Written By Mark The Goodpen
Edited By Terry
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. Your e-mails let me know I should keep the Sierra Inn in business.
Feedback is always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
When I finally reach the bedroom after tripping countless times over my own mess, I see Brian sitting up in bed, his hair damp with sweat and tears running down his cheeks. I know he's had a bad dream but to be honest I'm extremely relieved it wasn't something much worse. I quickly sit next to him on the bed and put my arms around him.
"It's okay, it's just a dream," I whisper to him. "Everything's alright."
"It was so real," Brian says, through his crying as he digs his face into the crook of my neck.
"I know," I say. "Do you want to talk about it?"
I feel him shake his head no, and I leave it at that not wanting to push him. I sit there just holding him for the longest time. Even after he stops crying, something prevents me from letting go and Brian isn't pulling away so I figure he doesn't mind.
"Better?" I ask him after a couple of minutes have passed without hearing a sniffle. No response. "Brian, are you..."
I quickly realize he has fallen back to sleep, so I gently lay him back onto his pillow, and fix the covers around him to make sure he is warm. His face looks peaceful again, only the lines of dried tears on his cheeks show that he has been crying. Without really thinking about it, I lean down and gently kiss him on his forehead.
"Goodnight, kiddo," I whisper softly before tiptoeing out of the room.
I go back to the couch and land on it with a thud. Trying to go back to sleep is difficult when you've just received the scare of your life. I guess you could say that Brian and I just shared a moment. However, I think it was much more of a moment for me than it was for him. Being able to comfort him like that, him allowing me to hold him was definitely something born out of trust, the trust I've so desperately wanted to build with Brian since I met him. But I can't help but wonder if Brian will even remember what happened come morning. I slowly drift back off to sleep, still being able to feel Brian in my arms.
The sound of the alarm clock on my cell phone is what wakes me up a few hours later. But even the usually annoying sound is welcome after the last two wake up calls I've received. I slowly climb off the couch and make my way to the bedroom to check on Brian. Apparently he has pulled the covers up over his head, because his face is no where to be found, there is just a pint sized lump in the middle of the bed.
"Time to wake up buddy," I say as I gently rub what I think is Brian's shoulder, though to be honest, I can't be sure.
"NNNoo," I hear a low mumble come from underneath the covers.
"Hey kiddo, I got to get to work, and then we got a bunch of packing to do. We're moving tomorrow, remember?" I ask.
"I'm tired," the lump says, a little louder than his original protest.
"I know," I say. "But you can sleep in the office."
"Ugh," he says before throwing the covers off of himself, and slowly sitting up with one eye still shut.
After we get ready we head out the door for McDonalds, which is becoming part of our extended kitchen. It isn't until we get outside and Brian starts pulling on his sweatshirt that I notice he is wearing one of my old Nirvana t-shirts.
"You said they're cool," he says when he notices the smile on my face.
"Only the coolest," I add as we get into the car.
The entire time we are eating breakfast, I keep contemplating if I should ask Brian about the dream he had last night. The fact that he isn't mentioning anything about last night at all is just about driving me up the wall. Maybe I'm expecting too much from him, but I was kind of hoping he would at least apologize for waking me up last night. At least that would open a window for me to ask him about what happened in his dream that made him so scared, but he doesn't take a breath during breakfast long enough to say anything at all.
After going back to my apartment to pick up Brian's skateboard, we head to the Sierra Inn. Brian immediately goes to the back of the motel and starts riding while I go straight to my office and dig in for a long day. I don't pay attention to the clock when I start working. In the past, I've only stopped working when I either get too sleepy to continue or I run out of stuff to do. And that second one rarely happens.
A couple of hours pass before Brian comes into my office, his skateboard under his right arm and his helmet in his left hand. Even though it is cold outside, Brian has managed to work up a sweat, his cheeks are red and he has a serious case of helmet hair. When he gets into my office, he puts the skateboard and helmet down and takes off his sweatshirt, dumping it on top of the skateboard.
"Did you have fun?" I ask.
"Yeah," he says as he plops himself down on the couch. "But I got tired."
"I thought you were already tired," I say, referring to this morning.
"Well, I woke up for a while," he says, as he starts playing with the bottom of his t-shirt and lifting it up just enough to expose the very bottom of his stomach. The white of his stomach is contrasted against the black of the t-shirt.
Seeing this makes my friend from south of the border twitch a little, though I try to ignore it. The part of Brian I see regularly makes me want things I shouldn't, seeing any extra makes me almost need those things. I quickly go back to working, so Brian won't think I'm staring at him.
"Kevin," he says after a couple of minutes have passed.
"Yeah," I say, looking up again from my computer screen and realizing that he is still playing with his t-shirt.
"Thank you for last night," he says, taking me by surprise. It is what I have wanted to hear but hadn't really expected.
"You're very welcome," I say. "Do you want to talk about what happened?"
"I had a bad dream," he says. He is stating the obvious but apparently he thinks it was some type of big secret because he says it almost in a whisper.
"Do you want to talk about it?" I ask him.
"I get them a lot," Brian says, seemingly ignoring my question. "Sometimes I wake up screaming, but usually I don't. They're always about the same thing."
I wait for him to say more, but he just sits there playing with his t-shirt. And just when I am about to ask a question, he starts talking again.
"They're always about the night my house got robbed," he says. "When those guys saw me, in my dream they grab me..." he stops suddenly and shivers a little bit. "And they make me do stuff."
I suddenly realize that when Brian was telling me about his time on the streets, he never said that he had sex. He only said that guys would pay for him to do stuff. I wonder if he thinks he will get in trouble for saying the word sex, or if he is actually scared to say it. Or maybe he doesn't even realize that when two guys are having sex, it's called the same thing as when a man and a woman do it.
"What kind of stuff?" I ask, maybe crossing some kind of boundary. But I figure if I know what is in Brian's dream, maybe I will be able to help him avoid them in the future.
"Sex stuff," he says, looking down at his hands playing with the bottom of his shirt. Now that he's actually said the word, it almost sounds bizarre coming out of his mouth.
"Did that happen?" I ask. He hadn't mentioned it the other day, but he trusts me more now, I think.
"Yeah," Brian says, slowly.
"I bet that was scary," I say, as I feel my heart ache a little.
"A little," he admits. "Afterwards, they hit me in the head and knocked me out."
"Do you ever have dreams about what happened when you were on the street?" I ask him.
"Yeah, but not scary dreams," he says. "I'm tiredm can I take a nap?" he asks, and just like that, our conversation is over.
Brian's answer to my last question sticks in my head along with our conversation from the other night where he was talking about why he doesn't like school. Was he just trying to tell me something? I ask myself the question as I look at Brian sleeping on the couch. I dismiss the thought from my mind, believing I'm letting my imagination get a little out of control. Soon, I am totally distracted as Laura comes in with a guest complaint, and I have to start mending bridges.
When lunch time arrives, Brian and I go to the deli across the highway from the motel. I often go to the deli for lunch and dinner. They have the best roast beef I've ever tasted and there are weeks I just can't get enough of it. I go there so much the owners and I are on a first name basis. The owners are an older couple, probably in their mid sixties, and they have had the place since they got married over forty years ago. When Brian and I go into the small deli with a counter and four tables, Jerry, the husband, is standing behind the counter.
"Hey, there you are Kevin," Jerry says, as I lead Brian up to the counter. "I was beginning to wonder what happened to you. What has it been, a week?"
"Something like that, yeah," I say with a smile. "Where's the wife?"
"Home, babysitting the grandkids," Jerry says. "Our daughter and her bum of a husband went on a vacation. And who is this young man?" he asks me as he looks at Brian, a big smile starting to spread across his face.
"This is Brian," I say. "He's my foster son."
"Well, I'll be," Jerry says, his smile becoming even wider. "Hi there Brian, it's very nice to meet you. I'm Jerry," he says it with a wink.
"Hi," Brian says shyly.
"So I've seen you've been busy this week," Jerry says to me with a smile.
"Yeah, it's been a week to remember," I say with a smile.
After some more small talk, Brian and I order our food, including a sandwich for Laura and head back to the motel. We eat lunch at the table in the break room then Brian heads off to the back of the motel with his skateboard. Something has been bothering me, mainly from the conversations I have had with my Dad and since I feel I have no where else to go I turn to Laura.
"Laura, I need to tell you something," I say, as the two of us are still sitting at the table. "And I hope you will still think the same of me."
"What is it?" Laura asks, a look of worry spreading across her face.
"Man this is hard, I haven't told anybody this in ten years," I say, rubbing my hands over my face. "And the last time, it didn't go so well. But Laura, I'm gay."
"Is that it?" Laura asks, taking me by surprise.
"What do you mean 'is that it'?" I ask.
"Well, you worried me, I thought you were selling the place or something," Laura says. "But to be perfectly honest, I've suspected you were gay for a while."
"Really?" I ask.
"Kevin, you're not as mysterious as you believe," Laura says. "But don't worry, my knowing for sure doesn't change anything."
"Good," I say breathing a sigh of relief. "But what do you think, now, about my taking Brian in."
"The same as before," Laura says. "That you will give him a good home, and be the role model he needs. Look, Kevin, if I thought for a minute that you were capable of hurting that boy I would have never been a reference for you. But I know you better than that, I know you would never do anything to hurt Brian. And knowing now for sure that you're gay doesn't change that one bit."
"Thank you," I say, feeling tears welling up in my eyes. "I needed to hear that."
"Well, it's the truth," Laura says. "Now come here," Laura says standing up, and holding her arms open for a hug. We hug, I compose myself, then we go back to work.
As I work, my mind starts to wander back to last night and how good Brian felt in my arms. It felt almost like he belonged there, like he fit perfectly. I know it might sound ridiculous, especially since I've only known Brian less than a week but I suddenly have a hard time imagining my life without him in it. I have a bad habit, always have, of taking action before I think something through. Sometimes it has gotten me into trouble, other times it has actually helped me. Like if I had thought out trying to open a motel right out of college, I probably never would have done it. But I was trying to secure credit lines to buy land the same week I was graduating, and the motel has been my livelihood ever since. So now, sitting at my desk, I make another decision before thinking out all of the implications and hope it turns out as well as the last time.
"Quincy and Larson Family Law," the woman on the other end of the phone says.
"Hello, my name is Kevin Wasdin, and I am interested in talking to a lawyer about helping me adopt my foster son."
"Okay, Mr. Wasdin would you like to come down to the office for a consultation?" she asks. "I just had a cancellation for this afternoon at two."
"Oh, that would be perfect," I say. "Should I bring my foster son?"
"That is up to you, though I wouldn't suggest it," she says. "We will need your wife here though."
"Um, I don't have a wife," I say, nervously.
"Oh dear," she says. "Okay, well, then I guess we'll just be seeing you at two, your appointment is with Mr. Quincy."
"Thank you," I say before hanging up.
The reason I had called this particular firm is that their website said that they keep their practice small so you actually work with one of the partners. I am no fool, I know if I try to adopt Brian, I am going to need a lawyer who knows what he is doing. The only problem is, at this point, all I can really afford is a hack that works out of the back of his Volkswagen Bus. So that's me in a nutshell, act now, think later and damned be the consequences.
Just as I am about to head back to tell Brian there is somewhere I need to go, he comes into my office and plops himself down on the couch.
"Where are we going?" he asks, as he sees me putting my jacket on.
"I have an appointment," I say. "Unfortunately, I can't bring you with me, but I will be back soon."
"Are you going to the doctor?" he asks.
"No, it's something else," I say.
"Is it about me?" he asks, his blue eyes once again shooting laser beams through me.
"Well, yeah," I say. "I'm going to talk to someone about helping me have you live with me as long as you want."
"Really?" Brian asks, a smile coming to his face.
"Yeah," I say. "Would you like that?"
Brian doesn't say anything and for a second, I become worried but then he gets off the couch, comes over to me as I stand behind my desk and put his arms around my waist.
"Thank you," he says.
"I'll take that as a yes then," I say, as I return his hug, thinking to myself I could just hold him forever.
I get to the law firm early and sit in a small waiting room on a chair that I'm pretty sure is more expensive than my first car was. The office is in Scottsdale, in a brand new office complex. The office itself has expensive looking art on the walls and a mahogany receptionist desk. My palms start to sweat as I can not believe what I am about to do. Then finally the door next to the receptionist's desk opens and out steps a tall man with grey hair, wearing a three piece suit.
"Mr. Wasdin," he says in a very business like tone.
"Yes," I answer, standing up.
"I'm Lawrence Quincy," he says, holding out his hand.
"Nice to meet you," I say, as I shake his hand.
"Pleasure is mine," he says. "Why don't you come on back to my office?"
He then leads me through the door, down a short hallway to a large office. Mr. Quincy takes a seat behind his desk and I sit on a chair facing him that I think is even more expensive than the chair in the waiting room.
"Is that a yacht?" I ask pointing to the picture of a boat sitting on the small cabinet behind Mr. Quincy.
"Yes it is I keep it in California for the summers," he says, after taking a brief peak back to see what I was pointing at. "This old body can't stand the heat any longer."
"I know what you mean," I say, wiping sweat from my eyebrow. It might be the middle of January, and we might be in a climate controlled room but as I look around, all I see are dollar signs, and that makes it feel like it's well over 100 degrees.
"So I hear you want to adopt your foster son," Mr. Quincy says.
"Yes, I do," I say nodding my head.
"How old is he?" Mr. Quincy asks.
"Eleven," I say.
"How long has he been your foster son?" Mr. Quincy asks.
"Since Wednesday," I say.
"Excuse me?" Mr. Quincy asks, his jaw dropping slightly.
"Since Wednesday," I repeat. "We've bonded quickly."
"I should say so," Mr. Quincy says. "Mr. Wasdin, how old are you?"
"27," I say. "I'll be 28 in May."
"I see," Mr. Quincy says. "And you're single, right?"
"Yeah," I say.
"No plans to get married?" he asks.
"Not that I know of," I say, laughing nervously at my own joke.
"Mr. Wasdin, do you realize the challenges you are facing?" he asks me without laughing at my joke, which I admit hurts a little.
"What, that I'm a single guy trying to adopt a boy?" I ask. "Am I missing anything?"
"We'll see," Mr. Quincy says. "What do you do for a living?"
"I own a motel, maybe you've heard of it, the Sierra Inn," I say.
"I've never heard of it, no," he says, not looking impressed. "So do you work a lot of hours a week?"
"Yes," I say.
"Weekends?" he asks.
"Yes, weekends too," I say.
"What kind of living arrangements do you have?" he asks.
"Well, we will be moving into a two bedroom apartment tomorrow," I say.
"Do you have family in town?" he asks.
"Yes," I say. "My parents live here."
"Would they be willing to help you take care of your child should you adopt him?"
"Well um..." I stammer, wanting to lie but know better. Lying to Mr. Quincy is not going to do me any good.
"You don't know," he says, answering the question for me. "Mr. Wasdin, exactly what makes you think you're qualified to adopt this child?"
"Well, I've known him a total of four days and he's already told me more about his life than he has anyone else," I say. "He trusts me, and though it's only been a few days, I feel like I've known him for years."
"Anything else?" Mr. Quincy asks.
"I don't know," I say, shrugging my shoulders.
"Have you ever cared for a child before?" he asks.
"No," I say.
"Have you ever volunteered to work with children?"
"Ever taken a parenting class?"
"Mr. Wasdin, I'm not trying to drill you but you have to realize the enormity of what you are wanting to take on," Mr. Quincy says. "Adoption is not something to be rushed into. May I suggest you take some time to truly think about this and make sure that you are truly ready to be solely responsible for the well being of this child."
"Mr. Quincy, you don't know me," I say, suddenly feeling a little defensive. "And you have never met Brian. By the way, that's the name of the child you apparently know all the needs of. Brian was a runaway, he ran away from his drunk foster parents who beat him. He is in foster care because when he was eight, his house was robbed by two men who killed his father, raped his mother, killed her then raped him. When he was on the streets, he was pimped out by some sixteen year old. He ended up sitting on the curb of my motel because that sixteen year old disappeared while he was with a john. Now Brian told me all of that on Tuesday, we met Monday night. He hadn't told a sole any of that before me. In the last three days, I've seen him through a nightmare, I've kept him fed and clothed and I've gotten him enrolled in school for the first time in over a month. And I've gotten him to laugh at my bad jokes. Now would you care to re-judge me?"
"Mr. Wasdin, no speech is going to convince me that you are ready to be a parent," Mr. Quincy says. "You're single, you're young, you're inexperienced with children and from what I can tell you have very little family support. So no matter how sweet I may think it is that you've gotten this child to trust you, that doesn't change anything else."
"Just come to my motel, sometime next week, after three thirty" I say, in a last ditch effort. "Talk to Brian, ask him what he thinks, see how we interact. Please, I need help and you come very highly recommended."
"You really want this don't you?" he asks.
"More than anything I've ever wanted," I say.
"Okay, I'll come see you at your motel," he says, slowly. "But I can't promise anything else."
"You coming to the motel is all I can ask right now," I say, quickly handing him my business card that has the address of the Sierra Inn. "Thank you, Mr. Quincy you won't be sorry."
I leave the law office feeling like I have won the first part of the battle, but knowing I still have a long way to go just to get Mr. Quincy on my side. But I think once he sees me with Brian, he won't be able to turn me down.
When I get back to the motel, Brian is waiting in the lobby, looking out the window for me.
"What happened?" he asks, as soon as I come through the door. "Can I stay with you for as long as I want?" he asks me excitedly
"Whoa, hold on there cowboy," I say, patting him on the head. "I spoke to a lawyer and he's going to come here next week to meet with you. Brian, this is going to take awhile, so don't expect anything to happen overnight. But you trust me right?"
"Yeah," he says nodding his head. It is the most emphatic answer I have gotten from him on that question yet.
"Okay, so just remember that, and be patient," I say. "We're in it for the long haul."
"Okay," Brian says, before giving me another of his hugs.
That evening, we leave the Sierra Inn and stop in at McDonalds for another Big Mac dinner. When we get home Brian helps me pack. We get close to having everything packed but leave some stuff for the morning. Then I open a bag of chips and we sit on the couch watching Nickelodeon and eating. Apparently the show that is on is funny, because Brian keeps laughing between scarfing down handfuls of chips. I miss the humor of the show but enjoy listening to Brian's laugh. Eventually the day catches up with him but instead of getting up to go to bed, he lays down on the couch, resting his head on my lap.
"Are you tired?" I ask him.
"Nah," he says. "Just getting comfortable."
"Okay, well if you get tired, you should go to bed," I say, suddenly sounding like a parent.
"I know," he says, while still watching the television.
I continue watching the television as I absentmindedly begin to rub Brian's shoulder, without really realizing it.
"That feels good," he says, which is the first time I realize I'm even touching him. Reflex takes over and I pull my hand back. "Why'd you stop?" he asks.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... You were okay with it?" I ask, suddenly realizing he had said it felt good, not asking me to stop.
"Yeah, it felt nice," he says.
With that, I start rubbing his shoulder again, this time rubbing a little more firmly but still gentle enough so as not to hurt him.
"Kevin, can I ask you something?" he asks. I can't help but find it cute how he asks for permission to ask a question.
"Sure," I say.
"Do you want to do sex stuff with me?" he asks, still watching the television.
"What?" I ask, shocked by the question.
"The way you look at me," he says. "Sometimes, it looks like the way the guys on the street looked at me. But you don't ever touch me."
"Brian, I'm not like the guys you met on the street," I say. "I would never do that to you."
"But I liked it," he says, suddenly sitting up. "Some of it anyway. And I like you."
"Well, I like you a lot too, but..." I start to say how wrong it would be for us to have sex but then a question pops in my mind. "Brian, are you saying you want to do sex stuff with me?"
"I like you," Brian says. "I want to make you happy, because you've helped me so much. And I think you want to do sex stuff with me."
"Brian, sex isn't something you do with people you like," I say. "It's something you do with people you love. Now, I do feel myself falling in love with you, but if you still don't love me..."
"But I think I do," Brian says, sitting up to look at me. "I want to live with you, I want to make you happy."
I fall silent, not knowing what to say. Can this really be happening? Could Brian really be proclaiming his love for me? I cup his right cheek in my hand, and just stare into those blue eyes. Slowly, I lean my head forward and our lips meet. His lips are so warm and moist. Brian's not an experienced kisser, which is obvious but he apparently is a quick learner as he mimics my actions. We linger there in a kiss for what seems like an eternity. My mind is racing again, thinking how wrong this is but how right it feels. Then I feel little hands reaching for the belt buckle of my jeans...
"Kevin! Kevin!" I hear. "Kevin, you fell asleep," I hear Brian's voice coming from the direction of my lap.
Apparently I had fallen asleep on the couch, shortly after Brian had rested his head on my lap.
"What were you dreaming about?" he asks. "You got a boner!" he adds with a giggle.
To Be Continued...
Comments/suggestions are welcomed at email@example.com
Part 8 Coming Soon!!