"Ok, people," said Armstrong, "From here on we play it by ear. I can't tell you precisely when would be a good moment to interrupt their statements. I'm afraid that's going to be up to you, boys. This is your show. Just give me a moment's warning before you start out."
The leaders of the Boy Scouts on scene couldn't have set it up better if Logan had requested it. They'd gone to the trouble of actually assembling a group of about fifty scouts in uniform that stood just off to one side of the platform that was set up in front of the building. It wasn't any problem for the two boys to insinuate themselves into the back of the group. Then it was simply a waiting game.
The leaders arrived on the podium and began their introductions. When the primary speaker began his prepared statement, the boys worked their way around the group of scouts so that they'd be easily visible to the seated media.
"Gotcha, boys," whispered Jack.
"Ladies and gentlemen, there have been recent claims that the Boy Scouts of America are a prejudicial organization. The video that has been recently aired showing the expulsion of a boy from the ranks of his troop was completely justified, even if the method was unfortunately excessive. The troop leader has received a formal reprimand from headquarters."
That was when Logan decided to act. "Now, Jack," he whispered.
"There shouldn't be any need for additional action in this matter," continued the speaker.
"But that's where you're wrong, Mr. Speaker," yelled Logan as he and Ben walked up the steps to the platform.
The shocked look on the speaker's face was truly priceless, and one that Ben and Logan would remember for a long time.
"What are you doing here?! Get them off this platform!" he yelled.
But before anyone could move a muscle, three men stepped out from behind the seated dignitaries wearing shirts with the letters FBI emblazoned across the front. "Anyone that touches these boys," shouted the leader, "will be arrested on the spot."
Logan and Ben continued forward as if nothing unusual had just happened. They stopped when they reached the microphone and simply stared at the speaker.
"You have no right to be here," he said. He then reached out to cover the microphone with his hand.
Logan simply reached out to intercept the hand. "It's too late to avoid this, Mr. Speaker. You are only going to damage your case by refusing us our First Amendment rights." The man slowly lowered his hand and began to turn to leave. "By leaving, you are going to be admitting to all these people that you are guilty of the things you claim to be innocent of." That stopped the man and he slowly turned back to the boys.
Logan then turned to the crowd. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. For you who do not recognize us, we are Logan and Benjamin Justice. We are the boys that were expelled from the scout meeting you saw in the recent video. Or more precisely, Benjamin was expelled. As his brother, I simply supported him and also left." He then turned to the speaker. "So now, sir, why don't you continue."
Logan glanced out at the crowd and noticed that the operator of the sound system now sported a t-shirt emblazoned with the letters HS. Well, no fear of the sound being cut off.
The speaker simply stood there, refusing to continue with his prepared speech.
"All right," said Logan, "perhaps you can explain to these people why Benjamin was expelled from our scout troop."
"Because he's a fa...homosexual," the man answered without thinking.
It was Ben that took up the gauntlet. "Yes, that was what Mr. Whitfield said. Now, I'll ask you to present the evidence of my homosexuality. Let's get it all out in the open."
The speaker was silent.
"Ah, I see," continued Ben. "You don't have any evidence. So what you're telling us is that Mr. Whitfield was totally justified in expelling me based on an assumption."
"Logan, down!!" was suddenly shouted in his ear.
Logan jumped forward and grabbed Ben and dove for the floor of the platform. That was immediately followed by a single gun shot and then a rapid series of answering shots.
"Got him," said Jack. "Don't move, boys."
"Jack!" whispered Logan harshly. "Let us make any announcement."
"On it, Logan. Just give us a moment to make sure it's really clear."
There was screaming from the crowd. But finally someone took command. "Silence, everyone!" said a voice that Logan recognized as Armstrong. It took a moment, but everyone finally quieted.
"Ok, boys," said Jack. "Reed says to go ahead and get up."
Logan got up first and helped Ben up. "Sorry, little brother. You okay?"
Logan started toward the microphone, but Ben grabbed his arm and held him back as he took the lead. "Please, ladies and gentlemen," he said loudly, "return to your seats. This is not finished." It took a couple of minutes, but everyone finally settled down as they all began to notice the profusion of FBI and HS t-shirts.
"All right," said Ben into the silence, "I've had enough of this. Somebody come up here and submit evidence that I'm a homosexual." No one moved. Silence reigned. "If you cannot produce evidence of my homosexuality, then what precisely was my expulsion based on?" Ben grabbed the microphone from the stand and turned and walked back to the seat dignitaries. "Come on. One of you has to have some evidence."
Someone in the back of the seated men finally spoke up. "Mr. Whitfield said he had evidence."
"I see. And you, of course, have reviewed this evidence." There was more silence and even a few blushes. "Ok, enough of this. My brother and I, at least, came prepared. We have in our possession notarized statements from every member of the troop to which we are members. Every one of those statements say essentially the same thing: no one has ever suspected me of being a homosexual. I was always considered by my peers to be a model scout." He then pointed to his sash. "Look at the number of merit badges my brother and I have. Do you think for a minute that we could have gotten all of these by being anything other than dedicated scouts?"
After a few more moments of silence he turned back to the waiting crowd of news people. "Ladies and gentlemen, you have witnessed an attempt to kill my brother. Why? Because he and I came here to reveal the presence of an organization bent on persecuting gay youth and adults. The only reason we can continue to stand here before you is because of the presence of the FBI, Homeland Security, and other security organizations."
"Anyone on the stage?" whispered Logan.
"Just one. The original speaker."
Ben was really warming to his task and Logan was thrilled to see this assertion of his little brother. "While we've been here attempting to bring certain facts to your attention, these security organizations have been arresting people all over this country."
"Benjamin," said Jack, "Reed says to go ahead and give the numbers."
"As of this moment, they have arrested over seven hundred people who have organized themselves into some sort of Nazi style organization that is determined to undermine all the progress gays and lesbians have made in this country. One of the ways they have done this is by infiltrating the ranks of respected organizations such as the Boy Scouts. They have spent years trying to indoctrinate your children into an attitude of intolerance. This has been helped by the unreasoning policy of the Boy Scouts to allow no gay boys in their ranks."
"You have no proof of that!" said the original speaker.
Ben slowly turned to the man and smirked. "Oh, but that's where you're wrong, sir. As it turns out, we have considerable evidence. And as a result of that evidence you are hereby arrested for hate crimes."
Two FBI agents stepped up and wrestled the struggling man to the deck and cuffed him. While this was happening, Ben looked at the remaining dignitaries and could easily see their shock.
"It seems, gentlemen, that your organization is due for some serious house cleaning. You might also consider modifying your policies concerning gay youth. Because as soon as we can organize it, my brother and I intend to institute an advertising campaign that will alert the people of this nation to your policy of hate and intolerance."
"So, you're saying you are gay!" said one of the men.
Ben smiled. "And just when did I do that? Or is it possible that I am just a concerned teenager who happens to believe in the basic equality of ALL people, regardless of race, sex, religion, OR sexual preference. Perhaps you should go back to the basic documents of this country and review the precepts on which it was based. Primarily the one that states `all men are created equal'.
At this point, Ben knew that Logan was better prepared to address the issues, so he walked over and held out the microphone to him. "Your turn, big brother."
Logan briefly held the microphone behind him. "Well done, little brother." Then he stepped up before the still seated men. "All right, let's review. First, the objectives of the Boy Scouts as delineated on your own website."
He pulled a paper from his breast pocket and began reading.
"The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness."
"For nearly a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and through nearly a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society."
He then lowered the paper. "Now how can you justify such a statement when you insist on excluding gays from your ranks? I remember learning in my citizenship classes that we are suppose to be tolerant and supportive of our community if we are to become good citizens. Now I learn that you are hypocrites because you exercise a policy of no tolerance."
"The Bible tells us that we should shun homosexuals," said one man bravely.
"I see. And just where does it state that?" asked Logan.
"Ah, very good. I'm familiar with that passage." Logan had carefully research this particular subject to discover where their basis was, so he was prepared. "So, you are basing your actions on Old Testament doctrine. Now let me ask you a question. Have you ever put in a day of work on a Sunday?"
"Of course, everyone has to do that from time to time."
He turned away slightly and whispered into his mic. "Jack, send me someone willing to put on a show. Make sure he unloads his weapon before he gets here." He then quickly turned back to the dignitaries.
"Well, let's leave that for a moment. Do you have any children?"
"And when you sold them into slavery just how much did you get for each one?"
"Exodus 21:7 clearly states that it is an allowed practice. So how much would you get in today's market? Come on, speak up." He waited a moment. But before he could continue one of Armstrong's security people, a woman, came up to stand beside him. "Ah, thank you for coming. I need you to shoot that man in the back row, third from the left."
"What?!" he yelled as he jumped to his feet.
"If you insist," she said. "But may I at least know why?"
"Of course. He worked on a Sabbath Day and according to Exodus 35:2 he must be killed."
"Oh, well, in that case..." She coolly lifted her nine millimeter and pulled back the slide and chambered a round. Of course Logan could see that she surreptitiously had her thumb on the slide safety so that the slide would spring forward instead of locking open on the empty magazine.
"What the hell are you doing?!!" he yelled as he began to scramble out of the line of fire.
That was when Logan finally lost patience. "Oh sit down you ass!! The gun's not loaded!" He then turned to the woman. "Thank you," he whispered.
"My pleasure," she smiled as she pushed a fresh magazine into her gun and holstered the weapon.
Logan then turned around and addressed the audience directly. "This is so stupid, you know that? Organizations like this keep persecuting the gay community because of Old Testament law. Laws that became irrelevant when Jesus Christ came and died for the sins of man. Christ himself stated that there were only two commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Now where in that do you find justification for persecuting any individual or group?"
"Now I just know that someone here is going to try and accuse my brother and me of trying to bring down the Boy Scouts." He glared at the assemblage. "Let...me...make...this...per-fect-ly...clear. The Boy Scouts has a lot to offer the youth of today. I know, because I have taken many good lessons from my years with them."
"As it happens, the Boy Scouts are destroying themselves. Their anti-gay policy is costing them in that more and more public venues are refusing to allow them access because of their anti gay rhetoric. So let's not see any accusations that my brother and I are anti Boy Scouts. The only people being shot here today, are the Scouts and they are doing it to themselves. They are shooting themselves in the foot by refusing to join the modern era; by trying to live by selected Old Testament values."
"Ladies and gentlemen of the media, this is important. Not as a one time story of confrontation. But as an ongoing pattern of discrimination. Do some research on the subject. There is considerable information out there on what this organization is professing and how it is affecting them. Find it...tell the people what you've found. Encourage your readers to THINK and then to act responsibly." He held his hand out toward the still seated dignitaries. "These narrow-minded individuals need to see that living six thousand years in the past is wrong. The only way to open their eyes is to encourage thought and constructive discourse; something they are afraid of."
He then motioned for Ben to join him.
"My name is Logan Justice and this is my younger brother, Benjamin Justice. We came here today to speak truth, not rhetoric. We came here in the hopes of opening the eyes of the American people to an ongoing injustice. But my brother and I cannot make the change happen. It is now in the hands of the American public to acknowledge the injustice and encourage a change so that every person in this country can be equal. It is also up to the American public to legally combat bigotry so that organizations such as the one that has been arrested today can not gain another foothold in our society."
Logan placed the microphone back onto its stand and he and Ben stepped back.
"All right, Jack," he whispered, "We're done. Now how the fuck do we get out of here safely?"
"On their way, boys. Just a moment, you'll see."
And sure enough, a cordon was created down the center of the reporters by Arthur's security, FBI and Homeland Security agents. The boys simply jumped off the front of the platform and calmly walked down the aisle, hand in hand. They did so to the rousing, standing ovation of the assembled reporters. Neither of them broke a smile or acknowledged the ovation in any way. They were too concerned about the shaking they felt from each other.
As soon as they were clear of the reporters they were hustled into a nearby security vehicle. Once inside, they collapsed into each others' arms and cried in fear and release. It was several minutes before they realized they weren't alone, when Mom knelt in front of them and gathered them into her arms and the three of them cried together.
It took several minutes for them to calm themselves and become aware of the world around them once again. The first thing they noticed was the noise. There were sirens blaring in front and behind them. They also realized that they'd been driving for quite some time.
"What's going on, Mom?" asked Ben.
"A police escort to the airport. Arthur decided that it'd be a good idea if we got completely clear of here as soon as possible." She took Logan's face in her hands and stared into his eyes. "A little dramatic, don't you think?"
He smiled slightly, knowing exactly what she was referring to. "They're not likely to forget it, are they?" He then sobered. "It was the shot at us that gave me the idea."
Her eyes clouded at this. "They could have killed you," she said softly.
"No ma'am," said Logan. "Jack was right there the whole time. It was his warning that saved us. I just hope I get a change to hug that man."
"You're welcome, boys," the boys heard in their ears. "I'll make a point of looking you up when you get to where Arthur is taking you. I want a chance to hug you two brave young men."
"We're going to hold you to that, Jack," said Ben as Logan pointed at his ear so that his mother would understand why they were talking to empty air.
"Thank you for saving my boys, Jack," she said aloud.
"Tell her it was my pleasure," answered Jack.
"Hey, Jack," said Ben, "What should we do with these things?"
They heard Jack chuckle. "Armstrong will be on the plane with you. He'll take them back."
When they boarded the plane, they were greeted by Armstrong. "Well done, boys, very well done. Now give me your shirts and then I'll remove the ear buds." It took a few moments, but it was soon accomplished. "Now, Margaret...Oscar, Phillip and Arthur are waiting for you in the lounge. Boys, Oscar says you need to go to the first stateroom on the left. It seems Reed is disconsolate."
The boys raced aft while Margaret strolled into the lounge. Phillip was the one to stand and go to her. He pulled her into an embrace. "How are you doing?"
She returned his hug gratefully. "I'm fine now. But I nearly died when that shot was fired. I hadn't been watching the boys at the time. So when I looked up and they were on the floor...well, you can imagine what I thought. The only thing that kept me from running up there was the security woman next to me who assured me the boys were fine."
Suddenly everyone heard a loud slap coming from the staterooms. "God damn it, Reed, shut up!" yelled Logan.
"We haven't been able to get through to him since that shot went off," said Phillip. "He ran off to the truck and never heard a thing that happened afterward. He's been crying so hard since it happened."
"I just hope that slap did the trick," said Oscar quietly. "He's going to make himself sick."
"Why didn't you...oh, never mind," said Margaret.
"I couldn't take the chance that he'd mistake my slap for what his father did for him."
Ben entered the lounge at that moment. "I need a pitcher of water and a glass, please." Then he looked at Oscar. "He's better, Oscar. Logan got him to stop crying."
"If you can get him to sleep it'd be good," said Oscar.
"Yeah, that's what Logan's trying. He needs something to drink first."
Just then one of the staff came up with a full pitcher and a glass. Ben hurried back to the stateroom.
As soon as Ben left, Oscar buried his face in his hands and began to quietly cry. Phillip saw the concern in Margaret's eyes.
"It's all right. Reed's been our special project for nearly three years. It's been wonderful watching him come out of his self-imposed prison these past three weeks. But Dad's always reacted rather strongly when Reed hurts. I'll just take him back to our room. He needs the same prescription he just pronounced for Reed."
A few moments and then it was just Margaret and Arthur.
"Are you really all right, Margaret?"
"Yes, Arthur, I'm fine. But I think I could use a brandy about now."
"Two brandies, coming up," he said as he moved forward to the bar. "It must be serious if you want a drink. That's one thing I learned about you while I was checking out your son. You seldom, if ever, take strong drink."
"My husband was killed by a drunk driver when Logan was three. But this is sort of a special occasion. Christ, Arthur, this whole day would drive a priest to drink."
He handed Margaret a snifter and then sat next to her. "I can only imagine what you've been through. I had the advantage of listening in on the security channels, so I knew the boys were perfectly all right."
Margaret swirled and sniffed at the brandy. "Whew, you can get drunk just off the fumes," she exclaimed.
Arthur smiled. "Twenty year old Spanish Brandy."
Margaret took a far smaller sip than she normally would have. She needed a drink, yes, but she didn't need to get drunk.
"Would you like a light lunch to go with that, Margaret?"
"I think I better."
He leaned over the arm of the sofa and pressed a button. A staff member immediately appeared. "Jason, could you put together something light for two? And then just be available for when the rest start straggling out."
"Chef is already ahead of you, Arthur. When he heard what had happened, he knew there wasn't going to be anything formal right away. Your lunch will be out in about five minutes." Jason then went about setting a small table for two in the middle of the room.
Margaret leaned back into the sofa and sighed. "So, Arthur, can you tell me where we're headed for this magical vacation you've planned? And how long it will be before we arrive?"
"Well, I thought someplace a bit exotic would go down well. I know your boys haven't done any traveling outside the country. How would Mallorca, off the east coast of Spain sound to you? It's about sixteen hours away."
It shouldn't really have surprised her considering the source, but it did. "Arthur, the boys don't have passports."
"Yes they do, Margaret. I had them sign the applications last night before dinner. I already had some suitable pictures available."
"Finally, something I don't have to worry about. By the way, Arthur, I've made a decision. I want to be pampered during this vacation. I want to be waited on hand and foot. I want to be spoiled outrageously. Do you think you could arrange that for me?"
"Margaret, it will be my supreme pleasure to arrange just that for you. You've been riding a wild roller coaster for the past several weeks. I'd like nothing better than to make it possible for you to live for a short time without a care in the world."
"Ah, you're such a nice man." She laughed.
Lunch arrived at that moment and they retired to the table and enjoyed a light soup and small sandwiches, the likes of which Margaret had never eaten before. She didn't even inquire about the contents. She simply enjoyed the experience and her blissful ignorance.
They were just returning to the sitting area when Logan and Ben came out of the stateroom, quietly closing the door behind them.
"Well, we finally got him asleep," sighed Logan. "Jesus, I've never seen anyone that hysterical before. He was sure we'd been killed. Didn't anyone try to tell him the truth?"
"We all did, Logan," said Arthur. "But he was so wrapped in his own belief that none of us could break through."
"Well, I can believe that. I finally had to resort to slapping him."
"That loud, was it?" blushed Logan. "Oh well, it did the trick. It got him to stop long enough to finally register that it was me and Ben. But then we had to deal with his tears of relief." Then Logan noticed that there seemed to be no motion. "Aren't we in the air?"
"Not yet. There were still some preparations to complete when I decided to hustle us out of town."
Just then the captain entered the lounge. "I'm sorry for the delay, Arthur, but we're finally ready to leave."
"That's fine, Mitchell. Let's get out of here." Then to the boys, "You should probably go back into the stateroom and cushion Reed. Wouldn't want to undo all the work you've done. When we're safely airborne come back and we'll have chef stir up some grub for you."
Logan stared at Arthur a moment. "I don't think that's grammatically correct, Arthur. I don't think you're allowed to put the words chef and grub together in the same sentence."
"Perhaps you're right. How `bout we just not mention that to chef."
Logan and Ben both got a wicked gleam in their eyes, but it was Ben that responded.
"What's it worth to you?"
After the boys had gone back into the stateroom, Arthur turned to Margaret and simply shook his head. "I think you're going to have your hands full with those two."
Take off was uneventful. When the captain announced that everyone could remove their seatbelts, Oscar and Phillip came out into the lounge. Oscar made a b-line for the bar. He poured himself a shot of whiskey and quickly downed it. Then he asked one of the staff for coffee.
When he finally came and sat in the lounge, he was looking much more composed. "So, Margaret, has Arthur revealed our vacation destination?"
"Yes he has, and I'm quite looking forward to it. I've informed him that I'm exhausted and want to be treated like the Queen of Sheba while we're there."
That got a laugh out of all three men.
"Actually, that's not a bad idea, really," said Oscar. "Was there such a thing as the King of Sheba?" That set them off again. "You know, Margaret, my life was much easier before your eldest son walked into my life."
She smiled. "I was just thinking the same thing about Reed."
"What is it about our boys? I don't think I've ever encountered three young men more adept at stirring up trouble."
"I suppose I'm to blame," she said. "I've always encouraged Logan to step out and take chances; urged him to stretch himself." She stared off into space a moment. "Actually, I think it was born in him. He's so much like his father. Conall was always a strong and passionate man. His name is Irish and means `hound of valor'." Her smile turned slightly sad at the memory. "He wasn't always taking up causes, but lord when he did...well `hound of valor' was an apt description. He'd get his teeth into it and wouldn't let go."
"Well, if it makes you feel any better," said Oscar with a chuckle, "I'm not sorry...not really. Logan and Benjamin are the best things to happen to Reed since he moved into my life. Don't get me wrong, I love that boy to distraction. He's never caused me a moment of trouble. But I've worried about the way he insisted on isolating himself. That incident with his father really scarred him."
"I'm thrilled, truth be known. Your sons have given Reed the incentive to start stepping out of himself. It was Logan's idea to set Reed up in a business outside of the house."
"I just hope the three of them settle down for a bit," said Margaret. "I think I've had quite enough excitement for a while."
"I'll go along with that," agreed Oscar.
"We'll do what we can," said Logan as he stepped in and hugged Oscar from behind, as Ben went over and did the same to Margaret. "He'll be fine, Oscar. He's sleeping like a baby."
Oscar turned and kissed Logan on the cheek. "Thank you both."
Logan then stood and looked at Arthur. "So, did someone mention food?"
The flight, though long, was very enjoyable for everyone. Reed had slept for a few hours before getting up and apologizing to everyone. Then, when the boys discovered their destination, they huddled around the lone computer and began looking up all they could find on Mallorca. The thing that finally pulled them away from their research was when the captain came in and offered the boys a tour of the cockpit.
Margaret was just pulling down the sheet and blanket for bed when there was a light knock at her door. She opened the door to see a smiling Ben standing there.
"Could I sleep with you tonight, Mom?"
"Did your brothers kick you out?" she said with some concern.
He chuckled. "No ma'am, I kicked me out."
Well that warranted an explanation, so she stepped to one side and motioned her youngest son in. Ben came in and sat on the end of the bed.
"Did you know that they're in love?" he asked.
"Well, no, but I suspected." She paused a moment. "Oh, Benny, they haven't shut you out, have they?"
He laughed at this. "No, Mom, they haven't set me aside. In fact, they weren't altogether happy that I've taken myself out this evening. But they haven't had much time to just be together. I thought Reed really needed to be alone with Logan tonight. What is it they call it?" He thought for a couple of moments. "Oh yeah, the mile high club. That will make this a special night for them."
Margaret came and sat next to Ben. "They're pretty lucky to have a younger brother like you, I think."
Ben leaned over and hugged her. "Oh Mom, this is the greatest time of my life. I've suddenly got more than I ever dreamed I'd have. The best Mom in the world." He sat up straight and kissed her cheek. "I've got two brothers that love me and are willing to be my teachers until I can find someone of my own, despite the fact that their in love with each other. And now I'm off to exotic lands with a family that loves me. How could my life be better?"
Margaret hugged her son to her. "I don't know, Benny. But we'll see what we can do to surprise you from time to time. Now, how would you like to get some rest?"
"I'm exhausted, Mom." He chuckled. "That's the main reason I came here. Those two are going to be up late and I just want to sleep."
"Such a practical young man," she laughed as they climbed under the covers. "So, do you really think we'll get much sleep with all this bouncing about and engine noise?"
"Mom, I feel like I could sleep through a nuclear holocaust right now," he answered sleepily.
By the time she'd settled, Ben was fast asleep, not having exaggerated his exhaustion one bit. Taking that as her cue, she closed her eyes and remembered nothing more until she woke the next morning.
As the families slept the sleep of accomplishment, the organization that had plagued them was collapsing. By the time all the initial arrests were made, eight hundred and forty-seven people were in custody in various locations across the country. The leaders were all flown to Leavenworth and questioned most extensively. Not that the authorities needed all that much from them. Three quarters of those arrested were in different locations doing their very best to garner special favor and deals by giving up names, dates and places.
The arrests continued for another month. The final total was eleven hundred and fifteen people. It would place quite a strain on penal institutions all over the country for some years. But the atrocities that came to light were such that the authorities made very few deals, and those were only among the lower echelons of the organization. Of those arrested, it turned out that the leaders were five congressmen in Washington, D.C., three prominent evangelical pastors, and two wealthy businessmen. These individuals got special handling at Leavenworth for the remainder of their lives, because of the deaths they'd caused.
The media made headlines out of the events at the Boy Scout headquarters for a full week. The attempted assassination of Logan and Benjamin was particularly inflammatory. The uproar lasted for months. The Boy Scout organization revamped their leadership, but refused to alter their position on homosexuals. The sad part was that membership plummeted and new recruits were few. Troops were forced to disband or combine as their sizes dwindled.
But all of that was in the future. Right now the boys were glued to the windows of the plane circling Mallorca as they awaited their turn to land. Mallorca: exotic, other-worldly, beautiful, historic; a world away from the troubles that had plagued them of late. It took all their self-control to remain in their seats as the DC-10 finally touched down and rolled to its private hangar.
It was the first time in many days that the adults had been able to enjoy the sight of their boys being boys. No commitments, no worries; simply bouncing, exuberant...and yes, giddy, boys. Everyone walked down the exit stairs with smiles on their faces. They'd earned this time of peace and relaxation, in a place that until this moment could only have been conjured in their dreams.