Chapter 6
Business As Usual
Copyright 2005 Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce

This story is about homosexual teenagers.  If you are offended by this kind of story, then you shouldn't read mine.  If it is not legal for you to read erotic fiction where you live, then you should not read this story.  If you have questions or comments, email me.  You can also visit my webpage.  There is exclusive story there, and you can join my mailing list to be notified when I post to a story.  This story is copyrighted, so please do not duplicate it in whole or in part without permission.

"You just walked away?" Gasped Phillip as he and Steve sat on my bed in Tommy's basement.  I'd come home slamming doors and went straight to my  room.  They followed me and wouldn't leave me alone until I told them  what had happened.

"What was I supposed to do?" I asked.  "I wasn't exactly in the  greatest mood. My mother had just basically told me to go to hell."

"What?" It was Steve's turn to gasp after I said that one.

"Yeah!" I sighed.  "She hates me as much as my father did."

"Dustin?" said Phillip, taking my hand.

"Its all right," I assured him.  "I already knew she hated me. Call it intuition or something."

"She just needs time," said Steve.

"Thanks," I breathed, "but even if she does come around, I'll never forgive her for the things that she said to me."

"So . . ."

"Look," I said, cutting Steve off.  "I don't want to talk about it right now. I've decided to go ahead and do today's lawns instead of having eight to do on Sunday."

I grabbed a pair of shorts and a shirt as I left the room to change in privacy, leaving them both sitting on the bed staring after me.  Once I was changed, I went back into the bedroom to get my socks and sneakers.  Phillip and Steve were still sitting there in the same spots.  They stared at me the whole time.

"If you're working with me today, Phillip, I suggest you get changed,"  I said, taking my shoes and socks with me as I left the room again.

Now, I'm well aware of the fact that I was putting off dealing with what had happened with my mother and Keith. I never claimed to be an  expert at dealing with anything, did I? I really did have lawns to mow, and  doing them all on Sunday would have been a nightmare.  Sure, I'd have  had Phillip to help me, but that would still have meant that we had eight lawns to do on a day that I usually slept till noon.  As it was I already had four to do that day.

As it turned out Phillip was quiet the whole time we worked, and I was grateful for that.  I really didn't want to talk about what had happened.  What I wanted was to think.  What really shocked me even further into the silence that I'd been sulking in was Charlie's arrival at the last lawn of the day.  He didn't say anything to me.  He just started raking up grass clippings with Phillip.

After we'd loaded the mowers and other equipment into the truck, Charlie followed us back to Tommy's house and helped us put everything into the garage.  We were all silent as we did it, and I wondered why Charlie didn't go back across the street after we were finished.  He followed us into the house.  When I saw his duffel bag by the basement door, I started to ask him about it, but I kept my mouth shut.

"You can use the shower first, Charlie," said Tommy before any of us could say a word.  "Be quick, though. Hot water doesn't last long."

"Thanks, Tommy," he said before grabbing his bag and heading for the stairs.

Phillip and I sat down at the kitchen table as Andy sat glasses of  juice in front of us.  I didn't see Vince, so I figured that he'd left to  be with Maria.  Steve was sitting across from me, but he wasn't looking at me.  I was wondering if any of them were ever planning to look me in the eye again.

"We can have a restraining order put on Keith if you want," said Andy as he took a seat beside Steve.  "That will keep him from showing up at our front door again."

"I don't think that's necessary," I said quietly after I thought about it for a minute.  "I don't think he'll come back."

"He's called twice," said Steve.  "Though, after what Tommy said to him the last time he called, I don't think he'll call again."

"My dad is going to be coming over for supper tonight," said Andy.  "He wants to talk to you about your options, Dustin."

"My options?" I asked.

"Well, after what happened at your mother's house today, its clear that reconciliation is impossible," he said.  "I'll let my dad talk to you  about what you can do, but I want you to know that if you need to talk, we're all here for you."

"Charlie will be spending the night on the couch tonight," said Tommy.  "He may be staying longer than one night. We'll have to wait and see about that."

"Did something happen that I'm not aware of?" I asked, looking up at him.

"I'll let him talk to you about that," he replied.

When Charlie came back downstairs from his shower, it was my turn.  I wasted no time in taking my shower, and I made sure to leave plenty of hot water for Phillip.  I was eager to hear why Charlie would be staying with us.  When I'd left the house, I was sure that something more was going to be said between him and our mother.  I just hoped that I wasn't the cause of more heated words between them.

As it turned out, I didn't find out what went on between my mother and brother until after supper.  When I came back downstairs, Tom was already there.  Tommy and Steve were both in the kitchen making supper.  Everyone else was seated around the dining room table as Phillip passed me on his way up to take his turn in the shower.

I think they purposefully kept conversation light over supper.  No one mentioned my family situation even once while we ate.  Tom gave us an update on what Wendy and Ben were up to in Arizona, and he talked about Shirley's current projects as she set out to redecorate their home.  He talked to Tommy and Steve about an investment that he had advised them on, and it was apparently paying off nicely for them.  I was a little jealous that they'd both had him for so long.  It seemed that he was a real father figure for both of them, and I noticed how they treated him like he was a father.  To see that interaction filled me with mixed emotions.  It made me miss my father and hate him at the same time.  I saw that Charlie had a similar look in his eyes when I glanced across  the table at him, but he averted his eyes when he caught me looking at him.

As Tommy and Steve cleared the table, Andy excused himself for a date with Gage, and Vince left to pick Maria up from work.  Phillip said he had to call his parents and check in, so Tom went into the living room  with me and Charlie.  My options were about to be presented to me.

"First of all," Tom said as soon as we were all three seated, "I want to tell you both how sorry I am that things have worked out the way they have for both of you.  Charles, you're old enough to live on your own, but that doesn't make things any easier for you."

"I'm more worried about Dustin, Mr. Meyers," said Charlie.  "If you had been in the house and heard the things my mother said to him, you would understand."

"I've been told some of what your mother said," he replied.  "That's why I understand that things probably won't get any better."

"What exactly is going on?" I asked no longer able to wait to find out why Charlie was there with his duffel bag.

"Well," said Charlie slowly, "Mom has decided to sell the house and move back to Texas."

"But why are you over here?" I asked.  "You brought a bag, and Tommy said that you'll be sleeping on the couch tonight. What else is going on?"

"She threw me out, Dustin," he said.  "I sided with you, and she got mad. She said if I couldn't see that she was right then I didn't need to be there any more."


"No, Dustin," he said firmly.  "She's wrong, and we both know it. I wasn't going to just stand there and let her say those things to you without telling her how wrong she is.  I'm an adult, so I would have moved out on my own eventually.  I'm hurt that she's so full of hate that she can't see past one hateful thought, but that doesn't change anything."

"Where are you going to go?" I asked.

"I have money, Dustin," he said.  "I'm also making money every week working with you. I'll get an apartment.  Right now, I'm more worried about you."

"Me?" I asked.  "There's nothing wrong with me.  Tommy says I can stay here as long as I need to, and I'm making my own money and paying my way."

"Yes," said Tom.  "None of that is in question, Dustin.  What we are here to discuss is school and your rights."

"I'm only seventeen years old," I replied.

"And because of that, your mother can make many waves for you until December," said Tom.  "I want to help you prevent that."

"How?"  I asked.

"Well, after hearing all of what Tommy, Vince and Charles have told me, I think we have enough evidence to convince a judge to grant you emancipation," he said.

"Is that easy?"  I asked.  "I mean, do they do that a lot?"

"No," he said.  "Your case is a bit special, so I don't think we'll have a problem.  You'll need a lawyer, and Mike Andrews has already offered to handle your case.  Now, you'll need to discuss a few things with him before anything is filed, but this shouldn't take too long."

"How much does having a lawyer like Mike Andrews cost?"  I asked, wondering if I could actually afford his services.

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that much," laughed Tom.  "Mike will discuss all of that with you when you meet with him tomorrow."

"I have lawns to take care of . . ."

"Phillip and I can handle all of that while you go and take care of some things, D," said Charlie.  "You pay us, so let us work."

"Ok," I said slowly.  "What time does Mike want to meet with me?"

"I've made an appointment for you tomorrow at eleven," said Tom.  "You'll have to go to the firm. I assume you know where that is."

"I do," I replied.

We talked a bit more about what documents and witnesses I would probably have to provide for the courts, and I was thankful that I'd always kept very thorough records where my mowing was concerned.  I had all of the earnings and expenses all mapped out in a spreadsheet on my laptop. I could stop and buy a new printer when I left Charlie and Phillip alone with the lawns the next day.

After Tom left, Charlie and I sat in my room talking about what his plans were.  He told me that he would get an apartment in Storyville for the summer, but he still planned to return to Carbondale for school in the Fall.  I reminded him that there were leases to think of, so he probably wouldn't find a landlord willing to rent him an apartment for only two months.

We talked to Tommy and Steve about it, and Tommy reminded Charlie that he'd already said that Charlie could stay in the house for a while.  I offered to buy another roll away bed for Charlie to sleep on, so he wouldn't always be on the couch.  We all agreed that was a good idea, but Charlie wouldn't let me buy it.

When I was alone in my room again, I had nothing but silence to keep me company while I thought about everything that was happening.  My father was dead, and my mother blamed me for it and hated me.  She'd completely thrown me out of her life, and now she'd done the same to Charlie it seemed.

I would be meeting with Mike Andrews in the morning to legally sever myself from my mother basically.  I would be requesting that I be considered an adult six months before I would even be able to vote.  I wasn't sure how I really felt about that.  It would mean that I could go to school in August instead of waiting for January, and I'd be able to rent my own apartment.  I wasn't sure if I really wanted to live alone, though.  Charlie would live with me until he went back to school, but after he left, I'd be alone.  I didn't really have any friends that were my age anymore, so a room mate was out of the question.

My meeting with Mike the next day wasn't so bad, though.  He explained what was going to happen and what I needed to say to the judge.  Tommy, Vince and Charlie had already assured him that they'd testify if he needed them to as to what my mother said, so basically all he needed from me was the retainer.  That turned out to be one dollar.  When I started to protest, he quickly informed me that the firm handled a few special cases each year, and mine was one of those cases. The dollar was merely a symbol really.

I met up with Phillip and Charlie as they were finishing up the last lawn of the day.  There wasn't much for me to do, so I just stayed in Charlie's Jeep.  I did help them load all of the equipment into my truck, though.  And of course they had to ask me all about my meeting with Mike.

For the rest of the evening, I went over tax information with Andy.  We broke it up long enough to eat supper and help clear the table, but then we went right back to it.  It turned out that I could have to pay a pretty large penalty for not reporting my earnings for the last year, but before that I was in the clear.  He promised to get me all the right forms and help me with everything.  He even said that he'd have one of his professors look all of the information over the next day to make sure that the two of us hadn't made any errors.

The next day, Charlie bought that roll away bed that we'd discussed.  He came home with it in his Jeep after he'd went to talk with the Armed Service Recruiting Office.  This would be his weekend to serve, so I'd be one short for Saturday and Sunday, but I was sure that Phillip and I could handle ourselves just fine while he was gone.

Mike let me know that I had to appear before Judge Alan Shultz Monday morning at nine, and that so far, Tommy and the others weren't needed.  He said that we were meeting in the Judge's chambers, and he was trying to keep it as informal as possible.  I had no idea how the legal system worked outside of watching court shows on television, so I didn't know what to really expect.

On Friday, Charlie only helped with the first two lawns, because he had to report to the base that evening.  He wouldn't be back until some time Monday afternoon, so it turned out that I'd lose him for half of Monday, too.  Phillip and I managed, though, and we even picked up two new lawns to take care of.  I started to seriously think about looking for more help.  I talked to Andy about that, and he said he'd talk to some of the guys he had classes with that didn't have jobs.

Wendy and Ben came home on Sunday afternoon.  The two of them were sitting in the dining room with Tommy and Steve when Phillip and I came in from mowing.  I was happy to see Wendy, and it seemed that Phillip was happy to see Ben.  We both hurriedly took our showers so we could sit and hear all about their trip.  They stayed for supper and told us all about Arizona, and I filled Wendy in about my dad and what was happening with my mom.

"So Mike's going to represent you?" she asked once we were alone downstairs together.

"Yeah," I replied.  "I go to see Judge Shultz tomorrow morning in his chambers."

"Does Mike think you'll get emancipated?" she asked.

"He said that I have a good chance," I told her.  "He said he was going to try to get my mother to sign some documents, but wasn't sure as to what had happened."

"I'm sorry about all of this Dustin," she said.  "I can't believe that your mom would do this."

"She kicked Charlie out for siding with me, too," I said.  "That's why we have the other roll away bed."

"Charlie's staying here, too?" she asked.  "Where is he?"

"This is his reserve weekend," I said.  "He'll be back tomorrow."

"This is just unreal," she said.  "And Tommy said that you guys were thinking of putting a restraining order on Keith?"

"Andy suggested it, but we decided against it," I said.  "He only showed up here once. I guess he called a few times, but Tommy told him off the last time he called."

"Tommy's a real Pit Bull," she giggled.  "What does Keith want now?"

"I don't know," I replied.  "I don't really care. I want to get my own life straightened out, and Keith isn't a part of it."

"So, what about you and Phillip?" she asked, smiling at me.

"What about us?" I asked, returning her smile.

"Oh, come on," she said.  "I saw the way he looked at you earlier while you were talking about your mom."

"Well, we got close," I said.  "Then this stuff started happening, and we sort of backed off a little."

"Well, I think he likes you," she said.

"Yeah, but he's leaving in a little less than two months," I reminded her.  "He lives in Maine, and I live in Storyville."

"You can write letters, there are telephones, you know."

"Yes," I agreed.  "But I don't think I believe in long distance relationships."

"Just don't discount it, Dustin," she said.  "You deserve some happiness."

"We'll see," I replied.

The meeting with the judge turned out to be much better than I had expected it would be.  Mike had been successful in getting my mother to sign the documents he wanted signed, and the judge granted my emancipation after talking with me for only fifteen minutes.  My mother had signed her rights away completely, and those were the documents that Mike had wanted her to sign.  The judge just wanted to talk to me to make sure that I was mature enough to handle myself as an adult.  He said that since I would be eighteen in less than six months, the decision was an easier one.

By the time I got changed and met up with Phillip, Charlie was back and joined us in time to start the two new lawns that Phillip and I had lined up on Friday.  I filled them both in on the judge's decision, and they were both very happy for me.  Phillip asked me if that meant that I'd be moving into my own apartment, and I told him that I would have to think that one over a bit.  I still wasn't sure about living alone just yet.

When we got home, Vince and Maria were there with news of their own.  Vince had decided not to wait for the festival to ask Maria to marry him.  I happen to know that it was because Maria discovered the ring in his glove compartment a few days before, so he wasn't fooling me with his story that he was worried that she'd say no and then have a bad memory to associate with the festival she loved so much.  Any way, Maria had accepted his marriage proposal.

"We haven't told my parents, yet," said Maria.  "Vince wanted to tell Steve, and we were just down the street when he asked, so we came here."

"Congratulations, you two," I said, shaking Vince's hand.  "Maria, I'd hug you, but then you'd smell like me."

"Dustin's got news of his own," said Charlie as he shook Vince's hand.  "The judge awarded him emancipation.  The runt's an adult today!"

"Congratulations, Dustin," said Vince.  "You didn't even have to go to court."

"Mike got my mother to sign a document that severed her rights," I explained.  "Judge Shultz said that was a clear indication that reconciliation was impossible."

Tom and Shirley came to supper that night along with Ben.  Vince ate with Maria's family, and Andy was with Gage, so the table wasn't overly crowded.  I talked to Tom about helping me invest some of the money in my savings account, and he promised to talk with me about it soon.  I was still waiting to hear from Andy about what his professor had said about the tax forms, and I had a few ideas about what to do with any money that I might make off of investments that I wanted to talk to both Andy and Tom about, too.

I'd told Charlie that I had close to ten thousand in my savings account when he'd agreed to help me with the lawns, but when Andy and I started going over everything, I figured out that I had almost double that amount.  I really hadn't figured in interest, and I hadn't been all that great about keeping track of every deposit. Investing a little wouldn't hurt, and if it made me more money, that would just put me closer to my ultimate goal of owning my own small landscaping business.

Tom was true to his word.  On Wednesday, he sat down with me and went over a few investment choices.  I really didn't understand much, but he explained as much as he could.  In the end, I went with the three that he suggested.  It helped that they were three that both Tommy and Steve had money invested in and were making money on.

Andy joined our discussion, and we went over all of my papers and tax forms again.  His professor found that Andy and I had been a little harder on me than we'd needed to be, so my penalty for the year before wasn't nearly as bad as we'd thought it would be.  I wrote a check for that and Tom promised to mail it for me in the morning.

I talked to them both about my decision to start looking for my own apartment, too.  Charlie had mentioned wanting an apartment, and they'd agreed that no landlord would rent to him for only two months.  What I didn't know was that Tom and Shirley owned three apartment buildings in Storyville.  Tom told me that there were six available two bedroom apartments that he knew of.  I could look at them on Sunday, and he wouldn't charge me a security deposit.  Utilities were my responsibility, and he said that if I had any trouble getting them turned on to call Mike.  That just left telling Tommy and the others that Charlie and I would be moving out.  I'd already discussed it with Charlie before I'd talked to Tom and Andy.