By Mark The Goodpen
The following story is a work of fiction. If you find material like this offensive, then that's your problem I didn't make you read this. If you're under age, get out!! You're still there aren't you? Oh well I tried.
Seriously though, to read this story you need to be able to separate fantasy from reality and know when to keep it zipped. There is a large difference between words on a page and real actions. Remember that. The characters in this story are fictional and not in anyway meant to depict any real person living or dead.
This is my story and my own words, if you want to post, or make a profit on a story create your own! Thank you.
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, whether it be positive comments, constructive criticism or even a suggestion. Simply e-mail me at email@example.com. Please put Sierra Inn in the subject of your e-mail. I will try my hardest to reply to all e-mails.
Stark reality, when it hits you it can feel like a punch directly to the nose. That's exactly the feeling I get as I drive back to the Sierra Inn with Brian, who has fallen asleep after a long morning of riding his new skateboard at the skate park. While at the skate park I was able to detach myself a little form the reality of the situation, for a few moments in time I was able to pretend that Brian was a nephew or maybe a baby brother and I was just spending a day off with him. Though now back in the car headed back to the motel the pretending has to stop and I have to drag myself back into the real world. I still haven't figured anything out and I'm only a few hours away from having to present my alternative resolution to Laura.
As I pull into the motel parking lot, Brian begins to wake up almost like he sensed even in his sleep that we were almost back. I pull into my usual parking spot and kill the engine. Brian stretches a little before unbuckling his seat belt.
"Thank you," he says, before he opens his door. "That was really cool."
"You're very welcome," I say, as I give him my best smile.
I'm the one that ends up following as we make our way back into the lobby of the motel. When we get inside the lobby is empty except for Laura standing behind the desk typing away at the computer, and I breath a sigh of relief as I see everything is status quo with my pride and joy. Brian stops in the lobby clutching his skateboard to his chest, as he looks straight at Laura.
"It's my place," I whisper to him, knowing exactly what he is thinking. "As long as you don't ride it around the lobby you can have it in here."
"Well it looks like the two of you have done some shopping," Laura says, looking up from the computer screen. "Did you have fun this morning, Brian?"
"Yes, ma'am," Brian says.
"Brian, why don't you drop off your board in your room, and then come back when you want," I say.
"I don't have a key," he says, reminding me that I had let him into the room last night and never left the key card with him. I go into my office and sure enough the key card is on my desk, I grab it go back out front and hand it to Brian who quickly goes to stash his new prize.
"What are you doing?" Laura asks me, after Brian has left.
"What?" I ask. "You're always saying I should be more charitable. Maybe I just got the Christmas spirit a little late this year."
"I don't understand you sometimes," Laura says, shaking her head.
"You're not the only one," I say, with a smile.
"I'm serious," Laura says, no smile anywhere to be found. "You can't let him get so comfortable with you. Buying him a skateboard? He's going to start to trust you, and then what's going to happen when you have to send him somewhere else?"
"First of all, buying someone a skateboard doesn't build trust," I say, quickly. "The kid has had a tough go of it and it was the least I could do. And don't be so sure that we'll be sending him anywhere," I say as the wheels start to turn in my head.
"What are you thinking now?" Laura asks.
"I'm not sure yet," I say. "But something's cooking."
I slip back to my office, feeling very mysterious and sit at my desk to try to catch up on some of the work I had neglected this morning. I force myself to concentrate on responding to e-mails, but it isn't easy with being so distracted. Finally after about half an hour Brian comes into my office, and takes a seat on the couch, obviously feeling more comfortable with me after our field trip to the skate park.
"I hope you don't get too bored," I say, looking up from my computer screen. "I'm not exactly the most interesting guy in the world when I work."
"That's OK," Brian says. "Can I take a nap here? I couldn't sleep in my room."
"Sure," I say.
"Thanks," he says before laying down, and quickly closing his eyes.
I look back at my computer screen and instantly get lost in a world of accounting and bookkeeping. When a natural break occurs in my work and I hear the sound of my stomach grumbling, reminding me it's lunch I pick up the phone and order a pizza to be delivered. After hanging up the phone I look over at Brian to make sure I haven't woken him up, which I haven't. He looks so peaceful when he is asleep, almost like an angel without the wings or the halo. His button nose twitches from time to time, for no obvious reason, his red lips parted slightly as he apparently is breathing now through his mouth. I don't know why he ran away from his foster home, but I can imagine what was going on there. I suddenly feel anger at whoever would hurt this child. At the moment I don't know what I'm feeling for Brian, it can't be love I haven't known him long enough for that. Maybe it's somewhere between pity and compassion or at least that's all I'll admit to at this point.
My mind starts spinning again, as I remember yet again that I need to come up with a solution for Brian's care. I suddenly start to wish that I could take him in, but I know that is impossible. With my tiny one bedroom apartment, and the mess it contains I'd never be able to get a foster parent license, even an emergency one. Now if I had a house like my parents who live about half an hour up the freeway it would be a different story. My parents still live in the house I grew up in, a four bedroom ranch style home in a nice neighborhood in North Phoenix. Now it's only the two of them living in that house, and my old room is still the way I left it ten years ago when I moved to Flagstaff to attend college. I am an only child, I think I scared my parents out of having anymore but that didn't stop them from doting on me. My Mom was heartbroken when I decided to attend Northern Arizona University instead of Arizona State, which I could have stayed home to do. I think in a way she always wanted more kids, even though I was a holly terror never doing what I was told and spending most of my time just being an overall brat.
As I stare at Brian, I try to picture what he would be like if he weren't a runaway. I get the distinct impression he would be anything but a holly terror, he seems too polite, too angelic. I would bet anything that he would be the perfect son. I get the mental image of me buying a house and living with Brian as my son, and I actually start to like the picture. But I know that's impossible I'm in no shape to be a parent, my life is too hectic to bring a kid into. My thoughts are interrupted when Brian starts to wake up, I quickly look back at my computer screen and start to pretend that I'm working so he won't know that I've been starring. I hear him yawn and give a little sigh of content. I look up to check if he is actually awake, which he is and looking right at me, the sun light coming in from the window behind me sets off his blue eyes even more.
"Good morning sleepy head," I say. "I ordered lunch. Do you like pizza?"
"What kind?" he asks, as he starts to sit up while wiping the sleep from his eyes with the back of his hand.
"Pepperoni, I hope that's OK," I say.
"That's cool," he says. "I'm hungry."
"Well it should be here soon," I say.
"Kevin, can I ask you a question?" Brian asks, the seriousness in his voice telling me this question is probably going to make me uncomfortable.
"Sure," I say.
"Do I have to sleep in that room tonight?" Brian asks. "It's scary being in there by myself, I couldn't sleep last night. I kept hearing banging noises from the other side of the wall."
I mentally scold Juan for putting Brian next to the drunk couple that was all over each other even as they checked in, before stammering over an answer to Brian's question.
"Laura and I are trying to figure out something better, Brian it's just taking us awhile," I say, trying to buy myself some more time. "We'll figure out something, I promise."
"OK," Brian says, seemingly accepting the promise of something better. "Where do you live?" he asks me suddenly, taking me by surprise.
"Well I have a small apartment not far from here," I say. "But a lot of times I end up sleeping right where you're sitting."
"Why?" Brian asks.
"Well running a motel is a hard job, and I always have lots of work to do," I say. "Sometimes I'm just too tired, and it's too late for me to go home."
"My Dad used to work a lot too," Brian says, seemingly opening up to me a little.
"What did he do?" I ask.
"I don't remember," Brian says. "But he was at work a lot, I didn't get to see him too much."
"That must have been rough," I say.
"I don't know," Brian says, seemingly disappearing deep into thought again. "I guess. Can I go watch T.V?"
"Sure," I say, realizing I wasn't going to get anymore information out of him.
Brian quickly gets off the couch and heads into the break room, where the T.V is. The little I know about Brian's life makes me feel even sorrier for him and I want to help him even more now. He seems so innocent, yet so worldly it's almost confusing. He has a face that screams youth, totally smooth not so much as peach fuzz anywhere to be found on his upper lip or on his chin. He is too young even to have his skin ravaged by acne. In between those startling blue eyes, I've told you so much about sits a little button nose, that turns up ever so slightly at the end. And I can't explain it, but when I get close enough to him, like today in the car he just smelled like a boy. Still the way he acts sometimes makes me think he is older than he looks.
Perhaps I am starting to feel more than I should for him. I guess you could even go so far as to say that I'm starting to develop feelings for him that some might find inappropriate. Though I don't pay much attention to those feelings, there is no way I would ever act on them. I've dealt with the fact that I like people younger than I, considerably younger than I for a while but never acted on it. Of coarse I've never really had the opportunity to before now. Still from what Brian asked me last night, expecting me to make him give me a blow job, proves that people have taken advantage of him and I would never want him to put me in the same category as those people.
Just as my mind starts to really wander, Laura comes into my office holding a guest comment card, which is never a good thing.
"The toilet in room 204 is clogged again," Laura says, handing me the card. "Apparently they didn't think to actually tell someone."
"Shit," I say. "I'll call the plumber again."
"I took it off the list of available rooms for tonight," Laura says. "So have you thought of anything yet?"
"Nothing definite," I say. "But I'm getting close." I lie. I'm no where near close but she doesn't need to know that.
"It's too bad we both live in one bedroom apartments," Laura says. "Otherwise one of us could take him in for a while."
"I was thinking that a minute ago," I say. "Like if I had the type of house my parents live in then...." I stop suddenly as a light bulb goes off in my mind.
"Then what?" Laura asks.
"My parents," I say. "Why, didn't I think of this before? They'd be freakin' perfect."
"You think they'd be willing to adopt him?" Laura asks.
"I don't know, but they might be willing to become foster parents," I say. "And that at least buys us some time."
"Well call them," Laura says. "I'll make sure Brian stays out of here while you're on the phone."
My parents seem like a perfect solution, they're both retired high school teachers, and get along a lot better with each other when there is somebody else around. Maybe the thing that makes me the most excited about the possibility is the fact that I would still be able to see Brian. I desperately want to get to know him better, and I can't stand the thought of having to say goodbye to him. My fingers fumble over the number pads of my phone as I try, almost too quickly, to dial my parents.
"Hello," my Mom answers.
"Hi Mom, it's me," I say, like I actually have to tell her who it is.
"Oh, Kevin what a nice surprise," she says. "How much money do you need?"
"What makes you think I need money?" I ask.
"Honey, it's one o'clock in the afternoon, the only time you call in the afternoon is when you need money," she says.
"Well I don't need money," I say. "But I do need to ask you and Dad a favor. You think you could come down to the motel?"
"Why?" my Mom asks, sounding like she is in shock. I have very rarely asked my parents to come down to the motel, and the few times I did it was to help when I was short staffed on maids.
"It's complicated," I say. "But I promise, no cleaning toilets this time."
"Hold on a second, I'll ask your father," she says.
"Jack! It's Kevin," I hear my Mom yell over the phone. Clearly she is in the kitchen and my Dad (Jack) is in the bedroom. Why put the phone down and walk when you can yell? "He wants us to go down to the motel...I don't know he said it's complicated....I think we should...Jack he's our son."
"Honey, we'll be down there in about an hour," she tells me finally.
"Thank you, Mom," I say. "I'll see you soon."
To be honest I don't know how my parents will react but I feel like I need to at least try. Brian has definitely in a very short time pried his way into my heart, and there is no way I could send him back to foster care only to have him runaway again. At the very least I feel like I have bought myself sometime with Laura since I actually have come up with an idea, and if it doesn't work she'll probably feel bad and give me another day to think of something else.
I get up from my desk and go into the break room to find Brian and Laura sitting at the table both watching T.V. "As the World Turns" is on and Laura is explaining the story line to Brian.
"Hey Laura can I talk to Brian for a sec," I say, rescuing him from one of Laura's endless descriptions of a Soap Opera's storyline.
"Sure," Laura says, giving me a smile before getting up and going back out front.
"Hey Brian, I need to talk to you about something kind of serious," I say, shutting off the T.V then taking a seat next to Brian at the table.
"Am I in trouble?" he asks, quickly.
"No, no, not at all," I say, shaking my head. "It's nothing like that. It's just that, well we can't have you staying at this motel forever this is no place for a kid to live."
"I have to leave?" he asks, with an expression on his face that breaks my heart. "You're calling CPS aren't you?" his hurt look quickly turning to one of anger.
"Brian just listen to me," I say. "I think I found you a better place to stay, and I'm not going to call CPS. You didn't like being in that room by yourself last night right?"
"Right," Brian says.
"Well, I just had an idea of where you can stay," I say. "At least for a little while, until we figure something permanent out."
"Where would I stay?" he asks.
"Well I've asked my parents to come down here," I say. "I want them to meet you, I think that they might like it if you stayed with them."
"Are they old?" Brian says.
"Well you think I'm old," I say. "Remember this morning?"
"Yeah," Brian says. "But you're still cool. But your parents are probably really old."
"Don't tell them that," I say, with a smile. "Look, Brian I'm not going to send you back out onto the street, and I can't take you in myself, I don't have the room and I'm never home," I say.
"If your parents do let me live with them could we hang out?" Brian asks.
"Of coarse," I say. "You're not getting rid of me that easily."
"What if I can't stay with them?" Brian asks.
"We'll cross that bridge if we get to it," I tell him. "For now, let's worry about getting some food," I say as I hear Laura talking to the pizza delivery guy in the lobby.
"OK," Brian says.
I get up to go to the lobby to help Laura with the pizza, and Brian follows me.
"I see your food radar is on today," Laura says to me as I open the box of pizza which is sitting on the front desk.
"Always is," I say, taking a napkin and putting it underneath a slice of pizza which I hand to Brian who is standing right next to me.
He takes the pizza but when I look at him while handing him the slice I see tension in his shoulders again. I think that maybe I made a mistake by telling him about my idea. Maybe now he feels like he will be getting judged and if he doesn't pass inspection he'll be sent back to the streets.
"Brian, listen to me," I say grabbing him by the shoulders and gently turning him to look at me. I kneel down in front of him so we are at eye level with each other. "No matter what happens here this afternoon, you are not going back to foster care, I promise you that. If my parents decide they can't take you in it's because they have other stuff going on, not because of you. I'm sure they'll love you. And if they do decide they can't take you in, then we'll figure out something else that won't involve CPS, or sending you back onto the street. Can you trust me on this?"
Brian just looks at me, he doesn't say anything and I feel my heart start to ache for him. I guess I'm not the first one to promise him something, and my predecessors in that department probably did not follow through on their promise to this little angel. In this second in time I just want to hold him and tell him I'll take him in, he can live with me, and I'll give him everything he deserves. But my sensible side beats out my heart, I know taking him into a hug now would only scare him, and promising to take him in myself would more than likely turn out to be just one more broken promise on his most likely long list.
"Brian, remember this morning?" I ask. "You didn't want to get into my car, but I promised you we would have fun. You remember that right?"
I get a slight nod of the head yes in response.
"Well did you have fun this morning?" I ask.
Again another slight nod of the head yes is the only response Brian gives.
"So see, I keep my promises, just like you do," I say. "And I'm promising you, I won't let anything bad happen to you. Whatever happened in your foster home, or on the streets that's in the past, you don't have to worry about any of that anymore because nothing like that is ever going to happen again. Not as long as I'm around. And like I said before you're not getting rid of me that easily. But I need you to trust me, I need you not to worry, because worrying won't do you any good."
"But I'm scared," Brian says, his bottom lip quivering a little.
"I know you are," I say. "And it's OK to be scared when you don't know what to expect. But before you were alone, and you're not anymore. Right Laura?" I ask looking up at Laura who is on the other side of the front desk, just watching us.
"Absolutely, Brian we're going to help you," Laura says, obviously trying to choke back tears.
"You hear that?" I ask. "Laura's on your side too, and when Laura and I team up nobody can beat us. OK, so can you trust me?"
"Yes," Brian says softly.
"Great," I say, breathing a large sigh of relief as I feel that at least for the moment I may have helped Brian feel the slightest bit better. His bottom lip has stopped quivering and his shoulders don't seem as tense as they did just a moment ago. "Now go eat that pizza before it gets ice cold, just go to the back in case a guest comes in."
Brian quickly goes to the break room, and I slowly climb to my feet, resting my hands on the front desk as I look down at the floor feeling utterly emotionally exhausted.
"Where the hell did that come from?" Laura asks me.
"I don't know," I say, still looking down at the ground. "It just came out, but I meant every word of it."
"I'm not doubting that," Laura says. "It just was so, compassionate, so caring, so unlike you."
"Well we all have our moments of weakness," I say, looking up to see Laura's smiling face. "I have to help that kid, I just do."
"I see that," Laura says.
"So does that mean you're going to help me help him?" I ask.
"You think I really could say no after that performance?" Laura asks. "Of coarse I'll help you, just let me know how."
"When I think of something I'll tell you," I say. "Hopefully we'll have a temporary solution very soon."
"What do you think your parents will say?" she asks.
"I honestly don't know," I say. "I'm hoping when they meet him, they won't be able to turn him away. I know I couldn't."
"You want to adopt him, don't you?" Laura asks, taking me by surprise.
"I don't know," I say. "I want to help him. But honestly can you really see me being a parent?"
"I'm starting to," Laura says.
"Well I'm not," I say. "Brian deserves a lot better than what he would get with me. And I have a plan I need to stick to."
"Oh not that again," Laura says, exasperatedly. "You know you're five year plan is almost up. And where is that second location?"
"It'll come," I say. "Trust me, my five year plan might just take a little longer than most. It's like the six year bachelors degree. I hear that's in these days."
"You're changing the subject on me," Laura, who at times scares me with her ability to read me, says. "Brian's affected you, and it scares you."
"Can you blame me?" I ask. "My whole life since I graduated college has been this motel and then less than twenty four hours ago, Juan points out somebody sitting on the curb out front and everything changes. I just don't know what to think."
"Well change isn't always a bad thing," Laura says. "Just remember that."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I say. "Ms. Sunshine, it's easy to say that from your side of the desk. Now if you'll excuse me, there is a boy in the other room who is probably in need of a second piece of cold pizza. And who am I to deny a child the joy of cold pizza?"
Laura just shakes her head as I dish out a slice for her, placing it on a napkin on the front desk then pick up the box and head to the break room to join Brian.
"OK," I say when I get to the back room and place the pizza box down on the table. Brian is sitting at the table the slice of pizza I had given him long gone, the television is off it appears that I have awoken him from a daydream. I want to loosen up the mood which I feel has gotten too tense for all of us. I want my parents to meet Brian when he is feeling comfortable, which might be hard to accomplish now, but I have to at least try. "So I know you can skateboard, and I know you can swim. But what I don't know is what your favorite subject in school is, or what grade you're in."
"I was in sixth," Brian says. "And Social Studies was my favorite subject."
"Sixth uh?" I say. "Middle school?"
"Next year," he says.
"OK," I say. "So are you the ladies man at your school, or not yet?"
"Ladies man?" Brian asks. "I don't have any girlfriends. I'm only eleven."
I laugh a little at his answer, when I was eleven I thought I was grown up. I am quickly learning though that Brian has an awareness of the world that goes well beyond his years.
"Really?" I ask. "When I was your age I had a girlfriend." It was actually a boyfriend but Brian doesn't need to know that.
"You did?" Brian asks. "What did you guys do?"
"Went to the movies once," I say, not disclosing the other stuff my first boyfriend and I did which Brian really doesn't need to know about.
"That's it?" Brian asks.
"Well we were only eleven," I say, with a smile.
"Do you have a girlfriend?" Brian asks, giving me a taste of my own medicine.
"You're sitting in her," I say jokingly.
"What?" Brian asks, scrunching up his face in total confusion.
"This place is kind of like my girlfriend," I say. "She demands all of my free time, a lot of my money and I don't get any... never mind."
"You don't get any what?" Brian asks, not letting me off the hook that easily.
"Rest," I say, proud of myself for being able to think on my feet so well.
"That's dumb," Brian says. "A hotel can't be a girlfriend."
"OK, OK, I guess I don't have a girlfriend," I say.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" Brian asks, obviously trying to stop himself from giggling, and totally showing that he is still eleven.
"No," I say. "That I do not have." I want one, but Brian doesn't need to know that.
"Me neither," Brian says, this time no hint of giggling in his tone or body language which I find a little odd.
Before I can say anything in response, though, Laura comes in from the front.
"Kevin, your parents are here," she says a look of tension is on her face.
"OK, show time," I say. I look at Brian and see the tension returning to his body as well. "Brian wait here, and I'll bring them back to meet you and remember my promise. No matter what, you'll be OK."
"I remember," he says, though clearly still nervous.
"OK, good," I say. "Laura can you stay back here and keep Brian company."
"Sure," she says.
With a deep breath I stand up and make my way out to the lobby. My parents are standing on the other side of the front desk, my Dad seemingly staring off into space and my Mom reading one of the area attraction brochures we have on a stand next to the front desk. There is something about parents that no matter how old you get, makes you feel like a little kid. And even though I would classify my relationship with my parents as above average, I get a strong dose of that feeling as I step into the lobby.
"Hi Mom and Dad thanks for coming," I say, trying to sound as natural and not up to anything as possible.
"Hi Kevin," my Mom says, putting down the brochure and coming over to give me a hug. "You're looking skinny, when was the last time you had a good meal?"
"I'm fine Mom," I say, shaking my head. "Hi Dad."
"Hi son," my Dad says in his usual business like tone. "So what do we have to clean this time?"
"Oh I wish it was that," I say, giving away that this is something serious, which isn't exactly what I wanted to do. "Why don't we have a seat over there?" I say pointing to the same table I sat at with Brian and Laura this morning, the one by the window.
We make our way over to the table, and I describe to my parents the events of the last seventeen hours. The entire time I am talking I am trying to get a feel for how my parents are receiving the information but the looks on their faces are stoic and I am getting absolutely nothing.
"So you haven't called CPS?" my Dad asks, after I have finished telling them everything.
"No," I say. "If I send him back to them he'll just runaway again and I can't let that happen."
"Kevin, do you know what you're getting yourself into?" my Mom asks, and I quickly realize this is not going like I wanted it to.
"I have a good idea yeah," I say.
"Well I think you need something better than that," my Mom says.
"Well the reason I called you is I need to ask you two a huge favor," I say. "I can't take care of Brian, at least not right now, not with my apartment and having to be here so much."
"You want us to take him in?" my Dad asks. Apparently I'm more transparent than I thought I was.
"Just until I can figure out something more permanent," I say.
"And what would that be?" my Mom asks.
"I don't know," I say. "That's why I need to buy myself sometime, but it's not right to Brian to have him stay here, he doesn't like being in the motel room by himself."
"Are you thinking of taking this child in?" my Mom asks.
"I don't know," I say. "I just need to buy myself some time."
"What about his school?" my Dad asks.
I thought I had thought of everything, but when my Dad asks the question I realize I left a large base uncovered. With Brian virtually on the run from CPS he can't be enrolled in a school, and I hadn't thought of any alternatives.
"I see you haven't really thought this out," my Dad says, taking my prolonged silence to mean I had no clue.
"Look this is all happening so fast," I say. "I just need your guys help, it might be for as little as a week, I just need to buy myself sometime."
"I can get him enrolled in a school," my Mom says taking me by total surprise. "I still know somebody at the district office of our district, if I explain the situation she'll let him in."
"Janice," my Dad says, giving my Mom an evil stare. "Are you suggesting we actually go along with this madness?"
"He said it's temporary, and he needs our help," my Mom says.
"I'm not asking you to decide anything right now," I say. "But can you at least meet him, then see what you think?"
"I would love to meet him," my Mom says. "We both would right Jack?"
"Whatever," my Dad says throwing his hands up in the air.
"Great," I say, semi sarcastically. "Come on he's in the break room," I say getting up from the chair before my parents have a chance to change their minds.
To Be Continued...
Comments/suggestions are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Part 4 Coming Soon!!