The following contains scenes of sexual activity between males. If it is illegal for you to read this in your area or if you feel you may be offended by doing so, please do not continue. This story is complete fiction and any similarities between the story and reality are purely coincidental. There is no Madison, Oklahoma. Some of the characters in this story may engage in behavior which could be construed as illegal or unsafe. This is not an endorsement of such behavior. The author does not condone the violation of any law, not does he encourage unsafe behavior. Please do not copy or post this story without the knowledge or consent of the author.

Please send any comments to my new address, chriswriter @ Thank you for reading my story. If you like it, please let others know about it.

If you would be interested in reading other stories I have written, you may find them under the Prolific Writers link on the Nifty home page. They include A Canterbury Tale, The Moon in Your Eyes, Odyssey, Centennial Park, and The Secrets of Waldo. I hope to resume The Secrets of Waldo when I have completed A Curious Set of Misfits, and I invite you to check it out. If you would like me to resume it, please let me know by writing to my current address: chriswriter @ Thank you very, very much!

A Curious Set of Misfits

by FreeThinker

“Sitting on the side. Waiting for a sign. Hoping that my luck will change.

Reaching for a hand that can understand someone who feels the same.

When you live in a cookie cutter world being different is a sin.

So you don't stand out and you don't fit in. Weird.”

Hanson. Copyright 1997, Jam 'N Bread Music

Chapter Ten


“(snort, snort), Is this the party to whom I am speaking?”
Daniel looked at the phone receiver in confusion.


“Is Mr. Veedle there?”

The voice on the other end of the line was very strange, a bizarre, nasal female voice.

“Um, I'm sorry,” he replied politely, “but I think you have the wrong number.”

Suddenly the voice changed to a male's with a sinister, German accent.

“Vedddy interestink. But, stupid!

Daniel's eyes grew wide with shock and outrage.

“What?? Who is this?”

Laughter suddenly erupted from the other end of the line.

“You goofus! It's me!”


The older boy chuckled.

“Don't you watch Laugh in?

“Aw, come on. You know my parents don't let me watch stuff like that.”

“Yeah, I shoulda known. Sorry. So how ya doing, little guy?”

“Great, now. When are you coming over?”

“Well, right now, if it's safe.”

Daniel grinned with joy.

“It's safe. They just left. Hurry!”

“My feet are like the wings of eagles!”

“Yeah, whatever. Just hurry up!”

“Jawohl, mein Kommandant!”

The line went dead and Daniel hung up. He eagerly ran to the front door and stood looking expectantly out the screen up Twelfth Street as the clouds gathered above and the wind began to pick up. He prayed that the storm would be a big one and that Eric would have to stay for dinner.

In less than thirty seconds, he saw the tall, gangly figure of his hero sprinting, (actually, more like loping), around the corner and through the lawn across the street toward his house. Daniel giggled at the goofy teenage grin on Eric's face as he approached. He threw the screen door open as Eric bounded up the steps.

“Man, that was fast.”

“Just following orders,” Eric said with a grin as Daniel closed the front door. The two boys smiled at each other and slowly, Daniel leaned up against the older boy, who wrapped his arms around the youngster and held him.

“I've missed you, today, little guy.”

“I missed you, too.”

After several minutes, Eric pulled slightly away and led Daniel to the couch in the living room.

“Go get your Spanish book,” he whispered. Daniel rolled his eyes and replied, “I've got a better idea.”

He crawled on top of Eric, settling into the teenager's lap and throwing his arms around his shoulders. Eric looked down at Daniel's eyes and his resistence dissolved. Slowly, he lowered his lips to Daniel's forehead and gently kissed him.

“I love you, Daniel,” he whispered as one arm squeezed the boy tightly and the other caressed his dark hair. The boy closed his eyes and let the older boy hold him, love him. “I can't stop thinking about you. All day at school, I see your face before me, I hear your sweet voice, I feel your arms around my neck, I smell your breath, I taste your kiss. I love you.”

Daniel sighed.

The wind whipped around the house and lightening flashed outside the window. Daniel mewed.

“I love you, Eric,” he whispered. “You're the only person who understands me. You're the only person who doesn't try to make me be someone else.”

“You don't have to be someone else. You're perfect just the way you are.”

Eric was rigidly hard in his jeans. He always was when he was in the presence of the incarnation of perfect boyhood. His finger traced the ridge of Daniel's nose, rubbed the freckled cheek, ran along the thin, dark eyebrow. The boy's dark lashes were like silk and fluttered as he looked up into Eric's eyes. The teenager could wait no longer. He held the boy's head and and their lips met. He kissed Daniel on the lips.

For his part, Daniel was ready to move their relationship to another level. The conversation in Michael's clubhouse and the revelation that Eric and Brad had been fooling around for years had brought Daniel to the realization that this was what was missing in the nearly perfect relationship he had found with his protector, his mentor, his guide, his hero. Daniel knew what he wanted. He wanted from Eric what he gave himself every night in bed. He wanted it from the one person who loved him for himself and not for what he represented, a trophy to be exhibited. He wanted it from the person he loved above all others in the world.

“Eric,” he whispered, looking down at the buttons of the teenager's shirt.

“Sweetheart,” Eric whipsered in the boy's ear.

Daniel looked upward, his eyes meeting Eric's. The older boy knew that his love was trying to say something; he could see the desire in the boy's eyes. He caressed Daniel's face.

“What is it, sweetheart?”

Slowly, Daniel raised his hand gently wrapped his fingers around Eric's wrist. He pulled the hand from his face and guided it down his neck, past his chest, and across his tummy. Eric was curious at first, but soon realized what was happening. His lips opened in fear and uncertainty as Daniel guided his hand to the younger boy's lap. As his hand came to rest on the rigid hardness hidden beneath the slacks, his hand was trembling. It was one thing to mess around with his best buddy. It was a totally different issue with the object of his love, the boy he adored, the boy he had protected and encouraged and loved. Daniel's eyes gazed worshipfully upward, needfully.

“Please,” he whispered. “Love me like you love Brad.”

Eric almost cried as he closed his eyes and clutched the boy tightly to him.

“Oh, Daniel, I don't love Brad like I love you. Brad's my buddy and we fool around, and I love him. But, I love. I love you so much more, so much stronger, so... “

He couldn't finish. He just held the boy, yet his hand remained on Daniel's lap, feeling the pulsing of the boys heartbeat through his rigid boyhood.

Eric slid his hand upward and held Daniel's face again. He gazed down at the boy's eyes and felt the tears form in his own.

“I can't do it to you, Daniel. Not right now, not like this. I love you too much.”

Eric's heart was breaking as he saw the pain and confusion in Daniel's face.

“Why not? I love you, Eric. I want you to. Please. Please.”

Tears were streaming down Eric's face as his lips met Daniel's. They kissed deeply, Eric trying to express through the kiss all that was in his heart. As the wind and rain howled ourtside, he tried to convey his adoration to Daniel, praying the boy would understand.

“Oh, my God.”

Both boys jerked their eyes open and turned in horror to see Daniel's father standing in the doorway from the dining room. His mouth was open in shock as he saw the teenager holding his son in his arms.

“What... what are you doing to my son?”

Eric's mouth moved several times as if he were attempting to say something, but he could find no words. Daniel was frozen in terror, unable to move.

“I'm... I'm not...”

“Let go of my son.”

Mr. Llewellyn's voice was trembling, his eyes wide and bulging. Eric saw the man's hands slowly grip into tight fists and saw the fury build in the outraged man's body.

“I'm not doing anything,” Eric stammered.

“Don't lie to me!” Mr. Llewellyn declared with barely controlled savagery. “Daniel! Get off of him! NOW!”

Daniel was too terrified to move. Eric looked at him, frightened for the boy, fearful of what his father might do to him. Slowly, Eric nudged Daniel and guided him to his feet. Daniel's fearful gaze never left his father's face as he stood trembling beside Eric. Daniel's hand instinctively sought Eric's. Eric didn't realize he had taken the boy's hand. He squeezed it, hoping to give strength to the boy he loved.

“Daniel! Go to your room. Now!”

“D-d-d-dad, I....”

Mr. Llewellyn's eyes grew wide with outrage at the boy's hesitation.

“Do not defy me! Go to your room. NOW!”

The man raised his hand and Daniel flinched. The boy ran to the hall and Eric knew this was not the first time Daniel's father had raised a hand to his son. Eric's fear was suddenly joined with anger.

“Don't hurt him. It's not his fault. It's me. Daniel didn't do anything.”

“Shut up!”

“We didn't do anything! We were just hugging. He needs a friend and I was just being his friend.”

“You liar! You pervert! You... sick....filthy... get out! Get out!”

Mr. Llewellyn advanced on the teenager with his fists ready. Eric could not decide whether to leave or to stand and fight. He had no doubt of the man's desire to kill him. But, then the image of Daniel came to him.

“I'm leaving,” he said, his voice trembling fear as well as his own indignation. “You don't understand...” he tried to add as he stepped toward the front door.

“I understand everything! Now get out of my house and if I ever see you near my son again, I'll kill you!”

Eric opened the door and stepped out onto the porch, facing the fierce west wind, the rain and hail stinging his face like needles and arrows. The door slammed behind him.

“Oh, my God,” he muttered to himself over and over as he stepped down to the walkway, clutching his hands as his hair and clothes became drenched in the downpour. “What am I gonna do? Oh, my God!”

He desperately looked back toward the Llewellyn's, fear, anger, confusion all fighting within.

“Daniel,” his cried softly. Oh, God, Daniel.”

A gust of wind hit him and he covered his painfilled face. Staggering in the rain and hail, his body chilling in the wind, he stumbled across the yard toward the street.

“What am I gonna do?” he cried as he fought his way up the street. “What am I gonna do?”

His parents would find out. His parents. How could he look his father in the eyes if he heard from Mr. Llewellyn? How could he face his mother?

And, Daniel. What was that monster going to do to Daniel? How many times had the boy cried on his shoulder about his father's cruelty to him, the vicious words, the hatefilled insults, the demands for perfection the boy could never attain?

He reached the corner of Thirteenth Street. He stood in confusion, looking around. Ahead was Michael Griffin's house. Across the street was Ricky Patterson's. To his left, a block away was his own.


He had to find Brad.

Where would he be right now? Think. Keep it together. Think. Where is Brad?

He staggered south toward the block on which he had grown up. A car drove past, splashing water all over him. It stopped.

“Eric! What the hell are you doing?”

It was Ricky Patterson's father. He couldn't answer him. He couldn't tell him. Drunkenly, he waived and staggered on, running crazily across a yard and away.


He kept running.

Brad. He had to find Brad.

He reached Twelfth Street again. Brad's house was just ahead. The rain was slackening somewhat. The hail was smaller and the wind was dying down. He stood for a moment, thinking. Up ahead, he saw Ed's Impala in front of his house. Ed was Brad's older brother. They were at his house. Oh, no. Would Mr. Llewellyn have called his house? Would his mother know by now?

He fought to control his panic, to keep control, to maintain.He stood panting in the street when, suddenly, he saw Brad and Ed emerge from the front door of his house. As they crossed his front yard, Brad looked down the street and stopped.

He knew. Eric could tell from the way they froze that they knew.

Oh, God, he thought.

Ed and Brad jumped into the Chevy and in seconds roared to a stop beside him.

“Get in!” Ed ordered. Eric didn't hesitate as he threw open the back door of the car and jumped in.

He staired wild-eyed at Brad.

“What the fuck happened?” Brad demanded.

“What's happening at home?” Eric pleaded as Ed drove slowly in the dimishing rain.

“Ed,” Brad barked. “Take us drivin'. Outta town.”

His brother was a senior at Madison High, the Big Man on Campus. He had endured his share of parental scrapes and crises and knew Eric was in deep trouble. He turned on Twelfth and headed for Main Street and the highway to Tulsa.

“What's happened at home?” Eric pleaded again.

“We were waiting for you. I thought you might want to grab a shake when someone called and we could hear 'em yelling and your Mom got all upset and started crying and yelling back and then she slammed the phone down and said we had to go find you. What happened?”

Eric looked fearfully at Ed. What could he say? Brad would understand, but Ed? Sure, it was Ed who taught Brad how to jack-off. Sure, when the cheerleaders weren't available, it was Brad who took care of his brother's libido. But, Eric and an eleven year-old? He wasn't sure how open-minded Ed would be about that.

Eric looked at Brad in the eye for several seconds. Suddenly, Brad understood.

“Oh, shit.”

He turned to his brother as they stopped at Main. The parking lot of the IGA across the street was packed with pick-ups and cars full of teenagers out for their afternoon cruise. Several kids had recognized Ed's Impala and were waiving.

“We gotta problem, Ed,” Brad said. “We gotta think. This is serious. Big time.”

“OK,” he answered. He turned onto Main and sped on toward the outskirts of town.

“Ed,” Brad continued, “you gotta be cool on this, OK?”


“You sure?”

“I said OK! What the fuck is going on?”

Ed looked in the rearview mirror and saw the near panic on Eric's face.

“Look,” Brad said warily. “It's Eric and... Daniel.”

Ed's eyes grew wide as he looked back in shock at Eric.

“You? And, Daniel? Saint Eric?”

Eric buried his face in his hands.

“Oh, God,” he cried.

“Ed!” Brad barked.

“Man, ain't my brother enough for ya? Jesus! He's only eleven!”

“It's not like that!” Eric protested. “We didn't do anything! I've never done anything with him. We just talk and hug. He tells me about how awful his life is and I listen.”

“What happened?” Brad asked.

“I was just holding him on the couch and we were hugging and... and he asked me if we could do what you and I do... and”

“How the fuck does he know about that?” Brad demanded.

Eric could barely hold himself together. He swallowed as the tears flowed down his cheeks.

“I... told him and.... well, Michael Griffin and Trevor Renfield, I guess, tried something with Ricky Patterson and Ricky, I guess, got pretty upset and I was talking to them and Tad and Daniel and tellin' 'em not to get too upset and that I understood and that you and I have been doin' it since third grade and...”

What?” Brad yelled.

“You fuckin' dumb ass!” Ed yelled.

“Its not like they're gonna tell anyone. They're cool. You know Michael and Trevor. They're not gonna say anything. And, you can trust Tad and Daniel.”

“Fuck,” Ed spat at Eric as a truck sped past, throwing water over the windshield.

Brad frowned and nodded.

“Yeah, you're right. They're none of them gonna saying nothin'. So what happened then?”

Eric was gazing out the window at the rainbow over Madison behind them.

“Well, I told him I loved him and that I couldn't have sex with him and that I couldn't because I love him and then his father walked in and went crazy and... I think he's going to beat Daniel. We have to do something for Daniel and I don't know what.”

Ed slowed down and pulled onto a dirt road.

“I don't know what to do, man,” he said, looking sympathetically at the younger boy. Brad shook his head.

“You're screwed, man. Its your word against Llewellyn's and everyone know's what that fuckin' hypocrite's like.He's the most, what's the word... always telling others what to do and being so...”

“Self-righteous,” said Eric gazing down at his hands.

“Yeah. OK. We'll figure somethin' out. Don't worry.”

But, as Brad looked at his brother and saw the doubt on his face, he felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.


“Michael, it's your turn to do the dishes tonight, isn't it?”

His mother grinned at the look of protest on her eldest son's face, knowing the answer.

“No way! I did them last night! It's Jimmy's turn. Besides, Trevor and Tad are coming over to play Risk!”

His father grinned as he handed his dinner plate to a smirking Jimmy.

“I think your Mom's giving you a hard time,” he replied soothingly.

But, the front bell rang before Michael could reply.

“I'll get it!” he declared jumping up from the dinner table.

When he opened the front door, however, it was not one of the two boys he had made love to earlier that afternoon. Instead, it was Daniel, tears flowing down his face, his body trembling as he clenched his fists in terror, the left side of his face a brilliant red.

Michael threw open the screen door.

“Daniel, what's the matter?”

He had to pull the boy in as Daniel seemed in shock. Michael's father rose from the table and rushed into the living room as his mother watched in fear. She ran to the kitchen and dampened a dish cloth before rushing back to the living room. Dave was sitting on the sofa, holding Daniel as Michael sat on the other side of the boy. He took the cloth from his mother and handed it to his father, who wiped the boy's face.

“You're safe, Daniel. It's OK. Take a deep breath. That's it. Breath slow and easy. That's it.”

Daniel seemed to relax. Michael's mother knelt before him and took his hands.

“What's the matter, sweetheart? Did someone hurt you? What happened to your face?”

“E-e-e-e-ric. E-eric.”

Michael and his parents all exchanged horrified looks.

“Eric hurt you?” Dave asked incredulously.

“N-n-no. W-we n-n-need to save Eric. Dad. Dad w-w-wants to k-k-kill him.”

The door bell rang again. Michael started to rise, but his father took his arm.

“I'll get it,” he said firmly. Daniel looked at the door in terror; Michael's mother put her arms around the boy and held him.

“It's OK, Daniel. You're safe. It's OK.”

He clutched her as Michael looked on in helpless frustration.

When he opened the door, Dave found Trevor and Tad smiling on the porch. But, before he he could send them away, Trevor had already seen Daniel sitting on the couch.

“Daniel! What's wrong?” he cried, pushing his way past Michael's father. Tad looked on in shock and then ran forward. Daniel looked up at Tad and threw his arms around him, crying hysterically.

As Tad and Daniel held each other and Michael's mother soothed them, Trevor looked fearfully at Michael and asked, “What happened?”

Michael shook his head helplessly.

Michael's father knelt by the boys and when Daniel had regained some degree of control, he stuttered, “D-d-dad caught E-eric and me hugging on the couch and he thinks we were doing something nasty and... he chased Eric away and then... he screamed at me and... and... he hit me...”

Unable to go further, he dissloved into tears again as Michael's parents exchanged looks of outrage and the boys looks of horror. In seconds, each of the boys was crowding in to hug Daniel as Michael's parents made room for everyone. The adults put their arms around the huddle of boys as Daniel cried and the others fought not to. Jimmy stood fearfully in the doorway from the dining room watching with tears in his eyes.

Everyone jumped as the doorbell rang yet again. The boys looked fearfully at the door as Dave stood and walked slowly toward it. He paused as he peeked out the peephole. He looked down at the floor in thought for a moment and then looked at the group huddled on the couch. He put a finger to his lips and pointed toward the hallway and the bedrooms. Betsy nodded and ushered the boys silently out of the living room, Daniel barely able to keep his sobs in check, the other boys looking in anger and fear at the front door.

When the living room was empty and the doorbell had rung again, Dave opened the door. Daniel's father stood ominously on the porch.

“I want my son,” he declared in an even and unyeilding voice.

Dave slowly opened the screen and stepped forward, pulling the front door behind him. Mr. Llewellyn, however, refused to move out of the way.

“I want my son,” he repeated.

Dave closed the door and the screen.

“I think we need to talk for a moment.”

“There's nothing to talk about. I want my son. Now.

Dave swallowed and looked evenly at the man. He was not going to release the boy to his father with both the man and the boy in these emotional states.

“Daniel is quite upset, right now, and quite afraid. Perhaps I can bring him home when he's calmed down a bit.”

“I want my son, now!” Mr. Llewellyn repeated with anger. “Now!”

He was clenching his fists and Dave could see the man would have no reluctance to use them. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Bill Patterson watching curiously from across the street. Looking at Bill, Dave moved his head a bit. Bill immediately started walking across the lawn and toward the street.

“I'm afraid I can't let you see you son right now.”

As Bill crossed the wet street, Llewellyn turned and watched him darkly as he approached. Crossing the grass of the Griffins' yard, Bill asked loudly, “Is there anything I can do, Dave?”

Michael's father turned back to Llewellyn and asked in a voice louded enough for Bill to hear, “Would you like to explain why the entire right side of Daniel's face is red and bruised?”

Bill heard and immediately understood the situation. He stood at the foot of the steps leading up to the Griffins' porch as Llewellyn replied, “I don't have to explain anything to you. Now give me my son or I go in and get him.”

Softly, but with barely controlled anger, David Griffin looked the man in the eye and said, “You set foot in my house and I will beat you senseless. Now, get off my property. Now.”

Llewellyn's eyes bulged with hatred. Bill Patterson stepped forward.

“He told you to get off his property, Stan. I think you'd better do it.”

Llewellyn stood just long enough to save face and then turned. His rage only just contained, he descended the steps and passed Bill. However, he turned and spoke one last time.

“I'm calling the police.”

“You do that. We have a lot to discuss.”

Dave and Bill watched as Llewellyn crossed the driveway and the neighboring yard as he strode home. It was not until he had passed the corner that Dave looked at Bill and sighed.

“What happened?” Bill asked with concern.

“Come in,” Dave replied turning to the door. Inside, he checked on the boys and his wife, all seated on the floor of Michael's bedroom. Daniel looked in terror.

“It's OK, son. He's gone. You're safe.”

He looked at his wife and signalled with a nod of his head. She stood and followed him out, but not before kissing Daniel on the top of his head.

“What's happening?” she whispered.

“I'm calling the police. Did you get any more out of him?”

She nodded as they walked into the living room.

“He and Eric were sitting on the couch and Eric was holding him. Apparently, Daniel confides in Eric a lot and Eric comforts him when things get too difficult.”

“I can see how that can happen,” Dave muttered.

“Daniel's father came in and thought something else was happening. Poor Eric, now, is gone and Daniel is afraid Stan is going to do something to him, or, at least, that Eric's going to get in trouble.”

“I'm calling the police,” Dave declared as he strode toward the table beside the couch. “That bastard is not going to beat that poor kid.”

“Dave, you don't know what happened,” Bill interjected. “I saw Eric running down the street this afternoon in the rain. He looked pretty crazy. I wouldn't be surprised if he was trying something on the boy.”

“Eric? Come on. He's an altar boy. He's the most decent kid in this neighborhood.”

Bill raised an eyebrow.

“With everything that's been happening?” he said softly.

“What's been happening?” Betsy asked.

Bill realised that Dave had said nothing to his wife about what he had learned about the nature of Michael and Trevor's friendship or the estrangement from Ricky. Dave turned to his wife, squeezed her shoulder, and said, “I'm calling the police.”

Moments later, after Bill had left and returned with his wife, one of Madison's two police cars pulled up in front of the Griffin house. As people up and down the street came out of their houses to watch, an older policeman, his belly hanging over his wide black belt, sauntered across the lawn to the Griffins' porch.

The two mothers were in Michael's bedroom comforting Daniel as Michael, Trevor, and Tad stood by. When the doorbell rang, Daniel flinched. Betsy hugged him and stood. As she walked out, Ricky's mother kissed the boy on the forehead and followed her. When they were alone, Tad sat on one side of his friend and put his arms around him as Michael sat on the other. Trevor was on his knees in front and squeezed Daniel's knees.

“It's all my fault,” Daniel wailed.

“What do you mean?” Michael asked. “That's stupid. It's not your fault.”

“Yes, it is,” Daniel replied bitterly between his tears. “I asked him to do it to me.”

Michael and Trevor looked at each other. Tad leaned his head down on Daniel's shoulder.

“I asked him to do to me what you two do. I told him I wanted him to love me the way you two love each other.”

Michael looked at Trevor and tears formed in both their eyes.

“Did he?” Tad asked softly.

“No. He said he loved me too much to do it. It's all my fault. I was sitting in his lap. I was hugging him. I was kissing him. I was trying to get him to do it when Dad walked in. It's all my fault and now they're gonna arrest Eric and it's all my fault and no one will listen and...”

Daniel dissolved into hysterics again as the boys held him. The adults, including the policeman, entered the room. Michael's father knelt beside Trevor and took Daniel's hand.

“Daniel, son, buck up now. Everything's going to be OK. Come on, son. Can you be strong for me for a moment?”

The boy sniffed and nodded and fought the sobs that threatened to erupt again.

“Daniel, Officer Morris needs to ask you a couple of questions. Can you answer him?”

Daniel looked downward and nodded.

“Daniel,” the policeman said softly, “was Eric trying to do something with you? Was he trying to do something sexual with you?”

“NO!” Daniel screamed. “Why won't anyone listen to me? He wasn't!”

He looked up at the adults crowding into the room and then, as sobs once again erupted, he declared, “It was ME! I was trying to! It was me! He was saying NO! It was me!”

He then became incomprehensible again as Michael looked up angrily at the policeman and screamed, “Get out! Get out! Leave him alone!”

Dave tried to comfort Daniel, but Michael's fury was beyond control.

“Get out!” he screamed as his fists beat on his father's shoulders, his own sobs threatening to make him incomprehensible, as well. “Leave us alone! Get out!”

Tad and Trevor joined Michael in holding Daniel protectively as the adults backed away. Michael's mother started forward but Dave held out a restraining hand. He shook his head as Bill looked on from the doorway, glancing at the policeman, who sighed.

“Dave, I have to take the boy home.His father's threatening to call Judge Hanley.”

“NO! Michael screamed. “He's beating him up. You can't take him home! His Dad'll just beat him more! Daddy, tell him. You can't let him!”

“Officer, look at the bruises on his face. You can't take him home.”

“He's his son. We can't do anything.”

Bill stepped forward.

“Look, there's discipline and then there's child abuse. Can you at least talk to the bastard?”

The policeman held his hands out helplessly and then stepped forward.

“Come on, son. We gotta go.”

“NO!” Daniel screamed as he fought. Michael, Trevor, and Tad fought him as well.

“Michael! Stop it!” his father ordered as he restrained his son. Bill took Trevor and Betsy held Tad as the three boys fought to protect their friend. Daniel was screaming and kicking as the policeman carried him out of the room.

It was several minutes before the adults were able to calm the boys down. Michael's mother called Trevor's parents and they arrived in minutes to help. As the three boys regained some measure of control, Dave and Bill walked out to the living room and stood at the open front door.

“They've issued a warrant for Eric's arrest,” Dave said softly to Bill.

“Oh, shit. They would.”

“The policeman says that after Eric's parents confronted him he ran out the door and no one's seen him since. The police think that means he's guilty.”

Bill shook his head and looked out the door in disgust. At that moment, a battered Ford pick-up roared up the street toward town.

“It's the Johnny Tracy episode, all over again,” Dave muttered looking down. Bill looked at him and said, “That was Hank Tharp and his gang. They probably called them to help search for Eric.”

Dave looked up in horror.

“Hank Tharp? No! They can't!”

Bill looked at him in confusion.

“Why not?”

“You don't understand. I... I can't tell you. We... we have to find Eric before they do. Come on!”

He grabbed Bill by the arm and dragged him out the door.

“We have to find Eric before it's too late. They can't do it again. Not again...”

And, so ends Chapter Ten. I sincerely apologize for the long delay in writing this chapter. I lost a close and dear friend a few weeks ago and that coupled with the nature of this chapter has made it very difficult for me to finish it. Chapter Eleven is already in the works though and I won't leave you hanging. Please let me know what you think by writing to me at chriswriter @ Thank you so much for your support.