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Note: Thanks to Tim for feedback on the draft chapters.  I owe special thanks to Robb and Rock for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors I missed.

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Finding Family

by Jeff Allen




Wes and I spent almost every minute together after we met.  We even slept in the same room.  That was possible because we both had single rooms.  My roommate had left the second day of the fall when he found out that he was the only straight guy in the suite, and Wes' roommate had flunked all his classes.  He wasn't coming back for the spring semester.

We even showered together.  It seemed a little perverted to me, but I really enjoyed looking at Wes' body while he showered.  We were truly identical right down to the length of our foreskins, the pattern of hair around our cocks, and the thin line of dark blond hair running up to our navels.

We'll never forget the look on Dr. Williams' face that first day of class when Wes and I walked in together.  Trey, TJ, and Josh were all in the same class.  They laughed their asses off when Doc Williams looked back and forth from Wes to me.  We told him the story, and he suggested that we write about our feelings at meeting and finding out that we were brothers.

Wes and I had a philosophy class together on Tuesday and Thursday.  The professor in that class didn't have a clue.  I'm not sure he even noticed there were two people who looked exactly alike sitting side by side in his classroom.  He hardly ever looked at the class while he lectured, and when he did look up I don't think he really focused on the class.

Neither Wes nor I had started spring practices yet so as soon as we were done with classes on Friday of the Martin Luther King holiday weekend we were on the road up to Bethesda to visit his parents.  We took Wes' car, a fairly new Mitsubishi Eclipse, and even after being together almost constantly for a week we talked non-stop the entire eight hours up to the D.C. area.

His parents were waiting for us when we arrived.  I liked them immediately.  Arthur Dawson was a big, burly man with gray hair and unruly eyebrows, who appeared to always have a smile on his face.  Maureen Dawson looked like the elementary school teacher she had been for so many years.  She was only about five foot six inches tall and a little on the plump side, but she moved quickly and with grace.  She wore a pair of reading glasses on a chain around her neck.  Wes and his dad teased her about the glasses a lot, but I noticed a couple of times when Arthur had trouble reading something Maureen would take off her glasses and hand them to him.  He'd use them for whatever he was trying to read and then hand them back to her.  Neither one would say a word about it.  Once when they did that I looked over at Wes; he just smiled at me and rolled his eyes.  Thankfully they didn't see the exchange between us.

Their house was a brick ranch probably built in the late fifties or early sixties located in a quiet neighborhood of similar houses.  The Dawsons had added a garage and family room on to the back of the house so it was much bigger inside than it looked from the street. 

They put me in the guest bedroom.  It was the first night Wes and I had slept in separate rooms in six days.  I couldn't get to sleep. 

After what seemed like a long time, I heard the door open.  "Hey, Bro, are you asleep?"

"No.  Not yet."

Wes came into the room clad in his plaid boxers with a comforter wrapped around his shoulders against the night chill.  He came over and sat on the edge of my bed.  "I couldn't get to sleep either.  Can I stay here and talk with you for a while?"

"Sure thing.  Why don't you climb under the covers with me?  It's warmer."

He dropped the comforter and got under the covers with me.  We talked for a while before going to sleep.  When I woke up the next morning, he was spooned up against my back.  I could feel his morning wood poking against my butt.  I was glad I'd worn boxers to bed.

I'd never been to Washington before so we played tourist Saturday and Sunday.  We visited the Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and World War II memorials as well as the Smithsonian and Holocaust museums.  I loved the city!

Saturday night Wes came into my room again after we'd been in bed for a while.  I just opened up the covers, and he climbed right in.  We were asleep within a few minutes.  Sunday night he asked me to come sleep with him in his room even before we headed off to bed.  I was a little embarrassed because I knew his parents were aware we'd been sleeping in the same bed, but they never said a word about it.

We started back for Adams State right after breakfast on Monday.  It was a holiday, so we didn't have to worry about missing any classes.  Before we left I got a big bear hug from Arthur Dawson and a motherly hug and kiss from Maureen. 

The Dawsons were wonderful people.  It was easy to see that they loved each other, and that they loved Wes.  I was sure my parents wouldn't come off as nicely when Wes met them.  Thinking about that made me sad.

Wes sensed my darkening mood.  He reached over and took my hand.  I felt a sense of peace come over me, and I knew whatever happened it would be okay.  We held hands like that without saying a word for over an hour.  When we finally began talking, we talked non-stop all the way back to Adams State.




A couple of days after Trey, TJ, Josh, and Jonathan left to go back to Adams State Donnie knocked on my bedroom door where I'd retreated after dinner to work on lesson plans for the next week.

"Coach, can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure, Donnie.  What's up?"

He sat in the chair next to my desk.  "Coach, you know I owe my business to you.  If you hadn't been willing to back me with the bank after Leigh left and took all our money, I'd have lost everything."

"It really wasn't a big deal, Donnie."

"Yes, it was!  You have always had faith in me.  I just want to say 'thank you' again for all that you have done...are doing for me and my boys.  Things have gone really well with the business, and I'm starting to get everything back on track.  I know it's been a strain having me and the boys living out here, so I want you to know that I'll start looking for another place for us to live."

I leaned across the desk to get closer to him.  "Listen to me.  Grant and Micah are no problem.  They're wonderful children.  You can find another place if you want, but you'll have to leave the boys here with us.  I...we don't want you to go."

"I was worried that you'd be getting tired of having us out here."

I just laughed.  "Donnie, this place is a zoo.  We're all going every which way, and we don't always know who's going to be spending the night out here, but there's also a lot of love in this house.  We've made a family, and you and your boys are part of that family.  It's good for Ryan and Isaac to have the little guys around, and I think your sons are benefiting from having so many `uncles'."

His eyes were moist.  "Thanks, Coach."

"You're welcome.  Now, I don't want to hear any more about your finding another place to live.  This is your home as long as you want it to be."

We ended the conversation with a long hug.


TJ came home over the Martin Luther King weekend.  He was full of the news about Jonathan meeting his twin brother.  I was happy for Jonathan.  He was a great kid, but he always had a slight sense of reserve and loneliness about him that I'd chalked up to having to put up with his parents.  I'd never met his mother, but I'd heard enough from comments that Jonathan had made now and then to come to the conclusion that she hit the bottle pretty heavily.  On the other hand I had met his father.  Lawrence Pittman was a bigoted, pompous asshole who had been about as successful at driving customers away from the bank in town as Andy Hatcher, the previous manager, had been at recruiting customers.  I was considering moving my funds to another bank because of his attitude.


The rest of January went pretty smoothly.  TJ came home to be with Donnie on the weekends.  Trey and Josh stayed at Adams State.  Tyrone Jackson was the star of the high school's basketball team, and Robert was the proudest daddy there ever was.  He went to every game, and that took some real schedule juggling because he'd started doing color commentary for some of the pro basketball games on ESPN.  The network wanted him to do more, but he insisted that he would only do one or two games a week, and those games had to be close enough that he was only away from home for one night at a time.

My after school study hall which I'd started at the request of the soccer team had expanded well beyond the soccer team.  We now had guys from the football, track, and baseball teams that were regular attendees.  The school's athletic director had found some money to buy a little weight equipment for the old gym, and I'd commandeered some tables and chairs that were being discarded from the library to provide a better study space for the guys.  The study hall was now being referred to around the school as the "Boys Club."  The rules stayed pretty simple: 1. Respect your teammates; 2. Help your teammates; 3. This is your space so keep it clean.  It was a rare occasion when I had to ask one of the guys to follow the rules.

It was the end of the first full week of February when I looked up from my grading to see Sheriff Stuart and Miguel Guzman, the owner of Miguel's Mexican Restaurant, walking into the Boys Club.  The guys and I had eaten at Miguel's several times.  The food was always good, and Miguel had always seemed pleased with how much the guys liked his food.  I'd always let him think that there was something really special about his food.  Don't get me wrong.  It was good food.  No doubt about it, but my crew could get excited about any food...except something like steamed spinach.  After all, they were active teenagers.

Red Stuart stopped to speak briefly with his grandson, Caleb, before coming over to me.

"Good afternoon, Coach."

"Hello, Sheriff, Miguel, what can I do for you?"

"Well, we'd like to talk with you in private for a few minutes."

"Sheriff, the last time you asked to speak to me privately, I ended up with another young man living out at my house."

I'd said that jokingly, but the look that passed between Red Stuart and Miguel Guzman told me I had been right on target.

"Okay, gentleman, let's go back into my office."

In the office Red and Miguel took the two office chairs while I settled into the chair behind the desk.

"Okay, what's going on?"

"Coach, Miguel here has a big favor to ask of you."


"Coach Arnold, you are known as a man with a big heart.  I hope you might have room for one more boy.  Do you remember Ignacio Gutierrez from your summer soccer program?"

I nodded.  Nacio was a skinny little seventh grader with a dark golden complexion, long shiny black hair pulled back in a pony tail, brilliantly white teeth, and eyes so dark they were as black as his hair.  He was also a promising soccer player.

"Nacio's mother has been one of my cooks for about four years now.  Three days ago, she was stopped for driving with an expired license tag.  When the troopers ran the information, they found out she also had an expired visa.  They arrested her and reported her to Immigration.  Now it looks like she's going to be sent back to Nicaragua.  She wants Nacio to be able to stay in the U.S."

"Is that possible?  I mean, if she's illegal, doesn't that mean Nacio would have to go back with her?  And what about a father?  Where's he?"

Red Stuart broke in, "No, Ignacio was born here.  Serena, that's his mother, has all the records...birth certificate, everything.  From what we understand, Serena and her man fled from the violence in Nicaragua and ended up in the States a couple of years before Nacio was born.  The father was killed in a construction accident four years ago.  That's when Ms. Gutierrez came up here."

"Miguel, Red, are you sure Nacio needs to come live with me?  Wouldn't he be happier in a Hispanic home?" 

There was an active Mexican community in Carter County.  I didn't understand why the sheriff and Miguel Guzman were asking me to take in the boy.

Miguel looked embarrassed.  "Mr. Arnold, the Spanish-speaking community here is all Mexican.  Nacio is Nicaraguan.  We may speak the same language, but Nacio would not be truly welcomed in most homes.  He is staying with us right now, and we would keep him...he is a good boy...but there is no room.  My wife and I already have six children in a three bedroom house.  We do not have room for Nacio."

I thought for a second.  "Miguel, would you step outside for a couple of minutes?  I want to talk to Sheriff Stuart privately."

"Of course."  He got up and walked out of the office.

"Red, you know the score at my house.  Would it be a problem for this kid to be living with a bunch of gay men?"

He smiled.  "Well, I don't think all of you are gay.  Ryan Ladd seems to be earning a reputation as quite the high school stud, and Donnie Micheaux's out there with his boys.  I think the young lad can find a couple of 'straight' role models."  His eyes twinkled and the corners of his mouth turned up in a half grin.  Then he leaned forward, "Parker, I've told you before that I respect you.  You've rescued kids when they've been in trouble.  Hell, you're more like a parent to Jonathan Pittman than the two sorry excuses that are his real parents, and you took in that Josh Locklear fella almost off the street.  I've given this a little thought.  I feel bad about what's happening with Ms. Gutierrez, but she's gonna have to go back to Nicaragua for at least five years before she can legally enter this country again.  In the meantime she wants her son to stay in the U.S.  If someone like you doesn't take him in, then he'll be forced to either go back to Nicaragua with his mother or go into foster care.  I talked with George Baker about this over lunch today.  He and I both agreed that if something happened and my grandson or his son ever needed to go live with someone other than family, we'd want that someone to be you.  In fact, I'd send Caleb to live with you a darn sight sooner than I'd send him to most of the rest of the family.  Nacio Gutierrez needs your help.  Will you do it?"

"I've got to talk with the guys first."

He broke into wide smile.  "I knew you'd do it!"

"I said I'd have to talk it over with the guys first."

"And those are fine young men you're raising.  I've got a good idea what they'll say."

The Sheriff was right.  We talked about Nacio over dinner.  They all said yes.  After dinner I called Trey and TJ.  They agreed and promised to talk with Josh.  They called back half an hour later to say that Josh had agreed.

I called the Sheriff and Miguel Guzman.  Nacio came to live with us the next day.

He was really reserved and shy at first.  Who could blame him?  His whole world had been turned upside down, and I imagine he felt rejected by the Hispanic community in Carterville.  He also had a little trouble adjusting to the idea of having household chores since he'd never had to do any work around the house before.  We handled that one by making sure he was partnered with one of the other guys for the various jobs like laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, cooking, and doing the dishes.  It took a while, but he caught on.

Since Trey and Josh were away at school, we put Nacio into their old room so he'd have some privacy.  He spent a lot of time with Ryan.  I think at first Nacio was a little intimidated by the idea of being around so many gay guys.  Ryan had hinted at such.  That may have been another reason he chose to stick more closely with Ryan who was definitely our 'straight' brother.

After a week or so Nacio began to come out of his shell.  Ryan and Isaac drew him out by asking him for help with their Spanish classes.  In only a couple of days the three of them were chattering away in Spanish at the dinner table.  Ryan and Isaac's grades in Spanish improved dramatically as a result. 

Nacio was especially shy about being seen without his clothes on or seeing any one else in a state of undress.  Being around our house had to have been the equivalent of shock therapy for excessive modesty.  The rest of the guys and I thought nothing of walking around the house naked or in just our underwear.  Nacio adjusted in stages.  After a couple of weeks in the house, he would occasionally come downstairs without a shirt.  A few weeks later we began to see him in the kitchen in the morning or late evening in just his boxers.  By late March he was sleeping in the nude like the rest of our crew, and while he wasn't the naturalist that Ryan and TJ were he would sometimes not bother to pull on underwear when he came down to the kitchen for a bedtime snack.

Nacio started running with the soccer team in the mornings.  He really had no choice since everyone was up and out of the house.  It was either that or ride the school bus.  In the afternoons he either walked over to the Boys Club or soccer practice when that picked up again or he went to the county jail to visit with his mother.

Sheriff Stuart had Serena Gutierrez in one of the minimum security areas of the jail since she wasn't a threat to anyone.  She also worked most days in the jail kitchen.  Red Stuart said the jailhouse food had improved so much with her doing the cooking that some of the inmates asked to come back at meal times after they were released. 

The wheels of the Immigration and Naturalization Service were grinding very slowly.

TJ continued to come home every weekend to see Donnie.  Of course Ryan, Isaac, and I enjoyed having him home, but I was worried about the effect of all the weekends away from campus on his studying.  He and I had a long talk one Saturday morning after Donnie'd left to go to work.  TJ assured me that he was keeping up with his classes.  He said that knowing he would be away from his study partners, Trey and Josh, made him be more efficient in the use of his time during the week.  He knew he wouldn't be able to get home every weekend, especially after the collegiate soccer season started, but he wanted to be with Donnie as much as possible.  I could understand his reasoning, but that didn't stop me from worrying about his grades.  Must have been my parental instincts kicking in.  I remember my dad worrying that I wasn't putting in enough time with the books.

The weekend before spring break at Adams State, Jonathan and his recently found twin brother, Wes Dawson, come home so Wes could meet Jonathan's parents.  They were supposed to come out to the house on Saturday night for dinner.  My crew was looking forward to meeting Wes. 

They showed up at the house almost two hours ahead of schedule.  When they got out of the car, I couldn't tell which was which.  Since they'd arrived in Jonathan's Celica I assumed he was the driver.  I was right on that one.  I had also hoped that things had gone well with introducing Wes to Jonathan's parents, but I could tell by the grim expressions on both faces that I was wrong on that one.

As the story came out, Wes's reception by Jonathan's parents had been the polar opposite of Jonathan's reception by Wes's parents.  Jonathan said that his mother had been drunk when they arrived on Friday, and she had stayed drunk.  I'd suspected for some time that she hit the bottle a little hard, but that was the first time I ever heard him call her an alcoholic.  That afternoon, Jonathan's father had been in rare form also and had started a tirade about blacks, Jews, and gays ruining the country.  Wes then told Mr. Pittman that he was gay and didn't appreciate hearing that kind of talk.  Emboldened by Wes, Jonathan followed suit.  After a moment of stunned silence Jonathan's father told both of them to get out of the house and not come back.

As Jonathan related the story to us, Wes sat next to him with his arm draped protectively around his brother's shoulder.  While Jonathan was upset and angry at his parents' reactions, I thought I could detect from him a glimmer of a sense of relief at coming out of the closet.

While Nacio helped me get the dinner ready, Jonathan and Wes disappeared upstairs with TJ and Ryan.  When they all came back down for dinner Jonathan looked a little better.  I was absolutely struck at how identical he and Wes were.  When you saw them side by side you realized that Wes was a little more muscular, probably from the football weight training.  When they spoke their accents were different with Wes having a Middle Atlantic accent and Jonathan clinging to traces of South Alabama, but the tone of voice was the same.  It would be darn hard to which one it was if they were by themselves and not saying anything.

After dinner Donnie and TJ put the boys to bed, and then along with Nacio came down to join the rest of us in the hot tub.  I was surprised to see that Nacio was naked.  Up until that point he had only joined us in the tub on two other occasions, and he'd worn a pair of boxer shorts both times.  Nacio was just starting puberty.  His uncut penis and balls were beginning to grow, and there were a few dark hairs around the base of his dick.  I was pretty sure that Nacio was heterosexual like Ryan, but he had gradually become more comfortable around the rest of us and had even accepted an occasional hug from one of the guys.  He absolutely idolized Ryan.  Nacio surprised me even more that night be leaning up against my chest and shoulder in the hot tub.  That was the first time he'd ever initiated physical contact with me.  I put my arm around his shoulder, and he sat there contentedly listening to the three college guys talk about their classes and life at college

Before they left to go back to Adams State on Sunday Wes pulled me aside and after thanking me for letting them stay over on Saturday night, he shook his head and said, "I couldn't believe Jonathan's parents.  I'm sorry I overreacted and came out to them.  I probably caused Jonathan to come out a lot sooner than he would have otherwise, but I still can't believe they threw him out of the house.  After being out here with all of you I understand why Jonathan loves you guys so much.  I imagine you guys were his hold on sanity while he was in high school.  Thank you."

"Wes, Jonathan was one of the family long before we knew he was gay.  I knew his home life was rough, but like you I'm surprised at his parents' reaction.  You guys are welcome here anytime.  You know that, right?"

He gave me a hug.  "Yeah, it's clear there's a lot of love in this household.  Thanks again.  I'm going to take Jonathan back up to my house for spring break.  My mom and dad will try to spoil the hell out of him.  Right now I think he needs to know that there are people who love him for who he is inside."

The next weekend brought Trey and Josh home for spring break.  TJ was there too, but then he was home every weekend to see Donnie.  After leading the entire crew on a morning jog, I cleaned up and then headed into town to run some errands.  

My first stop was Henson's Hardware to pick up a replacement valve for a toilet that wasn't acting right.  I found a spot to park right in front of the store and went inside.  Karl Henson was behind the counter.  My heart went up into my throat when I saw him.  I hadn't even considered that he would be home on spring break too.

He was busy with another customer when I came in so I was able to avoid speaking with him going in.  I wasn't able to avoid speaking with him when I was ready to leave with the replacement valve.

"Hello, Parker.  It's good to see you."

"Hi, Karl.  How are classes going?"

"Good.  I'm still on schedule to graduate this coming December.  Looks like you've got a runny toilet."

"Yeah, we've tried everything, but the valve keeps getting stuck.  It's easier to just replace it than to keep jiggling the handle all the time."

"I know.  That'll be $8.42 with the tax."

I handed over a ten bill.

"Uh, Parker, I'm home for the week to give mom and dad a little break.  I'd really like to talk to you some time.  I need to explain a few things."

"You don't have to explain anything."

"Yes, I do.  Please let me come out and talk with you.  Better yet, why don't you come over to the house and have dinner with me one night this week.  Mom and Dad have gone down to Myrtle Beach to play a little golf.  Any night is fine for me."

My face grew hot.  "I...I'm not sure about that, Karl."


He put his hand on top of mine.  My face grew even hotter. I moved to leave.

"I'll think about it."

"I'll call you."

I sat in the Explorer in front of the store for a few minutes to try to get my emotions back in check.  Could I trust myself to sit across a dinner table and have a conversation with Karl?  And why did he want to talk in the first place?  `Get a grip, Parker!  Damn, you're such a fool!'

When I'd calmed down enough to drive I checked the traffic in the mirrors and pulled out from the parking spot.  The next stop on my list was the grocery store.  I needed to lay in more supplies with Trey, TJ, and Josh being home for the entire week. 

Henson's store was on the corner.  The light turned green as I got to it, and I started through the intersection.

I caught movement out of the corner of my right eye.  I turned my head just as the dark green pickup truck T-boned the right side of my Explorer.

The air bags all around inflated.  I felt the Explorer spin around and the airbags starting to deflate.  That's when the second impact happened on my side of the car.

(To be continued)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many of the characters who play parts in this story were previously introduced in either "When Love Comes" (last posted in the College section on Sept. 6, 2001) or "Love of a Lifetime" (last posted in the College section on May 19, 2003). While not necessary, readers may find it useful to read the two earlier stories posted on this site.  Both previous stories are also posted at

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