Jared the Paramedic III ~ Redemption
Copyright © 2018-2019 Snowblind. All Rights Reserved.
Chapter 39: Return of the Wolves
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It was 7:00 pm and everyone was standing near the sacred fire wearing their loincloths. The cedar boughs had been laid down, forming a trail for everyone to walk along. Adam would be the person retrieving the hot rocks tonight for the sweat. Jared had set the line up as Adam first, followed by Troy, Tyler, Patrick, Jett, Jeff, Jackie, Jamie, Mark, Conner, Zane, Jesse, Liam and Jared. As they moved in a circle around the fire pit, Adam and Jared would be next to the door.
Jared was standing with his eyes closed, focusing his thoughts and senses on the ceremony he was about to lead. When he finally opened his eyes, he asked, "Gentlemen are we ready?"
Everyone responded with "Yes!"
"Jeff, Jett, Jamie, and Jackie, if you feel you need to leave, feel free to do so at any time. Before you get up, say 'Exit please.' We will help you in any way that you need. Do you all understand?" Jared asked. They all nodded their heads in reply.
Jared continued. "If anyone feels ill or needs help, please speak out immediately and say 'illness.' We will immediately do anything we can to help. The sanctity of human life is the first priority over continuing the sweat ceremony." Again everyone nodded.
Jared and Liam each lit a herb bundle to smudge each of the participants before they went in. As they were completed, they were given a signal and after bowing to the lodge, they went in. Jared smudged Liam, and Liam smudged Jared. They both placed the sacred herbs into the bowl, snuffing it out. They both bowed to the lodge, then took their place within.
With the door still open, there was some daylight still coming into the lodge. Jared spoke to guests. "This lodge will bring you close to the true essence of nature, love, and inner peace. You will receive clarity and direction to your lives. It will also teach you to listen to your inner voice when it speaks or tries to give you guidance before you do something. You are each made up of two parts, your spiritual body and your physical body. This ceremony will bond the two together, to heal you as a person." Jared waited for any questions from the guests, but none were asked.
In front of Jared was an ornate pipe held on an elk horn stand. Underneath the pipe was a birch-bark wrapped bundle of shredded tobacco. Jared took the tobacco and packed it. "Tobacco is a sacred herb of the Creator. When we smoke the pipe, we do not inhale the tobacco. We take a mouthful and allow it to escape as we say our prayer. The smoke carries our prayer up to the Creator's ears. Tonight, the guests and anyone else in here may either say a prayer or they may state why they are here, what do they want to change."
Jared held the pipe in both hands, raised it up towards the roof of the lodge three times in a row. After bringing it down the final time, Jared lit the pipe and took a couple of big puffs. "Creator, I beg your protection for my family of brothers as they do your work. I beg for your blessing for the family who has asked you for help. May they begin to walk the path you intended for them." Jared took another puff, then passed the pipe to Liam.
After raising the pipe three times, Liam took a couple of puffs as he prayed, "Creator, I thank you for giving mankind the gift of love, and for leading me to my husband to share it with. May we always do the work you intended."
The pipe was passed to Jesse, Zane, Conner and Mark in turn. Each gave a prayer of thanks.
Mark handed the pipe to Jamie. The young man was having trouble getting words out of his mouth, almost beginning to panic when Patrick reached over to touch Jamie's knee. Patrick entered the young man's mind, telling him to take a couple of deep breaths, calm down, and speak out loud when he was ready to start. Patrick leaned back to his place. A moment later, Jamie said out loud, "Thank you, Patrick, I'm ready." The young man lifted the pipe up three times, then struck a match to light it. He took a couple of puffs and said, "Creator, I'm here to help my dad become a better dad for all of us boys, and for him to unconditionally love Jett, no matter who Jett loves. Please, help our family heal." He handed the pipe to Jackie.
Jackie sat and stared at it for a moment before he lifted it ups like everyone else had done. He struck a match to light it and took a couple of puffs. "Creator, I'm scared shitless right now."
Jeff leaned over, "Jackie, that's not appropriate."
Jared spoke quickly, "Jeff, I don't often directly conflict with parents, but in this case, I must disagree. What Jackie just said was absolute honesty from his heart. Although it might be considered sacrilegious in many other faiths, we consider it to be delivered with absolute honesty. Do you remember when you arrived we told you that swearing was allowed in the right context?"
Jeff slowly nodded that he did remember.
Jared continued, "Jackie was not directing the swear word to anyone. As a young man under an extreme amount of stress right now, he used it to explain himself quite clearly."
Jeff was hesitant, "If it doesn't offend you or anyone else in here, I won't object. I apologize Jackie."
Jackie smiled at his dad, "I may have been scared shitless, but from your reaction dad, I pray we keep talking and healing like we've been doing so far this weekend."
Jeff reached over and messed Jackie's hair before pulling him in for a hug. Jackie smiled and handed his dad the pipe. Jeff did the same as everyone else and then lit it. "Creator, I would like to thank you for allowing me to spend this weekend with your messengers and my boys. I've learned so much this weekend about myself and all three of my boys. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to heal."
Jeff handed the pipe to Jett. The young man took it into his hands which began to tremor. Patrick placed his hand on Jett's knee, entering his mind. "Jett, we are here with you. I've had your back from the moment you asked for my help while we were at school. I've stood beside you during the shooting, and I'm still there with you. Be calm, and speak from the heart." When Patrick was linked to Jett, his eyes had turned white. This was noticed by Jamie, Jackie and Jeff. It was the first Jeff had seen Patrick's eyes turn white, but he understood what it meant. Jeff got the attention of his two youngest sons, assuring them everything was ok.
Jett raised the pipe three times towards the heavens, lit it, and took a big puff of smoke. "God... Creator. I'm here because you stopped me from dying the day I tried to commit suicide by the hands of a police officer. I still don't know why you deemed me worthy of being saved, but I thank you for doing it. All I ever wanted was to be part of a family who loved me as I am, regardless of my being gay, bi or straight. I'm still confused about what I am, but it will be easier now that our family is becoming a family again. Thank you for a second chance at life." As Jett handed the pipe to Patrick, his father and brothers all gently grasped his arms in reassurance.
Patrick took the pipe, lit it and took a puff. As he exhaled the smoke, he raised the pipe three times while speaking in the tongue of his ancestors. "Creator hear our prayers, Creator hear our hopes, Creator feel our love," he said in the ancient language. He took another puff, exhaling it towards the room of the lodge, "Creator, you gave me the power that day to save the life not only of my friend Jett but my brother Tyler. You gave me, a mere child, the gift to make a difference in these peoples lives. I pray that I can continue to serve you in the manner you intended, with honour, truth, and integrity." Jett was going to ask a question but Patrick cut him off, "During the sweat, everyone will see what I saw. Please wait." Patrick handed the pipe to Tyler.
Tyler raised the pipe, lit it and took a puff. "Creator, my life was changed that day. I'm sitting here in this lodge with the person I shot, and the people who have stood by me during the following firestorm. Running Squirrel, I'm floundering in my life. I'm confused, angry, resentful, scared, paranoid, all with a heavy heart." Tears began to flow down Tyler's cheeks, "I don't understand why it was me. I am a protector of the pack, and for anyone who needs help. I have always been prepared to use deadly force against someone who deserved it, but not against an 18-year-old boy who was mentally distraught. Please Running Squirrel, the Creator of all, I beg of you to help Jett's family heal to move forward in their lives. They need to heal after I shot and almost killed their son and brother." Tyler dropped the pipe to his lap as he covered his face with both hands, hiding his tears. Patrick and Troy both embraced Tyler tightly.
Jared looked over at Jett and Jeff. Both had tears running down their faces. Jett spoke, "I didn't know he was in so much pain, Jared. I didn't know..." He took a couple of deep breaths. "Jared, this is the first time I've seen it from Tyler's perspective. I don't hold what he did against him, but I never thought he would be so devastated..."
"This is why we are all here today. For everyone to share their pain, and to heal," Jared stated very clearly. "Every event in life brings pain to people in different ways. The first step of healing, the admission of pain." Jared looked to Troy, "Continue please."
Troy and Adam both kept their prayers short, asking for healing of everyone in the lodge.
Jared nodded to Adam, who stepped out to retrieve the rocks. After five trips, Adam pulled the flap closed on the lodge, sitting down in his spot. The inside of the lodge glowed brightly from the light of the red-hot stones. Jared spoke, "The trail of the cedar to the lodge is umbilical cord linking the lodge or womb to the sacred fire. The water we use on the rocks to give steam is the life-giving fluid from mother earth."
"The first rock, or first grandfather, is placed to represent the ancient spirits, and it is the centre of the pit. The Creator is the centre of all life. The second rock placed represents the east, and it touches the grandfather Creator rock. The third rock is placed in the south, touching the previous two rocks. Next is the west, followed by the north." Adam continued to bring in seven more rocks. "The total is now 12 rocks for our first round of the sweat. The number is 12, the same as 12 moons per year, 12 months, 12 tail feathers on an eagle." Adam closed the door again after retrieving the last seven rocks.
Jared raised the ladle high and poured water on each of the rocks in the pit. "The element of fire has heated the rocks, the rocks being the element of the earth. The element of water is poured onto the rocks causing the release of energy into the element of air. All life on this planet needs these four elements, fire, earth, air and water in balance to exist. No element may replace another in their role to create or sustain life."
Jared used the ladle again to pour water on the red hot rocks. The sizzle from the water on the heated rock was almost deafening at first, releasing the steam in a frenzy. As the sizzle slowed, the production of steam did as well. "The energy released when the water turns to steam is a gift from mother earth to cleanse us of shadows which may accumulate or attach themselves onto us during life. The cedar and sage we are sitting on not only protect us as sacred plants but they also force any shadows to be drawn into Mother Earth for their destruction. The sweat which drips off of us contains the impure elements we are being cleansed of and it falls to the ground to be absorbed into Mother Earth for destruction. The five rocks in the pit represent the four sacred directions and the grandfather himself. The grandfather is the purest, wisest and oldest rock of all from mother earth. His purity and knowledge are shared with us in the steam from his body."
Jared reached and pulled the ladle out of the bucket full of water, pouring it on the rock representing the west, repeating the procedure for the rocks representing the north, east and south. He poured 2 more full ladles on the rock in the centre representing the Creator. The lodge filled with steam rapidly and completely blocking everyone's vision. Jared reached for a bowl in front of him, gathered shredded sweetgrass and sage from it, and placed it on the red rocks. Both smouldered, adding their cleansing scent to the thick steam within the lodge. Next, Jared reached for a small bottle of cedar tincture, pouring some onto the hot rocks as well. The aroma's blended quickly, filling the lodge with protective and cleansing energy.
Jared pointed to Patrick. The young man's memories came to the front of his mind as he said, "The sweat lodge ceremony is divided into four rounds, one for each direction. The first round is for the west or fall and is represented by the colour black. We must look deeply into ourselves for the things we need to change, just as the sun is setting after the day has completed. The west celebrates adulthood and being a parent. The west has two spirit guides or totems, the beaver and the snake. The beaver which works as a team to achieve their common goals and the snake which sheds its skin to remind us we must do the same as we change to new ways. The message of these spirit animals is we must shed our skins of the past to change and to work as a group to achieve our goals in life."
Jared spoke, "The drum is an important gift to bring into the ceremony because the drum is made from all of Creation. The sound of the drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth."
Adam, Patrick, and Zane all began to drum a beat. Liam began to chant to the beat. It only took a few moments before everyone had closed their eyes, swaying to the chant, and began to relax. It was Zane who used his drumbeat to change the tempo and begin to close the first round of the ceremony. Adam opened the flap for the door, motioning everyone to head out and jump into the water. Jared had lots of soaproot available with a lavender scent to wash with. It was Troy who explained to Jett and his family to jump into the water, wash the sweat off just like the snake shedding its skin. Conner made sure the four guests also began to drink lots of bottled water.
"That was incredible," Jett exclaimed while standing in the lake. "The power I felt going through my body, I can't describe."
Jeff added, "I'm really awed by the ceremony so far. I feel so different right now."
"This is why you are here, to shed the past and begin a new future," Patrick said as he washed his hair.
Jeff looked for Tyler. He was very pleasantly surprised when he spotted the young man washing his boyfriend's back with soap and smiling. "Jeff," Patrick started, "the healing has begun."
"I really don't understand this, but it doesn't matter if I understand. It works," Jeff stated with a big smile.
"Dad, that's a big change from your usual way of looking at things," Jett said cautiously.
"Yes, it is. I hope it will be this way going into the future." Jeff smiled at his son as he spontaneously embraced him. Not to be left out, Jamie and Jackie joined in.
Jett had watery eyes as he said, "Dad, you've hugged me more this weekend than you have in years. Thank you."
"Jett, Jamie, Jackie, I'm sorry," Jeff replied.
Jared raised a water bottle up into the air, "Everyone, get some fluids into you. You lost a lot of water in there."
"We weren't in there very long... or were we?" asked Jamie.
Conner put his hand on Jamie's shoulder, "About an hour."
"No shit," Conner replied with a big smile. Mark poked his boyfriend in the ribs, causing him to jump. Conner turned to him, "You're parents weren't married when you were born." Mark began to laugh.
Jamie was puzzled, "Huh?"
"He called me a son of a bitch, politically correctly," replied Mark.
"I'll have to remember that," Jamie replied laughing.
Mark was pulling at his loincloth, "Damn, this is the first time I've worn anything into a sweat."
"What do you guys normally do?" Jamie asked.
"We're usually nude around here," replied Conner.
Jackie asked, "Why did you put clothes on?"
It was Jeff who answered, "So none of us felt uncomfortable being nude around a bunch of gay guys. Is that about right, Jared?"
"I would prefer to say we were being respectful of your different views on nudity," Jared replied with a smile.
Before anyone could say anything, Jackie and Jamie were standing there naked.
"Ok, I guess you two have no problem with it," Jared said while laughing. "You remind me of Conner and Mark." As he turned, he noticed both of them were now nude. "I give up, whatever you are comfortable with."
The younger ones including Jett were all now nude, the older brothers and Jeff kept their loin cloths on. Jared began to herd them towards the sweat lodge again.
The second round was completed and it had an emphasis on courage, endurance and honesty calling upon the north power. The third round calling upon the power of the east for wisdom was completed as well.
"This is the round for the south. The power of the south is in spiritualism and healing. We need to use all the qualities we have gained from the west, the north and the east for us to grow as a person and to mature in the way we see and deal with things. This leads to the healing of the heart and spirit."
The lodge was full of steam when it began to shake. Stepping in through the side of the lodge, Darren and Josh sat down on each side of Tyler, embracing him. Jared added sweetgrass, sage and cedar to the rocks. Jeff's eyes opened as wide as they could as he recognized the two men who had joined them. Before he could say anything, they introduced themselves.
"Hi, I'm Darren and this is my boyfriend Josh. It's nice to speak with you four."
Jeff stuttered, "Jared, are these the two who are in the picture on the wall..."
Jared cut him off, "Yes Jeff. These are our brothers. The ones in the picture you were looking at."
"But you told me they were... I mean..."
Josh smiled, "Jeff, our physical bodies are no more. We live in the next world but we visit this one frequently to help others. This time, it's to help one of our brothers and his friend."
Darren, firmly grasped the shoulder of Tyler, "Everyone here has a need to heal. Jeff, the relationship you had with your son Jett began a series of events. Everyone here has acknowledged the reasons for the problems, and they have begun the healing. Jeff, if you follow through with everything you've discovered here this weekend, your family is well on the path to healing. Each one of you are being given the choice, to continue working together to walk the best path you can or to choose your own path along with its challenges."
"Even after all of this, I have a choice?" asked Jeff.
"Jeff, you have always had the power of choice," Jared explained. "As we discussed previously this weekend, we cannot make anyone accept change. They must want it. When you leave here tomorrow with your three boys, you must choose to keep working to make things better in your lives, or not to. It is always your choice and your responsibility for that choice."
"Tyler, I beg your forgiveness," Jett quickly said. "I promise to do better."
"Jett, I do forgive you, without hesitation," Tyler replied. "I have other questions in my mind though."
"He has heard your prayers, Tyler, and he will visit with you at some point in the future," answered Josh. "We're just the advance party who used this opportunity to spend a few moments with our brothers."
"Jeff," said Darren. "You and your sons have had some strong allies help you through this, more than you would ever be able to understand."
Jett placed his hand on his father's knee, "Dad, I told you there were very special people."
Josh touched the side of Tyler's face with his fingers, "I feel your pain brother. As one cop to another, you did exactly what you were trained to do. You know that in your heart; you had no option."
"But he's just a kid."
"Let me be brutally honest, Tyler. Beau was just a kid too." That comment hit Tyler hard. "There is no age limit or minimum for people who can use a gun to kill others. You did exactly what you were set up to do by Jett. The training you took is ingrained into your mind and took over. The call describing a gunman at a school, Jett approaching you with a gun, his disregarding your directions, there was only one option left for you to do. Use deadly force to stop him."
Tyler was crying, "But..."
"But what? Don't you even try to bullshit me with an answer other than you did what you had to do."
"But..." Tyler was caught off guard as Patrick grasped his elbow. Zane reached and grasped his other elbow.
"Zane, now!" Patrick said loudly. Both Zane and Patrick's eyes turned white. Both of their bodies began to glow a bright white which spread through their hands grasping Tyler. Their friend began to struggle as the luminescence began to spread through his body. Finally, he let loose a scream of agony as a black cloud of smoke came out of his mouth. It was Darren who captured the shadow in an orb. Tyler collapsed backwards into Troy's waiting arms. His boyfriend hugged the unconscious man close to him, protecting him from any remaining threat.
Darren looked into the swirling mass of hatred inside the orb. "This was a tough little bastard."
Josh smacked the back of Darren's head, "Language!"
Darren stuck his tongue out at Josh, then leaned over to show the guests what they had captured.
"What is it?" asked Jamie.
"This is what we call a shadow. You may call it an evil spirit, or many other names," Darren answered.
"Evil spirits are real..." an astounded Jeff asked.
"Absolutely, evil is real. Shadows look for weaknesses in humans. Jeff, you had a small shadow in you but it was destroyed in the second round of sweat. It was the one which questioned your self-worth because you are missing one leg."
"I had one?"
"All of you did. That's why we sweat, and they are absorbed by the cedar and mother earth. Destroyed by her power."
"Is that why I feel the best I have in a long time?" asked Jett.
"A lot of it, yes. But, you also feel better about the relationship with your brothers and dad."
"Why didn't that one leave Tyler?' asked Jett.
"This one was deceptive. He was strong and he attacked Tyler's sense of integrity, honesty, and commitment to always doing the right thing. It wedged in between and used those traits to force Tyler off the path he was intended to walk. The shadow didn't give him the freedom of choice, it made the choice for him."
Jamie, Jett, and Jackie all looked at the dark mass within the orb. They were amazed by how it kept moving, changing forms and faces. Sometimes it even assumed the face of someone they knew.
Darren spoke very calmly, "It's picking up on your memories, guys. It's creating recognizable faces, hoping you'll help it escape. Then it would invade you. They are chameleons, becoming whatever it takes to win the fight."
It was Jackie who asked the question, "Win what fight?"
"The age-old fight of good vs evil Jackie, it's a very real battle," replied Josh with a very pained look. "Many good people are lost by the deception of the shadows and their evil. We help those who we can, but we can only mourn briefly the loss of those who don't want help. Too many will take their places if we stop for a minute."
Jamie looked to be in deep thought as he asked, "So if there was a shadow in all of us, how come a big one wasn't in Jett."
Darren smiled approvingly at the young man, "That's a very good question."
Another person walked through the wall of the shelter, taking a place between Jared and Adam. The members of the tribe all bowed their heads in respect as they welcomed the old man who joined them. Jeff and his sons felt uncomfortable not know how to react with the sudden appearance of someone else in the lodge, and the respect he was being shown. They were put at ease when the new guest spoke, "My grandchildren, we're here as a family. Although appreciated, the signs of respect are not needed."
Jared introduced his grandfather to Jeff and his sons. "This is our grandfather, the Most Sacred Medicine Man of the People, Shaman of the People, Most Elder of the People, Most Respected Elder in the Tribal Council of the Entire Western Region, Primary Messenger of the Sacred White Buffalo and patriarch to our family. Grandfather Mathew, may I introduce Jeff, father of Jett, Jamie, and Jackie."
"Jeff, it is a pleasure to meet you and your twin sons. Jett, we have met before but you were not aware of it."
Jett stuttered as he replied, "G-Grandfather M-Mathew, I really don't recall."
"Everyone hold hands," Mathew directed. "When everyone is ready, Patrick, share your memory."
The young man nodded to the old man's request. "As you ask." Everyone was looking at Patrick as his eyes went brilliant white. It was just like a movie being played in fast forward from Patrick's point of view from the moment he and Jett passed each other in the vestibule. The vision slowed down at a specific time.
Patrick was watching the event unfold in front of him. When he heard the first shot, Patrick screamed "NO!" Time appeared to stop as an uncontrolled wave of energy centred on Patrick spread out in a powerful wave. He continued to run towards Jett when he realized it was Tyler who had responded to the call. When he got to Jett, the first bullet was just entering his friend's right shoulder but was frozen in place. The bullet was half in the skin, and the blood splatter from the impact was hanging frozen in the air. A second bullet was approximately 6" from hitting Jett square in the sternum. He looked around at everything frozen in place, and was confused."
The vision sped up again until the next important time in the sequence of events, slowing down once again.
Grandfather thought for a moment before taking a necklace off from around his own neck. The necklace had a 2-inch metal replica of a medicine wheel on it. The old man walked over to Jett and placed it around his neck. Then, he reached up and placed both of his hands on each side of Jett's head. A white pulse of light came from Grandfathers' chest, up his body, down through his arms and into Jett. The white pulse travelled through the young man until it stopped in his chest where his heart would be. The white pulse dissipated. "The bullet will lodge in the medicine wheel now."
Patrick understood quickly, "You added a condition for a different reaction."
"Yes, my son. The one bullet will lodge in his shoulder but not cause any significant damage. The second bullet will be stopped by the medallion. There will be a cracked sternum and some bruising, but it will not be fatal."
Tyler rose to his feet and hugged the old man. "Thank you, Grandfather."
"My son, you are also very important to the future. We will need to share some tea soon, and begin to talk so you may heal emotionally as well."
"What did you give to Jett, Grandfather?" asked Patrick.
"I gave him hope, something he had lost. He will also need to meet with the family and me so he may heal. He will need to join you at the cabin for a weekend of healing."
One last time, the vision sped up until the last important part.
"Tyler, he didn't choose you to shoot him, he chose the profession. It was nothing personal with you, my grandson. The letter explains how much he enjoyed hockey but didn't want to be a gay hockey player in the NHL. He told his father he thought he was gay and that confrontation set the stage for this action. His father, upon hearing the news, flew into a rage. He yelled at his son, demeaned and ridiculed his son with comments about his being a failure, a disgrace, and throwing away his options. While in a blind fury, his father backhanded Jett twice. Jett stood there and didn't flinch as he was struck. After, he just walked out of the barn. Jett drove away and has been living in his truck since then. Last night, he wrote the letter while locating the perfect toy gun to be used. He had checked many stores in town until he found it. He covered the orange safety pieces with flat black spray paint. In a hurry, it would look exactly like a colt 45 semi-automatic."
The vision disappeared. Everyone in the lodge was silent. Grandfather spoke, "That is the way it was. Now, you are changing the way it will be."
Jeff had tears rolling down his face as he embraced his son, "I am so sorry, Jett. Watching it was even more painful than doing it. I was out of line, I beg you to forgive me."
Jett had tears rolling down his face as well, "Now I understand why I was able to forgive you in the hospital so easily. It was hope that I was missing, and I was given that back again. I still forgive you, Father."
Tyler was sobbing as well, being held by Troy and Patrick. "I finally understand what Josh explained to me." A moment later, Tyler said, "Now I need to learn to live with the consequences of doing my job to the best of my ability. If I can't, I need to find an alternative career."
Grandfather nodded to Tyler, "What you've spoken is the truth, Grandson. I could take the pain away from you, but it wouldn't teach you what your path in life is to be. This is another time when it is difficult for me when I must allow someone I love to be in pain. The pain helps them grow them as a person, or it changes them. That is your choice."
Tyler had a look of panic on his face for a moment as he asked, "Must I make the choice here and now?"
"No, my grandson. You will make the choice in your own time, but I will stand beside you before, during, and after you make that choice."
Tyler smiled, "Thank you, Grandfather. I accept that my family will support me whatever I choose." The brothers all immediately responded with "Got that right", "Damn right", and "Got your back, Tyler".
Grandfather took the orb with the shadow in it, "You made a mistake attacking this family and my grandchildren." Mathew raised his hand and threw the orb at the red hot rocks. As the orb flew towards the heated rocks, Grandfather said, "Suffer in eternal pain for your actions." When the orb hit, it exploded into gold smoke. The shadow screamed as it died, and just for a second, Mathew had a look of satisfaction on his face.
Mathew looked at Jeff and his family, all sitting together, holding each other. His eyes turned white as he said to them, "Do you understand what you must do to move forward?"
Jeff stuttered as he replied "Y-yes, G-G-G-Grandfather Mathew."
"Then do not hesitate in your actions." The old man sprinkled cedar, sweetgrass, and sage on the hot rocks. The shelter quickly filled with the scent of the three powerful herbs. He then coated all of the rocks with water, causing steam to obliterate everyone's site of each other. The sweat poured off of everyone's body, dropping onto the cedar on the ground. As it did, the feeling of their cleansing was becoming quite strong.
The door to the lodge opened. Although Grandfather was gone from sight, his voice was very clear. "Behold, the exit from the lodge, just like the exit from the womb. Leave, experience the cleansing and the rebirth. Go to the lake and use the soap to cleanse your bodies from top to bottom."
Everyone quickly left the shelter, running into the cool water of the lake. As they were scrubbing, they became aware that Darren and Josh were no longer with them. Tyler and Troy were standing still in the water, staring at two wolves sitting on the lawn. The brothers all stopped, raised their hands to wave goodbye as the wolves disappeared back into the trees. Shadow was on the dock, immediately giving a howl to acknowledge their departure. They briefly returned it with their own howls.
After a wash, and drinking lots of water, Jared led everyone up to the cabin. All they had to do was BBQ the steaks, the rest of the meal was already prepared. After eating, Jeff and his three boys all went to his bedroom, falling asleep together. The brothers were sitting on the deck, drinking herbal tea.
"Tyler, will you go back to the job, being a policeman?" asked Jesse.
"I don't know, Jess. I really don't. One minute I'm ready to report for duty, the next minutes I want to burn the uniform."
"We support any decision or career choice you make. I know Cliff would love to have somebody to work with him in the security and safety division of McAdam Construction."
"Does it pay well?" asked Tyler with a smirk.
"Because you're cute, we'd probably start you at $150-200,000 per year." Everyone immediately raised their hands to be picked by Jesse for the job. Jesse smiled a devious smile, "Nope, none of you have as cute of an ass as Tyler." Zane smacked the back of his head, "I stand corrected, except for Zane of course. Tyler doesn't come near the cuteness of my boyfriend's ass."
"That's better. You don't have to sleep on the couch tonight."
After breakfast, Jeff took his sons home, but not before more tears and hugs with everyone. Most of the brothers left in the afternoon, except for Jesse, Zane, Jared, and Liam. They remained for another night, for some quality time with their partner.
End of Chapter Thirty-Nine
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