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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put Sierra Inn in the subject of your e-mail. I will try my hardest to reply to all e-mails.
I have no clue exactly how this meeting is going to go, even as I lead my parents from the lobby to the break room. I can't really explain the feelings I have for Brian, and I can't say that I'm even one hundred percent sure why I have them. All I know is that Brian's here, he needs help and for whatever reason I feel totally compelled to find him that help. So I lead my parents into the break room, and find Brian and Laura sitting quietly at the table, the tension obvious in Brian's face. I check behind me and my parents are not more than two steps behind, though my Mom is stepping a lot more lively than my Dad.
"Mom, Dad this is Brian," I say, as I pull out a chair for my Mom to sit in, across the table from where Brian is sitting. "Brian this is my Mom, Janice and my Dad, Jack."
"Hi Brian," my Mom says, a warm smile coming to her face as she takes a seat on the chair.
"Hi," Brian says softly.
I look at my Dad who is still standing next to me with his arms crossed, I quickly look at Brian and can tell he shrinks back a little after looking at my Dad.
My Mom starts a conversation with Brian, basically about basic stuff I already know about him. But when she tries to ask him about how long he was in foster care, or anything having to do with his biological parents he immediately shuts down and their conversation seemingly comes to an abrupt end. I look again to my Dad, and he still has a stoic look on his face with his arms crossed, clearly he is not going to bend.
"Dad can I talk to you in the lobby for a second?" I ask.
He gives me a grunt of acknowledgement and we head out to the lobby.
"Why aren't you saying anything in there?" I ask. "Quite frankly I think you're scaring him. I know you're scaring me."
"I don't like this," he says, quickly. "This whole arrangement reeks of disaster."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"You wanting so much to help a boy," my Dad says. "Maybe a parent shouldn't think this about their son, but with you being the way you are I can't help but think you have an ulterior motive here."
By saying being the way I am, my Dad's referring to the fact that I am gay. That kind of attitude towards my sexuality is exactly why I came out to my parents when I was seventeen and no one else since. Not even Laura or Juan know.
"Dad, you know how insulting that is?" I ask. "I would never hurt Brian or any child for that matter. What am I supposed to do? Just let him go back out onto the streets?"
"You should call CPS, and let them handle it," my Dad says. "That's what any rational person would have done by now."
"Yeah I call CPS, then he goes and runs away again," I say.
"How do you know he would do that?" he asks.
"Because he's already done it once," I say. "And no matter how nice his foster parents might be, I'm willing to bet he won't stick around long enough to find that out for himself."
"But don't you see?" my Dad asks. "At that point he's not your problem anymore, at least then you would have done the right thing."
"Well I don't see it that way," I say.
"Well then you better figure something else out, because we are not taking that kid in," he says, anger now coming through in his voice. "I will not help you live in that dream world," he adds before actually leaving the lobby in a huff to wait in his car.
I stand in shock for a minute, not quite sure of what has just happened. Maybe I was expecting this to be too easy, maybe my excitement over thinking I had found a solution clouded my judgment. I kick myself now for not realizing how much of a chance there really was that my parents would not go for it. So now, in a matter of seconds I go from being cautiously optimistic back to being right where I started. Before I even have a chance to gather myself enough to go back into the break room, my Mom comes out into the lobby.
"I don't think he cares much for me," my Mom says. "Seems like a very nice boy, but I can tell there's something about me that he just doesn't like."
"Well don't worry about it," I say. "Dad's already in the car."
"I'm sorry, Kevin," she says. "If there's anything else I can to do to help, just let me know."
"Thank you," I say with a sigh.
My Mom gives me a brief hug before heading for the parking lot herself, leaving me to pick up the pieces of the mess I've created. I know I have to go back and face Brian, tell him that my plan didn't work. I hope that maybe my Mom was right, if she was he won't be too disappointed. I don't care what anybody says, I have not ulterior motive, yes maybe I'm attracted to Brian a little bit but I wouldn't act on it, I've never acted on feelings towards somebody that much younger than I am and I don't intend to start now. I am shaken by the conversation with my Dad, and disappointed by the sudden turn of events but I gather myself enough to go into the break room and face Brian and Laura.
"They don't want me do they?" Brian asks before I can even take a seat at the table, I think I hear disappointment in his voice.
"Brian, it's my fault," I say. "I shouldn't have gotten your hopes up about that. It's not you, it's just well my parents are a little old fashioned. They don't believe in bending rules especially my Dad. You understand?"
"Yeah," he says, the disappointment I had originally thought I had heard in his voice is absent this time.
"Look Brian, this was our first try," Laura says, a warm smile on her face. "We'll figure something out. You trust us right?"
"Yeah," Brian says nodding his head a little.
"Good," I say, relieved that he still trusts us.
The bell rings from the front desk telling us somebody is waiting and Laura gets up to go help them. Brian and I sit silently sitting at the table, he just stares at his hands which are clutched together and resting on the table. I look at him wondering what his full story is. What happened to him before he ended up sitting on the curve in front of my motel? How could a boy like this end up so alone? It just doesn't seem fair. I know he shut down when my Mom asked him about it so I don't want to press him. Then as though he was reading my mind...
"My house got robbed when I was eight," Brian says.
"Your foster parents house?" I ask.
"No my real parents," Brian says.
"It was a Saturday night and I was playing on my computer," he says, still staring at his hands. "Two men broke in through the front door, they didn't see me 'cause I hid in my closet but I heard them screaming for money and jewels. I waited in my closet until it was quiet and then I went downstairs, I thought they were gone..." his voice trails off.
"Brian, you don't have to tell me anymore if you don't want to," I say, seeing how difficult this is for him.
"I haven't told anyone," Brian says. "Because they only asked because they thought they had to. But I want to tell you."
Up until now all I have gotten from Brian as signals that he trusts me are slight nods of his head, and maybe the occasional "yeah." But him telling me his story, a story he hasn't told anyone else is the ultimate sign he really does trust me.
"I went downstairs," Brian says. "And I didn't see my Mom or Dad anywhere, so I started running through the house. My Dad was in the bedroom he was lying on the floor, it was dark I didn't see the puddle until I felt something wet under my feet. They cut his throat and he was already dead. I got really scared and went running to look for my Mom, then I heard something that sounded like someone grunting. I saw the door to the guest bedroom was cracked open and the light was on. That door was always shut when we didn't have any guests. I looked in, and there were the two men, they were raping my Mom, and I couldn't do anything. I wanted to yell and stop them but I was like frozen or something I just couldn't move..." Brian's voice drifts away again and I see those stunning blue eyes become wet. "I just stood there and started to cry, that's when they heard me. The guy closer to the door, he hit me with something in the face and the next thing I knew I was in a hospital room. The next day a doctor told me my Mom and Dad had died, that's all he said. I guess our neighbor had heard the screaming and called 911."
We sit, Brian trying to choke back tears and me in a stunned silence. I would cry if I wasn't so in shock. How could somebody live with that secret for three years especially a child? I can't imagine the pain Brian is in, and all I want to do is hold him, tell him everything will be OK, tell him that nobody will hurt him ever, ever again. But I don't know if that is what he wants, or even needs, I have no clue what somebody that has been through the type of trauma he has just described to me needs.
"That's how I ended up in foster care," Brian says, with a sniffle but seemingly regaining the little composure he had lost. "My Grandma couldn't take care of me, she was too old and I didn't have any other family so they put in me foster care the day I got out of the hospital. I was in five different houses the first year. Then last year the gave me to this married couple. My social worker said they were really nice. She didn't know they were both total drunks, and when they got drunk they would get angry. If I made too much noise, or said something they didn't like they would hit me. I kept waiting for my social worker to come back and move me again, but she never did. I haven't seen her since the day she dropped me off at that house. Last month my foster dad got really angry at me for something I didn't even do, and he started hitting me, he made my nose bleed. After he was finished and they fell asleep I snuck out the back door. I couldn't take it anymore."
"You were on the streets for a month?" I ask.
"Yeah," Brian says.
"How did you eat? Where did you sleep?" I ask, not realizing I might be digging further than he is willing to go, but I am so lost in his story I feel that I need to know more.
"I met this guy my first night on the street, he was like sixteen," Brian says slowly. "He told me he'd take care of me, if I agreed to work for him, but he didn't tell me what type of work. But I was scared, so I said I'd work for him. We'd stand on a corner near the warehouse down the street from here, he would hide behind a wall and I would stand there under the light. Guys would drive down the street, when they saw me they would stop and talk to me. Then the guy would come out from behind the wall,, he would tell the guy in the car how much I cost. Sometimes they would argue about it. I hated it, but I knew I didn't have a choice. I'd have to get in the car the customer, would park in an abandoned lot on the other side of the warehouse, and I'd have to do whatever he paid for. Then he would drop me back at the corner. Usually that kid would be standing there waiting for me but last night he wasn't. I waited for him for like an hour but he never came back. So I started walking, but when I got here I got tired. I wanted to come in to ask for a drink but I was scared, so I just stayed outside and sat down on the curb."
I feel like I should say something profound, something that will give Brian some encouragement. But to be honest, I have never been much of a motivational speaker. More times than not I think of the totally wrong thing to say rather than finding the right words. The urge to hug him, hold in my arms and give him comfort comes back but I still don't know how we would receive that so I decide against doing that. Still I feel Brian and I have a new closeness, I know he feels comfortable with me, and I want him to know how much I appreciate that. But I can't help but wonder why he's chosen me to be the one he tells first.
"Brian, you don't know what it means to me that you feel comfortable sharing all of that with me," I say. "But you've only known me a day, how come you felt comfortable telling me when you haven't told anybody else?"
"Because, you're nicer to me than anybody else has been in the last couple of years," Brian says. "I really wanted to tell somebody, but nobody ever seemed like they cared enough about me. All the stuff you've been doing for me today, well it made me think that you like me. So I wanted to tell you."
"Well you're absolutely right, I do like you," I say. "And I am going to make sure you never end up back on the streets or with another foster family."
"But then where will I live?" Brian asks. "I can't live with your parents, and you said I can't live with you."
"Well nothing's written in stone," I say. "Things can change, you never know."
Again a silence falls over the room until Laura comes in. I can tell by the look on her face she has heard at least some of Brian's story but I know she won't let on about that to Brian.
"Kevin can I talk to you for a second?" Laura asks, her voice a little unsteady. "In your office."
"Sure," I say, as I slowly slide out of my chair. "Brian we'll be right back, don't go anywhere."
"OK," Brian says, as he begins to stare at his hands again.
"I'm sorry I couldn't help overhearing Brian's story," Laura says, after we've gotten into my office and I've shut the door. She is speaking in a whisper to ensure that Brian doesn't hear us talking but the emotion is still clear in her voice. "How did you get him to tell you all of that?"
"I didn't ask, he volunteered it," I say, whispering as well.
"What happens if that kid is looking for him?" Laura asks.
"We'll deal with that if it happens," I say.
"What are we going to do now?" Laura asks. "He really does trust you."
"I'm still not sure," I say. "But we are not sending him anywhere else anytime soon."
"I figured that," Laura says. "Kevin, I want you to know that you've really impressed me today," she says, no longer whispering. "Honestly I didn't know you had this in you."
"I didn't either," I say.
My life up until now had been so simple and all about me and my dreams. I went through college to reach the goals I had set for myself, working nights as a bell boy at a hotel so I could earn money to spend on me. After college I went from bank to bank begging for a loan for the motel I wanted to open. I developed a five year plan, of where I wanted to be in five years. The whole time never really thinking of anyone else, or other than the couple of months my college friends had been involved on the building of this motel even involving anyone else in my plans. Now this boy virtually stumbles into my life and I am utterly consumed by him, unable to concentrate on anything else, even myself.
I am determined to get him the life he deserves, one where he can be happy and people he can trust. I still don't know if that is going to be with me, but I'm hoping more and more that it will be. Until we get long term arrangements figured out I want to make sure Brian is comfortable here. I want him to feel like he is among friends, which he truly is.
As day turns into evening I know I need to figure out a better solution for Brian's sleeping arrangements for tonight. After hearing his story I can't send him to sleep in a motel room by himself, though I don't honestly know where else he can stay. As five o'clock approaches, Laura's shift nears its end. Brian has spent most of the later afternoon sitting on the couch in my office watching me work. We exchange a few words but his time on the streets has tired him out so he spends much of the time dozing in and out of sleep. As time for the Sierra Inn's big shift change approaches, I make my way to the lobby, with Brian following close behind.
Just as we get into the lobby Juan is coming through the door, his back pack slung over his shoulder.
"Yo," Juan says as he comes into the lobby. "How was your guy's day?"
"Boring," Laura tells him, and I can not help but laugh.
Brian is standing behind me, probably unsure of the point of us even being in the lobby at the moment in the first place. He does not yet know of my little ritual. Soon my three maids are gathered around the front desk, as their shift has just ended. Juan is stands next to Laura behind the desk with Brian standing in the hallway leading back to the break room and my office, watching from around the corner as I stand at the opening of the front desk to the lobby.
"OK team," I say. "Before the usual drill, I would like to introduce you to a new addition to our team. Brian come on out here," I say, looking at him and nodding my head for him to join me. He approaches cautiously not knowing what to expect. I gently guide him by his shoulders to stand in front of me. "Team this is Brian uh..."
"Landers," Brian says, filling in my gap.
"Brian Landers," I say, with my hands resting gently on Brian's shoulders. "He is my new junior assistant. That is if he accepts the position."
"Really?" he asks, turning his head to look up at me totally a look of surprise on his face.
"Yes, I am formally offering you the position of my first and last ever junior assistant," I say, in my most professional voice. "Do you accept my offer?"
"Yeah, cool," Brian says.
There is a round of applause from my staff, mostly the maids and Laura. Juan who was last here when Brian was just another runaway stands with look of confusion and his hands weakly hitting one another. Laura, seeing his expression, nudges him in the bicep with her shoulder and he puts a phony smile on his face and starts to applaud with a little more gusto.
"OK, now it is time for the Sierra Inn cheer," I say.
"Seriously dude, do we have to do this every night?" Juan asks.
"Yes we do," I say. "It's a team building exercise. Now everybody participates this time we have to show Brian the appropriate way to do this. OK here we go. Give me an S!" I say in my best cheerleader's voice, and everybody repeats the S, and we spell out the rest of Sierra Inn in just that manner. "What does that spell?" I ask, when finally get to the end. The entire time my hands are resting on Brian's shoulders and I can feel them move up and down as he laughs his giggles sometimes audible over our chant.
"Success," my small team of employees says, half enthusiastically.
"That's right," I say. "Alright A shift good job today, I'll see you tomorrow, Juan get to work."
After everyone has cleared out of the lobby except for Laura and Juan, I tell Brian to go to his room and wash up because I'm taking him out to dinner. It's really just an excuse to talk to Laura and Juan. After Brian has gone, we catch Juan up on what is going on.
"If you need help bro I'm here," Juan tells me after Laura and I have filled him in. "You know that right?"
"Yeah," I say, patting him on the shoulder. "And thank you."
"Well gentlemen," Laura says. "There is a frozen dinner and a glass of cheap wine calling to me," she says with a smile on her face. "And after today, I think there might be more than one glass of wine calling me."
"Thank you Laura," I say.
"I don't know how much help I was," Laura says.
"You were here, that was a big help," I say.
"Well then, you're very welcome," she says, her smile that had disappeared for much of the afternoon returning to her face.
Just then I hear the jingle of the bells from the side door and Brian comes back into the lobby.
"OK, Brian what do you like to eat for dinner?" I ask. "Es Cargo, frogs legs?"
"A Big Mac and fries," he says, quickly.
"Sounds like a plan to me," I say. "Juan bring you back a burger?"
"Yes please!" he says, enthusiastically.
"OK, let's go buddy," I stop in my tracks for a second, buddy is what my Dad used to call me when I was a kid. Even though it probably means very little to Brian the fact it just came out of my mouth without me even realizing it scares me a little.
This time Brian gets into my car without any hesitation, I unlock the doors and he is in two seconds flat. Our ride to the McDonalds which is about ten minutes long isn't silent like our car rides this morning were, and I'm not the one to start the conversation either.
"How did you get the motel?" Brian asks me, before we have even pulled out of the parking lot.
"I built it," I say. "I got a couple of banks to give me some money and I had it built."
"Cool," Brian says. "So you own it all by yourself?"
"Yep," I say, I'm sure pride evident in my voice.
"Are you rich?" Brian asks.
"No," I say, as I turn out of the parking lot and onto the street. "I mean I'm not poor, I guess you would say I'm comfortable."
"My Dad used to say we got by alright, but nothing fancy," Brian says. "He worked a lot, because my Mom wanted to stay home with me."
"It sounds like you had some pretty cool parents," I say.
"Yeah, they were cool," Brian says, now staring out the window, and seemingly sinking back into his daydream mode.
"Brian, I don't know what you believe," I say. "But I lost my Grandma when I was fourteen. She and I were really close I used to talk to her on the phone everyday after school. And when she died I had a really hard time dealing with it. But you know what? My Aunt told me that, maybe I couldn't talk to my Grandma anymore but she's still with me, because I'll always have her here," I say patting my chest over my heart. "And no matter what happens she will always be there. After that, when I got to really missing her I would think that she was still with me, just in a different way now and I would feel better. So when you miss your parents, and you just feel bad remember they're still there with you. Because you'll always have them in your heart, no matter what, and nobody or nothing can take them away from there."
Brian doesn't say anything but when I glance over at him while we are stopped at a red light I can tell he has a little grin on his face. The rest of the car ride is silent, but comfortable. We get to the McDonald's and order our food. Brian getting his Big Mac and fries, and I following his lead. While we sit and eat I catch myself starring at him a couple of times, in utter amazement, I'm sure he doesn't notice as he is inhaling his burger at a rate that would make the best speed eater in the world jealous. I am amazed not just by his looks, which I have already spoken about but also by his resilience. I may not know him that well, but from what I do know about him he seems like the type of person that might get knocked down for a minute or two, but will also fight their way back onto their feet. There is this quiet determination about Brian, that I just find awe inspiring. I would tell him what I think about him, but he's eleven and he'd probably just think I'm being mushy so I keep my mouth shut, except to chew.
Brian, with his speed eating, finishes well before I do but just sits there, patiently waiting for me to finish my meal. He seems to drift again into one of his daydream modes. I wonder what it is he is thinking about, unfortunately after what he told me this afternoon I have a pretty good idea what it is.
"Where am I going to sleep tonight?" he asks all of a sudden, breaking our little circle of silence that is around seemingly just our table. "Do I have to sleep in that room again?"
"Well it's either that or the couch in my office," I say. "Of coarse if you sleep on the couch, I don't know where I'd sleep."
"In your office by myself?" Brian asks.
"I thought it was the motel room that scared you," I say. "Because of the banging."
"Well that did scare me," Brian says, seemingly wanting to say more, but becoming silent instead. "But the room was like..."
"Was like what?" I say.
"Nothing," Brian says. "It was just the banging," he adds, obviously hiding something but I decide not to push him on it.
"Well I guess you could sleep at my apartment," I say. "You can have the bed, and I'll take the couch. I'm used to sleeping on couches anyway."
"Go back to your apartment?" Brian asks, fear coming through in his voice.
I get frustrated for a second, thinking that this sleeping arrangement this is a lot more complicated especially since I do own a motel. But then I realize Brian isn't trying to be complicated, he's just being scared and who could blame him for that? My frustration quickly disappears and I instantly go into getting Brian to trust me mode.
"Brian you trust me right?" I ask.
"Yeah," Brian says, nodding his head slightly.
"So you know what will happen if you come back to my apartment tonight?"
"No," he says shaking his head.
"You'll see a huge mess," I say with a smile. "Then go to sleep safely in a warm full sized bed, and I'll be sleeping in the living room on the couch probably snoring my brains out. And in the morning, you'll probably wake up to the sound of me fighting with my old coffee maker. But I promise I won't cuss."
"I won't have to..."
"You won't have to do anything other than sleep," I say. "I promise."
"OK," he says, reluctantly.
I can see getting Brian's full trust is going to be a project, but it's definitely one I am willing to take on. I know you're probably wondering about my plans as far as his living arrangements are at this point. As far as I am concerned Brian won't be going anywhere anytime soon. As we sit in the McDonalds me chomping down the last of my burger I begin to contemplate looking into getting a two bedroom apartment. I can't afford a house right now, but at least the bigger apartment would give me the option of taking Brian in for more than just a short term basis.
After I finish my food I buy Juan a burger and take it back to the motel. Brian is silent for the entire car ride back and I can tell he is still nervous about the prospect of spending the night at my apartment. When we get back to my office at the motel I decide to talk to him more about it.
"OK, kiddo," I say as I sit next to him on the couch in my office. "What are you thinking about?"
"Nothing," he says, softly.
"Are you still nervous about coming to my apartment tonight?" I ask.
I get silence in response which I take to be a yes to my question.
"I told you exactly what would happen there right?" I ask. "Did any of that sound scary to you?"
"No," he says softly.
I look into his eyes, and I see his amazing blue eyes wet with tears.
"Brian what's wrong?" I ask, wanting desperately for him to be OK.
"I'm scared," he says, with a sniffle.
"What are you scared of?" I ask.
"If I don't do it right, you're going to be mad, and I'm going to have to go back on the street."
I instantly know what he is talking about, and I can feel my heart ache for him.
"Brian did I say anything about you having to do anything for me?" I ask.
"No," he says, shaking his head with the tears still running down his cheeks.
"Brian I'm not like those guys in those cars," I say. "I'm not expecting anything from you, and there is no way I would send you back onto the street. I promise if you come back to my apartment I won't lay a finger on you, and you won't have to touch me. Does that sound like a plan?"
"You promise I don't have to do anything?" he asks, the tears looking like they are stopping.
"Absolutely, triple pinky swear," I say.
"OK," he says.
"Good," I say. "I just need to do some work, then we'll get going. You can stay in here or watch T.V."
Brian decides to stay on the couch. He sits in silence while I work apparently drifting back into his daydream mode. Finally at about 9:30 we head out to my car and we ride back to my apartment in absolute silence.
"Sorry for the mess," I say as I unlock the door. "I hope you're a good climber," I tell him trying to get a laugh out of him but nothing comes.
We go inside the apartment, and I show Brian the bathroom and give him a toothbrush I hadn't used, while he is in there I change the sheets on my bed. He comes out, still wearing an apprehensive look on his face.
"OK kiddo, you're all set," I say. "You can keep the door closed or open that's up to you."
"Thanks," he says.
"You're welcome," I say. "Well you need your rest, I'll be in the living room if you need anything."
"OK," he says.
"Goodnight," I say before leaving the room to give him his privacy.
I go into the living room and turn on the news, my head still not truly able to totally wrap around all that's happened today. The news is on the television screen as I sit on the couch but I'm not paying any attention to it, so I decide to get ready for bed, or in my case the couch. On my way to the bathroom I pass by the bedroom, Brian has left the door open. I stop to peak in to make sure he is OK. All that is sticking out of the covers is his head down to his chin. I can tell from the hallway that he is fast asleep. He looks so peaceful, so innocent his button nose is twitching again just like this afternoon when he fell asleep on the couch in my office.
"I can get used to this," I say softly to myself before turning and going into the bathroom.
To Be Continued....
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Part 5 Coming Soon!!