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© Miguel Sanchez 2003 - 2004
Things Pick Up
I looked down at Stevie and he just said, "Sorry Uncle Marco I heard all the water running and I couldn't hold it any more. I hope you don't mind. I didn't think you would like me wetting your bed and I know Mom and Dad wouldn't like it when Angela told them."
We both came to bed and I turned the light off and I had a cute little boy cuddled close to me. I kissed his cheek and said, "Don't worry about it kiddo. Close you eyes and get some sleep."
I rolled onto my side and Stevie did too spooning himself against me. I closed my eyes and held him until we both drifted off to sleep.
I was gently being shaken by a blonde haired beauty saying, "Wake up Uncle Marco. It's time to get up."
I cocked open one eye and there was Stevie pushing on my shoulder trying to bring me back from dreamland. I started waking up, when I made one big mistake, I rolled onto my back. This gave Stevie the opportunity he needed to try to finish waking me up and that it did. He jumped up and sat right on my almost over full bladder and my morning erection. My eyes shot open as I fought from giving him a wet butt and me a huge case of the embarrassments. I sat up which caused Stevie to slide onto my legs and take pressure off my bladder. I kissed him on the forehead then went into the bathroom to relieve myself. When I was done, I turned on the shower so I could be dressed and ready for the others. I was about to step in when I suddenly realized that I wasn't alone. There was my little blonde beauty just as the day he was born. I motioned for him to come on and we got our morning shower together.
We were in and out in no time and I could hear the water running in the showers down here so I knew my kids were up. I got dressed and went to see if my other three boys were awake. I opened the door from the stairs and there were all three walking naked back to their room. They saw me standing there and Mike came to me for his morning hug. The others quickly surrounded me and we had a group hug and kiss. Jordan got them headed to their room so they could dress and meet the others downstairs for breakfast. Just as I was coming off the last step, my younger crew made its appearance.
All the kids present and accounted for at 0735 without prodding from me, I was impressed to say the least. I grabbed my jacket and hat and loaded the kids into the Hummer for breakfast. Angela broke the silence when she kissed me then said, "Thanks for letting me spend the night Uncle Marco. I had a great time. The three older boys were very nice."
I turned at the kiss and saw three very red-faced teenagers in the back seat and I just chuckled to myself. I thought that was ample payback for all the things he'd manage to pull in the short time they'd been here. I started the vehicle and headed to breakfast. It was a short silent trip but as soon as we arrived, they were kids again. I went inside and hung my jacket and hat on the coat stand, kissed Pop on top of the head, fixed a cup of coffee then went to the table. I just had taken a sip of coffee when Tim came in and stood in front of me. As soon as I looked up he began to sign to me saying, "Hey Pop, what do we have to do today?"
I was about to answer him when everything he just said hit me. I called Tito in so he could sign for me. He came in and I looked back at Tim and said, "Pop? What's this Pop business?"
Then I saw Mike
laughing and then I knew he'd been put up to it. Then I looked up at Tim and I
saw he was suddenly dejected. I quickly got up and went over and hugged him
drawing him close to me in a very loving embrace. Then I did something that I
don't think those two expected. I said to Tim, "Son if you want to call me Pop,
I'd be honored."
Well you should have seen him light up when he saw Tito sign that. He hugged me and went off back into the living room with the others. I just smiled at the guilty ones and went back to my coffee as if nothing happened. Pop looked up at me and said, "Don't you think the others might get upset having one not all three be able to call you that?"
I explained everything that happened and he was satisfied with the way I handled that matter. He then told me that Mike would be arriving here around noon and did I have any ideas where we could house him. I told him I thought I'd let him stay in my house considering there is only a one-year age difference between the older ones. Pop nodded and I went back to my coffee and began to think about all I had to do today. I got up and headed to the front door and grabbed my jacket and then headed to the stable. I went inside and opened the last stall and pushed my other baby outside. I checked the oil in it before I fired that puppy up. I sat on it and while revving the engine a little to get it warmed up I began to push it back until I could turn it around. Once I had it facing out I really revved that Hog's engine. There standing on the porch was everyone from the house. I waved then took of so I could give her a short run before breakfast.
When I came back they began to look at her and they all wanted rides. I assured them they would all get rides but not to bug me about it because I don't ride it that often. I knew I was soon going to break that rule. I shut it off and set it on its stand then went back in to eat.
I washed my face and hands and came to the table and sat down ready to put away some of Ronnie's great food. I was about to go back for seconds when Mike looked up at me and started signing then about half way through he stopped and his eyes went to the floor. He had said, "Marco, I'm sorry for putting Tim up to what I did earlier. You're a neat guy and I see you're a great Dad to Tito. If its alright may . . ." He didn't get out the last word but I could figure out what he was going to say.
I thought about it for a moment and said, "Mike, I'd be honored if that's what you really want." I looked at Jordan and said the same thing. "But Mike I want you to really think about putting someone up to something where a person could get their feelings deeply hurt. I'm not sure if you wanted to pick at Tim or me. You and I will talk more about this later but we'll be alone. This will be just between you and I."
Mike said thanks to me and went back to eating but I could also see that he was thinking about what I said. I know Mike is a prankster but I didn't want anyone to get hurt in any sort of way by his pranks and that's what I want to talk with him about at length. I might even do it when our newest counselor Mike gets here.
I picked my plate up and refilled it and had some more coffee. I know there is going to come a time when I'm going to miss his cooking and I just hope our cook is as close to him in skills. I finished my food and realized that the house needed to be cleaned since we hadn't had time but I didn't want them being alone. I decided to give them the morning off and then Mike could supervise them while I inspected houses again this afternoon. Pop said he could use their help with a project he had so I said sure and it was off to work.
I grabbed my coat put on a ball cap instead of the Stetson cause bikes and cowboy hats don't really go together if you want to keep the hat. The first house I came to looked immaculate. I went in and did my inspection. I was in and out in fifteen minutes. I couldn't find a real major repair here. The other houses were a different story. It took me the rest of the morning to inspect these houses then write a report on each so Pop would have an idea of all that had to be fixed.
It was almost eleven-thirty so I went back to Jays for a cold drink and a bit of rest. I hoped on my bike and hit the dirt trail leading to the house. I enjoyed riding in the sun with the breeze whipping all around me. Maybe I would be riding her more. I walked in the house and saw Jay and Ronnie sitting and talking. I gave each a quick kiss then got myself a soda from the fridge. I sat down and started chatting with them and I was wondering if they knew what project Pop needed the kids help with.
I heard the four-wheeler coming up the drive pulling a wagon with eight dusty kids inside. Then it dawned on me what Pop had in mind for today's project. The maintenance shed needed to be cleaned out and swept. I know Pop wouldn't have them do anything that would cause them to get hurt. I walked outside and looked at them and I'm glad they all had coveralls on because they were filthy. All they needed to do is wash their faces and hands. I met them in the laundry room and helped them off with their coveralls so they wouldn't get dust and dirt all over themselves. I helped about four of them. Then as fate would have it I had to go to the bathroom.
When I was inside a taxi pulled up and dropped off Mike. I didn't know this until I walked out and saw him. He was shaking hands with Jay and Ronnie when he heard me step off the carpet onto the hardwood floors. He turned and looked at me and said, "And you must be Marco. Hi, I'm Mike Christian. It's nice to meet you and I want to thank you for the job here. Ever since I heard about this place all I wanted to do was come to work here. I don't know if you saw it on my application but I'm gay."
How did this kid know who I was? I've missed something here. Pop has photos of us all on the computer and I bet he sent our photos to him so he'd know who we were. He took my hand to shake it and man, this kid is strong and big. I could tell he's played football. He's got a players build and I knew one other thing also. He looked like someone I'd want on my side in a fight and not against me. I smiled at him and said, "Yeah Mike, I'm Marco. I see you've met my two little brothers."
Mike looked over at them and back to me and said, "Yes sir, I've met them and we have been chatting for a few minutes."
This kid was not only polite but he was also quite cute. I said, "Mike, do me a favor will you? Cut the sir and just call me Marco. The only one you really have to say sir to is our Dad and I'm sure you've already met him."
He smiled and said, "Yeah Marco I have and I really like and admire him. I hope I get to help kids here just like he's done for you all. I can't wait to meet your youngest and his wife. I see why you all love him. There is something about him that a person can love."
He was right about that with Pop. Except in Brazil, I don't think there is anyone that doesn't love him. I heard the kids come in from the laundry room so I was prepared for the introductions but if I know Mike he'll know who they are already. I was right. He went over and introduced himself to all the kids starting with Angela. All the kids seemed at ease with this new kid. This could really come in handy when we get more boys here. I looked at Mike, Tim and Jordan and they are the exception rather than the rule. They've been through more in their life than anyone should, but I think with them still having each other is something that's making the transition here much easier. Tito did the honors signing for Mike and Tim and each of the older ones also hugged Mike and said they were glad they were here. It was something I don't remember reading on his application. This kid was fluent with sign language. Add another to the plus column for this kid. I was beginning to wonder if he could walk on water. He's going to make a great addition to the family here.
The older teens started carrying plates and other things for lunch. I told Mike I hoped he was hungry because if I knew Ronnie, he'd made a special lunch in his honor. I noticed a few leftovers from yesterday in his famous potato salad then I saw him and Jordan carrying in two huge platters of hamburgers and cheeseburgers. That was a special treat for us because his burgers take a long time to prepare because he grinds his own hamburger meat. He looked at me and said, "I am. I didn't eat breakfast when Miguel emailed me and said I better have a good appetite when I got here or I'd be on Ronnie's list plus Jay told me how he makes these things. I can't wait to eat, I'm hungry."
We all went and sat down as four huge baskets of fires were brought in. I heard the screen door slam and a voice say, "I hope we're not to late for lunch?"
I recognized the voice and said, "Just like a baby, always the last to the table. Get you butt over here so we can eat."
Steven came over to take his seat and smacked me in the back of my head and said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love you too bro. I had to stop and get one of my brother's some tomatoes because he forgot to order them last time and Jay here's your cell phone. You left it at my house the last time you were over, baby brother to the rescue of older brothers. Hi Mike, I'm Steven and this is my wife Angel. I shouldn't really pick on them we're all a tight family here. In time, we'll be picking on you too."
Never let it be said Steven didn't have a sense of humor. I heard the screen door slam and a voice say, "You better not be eating without me here."
Suddenly everyone at the table froze as Pop came in. I saw a plate being passed around and before he could reach his seat it was filled with everything and in front on his chair. He looked at the plate of food smiled then said, "That's better, let's eat."
I looked at Mike and said, "After lunch we'll get your stuff up to your room and you can get yourself settled in and things put away. I was wondering if you could keep an eye on the kids this afternoon while I work. They will be cleaning their rooms and the rest of the living area in our house. My niece and nephews are also going to be there because they've helped dirty it up. Also, after lunch Pop will make you your staff ID card. When you come back over for dinner Angel will have some forms you will need to sign and a few you will need to fill out."
He smiled and said, "I'd be glad to. If you let me know what has to be done, I'm sure everything will go smoothly. Angel, I'll bring my pen back and I'll take care of the papers. You all have a wonderful way to welcome a new person to their job. I feel it's more like a family here."
Pop looked up and said, "Mike, that's what we all are here. We're a big family with room for more. As you know we're small now but we're expecting another addition any time now. Macro and I are just waiting on a few more details. There is one big favor I need from you. I'm going to ask you to let him room with you until we can get him a roommate of his own and right now, I just don't know when that will be."
Mike looked at him and said, "I don't see a problem with that. Maybe sometime soon we can all sit down together and you can give me his background and problems that way I can be prepared too."
We all ate a great meal then Ronnie brought out another surprise. He baked a sheet cake and decorated it with a scene for here and it read `Welcome to The Ranch' and it had all our names on it. I was surprised at that because I know baking is a skill all it's own. Ronnie let Mike cut the cake and have the first piece then we were all served. Man, can my brother bake. This was a delicious cake and the frosting was a sweet chocolate, not a cream type but old fashioned chocolate frosting. I had three pieces before Ronnie ran me away from the table. We all finished lunch and got ready to go to the house but I couldn't drive the Hummer and ride my bike. I looked at Mike and asked, "Do you have a valid drivers license?"
Mike reached into his wallet and said, "Sure Marco, here it is."
That was good enough for me and I tossed him the keys. You should have seen his eyes when he knew he was driving that vehicle. He got all the kids inside and Tito showed him where the house was and I followed on my bike.
Mike was impressed with the outside of the house. He looked at me and said, "Did you get this one because you're family and staff?"
It was an honest question and I wasn't offended at all and I answered him saying, "No Mike. Every house here is the same. They have three bedrooms for the house parents and their family. On the second floor are five bedrooms, closets for linens and sheets and other things plus a large gang style shower. Come on in and once we get your things into your room I'll give you a tour."
We went inside and got his things up to his room. He said he was bringing a small stereo so he could have his music and since he is staff he's allowed a few things the kids can't have. Since we were on the second floor I showed him this area first. All the rooms were quite large with two single beds, dressers, desks, bookcases and a few other things and there is an ample space for their clothes. Mike was very impressed. We went downstairs to the main house and I showed him my room first. He looked at me and said, "Marco, if I was older what would you think of a single gay house parent?"
I thought about that and it was a valid question. "I hadn't thought about that Mike. I will talk to Pop about it and see what he thinks. In your case it wouldn't be until after you had your degree. We want you to do well in college first and foremost."
I showed him the rest of the house and all the amenities that went with it and he knew everything had been thought out and laid out very well. I told him about the indoor swimming pool that is going to be installed and a few other plans we have. I looked at my watch and I knew I was going to be putting in a very full day and said, "Mike I have to get back to work. I might not be back until around five but here is my cell phone number and remind me and we will get you yours tonight. Call me if you have any sort of problem here."
I went out and got my bike stared and Mike was the first one out the door to see it. That's because the others already seen it. We talked away from the others for a few minutes then I took off for my afternoon round of inspections.
I walked out of the last house at 5:15 and my cell phone didn't ring once. I was wondering if I didn't overwhelm him. I started up my bike and headed straight to the house instead of giving Pop my reports. I can bring those with me tonight when we go over for dinner but I needed to get back to the house. I parked the bike under the carport and walked to the front door. There was a note taped on the door and the Hummer was gone. I suddenly got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I took the note down and opened it up to read it. It was from Mike and it read.
We got the house clean and all the beds changed. We will do the laundry after dinner. We got the floors vacuumed and the older teens cleaned their shower. We got everything done at two-thirty so we're at Jay's swimming. Ronnie said dinner would be at six-thirty so you can get a shower. The boys have their swimwear so they can change back into their clothes. I got all my things put away so I am ready to go. We will see you when you get here.
I was impressed. I just knew the kids would want to play around and not get anything done. I don't know how he did it but he did and that's what counts. I went in and set out some clean jeans and shirt. It's got to be 90 today and those houses were hot without the air on. I'm sweaty and I know I stink. I'm glad I have the time for this. I quickly stripped and turned on the water so I could feel better. I stepped in and lowered the temperature right away. I stood there for a few minutes then quickly washed up and toweled myself dry. I was just about to step into my boxers when I heard my cell phone ring. I walked over to the nightstand and answered it. It was Mike and he said, "Hi Marco, I see your home now. How did your day go?"
I put my drawers on then I talked with him. I sat down on the bed and said, "Great Mike. Everything is done. You guys did a great job in a short time. I'm proud of every one of you. Were they any problem?"
I was waiting for a hesitation out of him but there wasn't. He just said, "Nope none. The only thing I helped them with was stripping and remaking the beds."
I wanted to see my crew and tell them how proud I was for the good job they did and being good for Mike so I said, "That's fine Mike. They may not have known how to do that so they all learned something also. I was just getting dressed so I could come over and do a little paper work and relax with you guys. I'll see you in about ten minutes alright?"
I could tell Mike felt a little bad now but just said, "Oh alright Marco. I'll see you when you get over here. Bye."
It was five thirty-five and I knew I'd get a little relaxing in before dinner so I hopped on my bike and flew over to see my gang. I parked my bike and walked in and said hi to everyone sitting there. I set my papers on the table and got a cold drink from the fridge. I took a couple on long pulls out of the can to try to quench my thirst. After quickly killing that can, I got another then sat and finished my paperwork for Pop. All in all the houses weren't in that bad of shape and maybe Pop was right on the amount of money it's going to take to bring them up to what he wants them to be. I heard Angel got this place at a real good price and Pop is seeing this as a long-term investment not only for The Foundation but also for all the kids that can be helped here.
I was just about to go and sit down outside when I heard the phone ring in Pop's office. I didn't see him out here so I went inside and I was going to answer it on the next ring. I then realized it was the fax machine. After a minute or two, papers started summing out and I started looking at them. This was some information on a Kevin Jones. His parents got divorced when the father learned he was gay and has been living in several different places. There were questions raised about the fitness of the guardian currently caring for the boy so it was determined he be removed for his own good. It also seems Kevin is very open about his sexuality and will act out with almost anyone. There isn't a foster or group home willing to take Kevin because of this. This seems to be his last hope otherwise he is being considered for placement under the supervision of the State Department of Mental Hygiene.
There was a photograph of this child enclosed along with a few other sheets. As I read more, tears began to fall and I heard Pop say as he wrapped his arm around me, "Is that on Kevin, son? I know all about it and it's sad. We're his only chance and I want to give it to him. A 13-year-old kid has no business in a mental hospital for something like this and besides, he wouldn't get any help. As soon as others found out he was gay he'd be abused more and maybe worse. I'm not letting that happen son. I've already approved his placement here. I hope you're not to upset with me."
I wiped my face and looked over at him and said, "No Pop I'm not really upset. Maybe you could get a little background on the prospective kids faxed here so I can see this also. I am the Director of Child Services here so I should be in on the process from start to finish."
Pop looked at me and said, "I guess you're right there son. I could have had some of this faxed here. I was only waiting on those last two forms and those could have come by themselves. Next time I will. That reminds me, I am expecting another fax on a child with an interesting situation. He's eighteen and in his last year of school. His parent have found out he's gay and want him out of their house and under Australian law they are within their rights to do it. If that were to happen he'd be on the street without a place to live and thus would be forced to leave school and loose out on his education. I've check with everyone and we can have our status changed so we can have 18 year old residents but I really didn't want them over 17."
I looked at Pop and said, "Before we go to far here I think Mike should come in here. He could end up with two more kids instead of one."
Pop nodded his head and went to get him. Well, so much for my rest before dinner but this is the kind of work that I've been waiting for. Mike came in and I handed him the file on Kevin and he sat down to read. I noticed tears falling from his eye too as he read all about this kid. He didn't finish reading the file and said, "I think he could be given every chance here. If we had more kids we could keep sexually aggressive boys away from the others until they begin treatment and can then be reintegrated back with the others. This is just the type of case I want to work with when I get my degree."
I looked at him and said, "It looks like you'll be getting some on the job training here with him. Also, we've been asked to take an 18-year-old boy from Australia. He's in his last year of school and his parents found out he's gay."
I reached for my drink and Mike said, "Say no more Marco, again I say he also should be given the opportunity to succeed here. We could find out how many credits he's short and maybe he could work here to help out and then if he wished to go to college the rest of the agreement would go into effect. But as far as I'm concerned both boys should get a chance."
Just then the fax line rang again and this time it was information on the other young man. I looked at the out going information on the top of the page and I noticed the time read 8:05 AM. I handed the paper to Pop and showed him the time. He looked at it and said, "Looks like we're going to be working late tonight guys."
Ronnie came and knocked on the door and said, "Hey guys, dinner is on the table. Come and eat while it's hot or do you want to eat in here?"
Pop set the papers down and said, "We'll be right out." He then looked at me and said, "We'll get student papers filled out on him and filed. I want him on a flight to New York today. One of us will meet him then bring him here on our plane. Now lets eat guys, I'm hungry."
To be continued