Written by Mark The Goodpen
By now I'm sure you know the drill, so I won't bore you with another disclaimer to ignore.
Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed their feedback on this story. You're e-mails let me know I should keep the Sierra Inn in business.
Feedback is always welcome at email@example.com
My Other Story on Nifty:
Wanting Perfection (Gay Male Adult/Youth)
The visit with Sam had gone better than I could have expected, and Brian actually seemed happier after the meeting. I have never seen Brian open up the way he did to Sam, of course I have never had the courage to ask the types of questions Sam did. I have been too afraid to push Brian about his time on the streets, fearing that probing for too much information will cause him to shut down completely. Maybe someday soon I'll have the courage to ask questions of Brian the way Sam did. But Sam has nothing to lose where I have everything to lose. The risk of having Brian shut down and revert back to how he was with me the first few days is a risk I'm just not willing to take. I'm sure Sam wouldn't want to upset Brian, but Sam isn't trying to become his father, if Brian gets angry with him what has he really lost? Even a biological father would have the luxury of not really having to worry about his son becoming angry with him. The father-son bond can over come a lot. That is the bond I am trying to forge with Brian now.
The only thing that concerned me about Brian's reunion with Sam was Brian's total lack of emotion. I would have thought that talking about his time on the streets would have brought at least some type of emotion out of him but there was nothing there. It was almost like he had removed himself from what happened. Maybe he has had so much happen to him, that to deal with it all he needs that type of separation. I am expecting a flood of emotion to come pouring out of him at some point. I think it has to be bottled up somewhere inside of him just waiting to be let out.
As the week progressed I waited for Brian to let out that emotion instead him and I settled into what had become our regular routine. Wake up in the morning and rush to school, then I would head to the Sierra Inn. When three thirty would come I would be in the same parking spot in front of Brian's school waiting for him. We would head home, Brian would do his homework while I cooked dinner. Thursday Brian had his basketball tryouts though he won't find out if he made the team until Monday. With all that has happened the last couple of days have actually had a feeling of normalcy to them, almost as if Brian was already my legal son. I find myself actually becoming comfortable with what still is my relatively new life.
As the weekend approaches I decide that I need to do the thing I have been putting off all week. Initially I was going to have Brian call Doris, if for no other reason than to try to make him feel better. But I quickly decided that doing that could quickly backfire on me. So instead I decided to give Doris a call, of course I waited until now, early Friday afternoon to do it.
"Kevin, I hope you understand about last Sunday," Doris says to me after we exchange some small talk.
"I understand you have a life," I say, as I sit at my desk staring at the spreadsheet I still have on my computer screen. "To be honest I don't know how well Brian understands it though."
"I really do want to see him," Doris says. "My friend really did need my help. I really hate myself for cancelling on Brian like I did but I didn't have much of a choice."
"Well I'm sure Brian will be fine once he sees you again," I say, willing to forget about this past Sunday because when it comes down to it I don't have any other option. "Will we see you Sunday?" I ask, expecting a definite yes.
"Kevin, I'm not sure," Doris says.
"If you don't feel like cooking you can come over to our place," I say. "Or we can meet somewhere. I'll even give you a ride."
"It's not that," Doris says. "I just think it would be best if we played it be ear."
"What are you saying?" I ask.
"Kevin, I have to go," Doris says. "I'll give you a call this weekend."
With that she hangs up the phone, leaving me in total confusion. I know she had offered her support for me adopting Brian, which I no doubt could use. But there comes a point I want to say screw the support I really want to tell this bitch off. How could she so easily ignore her only grandson? I just don't understand it. She's done it before, but now she has been given a second chance to re-connect with Brian and she has just wasted it. I don't really care about her missing an opportunity to get to know her grandson. The thing I care the most about is Brian, and how he will react to this news. I decide to wait to say anything to Brian until I know for sure that we won't be seeing Doris on Sunday. I really do want to say something to her though I still have to bite my tongue because I don't want to turn her against me.
I sink myself back into my work until it is time to pick Brian up at school. When we get home I begin to cook dinner while Brian sits at the breakfast bar playing on the lap top. Things are quiet, but that's okay we I should have learned by now that when I start getting comfortable with how things are going is actually the exact moment I need to start worrying about what shoe is going to drop.
"CPS," I hear suddenly, the voice accompanied by a banging on the door.
I crawl back into my skin and quickly make my way for the door, Brian giving me a nervous look as I pass him.
"Hello Kevin," Mr. Lofton says after I have opened the door. "I hope I'm not bothering you but I need to do a random home inspection. All part of the adoption process."
"Oh, okay," I say, breathing a small sigh of relief. "Come in," I say as I open the door wider to let him in.
Fortunately I have managed to keep this apartment clean where I had let the old one go to hell so I feel a little less apprehensive about random home inspections now than I did at the beginning. Mr. Lofton walks into our apartment his black brief case in hand. He stops just inside the door and takes a quick look around the living room, before noticing Brian who has turned himself around on the stool at the breakfast bar so he is now facing us, still with a nervous look on his face.
"Hello Brian," Mr. Lofton says. "Do you remember me?"
"Yeah," Brian says. "You worked with Ms. Harden."
"Yes I did," Mr. Lofton says. "But now I'm your new Social Worker. I hope that's okay with you."
Probably not knowing what else to say or do Brian just nods. The nervous look he has been wearing for the last couple of minutes getting even more apparent.
"My name's Bill by the way," Mr. Lofton says with a smile. "Brian don't worry, I'm just here to have a look around. I'm not taking you anywhere," he adds, in a comforting tone that even makes me feel more relaxed.
"K," Brian says, still not looking too sure about the entire situation.
"Would you mind showing me your room?" Mr. Lofton asks.
Brian nods silently as he hops off the bar stool. I follow him and Mr. Lofton into the hall, Brian quickly turns into his room and steps aside to let Mr. Lofton see. The room is still pretty sparsely decorated as Brian has spent a total of two nights sleeping in it. I am a little nervous that the lack of decoration and more importantly the lack of a mess will make Mr. Lofton suspicious. Brian has left a couple of shirts on the floor by the door to his closet, I was smart enough, to make Brian keep all of his clothes in his closet, just for this very type of occasion. Still the room doesn't quite have that lived in feel.
"Very nice, bed," Mr. Lofton says as he looks around the room. "Where do you do your homework?" he asks Brian.
"In the kitchen," Brian says.
"Don't you want any posters or anything?" Mr. Lofton asks, noticing the empty walls.
"I don't know," Brian shrugs.
"Well anyway I wish my kids kept their rooms this neat," Mr. Lofton says, as he takes a final look around the room before heading back into the hall. "Kevin, I must say this place is a lot nicer than your old apartment. And I am impressed by how much better you have been about keeping it clean."
"Well I have a reason to keep it this way now," I say, as Brian and I follow him across the hall into my bedroom where he does a quick scan before moving on to the bathroom. Finally we head back into the living room.
"Everything looks to be in order," Mr. Lofton says. "I'll write my report up on Monday. Kevin I will need to do another interview with you, if you could come down to the office on Tuesday."
"Okay," I say, slowly as I lead Mr. Lofton to the door.
"Don't worry," Mr. Lofton says, picking up on my hesitation. "Standard questions, nothing worse than what was thrown at you in your initial interview. Brian, you have a good weekend young man," he adds as I open the door.
"You too," Brian says politely, making Mr. Lofton smile a little.
"Kevin, I will see you Tuesday," Mr. Lofton tells me. "Keep up the good work."
"Thank you," I say, as he walks out the door.
"Whew," I tell Brian, as I lean back against the closed door. "See nothing to worry about."
"You were scared uh?" Brian asks, as he stands near the couch looking up into my face.
"Scared? Me? Never!" I say, forcing my best grin. The truth being I was scared to death.
"Yeah right," Brian says with a giggle.
"Whatever," I say, shaking my head. "Now if you'd excuse me, I have a meatloaf to attend to."
For having never cooked a meatloaf before I do alright for myself. Brian doesn't seem to either care or notice the lack of flavor as he essentially inhales his plate as I take my time savoring my bland meal. Brian goes to the couch after finishing eating and immediately turns on the television. As I bring our plates to the sink my cell phone rings.
"Hello, Kevin," I hear Dad say on the other end.
"Hey Dad," I say. "What's going on?"
"Mom and I were just wondering, if you and Brian would like to come with us to the mall tomorrow."
"The mall?" I ask. "Why?"
"Well we were hoping you would let us buy Brian some new clothes," Dad says. "We've noticed he's been wearing mostly your hand-me-downs and well we think he should have his own clothes."
"That's very nice of you," I say. "But I can buy him..."
"Kevin, we know you can," Dad cuts me off. "But we want to do this. If you're going to adopt him he is going to be our grandson. And we have what? Eleven years of spoiling to make up for."
"Dad, I don't know what to say," I stammer as I stand in shock by the kitchen sink.
"Just say you'll be at the I-hop by the mall tomorrow morning at ten," Dad says. "That's our treat as well."
"We'll be there," I say, a smile spreading across my face.
"Good," Dad says. "We'll see you then."
"See you," I say before hanging up the phone.
"Who was it?" Brian asks as he comes into the kitchen.
"That was my Dad," I say, still kind of in shock from the phone conversation. "He wants us to meet them tomorrow."
"Are we?" Brian asks.
"Yeah," I say.
"What are gonna do?" Brian asks, curiously.
"My parents want to buy you some clothes," I say, a little smile crossing my face.
"Really?" Brian asks with a wide grin.
"Yeah," I say.
"Cool!" Brian says, before going back into the living room.
The change in my Dad's attitude since the first day he met Brian has been remarkable. I still can't fully wrap my mind around the idea that he might actually be approving of something I am doing. I don't think that has ever happened before. Now that it seemingly has, I just can't believe it. I'm sure the little blue eyed angel sitting on my couch with a chocolate chip cookie half hanging out of his mouth has helped my Dad's turnaround as much as anything.
After finishing the dishes I join Brian on the couch. I was kind of looking forward to just vegetating in front of the television for a couple of hours at the end of a long week, but Brian apparently has other ideas as, as soon as I sit down he shuts off the television.
"Dad," he says, slowly.
"Yeah angel," I say, as I look over at him still holding the channel changer in his hand, his face pointed towards the floor. "What's wrong?"
"If I tell you something," he says slowly. "Will you be mad at me?"
"Did you kill someone?" I ask.
"No," he says, turning his head to let me see a look of absolute confusion printed on his face.
"Then I won't be mad at you," I say with a small smile.
"Oh," he says, the confusion disappearing from his face. "You know that first night, when I slept at the motel?"
"Yeah I remember," I say, it was only the night that changed my entire life, of course I would remember it.
"I wasn't just scared because of the banging noises," Brian says, again looking at the floor. "I was in that room before," he says, no emotion in his voice still.
Brian had already said that some of the guys on the street had taken him to the Sierra Inn. Though hearing what he has just told me still feels like someone is stabbing me in the heart. I can't stand the thought that anybody would hurt Brian. The fact that somebody used my motel as a venue to do it makes me angry beyond belief.
"You mean that exact room?" I ask, wondering how Brian would know since all the rooms in the motel look a like and I didn't think he would remember a room number.
"Yeah," Brian says. "I remember because the guy's key didn't work and he had to go to the lobby."
"Did you go with him?" I ask.
"Yeah," Brian says, still no emotion in his voice as he continues to stare at the ground. "He made me."
"Was Juan the one in the lobby?" I ask.
"No," Brian says. "It was a lady, but not Laura, somebody else."
I have had a series of temps working the front desk on weekend nights since I opened. I would hire someone permanently but I can never find anybody as good as Laura and Juan. The temp I had last month I thought was really good, even about chasing off johns. She probably assumed Brian was too young to be a runaway, just as I had when I first saw him.
"Did she say anything to you?" I ask.
"No," Brian says. "She smiled at me. I think she thought the guy was my Dad."
"Yeah, she probably did," I say, with a sigh. "But being at the motel doesn't scare you?"
"No," Brian says shaking his head. "Just that room, because..." Brian's voice trails off, but he still doesn't show any real emotion. His face looks serious but not sad or scared.
"Why?" I ask.
"Because, that was the first time," Brian says simply. "And I didn't know what was going to happen. P.J never told me what I had to do, he just said go with the guy and do whatever he tells me to. I didn't know why we were going to a motel."
"Angel, I'm so sorry that happened at my motel," I say, as I feel tears start to form in my eyes. "I had no idea."
"I know," Brian says.
I keep waiting for some emotion to come out of him. A tear, a sniffle even a cracking voice but nothing comes. Brian just sits there stone faced as ever as we both fall into silence. I sit choking back my tears, not wanting to let Brian think he has upset me. But the guilt sits so heavy on my chest. The temp I had working the desk that night was probably too innocent to assume that Brian was being used like that. I think if I had been there or Juan, maybe we could have saved Brian right at the beginning. But I quickly remember my first impression of Brian, if he had been with an adult I probably wouldn't have given his situation a second thought, even with knowing the area the motel is in.
"I thought that guy was going to knock me out," Brian says a little hesitantly at first as he finally breaking the silence. "Because that's what happened with the guys that broke into my old house. But he didn't. He just made me..."
Brian's voice trails off, as he continues to stare at the floor. Part of me wants to tell him he doesn't have to say anymore, but I know that I need to let him talk. That maybe by talking about it he'll get to the emotion that I'm absolutely sure he has been stuffing down somewhere deep inside.
"It's okay, angel," I say, in an attempt to be reassuring. "You can tell me anything, I promise I won't be angry with you."
"He made me do sex stuff," Brian says, still no emotion anywhere to be found in his voice. "And it hurt, but he wouldn't stop even when I was crying."
"Did he say anything to you?" I ask, choking back my own tears.
"He just told me to shut up," Brian says plainly.
"Angel I'm sorry that you had to go through that," I say. "And I'm just as sorry it had to happen at the Sierra Inn. You don't know how much I wish things could have been different for you."
"All those guys were like that," Brian says, making me unsure if he has even heard what I said. "They just would tell me to shut up if I was crying too much."
"Did you cry a lot?" I ask.
"Yeah," Brian says. "Because it hurt."
"Angel, can I ask you something?" I ask, seeing an opportunity. "You don't have to answer me if you don't want to."
"Okay," Brian says, looking into my face for the first time since the beginning of our conversation.
"Why haven't you cried about all of that since you've been here?" I ask, hesitantly.
"I don't know," Brian says, with a shrug. "I haven't felt like it."
"Do you think about that stuff a lot?" I ask.
"No," Brian says. "Just sometimes I have dreams about it. Well I did, but I haven't in a while. It's just that I saw part of a show on TV while you were doing the dishes. They were talking about runaway kids in California."
"It reminded you?" I ask.
"Yeah," Brian says, nodding his head.
"Well, angel you do know if you ever do feel like crying about it, there's nothing wrong with that?" I ask, making sure he knows that is safe to cry now.
"Yeah, I know," Brian says, nodding his head as he looks into my face. "Dad, I'm sorry."
"For what?" I ask.
"Because when you asked me about the room I lied," Brian says. "I lied because I said it was okay, but I didn't like being in there."
"You have nothing to be sorry for," I say, quickly.
We fall silent again and after a few minutes Brian turns on the television seemingly still to be deep in thought. I try to sink myself into the television to forget about the guilt I have sitting on my shoulders. I knew even before the Sierra Inn opened that the area I was building in wasn't exactly Beverly Hills. I knew I was going to face problems with runaways, prostitutes even drug dealers but I certainly was not expecting to fall in love with a runaway like I have. I can't help but feel guilty about the fact that my motel played venue to Brian's abuse. I still wish I had been there that night he told me about, maybe I would have seen something the temp didn't. Maybe I would have been able to save Brian from P.J right from the beginning. Maybe my cynicism and knowledge of the area would have made me think something was strange where the temp just had assumed it was a father traveling with his son who was checking in.
Since it is Friday Brian and I stay up later watching a movie, which actually does eventually take my mind off the guilt seemingly sitting on my shoulders. But when the movie ends and Brian and I go to brush our teeth I instantly feel the guilt again. Brian has been silent since our brief conversation about his time on the streets. And I can't help but feeling that there is something more coming, maybe not tonight but sometime down the road.
Brian goes into the bedroom as I finish up in the bathroom. When I finally do reach the bedroom the light is off and Brian is already lying underneath the covers on his side facing the wall. I gently climb into bed in case Brian is already asleep. I pull the covers over myself and roll onto my side, propping myself up on my elbow so I can check to see if Brian is asleep. The first thing I see is his shoulder shaking, and then I hear a muffled sniffle as I notice Brian as his face turned into his pillow.
"Angel," I say, softly. "Come here."
Slowly Brian rolls over to face me. The moonlight coming in through the window illuminates his face, showing streaks of tears falling down his cheeks. I quickly wrap my arms around him as he digs his face into my chest, and soon I feel him begin to sob.
"It's over now," I whisper to him softly. "No one will ever hurt you again. I promise you," I whisper gently as he continues to sob into my chest.
"I was scared," Brian says through his sobbing into my chest.
"I know," I say in my most soothing voice.
"Why did they do that?" Brian asks. "I told them I didn't want to do it. But they made me anyway," he says as his sobbing slows and he looks up into my face.
"Angel, there are just some people that don't care," I say. "They're selfish, and they were using you to make themselves feel good. They didn't care how bad that would make you feel. But that absolutely wasn't your fault. It's just, unfortunately, how the world is. You understand?"
"Yeah," Brian says with a nod, before digging his face back into my chest as his sobbing begins again.
Minutes pass with Brian just sobbing into my chest and me just holding him in my arms. I feel my own tears start to form as I can feel Brain's pain finally coming out of him. Finally I can feel Brian's sobbing start to slow and he pulls his face away from my chest.
"I'm sorry," he says, as he looks up into my face.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," I say as I look into his blue eyes which are still wet with tears. "Brian, if you need to cry just let yourself do it. There is nothing wrong with it, and I will never be angry with you for doing it. Okay?"
"K," he says with a sniffle. "I love you Dad."
"I love you too angel," I say, before giving him a kiss on the top of his head.
Soon I feel Brian's breathing, slow down and I can tell he is asleep. I give him another gentle kiss on the top of the head before closing my eyes and quickly drifting off trying to forget about all that happened today. My conversation with Doris, the random CPS check, Brian finally showing emotion about his time on the street it all made for a very long day. Even though he had to cry to do it I am relieved that Brian has finally showed some emotion about his time on the street. I don't know if anything I told him will actually help him heal. Maybe the only thing that will do that is the passing of time, but the biggest thing is he feels comfortable enough to let his guard down. That is something that would have never happened just a couple of weeks ago, and I can't help but smile in pride a little at the amount of progress Brian has made in the last few weeks. I close my eyes and drift off to sleep thinking about all the things my little angel could become.
When morning comes Brian is already out of bed when I wake up. I go through my usual wake up routine, yawn, stretch and scratch before getting out of bed to start my hunt for Brian. I find him sitting on the couch in his sleeping t-shirt and shorts, watching television.
"Good morning angel," I say, as I walk over to him.
"Hi Dad," he says, a small smile coming to his face, all traces of last night seemingly gone.
"Feeling better?" I ask as I take a seat next to him on the couch.
"Yeah," Brian says, nodding his head slightly.
"Good," I say as I give him a small smile. "So you ready for a big day?"
"Yeah," Brian says, with a slight nod of his head.
Brian and I take a quick shower and get dressed before heading out the door. The car ride is silent at first, except for the radio. Brian stares out the window seemingly deep in thought until we stop at a red light.
"Dad," he says still staring out the window. Brian saying Dad like that alerts me to the fact that a question is coming.
"Yeah kiddo," I say.
"Did Grandma call this week?" he asks, as he turns his head to look at me.
"I talked to her yesterday," I answer honestly. I was hoping to wait to talk about Doris until I talked to her again, in case we would be invited over for brunch tomorrow morning. "She's really sorry she couldn't have us over last week."
"Are we going over there tomorrow?" Brian asks.
"I'm not sure yet," I say, hesitantly.
"Oh," Brian says, disappointment obvious in his voice.
"Angel, your Grandma loves you," I say. "She's just busy."
"I know," Brian says. "If we don't see her tomorrow, can we go to the skate park?"
"Sure," I say, as I accelerate with the green light.
When we finally get to the I-Hop my parents are standing outside the front door. I am a little surprised when Brian gives them both a hug, but probably not as surprised as Mom is when he wraps his arms around her.
"Where did that come from?" she asks me in a whisper as we follow Dad and Brian inside the restaurant.
"I don't know," I say, with a shrug. "He's full of surprises," I add with a smile.
During breakfast Brian is pretty quiet as I fill my parents in on the progress of the adoption.
"Hey, Brian you want to ride with me to the mall?" Dad asks, after we are done eating.
"Okay," Brian says slowly.
"Janice wants to talk to Kevin about something," Dad says, seeing the suspicion in Brian's face. "But that's a surprise," he adds with a smile, as we get up from the table.
Suddenly I become nervous about what kind of surprise could be lurking. I have a feeling there really is no surprise and Mom just wants to talk to me about something I've most likely not done the way she would have.
"What's going on?" I ask Mom as we get into my car.
"What makes you think something is going on?" Mom asks, as I start the car.
"I know you," I say, as I start to back out of the parking space.
"Kevin, your Dad and I are a little concerned about something," she says.
"About what?" I ask.
"Well Brian's been with you for almost a month now," Mom says, slowly. "Have you gone clothes shopping for him at all? Or has he been wearing your hand me downs this entire time?"
"He hasn't asked for new clothes," I say, quickly.
"So that doesn't mean he doesn't need them," Mom says. "Honestly, I wouldn't have mentioned it, until I saw that new computer of yours when we were over at your apartment."
"What is this an audit?" I ask a little angrily.
"Kevin, you want to be a parent," Mom says. "You need to show some responsibility. You chose to fulfill a want over a need, and you can't always do that."
"I know that," I say quickly. "Mom, Brian has had a rough time, and he doesn't ask for much. I thought it would be nice for him to have the computer, besides he's going to need it for school."
"Still, if you were willing to go out and spend the money on a computer," Mom says. "Couldn't you have at least spent a little on some new clothes for him?"
"It's not about the money," I say, for one of the first times in my life. "Brian was excited when I mentioned the computer, and well I honestly forgot about the clothes."
"That's what concerns me," Mom says. "Kevin you were barely taking care of yourself, with spending so much time at that motel. How are you going to take care of that boy?"
"I'll manage," I say. "Look I've already been managing for almost a month now. And we're both still living right?"
"Well that's a good point," Mom says. "Kevin, I don't mean to be critical it's just we worry about you, we don't want you getting in over your head."
"Mom, I haven't not been in over my head since the day I graduated college," I say, with a slight smirk. "I'm going to be fine, don't worry."
"Just wait," Mom says.
"For what?" I ask quickly.
"For a few years from now," she says a smile of her own coming to her face. "When Brian tells you not to worry, see if that actually stops you from worrying about him."
"I can't wait," I say, quickly.
A couple of weeks ago the conversation would have angered me. I hated when anyone would seemingly second guess me. But I understand that my parents are just worrying about me, and that I can understand better now than I have ever before in my life. When we get to the mall, Mom takes charge of leading Brian around the different stores and helping him find things that fit as Dad and I follow close behind. Occasionally Brian would look to me for approval, but my idea of fashion sense is clothes without stains on them so I just nod and smile. Shopping isn't usually my idea of fun, but Brian seems so happy getting brand new stuff I find myself actually enjoying the time at the mall. When it is all said and done, Brian has gotten about a dozen new shirts and half a dozen new pairs pants. After eating lunch in the food court we get ready to say goodbye to my parents.
"Thank you for all of this," I tell them as we get up from the table in the middle of the food court.
"It was our pleasure," Dad says.
"Yeah thanks for all of my new stuff," Brian says, with a huge grin on his face. "Grandma and Grandpa."
To Be Continued...
Comments/Feedback are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chapter 22 Coming Soon!!