This story contains scenes of love and sexual interaction. Much of this involves males with other males. If the reading or possessing of such material as this is illegal in your country, state, province, county, municipality, etc., please leave this site immediately and do not proceed further. If you are under the legal age to read this, please do not do so.

It is not my intention to offend anyone or to get you in trouble.

The author retains all rights to this original story. Please do not publish without explicit authorization from me.

This story is completely fictional. Most of the places mentioned, and none of the characters exist in real life. Some may possess physical or personality characteristics of people I know or have known. But if you see yourself in this story, your imagination is better than mine!

All best, Jon

If you like my story, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you: seperatepiece@hotmail.com

Matt and Jon

Chapter 24

When they arrived at the Barker’s house, Bill went to light the grill that he had set up the night before while Matt made sure that everyone had something to drink. Since everyone arrived at practically the same time, the party was underway instantly. Once the grill was lit, Bill helped Matt retrieve the platters of vegetables and dip, and chips and salsa that Ann had prepared the night before.

Ann arrived a few minutes later with additional food and whipped up another batch of burgers. She smiled in satisfaction as she washed her hands. Everything was under control as she went to join her guests. Everyone was in small groups chatting away and laughing. She went over to join Shelley and Betty Martin, who were standing together by the picnic table talking.

Betty smiled at Ann as she approached. “Well, I guess I’m officially in the club.”

Ann returned her smile. “Yes, Matt told me about Eric and Ryan giving you the news. How do you feel?”

Betty shrugged. “Well, it’s not what we wanted for Eric, quite frankly, but I guess we have no choice. We love our son, and we want him to know that he has our full support, no matter what. We just want Ryan and him to be careful. There are so many hateful people in the world.”

Shelley laughed a brittle laugh. “Tell us about it. We don’t care what people think, but having our homes vandalized is something we could have lived without.”

Ann agreed. “We didn’t have much choice, what with the boys being on the news wearing gay pride t-shirts. If that hadn’t have happened, we would have felt the same way as you and Bennet, but you’d be surprised. Most people are perfectly fine with it.”

Betty sighed. “That’s good to know. We just don’t want them to take unnecessary risks. We know we can’t protect them all the time.”

“Well, I think you’ll be surprised at how well they can take care of themselves. They really stick together, all of them.” Shelley said reassuringly.

Betty gestured toward the kids goofing around in the yard. “Eric has been so happy these last few weeks. It’s not just Ryan. He really loves being a part of it all. He’s always been kind of shy.”

They all watched the kids at play for a moment. “Ann, Shelley, may I ask you something?”

Both women nodded. “Do you ever wonder if there was something you…did that made them this way?”

Shelley and Ann exchanged a look. Shelley sighed. “Of course we did. We’re their mothers, but the more reading we did made us realize that some people are just born gay. We’re glad that they decided not to try and repress it like so many do, or worse…well…I can’t even think about that.”

Ann continued. “Bill and I are very proud of whatever influence we’ve had on Matt. He’s a good person. You and Bennet should be proud too. We think the world of Eric.”

Betty smiled at the two women. “Thank you for being so honest. I know I’ve got a lot to think about. The most important thing is that Eric is happy. I can deal with anything else.”

Bill announced that the first batch of burgers was ready, and they all made there way to the grill where he was flipping them onto the buns. Ann spooned a generous helping of potato salad onto Jamie’s plate.

“It’s nothing fancy.” She said, smiling at the boy. “Just good old picnic fare. So Jamie, do you know the boys from school?”

Jamie blushed. “No, I go to a different school. We met at the mall.” He explained, hoping she wouldn’t ask him about his school. If they knew he went to South Side, the cat would be out of the bag.

Joel was next in line, and came to his rescue. “He’s Catholic, Mrs. B. I’ll bet he goes to St. Dominic’s.”

Jamie relaxed, neither confirming nor denying Joel’s statement.

When the pack of hungry teens had cleaned out most of the food, some of the boys began tossing the Frisbee around the yard.

Across the yard, Eric nudged Ryan and nodded toward the far corner of the lawn. Ryan glanced over to see LittleTom and Amy, Eric’s little sister sitting on the grass having an animated conversation.

Ryan grinned at Eric. “I guess it runs in the family!”

Eric sighed. “I guess I have to have a talk with her. LittleTom is bound to let it slip if they get close too each other. I want her to know anyway. She’s a good kid…for a little sister.” He added with a smirk.

Ryan caught sight of a Frisbee coming toward them and yelled to Eric to duck, but it was too late. The plastic disc caught Eric in the back of the head. He wheeled around to see Jon and Jamie with horrified expressions on their faces. Eric wasn’t hurt, just temporarily stunned as the two boys jogged over to where he stood, rubbing the back of his head.

“Geez Eric, I’m really sorry!” Jamie called out as he approached.

Jon put a hand on Jamie’s shoulder. “It was my fault; I should have jumped for it.”

“I know it was an accident,” Eric assured them, “besides, it didn’t really hurt so much, it just took me by surprise.”

Ryan leaned over and kissed the back of Eric’s head. “There. All better!”

At the same moment, Ryan, Eric and Todd all realized that the subject of being gay had never come up with Jamie, as they turned expectant faces toward him. Jamie’s eyes were wide and his jaw hung open.

Ryan put an arm around Eric. “Look, Jamie, we don’t advertise it because there are a lot of people who wouldn’t understand, but we’re gay. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

Jamie stammered. “N-no. I was just surprised. You seem so…normal…I, I mean…well, you know what I mean…” His voice trailed off as he studied his feet.

The other three laughed good naturedly. “It’s okay Jamie. We know what you mean. We wish everyone knew that we’re just normal kids who happen to be gay. I’m glad you feel that way.”

Jamie looked up at them with a trace of a smile. “You guys don’t have to worry about me. I won’t say anything in front of your parents.”

Jamie got a puzzled look when they laughed again. Ryan told him, “It’s okay. They know and they’re alright with it.”

“Wow!” Jamie spluttered. “They must be really cool.”

“Yeah, they are.” Eric grinned at him.

Ryan picked up the Frisbee and gave Jamie a playful slug on the arm. “Go long!”

Jamie raced across the yard and leaped for the sailing disc and plucked it out of the air with a shout of triumph. Pretty soon a spirited game of Frisbee football broke out among all the boys. All of them except LittleTom, who seemed more interested in his conversation with Amy Martin.

Jamie ran to intercept a pass that was headed out of the yard when he tripped on a tree root, landing on his knee on the cobblestone walk. All the boys jogged over to where he was rocking on his back, holding his knee, as he fought back the tears.

Sam inspected the damage. “Looks like a bad scrape.”

“Yeah, better let my mom clean it up and bandage it for you. She’s had a lot of practice.” Matt offered.

“Too bad about your pants.” Sam said, sticking his finger through the ripped material. “Good thing you wore old clothes.”

Sam had no way of knowing that these were the nicest clothes that Jamie owned. Before the tears could escape, the hurt and humiliated child sprang to his feet and made a dash for the driveway. He jumped on his bike and tore off down the street.

Todd chased after him. “I’ll go, you guys wait here.”

Todd jumped on his bike and stood on the pedals, using his weight to pump as hard as he could. When he came abreast of Jamie, the other boy pumped harder.

“Just leave me alone, Todd.” Jamie wailed through his tears.

Todd managed to keep up with him. “Jamie, it’s okay! I know about you.”

Jamie screeched to a halt and stared defiantly at Todd, when he peddled back to join him.

“What gave me away? Huh Todd? Was it my thrift shop clothes? Or maybe it was the lousy haircut my mom gave me. Tell me Todd. What was it!”

Todd shook his head, as a smile spread across his face. “Check it out.” He said, pointing to the two initials scratched in the paint of Jamie’s bike.

Jamie dismounted and examined where Todd had pointed.

“T.A. Todd Austin. It used to be my bike.”

Jamie shoved the bike toward Todd. “Keep it. I don’t want your charity.” He spat out, as he turned to walk away.

Todd scrambled to get off of his own bike while holding Jamie’s up. When he managed to get both kickstands down, he ran after Jamie and spun him around.

“I loved that bike! I earned every cent for it by mowing lawns. It took me months. I was so happy to see it end up with someone cool.”

Jamie studied his face, and decided that he was sincere.

Todd continued. “Look, Jamie, we all have problems. My mom works hard. We live in an apartment. It doesn’t bother me that the other guys live in nice houses…and have dads…and can hear.” It was Jamie’s turn to comfort his new friend as he extended a hand to his shoulder.

Todd’s lower lip was quivering as the tears streamed silently down his face. “I didn’t know you were deaf, Todd. You’re really amazing, you know that?”

Todd smiled through his tears. “Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that you didn’t choose your situation anymore than I did. It’s the luck of the draw. No one will hold it against you. It’s not easy being the deaf gay kid in school either, but I’ve got great friends, and now so do you.”

Jamie stared at him. “You’re gay too? No wonder you’re being so nice to me. Well I ain’t gay, so forget about it!”

He started to walk away, but Todd’s laughter made him stop in his tracks. He spun around. “What’s so funny!”

Todd answered. “I have a boyfriend. Joel and I are together, so if you think I’m trying to get into your pants, YOU can forget about it.”

Jamie shook his head. “Sorry Todd, it’s just that I’ve been hit on before.”

Todd licked his lips. “I’m not surprised.” He said with a wink.

Jamie rolled his eyes. “Aw geez, just keep your eyes off my butt, gay boy.” He said with a laugh.

With an arm around each other’s shoulders, they walked back to where the bikes were standing.

Jamie laughed. “If this were my neighborhood, these would SO not be here still.”

Todd pointed to Jamie’s knee. “Come on; let’s go get your knee fixed up.”

“Todd, I can’t go back there. I made a jerk out of myself. What will I tell them? Besides, they all know about me…”

Todd smiled. “I didn’t say a word, I swear. I only told Joel because…” Todd blushed, “he was jealous when I got you ice cream.”

“Yeah, well still. I can’t keep lying to them, they’ll find out sooner or later anyway.”

“Tell them the truth. Once you’re in this gang, I’m afraid you’re stuck with us. They won’t care. They like you. That’s all that matters. You’re one of us.”

Todd convinced Jamie to return to the Barker’s with him. Jamie glanced at Todd as they rode.

“Todd, can tell what I’m saying out of the corner of your eye?”

Todd laughed. “I got about half of that. Don’t want to have an accident, but I gathered you asked me if I can read your lips while we’re riding.”

Jamie nodded.

“I’ll try, but if it can wait, it’d be easier.” Todd answered.

Jamie slowed his bike, and stopped in the street. Todd stopped along side of him and faced him.

“Todd, I just want to ask you something before we get back with the others. If you loved this bike, and saved so long for it, why did you give it away?”

Todd started riding again. “C’mon. I can talk while we ride.”

As they rode he filled Jamie in quickly on the parade, the unwanted publicity, the subsequent attacks, and how all of his friends’ parents went in on his new bike.

“I was going to have that one fixed up, but when they got me this one, it was so special to me, because of where it came from. I really don’t need two, and I really wanted someone to love it as much as I did.” He explained as they swung into the driveway.

“I do love it Todd. It’s the best thing I’ve ever had in my life.”

“I know you do. I could see it on your face when I complimented it that day at the mall.”

As they started toward the back yard, Jamie stopped Todd. “Thanks for not saying anything. If you had I would have left, and I’d never have met all of you. You wouldn’t believe how many people would have bragged about it. It’s really tough having to be grateful all the time so people can pat themselves on the back.”

“You don’t have to be grateful to me. I got what I wanted.”

The two boys smiled at each other warmly, and they walked around the house.

The others regarded the two smiling kids as they came in to the yard. It was a little awkward, and none of them knew quite what to say. Jane came over and steered Jamie to the house by the shoulders.

“Let’s take a look at that knee of yours.” She said, as she went into full mother mode. Every maternal instinct she had was telling her that something was desperately wrong.

Jamie turned back to Todd before disappearing into the house. “Todd, would you tell them please?”

Todd nodded.

Once in the bathroom, Jane suggested that Jamie slip off his pants. When Jamie hesitated and blushed, she smiled warmly at him.

“Don’t get shy on me Jamie. This is nothing new. I’ve seen every one of those boys out there cavorting in their skivvies. I even have the pictures to prove it.” She told him with a warm smile.

Jamie shyly undid his fly and lowered his torn pants and stepped out of them. Jane took them and put them in the hamper. “I’ll sew those up and wash them for you. I’ll find you something of Matt’s to wear in the meantime.”

She noticed the holes in the somewhat greyed tight white briefs he wore, but she said nothing and focused her attention on his scraped knee. As she gently cleaned and disinfected it she thought what a baby Matt acted like compared to this stoic boy who sat before her. He only winced slightly as she applied the hydrogen peroxide on the scraped skin. She got him bandaged and smiled up at him.

“I think you’ll live.” She teased.

The smile on his face was dazzling. Jamie was not used to being mothered, and he had to admit, he could get used to it. Ann didn’t want to pry, but felt she had to.

“Jamie, can you tell me what you asked Todd to tell the others? Maybe I can help.”

The smile vanished from his face. “You’ll know sooner or later anyway.” He sighed.

“My dad’s out of work, and my mother is…sick. We don’t have a lot of money…”

Tears welled up in his eyes. Ann took him in her arms and held him tight.

“Jamie, honey, go ahead…it’s all right…get it all out. You’re loved here. Go ahead and cry. It’s okay Jamie.”

Jamie folded himself into Ann’s arms and sobbed uncontrollably. All the stress and pain he’d been holding in for so long just found its way to the surface. Ann said soothing things to him as he cried in pain and frustration like the small child he was never allowed to be.

When his tears subsided, Ann disentangled him from her arms. “Let me go find you something to wear.” She whispered, as she reached in the closet and got him a fresh washcloth and towel.

She left the room and returned a few minutes later with a new pair of jeans that Matt had never worn. She also had a new polo shirt, and discreetly tucked between them was a fresh pair of underpants. She laid them on the counter and tactfully withdrew.

“Come on down and join us when you’re dressed. I know they’ll want to talk to you.”

When he came outside, he saw all the kids sitting on the grass, deep in conversation. They all fell silent as he came to join them. They all looked up at him, and smiled welcomingly. Jon was the first to speak.

“Todd told us about your situation, and we all want to help.”

Jamie opened his mouth in protest, but Matt held up his hand to silence him.

“In this gang, we look out for each other. All of us. You’re no different, so you might as well get used to it. First of all, we’re all going to ask our parents if they know of any jobs for your father. Secondly, some of us are about the same size as you, and we have clothes we never wear. Don’t even think about saying no or we’ll hold you down and tickle you until you wet your pants.”

“Yeah, seriously.” Andy said with a laugh. “My dad has a friend on the school board. If you want, I can ask him to try and pull some strings and get you into Jefferson with us.”

Tears were starting to form in Jamie’s eyes again and he fought them back. “I won’t say no to you guys. You’re the first real friends I’ve ever had. It’s not the same as charity somehow. There’s something you should know about my family though.”

Jamie looked around the circle and his expression turned serious. “I’ve got a brother. He’s 12 years older than me. My dad always tells me that I was a mistake. Anyway, I haven’t seen him in years because my dad threw him out of the house when he found out he was gay. He was 16 at the time. I never saw him again. I miss him a lot, and I think about him all the time. He could be dead for all I know. I figured you might not want to help my father find work if you knew, and I want to be honest with you guys.”

“Well,” Matt began, “None of us tolerate that shit, and I can’t imagine disowning your own son, but if helping your dad find work will make your life better, then I don’t care.”

The others all agreed.

“Thanks guys. I want you to know that I don’t feel the same as my dad in any way. I loved my brother. I cried for a week after dad threw him out. He was so cool to me all the time. My dad told me to stop crying like a little fairy, so I learned to hide my feelings. I never told anyone about him until now.”

Jon felt a tear escape his eye and roll down his cheek. “What’s his name?” He asked, slightly above a whisper.

Jamie realized that he hadn’t spoken his name in years. “Alan…Alan Mathers.”

Bill called the kids over to the table where he was carving up an enormous watermelon. The light mood of the day returned in full force as they all dug in.

As much as they wanted to have a sleepover, it was a school night, so eventually they all said their goodbyes. Matt helped with the cleanup. As he walked around the yard with a garbage bag picking up paper plates and cups, he brought up Jamie’s problems to his parents. He told them about his brother and his father. Bill seemed lost in thought.

“Dad? Do you think you can help him?” Matt asked, bringing Bill out of his reverie.

“Uh, don’t say anything yet, but I have an idea.”

Matt knew not to press him for information. He’d find out soon enough what his father was up to, one way or another.

After Matt went to bed, Bill went in to his study and made a phone call. The insurance firm where he worked used a private detective agency on a regular basis, and the head of the agency had become a pretty good friend. Good enough that Bill felt comfortable calling him at home on a Sunday evening and asking for a favor.

He gave him what little information he had on Alan Mathers. The detective said he’d look into it, but told Bill not to get his hopes up. It was a pretty cold trail. Even if he could be located, the details in cases like this are unpleasant more often than not. Bill said he understood, and ended the call.

On his way to bed, he noticed Matt’s door was ajar and the bedside light was on. He poked his head around the door and saw Matt propped up with his pillow against the headboard with a book in his lap, sound asleep. He went in and pulled the sleeping boy down onto the bed.

“Come on baby Snookums, beddy bye time.” He whispered as he fluffed the pillow under his head and pulled the covers up around his neck.

Matt cooed and gurgled in his sleep. Bill studied his son for a moment, and couldn’t imagine how anyone could kick a kid out into the street. He leaned down and kissed him gently on the cheek, turned off the light, and tiptoed out of the room.

The next morning, Matt was running a little late as he set out for school at a near jog. About half a block from his house, Chet’s car pulled up to the curb. Jon was in the passenger seat.

Chet smile out the window at him. “Your boyfriend here thinks you might like a ride.”

“Man Chet, you’re a life saver!” Matt answered as he opened the back door and climbed in.

“I called Chet this morning and asked if he’d pick us up.” Jon explained.

“How did you know I’d be running late?” Matt asked, already knowing the answer.

Jon rolled his eyes. “You’re always running late, Matthew Barker. I swear you’ll be late for your own funeral. Besides, I thought if we got to school a little early, we might run into Shade.”

Matt sighed. “Geez Jon, I hoped you’d forget about that.”

“Not a chance. A deal’s a deal.” Jon chuckled.

When they got to school, they headed for the cafeteria. Sure enough, Shade was sitting there munching on a bagel with margarine courtesy of the free breakfast program. The three of them approached the table where Shade sat alone. Matt and Jon sat across from him, while Chet took a seat down at the end.

“What the hell do you want.” Shade leered at them.

Jon took a deep breath. “Shade, we just want to talk.”

“Oh yeah? Is that why you brought your muscle?” Shade said, gesturing toward Chet, who was peacefully reading a book.

“Bringing Chet was my idea Shade. Jon wanted to come alone. Please, just hear him out.” Matt put in.

Jon looked across the table. “Shade, you can feel free to say anything you want to us. Chet won’t touch you unless you hit us or something…you have our word.”

Chet looked up from his book. “Yeah, he’s right. We come in peace.”

“Yeah? Even if I call them a couple of queer ass faggots?” Shade was tensed, ready to run if necessary.

Chet just shrugged and bent back over his book. He would later tell the boys that he deserved an Oscar for hiding his rage. Shade relaxed and focused again on Matt and Jon.

“So what do you want to tell me, fairy?”

Jon began. “We just wanted to tell you that we didn’t know the cops would be there. We did know something was up, but not exactly what. Also, we wanted to let you know that we don’t hold anything your uncle and his friend did to us against you. We know that you had nothing to do with it.”

Shade fixed them with a malevolent gaze. “That’s very generous of you. I definitely hold it against you. You and your freak friends. My uncle was paying my dad rent to live with us. Besides dad’s disability, that was our only income. Now we haven’t even got that.”

Jon was genuinely sorry for Shade. “I’m sorry for your troubles, I really am, but we had to get the police involved. They threatened our lives.”

“Ah, that was bullshit. They were just blowing air up your skirt. Figures you wet your panties. They never woulda hurt you for real.”

“We had to take the threat seriously, though. Besides, it was our parents that got the police involved. We had no choice.” Matt told him.

“Yeah,” Jon added, “and it’s only a month. You’ll be alright.”

“Yeah, sure. The lumber yard fired him the day he was convicted. That house has been in my family for three generations, and now we may lose it if he doesn’t find a job. Who’s going to hire an ex con? Just don’t get in my face like you wanna be my friend, because that ain’t going to happen, butt fucker.”

“Look, Shade…we know you don’t want to be friends, but can’t we at least have a truce? Chet knows the cops that were in the alley. He could tell them to back off if you’d stop calling us…those names. We really don’t want any hard feelings, or we wouldn’t be here.”

“Too fucking bad, because that’s what you’ve got. Just keep your fag asses away from me!”

Shade kicked back from the table and stormed out of the cafeteria, leaving his half eaten breakfast behind.

Jon was fighting hard to hold back the tears. Matt didn’t care who was watching. He wrapped an arm around Jon and held him tight. Chet came around the table and sat where Shade had been.

“Jonny, you tried. Let it go. You did more than anyone else would have done under the circumstances, and he’s determined to be an asshole.” Chet said, taking Jon’s hand in his own enormous one.

“I’m not giving up.” Jon vowed. “There’s got to be some good in everyone.”

Matt knew that the best thing he could do was keep his mouth shut and just hold Jon. When the bell rang, they all headed off for class in a somber mood.

After school, Jon and Matt met up with Todd and Joel on the steps. As they walked down School Street together, Jamie swung his bike to a stop beside them.

“Hey! What are you guys up to?”

“Nothing much,” Matt answered, “we’re going to my house to do homework. Wanna come?”

“Sure.” Jamie beamed, as he dismounted and fell in to step with them. “I don’t have too much homework, but I like hanging out with you guys.”

They reached the Barker’s and Ann made sure they had an after school snack. They set up around the table and dug into their work. They were all more or less finished by 4:15, when they heard Bill’s car in the driveway. Matt glanced at his watch.

“I wonder what dad’s doing home so early.”

Bill came into the dining room, just as they were putting away their books. Bill smiled at Jamie.

“Jamie, may I speak to you in private?”

All the boys looked at Matt, who shrugged his shoulders to let them know he was clueless. Jamie got up from the table. He was a little nervous, but the smile on Bill’s face reassured him. When they were seated in the study, Bill fished a piece of paper out of the inside pocket of his Jacket and handed it to the boy.

Jamie’s jaw practically hit the floor and his eyes went wide as he read.

Alan Mathers, Esq. There was an address on West 79th Street, and a Manhattan phone number. There was also an office number.

“How…how did you…”

Bill laughed. “Let’s just say I’ve got some friends that are pretty good at these things.”

Jamie screwed up his face in puzzlement. “What does ‘Esq.’ mean?”

“Oh, that’s short for esquire. It mean’s he’s a lawyer.”

“Wow! I was afraid it was something bad.”

Bill chuckled. “Well, it depends on who you ask.”

“Are you sure this is really my brother?” Jamie wondered out loud.

“No doubt about it. His Social Security number matches the one on his old school records from here. That’s him all right.” Bill assured him. “I’ll give you some privacy if you want to call him. Besides, there are four very curious boys out there, and unless I miss my guess, one very curious wife.”

As he closed the door, he heard the beginning of the conversation and smiled to himself.

“Alan? This is Jamie…yeah…I missed you so much…”

He found them all in the kitchen. Ann was starting dinner, and the boys were at the table. All eyes were on him the minute he walked in the room. Bill quickly filled them in, and they all took up a vigil, watching the “in use” light on the kitchen extension. When it clicked off, Ann went back to cooking, and they all turned back to the table and tried to look nonchalant.

Jamie came into the kitchen and sat down with them and smiled around the table.

“He’s coming out on Saturday. He said he wants to take all of my friends out for pizza after we have a chance to talk.”

Bill was eager to know Alan’s story. “How did he survive at 16 by himself? How did he end up a lawyer?”

Jamie shrugged. “He said it’s a long story, but that he’ll tell me on Saturday. The best thing is that he never stopped thinking about me. He said he wrote, but when he didn’t hear back, he figured dad threw them out. When his letters started coming back ‘addressee unknown,’ he figured we’d moved. I told him he was right, and that they cut off the phone when dad couldn’t pay the bills. He tried a few times over the years to find me, but he figured dad had poisoned me against him anyway.”

They all listened with rapt attention as Jamie told them how good it was to hear his voice.

Jon was staying for dinner, but eventually the others had to go. Before Jamie left, he gave Bill a hug and thanked him for what he’d done.

When they were seated around the table, Ann said grace, and they all began to eat. Jon looked to the head of the table.

“Um, Mr. Barker…I was wondering if you know anyone at the lumber yard.” Jon said with a hopeful look.

Bill gave him a puzzled smile. “As a matter of fact, I handle their liability insurance. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Shade’s uncle used to work for them, but he got fired when he was convicted. I was wondering if you could write a letter and see if they would hire him back.”

“Jon,” Bill answered, “I’m not so sure I can forget what he and his friend did. They threatened my son’s life…and yours.”

Jon stared into his plate while Matt took up the conversation. “Dad, it’s not just for him, but for the rest of the family, you see, if he doesn’t have work when he gets out of jail, well, they could lose their house.”

Jon looked up at Bill. “…and people change. Maybe if the letter came from you, he’d realize how wrong he was, you know?”

Bill looked across the table at Ann. “Jon’s got a point dear.” She said as she smiled at her husband.

Bill smiled around the table and shook his head. “Where in the world did you two come from?”

Okay, so Shade didn't exactly come around, but who knows? This is the first time in awhile that I've managed to get 2 chapters out in a month. I hope you're all still with me. Cheers, Jon