W H E N   S H A D O W S   P A S S
by Sean E. – EkidKy  (EKidKy@Hotmail.com)

This series follows the adventures of an insecure youth who, by unavoidable circumstances, suddenly finds himself relocated both physically and emotionally in life, from the heart of his homeland in the United States, to a whole new frontier: England.  Through patience and perseverance, his new family teaches him to let go of the fears and shadows where he lived in the past, and embrace life in a whole new, different way.  As the bond between himself and his new “family” grows, so does a newfound friendship – and a future that opens up in more ways than one…

D I S C L A I M E R 
This fictional series contains frank discussions, imagery and scenes between young male teens with subject material that is not appropriate for all people.  Although that statement implies young adults of a certain age should refrain or be discouraged from reading, it is my honest belief that the decision should lie with the individual (I know what it was like when I was 13 - 14 years old).  This story is intended to be read by all ages, both young and old at heart, who want to find encouragement, understanding and acceptance – especially in this big, busy world where we live.  I know society frowns upon what it considers to be the taboos of young people and sex, but I think there is a place – deep inside all of us, throughout life – where we need to feel accepted and wanted.

 On a personal note, that’s why I write and do this – for guys who feel confused but need to believe in themselves. It is my sincere hope my writings can give a teen courage and hope.  If it helps even just one individual in some way to know that they are not alone, then it’s worth every effort I make.  There is a stigma in our society young male emotions should always be surpassed: “Grow up!”, “Suck it up, be a man!” and other phrases are things I’ve heard all my life.  It’s as if anything to do with boys having feelings and companionship amongst one another should be dammed.  Well, it wasn’t for me; I was a teen who hid a lot from the world, but also had a lot to give on the inside, and I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it is a reality more common than you think.  I know because I’ve been there – and surprisingly, at the time of this writing, it was NOT that long ago. 

 If you find such material objectionable, then obviously you're in the wrong place - and you should move on to other sources for your reading pleasure.  Also be warned: if you want the “quickie” – sorry, that isn’t me or my style.

 As with most authors, any feedback is encouraged and appreciated: EKidKy@hotmail.com

 Okay enough said – I now present you...



W H E N   S H A D O W S   P A S S
Chapter One: A Winding Journey

  “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking…”

     The voice droned on, in its ever present repetitive dullness, as Jason continued to stare out the airplane’s window at the massive wing stretching toward the horizon.  It was late in the evening, and although they were moving through an area that had not yet succumbed to the darkness that lie ahead, gazing eastward he could see a vast sea of blackness rapidly approaching.  It had been a long flight for the first-time flyer, exhilarating in some ways, but filled with apprehension in others.  For some time the plane had already been on a steady descent, and as he watched it seemed they were floating just above a bed of white cotton-shaped masses suspended around them.  Every so often the clouds separated and allowed a peek through to the surface below.  What was once a shimmering flat stretch of water that extended far off into the distance was no longer featureless.  Although the twilight hour was upon them, the world beneath offered various objects and multi-colored lights in places that he could not see before.  As they drew closer, he could make out shapes of tiny boats and ships scurrying about just off the shoreline of a large land mass.  He knew then they were getting closer, and before long the journey would be just beginning.

     The journey from the States was, in its own way, exciting for Jason.  The flight was a first, something that he had never dreamed of doing alone, certainly not at his age.  The sensations, the sights and smells were an eye-opening experience.  He had never really been afraid of flying before, but he had to admit his ego had a momentary setback when they first left Atlanta.  Soon however, his apprehension eased, and as they climbed thousands of feet in the air he began to smile a little.  For a little while, he could forget all of the curves his life had been rounding, and just relax and take in the sensation that he uncharacteristically reveled in.  He had closed his eyes after a while, and actually dozed for some time before other events interrupted his period of bliss.

     For a boy of only turning just fourteen, Jason met the typical definition of most American teenagers.  With short black hair, blue eyes and an angular, pleasant face, he suffered only the reality of being slightly small for his age.  Because of that fact he was a quiet youth, in general, not prone to put himself into any situation he did not belong.  More times than not, his life had been hanging in the background avoiding trouble when it arose, but it did not mean he couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up for himself.  There had been a few times he rose to the occasion when facing the school bully or some similar situation.  Win or lose, his peers had come to learn that taking him the distance would not be easy, so for the most part he was left alone.  He had few friends, but those who did take up with him always liked their newfound friendship.

     Unsure of what had awakened him, Jason stretched – or at least tried to – in the close quarters of his seat. He was traveling alone, and although he had lucked out with having no one sit beside him in the adjacent location, both people in front of him insisted on reclining their seats, invading what little space was his in the process. As he contemplated the cramped situation, thinking about whether to get up and perhaps use the bathroom, it dawned on him why the social worker had commented about not liking to fly.  The large, heavyset woman would have been hard-pressed to fit the bulk of her frame in one of the seats, and even harder pressed to make it through the grueling 10 plus hours of the flight.  In the end, he grunted at himself as his bladder made yet another urgent plea on its behalf, so he slowly released the seat belt and made his way forward to the lavatory.

     Returning some minutes later, he looked out the window to see they were still descending.  As he continued to gaze and watch the various features of the countryside slide beneath them, his thoughts traveled back to the events of recent weeks.  His face took on a woeful expression as he thought about his Dad, and what life had been like before his passing.  In a time span of only a few short days he had went from being the only child of a single-parent household to an orphan, or so they had all thought.  Losing his father had stunned him, although in the back of his mind he had already began realizing just how volatile that situation could be before it ever happened.  When it did happen, the impact came as a blow that shook him to his core.  Arriving home from school one afternoon, he had found the man resting silently on the front porch, his eyes closed peacefully, oblivious to the world.  He thought nothing of it at first, until repeated calls went not only unanswered, but with no response at all.

     What happened afterwards was a blur.  The ambulance arrived quickly, followed by the deputy sheriff and another official.  When all was said and done, all Jason could do was sit in stunned silence as they took his father away.  The aftermath caused more officials to arrive and leave, until finally a kindly faced woman appeared and sat beside him.  Her demeanor was different than the others, and it was her patience with Jason that persevered in getting him to finally open up and explain what little he knew.  When all was said and done, she took him away downtown to a shelter and left him, promising to return the next day.  He sat in the room for hours, pulling his knees to his chest, before it finally sunk in – before he finally opened up and let it out.  He ended up crying hard into his pillow, all alone in his back room, thinking about the man who had always been there for him, had always waited for him after school, and who laughed and shared his adventures of the day and night. 

     His father was a man who had shown him kindness like no other, and supported him seemingly no matter what.  Only now did Jason come to realize how little he had really known about the man over the years.  His mother had died of cancer while Jason was very young, so it had been just the two of them.  Although the man was limited in his means, having survived some accident of some sort years before, his disability had not hindered him from seeing after his only son.  They had moved a few times over the years until the man could no longer physically work, where at last they arrived in a small town in Tennessee where he effectively “retired”.  In all that time, however, not once did the man ever broach the subject of family, and what few inquires Jason had made seemed harmlessly swatted away.  Insofar as he knew, they had no one outside of the two of them, and now with his father gone, he was alone – truly alone.

     If the story had ended there, it might have left some validity in the young man’s mind in the wake of mourning and recouping from his loss.  Alas, that was not to be, mostly because of the inept and indifference of the social works department that followed.  Immediately following his father’s funeral, Jason was whisked away to the outskirts of the town and placed into the home of an elderly couple that very afternoon.  Of his belongings, his social worker had brought only an old, battered suitcase from his house filled with an odd assortment of clothes – nothing more.  No pictures, no items of a personal mature, nothing – something which at that time Jason only assumed would follow at some point later.  His only instructions were to do as he was told and stay out of trouble – strange words as it was, but knowing nothing better, accepted in silence as he was always accustomed to.

    From the very moment he arrived, however, he was set upon by both of the adults in an odd enough way.  Given little greeting, the old man showed the boy to a small, windowless room in the rear of the house, barely large enough to hold the wrought iron twin-sized bed and mattress that lay there.  In fact, short of the bed, no other furniture resided in the room.  When Jason looked about and found the room also had no closet, he looked up at man curiously, only to be met with a piercing glare.  “Set your bag down on the bed and come with me,” was his only response, to which he willingly obeyed.  From there the man rejoined his wife in the kitchen, where he pointed to a paper lying on the kitchen table.  Jason slowly picked it up and stared at the contents, which described a long list of what seemed to be odd jobs.

     “That is your list of chores that we expect you to do while living here,” the woman explained at his inquiring glance.  Her husband grunted and moved until he stood in front of the boy.

     “As long as you’re living here, you will work.  Keep to the list, we’ll have no trouble, stray from it and there will be consequences.”  His tone delivered the message deep into Jason’s soul, and he recalled at that moment just how much fear he must have shown, because the man suddenly laughed at having, he presumed, achieved his desired effect.  “Get to it,” was all that followed, and both he and his wife disappeared from the room.

     In the time that followed, Jason had little time for worrying about his dilemma.  In the coming weeks, the list of odd jobs never ended, as they were constantly updated and added to by the couple.  They had been adamant: get the work done, he would be fed and there would be no problems.  Each list was expected to be completed by the end of the day, and some days it took him into the late evening hours before he could retire to his “room” and, usually, find cold soup and sandwich waiting for him.  Most of the work put him outside, mowing or clearing the yard, trimming shrubbery, weeding or tending to flower and vegetable gardens.  Other days would find him inside washing, sweeping and cleaning dishes, as well as beating rugs, wiping down walls or cleaning out the cellar.  In all, the work was grueling for anyone, yet inasmuch for a boy his size.  At night he was often exhausted, where all he could do was eat his beleaguered meal and fall into his bed, to awaken only the next morning and start anew.

    When he started school, there was little change.  Each day he arrived ‘home’ – for lack of a better word in his sense – to find the list ever present with the expectation that it be fulfilled that evening.  The couple often disappeared or lay about watching television while he worked, oblivious to his presence, or so it seemed.  There was one time early on he had paused in the doorway to view the TV screen, only to be sharply reprimanded to get back to work.  Since that time, he knew the boundaries they had placed on him, and it began to dishearten his feeling of any self-worth.  Not once did he hear from or see the social worker again, and for all he knew, the world had forgotten about him and left him alone to stay out of the way.

     It all changed, however, when the work began to seriously degrade Jason’s school grades.  Usually an A and B student, his work at school suffered drastic changes.  Teachers oft wrote it off at first to the indifference of losing his father, but after a while began applying pressure on him to perform better.  The old couple, however, could care less; they ignored the boy’s pleas and the notes he delivered from school.  Each night he was expected to complete the list, each night he was expected to do as they told him. 

     At first, he tried studying into the early hours of the morning, but that had the unfortunate impact of him being able to stay awake in class.  The combination from lack of sleep and the grueling chores fogged his mind even more so, until one teacher pulled him aside one Friday and informed him if he did not do well on the test coming up Monday, she was going to have to fail him for the grading period.  Alarmed, he redoubled his resolve to study that weekend.  Arriving home that evening, he found the list in this particular instance to be exceptionally long, with several tasks even more involved than usual.  He sighed and worked on each throughout the next two days, until Sunday evening arrived and he had finished the list with a quiet pride and confidence.  Sitting down in the floor of his room, he had opened his book to begin what he hoped would be enough study to get him through the next day, when suddenly there came a knock at the door.

    Without a word or wait for acknowledgement, the hinges creaked as the unpainted wooden slab swung inward and there stood the old man, his finger extended and indicating for the younger boy to follow.  With a sigh, he followed until they were in the old bathroom and the man began pointing to the cast porcelain tub on the side.  “Get the rust off those faucets,” was the curt statement.

    Jason looked up at the man and glared, before replying in a quiet voice, “No.”

    He tried to explain, as calmly as he could, the why of the situation but only got so far before he was cut off.  “You think I give a damn about you and your school, boy?”  He hauled himself up to his full height and continued.  “I don’t give a rats’ ass about your school! If you can’t make better grades it must be because you’re flipping stupid or something, which wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  Now, you’ll do as I say, and you’ll be thankful I don’t throw your scrawny little pimping ass back out onto the streets!  You’ll pull your weight for living here or else – got it?”  Seeing the hatred that peered back in the teen’s eyes, he snarled and added,  Don’t you give me those eyeballs either, mister - I’m not screwing around here – you understand?  Now git your ass to it!”

    The rage Jason saw in the old man’s eyes brought out a streak of defiance within the boy - the first in a long time.  “No.”

    The next instant Jason found himself hurled across the short space, a stinging blow across his cheek sending him reeling.  The man had slapped him, but the force of the blow had caused his ears to ring to the point he was half delirious.  Looking up at the old man in the doorway, his tried to refocus them on the old man with as much contempt as he could muster.  “Go to hell,” he said quietly.

     “Are you okay sweetie?”

     Jason shuddered as those events haunted him, before looking up suddenly at the voice that interrupted his thoughts.  It was the pretty stewardess he had befriended when he came onboard and, as he found out later, had been assigned to watch over him on the flight.  Taking a quick breath, he smiled weakly.  “Uh, yeah, sure…”

     She wasn’t buying it, however.  Sitting down next to him, she observed his facial features for quite some time before she spoke again.  “Don’t try and fool me, I can usually when someone has a lot on their mind.”  She smiled when he didn’t respond.  “Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and drag any dark adolescent secrets out of you.”  She reached out a hand and placed it on his arm while leaning in close and whispering.  “Just know I’m here if you might, you know, like a stranger to talk to, that’s all.”

     Jason smiled warmly at her and for a second considered it, before slowly shaking his head.  “It’s nothing really, but thanks though.”  Looking into her eyes, he added, “For someone told she has to watch over me and stuff, you’re still a really nice person.”

     The stewardess laughed.  “Still?  Well, that’s one I haven’t heard before!”  She lowered her voice.  “You’re a lot nicer than some kids who come through here, though.  Most would be whining and complaining by now, you know, ‘are we there yet?’ or ‘how much longer?’ or ‘why can’t I have ice cream?’”

     Jason grinned and whispered, “I can whine if you really want me to!” – to which the girl drew back and playfully slapped his leg, then reached in and gave him a light hug with her one free arm.

     “No, that won’t be necessary I assure you,” she whispered back, her voice carrying only a slight trace of an English accent.  “Still if you need anything, let me know, okay?  We’ll be landing soon, so you better buckle up,” she concluded, whispering in his ear.  He nodded as she arose and left and obeyed, feeling good about the exchange and deciding on the spot he liked the girl.

     True to her word, the plane did touch down shortly thereafter, sending both a feeling of exhilaration and relief through him.  Jason watched as the field rolled by, and noted that he could see a surprising abundance detail outside even in the low light of the early evening hours.  London’s Gatwick airport seemed busy for a Thursday evening – not that he would have known any better from any other evening.  As they taxied, however, he got the feeling it was a busy airport, given the number of planes he saw both lined up on the pavements, ready to take off he assumed, and the large number parked at the terminal gates.

     “Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of your flight crew and myself, I’d like to welcome you to London’s Gatwick International, where the local time is now 6:22 PM.  It looks like we’ll have to sit for just a few moments here on the taxiway before we can dock however, so if you would, try to sit back for just a little bit longer until we can get you safely setup at the terminal.”

     At those words a resounding groan ensued throughout the cabin, making Jason look about at the disappointment that resided on most people’s faces.  He returned, however, to watch the busy network of activity outside the plane, and waited along with the rest of the inhabitants.  As the minutes passed, the wait only set up an apprehension inside, because unlike most of the plane’s occupants, he was unsure what his future would hold.  Looking around, he imagined most of these people were either tourists or people returning home from being abroad, or perhaps even a few were there making a business trip.  For him, however, he was starting another chapter in the book of his life.

     Having survived one abusive ordeal, Jason thought back on the events that led up to his crossing over the Atlantic.  Since he was powerless to deal with his own future, he could only hope that somebody in the heavens liked him and wasn’t sending him into another situation like that which he came.  Although he was not so much of a religious person as some, he did believe there was an afterlife, and he hoped even then that maybe his father was there, watching out for him.  There was a great uncertainty, however, to what lie ahead.  Living a life believing he had no family, it came as a surprise to find out his father actually did have a brother, and through some miraculous means social services had tracked him down here in England.  It gave him a momentary feeling of elation when he found out – up to that time he thought he was truly alone in the world.

     But now he wasn’t so sure anymore.  There was some delay as words went back and forth between social services and his newfound “family”, but eventually word came and Jason found himself on the plane crossing the Atlantic.  He knew nothing of these people, short of the fact there were four of them – two adults and two teenage sons.  Beyond that, he had no idea what he would be walking into. 

     For that matter, he had no idea what English life would be like to him, either.  Most of the adults were all upbeat about it, telling him repeatedly how he would love it over here and the like, but the change left him apprehensive.  He was already struggling with some of the language he heard here and there, people with thick English accents crossing and choosing words differently.  It had taken a few days to get him a passport, although one was granted in short order given his special circumstances. As the plane finally began moving again to pull up and park at the terminal, he unconsciously reached inside his jacket to make sure it was still there.

     A great roar of relief swept the cabin as the plane halted at the gate and people began filling the aisles, struggling to stretch and/or collect their belongings from the overhead bins.  Jason saw the crowd scampering for what room they could and decided he would not fight for his own space, opting instead to wait out their exit.  Within minutes, however, the plane slowly began emptying as people filed away toward the forward doors.  Jason caught sight of his “guardian” stewardess, who just smiled at him and patiently waited herself, giving parting good wishes to those who passed by.  When he finally did rise and move forward, she met him at the doorway.

     “Well, ready for the show?”

     Jason looked at her sheepishly.  “Um, I guess.  What happens now?”

     The young woman collected her bags from a storage shelf and turned to him. “Well, for right now you get to stay with me.  I’m going to take you through a special customs area so you won’t have to wait through all of the immigration lines, and get you cleared for the terminal.  Then someone will hopefully meet us there and take over so you can go get your bags.  Sound alright with you?”

     Jason nodded.  “Sure.”

     The young lady smiled back and leaned down slightly to him.  “You know, all this way and I don’t think I ever introduced myself to you.  I’m Cindy, by the way.”

     Jason grinned at her.  “Hi Cindy, I’m Jason.”  They shook hands and then began chatting while they made their way up the ramp.  Once they reached the terminal, Jason was surprised it seemed so empty compared to the rest of the airport.  Noticing his look, Cindy quickly reasoned his reaction.  “Most of the people are at the immigration stations.  Non-European international flights are not as active as the other flights in and out of here.”

     “Oh,” was Jason’s only reply as they went through a set of doors marked ‘Authorized Personnel Only’.  Looking up at his guide, she only smiled and nodded it was alright, so he followed her through until they reached a long hallway with an individual sitting at a booth-like desk on one side.  Inside was an elderly black man who looked out and smiled as they approached.

     “Evening madam.  Do I take it you’re here with our special passenger, a-“ He paused to look at his notes briefly before continuing.  “Uh, a Mr. Mathews it looks like? Jason Mathews?”

     “Yes sir,” Jason answered with a voice firmer than he actually felt. 

     The man looked down and smiled at him.  “Well, how do you do, young sir?  Welcome to London!”  Looking up at Cindy, the man inquired, “Has he filled out his declaration card?”

     Cindy shook her head.  “No, but I did start one for him.”  She handed the document to him and continued.  “He is basically here on a one-way, open-ended visit, to be collected by relatives down in the tarmac terminal nexus, I believe.”

     Once again the man reviewed the card and his documentation.  “Well that shouldn’t be too hard.  Tell me Mr. Mathews, did they give you a passport?”

     “Yes sir,” Jason replied a second time, this time taking the booklet from his jacket pocket and handing it to the man.  He watched curiously as the gentlemen proceeded to fill in some lines on the declaration card, copying the information from the supplied passport, then turned and applied a stamp in the front of the little booklet. 

     Handing the booklet back to the youngster, he grinned.  “There you go, all done now.  If I were you, I’d keep that booklet in a safe place somewhere, okay?  As long as you’re in England, it will keep you safe insofar as citizenship.  Lose it, though, and you could end up having some trouble trying to get back to the states.”  Looking up one last time, he asked the stewardess, “Will you be going into London or staying at the reserve tonight?”

     Cindy shook her head.  “Not London, I have a 4:45AM back to the States.”

     The old man nodded.  “Then we’re finished, as long as you don’t leave the tarmac I don’t need to handle your passport.  Mr. Mathews, I hope your stay in Her Majesty’s country is enjoyable.”  With that he and Cindy continued to the end of the corridor and went through the doorway, only to find another elderly guide awaiting them, this time a white-haired lady.

     “Mr. Jason Mathews, I presume?” she said pleasantly.  When Jason nodded, he turned to Cindy.

     “Thank you for everything,” he offered the lady, almost sad to see her go.  He was surprised, however, that she set her luggage upright and then embraced him.  He returned the hug, awkward as it was, and was about to let go when he felt her place something in his jacket pocket.  Hesitating, he felt her near his ear.  “This is my number, you ever need someone to chat with, this is how you can find me, okay?”

     Grinning, the two separated and he smiled at her before following the elderly lady through a set of heavy doors. Walking along a corridor, she addressed him.  “I understand you don’t have any luggage, is that correct?”

     “Uh yes mam, it’s supposed to be shipped from the States early next week.”  He looked down at the backpack he was carrying.  “This is all I have with me.”

     The woman smiled and nodded as they continued.   “It’s quite alright.  Let’s see if we can you down to the terminal area and if we’re lucky, someone will be along shortly to collect you.”


     The woman laughed softly.  “I say luck because there was a terrible crash down the turnpike a couple of hours ago, and traffic has been rather sluggish ever since.”  Seeing his expression, she smiled at him.  “Do not worry, someone will be along to collect you, I’m sure, and I will not leave your side until they do I assure you.”  As they walked along, they chatted idly about how the trip had been, and upon discovering it was his first time aboard a plane, the woman beamed and told of some of her first adventures in flights.

     Eventually Jason looked at the kindly woman and asked, “Um, do we have to go very much farther?”  Seeing her curious expression, he sheepishly added, “I mean, can I like, stop at a bathroom for a minute?”

     The older woman smiled, trying to set him at ease.  “Of course you can! Silly me, I should have realized that once you got off that long flight!”  She pointed to a nearby entry.  “Off you go, there, shoo!”  Inwardly Jason grinned at the use of her vocabulary, but said nothing as he was ushered away.

     Sometime later the two wound their way through the crowd and ended up near the security checkpoints. Jason saw the lines, not unlike those he had encountered in America, of people waiting to be scanned before entering and wondered if he would have to submit to an identical process in order to get out.  Before he had the chance to ask, however, the woman took hold of his elbow and guided him off to the side into a well-lit but pale colored room.  As they entered, he saw the small room was empty but for a row of chairs stretching along one side.  “You wait here honey, and I’ll be right back,” said the older lady before disappearing.  He walked the short distance to the chairs and then seated himself, waiting for the inevitable. 

     As the seconds stretched into minutes, Jason's nerves began to reach their limit.  His mouth was dry and the pangs of suspense churning within his stomach seemed to know no end.  With sweaty palms, he tried to close his eyes and silently count backwards from thirty, making fists in both hands and slowly relieving the pressure as he counted.  His attempts were only partially successful, however, as he breathing escalated.  The room was uncomfortable, somewhat warm compared to other areas of the facility they had walked through, and that added to his overall anxiety.  It wasn't until he had repeated the performance when a door opened from the far side of the room suddenly, and in walked his chaperone followed by a tall, slim man who looked to be in his upper-30's, with dark hair that was almost as black as his own. 

     If first impressions could be counted on, Jason decided the man who walked over and stood before him appeared – interesting.  It was surprising how much their appearances favored one another aside from the hair.  If it were not for the glasses the older man wore, Jason would almost believe he was looking at some future version of himself down the road.  Both had angular features that reflected the other’s bright blue eyes, and as they stood staring at one another momentarily, they each tried to size the other up within the moment.  Both were wearing jeans and, surprisingly, a stripped pullover.

     That is, until the man suddenly cleared his throat and smiled, looking sheepish at the awkwardness of the situation.  He knelt down to the floor on one knee in front of Jason, and although as tall of an individual he was, he had to elevate himself slightly to look up into the young man’s eyes.  “Ah, hallo Jason, my name is Simon – Simon Flavell.”

     At first Jason did not respond as he scrutinized the man’s face, trying to find any hint of discontent or hidden agenda that might reside there.  Finding none, he reflected the man’s warmth as much as he could muster.  “Uh, hey,” he replied awkwardly, unsure what he should say or do, before clumsily trying to offer the man his hand. 

     Simon smiled and took it, giving the teen a firm handshake, but lacking any rough treatment of sorts.  “I’m so happy to meet you.  Did you have a decent flight over?”  He spoke softly, inflecting as much friendliness into the greeting as he could.  Simon studied the youth, sizing him up insofar as impressions go, seeing before him a young man with uncertainty in his eyes. 

     When the older man spoke, Jason could not help but notice the man’s accent, although profound, being easier to discern than others. “Um, yeah, it was okay, thanks.”  Standing there, he felt foolish at his inability to offer words more than simple utterances, and it didn’t help when the man suddenly laughed.

     “Spoken like a true teenager,” he replied, standing up and addressing the attendant.  “Is there anything I need to sign or do for you before we collect ourselves?” he asked.

     “No sir, your proof of identity is well established.  He is free to go. I should remind you, however, that although he will gain residence here, he must keep and maintain his passport in order to remain for any extended length of time.”

     Simon nodded.  "I understand, this was explained to me by Mrs. Norris.  We'll see to it all is taken care of." After shaking the lady’s hand, the tall man looked down at the teenager and once again observed both the uncertainty and embarrassment that still seemed to linger.  “Ready?”  What followed that simple request was met with silence, and when they both caught the other’s attention, Simon saw something else in the eyes of the youth.  Taking a deep breath, he addressed Jason in a very soft and measured voice, but again with as much warmth and sincerity as he could muster.  “I suspect you hear this quite often as of late, but it really is going to okay.  I know those are easy words to speak, but believe it or not, I do sort of imagine how you might be feeling at the moment.  Let me also offer you my condolences on the loss of your father – my brother.  I know it is rather late in the game, but please believe that they are offered with the utmost sincerity.”  Jason nodded slowly, the young blue eyes still piercing inwardly as the older man continued.  “I must say, I suspect it was as much a surprise to you as it was for us to learn about each other, given what I’ve understood is correct.”  Moving over to the seats, Simone guided them both to sit down, where they turned faced each other. 

     For a full minute silence seemed to be golden between them, Jason unsure what to say or what was even expected of him.  So many things had happened to him in so many different ways, that now when the moment had arrived, their confrontation had rendered him helpless.  Simon first crossed his arms as he contemplated the boy, but eventually reached out and clasped the teenager’s shoulder.  “I can imagine probably a million things must be going through that head of yours at the moment, as well as a good deal of questions.  It will all be in good time, I assure you – we, being Natalie and myself – will try to answer and tell you anything and everything we know.  You have nothing to fear from us – although I know it will take some time before you really truly believe you can trust us – any of us, for that matter.  There is one thing, however, I can tell you now – one thing I can get out in the open so that you know it up front, and then maybe we can build a relationship on that, hmm?”

     Seeing he had the youth’s sharp attention, made Simon pause as he leaned in a little closer.  “You may not know it right now, but we – and I mean our whole family – are very happy to have you here.  They could not be with me this evening because of some other prior commitments, but they wanted to come I assure you.  I’ll have you know, I had a time with Elliot trying to get him to understand he had other higher priorities that needed to be addressed first!  Be that as it may though, you’ll get to meet them in just a little while, later on tonight.”  Glancing to the ceiling, he chose his next words carefully.  “It can be unsettling, knowing what these last few months must have been like for you, to just uproot and come across the pond into a stranger’s land with an even stranger people.  I've been told some things about how you were, shall we say, appropriated by an elderly couple after your father passed away, and that you lived on the streets for a short period at one point.  I do not know many details, but I got the gist you’ve had it fairly difficult for some time.  I’ll grant you – there are some rough people in the world we live in, but I hope you'll not find any of that while you're staying here in England, not with us anyway.  It will be different, and I won’t say it will be an easy adjustment for you, but I think if you give it some time you’ll find it quite an improvement.  I intend to try and make it as much so as I can.  But Jason, more important than any of that hear me now when I tell you this: we may be a strange people in a strange land, but each of us is very happy that you’re here, that you’ve come and found us, and that you’ve given us a chance."

     Jason felt awed at the moment, wondering how it was this man could see inside his soul and steal the very fears he was afraid to voice aloud, and dispel them as easily as he did.  When he finally spoke, it was almost in a whisper. “I don’t think you’re a strange people, sir.  Honest.  Thanks, I mean… thank you for letting me come.”

     Simon smiled yet again as he nodded. “You’re very welcome.  I think the days ahead will be interesting for the both of us.”  He leaned in one last time and lowered his voice, almost conspiratorially.  “We’ll see if you still think we’re not so strange after you’ve lived with us a little while, hmmm?”  He laughed, and was satisfied to see the younger teenager grin back at him.  “Now, how about we get started, hmm?  We can start by getting your things collected,” Simon announced as they walk through the doorway into the non-secure areas of the airport.

     “Uh, sir, I d-don’t have any bags or a-anything, there really isn't anything to get,” Jason replied sheepishly.

     Simon looked surprised as he stopped to look down at the boy.  “Oh, so someone is shipping your stuff over, I see.”

     Jason slowly shook his head.  “Um, no, I mean, this is really all I have sir, it’s just me and this pack I guess.”

     The older man stood confused.  “You mean you don’t have any clothes or belongings?  What about things you and your Dad had, you know, your belongings from home?”

     Jason shrugged and then shyly looked down at the floor.  “I’m sorry sir, t-there just isn’t any.  I always thought there would be some things, but nothing was ever brought or given to me, so there just, like, isn’t anything.”  An awkward silence fell as Jason halted, unsure of what to think or say.  It wasn’t until he felt a hand around his shoulder that he looked up again into the smiling face of the older man.

     “Don’t be so glum, it really doesn’t matter.  I must say, I was only surprised.”  He studied the boy for a second.  “Tell me, did you and your Dad have much?  You know, furniture, pictures, albums – you know, normal things? Not so much things of value, just items for living day in and day out?”

     Jason shrugged his shoulders.  “We never had a lot of stuff sir, but it wasn't like we had nothing.  Clothes, TV, dad had an old truck, but he didn’t drive it very much.  We had dishes and stuff to cook with in the kitchen and everything.  And yeah, we had pictures of my mom and of me when I was little and us as a family and stuff, yeah.”

     “But you’re telling me that since your Dad passed away, you’ve not seen any or heard anything about any of it, right?”

     Jason looked deeply at the man, considering as if it were the first time the thought had struck him.  Nonchalantly he shrugged his shoulders.  “No sir, I mean, yes sir, I mean – no, nobody has given or told me anything that I know of.”  An eerie silence fell between the two once again, until Jason spotted a soda machine nearby and realized how dry his throat had become in the last few minutes.  “Um, do you think we could get a Coca Cola, sir?  I mean, they ran out of diet drinks on the plane and, well, I, I mean…”

     Simon smiled as he began fishing in his pocket.  “I think we could do that, yes, I wouldn’t mind having one myself.”  They walked over to the machine and procured to drinks, before they began walking towards the front of the terminal.  Simon cleared his throat.   “It really doesn’t matter Jason about your belongings, it’s not that we have any interest in them for ourselves, but it seems odd to me that they were withheld from you.  I mean, you should have at least gotten your clothes, some basic mementoes – things like that.  Even the rest should be put in storage for you somewhere or something, I would think, depending of course on the laws of the State in how it handles the estates of minors.  Do you understand?”  Seeing Jason nod, he continued.  “In the next week or so, I’ll make an inquiry on your behalf, if you like, and we’ll find out what we can, hmm?”

     They rounded a corner to which Simon directed them toward a waiting shuttle, which they boarded and took a seat near the back.  Simon looked down at the soda the teen had chosen.  “You drink diet sodas, I take it?  Are you diabetic or anything?”

     “Oh, no sir, it’s just a habit more or less, I kind of like them better than regular, and Dad always said that they were overall healthier and everything, you know, not so much sugar and stuff.”

     Simon laughed.  “Well, I don’t know about the healthier idea, but I dare say they do discard the sugar content considerably, so I guess it is better in that sense.”  They rode along in silence for a short while before Simon indicated an upcoming stop.  “Here we go,” he said simply, getting up and leaving when the shuttle reached its destination, Jason tagging along beside him.  They walked a short distance until they reach an odd sort of vehicle, which Simon opened the trunk and allowed Jason to put his pack inside.

     It was a strange make of vehicle, one which Jason had never seen or heard of before, but thought it looked very much like an American compact.  In fact, as he looked around he noticed most all of the vehicles in the lot were similar.  Other than for a large decal that crossed the back, detailing the license number he guessed, they still looked very much like any other American vehicle in general.  After the lid was shut, without thinking he followed Simon up the right-hand side to the door.  When it opened, however, he quickly realized the sides were reversed – in comparison to American cars, with the drivers’ side on the right.

     Simon laughed upon seeing the boy’s confusion and surprise.  “How is it you boys say it? ‘You’re not in Kansas anymore?’”  Seeing the red blush appear, he quickly continued.  “Mind you not, there have been a good many people to make the same mistake as you, both young and old! I would bet there will be other things here you will have to adjust to.”

     Jason finally smiled sheepishly as he turned and went around to the other side of the vehicle, getting in and sitting down in the passenger seat.  “Sorry, sir.”

     Simon glanced at the teen, watching the boy who now buckled himself in.  “There is nothing to be sorry for, and while we're at it, just so you know - you don’t need to call me sir, Jason.  Just Simon is okay if you want.”  He smiled reassuringly.  “Jason, I am not your father, nor could I ever replace him – and I won’t try to do that, I assure you.  Technically I’m your uncle, but even that is somewhat strange in this situation, seeing as we have never been around one another before now.  However, my point is simple: address me in any way that is comfortable for you, but do not feel you have to be so formal with me is all.  I really don’t want to feel like I’m some old codger every time you call me ‘sir’ – if you get my drift.”

     Jason giggled.  “Okay, yeah, I understand si-  He stopped himself in time, then looked embarrassingly up at the older man before grinning.  “Uh, I’ll work on it.”

     Simon laughed and then started the vehicle, working their way out of the lot and onto the highway.  He was amused as he watched the teen observe the other drivers on the road, and even laughed again when they made a turn onto another section of highway.  “What’s wrong?”

     “You guys drive on the wrong side of the road?”  The boy had finally started to relax, and Simon noted he was speaking a little more freely.  Thinking about the reply, he chuckled in amusement.

     “Wrong side?  What makes you think we’re the ones driving wrong here?  To us, you American chaps drive on the wrong side, you know!”  He watched the comprehension settle in, followed by another round of shy embarrassment yet again.  Amused, he cleared his throat and decided to change the subject.  “So tell me Jason, what do you know about me and my family, hmm?”

     "Not very much.  Mr. Bishop, uh, my case worker, told me a little is all, mostly that you lived here in England and had two sons.  He also said you live somewhere near the ocean I think, and you work for some kind of a fire alarm company or something.”

     Simon nodded.  "That’s all correct, but it is not just me and my two sons.  You could say I have a wife, but technically we are not married.  Her name is Natalie, and we have been living together for almost 15 years now."  Seeing the question on the youth's face, he cleared his throat again.  "It's rather difficult to explain that one I'm afraid, but it basically boils down to the fact I was once married to a woman who bore my first son, my oldest son, but our marriage did not go in a way favorable for the both of us.  We divorced, but since she now lives in France, there are certain, ah, advantages if I don't re-enter another counsel, if you know what I mean.  Don’t misunderstand, I am not in hiding or anything, and neither is she - we both just have a mutual agreement regarding our state and status.  Now, Natalie on the other hand, fully understands this as well, and although we may not be wed by union, we both believe we are wed in spirit - and that is what counts.  Does that make sense to you?"

     Although Jason did not understand all of it, he gazed out at the darkness and the roadway ahead and nodded slowly.  Simon saw the confusion, however, and smiled.  "I admit, it is not a straightforward business, and we know that.  Be aware though, we are a very complete family, and you are going to be warmly welcomed, I assure you."

     Nothing more was said for some time as they wound their way through the various motorways and roads, basically heading south. After a while, Simon looked over at the teen riding in the silence. "So, what's going on in that little head of yours?"

     Startled, Jason glanced back and then sheepishly looked away. "Uh, nothing..."

     Simon grunted. "Now you sound like my own children."  He laughed and then spoke, this time using a gentler tone.  "Seriously Jason, that might work for most teenagers, but I cannot begin to believe you would come all this way from the states and not have a head full of questions, or worries or wonders or at least something.  If nothing else, then at least perhaps excitement - but I'm afraid I don't really get that from you."

     Jason hesitated, but then shrugged his shoulders.  "I don't know sir, it's just - just a lot to take in I guess."

     Simon studied the teen for a moment as he navigated through the countryside, before finally nodding.  "Trust me, if nothing else, THAT I can understand."

     They drove on in silence for a while, before Jason turned, his curiosity piqued.  "Um, can I ask like, how DID you guys learn about, you know, me?"

     Simon smiled at the teen as he navigated another turn.  "To be totally truthful, I don't know if I can completely answer that one or not.  I can tell you what I know, and I can tell you what I think happened beyond that, but some of the details are a little sketchy at best."  Seeing the teen’s interest, he took a deep breath.  "I guess I should start at the beginning.  If you don't mind my asking first, how much do you know about your father and myself?" 

    Jason shrugged his shoulders and shook his head slightly.  "Nothing really; until about a week ago, I never knew you even existed, even over here in England of all places."  He quickly looked up.  “I didn’t mean that in a bad way sir, just-“

    Simon laughed and nodded.  "No offense taken.  I'm not really too surprised either, I suppose.  Your father and I are brothers, rather step brothers to be assured, but we both had the same father so there is at least a partial line of blood kinship.  You see, our father was married twice, and his first wife fell with a harrowing illness a few years after their marriage.  She didn't make it, and the two of them - meaning your father and grandfather - lived together for some years by themselves.  Mind you I know little to nothing about that particular stretch of time, only that at some point our father met another lady eventually, and that this lady was to eventually become his bride.  That lady, incidentally, became my mother."

    "How old was my Dad when that happened, sir?"

    Simon grimaced.  "I'm not totally sure of that either to be honest, but I know that there existed about 11 years difference in our age between your father and myself.  So it would be safe to say at least that much time passed for the moment, I think.  In any event, I'm afraid my brother didn't take very kindly to the new addition in the family - and even more so when that new addition ended up doubling the numbers.  I am referring, as you might deem, to me when I came along and joined the brood."

    "Why do you say that?" Jason asked, drawn into the story.

"Well," Simon paused, trying to find the right words. "When we were young, or rather when I was young, your father had very little to do with my being around.  In fact, I think he went out of his way at times just to avoid and ignore me.  For a long while I was just something or someone out of place in his life, a rather thorn of sorts.  Now, I don't mean that as a criticism really, because I know how brothers can get on each with others nerves at times.  Nor do I mean to put your father in a bad light, please, but we - how do I say, we were always at odds, and that’s just how it was for the most part.  Being older now and looking back on that period, I guess you could say it was just my impressions, more or less.  I was very young and didn't know or understand any better. Your father had a group of other ruffians he hung out with considerably, and that added to my being more estranged than usual.  I missed his companionship fearfully as a brother, because he and his friends were always gone, sometimes days at a time."

    Pausing only long enough to navigate a change in their route, Simon took a deep breath.  "It was one of the things our father had such a basic dislike for.  Again, I don't say these things to paint this grim picture for you, Jason - I know he was your father and probably had a very different attitude towards you and your lives than what I describe.  But try to remember we're talking a time when he was like most teenagers of our era - rebellious, righteous, self-dependent.  Even I went through that period to some extent as I grew older.  Your father though, unfortunate as it seemed, carried a lot of his resentment internally with us as a family – enough so he was considerably rude and discourteous with both me and my mother.  From what little I can remember, she made several attempts to work out a better relationship with him, exerting a good deal of patience and providing what support she could that he would allow.  It was all for naught, however, because in the end he remained distant and aloof; his attitude just didn't mix well with our parents at the time."

    Jason chewed on the revelations for a moment before he spoke.  "Dad never told me anything about my grandparents, as far as I can remember.  I remember asking him a few times, but he just always smiled and said there wasn’t much to tell, and then he would change the subject or something."  He mulled these facts over before looking at the older man.  "What happened next?"

    Simon's voice softened as he continued.  "It came down to a terrible fate finally, I think.  What I remember, more or less, was that your father and grandfather had a rather bad row one evening. I was perhaps 4, maybe 5 at the time.  He had just turned 16 and was speaking overtly about entering into the Queens service one evening, although it was something he had wanted to do from as early as I could remember.  Father had other plans, however, telling him that he wasn’t ready, that entering the service would be rather too hard on him at the time, I think.  I’m not sure, but I think your grandfather insisted that your Dad wait until he was at least 17, but-"

    Jason noted the hesitation.  "But what, sir?"

    Simon sighed and looked thoughtful.  "My memory is sketchy there Jason. What I recall is only fleeting glimpses of the moment I'm afraid.   It's not overly horrible I guess, nor is it anything stranger than you would find elsewhere in drama today.  It only seems disheartening because of how it felt to us as a family.  You see, as I said, our fathers had a fairly harsh argument, one which came to some rather wicked words.  In the end your Dad made several remarks deemed too hurtful I'm afraid, and for a moment there was an exchange – blows, a slap or something of the sort, but I cannot recall who did what to whom.  What I do recall, however, is that the end of it came all at once when it happened.  Your father left the room, out the front door - never to come back again.  When I say never, I mean that conclusively – he left his clothes, his belongings – everything that could seemingly tie him to our existence, it seemed – was left behind.  Your grandpa was devastated in the end.  I remember after that night he tried desperately to locate your Dad at times, sometime gone until way up in the hours of the morning.  No one heard from him or anything about him again though until at few years later.  I was maybe 10 at the time, I’m not sure, but little fragments started coming to us from here and there that Charles did succeed in joining the Royal Navy and was off overseas somewhere.  After a while, to my knowledge, that was the last that ever was heard of him before Dad passed away some years ago."

    Jason looked down at his feet.  "Oh.  I'm, I'm sorry..."

    Simon glanced over at the boy.  "Don't be.  I take it you really have known very little about your extended family then?"  When Jason nodded, he spoke again.  "I understand it isn't all glorious or anything to hear, and even more so to have to hear it for the first time right now.  It is as I said it, though; I have few memories myself, of a day and age long since passed.  My parents loved each other, and both treated me quite well in the years I lived at home.  It wasn't long after your Dad left that we even had a new addition to the family still, so our family grew even more.  In other words, I have a sister who lives nearby in Hampshire - Havant to be exact.  We each have the other, and there is plenty of support I dare say between us."

    Jason looked up.  "You said your Dad died, right? What about your mom?"

    Simon shook his head.  "I'm sorry to say, my mother succumbed to cancer almost 2 years ago."  Simon watched as the young teenager took the news, staring out the window at the countryside flying by.  “I know how it seems, believe me.  It is strange in contrast to have so many people pass from the family from such a strange yet terrible disease.  Yet your grandfather died of a heart attack, and my mother – a woman you would have loved to meet I think – who was as sweet as they come, succumbed to the disease in the same fate as your grandmother.  It is life Jason, like it or not, it is a part of the bigger circle.  We live and deal with what fate brings us along the road, one curve at a time.”

    Jason nodded in understanding.  “Yeah, I know.  It is funny though, sometimes.”  He looked up at the bigger man.  “My mother also died of cancer, some kind of tumor.  That’s basically all I know about it though.”  The revelation brought them both back to silence, each to their thoughts while Simon continued to drive.  Soon Jason spoke up.  “How long until we, like, get there?”

    Simon studied for a moment before answering.  “Probably about another forty minutes or so.  Have you ever lived in the big city?”

    Jason nodded.  “Yeah, for about a year me and Dad lived right outside of Nashville.”

    Simon’s eyebrow rose.  “Music City USA?  I know that place.  Never been there yet, but I hope to someday pay it a visit.”  Seeing the look of curiosity, he continued.  “I’ve been to the states several times, traveling for my company, so I know several areas dotted about here and there.”

    “What do you do?”

    “Hmm, I guess you could say I’m a technical sales manager of sorts, but I also am responsible for traveling onsite and resolving peoples design issues and things to.  All of course, for fire detectors, alarms, pull stations, that sort of thing.”

     “Oh,” was the simple reply.  Jason wasn’t sure he understood, but he let the matter drop.

     Simon studied for a moment.  “Did you like the city?”

     “It was okay, just different was all.”  Looking up again at the older man, he asked, “What about the rest? I mean, how did you guys find out about me?”

     "That's right, I didn't really finish that, did I?  Sorry for that oversight," he replied as he shifted in his seat.  "Well, you see, we never heard anything really on your father again insofar as I knew, but it just so turns out that my sister is fairly entertained with tracking and keeping up with family history.  Some of what I'm about to tell you is based on fact, but some I have to sort of fill in the pieces a little with what I believe is the case, if you understand.  You see, her husband's family is from the States, and she has thus visited several areas thereabouts from time to time.  One of them appears to have been close to your hometown in Tennessee, what was it - Crossville?"  Jason nodded in acknowledgement, so Simon continued.  "So here is the thing, quite uncanny as it may seem: somehow or another my sister met up with some others there who were into the family tree thing, and before long they all started becoming quite friendly.  One day one of her friends was telling her about a certain young woman who passed away some years ago, who was actually a close cousin of the family, and when she looked into it a little closer, she discovered that her husband had come over from England.  That wasn't so much anything to ponder about, until certain details were discovered when your father died, and the ladies somehow found similarities that described the step-brother my sister knew she had, but had never met."

     "Eventually she brought me the information she collected and we started making queries through some of your state agencies to see if we could get more details.  At first they resisted, I think because we were here on foreign soil, but my sisters friends there in Tennessee gave us a hand and, sure enough, we confirmed it: your father was indeed our long lost brother."

     Simon shifted in his seat again as they pulled through another round-about and continued.  "Now, the information we researched was on your father, you understand? We had no idea of his family history there - mostly because your mother, and you as well, kept her surname."

     "Oh, so, okay, you uh ... huh?" Jason was confused.

     Simon laughed. "I don't blame you, it seems a little stretched for assurances if that, and even I was confused for a while after we put it together.  You see, my sister didn't have any idea my brother had a family, so naturally we didn't follow up on that for a while.  In fact, it was by pure dumb luck, I think, we did learn about you."

     "How so?"

     "My sister decided to call the States and thank her friends there for the help they gave us, and while they chatted for a while, the lady there asked about what happened, in her word, 'to the boy?'  Of course, she was like, 'What boy?'  That is when we learned about you.  Now, I'm a little fuzzy from here, but somehow word got to the services people there that we were here, and somehow word got to my sister that you were there, considered an orphan.  Next thing I knew, my sister is calling me at work, and right afterwards we're both getting calls from your state social services commission - I think.  The rest, well, you know probably as much as I do from that point."

    Jason was confused.  "So, you kind of just, found out, by accident then?"  When Simon nodded, Jason tried to absorb it, turning and staring out the window at the darkness.  After a long while he sighed and then stretched, pressing his back into the seat.  Simon noted a look of sadness.

    "I don't suppose you want to tell me what you're thinking now, would you? Hmm?" 

    "I don't know, it's just - hard to take I guess.  I mean, I believe you and everything, I just - I just wish it had happened sooner, that's all."

    As Jason sat silently staring out into the dark void, Simon reached out and placed a hand on the young man's shoulder. "It was only by luck we found you as we did, but I have to believe was also some level of divine intervention in some small way.  I'm sorry, I wish, too, that we had learned all of this sooner, not just for the last few weeks or months, but even for years.  It would be beyond my humble ability to convey what feelings would have surfaced if I could have just located my brother again."

    Jason thought long and hard about all of it, and suddenly a thought hit him that, although sounded ridiculous, he couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the couple, the family, might be taking him in for another reason – one that he was unsure he liked.  Turning to the older man he scrutinized his face intently.  “So, I guess that's it, then? I mean, you and, Natalie, was that her name?  You and Natalie are just going to let some strange kid come and live with you now, someone you don't even know or... or..."

    "Okay, hold up right there," Simon responded, rather firmer than he intended.  Before the teen had even finished, he had already surmised what the boy was thinking.  'He does have a little spunk though' he thought to himself, and was actually glad to see the young man was not as fragile as had begun to contemplate.  "You are, and I mean this completely, so be sure you listen carefully: You are NOT a pity case, nor are you OUR pity case.  Yes, her name is Natalie, and she and I talked long and hard for a few nights about all of this before we agreed to bring you here.  We talked about it long and hard, and we talked it over with the boys as well.  I explained to them exactly what I just explained to you while ago.  Jason - listen carefully - in the end we ALL agreed we wanted you to come live with us for a while.  There is no denying fate handed all of us a little curve in the road, but that is just life son – things happen, and when it does, we have to take the curves as they come.  You’re here though, because we all wanted you here.  As I said before, there will be things we’ll all have to work out and adjust to, I’m sure, but in the end if it works out and you feel comfortable enough with us, we ALL agreed we would want you to stay."

    Slowly a wave of relief crossed Jason's features, his eyes becoming moist.  He chided himself at being so suspicious.  This man was going out of his way, and that effort alone should have convinced him it that these people would be nothing like what he had had to endure.  He could not hide his emotion from the man, nor did he have any wish to.  He finally smiled up at the man and nodded, replying in a whisper, “Th-thanks.“

    Perhaps, just maybe – this man and this place he was going to – would be all right after all. 


Comments to: EKidKy@hotmail.com
Other series by me:

   - The Bully and the Bullied (A novel)
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay – High School section, Early 2009)

   - One Autumn Weekend (A Short Story)
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay – High School section, February 2010)

   - Life’s Road of Discoveries
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay-Young Friends section, Early 2008)

   - Terry and Sam - Short Story, Holiday Christmas Collaboration w/Ruwen
     (www.Nifty.org, Gay-No Sex section, Late 2008)