Finding Love: A Journey
(© 2007 by the author)
Disclaimer: This is a fictional story dealing with love and consensual sexual
activities between males. If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where
viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by homosexuality and/or
homosexual themes, leave this site now.
The characters in this story do not always practice safe sex. Remember this is fiction. You should always use a condom for the your protection and especially for the protection of the one you love. The author recommends only safe sex. Be wise and follow safe sex practices.
Several songs are quoted in this story. The copyrights to these are held by the artists or their publishers and not by the author. They are quoted as a tribute to the artist and the piece.
All persons in this story are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
All other disclaimers apply. The author retains all rights. No reproductions
are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...
Travis Mason had new respect for his son. He had endured much, but
he reasoned it would be good training for what was to come at the
Colony. He opened the cooler and removed some snacks and a soda.
He handed them to Brad. Brad was famished and the snacks really
didn't help that much, but he said nothing. Finished, he turned and
put his hands behind his back. Travis quickly secured them with
another cable tie.
"Where are we?" Brad asked.
"We're in a pull off on a secondary road headed north. We'll sleep here until daylight and then we'll continue on our trip. I'm a light sleeper, Brad, so don't try anything funny. Remember what I told you. Don't forget. I meant every word of it. Now get some sleep."
Brad rolled onto the seats again. He was surprised when his father lifted his head and placed a small pillow under it. Then he threw a light blanket over Brad. He closed the door quietly and left Brad in another kind of darkness.
Sleep would not come quickly for either of them.
Jacob's hospital room was in
semi darkness. He lay in the bed, pale and small. Somehow his actual
size was lost in the whiteness of the sheets and his Florida tan
had, at this moment, at least, deserted him. His father and mother
and Sadie sat quietly, not speaking. They had been watching the
waning sun and the lengthening shadows of twilight. As day
disappeared into early evening and the darkness began to win. Jacob
began moving in the bed.
All three jumped to their feet and went immediately to the bedside. Jacob was now thrashing about in the bed, and he was crying out,
"Fight, Brad, fight! I want you back with me. I'm waiting. Don't give in! Fight your father and his plans. Brad, come back to me, please."
Even in his medicated sleep, tears were running down Jacob's face, breaking the hearts of the three watchers who couldn't imagine the intensity of his distress. Sadie and Diane were stroking Jacob's hands as Doug stood at the foot of the bed fighting the tears that were close to flowing down his face. He had prayed so many times this day, begging God not to take his son away. Finally, he had accepted that it would be as it would be. God had his plans which none of us could ever fathom.
"He looks so small," said Diane. Sadie shook her head and said,
"But he has the heart of a lion. He's going to pull through all of this. I'm certain of that. I sense that somehow he will be instrumental in finding and saving Brad. I don't know how, but I know it will happen."
Father Jim came into the room and went immediately to Jacob's bed. He looked down at the young man in the bed and felt a pang of sorrow as he saw how small and ill he seemed.
"How's he doing, Doug?" he asked, and he put his hand on Doug's arm, hopefully conveying his concern.
"Not much change, Jim. He's uneasy for a while. He cries out for Brad. He wants Brad to come to him. It breaks your heart. It breaks your heart," he said as tears ran down his face.
Father Jim noticed how emotionally involved Sadie and Diane were, and he knew what he had to do.
"Why don't we join hands and pray for Jacob?" he said.
No one spoke but everyone took the hands of whoever was next to them. Shortly a circle of love was formed. The four bowed their heads, and Father Jim prayed,
"Heavenly Father, we ask You to look with favor upon Your servant, Jacob. Bring Your healing grace to him so that he can return to us. Send peace to his mind so that he can get the rest he so badly needs. We also pray, Almighty Father, that in Your full knowledge of all things, that You will keep Brad safe from any terror or harm. Please, we pray, bring some understanding and sense to his father so that he will not do anything harmful to Brad. We ask You this through Christ, Your Son, Amen."
"Amen," whispered the others. Jacob stirred.
Jacob didn't know where he was
and it frightened him. It was dark and there were no sounds.
Occasionally he thought he could hear a murmur. Was it of muted
voices? But then the silence returned. Was he floating? Was he
alone? Then he felt a bump. It was a body. It felt warm. His body
settled down next to the warm body.
"Jacob, it's me, Brad. I'm here with you. Jacob, get well soon because I need you."
Still in the darkness, Jacob reached out to touch his lover. He felt Brad's face, ran his fingers over his lips, wanted to kiss his lover. But he couldn't move. He seemed anchored to a firm surface and something was preventing him from moving from his back. He felt Brad slipping away.
"No! Oh, dear God, don't take him away from me. Please, please let him stay. Brad don't leave. Brad! Brad! No! I don't want to die and lose you. I'm fighting, Brad; I'm fighting!" Then a terrible moan escaped his soul and rose up and out of him finally filling the room with a profane sound.
"What's wrong with Jacob, Doug?" asked a frightened Diane.
Sadie had paled, and when the moan filled the room with its piteous sound, she actually began to shake. Was it the sound of a dying person? Were they going to lose Jacob? She couldn't speak. Her sorrow and despair were so deep that it took away her voice.
Father Jim acted immediately, ringing for the nurse. When a nurse didn't show up as quickly as he wanted, he raced into the corridor and yelled for a nurse. A nurse came running from the desk area, fear on her face.
Nurse Piper ran into the room and went to Jacob. She checked the machines, listened to his heart, lifted his eyelids, and finally took his pulse. The four visitors, watched and waited. Tension in the room was palpable.
"He's doing fine. There's nothing wrong. What happened.?" the nurse asked.
Doug quickly gave her a short but accurate explanation of what had happened. As he did, Nurse Piper gently stroked Jacob's forehead. She smiled when Doug was finished.
"I would guess that he had a very bad dream. Maybe I should say a nightmare to be more accurate. But all his vital signs are excellent. If he sleeps some more, when he awakes, he'll be the young man you know. Don't hesitate to call me again if you have any concerns," Nurse Piper said. She smiled at everyone and left the room.
"That was damn scary," said Doug as he went to Diane and hugged her. Diane needed her husband's closeness, his strength. Sadie stood stalwart still holding Jacob's hand.
"He called for Brad. It was like he was with Brad for a moment. Then something or someone took Brad away and Jacob couldn't follow. It was awful to hear," said Sadie as she collapsed into the bedside chair.
The room got silent, no one wanting to speak... no one having anything to say.
"May we come in?" asked Gary from the doorway. Beth Mason and Chris were with him. Chris was seated in a wheelchair which Beth was pushing.
"Of course, of course," said Diane. Sadie rose from her chair and looked at Beth aware that she was pale and looked exhausted.
"Thanks," said Chris, "I can only stay for a couple of minutes. I don't want to leave Peter alone. If I do, he'll chew me out. I just wanted all of you to know how concerned I am about Jacob. I'm freaking out about Brad. He's such a great brother; if anything were to happen to him, I don't know . . . I don't know what I would do." Beth patted her son on his shoulder and whispered calming words to him.
"Diane, Sadie, Doug, I don't have the language ability to tell you how sorry I am for what has happened to Jacob. It wracks my heart and soul that my husband could be the cause of all this grief. Will you forgive me, please?" Beth said.
"Beth," Sadie said, " none of us have any reason to forgive you as you didn't do anything to hurt the boys. I feel in my bones that eventually everything will turn out okay. We need to support you as your child is lost to you."
"Brad's not lost, oh, no! He's the prisoner of my crazy father. But we know where he's headed and we're getting a welcome committee ready to meet him. We just pray he doesn't hurt my brother. If he does, I want firsts. I told Brad not to believe him, not to go anywhere with him. But I never thought my dad would use a gun, nor that he would hurt an innocent person like Jacob," Chris said.
"Where is Brad?" asked Diane. She moved to Chris and took his hand in hers. "If you don't want to say, or if you can't tell us that's okay, Chris."
"It's okay," said Gary who was now standing next to Jim, his hand resting on Jim's arm.
" Gary , you tell them," said Beth.
"They're headed to Georgia and a special school that's designed to change homosexual young men into heterosexual young men. Travis Mason enrolled Brad sometime ago. Beth only learned about it last night. We got confirmation about Brad being in the custody of his father from an eye witness in central Florida . The witness was alarmed because Travis had a gun and killed an alligator that appeared to be headed toward Brad. He also used the gun to threaten Brad and get him back in the car.
"We're not entirely sure where they are at the moment, but we do know where they will be at sometime tomorrow. The sheriff's department, the FBI, and others, including Roger Gimple, are planning the process for tomorrow. Our chief concern is that no harm comes to Brad."
The authorities in Georgia have been notified of what is happening and will assist us in any way they can when we cross the border. They have agreed that they won't stop the car or try in any other way to interfere with Travis. Again, we don't want anything stupid to cause a terrible outcome," Gary told the group.
"Brad, run! Run Brad! I love you. Run! Where am I? Where's Brad? Where did his father take him? Is Brad okay? Answer me! Someone, please help me," yelled Jacob and suddenly he was sitting up, tears running down his face.
Sadie had rushed to him, taking him into her arms and rocking him as she might a baby. But Jacob didn't calm down. He struggled to get out of the bed and only his father, who came to assist Sadie, had the strength to keep him in the bed.
"Jacob, I'm here. I'll take care of you. I''m your father." And then the agony poured out of Jacob.
"Daddy, Daddy, don't let anything happen to Brad. Oh, God, where is he, Daddy? Has he been hurt? If anything bad happens to him, Daddy, I won't want to live. I can't live without him. Daddy, I love him. I love him so much. Why did this happen? Why? Why? I can't go on, Daddy, I can't go on." And the sobbing became so strong that both Jacob and his father's bodies shook.
Diane had rung for the nurse, and Nurse Piper appeared immediately. She quickly saw what was happening and withdrew from her pocket a hypodermic needle and a small vial. She went to Jacob and was about to inject him.
"What's that," demanded Douglas .
"It's a sedative. It will calm him down," she said.
"Can we wait a bit, please. He's becoming quiet. Let us try for a little."
"Okay, Mr. Neilson, but Dr. Norris left instructions that if Jacob became too agitated that he should be given this mild sedative. He's not sure about the possible effects of the concussion."
"I understand and if Jacob hasn't quieted down in five minutes, you can administer the sedative," Doug said.
"Very well. I'll check back in five minutes. If you want me before then, just ring," Nurse Piper said as she left the room.
Jacob had already calmed down. He looked around the room and saw all the people in the room. He appeared stunned.
"Why am I in the hospital?"
"You were hurt. You were hit in the head and you were shot in the leg. Everything has been taken care of, Jacob. You will probably be able to leave tomorrow. Try to keep calm," said Douglas .
While Douglas was speaking to Jacob, Beth had pushed Chris's wheelchair closer to the bed. She spoke softly and with emotion,
"Jacob, I'm so sorry for what happened. I'm so relieved that you are healing so quickly. We're worried about Brad, but I know that he will be okay. When he's found in Georgia , he'll be returned to all of us. Again, Jacob, I'm so sorry."
Chris slowly got out of his wheel chair, moved to the side of the bed and sat down. He reached out and took Jacob's hand. Jacob looked intently at him, willing as it were, for Chris to speak. Finally he did,
"Jake, I'm so sorry for all this shit. My dad . . . my dad is . . . is crazy. He hurt you, Jake. I can't forgive him for that. And . . . he took Brad away. The bastard kidnapped his own son. I . . . I can't explain it, Jake. I `m not surprised; he hates me, Jake, but I got away from him. He hates all gays. He thinks we can all be cured by some kind of religious intervention. We know that's where he taking Brad. We know . . ."
"I want to go to him. Let me out of this bed, Dad. I have to go to him. He's been calling me, Dad. He needs me. Please, Sadie, make them let me go. Oh, dear God. Chris, help me, Diane, please. Please. Brad needs me," Jacob said, sobbing uncontrollably.
Chris leaned in and kissed Jacob softly on the lips. He wiped away some of the tears, and whispered in Jacob's ear,
"I'll get you out of here, one way or another. Now quiet down and act as if everything is okay."
Jacob squeezed Chris's hand so tightly that it hurt. But Chris didn't pull away because he knew this was Jacob's way of telling him he understood. Jacob quieted down quickly.
Everyone in the room showed signs of relief. Diane noticed that Gary had taken Jim's hand in his and had them hidden behind his back. Beth stood rigid, her mind struggling with what she wanted to say, what she could say, and the realization that she would say nothing. Her distaste for Travis was increasing with each passing second. She shuddered when she imagined what she wanted to do when she next saw him.
Nurse Piper came into the room and stopped just outside the door.
"There are a couple of young men outside who insist on seeing Jacob, but I'm afraid they can't come into the room until some of you visitors leave."
Everyone looked at each other, and then in a sudden movement, everyone hurried to Jacob, said good bye, and left the room. Before he left, Doug, told Jacob,
"Jacob, you should know that Kev and Todd saved your life. They also gave the police enough information so that they knew that Brad's father was the culprit. Be sure to thank these two guys.
"Of course I'll thank them, Dad," said a tiring Jacob. Doug leaned down and kissed his son on the head.
"I love you every much, Jacob. Your mother would be very proud of you for trying to help Brad and for being true to yourself. You're quite a guy, and I'm glad you're my son," said Doug as tears began to slide down his and Jacob's face. Jacob had reached up and was hugging his father.
"I love you, dad," Jacob said quietly to his dad. Doug smiled and hurried from the room as his tears were coming faster now and he didn't want Jacob to see.
For a few minutes the room was
strangely silent. Then two young men hurried into the room and saw
Jacob sitting up in his bed. They rushed to him, Todd arriving
first. He almost threw himself at Jacob, hugging him and kissing him
all over his face. Kev pushed Todd aside a little and was soon
hugging Jacob; for a second Kev hesitated, but then he began to kiss
Jacob, too. There were some tears and finally some laughter when
"Hold on! Kev, did you just kiss me?"
"Sure as shit, I did. I'm so happy to see you alive. Man, Jake, I thought you were fuckin' dead. We both did," said Kev.
"Damn right, Jacob. I thought you were a gonner. And then to see Brad looking at you from the back of the car unable to come to your aid, just about killed me, Jake."
"Enough!" shouted Jacob. "You guys have got to get me out of here so that we can go help get Brad. Chris, Brad's brother wants to help me get out of here, too. Will you guys help me?"
"'Course we will. Tim will want to help, too. I'll call him and we'll go get him."
"Jake, don't get pissed, but are you well enough to leave?" asked Kev.
"Don't you understand, Kev? I'd crawl on my stomach through fire if it meant that I could help Brad. My aches and pains are minor because I still have a father and mother who love me and support me. Except for Chris, and maybe his mother now, Brad's alone. He has to face his father and this damned school in which his dad has enrolled him. Don't freak out, but I know Brad's been calling for me, he needs me," said Jacob.
Kev looked at Todd who raised his shoulders in a silent statement of `what else can we do?' Kev smiled a little and glanced at Jacob whose eyes were glistening, and Kev's heart melted. At that moment, he couldn't believe that he once had been such an asshole to Jacob. He cleared his throat from the lump of emotion that had settled there and told Jacob,
"Jacob, of course, we'll help you. It's just very important that nothing happens to you. We want you healthy and energetic when you get Brad back. Todd insists that we get Tim as he will want to help. I suspect Conner and some of the others in our group will want to help, too. If it's okay with you, we want to go get Chris and bring him back here so that we can start planning."
"Sweet!" said Jacob.
After a couple of quick hugs, the guys hurried from the room and Jacob was alone. In the stillness of the room, Jacob spoke,
"I'm on my way to you. Fight, Brad; don't let anyone stop you."
Sadie, Beth, Diane and Douglas
went to the cafeteria after they left Jacob's hospital room. The
Li's joined them and the six of them had a light meal as no one
really felt like eating. At first the six of them gave their
attention to the food. There was little conversation. As they began
to push the food aside, unable to eat more, the conversation began.
It was Sadie who started speaking.
"I'm having a difficult time wrapping my mind around all that has happened in the last few days. I thought nothing could be worse than what happened to Peter and Chris, but I was terribly wrong. When I heard the details about the mess today, I guess I was momentarily in a state of disbelief. I still cannot believe that Mr. Mason is the culprit in today's incident. I wonder if he ever considered that he might have killed Jacob."
Beth Mason was playing with the now-cold vegetables on her plate. Diane was watching her closely and realized her great distress as Sadie talked about Beth's husband. There was deep sorrow in her eyes, but she was in control of her emotions, at least at the moment. She took a deep breath and began to speak,
"I can't express the regret and embarrassment I feel when I think about what my husband did to Jacob. That he also kidnapped our son moved my concern to very near hate. I wonder . . ."
"Just a darn minute, Beth," interrupted Douglas , "don't you go blaming yourself for what Travis decided to do. You have no reason to be embarrassed since you didn't do anything wrong. I know very well that Jacob would never think badly of you, Beth. I'm sure he's angry with Travis, but not because he was injured, but because Brad was kidnapped and is being taken to some stupid school that your husband believes will change Brad's sexual preference. I suspect that he never considered how strong the love is between those two young men. He apparently never considered the validity of their love. And he certainly should have seen the same thing between Peter and Chris. I mean, my God, what's the matter with the man?"
Diane had moved to sit beside Beth. Lorraine Li was already sitting on her other side. Sadie was sitting opposite Beth. The four women represented a formidable group. Travis would do well not to have to contend with them. Sadie, as usual, had something to say.
"Beth, Doug, is right. You have nothing to be upset about. It's your husband who has a lot to answer for, not only to us but also to the authorities. You must not blame yourself for any of the horror of today. You had the presence of mind to contact a private investigator. That's admirable."
Beth clasped Sadie's hand and held it tightly. Diane reached out and put her hand on Beth's hand, followed almost immediately by Lorraine Li's hand. This was feminine agreement and power.
"I know what you are saying and I appreciate it," said Beth, "but I need to take some of the guilt. I didn't have the sense to realize that Travis was up to no good. I suspected things, but I didn't pursue them. I knew that Travis was inflexible in his attitude about the gay community. He hated it. I saw him cast aside Chris, and I did nothing to stop him. I knew he would flip out when he learned about Brad. What you saw earlier was all an act; he doesn't care a bit about Chris. He thinks his plan will save Brad from the pain and agony of hell, but he believes that Chris has been lost and will go to hell. I don't believe that. He's listened carefully to our pastor and has accepted all that has been said about homosexuality. And frankly, I'm afraid that I also listened too intently and too willingly. I have let my sons down. I have compromised their well being. I pray that Chris will forgive me, and I ask God to bring Brad back to me so that I can ask his forgiveness."
There was not a dry eye among the four women sitting at the table. The two men, quiet because of the large lumps in their throats, looked at each other in complete understanding of the emotional display they were watching.
"I would like to get back to Peter," said Mr. Li, "we've been away for sometime. He'll wonder what we're up to."
Sadie got up and started to the door of the cafeteria. She stopped and turned back toward the others. She smiled broadly and told them,
`I had enough presence of mind to grab Jacob's iPod. Now that he's conscious, he might like to listen to some of his music. After a short visit with him, I'm headed home to get some rest."
Everyone else got up and started toward the exit. As they did, Diane said that she and Doug would visit Jacob for a short time and then they would head home, too. It would be important, she said, to let him get some rest. The Li's said they would see Peter and Chris for a short time and then would head home to the Neilson's. Beth agreed, but was hesitant in saying she was headed home. Diane noticed and invited her to spend the night with them. She quickly agreed. The Li's volunteered to have Beth ride with them. Beth suggested she follow the Li's as she didn't want to leave her car at the hospital. Before they got into the elevator all had been decided. At the fourth floor, Sadie, Diane and Doug headed to Jacob's room, while the Li's and Beth headed to Chris and Peter's room.
Brad couldn't sleep. His arms
were getting numb, and he kept thinking about Jake. How badly was
Jake hurt? Brad concentrated, trying to think about him. Sometimes
he thought he could hear Jake's voice. Often, he cried in
frustration. He had to fight! He had to get through this! He had to
get back to Jake! His agitated turning and moving about finally
provoked his father to ask,"
"You all right, Brad? You need anything?"
"I can't get comfortable. And it's hot in here. My hands and arms are sore. I'll be okay. Don't start worrying about me now."
"Brad, I've always worried about you, and wanted the best for you. I've tried to make you happy. That's why I am doing this, because I love you. Can't you understand that?" asked Travis.
"I don't believe you. You won't accept Chris or me because we don't fit your view of what we should be. You forget all the good things that make us who we are. We're good sons who love Mom and try to love you. But you can only focus on our sexual preference. Not only did you judge us, but you have judged others, like Peter and Jacob. You shot Jacob and only God knows how badly he is hurt or if you killed him. Jake has never done anything to you. He's tried his best to convince me to understand you and to love you, but you don't care about that do you? All you care about is sex.
"It's crazy, Dad, to think that we wanted to be gay or that anyone with some stupid program can change us. You're too convinced by Pastor Downy. He's a bigot and a dangerous man. Just remember, God loved us enough to make us. He still loves us, and if we live good lives, He will love us for all of eternity. You need to think about that," said an angry Brad whose voice increased in volume until he was almost shouting.
"Don't you raise your voice to me, Bradley Mason. I'm your father and I just may know more about life than you. Have you thought about your life beyond sex with that . . . that Jacob character?"
"I'm going to try to get some sleep. Good night," said Brad as he turned his back to his father.
Brad fixed his mind on Jacob. He loved Jacob and he missed him. He prayed that this nightmare would soon be over. He wanted to be back with Jacob, finishing high school, applying to college, living together. That was Brad's idea of happiness. It would be a long, lonely night.
Silence returned to the car, but neither Brad nor his father slept easily.
On the drive to the hospital,
Sheriff Conklin had contacted the hospital asking that a conference
room be made available to him for questioning witnesses and for
meetings with various law enforcement agencies. The hospital
administrator quickly agreed and told the sheriff that if he came to
the emergency entrance and waiting room, that someone would be there
to direct him to the conference room.
After the sheriff arrived at the hospital, he went into the waiting room. He was quickly approached by Mr. Wixon, an associate administrator, who directed him to the conference room. Two deputies were with the sheriff. Conklin stationed the deputies outside the room to prevent anyone from entering who was not supposed to be there.
He knew Gary would be there and that the two boys who had assisted the victim would be there to be questioned. He had asked Principal Treadwell and Assistant Principal Kinkade to meet him at the hospital, so they would be there, too. He was uneasy about the entire episode. Gimple had given him some information already that made him wonder how people could act the way they did. His experience convinced him that there were strange, angry and ugly people in the world. But in this case, everything pointed to the father as the kidnapper and the shooter who had injured a young man. His troubled musings were interrupted when a deputy told him that the two young men were waiting. He told the deputy to send them into the room.
He was not surprised when Gary, Gimple, Principal Treadwell, and Assistant Principal Kinkade accompanied the two young men into the conference room. Conklin shook hands with the adults and asked everyone to take a seat around the large table. Kevin and Todd sat together with Gary next to Kevin and Gimple next to Todd. Sheriff Conklin, Principal Treadwell, and Kinkade sat on the opposite side of the table.
Conklin thought the two boys appeared apprehensive, so he assured them that they were not in any trouble and that he considered them heroes. They were there to fill in information as witnesses in the best way they could. Principal Treadwell assured the boys that they were not in any trouble with the school.
After the boys understood that they were not in any trouble, everyone in the room seemed to relax, especially Kev and Todd. Gary and Gimple had remarked to the boys that they could count on them if any of the questioning appeared to be getting out of hand. Conklin began,
"I am going to ask Miss Fregon, a court stenographer to come into the room now to record what we say. I contacted my office to send her here in the likelihood she might be needed. I am doing this because there will probably be court cases. I want to make certain that all that we say here will be recorded accurately. If there is no objection, then, I'll have Miss Fregon join us."
Conklin went to the door and asked for Miss Fregon to join the group. Miss Fregon was a youngish woman whose poor posture and ill-kept hair made her look older. She wore little if any makeup and her glasses were not selected with any interest in style. She was wearing a gray linen suit which was slightly tight in the wrong places. Hopefully her skills as a court stenographer were better than her skills in personal care. She took her seat to the right of Conklin, placed her small machine on the table and waited. She made no attempt to speak to anyone in the room including Conklin. The sheriff continued,
"I would like you two young men to identify yourself with your full name and your local address. Why don't you go first," he said to Kev.
Kev took a deep breath and said,
"My name is Kevin J. Blain. I live at 3598 West Avalon Drive ."
"Thank you, Kevin. And now you young man, " he said to Todd.
In a voice shaking a little, Todd said,
"My name is Todd M. Collins. I live at 452 Oceanview Lane ."
"Very good, boys. Now what I would like you guys to do is to tell us exactly what happened this afternoon. Don't hesitate to interrupt each other to fill in details. Why don't you start, Kevin," said Conklin.
For the next ten or fifteen minutes the boys related all that they could about the experience earlier in the day. Kev gave most of the details, with Todd only stopping him twice to suggest a slight change which Kev immediately acknowledged. It was clear that for the two boys finding Jacob bleeding on the pavement and watching Brad, gagged and apparently hogtied, being driven away, had been a traumatic experience. When Kev got to the place where he needed to talk about trying to find a pulse in Jacob's neck and his fear that Jacob was dead, his eyes glistened with tears. Todd, listening to and looking at his friend, also was emotionally affected.
Just as the boys had finished, a deputy came into the room, went directly to the sheriff and whispered to him. Conklin spoke to the deputy and immediately thereafter a Colonel Jackson of the Florida Highway Patrol, and James T. Casablanin of the FBI came into the room. Jackson reported about the sighting and the confirmation of the license plate from a reliable witness in middle Florida . The FBI was involved, Casablanin told everyone, because it was a kidnapping. Jackson went on to report that there were no records of Travis Mason having a license to carry a pistol, a further concern of the law.
Conklin told the boys they could go up to see Jacob if they wished. He thanked them for their help and told them if they were needed again, that he would contact them. Kevin and Todd left immediately bringing a smile to Gary and Gimple's face.
When the boys were out of the room, the gathered group began laying out the plan for rescuing Brad and apprehending Travis Mason. The paramount objective of the group was the safety of Brad Mason. Every member of the group wanted the same thing: no screw ups that could cause injury to Brad.
Agent Casablanin informed the group of all the services of the Bureau in assisting in solving the case and bringing the guilty to justice. Jackson indicated that the full assistance of the Florida Highway Patrol was available, too. Everyone agreed that Sheriff Conklin should be head of the group. Gary asked about who could be included in the group going to Georgia and to the colony. It was agreed that all those present would be included along with a number of deputy sheriffs and a full contingency of highway patrol officers. The FBI would have a number of agents and a SWAT team from Tampa . The highway patrol would provide helicopter surveillance.
Jackson reported that contact had been made with the Georgia State Police, and local police. Georgia officers would assist, but would not interfere unless asked to help. The Georgia law enforcement personnel would provide traffic control, and would close roads if it was deemed necessary. The Georgia State Police and locals officers would also assist in providing men to join Florida personnel in security around the perimeter of the property. They would also inform the Florida Highway Patrol immediately when the car crossed the border between the two states.
Plans called for travel to Georgia to start immediately with all personnel arriving at the staging area in south Georgia at anytime. The designated staging area was in Valdosta , a small city of approximately forty thousand and close by Quitman, a town of about six thousand. The colony was only a short distance from Quitman. Travis would probably travel up Interstate 75 to Valdosta , then Route 212 to Quitman, and finally Route 13 to the final destination: The Regency Readjustment Colony.
Gary had remained quiet throughout the discussion. He had worries about Brad's safety and he fretted about all the things that might go wrong. With the number of people involved it increased the possibility of some idiot screwing up the whole thing. He would ask Jim to join him in a prayer. Gimple, too, had been relatively quiet, and he worried about Brad and what might happen to him even in the small amount of time he would be there. What he had learned made his skin crawl. He hoped that all would go well. It would be difficult to sleep much tonight. His thoughts turned to the wounded boy upstairs and what he must be thinking and worrying about Brad. And he didn't know the half of it.
Conklin closed the meeting and told everyone to get prepared for the drive and to expect to catch a little sleep at the staging area. Gary interrupted and asked if Father Jim might join them as he had a fine working relationship with Brad who would probably need some counseling and support. Conklin approved the addition of Jim.
There was some small talk, decisions made about vehicles and passengers and some handshakes as members of the group trickled out in one's and two's. Each was cognizant of the difficult day that lay ahead.
As soon as Kev and Todd left
Jacob's hospital room, they hurried to Chris and Peter's room. Kev
told the two that he and Todd were going to pickup other friends of
Jacob and Brad. When they returned with the friends, the group could
then decide how they would get Jacob out of the hospital. After
Kev's brief explanation to the two patients, he and Todd left. Once
outside, they opened their cell phones and began calling.
Todd called Ranaldi's Restaurant. When Mrs. Ranaldi answered the phone, Todd quickly explained about all that had happened that day. She was upset that Jacob had been injured, but Todd reassured her that he was okay. The concern now was about Brad's kidnapping. Todd asked if it would be possible for Tim to leave so that he could help them assist Jacob. Mrs. Ranaldi quickly agreed. She would have Tim ready. Todd thanked her, said goodbye and hung up.
Meantime, Kev had reached Ashton who was quick to join the group. Next, Kevin called Conner, who wanted in, and told Kev he would pick up Ashton. Todd was on the phone with Greg who seemed reluctant to be a part of the group. Todd handed the phone to Kevin.
"Greg, look buddy, Brad needs us all and so does Jake. We need everyone of our group to help. We won't all have the same part in the plan, but the more of us that are helping the better things will turn out. You owe it to Brad. Fuck, you owe it to Todd and me. We don't usually ask for help when it isn't really needed. We need you, Greg."
"Okay, okay. I get it. Can you pick me up?"
"Sure can, my man. And thanks for helping. I'll be there in ten minutes. Warn your parents that we might be out late."
"Done," said Greg and the phone went dead.
Kev looked at Todd who smiled broadly and hugged him. Kev smiled back and returned the hug.
"You know, Kev, if you're not careful you're going to become a hell of a friend," said Todd as they walked to their vehicles.
"Yeah, I'm getting to be a regular cream puff," laughed Kev.
"Seriously, Kev, you revealed something about yourself today. There's a sensitive, caring guy hiding underneath the gruff, wise-ass guy we all know. I like what I've seen today, Kev, and I'm proud to have you as a friend."
"Sweet!" replied Kev. "Now get going and pickup Tim. And Todd, no kissy-huggy shit. Just hurry back here, okay?"
"I take back what I just said, you asshole. I assure you that I plan a little kissy-huggy shit, so there!" said Todd.
"I knew you would `cause you're just a horny lover, Todd. Me? I'm just an asshole," Kev said as he started his truck, slammed the door, and sped away, laughing heartily. Todd smiled, got in and started his car. He pulled out of the hospital parking lot and quickly was on his way to Tim.
Mrs. Ranaldi hung up the
telephone and sat heavily on the stool behind the counter. The color
had drained from her face as she listened to Todd. Jacob shot! Brad
kidnapped! What was going on? The world was getting crazier by the
day. She thought of Sadie, the poor woman must be out of her mind.
And it's Brad's father who did all this. What's the matter with him?
As she was thinking about all of this, Tim passed her on his way to the kitchen. He stopped immediately when he saw how pale she looked.
"Mrs. Ranaldi, are you feeling all right? You look pale?" he asked.
She looked at the young man she had learned to love as her own son and she wondered what his reaction would be when she told him all that had transpired that afternoon.
"I'm okay, Tim. It's just that I got some bad news and it upset me. Todd is coming to pick you up. Come sit with me at the back corner table and I will tell you all about what has happened.
Tim looked questioningly at Mrs. Ranaldi but followed her to the table. She motioned for him to sit and then sat opposite him. She smoothed her apron, trying to wipe the bad news away, but she knew that it wasn't going to disappear. She moved the small vase of flowers to the side, reached across the table and took Tim's hand. She began quietly to relate what had happened.
As she filled in details, it became apparent that Tim was very upset by what he was hearing. When she finally told him about Jacob being shot and Brad being kidnapped, Tim gasped and tears filled his eyes.
"My God, not Jacob! Not Brad! It can't be, Mrs. Ranaldi. How could this happen?" said Tim who was now trembling.
Mrs. Ranaldi had taken Tim's hand into both of hers and she was squeezing tightly. But Tim didn't seem to feel that. His pain was internal and raw scraping against his psyche. It ripped away at his strongly held beliefs that good people aren't supposed to be hurt. He didn't understand.
"I . . . I don't . . ." he stammered, "understand. How could this happen? How could Mr. Mason do these terrible things? How? I don't understand."
Mrs. Ranaldi continued to squeeze his hand tightly, mostly because she didn't have an intelligent answer for him. The tears had begun to run down his face. He laid his head on his and Mrs. Ranaldi's hands, those tears now wetting their hands. A huge lump made it difficult for this wonderful lady to speak, but she knew that Tim needed some kind of solace, some kind of understanding, some kind of compassion. Before she could speak, he raised his head and in an emotionally devastated voice asked,
"Is Jacob going to die?"
"No, no, no. He will be fine, Tim. He was shot in the leg, remember. It was not life threatening. The doctors are more concerned about the concussion. I `m sure he will be okay. Are you going to be okay, Tim?" she said.
Just as she finished, the door to the restaurant opened and Todd hurried into the room. He glanced around, and spotting the two of them at the back table, he ran to them. Since Tim's back was to the door, he didn't see Todd come in.
"Your Todd is here," she informed him.
Tim jumped to his feet and threw himself into Todd's arms. They stood there embracing as if each was an anchor for the other. They did not speak for a long moment. Finally, Tim whispered,
"Thanks for coming to get me. I need to go to Jacob. I need to help. Can we try to find Brad? Todd, I need to do something."
"That's why I'm here, Hon. We're all getting together to work on a plan to rescue Brad. We all want you to be part of the group. By the way, I love you." Todd told him.
Mrs. Ranaldi had gotten up from the table and walked over to the boys. There were tears in her eyes, perhaps as a reaction to the news about Jacob and Brad, or maybe because she recognized the strong tie between the boys. It was, she understood now, really love. The world needed more love like that.
"You'd better go," she said, "and be sure to let me know what's happening. I'm worried about Sadie. Jacob is like a son to her. I know she will be very worried. Ask her to call me. Now go, and God bless whatever you do to help. Hurry!."
No other words were spoken, but both Todd and Tim sensed how deeply she was worried about the two boys who were not there. She had strong affection for Jacob, so hearing what she had about him would have deeply distressed her. The boys hurried out of the restaurant, and jumped into the car. However, before they did anything else, they fell into each other's arms and kissed with a kind of intensity they had not experienced previously. Undoubtedly an awareness of the fragility of life had been amplified by the terrible events of the day.
As Kev drove to Greg's home, he
thought about the days that had just passed. He smiled to himself,
remembering that he now was close friends with a bunch of gay guys.
And surprisingly, it didn't bother him. In fact, he was aware that
his life had been expanded by knowing and getting to actually care
about Jacob and Brad.
His previous image of a gay guy had been changed forever because Jacob and Brad had proved that gays were not all limp-wristed effeminate men. He now understood that they were like other guys and could be found in every profession that existed. The only difference was that they had a sexual preference that was not his. He didn't understand that part of being gay, but it didn't mean that Jacob and Brad and many others, were freaks.
When he thought more about it, he realized that much of his view of gays had been prejudiced by his father. His dad was an all-right father, but he had some blind spots and one of them was about gay men. Because they had sex with each other, his dad thought that men who were involved in that `stuff', as he called it, were queers and sinners. There was no other acceptable explanation of it. Gays were not normal. Period!
He remembered a Thanksgiving dinner where his father and his mother's brother got into a heated argument about gays. Uncle Ted didn't want his father using words like `fags' and `queers'. His mom was crying, and Aunt Ethel wanted to leave. He was only nine or ten at the time, so much of what was being said didn't make too much sense. But he remembered his father's anger and his Uncle Ted's insistence that proper terms should be used, especially in front of Kev.
When his mother threatened to leave the table, things quieted down, but he had never forgotten the argument. He took his dad's side, of course, and thought of gays as `fags', `queers', and a little later, as `cock suckers'. Remembering that episode made his face get red from embarrassment over his bigotry. He pulled his truck up in front of Greg's home.
Before he could get out of the truck, Greg ran down the walkway, opened the door and got in. Kev reached over and rubbed Greg's curly blond head,
"Thanks, buddy. I really appreciate your help. It will mean a lot to Brad if we all help."
Greg smiled and pushed Kev's hand away from his head. He fastened his seat belt and settled back into the seat. He told Kev,
"It's not big deal, Kev. I was just a little uncomfortable at first. You know, those guys are gay, and well?"
"Well, what? Do you think that Brad has changed? Isn't he still a great quarterback and a good friend?" Kev said his voice filled with annoyance and anger.
"Sure he is, but . . .forget it. I'm here and I'm ready to help in anyway I can. Okay?"
"Yeah, shithead, it's kewl! Hey, wait a minute. I just had a wild thought. Greg, go back in and put on some sweats and a baseball cap. Grab a hoodie, too."
"What the fuck's this all about? It's hotter than a whore's cunt. Cripes I'll sweat my balls off," said a confused Greg.
"I'll explain it all as we ride back to the hospital. Now get your shaggy ass movin' or I'll have to beat on you as if you were a fuckin' drum," said a laughing Kev.
Greg unhooked his seat belt, got out of the truck and hurried into the house. In what seemed like forever to Kev, but was in reality only a few minutes, Greg returned wearing sweats and a baseball cap, carrying a hoodie. Kev smiled.
Soon they were on our way to the hospital. By the time they arrived, a previously hesitant Greg was now on board completely and enthusiastically. Little did Greg know how instrumental he would be to Kev's plan.
After Kev and Todd left Chris
and Peter's hospital room, neither of the patients spoke for a
while. Peter lay in his bed, his head resting on two pillows. He
watched Chris, the man he loved more than life itself, as he paced
about the room. Finally Chris sat on his bed, looked at Peter and
"Penny for your thoughts, Hon," said Peter.
"That's a bad investment right now," said Chris as he lay back on the bed, but turned his head to watch Peter.
Peter had closed his eyes and lay quietly. He raised his hand and ran a finger across his lips. He sighed deeply, opened his eyes and turned to look at Chris.
"You want to go find Brad and your dad, don't you. But, you're worried about me, right?" Peter asked.
Chris raised himself on his elbow and looked across the space between the hospital beds which now seemed like a chasm separating him from his beloved Peter.
"Maybe," he whispered, "but I won't leave you; no, I'll stay here. Peter. I love you and I want you by my side until the day I die. I can't be Brad's sole protector. I don't think we'll be able to keep Jacob from coming with us. However much I think my father is the ultimate asshole in the world, I don't think he would do anything to physically hurt Brad."
Peter said nothing. Chris noticed a tear running down Peter's cheek. His heart almost burst with love. Chris went to him, crossing that chasm, and comforted him by holding him in his arms. Peter spoke slowly but clearly.
"You must go, Hon, you must. He's your kid brother and he's in imminent danger. I'll be okay, Chris. My mom and dad are here and they'll keep me company. I only wish that I could go with you. I want you to go, but there is one condition."
"A condition?" asked Chris.
""Well, actually more than one," Peter said as he kissed his lover on the cheek. He was smiling and Chris was well aware of that devilish smile.
"You're shitting me right?"
"'Fraid not, my horny buddy. First, I want you to spend as much time as possible in this bed with me in what's left of this day. But more importantly I want you to take care not to overdo things when you go to rescue Brad. I know you well and you think you have the strength of Superman. Maybe that's true when you make love to me, but that's different. Your dad's got a gun and apparently he's not afraid to use it."
Much to Peter's dismay, Chris was laughing. He pushed Chris away a little. He glared at Chris who didn't stop laughing.
"What so fuckin' funny, shithead?" asked Peter.
"It's just, well, it's just . . ." but Chris continued to laugh so much that he couldn't speak. Finally, he blurted out,
"You sport a pretty dangerous gun, Babe. You've shot me with that loaded gun more than once."
Their embracing and kissing was getting really hot, when Mr. and Mrs. Li and Beth Mason returned to the room. They stopped in the doorway smiling.
"My goodness," said Mrs. Li, "you two are very amorous, aren't you?"
"It's the hormones of youth, my dear. At our age, it's a little difficult to remember all that," said a laughing Mr. Li. Mrs. Li playfully punched her husband's arm, as Beth laughed.
Peter, red faced but happy, and Chris similarly arrayed with a great smile and red face, started to laugh.
"Mom, Dad, we're just happy to be alive and well. Now we have to do something to help Brad. Chris wants to try to help in some way and I want him to do whatever he can."
Beth gasped, but said nothing.
Mr. Li, smiled, walked over to the bed and looked down at the two young men in the bed. He spoke clearly to them,
"I have many friends in many places, and I will make sure that you get to help your brother as you should. Lorraine and I will be here to take care of Peter. Your energy and concern needs to be focused on your brother, Chris. We all want Brad back as we know how much he is missed and loved."
Beth Mason was struggling with the emotions she felt as John Li spoke of how much Brad was missed and loved.
"Mr. Li, how can I thank you for all you want to do to help us rescue Brad. I love him more than I can say. He's been such a strong supporter of me before and after my father kicked me out of the house. He was willing to come to Gainesville to be with me during the holidays ever though it would have caused a great deal of unpleasantness for him. My father would have been livid. So, you see, I have to help in anyway that I can," Chris said as he got up from the bed.
Chris stood and extended his hand to Mr. Li, but John Li took the serious young man into his arms and hugged him tightly.
"Whatever you need, be sure that you ask me first. Do you understand?" said John Li.
Chris shook his head in the affirmative as Mrs. Li had come over to the bed and hugged her son. Peter spoke in a voice filled with emotion,
"I'm so lucky to have you and dad as parents and to have Chris who loves me. I couldn't ask for more."
Chris took his hand, squeezed it and said,
"It's what you deserve, my love. You are a good and loving human being. Everyone of us loves you deeply."
Beth Mason hugged Chris. It felt wonderful to hold him again in her arms. She had always loved him deeply as she did Brad, too. She knew now that she would support anything Chris decided to do to help Brad.
There was a knock at the door and Kev's head appeared around the jam.
"Okay for a few of us to come in?"
"Be our guests," Chris said.
"We'll be leaving now for the night. All three of us are staying at the Neilson's. If you need us, please call. And, Chris, remember to call me if you need anything. Don't worry about the time. Peter has my cell phone number which I will keep near my bed," said John Li.
Some quick hugs and kisses were exchanged, and then the Li's and Beth Mason left. Chris stroked his lover's penis and then quickly kissed it through the hospital gown.
"Enough, Chris, I'll be so hard that the guys will give us both a huge amount of shit," said Peter as he tried to control his laughter and his penis.
"Okay, but watch out for later, Babe, `cause I plan on making you happy and tired so you can get a good night's sleep," Chris said.
Moments later, the entourage of Jacob and Brad's friends made their way into the room. Kev and Todd led the group. There were three other boys, one of whom was pushing another boy in a wheel chair.
"Hey, guys, let me introduce the others," said Kev, " you already know Todd. This is Tim, he's Todd's boyfriend. This is Conner, and this is Aston who's pushing Greg in the wheel- chair."
"Glad to meet all of you," said Peter.
"Sorry you need a wheelchair, Greg," said Chris. "I hope it isn't anything serious and that you will be up and around in a short time."
"Oh, don't worry about me," said Greg and he got out of the wheelchair and walked over to shake hands with Chris.
"What the fuck?" asked an astonished Chris.
Kev and the other guys were all giggling. Chris fell back onto Peter's bed. Peter and Chris looked bewildered.
"What's so funny?" asked Peter.
"I'll make it all clear to you in a minute or so. Greg's use of the wheelchair is all part of a plan to rescue Brad and to have Jacob with us," said Kev.
"Well, get on with it," urged Chris.
When Diane, Doug and Sadie
arrived at Jacob's room, they found him sitting up in his bed and
alert. He was not smiling, though, and that bothered the three
"Hi dad, and my two moms," said Jacob. Sadie went to him and kissed him on the forehead. She stepped back so that Diane and Doug could also give Jacob a kiss. Doug cleared his throat as he decided to ask Jacob some questions.
"How are you feeling, Jacob?" Doug asked. Jacob looked at him, a tear slowly rolling down his cheek. He quickly wiped it away and said,
"I'm okay. It's just . . ." The tears now were plentiful and the sobs were escaping even though Jacob was fighting hard to keep them in check. He finally continued,
"It's just that I'm so worried about Brad. I'm so afraid his father will do something wicked and he'll be hurt or worse. I don't know what I'll do if I can't have Brad back. I'm trying not to hate Mr. Mason, but it's difficult not to. Look what he did to me and he didn't check to see how badly he had hurt me. Dad, he made me tie up Brad and gag him. How horrible is that? I had to do it because he threatened me and Brad with the gun. I didn't try hard enough to help Brad. I feel responsible for what happened. I tried, dad, I really did, but I couldn't stop anything. I feel like a loser."
Diane was furious. Before anyone could say anything, she spoke with anger in her voice,
"Jacob Neilson, don't you dare to say you're a loser. In my book you're a hero. My God, Jacob, you put you life on the line for Brad. How is that a loser? You were shot trying to help Brad. How is that a loser? You demonstrated the highest kind of love, Jacob. How is that a loser? No, Jacob, you did everything right. You did everything that could be expected of you. In fact, you went beyond what most young men would have done. Why? That's easy, Jacob, you did all those things without thinking of your own safety because you wanted to assure the safety of the man you love. You were willing to sacrifice you own well being, your life, for heaven's sake. You were remarkable and you make all of us proud of you. In fact, you make us all wonder if we could behave as bravely as you did. So no more talk of losers. I won't hear of it."
"Nor will I, Jacob Neilson.. I don't want to hear the word `loser' coming out of your mouth," said an agitated Sadie.
Doug went to his son's bed and took Jacob into his arms. He hugged him tightly, fighting to keep tears from running down his face. He couldn't speak, so just held Jacob, hoping that some bit of his strength would move to his son. He was so proud of Jacob. His son was a real hero! In the best tradition of a real hero, Jacob didn't accept what he had done as heroic. Finally Doug whispered into Jacob's ear,
"Son, you are my hero and I love you deeply."
Jacob sobbed aloud, not in sadness, but in a kind of pride because of the love he now felt from his father. He realized now that perhaps even Brad might think he was a hero. Brad would not want him as a loser, but desired him as a lover. The thought calmed the beast gnawing at his guts. Now, more than ever, he knew he had to help rescue Brad.
Sadie handed the iPod to Jacob, saying, "I brought this just in case you would want it. If you're not interested, I'll take it back home. I'm sure you'll be back home sometime tomorrow, and so will Brad. Then, young man, it's back to school."
"Yeah, I'm glad you brought the iPod," said Jacob with a frown, "but did you have to bring up school? Brad and I might want some time together, ALONE, after we rescue him tomorrow."
Diane glanced at her husband, whose wrinkled brow suggested that he, too, was surprised by Jacob's comment about "after we rescue him tomorrow". Before either of them could speak, Sadie immediately inquired,
"What do you mean, Jacob, "after we rescue him"? You can't be involved for heaven's sake since you'll still be here in the hospital."
Jacob looked away from Sadie and looked out the window. He knew he had to lie and it was something he had never done, not to Sadie, but he also understood that if he said anything, he would not be allowed to help find his beloved.
"It was just the way I said it. Don't worry about me, I know what I'm allowed to do," said Jacob.
"Are you sure about that, Jacob?" asked his father.
"Certainly, I'm sure," replied Jacob.
"That makes me feel better. I would be worried out of my mind if you did anything that foolish," Diane said.
"You need to get some sleep, son, so we're going to leave now. We'll be back early tomorrow morning. Try to forget as much as you can about today. I'm sure Brad is fine if unhappy," said his father as he hugged his son and kissed the top of his head.
Diane and Sadie both hugged Jacob and kissed him on the cheek. There was a hesitancy in leaving, but the three finally exited, saying good night to the apple of their eyes.
Jake sighed deeply, put the ear buds in, and found the song he wanted to hear, had to hear at this moment in his life. Jacob heard the melodious voice of Josh Groban proclaim,
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.
"Oh, Brad, Brad, come and sit
awhile with me!" Jacob whispered, as the tears ran down his face. As
the song continued to its end, Jacob's eyes fluttered and closed.
His weary body had succumbed to the long event-filled day.
To be continued...
"The measure of love is to love
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