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© Miguel Sanchez 2003 - 2004
Miguel awoke at his usual time, early. Ronnie had his liquid wake up ready so he could start his day. It only took him a month to learn how to set up this blasted thing. He was beginning to think Ronnie had an ulterior motive when he bought this coffee maker.
After drawing a cup, he settled into his usual chair at the kitchen table and enjoyed the beautiful view the kitchen window offered of his new home in the Texas hill country. He savored the peaceful environment as he gazed out at his sons' ranch-land as he sipped on his first cup of caffeine.
He was pouring his second cup of coffee when he heard his two grandsons arriving on their horses. The changes they have made since becoming Jay and Ronnie's sons is nothing short of remarkable. He watched with pride as they removed the saddles and put them into the barn, then tied the horses to the fence and began the grooming ritual. After about 15 minutes, he heard them come in the back door and then join him in the kitchen.
"Morning Grande," both boys bubbled in unison as they gave him one of their famous hugs. "The others said to be sure to give you extra big hugs since they have things to do with Pop today," Eduardo said as he headed over to the cupboard and got down some bowls for cereal.
Miguel took another mouthful of coffee then asked his youngest grandson, "Didn't you boys eat this morning?"
Ruben continued pouring his cereal and cut his brother another impish grin. "Yeah Grande, I mean Yes Grande, but that was almost an hour ago. But we're hungry again." He did not wait for a reply but drowned both bowls with milk.
The new grandfather smiled as he watched the young teens attack their treat. He snickered to himself as he thought 'Now I know why the national debt here is so high. They must have been able to calculate just how much food these two can pack away each day. It was a substantial amount of money.'
He was about to pour his third cup of coffee when the phone started to ring. It was a foot race as Eduardo and Ruben each bolted from their chair and ran into the living room to answer the phone. "NO RUNNING in the house!" he shouted, but knowing it had fallen on two pairs of deaf ears. He continued pouring his coffee as he continued listening to Eduardo's side of the conversation. Miguel thought to himself again, 'I'm lucky my Portuguese is still fluent.' He was able to make out that Eduardo was talking to Jay, who was calling from Brazil. Eduardo came into the kitchen and handed him the phone.
Miguel took the handset and began to speak. "Hi son," he said to Jay. "Are you going to be returning here soon?"
Jay filled his Dad in on Tito's progress and then told him about a problem that could delay his recovery. It seems the local anti-street kid patrol have been trying to find out where the boy was taken; because it seems, they have less than healthy plans for the boy as a form of repayment for their loss of dignity at the hands of the gringo.
Miguel told him he would have a local judge he knew look into this plus inform Louis of the latest developments regarding who we hoped was to be our first resident here at the new Boys Ranch. He also told him about a friend he was going to call that might be able to offer some help as well. They talked about a few more pleasant things and told him his brother would be returning home later today with Angel. He also informed him that Angel and Louis were due to meet with town leaders about the plans for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Boys' Ranch.
"Dad," Jay said. "I can't believe how fast everything is proceeding. I want to be able to get Tito out of here and into the states before anything happens to him."
He reassured his son that everything would be fine and he told him he would make his calls as soon as they hung up. He thought to himself that was the quickest he ever finished a conversation with Jay on the phone.
After Miguel hung up, he got his satellite phone and placed a call to the local family court judge there in Recife. Miguel apprised him of the goings on between the locals and Tito. The judge assured him that they would be kept in check, but Miguel relayed his reservations wondering if the sheriff and his men could handle this many at one time. Once again, the judge said all would be fine and have faith in him. Finally Miguel relented and hung up. It was then that Miguel remembered the savvy of this judge.
Judge Javier Cortez was a former street child who Miguel had rescued. He was fortunate to have a friend who was willing to take him in and raise him. Javier quickly began to trust his new parents and in doing so became a completely different child. He took pride in where he lived, how he acted and vowed to help the children there, just as he was helped. He went on to college and to law school. After spending time in private practice, he ran for the seat being vacated by Judge Javier Romero at his retirement and was elected.
Miguel called Louis Fernandez, his attorney and filled him in on Tito's latest local set back. He also told him that he had a friend who could help and he would also be a great asset to the Boys Ranch. Louis told Miguel he would trust his judgment, updating him on his progress regarding getting Tito entry into the U.S. Louis would wait until Miguel gave him a follow-up report.
Miguel then phoned his friend.
I was shocked when I heard his voice on the other end of the phone. It has been at least 10 years since I last saw him. I had just finished my surgical residency and was sworn into the Army so I could do my neurosurgical residency. My Dad was there along with Miguel and both had smiles on their faces so broad, I had no trouble spotting them in the large crowd.
I finished my training and had 4 years left on my commitment when I was offered a position with one of their most elite groups, The Special Forces. I relished the chance to prove the government wrong and throw their stereotyping right in their faces. What was this flaw in their thinking, that a person who is gay couldn't perform such a role? I finished my tour with them, earned several decorations and promotions and was now a full Colonel. After that, I decided to leave the military and go into private practice. It was shortly after that when my father passed away from a massive stroke. Miguel was the only family I had now.
Miguel's voice brought me back into reality. "Marco, is that you son," He said.
"Hiya Pop, it's been a long time."
"Too long," he continued. "I need your help and it may require some of your old training. Do you think you are up to a challenge?"
I was about to speak when he added the one thing that he knew would make me help. "I have a child that needs help and my son is worried about how this can be pulled off. Oh, and one more thing. I have a position open as the Director of Child Services, with the foundations newest project. Do you think you might be interested?"
He was about to say more when I took the lead. "Hey Pop, say no more. Which one of your boys has his ass in a sling? Let me guess, Jay? He still hasn't learned the fine art of diplomacy has he? As for the job offer, you can fill me in when I arrive."
Miguel told me that he would have his plane come and pick me up and bring me to their place in Texas, much to my surprise. When I heard this I ask him for one favor. Since he played dirty, I thought one dirty trick deserved another. I told him I wanted to bring my horse and motorcycle with me.
Much to my surprise, he immediately agreed and said he would make all the arrangements. Although I was a little worried that my foster dad would have the savvy to make boarding arrangements, or locate places I could ride while there, I had the feeling he used that as another bargaining chip. Little did he know that he didn't need to sell me on the position. I was looking for a change and now that I was going to be reunited with the man who saved a totally messed up kid's life, I was more than just a little willing to go.
Five hours later, I was landing in San Antonio, Texas along with my horse and motorcycle. As I stepped off the jet I couldn't help but notice a seemingly new horse trailer behind what I knew was Miguel's trademark vehicle, a Hummer. I diverted my attention back to the runway as I saw a 737 cargo jet touch down. Miguel came over to shake my hand but all I could think about was my steed. I watched the plane taxi over to where his private plane was sitting and hoped he took the trip without getting too stressed. My vet gave him a mild sedative and said he should be all right but I know he doesn't handle change well at all.
The freight handlers opened the lower cargo door and as I ran inside I heard him neigh in a tone that let me know he had a first class attitude. 'Oh great,' I thought as I walked closer to him. 'He isn't about to let me forget this trip for a long time.' I reached to rub his snout when he butted me against the side of my head saying "Hi Dad, nice to see you to." It's a good thing I had a few snacks with me because I couldn't take another greeting from him.
I released the restraining ropes and walked him over to the ramp. As he saw daylight for the first time in several hours, he tried to rear up but I held his head tight. He stopped for a few seconds to check out his surroundings then relaxed so I could lead him off the plane. While I was doing this, one of the handlers was bringing off my bike.
I was about to take a step when Miguel stepped into view. I lead my horse down the ramp as his mouth hung wide open. I walked him around for a few minutes then Miguel quickly caught up to us.
"My God Marco," Miguel said. "He's absolutely gorgeous. What's his name?"
"Pop, I'd like you to meet Apollo. Apollo, meet Miguel." Apollo walked over and lowered his head so Pop could rub his nose.
Miguel roared in laughter. I just stood there wondering what was so funny. This went on for a good five minutes when I finally broke into Miguel's laughter. "Would you mind telling me what is just so funny?" Apollo was looking at him rather strangely as Miguel continued to laugh.
Miguel finally stopped laughing long enough to say, "When we get to my place, you'll see." Then he started snickering under his breath as I took Apollo over to the trailer and loaded him inside for the trip to his place. Thank God this was a two-horse trailer. I loaded my bike into the other side; tying it in place so it would not fall onto its side. I thought to myself that Pop was about ready for a padded stall next to Apollo as I closed the trailer door then headed for the passenger side of his SUV. I climbed into Pop's Hummer and we were off. I sat back and admired the beautiful scenery as we headed out of town.
It took us about 45 minutes or so to leave the confines of the city as we headed out into the country. I was amazed at the beauty and tranquility out here. We turned off the main road and onto a narrow paved road and went passed the first house in what seems like now an hour. Miguel slowed and I saw him reach up to his visor and push something. As we approached an opening, I saw a very heavy gate swinging open to allow us access to the dirt road.
When we passed the gate completely, Pop pushed the button again and the gate closed back to its original position. As we headed down the drive, I noticed a huge corral with a large barn in the rear. I thought there must be room for 30 or more horses in there. I wasn't disappointed.
All of sudden, 5 or 6 beautiful horses appeared as if out of nowhere and a beautiful chestnut mare whinnied. The next thing I knew two boys came running out of the house headed straight for the fence until they saw Miguel's SUV.
"Grande, Grande," they said in unison as Miguel brought the SUV to a stop near the gate to the corral. As soon as he opened the door, the two boys enveloped him. He hugged them for a few seconds while I got out of the vehicle and came around to his side to join them.
I heard a gasp when the smaller of the two looked up and made eye contact with me. Miguel looked down at them. "Boys, I'd like you to meet a friend of your fathers. His name is Marco Cortez. Marco, these are my grandsons Eduardo and Ruben."
I was froze in awe I saw the two beauties. The taller of the two was about 12 or so. I could tell he was of Hispanic descent but there was something about him and his brother that had me totally entranced. This little beauty was about 5 feet tall but he looked very under weight for his age. It appeared that he weighed about eighty or so pounds. His brother was almost a mirror image. The only difference was that he was a couple of inches taller and had a few more pounds on the little one. It wasn't until I looked into his eyes that my soul was totally taken. His eyes were like looking into a pool of crystal blue water. They could pierce the coldest of hearts and go right into your soul. Well they had mine that is for sure. He turned his head for a second and his hair was the most wonderful shade of auburn that I had ever seen in my entire life. I didn't know where the two little angels had come from but I'm sure glad they were now a part of my life.
As I continued reaching my hand out to Eduardo, Ruben said something to him in Portuguese. The boys heard me giggle to myself, realizing that I knew the language too, they in turn started to laugh. I smiled at the boys and they each gave me a big welcome hug.
Ruben looked up at me. "Do you really know our Daddies?"
I smiled at them. "I sure do, I know both your Dads. Julio and Ronaldo are both good friends. Oh, and I sure can't forget Esteban, either. He would really have a fit."
The boys started laughing when I said that. Eduardo said "Mr. Cortez, why did you call our daddy's Julio and Ronaldo?"
"Well," I said. "First, please call me Marco. Mr. Cortez passed away some time ago. That was how I knew them back then. But I just now remembered Pop here saying they like to be called Jay and Ronnie now."
Ruben caught the fact that I referred to Miguel as my Pop. "Marco, did you just call Grande, Pop?" he asked.
I said, "That I did and here's why. Your Grande here took this skinny, half-dead Portuguese kid here and got him fixed up right. He took me off the street and got me into a good home. I went on to college, became a doctor like your dad and now I'm here to help run the boys ranch. Your Grande here saved my life and since my adopted father has passed away, he's the only family I have left. Is this alright with you?" They were just about to speak when Apollo made his presence known and he wasn't happy with being left in the back of the trailer.
The boys scampered behind Miguel when they heard the noise coming from the trailer. I walked over and opened the door so I could grab the bridle. I was about to receive another of Apollo's head butt greetings but I reached into my pocket and handed him a treat just in time.
As I walked him out of the trailer, the boys' eyes got huge. "Wow," they said in unison then Eduardo spoke. "He's beautiful and big."
Miguel joined me along side Apollo and led me to where I could board my trusty steed. After I got Apollo settled, I unloaded my bike and was shown a place where that would be kept dry and safe. Thank God the boys had not seen my two wheeled steed for I had a feeling I would be taking them for rides on that sooner than I would on Apollo.
What would a person who loves to ride horses ever possibly want with a motorcycle? Simple, having something as powerful as a horse between your legs on a ranch is no different from having a powerful two-wheeled steed between your legs on the open highway.
After every thing was finished outside, Pop led me into his son's house and showed me where I would be staying until the buildings are ready for occupancy. It took me about thirty minutes to get unpacked and settled in. I heard Pop holler something about seeing me outside on the deck when I was finished.
I had one bag with some very personal items that I had to be sure the boys could not get their hands on. It was so they couldn't get hurt or anything got broken.
I went out back, pulled up a chair then sat on the deck to join Miguel as he filled me in on what it is he needed done. I was admiring the fantastic view when he came out and handed me a beer while he had his usual Bailey's on the rocks. As we were about to start talking, we heard the front gate open. We looked down the path and we could see an SUV coming but wasn't sure yet as to who it was. I informed Pop that I needed to give Apollo some exercise since he had been cooped up all day. He said that would be fine but he did want me to wait a few minutes before going. I decided to surprise the boys and speaking to them in Portuguese I asked them to please wait a few minutes because I wanted to give Apollo some exercise. They came over and gave me a quick hug then went to play.
I noticed a smile come to Pop's face after a few seconds so this told me he knew who it is in the vehicle. As the truck got closer I noticed three bodies inside and one of them was a tall thin male with blonde hair. At this point, I started smiling myself because I know who this was.
The vehicle came to a stop by the front door and we were just stepping out onto the front porch when all three doors opened and the occupants stepped out. God, Ronnie is just as handsome as he was the last time I saw him ten years or so ago. A woman stepped out and she was definitely of Hispanic decent. I looked her over real good too. I thought, 'Man, if you weren't already committed to guys, she might be worth pursuing.'
The people started heading for the porch as I stepped down and went right over to Ronnie. I looked at my childhood friend and just stood there in awe of the hot, good-looking man he has become. "Damn bro, Jay has himself a real keeper." I chuckled out loud as I reached to hug him. We met behind the truck and we exchanged our usual hugs and kisses to each other. Just as he was about to step away, I pulled him towards me by his hand then leaned down and drove my shoulder into his midsection then stood up with him hanging over my shoulder.
"Shit Marco! Damn you!" Ronnie howled as I had him almost upside down on my shoulder. "Let me down! And, set me on my feet please. And I mean NOW!"
Pop was giggling as we were standing there acting like two big teenagers. "Marco! Put your brother down on his feet, now!"
I thought to myself, man what a party pooper, but I set him on his feet. Then I looked over and that cute woman with the dark hair came around to see if Ronnie was all right when I decided to say something. "Whoa bro, who is this cute looking fox here?"
Ronnie smiled then chastised me. "Marco, don't you remember Angel?"
I tried to compose my grin. "Oh my God, that's Angel? Wow darling, you've become a beautiful woman. Steven sure has himself a keeper for sure."
Pop brought me back to reality when he said my name. He said that we had some things to discuss so I told Angel and Ronnie I would talk with them later. Pop came over to me and whispered to me. "If you want to go for a ride, do it now. I need you back in about an hour because of the importance of this information."
I called to the boys and said, "Come on guys, shake a leg and let's get a move on."
The only thing that gets them moving faster than going riding is food. We went into the choral and I took a quick check of my tack equipment. The boys were bringing their horses out of the barn when I heard Apollo sound off saying, "Hey don't forget me I want to go to."
I went in and opened his stall and led him outside. His jet-black coat glistened in the sunshine. I looped the reigns over the fence post and proceeded to saddle him for the ride. I was just about to mount my steed when he backed away. I looked at him wondering what the problem was? I went back to his left side and lifted my foot up to put it in the stirrup and he did it again. I was getting angry and what I did next had the boys thinking I had totally lost my mind. I looked him square in the eyes and said, "Hey! Just what the hell is your problem? Do you want to go or not?"
He answered me by hitting me square in the chest with his nose and putting me right on my ass. The boys howled then they said, "Hey Uncle Marco, I guess you have your answer."
I was just about to sit up when I noticed my feet. I wasn't wearing my boots and Apollo won't let me on him unless I am. I handed the reigns to Eduardo and walked inside the house thinking 'Damn spoiled animal' and quickly changed my shoes. When I came back out the boys were waiting by the house.
I looked at Apollo and said, "Is this better your highness?"
He gave me a quick
snort giving me his approval then I mounted him and we headed out to the lake.
It was a good run for the horses but it was close enough so I could get back
home early enough so Pop and I could talk. I looked at my two stunning nephews
as we rode off the property. They noticed me looking at them and Eduardo said,
"What's wrong Uncle Marco?"
I smiled then shook my head. "Oh nothing boys; I was just now noticing that you two could almost pass for twins. How old are you both?"
Ruben looked at me and said, "We're both 13 Uncle Marco but Eduardo is ten months older. Your Grande and another man got us out of Recife like he did you."
Then Eduardo asked, "Uncle Marco why isn't there a woman in you life like Uncle Steven?"
I looked at the boys and told them the truth. "Well that's because I'm like your fathers. I'm gay and I did just as many things as straight people have done and that really made people mad. Now since you asked me about girls, it's my turn. Have you handsome dudes got girlfriends?"
Both boys looked at each other before saying in unison, "Eeww Uncle Marco, girls! Girls stink. These are the only girls we want between our legs. We like boys too."
Well we chatted for another minute or two then I looked at the boys asking for their approval to let these steeds loose. Both nodded their heads so I told Apollo, "OK big boy, let's go." With that he took off and I had the others right on his heels. I could see our destination up ahead in the distance so it was next stop the river. Our ride lasted just over forty-five minutes when we saw the back gate to the homestead.
To be continued