Play Maker
The Queen of Gay Romance”


This is my disclaimer for 2009 folks! As you know, I change them, so please read and smile!

This is a fictional character. I'll say that until I'm blue in the face and yet, someone will write to me and tell me I've got something wrong, or he/she is that character, or they're going to sue me because their client has a family member with that name.

I can put disclaimers on a story all day long and still, I get someone who is just about nuts who will do the above paragraph. It makes no sense to me, but apparently, there are people who take themselves so seriously they want to be a fictional character. Well to those of you who choose to be that way, go read someone else's story and be a fuck-tional character.

By the way, if you're reading this to jack off. I'll smile and you hold it in your hand and read until the end. If you've spilled a load, I bet it wasn't reading a scene here! Everyone else who knows my writing is probably laughing their asses off right about now...I know I'm chuckling!

If you can hold it in your hand and type, then please BY ALL MEANS write me an email and send a photo of it. I want to see the man's appendage which can write, type, and just plain want to know it better!

If your appendage says it's straight, get a clue and get to a different site. If you're that confused, go to your search engine and type in Mental Health Help and seek the one in your area. Your appendage has my permission to cut and paste.

Just to make it an official disclaimer, if you're above the age of 18...great. If you're 118, super great...put a napkin over the keyboard and you won't get any drool on it. If you're under the age of 18, please find the off switch on your computer and press it. It'll make your day and mine a lot brighter. If you come back to this site when it reboots, please repeat until you lose interest. If it takes more than once, get a clue you dumb fuck!

Notes From Retta:

This story is written mostly as a retro piece. I intentionally made sure some prices were lower and I made sure the older stars were used in the piece. You need to realize this was written in the era of Bush I (around 1991). I did it from memory, so sue me if it's not completely accurate.

Chapter Eleven:

When I got there, Chris was dressed in a lot of nice clothes. “Man! You sure got dressed up!”

Yeah” he said sort of blushing.

Well introduce me and let's get a move on. Where do you want to eat?”

Someplace nice.”

Any ideas?”

How about the Pepper Tree?”

Ok, that's going to buzz a bunch of time.”

It's right down the street from the movie theater, so we can walk. It shouldn't be busy tonight.”

It's Thursday. Everyone gets their paychecks today. I bet it's busy.”

Let me call them. IF they need a reservation, we'll have a table waiting.”

Am I riding with you?”

Yeah, if you wanna.”

Ok, I just wanted to know.”

He called and they reserved us a table. He introduced me to Penny and I liked her immediately.

On the drive over to the Pepper Tree, we talked about a lot of things. I told Chris about the possibility of getting the whole continent of Australia for cell phones and he asked me to see if he could have a smaller country and asked me if I'd invest in it for him. I told him I would and he smiled, “Man, you're so cool to me.”

Dude, you're one of my best...well, my best friend.”

I better be! I've put up with you forever!”

Me! What about you!”

Penny laughed, “He's better about things now.”


Yeah, I told him the second I hear him talking bad, I'm going to walk away from him and not come back.”

Good, he needs someone to keep him in line.”

We ate and then, we went to see a movie. It had Steven Segal in it and a lot of people died. I think both Penny and I were on the same wavelength about it. We spent most of our time with our knees up with our hands covering our faces.

Afterwards, Chris said, “Guys, it wasn't that bad!”

One person lived. He killed everyone else and managed to not get a mass murderer charge. How realistic is that!”

Well, it could happen!”

Yeah, now how many of those times do you hear about those things happening?”

You don't. He's a top secret government agent.”

Yeah, like if that happened here, I'd be calling everyone I knew and telling them some crazed wacko guy is killing the whole town. He's killed police and he's killed everyone else and the only reason he didn't kill me was because I was at a movie theater watching some idiot kill a bunch of people.”

You don't think it was good?”

Yeah, my mind is a fruitful medley of all the ways to kill people now. I should qualify for that position he's got real well now.”

Penny laughed, “Me too! They should have a show with me on it. PMS woman, she's pissed off and she's not going to take it anymore!”

I laughed, “She kills with cleaning and cooking utensils. She'll kill you and wash the sheets afterward and have the place all tidy in a jiffy.”

Chris said, “Man, that's not right!”

Ok, so she's like Steven Segal and doesn't clean up her mess. Soon, the corpses are all rotting all over town and stinking the place up bad. No wonder the guy keeps moving to a different location all the time.”

Penny laughed, “Chris, he's sort of got a point. If you think about it, he leaves messes for everyone else. I bet his wife would clean up one final mess and she'd not have to worry about moving anymore and have a town where she could hold her head up high.”

I said, “What's with those guys anyways? It's like they have a wife and she always gets killed. Then, they've suddenly got a license to kill everyone. Look at me, I've got more reasons to kill people than anyone and did I go out and kill a thousand people? Nope.”

Chris looked at Penny and she said, “Well, do you think you'll win tomorrow?”

Yeah, it's us playing on the team. We'll win. Are you coming to the game?”

I'll be there. I'm a cheerleader.”

Oh, I didn't know that.”

Chris smiled, “That's how I met her.”

Well you never told me you went over and hooked up with a girl?”

He smiled, “I picked the prettiest one and then asked.”

More like you went over and the ones who didn't slap you around, you decided were susceptible to your charms.”

Panny laughed, “Well, he does have a reputation!”

Yeah, but let me tell you something. He's a nice guy. He's got a romantic streak and an active imagination.”

She smiled, “He does that. Did you know he made me a dozen paper roses?”

No! Now I know why he spent so long in the bathroom.”

She and I laughed and Chris said, “That's terrible! I can't say that's not what I was doing in there because you'll laugh harder!”

We laughed and I said, “Well, that's sweet.”

We pulled up in front of a house and Chris got out and went around to Penny's door. She got out and I started to get out to get up front. He shut the door and it banged my head. “Dude, we want privacy.”

You'd get it. I could've been unconscious! I'm just getting up front.”

I got up front and turned the key to turn on the radio again. I looked down the street and realized I could see Jared's house from there. Alarm went through me because I saw an ambulance in that vicinity.

I called Grant, “Hello?”

See if you can call around and find out if Jared just got taken to the hospital.”


I don't know. Chris' date lives up the street and I just saw an ambulance there. It's still loading whomever, but when Chris gets back in the car, we'll drive down there.”

Let me call. It's probably not going to do much if he's not there yet.”

Ok, I'll check. I might not even be his house, but if it isn't, then it could be Jimmy Johnson's as he lives two houses down the street from him.”

Man, neither is looking good. Where are you at?”

Myra Street.”

Where's that?”

Over off Concannon towards the railroad tracks.”

In the Benjamin addition?”


It's called the Benjamin addition. It's like the Jewel box addition out here.”

Oh, well, I imagine it is. I've not been around to know all these things.”

I'm glad to see you got your phone back on. Did you get that video tape?”

Yeah, ten of them.”

Ok, I guess it's safer than sorry.”

Yeah, now remind me to tell you about the new things with the phone company investments.”

Ok, like what?”

Not now. You'll go insane when I tell you and want to invest every penny you've got.”



So tell me.”

Later. I promise.”

Meet me out at the gym. I'm about to head there.”

I'm in Chris' car. He's sucking face right now.”

She nice?”

Yeah, but she won't marry him.”

Why not?”

Her name is Penny. His last name is Powers. That makes her initials P.P.”

He chuckled, “If she loves him, it won't matter.”

He oughta. She's probably the nicest he'll ever get.”

That's pretty negative.”

No, that's pretty positive. She's a cheerleader, so I'm glad I found out she had brains before I started making jokes about them.”

He laughed, “I'm glad too. That would've been rather upsetting to build a friendship from a mess up like that.”

She's nice. I like her. Chris acts like he should around her which is just amazing. He even dressed up and insisted we go to the Pepper Tree to eat.”


Yeah, then we went to the movie and watched Steven Segal kill a bunch of people.”

Tell me he picked the movie.”


What was he thinking?”

I don't know but she and I really didn't care for it.”

She still seems like she wants to date him after that?”


He better hang onto her then.”

I think it too. Well, the ambulance people are carting out someone one the stretcher.”

I'll call someone I know. Realize they might not tell me.”

Tell them you're his coach and you need to know if you've got to play someone else.”

That'd be insensitive.”

Well, it's the best excuse I can think of except for telling them you think his dad might've struck again and has another body to add to the list.”


Well, I picked the best of the two options I had.”

I know. Let me call and I'll see what's going on.”

I hung up and saw the ambulance take off with siren's blaring. It went out towards Concannon and went towards the highway.

About five minutes later, I looked over and saw Chris still grinding lips. I reached over and tooted the horn. He jumped and I saw him give me a glaring look.

I opened the door. “Dude, they just took someone to the hospital down by Jared's house.”


Well, if you don't want to be interrupted, I'll kindly drive your car to get mine and you can stay here.”

Would you wait?!”


My cell phone rang, “Hello?”

It's bad.”

Who is it!”

I think it's him. It's a jevenile male. Is there any brothers living there?”

Is it his address?”

I was told the address and looked in the phone book. It's his address.”

He doesn't have a brother. He's got a younger sister who's like seven, but no one else.”

Well, it doesn't look so good.”

Ok, let me off here.”

What are you doing?”

I'm calling John. If it's suspicious, he should have already been there. They could be getting rid of evidence.”

Ok, call him, but stay away from there.”

Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. Chris and Penny have such a suction on each other's lips, their vacuum locked.”

He laughed.

It's pissing me off. I tooted the horn and told him it could be Jared and he went back to doing it telling me to wait. Now I'm going to get in the driver's seat and go to his house. I'll get my car.”

Keep him with you.”

Then they've got to get in the back seat. This car's about to move. Where do you want me to go?”

I'll go to the hospital. It's probably best if you don't go there.”

Ok, but get there and give me a call.”

Ok, I'm headed out the door.”

I hung up and opened the door. “Chris, get in the back seat with your date. This car's about to move and if you're not in it, you'll be off the team. Your teammate got beat within an inch of his life and is on the way to the hospital. Now, either you come up for air, or get in the car because this is the final notice.”

I'm coming.”

It's about time!”

I went around and dialed the phone, “Hello?”


Yeah Jake.”

Jared Riefsdel was hurt at his home. He spoke in front of others today about giving that statement and now he's on his way to the hospital. You probably ought to go to their house to see if they're getting rid of evidence.”

I never got a call.”

Does that mean you won't go?”

No, but I usually get calls.”

Never underestimate the power of that church. Your dispatcher might think her preacher might not kill anyone.”

I don't think she goes to that church.”

I'm right up the street. They took him in the ambulance and no one else has went anywhere.”

I'm going to my car now. Where are you at?”

Up the street on Myra watching the house.”

You safe?”


Ok, stay put. I'll give you a call real fast after I get there to see if you saw anything.”


I hung up and looked over towards Chris. He was back to sucking face. Since I told John I'd stay put, I was doing it, but I was plenty upset with Chris.

I stared down the street and finally, I saw the police cruiser pull up in front of the house. I saw John get out and then go up to the door. He went in and then, I got the call.

No one's left there.”

Ok, they're still here. There's a lot of blood on the floor. Whatever happened is no accident.”

You want me there to watch your back?”

I'll call for back up. I'm pretty certain I've got arrests.”

Ok, let me know something.”

He's alone at the hospital?”

Yeah, no one left there.”

His parents are here.”

Find out why they're not going to the hospital.”

I need to call for a crime scene investigation. I've got....I gotta hang up.”

You ok?”

It's bad.”

I hung up and blared the horn. I rolled down the window and said, “Chris, you're a pretty fucking pathetic version of a friend. This car is rolling.”

Hold your fucking horses.”

I started the car and drove off. I drove down the street and parked. John called me and said, “I see you out there. Don't come in. If he's not dead, he'll be dead. This is the worst thing I've ever seen.”

Ok, I'm staying here. I can see you and if those people make a move to do anything to you, I'm coming in to protect you.”

They're sitting there not saying anything. They won't answer questions and they're totally ignoring me.”

Ok, I'm watching.”

I heard a knock on the window. “Let me in.”

I punched the locks and he got in. “Don't ever take my car again.”

Fuck you dude. You SAY you're his friend and yet, his parents probably just killed him and you could give a shit less. You'd rather suck face.”

That's what I do on a date!”

I'm staring into that house. Shut the fuck up. If his parents move off that couch, I'm going in and yes, I will kill.”

What'd they do?”

John's in there and he says it's the worst crime scene he's ever seen. He's so grossed out he's gagging...but you're fine because you got suction on a pair of lips. I hope you don't think you can do that shit at his funeral.”

He's dead!”

They say it's bad. John's gagging. He says his parents are in a zone and not speaking to him or answering questions. They probably think they won't go to prison for it if they get a lawyer.”

My cell phone rung. I answered it. “Hello?”

He's gone.”

Ok, I'm across the street from his house. John's in there alone and his parents are sitting on the sofa. They're not moving and they're not answering questions. He's called for back up but no one's came. If they move, I'm going in.”

You stay put!”

I gotta go. I can't promise that. They've killed too many people.”


I hung up. “He's dead.”

Son of a bitch!”

Don't worry, you can go back up the street and get your lips sucked out like Mick Jagger.”

Would you shut up about that!”

No. It's totally pissing me off you were told and chose to ignore me. He's supposed to be your friend, but maybe that's what you do to friends.”

Jake, I didn't know! He's been beaten before lots of times. It's not like it's a new thing!”

And no one does anything until they die. Well, those people right there aren't getting it off again. IF they do, they die. I'll promise you that.”

My phone rang, “Hello?”

I was just told he died.”

I got the call already.”

I've got to put them in my patrol car. They're being arrested.”

Where's his sister?”



She's in a bedroom all hacked to hell.”

Who called 911?”

I think Jared did from the blood on the phone.”

Oh jeez.”

My back up is coming from his house. I've got to call in the chief and all I can for this, but I've got to get them cuffed and into my car.”

You need help?”

I've got one pair of cuffs.”

Cuff their ankles. They'll not run fast if you cuff those.”


He hung up and I said, “Jared's sister is dead in that house. She's all hacked to hell.”

Oh man.”

Chris, I'm going to tell you now it's going to take a long time to forget what I just dealt with up the street. I hope you have a good life, but I'm stepping back from being friends with you.”

Because I wanted to kiss!”

Because a friend didn't matter. Because you were told and still, he didn't matter. I appreciate you introducing her to me, but if you don't marry her, I never want to meet anyone else you date. If pussy fucks up your brain, I don't want to be around you.”

I pulled out my phone and dialed Chris' house.


Mr Powers?”


Would you please bring my car to me at Jared Riefsdel's house?”

What's going on?”

Jared and his sister have been killed. His parents did it. Chris and I are sitting here but I've just ended our friendship. I've got to watch their house and see they don't do anything to the lone cop in the house and I want Chris as far away from me as I can get him.”

What's going on?”

Let him tell you. If he lies, I'll find out and that's when I commence to beating your son's ass. Now, I'm getting off the phone, but my valet key is in the glove compartment. If you push the button on the trunk, you'll find it's open. You can climb through and the only thing which will happen is the video recorder will activate. That doesn't matter anymore.”

You're sounding strange.”

Someone I've known longer than Chris died tonight. He probably died because he was making a statement against his parents about my parents' death.

Chris at a time, when a friend should've mattered, chose to not come up from sucking face and be concerned. If he does that to Jared, I sure don't need a friend like him.”

I'll be right there.”

I hung up and said, “Chris, you've got your side of the story and I've got mine. I respect you, but don't ever try ordering me around or pissing me off on that team. If you do, I'll tell everyone what brand of friendship you offer and that's the day war will have begun. Now, leave and don't ever speak to me again.”

I'm sorry.”

Yup, pretty fucking sorry if you ask me. Apologies don't cut it when friends don't matter.”

He always got beat!”

And no one did anything. If I had known, you best know I would've spoken to my DFS lady. It's a shame no one bothered to give a fuck.”

I got out of the car and he sat there. I opened the door. “Please get in and get away from here.”

I've got to protect you from yourself right now. I know you're wanting me to leave so you can do something stupid.”

Maybe I will, or maybe I won't, but it won't be directed at you.”

You've got to let them have a trial.”

Did Jared get a trial? Did his sister?”

My phone rang, “Hello?”

Grant's voice said, “What are you doing out of the car?”

Waiting and watching and trying to get Chris away from me.”

I'm here, take my car and go.”

My car's on it's way.”

I'll drive it home. Take mine.”

I'm watching. Now either let me do it, or go with Chris.”

You're not acting right.”

Hey! Stand in line with that diagnosis. Those people killed my parents. They killed their son and their daughter and someone else. They're not going anywhere and I'm going to be sure they don't escape.”

Jake, I'm standing here with you.”

Ok, just see to it Chris is away from me.”

Chris said, “What gives you the right to judge me? Who died and made you God!”

Who died? My parents died. Another girl died. My grandma died. Jared and his sister died. You want to know who DIED?

While you were sucking face, your friend was down here fighting for his life and to get to a phone. While you were sucking face, he got hauled to the hospital. While you were sucking face, he was pronounced dead and you didn't give a fuck...oh, Jared just got beat again! It's like a fucking walk in the park with you! And you think because you live in a perfect world where you've got a mom and dad you get to ignore people's pain?! So, who's playing God there! It seems if anyone's ignoring pain, it's God.”

Chris looked at Grant, “He's acting weird.”

It's rational to him.”

Grant, if you think you're locking me away in a home now, you're the one who's crazy.”

I'm not, but you've got to speak to that woman.”

I might...or, I might not.”

That decision is already made. As your guardian, I'm telling you it's going to happen.”

I looked over and saw movement. I walked a little to the left. I saw more movement and started walking towards it. Just about the time I saw it again, it disappeared behind a tree towards the back of the house.

I walked and when I got there, I saw blood. Lots of blood. I looked over and saw a man laying up against the side of the garage. I pulled out my cell phone.


Call another ambulance, there's a guy laying back here in the back yard against the garage.”

I'll be right there.”

I hung up and went over, “Dude, lay on your right side.”


You're hurt bad. If you sit like that, your lungs will fill with blood and you'll die. If you lay on your right side, you'll be better.”

He sat there. “I need to speak.”

Don't talk right now.”

No, you're him.”


You look like Jeff.”

I'm his son.”

I'm sorry about your parents.”

Who are you?”

Tom Colburn.”

You were involved?”

Yeah, Ronnie Brown did most of it.”

I felt a hand on my shoulder. John said, “Oh man!”

Shut up and listen!”

The guy coughed.

I asked, “What did you do and what did Ronnie Brown do?”

I broke into your house and put antifreeze into your milk and food. Ronnie is the one who cut their brake lines and...”

He started coughing again.

I said, “I know what he did. Tell me what the reverend did and how he was involved.”

He....he...didn't like your dad. He wanted you and them dead. He said...”

He coughed and I dialed the Superintendent's office phone number. I heard it go to message machine and then beep. I held my cell phone out.

Confess. Tell us what the preacher did.”

He said we were fighting a holy war. He said....(coughs)....he said....we'd find paradise if we killed all of you. I tried to kill you all from the tampering with your parents' car by getting it to catch fire. That was their Cutlass.

When.....(coughing) didn't work, the pastor said he'd get me help because I didn't know what I was doing.

He started coughing a lot more. “He said, Ronnie would know what to do with their car but to kill you in the house. We took a ball of snow and tried clogging the vent pipe in the furnace. It melted.”

He sort of exhaled and did a faint coughing, “He said to kill them at all costs. Ronnie did it...but he didn't get you.”

He died. I turned to John and said, “I called the Superintendant's message machine. It recorded it. We've got that conspiracy charge now.”

He took the phone from me and asked, “Is it still going?”

I hope”

This is Officer John Carlstead and that was the dying confession of Tom Colburn recorded on Jake Martin's cell phone to Superintendent Wilson's message machine this Fourteenth day of October, 1991.”

He hung up and said, “Good thinking. Call Mike Musselman and tell him I witnessed the confession but it's on tape at her office. Tell him we need it and we've got them now.”

I nodded.

He hugged me and said, “I'm sorry son, but in the waste basket in there is a partial written statement I think he was writing when he was attacked.”

Oh man!”

It's evidence. It'll tie them into the murders too.”

He let me go and said, “Go up front.”

“They're wanting to put me away. They say I'm not acting right.”

It's not happening. Call your attorney. Get him here.”


I walked up towards the front just as the ambulance came screeching to a stop in front of the house. The driver got out and I said, “He's dead in the back yard.”

They ran towards the back and I walked towards Grant.

Where'd you go?”

Tom Colburn just died in the back yard. I got a statement from him before he died. We need Mr Musselman here.”

Grant sort of stared at me for a second and then rather jerkily pulled his phone and dialed. “Hello. Mike? Yeah, Grant here. We need you bad over at the Riefsdel's house on Myra Street.”

He hung up and said, “He's on his way already. What did you do?”

Nothing. I saw movement and then followed it. Tom Colburn drug himself to the back and lay up against the garage. He recognized me and said I looked like my dad. He started confessing and that's when I thought of Superintendent Wilson's message machine. I called John and I called it and got the confession on that machine. John made it official as being his death confession and I found out what happened and why.”

Oh Jake. Are you ok?”

I need to sit down. It's all going into a fog.”

He hugged me to him and said, “I thought you'd done something to him. I'm sorry.”

Don't be. I know I wasn't making much sense.”

A patrol car pulled up and I saw another car pull up behind it. Grant said, “Mike, over here.”

Not now Grant.”

Mike, it's important.”

We've got a crime scene here.”

This is about a confession.”

Mr Musselman stopped and then slowly turned towards us. “I can't take your confessions.”

No, it's Tom Colburn's confession. Jake found him in the back yard and called John. Jake called the Superintendent's message machine and got the confession on it. John heard it too and made it offical....whatever that means.”

Mr Musselman ran over to Grant and hugged him. “Great!”

He looked at me and asked, “What'd he say?”

He said the Reverend said they were fighting a Holy war and for them to kill my parents and me. Tom said he did a lot of things but kept messing it up. He said he messed up their Cutlass trying to get it to catch on fire with us in it and it didn't work. That's when the reverend called in Ronnie Brown and together they did a lot of things. He said Ronnie succeeded and killed them, but didn't get me.”

He implicated the reverend in it and said it was ordered by him?”


Excellent! I'm sorry Jake, but I'm sorry for being excited.”

John said Jared was writing his statement out when he was attacked in the house. He said it was in a waste basket.”

Ok, that'll tie them to that too.”

Jared died trying to keep his word to me.”

I started crying and Grant immediately crouched down and hugged me.

Mr Musselman said, “Grant, get him home. I'll be there later. He's in shock.”

Grant pulled away from me and I could see the tears in his eyes. “Someone kept their word to you.”

Yeah. It hurts worse.”

I know babe. I know. Let's get you home.”

I've got to see Chris.”

He went home.”

No, I've got to see him. I was terrible to him.”

I'll call.”

No! Grant, I've got to go there!”


Grant, please. I can't lose him.”

I'll take you over there.”


He let go of me and put my legs into the truck. He fastened my seat belt for me and shut the door.

For me, the world went into a dull gray fog. I don't know what happened, but the next thing I knew, Chris was at my side and undoing my seat belt.

Chris, I'm sorry.”

I'm sorry too.”

He hugged me and said, “I know I'm a lousy friend.”

You're the best friend I've got.”

Do you forgive me?”

Yeah, we got a confession about my parent's murder. Tom Colburn was involved. Jared's parents killed him too. He confessed before he died.”

I'm happy for you.”

It's over Chris.”

I was worried about you.”

I know I was acting strange. I'm sorry.”

I know you and he were close.”

He died trying to keep his word to me. That's why they killed him.”


He was writing out that statement and got caught. It was in the waste basket and he was attacked.”

He was attacked first?”

I guess.”

How come his sister died first?”

I don't know. I don't know so much.”

Come inside.”

No, we've got to go home, but I had to come see you and make it right.”

Grant said, “Chris, see if you can come over. He needs you.”

I'll tell my parents.”

Tell your parents to come too. We need to tell all the players.”

Chris said, “I'll get my player phone book. It's got all their phone numbers in it.”

I held out my cell phone. “Here”

No, wait. I'll get some guys over to your house.”

I sort of went into another fog. The next thing I knew, Grant had me laying in bed.

Grant, how long have I been asleep?”

You're not asleep.”

The last thing I remember was being at Chris' house.”

You're in shock hon. We've been home for almost an hour.”

Did Mr Musselman call?”

Not yet.”

Who all is here?”

A lot of people. Sherry is here and would like to speak with you.”

Don't make me go away.”

I'm not hon.”

I'll speak with her.”

I sat there and Sherry came back.



Tough night, huh babe?”


How are you doing?”

I thought I was asleep and Grant said I wasn't and that I was in shock.”

You've had a lot of trauma.”

Sherry, I loved him.”

I know dear.”

I couldn't be with him. He died keeping his word to me. No one's done that before. They always did it before they could keep their word.”

Her hand rested upon my arm. “You've got a lot of people worried about you Jake.”

I'm worried about me now. I thought I was asleep.”

Can I get Kenna over here?”

Who's that?”

The girl I wanted you to speak with.”

Sherry, I'm scared.”

I'll be here. Grant and anyone else you want can be here too.”

There's no time. My schedule is full.”

We'll make time.”

You don't understand, there's just no time. I've thought about it and the only time I've got open is when we're working out. If I'm not there working out with Grant, we don't have alone time.”

What if we take an hour during your school schedule and get you to speak with her once a week then?”

Would they do that?”

Yes, they've done it for a lot of people.”

Ok, then I've got time.”

Let me get her here.”

Can I go out there?”

Let's stay in here. It's rather busy in there with everyone calling everyone else and trying to decide if they've got to cancel a football game tomorrow.”

No! Tell them we'll do it in honor of Jake. We can have a memorial service to him...well, to his sister too at the game. He'd like that.”

Ok dear, I'll tell them but I don't know if they'd decide that.”

Tell them I'll be fine tomorrow.”

I think you need to stay home from school tomorrow.”

No! He'd not want that. He'd want us to be there so we could all share with everyone else what a real hero he was.”

Tears clouded my eyes.

I'll go call Kenna.”


I felt someone on the bed and realized I had probably checked out again. I looked over and saw a woman sitting there.

How long have you been here?”

I just got here.”

I'm not nuts.”

I know. Do you want to tell me what your feeling?”

I don't know where to begin.”

Start at the beginning.”

I don't even remember when it began.”

I started talking and I don't know how long it took but I told her everything and all I felt. When I was done, I felt like I'd dumped out my soul to her.



You need to get some rest.”

What'd they decide about the game?”

I don't know.”

I need to know.”

I'll get Grant in here.”

Don't lock me away from him.”

We're not.”


Sherry and I. She's my best friend.”

Chris is mine.”

I met him. He's really worried about you.”

I need to see him.”

I'll get him back here. I'll have Grant come back too.”


She left and soon, Chris came back.

What'd they decide about the game?”

He looked away. “They've not decided yet.”

What's the hold up?”

They're trying to decide if you're up to it.”

Hey, I'm still here. I say we play.”

Jake, they're afraid you could check out on them out on the field.”


You've been going in and out of it. They said the stress of it could make you worse.”

Tell them I need to do it. If this is about me, tell them I'm a member of a team who needs to honor Jared. We need to find black t-shirts to wear under our jerseys.”

He leaned into me and started crying. “I'm going to miss him.”

I know buddy.”

I held him and he cried and cried.

Grant came back and I looked at him, “Tell the players black t-shirts under their jerseys tomorrow.”

He nodded and got up and left.

Chris said, “Jake?”


Can I tell you something?”


There's a reason I didn't want to go down there.”


I was there once when Jared's dad went into a rage. We were around seven years old and the man went totally nuts. He picked up Jared and threw him across the room and was yelling all sorts of things. He tried to get at me and I ran to the bathroom and locked the door. It scared me.”

How'd you get out?”

Jared came and got me. He said his dad had left and it was safe to come out.”

Oh man.”

From that day on, I never went there. I know what the man was like. He scared me.”

Chris. If they have a trial, would you testify about that? It'd give them some idea of how the man could be.”

He called Jared all sorts of names like fag, pussy, queer, and what Jared told me really made me think the man was nuts.”

What was that?”

He said his dad did that because we were playing Hot Wheels on the bed and his dad said the bed was the devil's playground.”


Yeah, two kids playing on the bed were sinning or something. How stupid is that?”

You need to testify about that. The man is going to be up on murder charges and is going to try having his lawyers get him out of it. They need to know he used religion as a weapon.”


He leaned back and asked, “Do you really like Penny?”

She's nice. I like her a lot, but can I say something?”

What's that?”

From now on, let her pick the movie. That one sucked.”

She told me to pick the one I wanted since it was your and my night.”

Can I give you a pointer?”

What's that?”

When a girl says that, she really wants you to ask her what she would like to see as she wants you to consider her opinion in the decision.”


Chris, think of a relationship as sharing everything. I mean you get her opinion on everything and you always try doing more for her than you'd do for yourself.”


Dumb ass! It works out you get more from them! I mean, you open the car door, but don't just shut it, you buckle them in. You shut that door for them and then, you open it and let them out. Open all doors and when you sit at a restaurant, you let her choose her seat. Then, you pull it out for her and you help slide it in if it's a chair at a table. You completely defer to her in everything and you order for her.”

That's the way it is?”

It's called romance. Grant's not the best in the world at it either, but I've got a hint for you, I'm about to start doing it for him whether he likes it, or not. If he says he doesn't want that, then I've got news for you. I'll probably leave him there. Life's too short not to act like that other person doesn't matter and if he doesn't want to matter to me, then that's being disrespectful to me.”

What if she doesn't want me to do that?”

You tell her your goal is to be completely romantic and she needs to get used to it.”

So I do that all the time?”

Yeah, even when you get married. I mean, a lot of guys stop doing that once they've got a ring on their finger and that's dumb. It's like the other person suddenly stopped mattering to them.”

Ok, that's cool.”


Yeah bud.”

I think all the dying and killing is over. They've been caught and there's no way out of it now.”

I heard that.”

What'd you hear?”

Grant was talking on the phone and whoever he was talking with was asking if he thought you needed protection. He said he thought everyone was caught.”

Have they arrested Ronnie Brown?”

I don't know.”

Until he's caught, there's still a bit of danger. Would you get me my phone?”


He got up and soon he was back with it.

Stay here, I need to make a call.”


I dialed Mr Carter's phone number.


Hi, this is Jake Martin.”

Hi Jake, I'm in your front room.”

Come on back. I need to ask you a favor.”

You sure?”

“Chris is back here. It's ok.”

I'll be there.”

I hung up and Chris asked, “Who was that?”

Mr Carter.”

What'd you call him for?”

I didn't know he was in the living room.”


Mr Carter came in and I said, “Go ahead and sit on the bed.”

He sat and said, “What do you need bud?”

This is a touchy subject, but I want to ask a favor.”

Ok, if I can.”

Ronnie Brown lives up at Jacksonville. He's a part of the conspiracy to kill my parents. I don't know if they've arrested him, or not, but they need to. If they don't get it done, I need to have someone watching him to be sure he doesn't jeopardize anyone again.”

I'm not following.”

Have you heard the phrase loose cannons?”


If Tom Colburn is dead and the reverend is locked up, Ronnie Brown is the loose cannon. Until he's caught, he's going to be trying to do the reverend's bidding and cleaning up loose ends. That puts me in jeopardy, but it also puts others in jeopardy possibly too.”

How's that?”

Ride with me on some hunches. Ok?”


The other night, you heard a lot of what evidence we've got. Right?”


And you know Ben Prather is one of those who gave up evidence. If Ronnie Brown figures out the evidence Ben gave them is a threat to him, he could want to do away with Ben so Ben's testimony isn't damaging to him and the reverend.”

Oh man. I'm getting it now!”

Now, there's probably others out there who could serve up damaging testimony and as the loose cannon, he'd be out trying to silence them. Rather than protecting everyone, I think it's probably safer to watch him instead of spreading out manpower and wasting it. The assistant prosecuting attorney here is over the case, but I'll tell you he's sure not focusing on protecting his witnesses...if he's allowing them to be killed off.”

Let me make some calls.”

I appreciate it.”

If he's not apprehended, I bet you he will be real shortly.”

I need to know another favor possibly.”


This is personal and not so personal, but I need to know the assets of that church and I need to have those assets watched. They're going to possibly have heard we're going at them in a civil suit and will try ditching them. OR, they're going to use them as collateral on a loan to defend the reverend. We need those assets to have liens placed on them so those loans aren't gotten.”

He smiled, “I'll get my corporate attorneys on that first thing in the morning. That's shrewd. It freezes up their assets and makes it impossible to get a good defense bought.”

He might have lawyers, but I bet he doesn't have criminal defense attorneys. Those would have to be paid for in some way. You might slap liens on the Riefsdel's house and vehicles too if they're owned outright.”

I'll start working on that.”

I want the man to feel what it's like to have legal leg cuffs on him to the point he can't even begin to make his way to a door to escape. I want him to know his only alternative out of this mess is to hang himself in his cell.”

Ooh, I need to make some calls. If he's on suicide watch out there, not even that could happen.”


He smiled, “I'm understanding your tactics. You look for all the outs an opponent has and you make those so they're taken away before you get into your theater of war.”

It works on a tennis court and it works about everywhere else.”

Anything else before I start making those phone calls?”

Yeah, is DJ in there?”


Ok, before you go out there again, I need to mention this so you and I can be on the same page as this.”


I think I might know who Aaron was going to be getting with in ending things with DJ. If my hunch is correct, it was Jared. I think Aaron is sort of stuck right now and sort of needs a great friend over there. You might give DJ the nudge to be there for him. It'd build up trust between them again and might serve as a balm to heal what was between them.”

What went on there?”

DJ really used Aaron sexually. There's no way nice to put it. Things were on DJ's terms and DJ called the shots. Aaron was bound in that bondage and when he had a chance to have the out, he took it.”

Then I don't want DJ with him.”

No, you'd not make DJ better and it'd not heal Aaron. What I'm saying is they had an abusive relationship where the lid was blown off it. Now, they have a chance of not having those secrets happening and a healthy relationship could happen instead. It'd heal them both and it'd make things better by them realizing there were feelings there and those feelings are the bedrock which they should've built upon.”

I'm understanding, but it's risky.”

Yeah, because it could be such a thing that Aaron wanted someone to treat him in that abusive manner. Or, it could be DJ used that to abuse.”

DJ doesn't come across as that way to me.”

Did he admit to you he kept Aaron in the truck and wouldn't let anyone speak to him?”

No, he said Aaron was free to get out at anytime he wanted.”

Well, I'll tell you I went to that truck and got told by DJ to get away from the truck. You saw it on the video tape and if DJ wants to lie about it, I'll break his jaw. I think he's trying to play you on that and I'm not letting it slide.”

Let me get DJ back here. I don't want this issue to grow any worse than it is.”


He left and Chris said, “Dude, you don't tell someone in the mafia you're going to break his kid's jaw.”

No, you stand firm on bullshit and you don't show weakness. He knows if he sees it with me, he's got leverage. I'll expose that lie before I let it play me.”

Ok, but be careful.”

Dan and DJ came back. “DJ, your dad and I were talking back here. He told me you told him Aaron could get out of that truck anytime he wanted. Is that correct?”


Ok, then when I went up to the truck what was I told?”

I told you to get away from it.”

And you don't see that as trying to alienate Aaron from a friend and be a powerplay for him being made to stay in the truck?”


Ok, here's what I see DJ and I'm going to tell you to your face you're full of shit. You told me I wasn't running anything on the field and I wasn't running anything with you. I imagine you pulled that crap with Aaron and I imagine you told him if he got out of that truck, you' were going to beat his ass.”

No, he could get out anytime he wanted.”

Well, Aaron's statement he made to the police stated otherwise.”

Dan said, “He made a statement to the police!”

Yeah, John took it and had those charges of felonious restraint upon DJ. If there wasn't grounds in Aaron's statement, the charge wouldn't have been there. Now, was it coercion? Or was it threats of physical harm? I know he sure got physical with me real fast when he thought I wouldn't find an equalizer and take him down.”

DJ looked down and I said, “Deej, I'm not here to bust your ass. Actually, this conversation is to try to get you back with Aaron.”


In order for it to work, all that bullshit's got to be exposed and those secrets have to be shown. The second you think you've got one ounce of hold on him still, you use it and start that same old fucked up relationship again.

Now, what we want for you is a relationship where you are allowed to build up a loving commitment instead of all that other trash. When love is the bond which holds it together, it stays together, but it takes mutual respect for it to happen. If you don't, that respect is one sided and one is going to start weighing options and get out.”

Is that why he dumped me?”

He's probably feeling hurt. He's probably thinking some of it was one sided and his needs weren't met. Were they?”

Not exactly.”

Well, what I suggest is you to go over there and lay out your cards. You tell him what he really means to you and you build upon that.”

He looked up, “Man, I've gotta go!”

He got up and said, “Thanks guys.”

He took out of the room and Dan said, “I'm really respecting you a lot more. You knew you had him down in that submission hold and all of us knew it. Rather than throwing the death blow, you gave him hope and told him what he needed to do in order to rebuild it.”

I looked up at Dan and said, “Dan, you know what I said is all too true. Don't you?”

Yeah, that's why I am so cautious with Brenda. My last two marriages were mistakes because I wasn't so kind.”

What changed in things?”

I had to ask myself if what I was doing was sabotaging my relationships. What I found was rather than going out and finding the same old thing which would cause another bad relationship, I went to the library and got a lot of books on how to build a healthy relationship.”

Any relationship is held together with an epoxy like bond. It's two parts and if they're not joined together equally, it's a fragile thing. If it's held together with equal parts on both sides, that bond is more like a weld where that bond is actually stronger than the two separate pieces. It's what makes both stronger.”

Man! I like that.”

It's guy talk for a lot of what those books tell you. Basicly put in laymen's terms, if you put your partner's needs in front of yours, your partner will do likewise and your needs get met through that transferral of giving.”

Chris smiled real big, “So that's why you were telling me not to stop the romantic things even after marriage!”

Yeah, it's like you have them thinking one thing and suddenly when you got the ring on their finger, you do a switch up. They're over there wondering what the hell happened, and that confusion allows negative things to enter. If you keep that respect, the positive energy is there and it's what can be used when things happen in smaller ways. Think of romance as a can of fix of flat in a relationship. When a little hole happens, it gets in there and seals it up.”

Oh man!” Dan said smiling and sitting on the end of the bed. “I can see that and I'm realizing I've done that stuff too.”

I said, “Guys, I need to do a switch up here. Chris, would you go to the basement and count those computers?”


Earlier tonight, I got Raleigh to get all the football players free cell phones and service for a year. He's going to have those phones there tomorrow.

Now, while he was here, I gave him one of those computers. While doing so, it came to my mind some of the guys probably don't have computers either, so I can give them to them.”

Ok, I'll go count them.”

Remember to count those in the office in there. I think there's seven there.”

Chris left the room and Dan said, “Jake, I really like you. You impress me more and more. It's like you've got yourself together pretty good.”

Not really. I try to help when I can, but I sure reach out for help when I need it.”

Feel free to call on me when you need a helping hand.”

I have and that's why I asked for the help tonight.”

You realize some of the guys out there are really thinking you're a real leader.”


I don't know how to say it except what I see and they've heard so far.”


When your grandma died, you were called a hero. That had them looking up to you. They felt the hole in their team and you were there to show strength and be that fix a flat again.”

How's that?”

Well, I'll tell you Grant out there is one of your biggest advocates.”

What's that mean?”

He boosts you when he's away from you.”

Ok, what's he saying?”

He said you got that confession from Tom Colburn tonight and stood there to help the police officer.”

Not really. I just didn't see anyone else there to back him up. I knew he could be in danger and I wasn't going to let them get away with anything else.”

And that's an act of bravery and heroism.”

How's that?”

Other people don't like to get involved in any way shape or form. You didn't even think about shirking that responsibility, you stepped in because you cared.”

Well, I like John. He's a nice guy.”

Right, but I'm going to ask you something and you'll see what I'm saying a little more clearly.”


Do you live in that neighborhood?”


And all those houses around there, how many people came outside to do what you did?”

No one.”

But you were clear down the street and you instantly stepped in. That is someone who is brave. All the rest were cowards.”

I don't think I'm real brave.”

Someone once said the difference between a hero and a coward is action. You acted.”

Well, I was driven by knowing justice wasn't going to be robbed again this time.”

What's neat is you got that confession and the might have been a fluke, or it might've been divine intervention. I'll tell you now, you've got someone on your side who's already putting you up for a very prestigious award.”


He smiled, “Superintendant Wilson. When she heard what you did, she was just as blown away as everyone else. At first, she was wondering how you knew she had that message machine and then when Grant reminded her, she was impressed all the more you thought to use it.”

It just came to me. I knew I had to get it on tape and I only had my phone with me. I sure didn't want to call someone and have them witness it because that statement from them would've been hearsay and inadmissible in court. The tape could be used.”

He smiled, “See, you use things normal people just don't think about.”

Well, I don't like people thinking I'm some sort of hero when I'm not. It seems I tend to lose people I care about when I'm doing things they say is brave or whatever.”

I know.”

He put his hand out onto my knee and said, “I'm glad you're DJ's friend. In a huge way, I'm proud you don't view there being a line of separation between DJ and me and stopping at your interactions with DJ.”

I don't do that. Chris' dad is like a dad to me too. When I'm friends with someone, I've found their dad and I are close as well. From what I've heard, my dad was that way also. He was friends with Grant and Grant's dad was like a dad to him also.”

Do you think that's because you didn't have that bond?”

I don't know. All I know is I was close enough to Chris, his dad just stepped in and I sort of expected all my other friends dad's to be like him. I guess I reach out and extend it, but in a lot of ways, I feel closer to you than I do DJ.”

I'm glad you have reached out with me.”

I reach out to Aaron and Roger too. I don't like it DJ and Aaron are at odds.”

Your insight in them is what's helping them. You need to realize you don't ask them if they need your help, you dive in and start helping them.”

Yeah, they need it.”

Grant came in and said, “The team's all wearing black t-shirts under their jerseys. All the parents heard your suggestion and instantly thought it was an amazing gesture.”

It shows solidarity and it's the one thing I knew most everyone would have that was black.”

He smiled, “A lot of them are saying they'll probably wear black jeans with them.”

Ok, that'll be cool. I've got those. Are we playing the game?”

Yeah, I couldn't get the Hannibal coach to let us reschedule.”

Grant, use that as our battle cry to stomp them into oblivion tomorrow. They could have shown that courtesy and it wouldn't have hurt them one bit.”

I know.”

Can I do something to my helmet?”


I'm thinking about putting Jared's school photo in a ziplock bag and putting it inside my helmet.”

He nodded and Dan said, “Let me suggest something real fast.”

What's that?”

He turned to Grant. “I don't know if you're aware of it, but my company does graphics. I can do a silkscreen of Jared on contact vinyl and have it so it's able to be on the helmet's outside. Could they do that?”

Grant nodded and looked down. When he looked up he had tears in his eyes. “Yeah”

I stood up and went over and hugged him. “It's going to be ok.”

Grant said, “Everyone's stepping forward with little things like this and it's just overpowering. Superintendant Wilson is going to scour her records on Jared and get his school photographs and make them into a photo collage to show at our memorial service for him tomorrow night.”

I said, “Hang on, let me get the photo albums. I've got a few there they can use.”

I went down the hall and got the photo album and came back. I opened it and flipped through the photos and said, “Here's Jared when we were babies. Mom took our photos in monthly intervals together. He's probably got a photo album over at his parents like this.”

I pointed at photographs and instantly one of the photos caught my eye. “Oh man.”

What hon?”

Use this one. You gotta use this one.”

I took it out and handed it to Grant.

He took it and stared at it, “Man, that sends chills down my back.”

The photograph was of Jared and I standing together in little football uniforms. His was a little Dallas Cowboy and mine was a little Kansas City Chief.

Grant showed it to Dan and I said, “Remember what team I said I wanted to play for?”

Oh man! That's uncanny. I can see why you got chills Grant. It's got a quarterback's number on his jersey too.”

I smiled and said, “The Dallas Cowboy's colors are our school colors. Aaron got his Jimmy in those colors and Jared had his colors flying even then.”

Grant said, “Jeff was standing over there looking so proud of you guys. I remember him staring at his Mustang that way and now I see that look when he's looking at you.”

Dan said, “I don't remember him. Us all being the same age, you'd think I would remember him.”

I said, “Here's his photos as he was growing up.”

Grant said, “Dan, you grew up over by the water tower, right?”


You know you and he were neighbors of sorts.”

We were?”

Yeah, you know where Musselman's junkyard is, right?”


Ok, go towards the railroad overpass there and their house was right up in those three by the railroad overpass. It was the white one.”

I know right where you're talking about. We didn't hang out with those guys because one of them was a real asshole.”

That'd be Jeff's brother. He terrorized that whole area. He would come over here and stay, or he'd go on up to the station and wait for me and we'd stay up there because my dad would run off his brother.”

I never went up that far to the station.”

You know Eric, right?”

Yeah, Eric's crazier then hell. He would climb the water tower and hang by his knees upside down off that railing up there.”

Grant chuckled, “Yeah, that's Eric, but Jeff's the one that actually got the fire department called on him!”

I said, “Huh?”

Your dad was too adventurous at times. It's a wonder he didn't kill himself with that stunt.”

What'd he do?”

Somewhere along the line, your dad knew Eric was up there hanging upside down off the railing, so he took a rope up there and decided to make a tree swing. Well, he had a fifty foot rope and managed to climb up there with the rope and a friggin' tire. He got the knots good, but he somehow never thought it all the way through.”

What'd he do?”

He put that tire under his ass and jumped. Well, the swing worked great, but do the math. The bottom of that water tower is seventy five feet and that rope was probaby down to forty feet, so you'd still be up thirty feet off the ground. He swung and when he realized he was up too far to jump and down to far to climb up that rope, he was stuck. He swung there until Eric came and Eric's dumb ass offered to cut the rope! Needless to say, someone saw Eric climbing up that tower with a pruning saw and they called the fire department. That's the only thing which probably saved Jeff's neck.”

I laughed, “Oh man!”

Dan laughed, “Eric's a nut. I like him a lot, but if his kids do half the crap he did, he's in a world of hurt.”

Grant laughed, “I never thought of that. It'd serve him right.”

I said, “I like Eric. He sure idolized my dad.”

Your dad was like his older brother. Well, I think Eric looked up to him more than me because Jeff would do things for him I didn't.”

Like what?”

Grant looked at Dan and said, “Don't say a word about this because it'd embarrass Eric all to hell, but it's completely within the range to say Eric grew up dirt poor.”

Dan immediately nodded, “Yeah, we didn't have it good, but mom would send our hand me downs over there.”

Well, Jeff was weird about things, but he wasn't wasteful. He loved M&M's, but he hated brown and beige ones. He'd eat them and he'd save all the browns and beige ones back and would give them to Eric. Eric absolutely thought that was great.

Jeff did that with all of his candy. He'd get some licorice and he'd save some back for Eric.

Me, I'll tell you I shared, but it was different and I definitely know now why Eric adored Jeff.”

Why's that?”

Ok, look at it. Me, I could get candy all day long and when I got it, I gave Eric a whole candy bar. Jeff would give him some of his he saved just for him. There's a big difference in that sacrifice. I know Eric sensed it and he went more towards Jeff for that.”

Dan said, “I wish I'd known you guys back then. It sounds like you had a bond of friendship we didn't have over in our area.”


Yeah, we'd play ball and put together teams, but most of the times, we were out in the rail yard or adventurous enough to stray down to Morley, but what we did wasn't bond forming.”

Grant nodded and said, “Well, our generation had some fucked up options. We either got to go to college, or we got to go to Vietnam just as it was ending.”

Dan nodded, “Yeah, I lost a couple of friends over there.”

I asked, “You were in Vietnam?”

Vietnam and then pulled out to the DMZ. Basicly, I got shifted from one hell hole to another.”

Grant said, “Man, I don't envy you either one.”

That's why I never stayed in. I figured if that was my options, I sure wasn't going to stick around in there.”

Is that when you came back and started your company?”

Well, my first company was down at Jeff City. It was a thing of just plain bad timing with it. I went whole hog into business as a supplier to the shoe company down there and right after I thought I was safe and business was great, they shut the son of a bitch down. I was loaded to the gills with inventory unfit to supply anything else, so needless to say I went broke and had to take bankruptcy.

The sad part of it was the financial mess caused the break up of my first marriage. Her parents lost a lot of money in it and that resentment sure didn't help a terrible marriage. I got divorced and headed home.

The advantage of being fresh from a bankruptcy is they'll extend you credit because they know you can't go broke again for another seven years. So, I was able to get my company up here started. It wasn't easy, but what's interesting is I now look at the first business and realize if I'd just turned the friggin things I went broke on inside out, I'd had all sorts of materials in my second business.”

Grant said, “Really?”

Yeah, look at shoe leather and you see shiny side and suede side. I thought the world ended because I couldn't get rid of the leather and now, I buy suede by the box car fulls for those sandals.”

Grant nodded, “Man, I never would have thought of it either.”

Dan said, “The nice thing about it is the sandals haven't hurt me one bit. The styles changed, but with each change, I learned a little more and what I learned about graphics and silkscreening really took all my available space in the building and got me a heckuva sideline.”

I asked because curiosity was killing me. “What is it your company makes?”

Sandals, Foam mats, Bamboo mats, leather bracelets, and vinyl lettering used on all sorts of large trucks.”

What trucks?”

Ok, here's where you'd instantly recognize our work. DO you know the Greyhound buses?”


That color scheme and greyhound are done in my plant. We also make vinyl graphics for the mail trucks, and for a lot of bread trucks, potato chip trucks, beer trucks, soda trucks, and so on and so forth.”

Man! I never knew all that was made here!”

Yeah, what's neat is we're now looking into computers and some printers to see if we can use those in our business. If we can, it'll totally transform our business.”

I've got a lot of computers if you need them.”

Chris came back and said, “You've got seventy one of them.”

Ok, we'll see how many of the guys need one and we'll get them to them.”

Dan's eyes lit up, “How much would you charge me for some?”

Do you have a truck?”

Yeah. I've got a lot of trucks.”

Come and get a bunch. If you'll help load them onto a truck and will take them to the high school and let those guys take what they want, I'll let you have what's not taken.”

What are they?”


Are they good?”

Brand new in the box. I get five of each model they make. If they make a variation of a model, I get five of them. They don't ask me if I want them, they ship the things and I don't have a refusal of them.”

He laughed, “SO you've been stacking them up?”

Yeah, it's insane at times. I'll come home on some Mondays and there'll be ten of the things on the front porch.”

Dan laughed, “So how much do you want for them?”

Take them. Just let me have one when I want to change to a better one and you can even have the old one. With them, they update them so often and in so may ways, you'll see there's a lot of things they do to make a different variety.

I mean, Chris has a new one all the time, and his parents have one, and didn't your sister get one Chris?”

Yeah, and mom's got one of those flat ones in the kitchen. She's got a lot of recipes on it.”

Dan asked, “Do you use yours a lot?”

Not really. They're fun to play games on and the encyclopedia thing is handy, but other than that, there's not much use for them if you ask me.

I imagine you'd get a lot of use out of them in your work and it'd be handy to have one at home and do your bookkeeping on, but what's best about them is that little thing which you can put into it and take the information from one to another.”

Are those programs expensive?”

I've got a bunch of them. You an use them and then copy them onto other disks and keep a copy there. Just return the originals back to me because I really like sharing them with everyone.”

Dan nodded, “I'll take them, I've heard that's where the future is headed and it's certainly save me some money.”

Ok, that's good! Grant, guess what? We've got a basement again!”

Now if we could just get rid of all that wine down there, we'd be home free.”

Nope, the wine stays. My grandpa's hooch collection is worth a lot of money.”

Dan said, “Homemade wine?”

No, my grandpa collected the stuff. He'd hear a good batch was made someplace and he'd order a case of it. He'd drink a bottle of it and then save the rest. What's nice is I hear a lot of it is worth a lot of money.”

Dan nodded, “It is. I hear they get a thousand dollars a bottle for some of it.”

Well, he started collecting the stuff back in the fifties and kept getting it on up into the early eighties when he died.”

Then there's a lot of the stuff down there!”

Grant laughed, “Dan, if you saw what's down there, you'd be blown away. There's a three foot wide walkway down there and it only goes back about twelve feet before it's floor to ceiling wall to wall with the stuff. Where he's got his computers is up towards the front and it's amazing how he's managed to get them crammed in there.”

I said, “Well, computers take up a lot of room. Most of those boxes are styrofoam.”

Dan said, “When do you want to take them out of here?”

If you've got a crew of guys, we could do it tomorrow or Saturday if we need to get a few guys over to help load them.”

Grant said, “Hon, what if we put the wine in a garage out at the station?”

Do you have a garage that big?”

We can build one. They don't cost that much to build.”

It'd have to be dry and insulated. We couldn't have any of it freeze.”

Oh, I forgot about the winter time.”

Yeah, that's why it's downstairs. It stays pretty even temperature down there.”

I was just thinking about having that extra space for maybe a pool table or something.”

No way to get that sort of thing down there. Everything's got to come up and down those steps.”

Dan asked, “Can I see it down there?”


I took him to the stairwell and said, “Here's the stairs. I flipped on the light and we went down. When we got downstairs, he said, “Man, it is cramped down here and you weren't joking about all this wine!”

I'd love to have it out of here and get it inventoried to know what's here, but it's really going to take effort to get it up and out of here.”

No outside door?”

No, and only those little windows.”

He said, “I've got a power conveyor which would be no problem to set up. It's in eight foot lengths and would be a lot easier than climbing these steps. We could set up roller conveyors up there and probably make it so it wouldn't require but three or four people to do the getting it to the truck. With two guys in the truck, it'd be loaded in no time.”

It'd be nice, but we've got to think about where to put it once it's out of here.”

You guys going to drink any of it?”

Not this much!”

He laughed, “What I was thinking is you possibly contacting Christie's auction company or some notable collectors of it and selling it. I imagine you've got a lot of money down here and don't know it.”

Let me talk with Grant about it. I might do that because it'd be nice to have it out of here and what I could do is just keep a bottle of each one. With some racks, that'd not be hard to store and it'd be nice just the same.”

I was mentioning it because I've got trucks and I've got access to rail so we could even load a box car.”

Would that be safe?”

I'd say it would be. You've easily got a complete semi full here and you've probably got two rail cars full.”

What's bad is there's no inventory of it. It'd take unloading it out and storing it someplace in order to get that inventory list to let people know what we've got.”

I can store it at my factory if you'd like, but as you said, it'd need to be moved in winter as my warehouse there isn't heated.”

That might be a way to go.”

My suggestion is to contact Christie's up there and see if they'd even considering selling it that way. They might not do it and one thing to consider is it might be illegal to transport this across state lines getting it there.”

Man, would it be legal to ship it by rail?”

I don't know. The advantage of it if you auctioned it would be they would know all those legalities.”

I'll have to talk with Grant and see what he knows since he's got a liquor store out there.”

You're right.”

“Well, there's those computers. That'd give us some space down here when those leave”

This basement is the full length of the house?”

Yeah, except for under the garage.”

There's a lot of wine down here then. Man, I bet you've got nearly a hundred thousand bottles of the stuff down here.”

He collected it and my grandma didn't say much to my grandpa about it. He got a new case at least a week and what's neat about it is he'd open a bottle and they'd sip on it on a Saturday night. When it was done, they'd not take another sip at all all week long.”

He had to make a good living just to spend on that much.”

He was doubly retired. He worked for the military and when he retired, he went to work for the post office. He retired from them and three weeks later, he was dead.”

Man, that's terrible!”

I'll tell you Grandma used to boast he wasn't sick a day in his life until the day he fell over dead.”

What'd he die of?”

Stroke. What's ironic is something I'll tell you. The spot he died in the kitchen is almost exactly where she died.”


Yeah, what's interesting is that hard wood floor in there and up the hallway is under all the carpets. She bought linoleum when he died and had it installed so she wasn't reminded of where he died. The same for the carpet in the rest of the house. It's like he died and she covered all the hard wood.

Me, when she died, I took the linoleum up and love the hard wood, but what's exposed now is what's going to stay that way. All the rest will be staying in carpet.”

You've done this much work to the house since she died?”

Ted, Grant's cousin, is in construction. He came over and within a week, he had this house gone over and that backyard fence and trees planted. We're still deciding if we want a large deck out back there, but honestly, I'd love to have a bit bigger of a house.”


I guess it's not really the size of the house but the size of the yard. It's not real big. I'd like to have it be a bit bigger so when we have barbeques, we're not all rubbing elbows.”

It's that small back there?”

The lot's a hundred and twenty deep and sixty four wide. The house doesn't leave much yard out back with the front yard being the size it is.”

I imagine not.”

As you an see up and down the street, all of them are nearly identical.”

I like the set up of the house though. It's nice.”

Yeah, it's three bedroom which is different for these houses because most are two bedroom. The only other difference I've seen in them is some have a wall between the dining and living and some don't.”

This was the place to live when they built it. I remember when they were building these over here and you don't know how many times my parents would drive through here and dream about living on this side of the tracks.”


You need to think about it. Most of Moberly has a set of train tracks in the neighborhood. Everyone got used to the sound of a train rumbling past, but when they built Urbandale in the thirties, and then the Jewel Box, this was really upscale living.”

I had no idea.”

It's like Northwoods is now. Everyone dreams of building a house there, and those who live there are viewed as upscale.”

Mike Musselman has a house out there. I like the woods, but it's exactly that, it's the woods. They put the houses in a forest and a nice yard just isn't to be had.”

He laughed, “So I'd say you'd not think much of my house and yard.”

You live out there?”


Do you own a mower?”

No. I have a yard vacuum for the leaves and twigs.”

I like a yard that size, but I'd want grass.”

I've not missed it. I guess I didn't like being a slave to the yard.”

Your house probably is beautiful though.”

It's nice. We built it and then, the stress of it is what caused our marriage to dissolve.”

She left it?”

She couldn't afford it and really, she had a home away from here.”

We went up the stairs and I asked, “How big is your lot?”

Ten acres.”


One sunlit spot in the thing. All the rest are under the big trees.”

Who owned that much forest before they built the subdivision out there?”

It was a part of a hunting club which fronts out over on Route E. I heard it broke apart way back in the sixties and the guy who developed the woods kept it until it got sold to Musselman's brother who finally got most of it built and paved. For a long time, it was gravel and a lot of unsold lots.”

Can you cut down the trees out there?”

No, that's a guideline of it. If a tree comes down, or is endangering a house, it comes down, but when they do, three trees for each one has to be planted.”

That's definitely not what I'd want.”

Where would you want to live?”

It doesn't matter, Grant wouldn't want a house that large, so I'm not thinking about it.”

No really? Where would you want?”

Those mansions down towards the college is what I'd like. They're really beautiful.”

Some nice ones down there, but the heating bills for them is really expensive.”

Just the same, I think what we'll do is I'm going to be buying some land in Brasil and over in Australia. I can get a huge chunk in Brasil for not much and that's something I'd like. Over in Australia, I'm really tempted to see if there's a nice bit along the coast so I could build a beautiful house with the ocean as my distant panorama after a huge front yard.”

Sounds nice.”

We went into the living room and I saw most everyone had left. “Hi guys, I'm sorry I've not been social.”

No problem” Sappington said. “We understand about you being upset.”

He stood up and gave me a hug.

You guys going to stay the night?”

Nah, but it'd be cool if tomorrow weren't a school day.”

Jimmy Johnson said, “We're sort of hanging out and making sure nothing happens.”

I nodded. “I appreciate it. Did you all get something to drink or nibble on?”

He laughed, “Yeah, I think each adult here has asked us to eat something and I can't tell you how many pops I've drank.”

I chuckled, “Grant slams them at you, doesn't he?!”

Yeah, he's like a wayward bartender except it's soda. He seems to sense when you're done with one and has another one there just as you take that last sip.”

I'll give you a secret. I drink iced tea around him and use one of the big glasses. I drink my fill and it stays up about a third in the glass. He sees it's not going down so he doesn't refill it on me.”

Jimmy laughed, “He'd have the bathroom busy here, that's for sure!”

He gets the soft drinks at cost. Well, he gets the hard drinks at cost here too, but except for a six pack at a barbeque does it ever get drank here and it's usually neither of us who drinks it.”

You don't like it?”

Nah, I wasn't raised with it. If you saw the basement, you'd think I was a big wino, but we were just discussing how to get all that out of here.”

How much is there?”

Dan said he thinks there's a hundred thousand bottles of it down there.”


My grandpa collected it. He'd buy a case a week and drink a bottle. It'd get stacked and the next week he'd do it again and again for forty some years.”

What are you going to do with the stuff?”

Well, I need to discuss it with Grant, but we'll probably see if the auction house in New York will sell it. Some of it's worth a lot of money.”

Why didn't he sell it, or stop buying it?”

I think he thought he'd be able to sell it after he retired and surprise my grandma with a lot of fancy cruises and things. Unfortunately, he retired and died three weeks later.”

Man, that had to suck.”

Not really, what's nice about it was he really fortunate in leaving my grandma with two separate pensions and social security. What I never knew was she seemed to think she had to keep ungodly amounts of life insurance on herself in order to feel she was leaving me well off.”


Her premiums on the policies were almost seven hundred dollars a month. I was raised thinking we had no money, but little did I know she apparently had a soft spot for insurance men and the inability to say no after committing herself to a large policy.”


Yeah, what's bad is she didn't complain once to me and I never paid attention to her paying bills because I sure would have told her it was too much.”

So, you were left with a lot of money?”

Yeah, what's bad is she was a stickler for things and insisted they be kept in the safe for when she died, but we cashed those and we'd get a bill for another policy where we'd not discovered and we'd use that policy number to get that one cashed. What was confusing is our stock certificates had life insurance on her too, so those came in and I wouldn't know if the check was from a policy I didn't know about, or from the stocks.

What I will say is I think some of those insurance companies were gouging her.”

What do you mean?”

Ok, let's say I'm with Life & Casualty Insurance Company and I come to your house and manage to sell you a million dollar policy. You're happy and you get a bill. You pay it and you hold onto the policy and steadily pay it.

Now, let's say you get a new policy in the mail and you call them and they tell you it's a revision of that first policy and they tell you to sign the signature form and hang onto the policy and send the signature form back in. You do and next month, you get a bill on the seventh for one and then, on the nineteenth, you get another bill. You pay it when it gets there and you just swear you already paid that bill once this month, but when you call them, their phone service there is so confusing they need the policy number. You give it to them and what you gave is the one they told you was revised because there's no sense in hanging onto that original policy because that's supposed to be revised.”

That sounds like a mess.”

It was. All in all, she had almost twenty policies so far and that's with seven different companies. Some of these policies go way back to the late 1930's when they first got married.”

Jimmy said, “I wonder how many of those companies do that?”

I don't know but here's what I do know. A lot of those policies were married policies which should have been able to be cashed when my grandpa died. She obviously didn't know and didn't cash them because they kept sending her bills.

I'll tell you when I got the bills, I called them, or Grant did, and we cashed them.”

At least you're fortunate you were left with life insurance. Some people don't leave their loved ones with anything.”

I understand that predicament too, but I just feel a little robbed for living and thinking all she could've done more with the money than sending it out on the insurance premiums.

Understand, I'm not complaining now, but I would've rather had her feeling less constrained than leaving me with lifetimes worth of money.”

What are you doing with it?”

Investing it. Well, some of it's being used to buy land and build, but not around here.”

You moving!”

Not for a long time. I'm thinking about after I retire from pro football. By then, Grant will be retirement age and we'll be able to go there.”

Where's that?”

Either Brasil or Australia. I'm seriously planning on buying some land down there.”

Grant had come in, “You've not mentioned this to me, hon”

No, I just found out about it today from Raleigh. He told me land down in Brasil is going for a dime an acre. If we spend twenty thousand, we get two hundred thousand acres. Heck, with that amount space, I think we could run around naked most of the time.”

Grant smiled, “At that age, things will be sagging to the point it'll be terrible.”

I said, “Hon, what I really would like is a place in Australia right on the coast. I can see it in my mind and it's beautiful.”

What's it look like?”

Ok, we're coming in by helicopter and coming toward the house from out over the ocean. The coast is up about twenty or thirty feet above the beach, and it's red ground. The yard is flat and the front yard is in a square with eight triangular shapes all converging into the center where there's a flag pole. The house is a typical Australian house with a tin roof and covered porch on three sides and a long back porch to the back.”

Grant said, “Manicured grass in green up front with hedges, right?”


He smiled, “How'd I know that? Every place you want for a house has manicured lawn with hedge bushes.”

Well, it's beautiful, but all that pavement is a waste.”

It's probably white sand from the beach.”


Yeah, that's not going to run off easily and the grass would require quite a bit of watering, but I imagine with some premium golf couse seed, it'd be fine.”

I looked at Grant and said, “By the way, I needed to tell you we're on for the entire continent of Australia for towers and I've got to get Chris a small wealthier densely populated country.”

What for?” he said with his eyebrows raised.

Raleigh said they're about to expand globally. Because we're a larger invester, we're getting first dibs. I decided to go for a whole continent which I figured we could do.”

He smiled, “Greedy chub, aren't you!”

Not really, it's got nice larger cities on the edges, but not much except for Alice inward, so it's pretty easy to do.”

Jimmy asked, “What are you talking about?!”

I turned, “Cell phone towers!”

You own those?”

Grant smiled, “IF I'd known about them before he turned me onto them, you'd seen me owning most of this country with the things. Their return on investment is outrageous.”

Jimmy said, “Man, I can't even afford one and you guys are getting stinking rich off them!”

I said, “Jimmy, each and every player is getting a cell phone tomorrow. They're getting a fifty dollar a month plan provided, so you'll have one free.”


Yeah, plus you're getting a computer, so you're going to be doing fine.”

He smiled, “Oh man, two things I've been dying to get!”

Sappington smiled, “What's the catch!”

Well, here's the catch, ok? Since you're here and Jimmy's here, you two can help me recruit volunteers to get a chain gang formed to get that damned wine out of the basement if I can get Grant talked into letting me sell it.”

Grant said, “It's yours, you can sell it if you want.”

I want to discuss these things with you. You know that!”

Thanks, but it'd be a big favor to actually see the basement.”

Ok, what I need you to do since you're the adult here is contact the auction house up there in New York and see if they'll sell wine. If they do, tell them we'll get an inventory of what we've got and get it to them.”

Jimmy looked at Sappington, “We could carry that out, right?”

Sapp said, “I dunno, he said they had a lot.”

I said, “Guys, if we get the entire team to form a chain gang, we can get it out of here in probably a couple hours.”

There can't be that much!” Jimmy said shaking his head.

Grant said, “Jimmy, come here.”

He went to the basement steps and opened the door. He flipped on the light and said, “Go down and tell me you'd be happy to carry it all out for us and I'd be much obliged.”

Jimmy went over and down the steps. As soon as he got to the bottom, he said, “No, those boxes aren't all full, are they!”

Grant said, “Each one has eleven bottles in it.”


I heard fast footsteps coming up the steps. “Sappington, come look at this!”

Sappington went and when he went down, he said, “Holy Moly!”

They came upstairs and I said, “I think a chain gang of handing case after case up the stairs, down the hall, out across the living room and into the back of a truck is in order. It's most likely going to take a Moving Van to haul it all and might take more than one.”

Jimmy come up and said, “Man! I've seen some shit, but that just blows me away.”

I smiled, “I have no clue how many bottles are there, but I'm guessing a hundred thousand.”

Grant said, “I'll call them and see. They usually like to come appraise things first, but what I think is we could have them do it when we're moving it out.”

I said, “I would like to keep a bottle of each.”


Because. It'd give us an even ten bottles of each to sell and it'd give us some of the finest vintages ever known. Those we could put on nice racks and not have a problem with storing.”

Grant said, “Ok, I guess that's fine, but I really don't think we'd even begin to drink that much in our lifetime.”

I don't know. If we set what grandma and grandpa did and drank a bottle a week while sitting and holding hands, we'd get it drank in nearly forty years.”

He smiled, “It's a date.”

What day do you want it to be?”

Honestly, we've got to wait and see what your schedule is. I know it's most likely not going to be Saturday or Sunday since your game day will be on Sunday.”

Do you think they'll let me off at least one day a week?”

I imagine, but we'll have to see.”

Ok, I guess they do have off season.”

He smiled, “Yeah, it'd be perfect to go to Australia then because it'd be their Summer and our Winter and early spring.”

Is it ok if I invest twenty thousand in land down in Brasil?”

How about if we do a hundred thousand and you invest half and I go the other half. That'll get us a million acres and we can be fine.”

How much space is that?”

Grant said, “Hang on a second, and I'll be able to tell you.”

He went in and did a fast calculation on a calculator and came back.

About forty square miles.”

Ok, we need to up that so we're buying twenty five million acres.”


I want a hundred miles between me and the closest neighbor. It's roughly two and a half million dollars to get that much, so it'd take a week at least if they traveled by foot to get there.”

Through dense jungle, it'd probably be too much for them to even consider. They'd probably rent a plane.”

Just the same, we'd hear that coming in and a cheap radar dish would easily detect it.”

Jimmy asked, “What are you talking about?”

Isolation. Not having people unexpectedly dropping in to kill me.”

Grant said, “He feels vulnerable. I'll invest that much money to help him get to feeling like he's not going to be attacked.”

I thought all of them were arrested?”

I looked at Grant and asked, “Did the last one get arrested?”

I've not heard.”

Then we're still not safe.”

Jimmy asked, “Who?”

Not happening Jimmy. Sapp's here and I'm not saying names.”

Grant said, “He's ok.”

Play Maker


Notes From Retta:

To those who have been patient and have waited for the chapters to be posted, I would like to Thank you. If you'd like to see the upcoming chapters, please email me and I'll send them to you. I've already given a lot of people the chapters and have no qualms about sending them if you'd like to read them sooner.

Thanks for your interest in the story.

This story wouldn't be possible without a good person by the name of Wes. Fortunately, he downloaded it while it was still able to be gotten on the Google Groups site.

For those of you who know, my Google Groups site is shit. Please don't get that confused with “the shit”, but just plain shit.

It seems you can upload a chapter to the site and it will promptly lose the thing. When you go to click on it, you will get an error message which states the page you've navigated to is no longer available. Needless to say, I'm not please because their customer service sucks.

I'd lost the first twenty five chapters of the story, so without Wes having them, I'd be fucked. Thankfully, he had them, so he gets a great BIG HUGE Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

From My Keyboard To Your Heart,


Copyright Notice - Copyright © 2008 by RettaMichaels

The author, RettaMichaels copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be edited, changed, or duplicated in any form, media [ known or unknown ], without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply. RettaMichaels does NOT give editorial consent in order for this to be published. If it is deemed unpublishable in it's context, permission much be granted before publication or changes occur.

Trademark Notice – 2008 by RettaMichaels

“From My Keyboard To Your Heart”,”'Retta”,“RettaMichaels”.“Retta”,“Rhett”, and “Rhette” are all Trademark of RettaVonnMichaels L.L.C. None of these trademarks may be used, or authorized without consent.

Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons, locations, or incidents is purely coincidental.