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About CarlHoliday

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  1. Chapter 2 - Troy Fucks Up

    Thank you for your comment and that you've gotten hooked. As far as Mary goes, I think deep down inside Troy/Benny's mind there was an ego that was able to deal with the horribleness of their childhood.
  2. Chapter 2 - Troy Fucks Up

    Unfortunately, Troy/Benny has a long way to go.
  3. Chapter 2 - Troy Fucks Up

    Several months passed since the boy was released from the hospital into temporary foster care. Finally, Ernie gained permission to foster the boy in his home and today his 2011 red Camaro slipped into a parking spot in front of a townhouse in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The boy in the passenger seat stared at a late model yellow MINI Cooper in front of him. He looked over at Ernie and asked, “Is that yourn?” “No, that belongs to our neighbor across the street,” Ernie said. “Why you let him park front of your place?” “Just being neighborly. Do you understand that?” “Din’ know you was a sissy.” “Troy, you’ve got a lot to learn about this city if you’re going to come out alive at the end of the foster care I’m providing you.” “Like I said, I be fine once I hook up with some Bloods or Crips. They take care of me.” “Troy we’ve talked about this until I’m blue in the face. Those guys are most likely to slit your throat and leave you bleeding in the street as to let you become a member of their gangs.” “There’s MS-13, too.” “I don’t know whether to let you walk out of my home some night and find out for yourself or to call your psychiatrist and have you locked up in that psychiatric hospital in Queens.” “I be okay, you see.” “Okay, let’s go in and you can meet whoever’s at home.” After retrieving his backpack from the backseat, Troy followed Ernie up to the front door. Unexpectedly, the door opened and there stood an older woman who was slightly shorter than him, but had a welcoming smile, bright eyes, and a wiry body that demanded respect. “So, this is our black Scandinavian,” the woman said. “Hello, Troy, I’m Agnes, Ernie’s mother. You’ll be living with me in the adjoining townhouse.” “Ernie, why I have to live with this white woman?” Troy asked. “Because that’s how the arrangements have been made,” Ernie said. “Yeah, right, stick me with a white woman ’cuz everyone thinks Troy is white. Well, I ain’ white an’ you can’ make me b’lieve it.” “Mam, I told you he was a tiger to be tamed,” Ernie said. “Hope you have some idea of what you’re getting yourself into.” “Don’t worry about me, Ern, Troy’s just going to have to get along with me, or else,” Agnes said. “Or, else, what?” Troy asked. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, you’re off to the fruit basket,” Agnes said. “I don’t allow no bullshit from kids like you. You think you’re street smart? Well, kiddo, you don’t know nothing about this city and if you keep up your stupid act, likely as not you’re going to find your so-called black ass bleeding to death down some side street. Now, pick up your bag and come with me.” Troy looked at Ernie and he said, “You heard, Mam, go on or it’s back in the car and out to Queens.” “Okay, okay, you don’ have to say anythin’ more. I’ll go peace’bly.” “Benny?” “Yes, I’m sorry, Troy doesn’t know how to act sometimes.” “Mam, this is Benny, Troy’s alter-personality. You don’t have to yell at him. He’ll do whatever you ask.” “Does his psychiatrist know?” Mam asked. “Oh, yes, and that’s why he wanted Troy to go into the hospital, but I promised we’d get Troy or Benny to his psychiatry appointments.” “Oh, Ern, why didn’t you tell me this kid is really nuts?” Mam asked. “I guess because I knew you wouldn’t accept him into your home.” “Can we go now? I want to see my room before Troy comes back,” Benny said. “Is this boy white?” Mam asked. “Most definitely,” Ernie said. “Ernie, what am I going to do?” “Remember that Troy is the dominant personality, but Benny is likely to come out whenever Troy can’t handle a situation or let’s his guard down, according to the psychiatrist.” “Benny’s good and Troy’s bad, right?” Mam asked. “That’s about it,” Ernie said. “What the psychiatrist wants is to have Troy learn he isn’t black, so that, possibly, Benny can take control.” “Okay, Benny, come on and I’ll show you to your room,” Mam said. “Okay, Ma’am.” He followed the woman up a flight of stairs to an archway between the two buildings. They stood there a moment and she said, “To your left is the kitchen and dining room. We all eat together as a family. Did Ernie tell you about his kids?” “No, Ma’am.” “He’s got two; Gerald Thomas is seventeen and Doreen Lizabeth is fourteen. They live here with Ernie and his wife, Alisha. Gerald is a senior in high school here in Brooklyn. He’s already been accepted to Julliard; he plays the clarinet. You’ll probably hear him practicing. He also helps out at the restaurant.” “What restaurant?” “Mam’s Southern Kitchen down on Seventh Avenue. My Ernie named it after me. Do you like southern cooking?” “Oh, yes, especially collard greens, chitlins, corn bread, biscuits and pan gravy, and catfish.” “Anything for dessert?” “Oh, yes, peach pie with whipped cream on top. Not that artificial stuff in a can or tub, but real cream beaten with sugar.” “You’re my kind of boy, Benny.” “Yea, but, you’ll have to watch out for Troy. He only likes to eat Burger King Whoppers and fries.” “He doesn’t like Southern food?” “No, Ma’am, he doesn’t.” “Well, I’ll be. So, that boy isn’t as black as he says.” “No, Ma’am.” “Come on, let’s go up to your room.” Benny followed Mam through the archway between the buildings and up a flight of stairs. They went down a hall and stopped. “The room on the left is Gerald’s and this one here is yours. The bathroom for this floor is straight ahead.” “This is nice,” Benny said as he walked into his room. Although the room was long, it was quite narrow. There weren’t any windows, but the ceiling fixture spread a warm glow throughout the room. There was a closet on his right, a small chest of drawers on his left, and a small desk with a chair along the wall opposite the bed. There was a small nightstand with a lamp next to the bed. “Why don’t you get yourself settled. If you need any new clothes, I’ll take you shopping tomorrow.” “Thank you, I hope I’m around to be with you.” “I hope so, too, Benny.” Benny dumped his backpack onto the bed and began to sort through the clothes all the time wondering what could have been in Troy’s mind when he put these clothes in the bag. There were two pairs of practically shredded jeans, three orange pocket t-shirts, one pair of white athletic socks, but no underwear. He went through the clothes again, but still didn’t find any underwear. He went out of the room and started to look for Mam. When he got to the second floor, he heard something in the other townhouse and walked toward the kitchen where he saw Mam with a wooden spoon stirring something in a red Dutch oven. “What’re you cooking?” Benny asked. “Beans.” “What kind?” “Oh, some pintos, blacks, and some small reds. I’m about ready to add the bacon. Would you like to help?” “Yeah.” “Okay, over to the sink and wash your hands in hot water and use soap.” Benny started the hot water and waited for it to heat up. Then, quite unexpectedly, he went away and Troy came forward. “What the hell’s this?” Troy asked. “Troy?” “Who else I be?” “Would you like to help me prepare the beans? “What do nigga work? No way!” “Then return to your room.” “I don’ have to obey you, bitch.” “I will not tolerate that language from you.” “Like, what you do about it, bitch?” “Go to your room, now!” “What room? Where I be?” Mam sighed, took the spoon from the pot, knocked off the dribbles, and put it on the kitchen towel on the counter. She turned and faced Troy. “Mam! I’m home,” a voice called out from the front door. There was the sound of feet coming up the stairs and soon a rather tall, but slender black teen walked into the kitchen. “Oh, the new boy has arrived. Hi, my name is Gerry. What’s yours?” “What it to you, fucker?” Troy said. “Mam, who is this?” “I said, what it to you, fuckhead?” “Mam? Is he living with us?” “Go get your father,” Mam said. “I think he’s down in his den, probably working on the books.” “Okay, but will you be okay?” Gerry asked. “This little boy doesn’t scare me after raising your father and your Uncle Roger,” Mam said. “Now, Troy, are you going to help me fix dinner or are you going to go without?” “I don’ do nigga work,” Troy said. “Then you don’t eat dinner.” “Fuck you, bitch!” Troy said as he turned and walked out of the room. He came to the stairs to the front door and started down. Just as he was about to step down the last step Ernie came up out of the basement and stood in front of Troy. “What’s going on?” Ernie asked. “That bitch upstairs think I do nigga work,” Troy said. Ernie’s response was quick. He slapped Troy’s face hard enough that the boy nearly toppled to the floor. “You will not use that word in this house,” Ernie said. “That was my mother you were talking to and if she wants you to help with dinner, you will do it.” “You can’ hit me, nigga!” Troy said as he turned to face Ernie. Ernie slapped him, again, and Troy stumbled back and fell onto the staircase. He stared at Ernie as a tear dribbled out of his right eye. He looked up at the crystal chandelier hanging over the foyer and began blubbering like a little boy. “Okay, Troy, get up and go to your room,” Ernie said. “No, don’t hit me, I’m Benny,” the boy whimpered. “Oh, crap, I don’t know if we can do this,” Ernie said. “What’s wrong, Dad?” Gerry asked. “His psychiatrist used some long words for this, but, basically, we’ve got a boy with a split personality.” “What are we going to do?” “Do? I’m calling the psychiatrist and have this boy put where he belongs,” Ernie said. “Gerry, what are you doing home so early?” “Mr. Scheckler’s wife had an appointment in the City and he had to accompany her,” Gerry said. “Anything serious?” “I don’t know, but he seemed troubled by it.” “How old are they?” “I think Mr. Scheckler is in his sixties, but I never met his wife, so I don’t know about her.” “Hmm, well anyway, I’d better go make the call for this boy. Will you watch him for me?” “Sure, Dad, I’ll take him up to my room.” Ernie walked into the living room and sat in recliner. He took out his cell and looked up the contact number for Troy/Benny’s psychiatrist. He dialed the number and waited as the ringtones resonated in his ear. “Memorial St. Timothy Behavioral Health Service, may I help you,” a female voice said. “Dr. Brickette, please,” Ernie said. “May I say who is calling?” “Ernest Wilson, I’m Troy Hensley’s foster father.” “Oh, yes, one moment please.” In a few minutes, Dr. Brickette came on the phone and said, “Ernie, how’s our boy doing?” “Not well Dr. Brickette. I’m afraid I had to punish him because I will not allow boys in my house use the n-word.” “Did you hit him?” “I slapped his face twice and then he sat down and started crying; and, then Benny came out.” “Ah, yes, I was afraid of that and I did say you were getting yourself into a bag of hornets. What do you want?” “I want them put in a psychiatric hospital where they can get help.” “Okay, I understand. I want you to take him to Bellevue. They have a psychiatric emergency room. I’ll call them to expect you.” “Okay, Doctor, thank you. I’m sorry this didn’t work out.” “Well, we still have a chance, we just have to wait for the boy’s mental state to stabilize.” * * * Benny sat quietly in the Camaro as it weaved through traffic across Brooklyn as Ernie tried to decide on the best way to Bellevue. He had the Garmin Alisha had given him last year for Father’s Day, but still didn’t trust it to get him into and around Manhattan. Now, Brooklyn he could handle, but Manhattan was a jumble of streets and avenues that didn’t make much sense at all. Why he was on Flatbush was totally inconceivable, because he always entered Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge. Of course, he thought he knew where he was going; he just didn’t want to go this way. After leaving the Manhattan Bridge, Ernie turned right on Canal, which he followed down to Allen Street, which coincidentally became 1st Avenue at East Houston Street. At East 28th Street, a sign told him to turn right to the emergency room. After Ernie parked the car, he asked, “Are you going to come peaceably or do I have to call for help.” “I won’t give you any trouble,” Benny said. “Benny?” “Yes; don’t ask me why, but Troy doesn’t seem to be able to handle this.” “Well, what do you know, the boy actually has his limits.” They walked into the emergency room and went up to the counter where a woman in scrubs and a name tag that said “Angie Larsen, RN.” Ernie said, “Hi, I’m Ernest Wilson and this is Troy Benjamin Hensley. Dr. Brickette over at Memorial St. Timothy’s said he was going to call to get this boy seen in the psychiatric emergency room.” “Oh, yes, the DID patient, one moment, please,” the nurse said. She dialed a number and said, “Katrin, the adolescent DID patient from Brooklyn has arrived. Okay, I’ll check.” She looked up from the phone and asked, “Is this boy combative?” “No, this is the peaceable ego,” Ernie said. “Hi,” Benny said. “Yeah, Katrin, the good boy is here,” the nurse said in the phone. She hung up, looked up at Ernie and said, “I want you to go over there in the waiting area and sit down, someone will be down to get the boy.” Ernie led Benny over to the chairs and they sat down. Benny looked over toward the entrance and saw a stretcher wheeled in by two men and a woman who looked like EMTs. The woman was squeezing a bag that was attached to a mask over the patient’s mouth and nose. They hurried through a set of double doors and Benny turned to Ernie. “What was wrong with that man?” Benny asked. “Nothing good I’d guess considering they had him bagged,” Ernie said. “I don’t like hospitals.” “You okay?” “Yeah, I’m good.” “What I don’t understand is why Troy comes out at the oddest times,” Ernie said. “I don’t know how he does it either. I’d like to find out though because if he ever gets out on the streets here, he’s liable to us get killed.” “Ain’t that the truth.” “Mr. Wilson?” a voice interrupted. “Yes?” “Hello, I’m Charles,” a tall black man with curly blond hair and a Commonwealth accent said. “I’m a psychiatric nurse here in the adolescent psychiatric emergency room. Is this Troy Benjamin Hensley?” “I go by Benny,” he said. “You don’t want to meet Troy. He thinks he’s black.” “Uh, huh, well, come along.” “Bye, Mr. Wilson, I’m sorry it didn’t work out.” “That’s okay, Benny, you get better and you can come back home when you’re ready.” Benny stood up, picked up his backpack, and said, “Okay, let’s go.” They went through a set of double doors and down a hall to a bank of elevators. The car went up an unknow number of floors and when the doors opened, Benny saw a wire screened door across the hall. Charles lead him up to it and used a key to open it. Inside, Benny looked back and saw a key was needed to open the door from the inside, too. He was getting nervous and, strangely, knew Troy was almost ready to come to the fore. “Sir?” “Charles.” “Okay, Charles, I think Troy is coming out.” “How do you know?” “I got a strange feeling in my head.” “Have you ever had this feeling?” “Not for a long time, but I still think Troy is trying to take over.” Inside the psychiatric emergency room, they came up to a tall man in a white lab coat and Charles said, “Dr. Franco, this is the DID from Memorial St. Timothy’s.” “Ah, yes, the black and white boy. And, who do we have here?” “I’m Benny, I’m not black.” “And, the other boy?” “That’s Troy.” “Charles, 100 milligrams of Quetiapine, now and at bedtime starting tomorrow. If the alter comes out let me know ASAP.” “Yes, Doctor. Benny, come with me.” “Yes, sir.” “Benny, you can call me Charles; everyone else does.” “I’m not used to calling people above me by their familiar names.” “You had good raising, then?” “Oh, yes, Mommy didn’t hesitate to spank me if I erred in any way.” “You wait here while I get your medicine.” Benny stood where he was and watched Charles go through a wire door framed with wood. There was a counter behind a wire screen that went around to another door. Behind it he could see medical people, both women and men, working at computer terminals, talking on telephones, or just sitting as if waiting for something to do. He turned and looked across a broad room where there were recliners with other children in them who were watching a television hanging from the far wall. He didn’t recognize the program that was on. “Benny?” “Yes?” “Here, take this pill and water,” Charles said. Benny did as instructed and gave back the paper cups. He went over and sat down in the empty recliner on the end. He looked at the boy sitting next to him and said, “Hi, I’m Benny.” “Abe,” said the other boy. “What’s on?” “Don’t know. You an attempted suicide?” “No, I’m a DID.” “What’s that?” “Split personality.” “Hey, Abe, what’s with the new kid?” a girl at the far end called. “He said he’s a DID,” Abe said. “What’s that?” “He said he has a split personality.” “That’s weird.” “Yeah, tell me about it.” “Benny?” “Yes?” “Hello, I’m Dr. Goldmeier,” said a short, stocky woman with graying hair that was pulled back in to bun. “Will you please come with me?” Benny stood up and followed the woman into a room across the hall. Inside, the room was quite small. There was a desk with a computer terminal with a desk chair on one wall, two windows covered with horizontal blinds on the adjacent wall, and a side chair with padded arms next to the desk. “Have a seat,” Dr. Goldmeier said. “Your name is?” “Troy Benjamin Hensley, but I go by Benny.” “Benny, where were you born?” “Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Ma’am.” “Doctor.” “Yes, Doctor.” “How long did you live in Hattiesburg?” “Mommy left there and moved to Jackson after I was born.” “Why?” “That’s where Gram lived before she moved.” “Her mother? “Yes, Doctor. “Who was your father?” “Mommy said he was the spawn of the Devil who raped her in her dormitory room at college. She also said he was black.” “Benjamin, you do not look like you have any genetic influences from the Negroid race.” “I know, but Mommy always said she was raped by a black man.” “How often did she remind you of that situation?” “Every time I was naughty she said it was a result of her being raped by the spawn of the Devil who was black and she would spank me until I begged forgiveness for my sin of being the son of the Devil.” “Hmm, that’s interesting. Do you feel you are the spawn of the Devil?” “I don’t know, because Mommy always said I was until she went on smack and Daddy went to prison for killing her first dealer.” “How old were you when your daddy went to prison?” “Twelve, I think?” “Where were you living then?” “In Lyons.” “Where is that?” “Wayne County.” “I see.” “Where is your daddy now?” “Attica.” “And, your mother?” “She’s dead. She OD’d on smack when I was fifteen.” “And, you went into foster care.” “Troy went into foster care.” “Do you know Troy?” “He thinks he’s black.” “Why do you think that he believes that?” “Because Mommy kept saying she was raped by a black man and he believes he has the features of a black boy.” “But, you do not have those features.” “No, and that’s my problem.” “Earlier, you told Charles that you felt Troy was trying to take control. Do you feel that way now?” “It’s strange, Doctor, but I don’t. I feel right now that I’m totally in control, but I don’t know what will happen when I go to sleep tonight. I don’t know if I’ll wake up or Troy will.” “That’s interesting. Do you fear Troy?” “Oh, yes, Doctor, Troy tries to be black, but obviously he isn’t and people don’t know how to react to him. I’ve heard him saying that he wants to get into the Bloods or Crips, but I know if he does, they’re liable to kill him in some horrible way and I’ll die, too.” “Well, we certainly don’t want that to happen. Do you think you have any control of when Troy comes?” “No, but I’d like to learn.” “When did Troy come into your life?” “It was after I came back from Uncle Joe Bob’s over in Meridian. I told Mommy that Cousin James Alexander touched me, you know, naughty like and he put his penis in my mouth. It was icky and I didn’t want to do it, but he made me. Mommy spanked me so hard my bottom bled and Daddy had to take me to the hospital. Mommy got in trouble with the welfare people and they threatened to take me away from her. That’s when Mommy and Daddy moved up north to Lyons. When we were in Kentucky, Troy came out and started talking like we were black. Daddy slapped him in the face and he went away. I woke up and started crying because my face hurt. Daddy told me to shut up or he’d hit me again. So, I did.” “What the fuck is goin’ on here?” “Troy?” “Yeah, who you?” “Dr. Goldmeier, I’m your psychiatrist.” “Goldmeier, you a Jew?” “Yes, I am. Do you have a problem with that?” “Where I be?” “In the Bellevue Hospital Child Psychiatric Evaluation Unit.” “That nigga hit me. You need to put him jail.” “What man was that?” “That man who think he my foster father.” “Why did he hit you?” “He don’ like people callin’ him a nigga.” “Troy, why do you think you are black?” “Isn’ it clear to you? Look at me. Ain’ I black?” “When did you realize you were black?” Troy sat there and then looked down at his feet. Something was wrong. No one ever asked him that question. When? When? “Hello, Dr. Goldmeier.” “And, who are you?” “I’m Mary.” “What happened to Troy?” “He went away.” “What about Benny?” “He isn’t strong enough, yet, to resist Troy.” “And, you are?” “Yes.” “Do you know that Troy and Benny are males, yet you are a female in a male’s body?” “That’s interesting isn’t it, Dr. Goldmeier?” “Yes, I have to admit it is. I’d like to continue speaking with Benny. Will you let me do that?” The boy sat there looking at the doctor and then shut his eyes. After a few minutes, the eyes opened and a smile spread across the face. “Hello, Dr. Goldmeier. Is Troy gone?” “Benny?” “Yes, of course; what do you want?” “I just wanted to know if Mary would let you come forward.” “Who is Mary?” “You don’t know?” “No; is she like Troy?” “I think she’s white, but the problem is she’s a girl.” “That’s stupid. How can I be a girl?” “That’s what we’ll have to work on. Okay, Benny, I think we’ve gone as far as we can go today. We’ll meet tomorrow morning, okay?” “Whatever you say Doctor.”
  4. Chapter 1 - Making Tracks

    Thank you for the comment. Yes, Troy is going to find out reality is not as it appears.
  5. A Love Story

    In the sequel to 318 Winesap Lane, Troy runs away from a juvenile mental health facility and nearly loses his life. He is rescued by a man who will significantly impact his future in New York City, but life in the big city is not easy. Meanwhile, Erik lives in an Upper East Side apartment overlooking Central Park, which to him makes little sense since he’s blind. Unlikely as it may seem, the boys are reunited and their renewed friendship blossoms into love. Unfortunately, life isn’t easy in the city and the boys encounter many speedbumps in their journey to adulthood.
  6. Chapter 1 - Making Tracks

    Sixteen-year-old Troy Benjamin Hensley stood on the side of the two-lane blacktop maybe four miles south of the mental health treatment facility where he’d been sent to after the closing of the foster home in Warnton, New York. He was hoping for a ride as far as the interstate where he could catch another ride to either Boston or New York, but he knew his chances were slim considering he was black. Of course, back up the road them counselors and head doctors all said he was white, but every time he looked in a mirror a black boy looked back at him; and, when he looked at his skin, he was that dark chocolatey brown of an African-American. Even his cock was the appropriate size. He was black through and through and nobody was going to tell him different. The sound of a car horn broke his reverie and he looked up to see an old VW van with a busted headlight slowing down behind him. He stepped further away from the road as the van came to a stop. The white middle-aged driver leaned over and rolled down the passenger window and said, “Where you going, boy?” “South to innerstate,” Troy said. “What a coincidence so am I. Hop in and I’ll give you the ride of your life.” Troy picked up his backpack and opened the door. He saw a box of rubbers on the seat and was tempted to close the door and run away. “Oh, sorry, I’ll toss them in the back, for now,” the driver said. “You runnin’ away from home or did you escape from the nut farm up the road?” “Runnin’ away,” Troy said. “Name’s Dick; what’s your handle?” “Troy.” “Troy, what a pretty name. Don’t think I’ve ever fucked a Troy before, but there’s always a first time.” “Maybe, I best get out,” Troy stammered. “Nah, just kiddin’ boy. You’re too pretty to rape.” Troy stared out the windshield not wanting to look over at this obvious pervert. What was he going to do? The van was already back on the road and quickly speeding up. If he jumped now, he’d surely be busted up and this guy would just stop and put him back in the van. There was no telling what would happen to him then. “You kinda a quiet boy; ain’t you?” Dick asked. “Yes, suh,” Troy said. “And, from the South, too. Where you hail from?” “Jackson, Miss’sippi.” “Jackson, hmm, don’t think I’ve ever been there. Been to Jackson, Tennessee. Nice town, lots of black boys down there who appreciate a big dick up their tight asses.” “That why you pick me up?” Troy said, still staring straight ahead. “You? What are you some kind of nut? You’re whiter than a tub of vanilla ice cream. Maybe, I’ll call you Vanilla. Yeah, Vanilla, not that chocolatey brown stuff, though might get some of that on my cock if I ride you bareback.” Troy looked over at Dick and the man just smiled. The man was gaunt like he hadn’t eaten well in a long time. There was a long bulge down the inner side of his left thigh. That only meant one thing to Troy. He’d gotten himself into a pickle and the first chance he got he was going to run away. They continued down the road past farms and McMansions behind iron gates set in high chain-link fencing. Some of the homes were so ostentatious as to have trees shielding the residences from the road. Troy wondered what kind of people lived in those houses. Uppity whites he supposed. Not like that Mr. Johnson who took him in for what turned out to be only one night. He wondered what happened to the other boys, especially Erik. He liked Erik even though he was blind. The van turned left on to a dirt road. “Have to make a slight detour here,” Dick said. “Don’t worry, Vanilla, my wife’ll feed you good and maybe I’ll give you some cherry vodka before we go back to the bedroom and have our fun. Maybe, Liz’ll suck your lily-white cock if you can get it up when my cock slides into your tight teenage ass.” Troy was in shock, it was as simple as that. This wasn’t going to turn out okay if he didn’t get away from this man, he was sure of that. The van turned a tight corner in the trees and came out into an open area where there was a singlewide mobile home sitting up on concrete blocks. A rusty green unrecognizable car sat beside the front steps. A dog barked, but Troy couldn’t see it. “Well, here we are, Vanilla,” Dick said. He reached down under his seat and brought up the biggest pistol Troy had ever seen. “Now, get yourself out and no funny stuff or I’ll splatter your brains all over my front yard.” Troy slowly opened his door, picked up his backpack, slipped out, and started to run. He ran faster than he believed he could. He heard a bang, but he kept running heading for the trees. He felt a sharp pain in his right arm and heard a bang, but he kept running in between two tall trees. He weaved around the next one and the next. And, he kept running as hard as he could, though his arm began to ache. He came to a barbed wire fence and he ran along it to his right toward another stand of trees. He weaved through them until he came to a chain-link fence and he ran along it into another stand of trees. Then, totally unexpectedly, he ran out onto a vast expanse of mown grass. He stopped for a moment and then started to run across the grass toward a stand trees. He ran through them and out onto this small circle of grass that was closely cut to the ground and had a little red flag attached to a six-foot pole stuck in it. He stopped for a second, turned, and bumped into a man. He fell down, rolled onto his back, and stared up into the sun. A shadow fell over his face. “Hey, boy, who shot you?” a voice asked. “Hey, Ernie, get over here, we’ve got a wounded boy here.” “No, you gots to let me go … please … he’ll come here and kill me,” Troy panted. He tried to get up, but a pain shot through his right arm and he fell back onto the grass. “Whatta we got?” another voice asked. “Oh, it’s only a boy. Who shot you son?” “He said he was Dick. He … he live in trailer shack … back there … where I come from.” “Oh, him,” the first voice said. “I’ll call 9-1-1 and get the sheriff out here and an aid car.” “I gotta get away.” “You just lay right there. You’re safe. Nobody’s going to hurt you anymore,” the second voice said as a big black man sat down beside Troy. “Let’s get a look at that arm. This might hurt, but I got to pull off your jacket. I’ll go slow so it doesn’t hurt much.” “Go fast, please,” Troy said. “Okay, here we go.” “Aahh!” Troy screamed as pain shot through his arm. “That’s it; now, your shirt.” “Aahh!” Troy screamed, again. “Let’s see, not too much blood, must have missed the artery. Looks like it went straight through; wouldn’t be surprised if the bone is busted, though. Name’s Ernie, rather Ernest Garrett Wilson, played football for a time, defensive tackle was my position. Never played in the Super Bowl or any other playoff game. Just made enough bucks to sock away for rainy days. Coach over there, now he made more money than me, but he likes it when I come up here from Brooklyn. Got a small Southern-style restaurant, but my wife and my mother are willing to take care of it when Coach wants me to let him win at golf on his little golf course here. What’s your name?” “Troy, Troy Benjamin Hensley.” “You any relation to the Hensley’s down Arkansas way?” “Don’ think so. I from Miss’sippi, Jackson.” “How’d you come to make the acquaintance of that pervert?” “I hitchin’ and he pick me up.” “Not too smart for a good-looking boy like you. Where, or should we say who, are you running from?” “I don’ want to say or you send me back. You can’ send me back, there. They think I white.” “Oh, that’s an interesting assumption. I would’ve never thought of that myself.” “You sayin’ I ain’ black?” “No, but I not saying you’re white, either. Frankly, my boy, I’d say you’re more Nordic, if anything.” “I never heard blacks called Nordic.” “That’s because you’re a rare breed of animal.” “How’s our victim?” the first voice asked. “Okay, considering,” Ernie said. “I want to go to the hospital with him. He needs protection.” “Oh, why is that?” “Troy, you stay here, Coach and I are going over there and talk for a bit.” After a while, Ernie came back and sat down beside Troy. He said, “Coach is going to make a few calls.” “He goin’ call them, isn’ he?” “No, not them; he’s calling his lawyer. You need protection right now. We got that pervert to consider, plus we have to make certain you’re sent to the right hospital.” “Where?” “New York, Manhattan to be exact. I’ll be going with you so that you receive the right care. You black Scandinavians are special people and some people might not give you the care you need because of your minority status.” “Oh, thank you. Finally, somebody know I black.” * * * Troy woke up and looked around in the dim light. First thing he noticed was his right arm being in a cast from his shoulder to his wrist. It was bent at his elbow and his forearm was resting across his stomach. He looked at his left arm and saw one of those IV thingies he’d seen on TV standing beside him and the tube was sticking in his forearm. Finally, he noticed he wasn’t wearing anything except one of those hospital gowns that tied in the back. But, most of all, he felt he had to pee real bad and suspected he couldn’t get out of bed without tearing that IV tube out of his arm and possibly hurting his right arm; and, then he saw there was something in his left hand that had a pushbutton on it. He pushed it and waited. His door opened and someone he couldn’t see clearly entered the room and said, “Oh, good, you’re awake. What do you need?” “Gots to pee,” Troy said. “Ah, yes, I heard about you, but didn’t believe it.” “Please, I gots to pee.” “No worry there, son, you’ve been cathed. Your urine is running out the tube and collecting in the bag, but let me check it. No, not full, yet.” “What you mean cathed?” “A tube was inserted in your penis and threaded up your urethra to your bladder. You’ve been plumbed, son.” “When you gonna take it out so’s I can pee normal like?” “Probably in the morning when the doctor exams you. Thirsty? Hungry?” “Yeah, both.” “Good boy, by the way my name’s Aleena. You may call me Nurse Aleena.” “You black?” “No, Troy, I’m Pakistani.” “Oh.” “Have a problem?” “No, my daddy Muslim.” “And, you’re not?” “No, Momma Christian, Bap’ist I think. We didn’ go much af’er she go on smack.” “That’s a shame. Okay, I’ll be back in a little bit with something to drink and eat. Oh, do you want the TV on?” “Sure, that be nice.” The nurse left and Troy lay back on his pillows satisfied Nurse Aleena accepted him as being black. He wondered what was to become of him. He didn’t even know where he was. He remembered that Ernie person saying he would be going down to a New York City hospital, but did that actually happen? As it stood, he really didn’t know where he was. He shut his eyes and thought of nothing. In a short while, Nurse Aleena came back into the room holding a tray and said, “Troy, are you awake?” “Sure, jus’ chillin’. Where I be?” “Troy, your diction is something else. We’re definitely going to have to get you in a good school so you can learn how to talk or you’re never going to amount to anything. Here’s your snack. Wait while I raise you up a bit, don’t want you choking.” Troy felt the bed behind his back rise until he was, more or less, in a sitting position. The nurse moved a wheeled stand over to the bed and as she pushed it up against the bed, the stand stretched out across the bed like a table. She put the tray on the table. “Okay, Troy, you’ve got some apple juice and a small bowl of red Jello; I don’t know what the flavor is, but I do know the color.” “Where I be?” “In the hospital.” “Yes, but where?” “Oh, sorry, you’re in Memorial St. Timothy.” “Where?” “Manhattan, East Village. We’re small and cater to a select clientele.” “Oh, rich, white, uppity people.” “You might say that, but we do have other people who come here. Like you; you’re the first black Scandinavian we’ve ever had.” “Yeah, but I poor. That rich, white, uppity man sent me here.” “You definitely have a problem and I hope you find someone to help you or you’re definitely not going to make it in this town.” “I not ’fraid. I just find me some Bloods or Crips and I be okay.” “Oh, Troy, you have no idea about what goes on in this city. You poor little lost boy.” * * * Troy had finished with his breakfast and emptied his bladder into the urinal that hung beside his bed when a tall, slender, black man walked into his room. The man took the chair over by the far wall and placed it at the foot of the right side of Troy’s bed. He sat down, took out a computerized tablet, and said, “Good morning, Troy, how are you doing today?” “Okay.” “Good, I am Dr. Brickette; I’d like to talk to you for a while if you don’t mind.” “’bout what?” “Oh, that depends on what you want to talk about.” “What kinda doc are you?” “I’m a psychiatrist.” “You goin’ to say I not black.” “No, I’m not, but I want to know when you realized you were black.” “I was born black.” “Troy, I want you to think back as far as you can go and describe the members of your family.” “I was eight when my Momma and Daddy moved to New York so Daddy could get a job with the railroad. He was field hand.” “Field hand?” “You know, he did shit for a white man.” “Try thinking back further. What is your farthest memory of being in your family.” Troy sat in his bed trying to think back, but he kept running into that day when he, Momma, and Daddy got into Daddy’s old Chevy and started north. He shut his eyes and suddenly his mind went blank and he lost all awareness. “Troy, can you think of a time earlier in your life?” Dr. Brickette asked. “I’m Benny, my newest Daddy called me T-Bone because my first name begins with a T and my middle name begins with a B. He’s in prison now ’cause he shot and gutted Momma’s smack dealer.” “Benny, how old are you?” “That’s a silly question. I’m sixteen, same as Troy. He thinks he’s black. He’s stupid.” “What happened before you left Mississippi?” “Momma spanked me before we went away. I had come home from Uncle Joe Bob’s farm over near Meridian and Cousin James Alexander touched me. Do I have to say?” “No, Benny, you don’t have to say.” “Momma said that James Alexander was a good boy and he’d never do such a despicable thing to me. She said I was the spawn of the Devil that raped her when she was in college and she spanked me until my bottom started to bleed. Daddy took me to the doctor and Momma got in trouble. I think that was one of the reasons we came north.” “Benny, can you think far back when you were a little boy? Can you tell me how it was for you and your family?” The boy in the bed shut his eyes and the strain showed in his face. Then his countenance softened and he spoke, “Nah, docta’ Brickette, I can’ think back ’fore I be eight.” “Troy do you know Benny?” Dr. Brickette asked. “Who?” “He’s a little boy you might have met when you were younger.” “Nope, don’ know no Benny.” “Okay, Troy, I think this is sufficient for today. We’ll meet again before you leave the hospital.” “Whatever,” Troy said as he watched the doctor put the chair back where it belonged. Troy leaned over on his left side and pulled up the bag that held his urinal. They’d taken out the cath earlier in the day and he was now responsible for his own bladder requirements. He pushed down his blankets and pulled up his gown. Unexpectedly, the door opened and that Ernie person from the golf course came in. “Hey, I peein’ here,” Troy said. “Oh, sorry, I’ll be back,” Ernie said before going back out into the hall. Troy finished his job and put the urinal back in the bag that hung from the hook on the bed. He pushed the call button and waited. Soon, a nurse came in and asked, “Yes, what do you need?” “My pee bucket is full,” Troy said. “Oh, yes, how quaint, never heard it called that,” the nurse said. “Need anything else?” “I could do with a shit if you don’ mind.” “Let me check your chart. Ah, yes, you can get up. Okay, turn around and let your legs dangle from the bed for a few minutes. If you feel faint, just lay onto your side.” “I ain’ goin’ faint. I ain’ no sissy.” “No, I suppose not.” The door opened and Ernie came back in. He asked, “Is there anything I can do to help the boy?” “Are you family?” the nurse asked. “That’s the problem, he doesn’t have a family. For the time being, I’m all he’s got between a psych ward and the streets.” “Okay, he said he needs to void and I was going to help him into the toilet to do it.” “I can do that, if you don’t mind.” “No, no, go right ahead; I’ll just take this urinal and bring back an empty one,” the nurse said. She took the bag off the bedrail and left the room. “Okay, Troy, ready to get up?” Ernie asked. “Sure,” Troy said as he pushed himself off the bed and stood on the cold floor. An air of faintness swept across his mind causing him to lean back to the bed. “Steady there, boy, let me help,” Ernie said. “Sure, sure, like tha’s goin’ to happen.” Ernie took hold of the boy and draped the boy’s left arm across his shoulders. They slowly walked toward the toilet and when they came to the door, Ernie opened it. “Okay, there’s a call chain if you need a nurse; otherwise, take care of your business and I’ll be outside the door.” Troy sat down and emptied his mind as his body went about its needs. He didn’t notice that he passed out and Benny’s personality awakened. He took stock of his situation and finished his job. He slowly stood up and opened the door. A large black man he’d never seen before stood before him. “Who are you?” Benny asked. “I’m Ernie; who are you?” “Oh, you’re Troy’s friend. I’m Benny.” Ernie looked at the boy and suddenly realized he was into something beyond his understanding, but he also realized that this boy needed help and he had already committed himself to this project. That Troy had at least one alternate personality was a concern, but he felt that if he could get this boy the right kind of psychiatric care there was hope Troy or Benny would turn out okay. “Benny, how would you like to come and live with me and my wife and our kids?” Ernie asked as he escorted the boy back to his bed. “We live in a townhouse over in Park Slope. There’s plenty of room and you’ll have a room all to yourself.” “Sure, but you’ll have to ask Troy; he might not want to.” “Does Troy tell you how things are going to be?” “No, he just takes over when things get stressful or, sometimes, when he just wants to come back.” “Are you aware you were shot?” “Is that what’s wrong with my arm?” “Yes, you were running from a child molester.” “That’d be Troy. He’s like that. Always doing stressful things. Sir, I’d like to come and live with you, but you have to understand Troy probably won’t want to.” “Well, I guess we’ll have to work on that. Have you met with a psychiatrist, yet?” “Is that what that doctor was? I don’t think Troy likes him.” “Do you remember his name?” “Oh, yes, I think it’s Dr. Briquette; you know like those black things they put in barbecues to cook burgers and sausages. Why do you want to know?” “I think it’ll be important if I introduce myself.” “Oh, okay. If you don’t mind, I’m kind of tired now.” “Sure thing, Benny, maybe I’ll see you when I come again.” “That’d be up to Troy, sir.” “Goodbye, Benny.” “Goodbye, sir.” Benny lay back on his pillows and dropped into peaceful slumber. Ernie walked out and checked at the desk as to the identity of the psychiatrist. He called the doctor’s office and made an appointment to meet with him. Then he asked no one in particular, “Does anyone here know who I call to become a foster father?” “Yes, one moment,” a nurse on the other side of the station said. “Oh, here it is. Let me write it down for you.” “Thank you.”
  7. What Are You Reading Right Now? (Non-GA)

    Just finished a collection of Harlan Ellison stories including the novella A Boy and His Dog, plus the prequel Eggsucker and an excerpt from the sequel Run, Spot, Run. Waiting for Amazon to deliver What Belongs to You: A Novel by Garth Greenwell.
  8. A Warm Blanket

    Unbeknownst to me, my shrink replied to my voice mail yesterday when I was at the restaurant and not expecting any calls. I suppose I should’ve set my phone to vibrate, but I didn’t. So, today I called her voice mail line and, shock to me, she actually answered. She wanted an explanation why I upped my Depakote intake from 1000 mg to 1500 mg. What could I say? So, I said I’ll have taken one form or another of valproic acid off and on for the past 10 years, as of April. I know the difference between 1000 mg of Depakote and 1500 mg. 1000 mg is on the edge of total mania and 1500 mg is like a warm blanket. I tried to explain that 1000 mg wasn’t doing me any good. I needed the extra 500 mg to calm my mind. It doesn’t do my creativity much good, but hell what’s creativity compared to a total wonky state of mind. Sometimes, wonky equals trying to stop a 240,000 lb. locomotive going 50 mph with your measly body. Likely as not, you’re going to be sucked under the locomotive and end up being mangled into unrecognizable bits by the traction motors. She said she knew that I’ve been taking valproic acid for long time and probably felt a certain amount of mental security in the dulling effects of 1500 mg has on my mind which was a good thing. So, I’ve been approved to take 1500 mg of Depakote for the foreseeable future. What does this have on my creative function? Well, it’s been dampened a bit. At least the new book has been written up through Chapter 10, so I have a cushion to produce more chapters until the reserve catches up to me. Chapter 11 has been started and looks good to the end. Chapter 12 is a bit fuzzy, but I think I can resolve the inherent airiness to my writing to come up with another chapter. Of course, if I run out of ideas, I can always drop 500 mg of Depakote until I’m able to progress through the book. It’s not a good choice, but what the hell, I’m not going anywhere, certainly not down to the railroads tracks or the river beyond. The last thing on my mind is doing a Virginia Woolf in the Skykomish River.
  9. Okay, it’s been five days since my last entry. I increased the Depakote dosage to 1,500 mg at bedtime and I called my shrink to inform her of such action. To those who might be worried, I am not wonky anymore. My mind has entered that dead state of drugged submission. Unfortunately, my new book has ground to a halt at ten chapters. I don’t know if you can imagine not having any creative abilities, but that’s what happens when you choose to be drugged vs. being totally wonky. When I was wonky (i.e., not taking mind numbing drugs) I was writing around a chapter every three days and it was some good stuff, too. Now, I’ve hit a wall and it’s called sanity. To continue with the new book, I will have to write in a sane state of mind, which can be quite difficult when you’re used to being totally wonky. Tonight, I was at the local Mexican restaurant sitting by myself at a table for two next to a table for four. I was drinking one of my favorite single malt Scotches, 10 year old Laphroaig, with a glass of Bohemia Mexican cerveza as a chaser (it has the body to stand up against any single malt Scotch whisky other than Modelo Especial). For those of you who are not aware of single malt Scotch, Laphroaig it is the premier Islay single malt Scotch; although, I’ve heard that the distillers at Ardbeg will differ with that opinion. (Quite frankly, Ardbeg is very good, only it’s not as good as Laphroaig. And, Laphroaig is officially one of Prince of Wale’s Scotches. Hey, anyone who’s willing to walk around in a skirt, certainly has to be trusted on his opinion of excellent Scotch whisky.) Anyway, at the other table there were three gentlemen of questionable sexuality. I’m not saying they were gay, though their talk certainly bordered on a close relationship not likely found among “best buds” of the heterosexual persuasion. I don’t know, maybe two men can talk of sharing a bed in a purely heterosexual context is okay, but I have yet to encounter such a male-to-male heterosexual relationship. Plus, they seemed quite content in their mutual relationship. For observational purposes, one gentleman was tall like me (I’m 6’5”) and had a comparable overhanging middle-aged gut, though his was not as pronounced or overhanging as mine. Hey, I don’t have anyone to look good for. His “partner”, although admittedingly older, was shorter and not as full amidships. Their “local” guest (who kept trying to get them to stay the night), was quite handsome, in a middle-aged sort of way. Okay. I admit it, he was attractive; but, since I’ve been medicinally castrated since 2003, who am I to say who is cute. Finally, when I’d had sufficient Scotch, I got up, arranged my attire to leave, and proceeded to the cash register. But, before I left the immediate vicinity of the two tables, the partner of the taller gentleman said, “Have a good evening.” Fuck! What was I going to say to this other than, “You, too.” How lame can you get, but what else could I say? He was with the other guy and I was certainly not looking forward to spending the night with a man I hardly knew. Plus, I had to get home to let Nana out to go pee and feed her at 7:30. I had responsibilities and they did not include this gentleman from downriver.
  10. Wonky

    You have to understand being Bipolar is basically an extreme state of mind. A month or so ago I was taking 1,500 mg of Depakote as a mood stabilizer, plus 400 mg of Seroquel, also reported to be a mood stabilizer. My shrink decided that, maybe, I could reduce my intake of Depakote until I was taking Zero mg’s and relying on the 400 mg of Seroquel to stabilize my mind. Unfortunately, when I hit Zero my mind went wonky and I was hallucinating to the extreme. So, I backed off and got her permission to take 1,000 mg of Depakote to stabilize my mental processes. Everything was going great until a couple days ago when I went wonky, again. How could I tell my mind went to hell? Well, I went with my son to his appointment with his shrink and, at the clinic, I found myself walking three feet from the railing overlooking the first floor. I was, truly, considering doing a header. That’s serious wonky. I don’t get suicidal that often anymore, but there at that clinic I was definitely going wonky. So, I’ve increased my meds to where I’m now taking 1,500 mg of Depakote. I know it’s a chickenshit response to a possible suicidal occurrence, but, quite frankly, in my current state of mind I’m not interested in going the death route to permanent mental stability. That’s totally, fucking wonky. God, I totally hate being Bipolar. It’s either I’m drugged out of my mind or walking on the edge of totally out of mind on wonky shit. Quite frankly, I do not like being suicidal and I know that only occurs when I’m off drugs. For those who think they can control the wonky shit, I can only say I hope you have your life situation set up such that someone will come into your life before you begin to rot from succeeding at the final solution.
  11. Chapter 24 - Jerry Comes Back, Part 2

    Thank you for your interesting comment. Addressing your concerns, I offer the following: 1) I should've stated in some way that the political/judicial situation in the county where this story takes place is super-conservative and anyone involved in drugs is subject to immediate apprehension and incarceration; 2) I remember a time not that long ago where drug usage was a criminal act and maybe I should've written that into the narrative of this chapter, also; 3) in the timeline of this story David's crime of arson occurred less than a year ago and as judicial systems work today it is quite possible he is still awaiting trial and therefore would still be in the county lockup not in a state facility. Again, thank you for pointing out these concerns with this chapter. It is unfortunate that my writing style usually does not add sufficient background color to my stories to assist my readers' imaginations to correctly fill in fictional realities to their satisfaction.
  12. Chapter 25 - Passages

    Thank you for your comment. I wish futures could be different, but, unfortunately, the sequel isn't looking like we'll see all of the 319 kids again.
  13. Chapter 25 - Passages

    Thank you for your comment. I didn't expect Geoff to die either, but sometimes my characters simply can't go on.
  14. Chapter 25 - Passages

    Multiple POVs “Do you actually think this will work?” Dr. Avianca asked. She looked down at Jerry who had a breathing tube sticking out of his mouth. “No guarantees, as I told you before,” the attending pulmonologist said. “Lucia, you wanted to try this,” the attending neurologist said. “If he does come around, there’s no guarantee that he will be conscious for any significant length of time.” “Okay, Dr. Sampson, give him the injection,” Dr. Avianca said. The neurologist injected the medicine into the IV and the doctors waited for the boy to wake up. When he opened his eyes and looked around the room, the pulmonologist said, “Okay, son, I’m going to pull out the breathing tube. You may feel the need to cough. It’s okay to do that.” The tube came out and, just according to the doctor’s prediction, Jerry coughed until he was able to clear his throat. He looked at his psychiatrist and said, “Oh, hi, Dr. Avianca; am I in the hospital, again?” “Yes, Jerry. Do you remember what you were doing before you lost consciousness?” “I was just about to have sex with a friend. Is that what caused me to pass out?” “It might have, but I think that day you fainted in your house and collapsed, hitting you head on the floor had much more to do with it.” “Have you found out why I’m sane, now?” “Jerry, I believe you had a small cerebral hemorrhage that first day, the second one, when you were having sex, was more massive.” “Is that why my skin feels like it’s trembling?” “Yes, that’s probably the cause, but there is something else more seriously wrong with you.” “What?” “I’m sorry; this is never easy to say, but you’re dying. There’s nothing we can do about the bleeding in your brain.” “How long?” “A few hours, maybe, if that. Dr. Johnson is here with all the boys from his foster home. They’re outside right now. Can I ask them to come in?” “Yeah, I guess. Do they know?” “Yes, Jerry, they know.” Jerry watched Dr. Avianca and the other doctors leave the room. Soon, the door opened and Geoff escorting Erik followed by Jamie, Billy, Steven, and a boy he’d never seen, but figured must be Ian came into the room. They gathered around the bed, but Ian hung back as if he wasn’t a part of the family, yet. “Hi, Geoff,” Jerry said. “How’s my boy?” “Okay, I guess, but you know the truth, so there’s no need to lie. Do me a favor, if you could.” “Anything, Jerry, whatever you want.” “Write a letter to my great-grandfather telling him I died. I want to be cremated and please spread my ashes in the rose beds. I want to stay at 319 forever.” “Sure thing. Why don’t you want me to tell your parents?” “They’re not my parents anymore. Ian come here, I want to talk to you.” “Me? Why me?” the boy said as he made his way to the bed. “Ian, this is very important. All the boys at 319, except for Steve, are gay, if you haven’t figured that out by now, but I don’t want you to fear them or Geoff. No one at 319 is going to do anything to hurt you. You’ve got my promise on that. Okay, for me?” “Okay, I’ll try to remember that.” “Steve?” “My name is Steven,” the boy said as he made his way to the head of the bed. “Okay, Steven. I want to tell you something special,” Jerry said. “Yes, Jerry? Jerry? Sir, he’s not blinking his eyes?” “Okay, boys, out of the room,” Dr. Johnson said. In the hall, he saw Dr. Avianca talking to the other two doctors. “Dr. Avianca? I think Jerry just died. Please check.” She and one of the other doctors went into Jerry’s room where she felt his carotid artery and didn’t feel a pulse. The other doctor used his stethoscope to check the boy’s heart then pulled the blanket up over Jerry’s head, and said, “Shall we say he died at 3:15 p.m.?” “Yes, that’s fine, Dr. Francis,” Dr. Avianca said. “Was he your patient long?” “No, not long.” “You know his prognosis was never very good since the shooting. There was always the chance this was going to occur. It was only a matter of time.” “Yes, but I’ll still miss him. I guess I’d better go out and tell the family.” “They’re family?” “Yes, Dr. Johnson has a foster home for boys in need. Kind of like Jerry here.” When Dr. Avianca got out in the hallway she walked up to Geoff and slowly shook her head. She said, “I’m sorry, he’s passed.” “I’ve never seen anyone die before,” Steven blubbered as he hung his head beside Geoff. “I can call the on-duty pastor, if you’d like,” Dr. Avianca said. “No, that’s okay, our next-door neighbor is a pastor,” Geoff said. “Come along, boys, let’s go home.” “Geoff, we don’t have any rose beds,” Jamie said as they walked toward the elevators. “What was Jerry talking about?” “I guess he wants me to put in a rose bed or two.” “That’s weird,” Billy said. “Are we going to tell his friends?” “I’ll take care of that,” Geoff said. * * * The boys were very subdued as Geoff started back to Warnton in his new black Expedition he’d bought earlier that month figuring with all the boys in the house it would be a lot easier transporting them to various activities in the area with one big vehicle. He thought about getting a big van, but decided against that because an Expedition would hold all the boys he intended to have in the house; as it stood now there was room for only two more boys in the Expedition. Today, Erik sat in the front passenger seat, Billy and Jamie were in the second seat, and Steven and Ian were in the third seat. He tried not thinking of Jerry, but the boy was forefront in his mind and he couldn’t shake the feeling that a day would soon come when he and the boys would stand among newly planted rose bushes and spread Jerry’s ashes on the freshly tilled soil. Death had already passed his being with the taking of his father, little sister, step-father, uncle, and lifelong lover. He knew the anguish and heartache that was going to come to the boys in the days ahead; and, he knew that he had to be the rock that the boys would need. He would offer whatever comfort he could give, but he knew that each boy had to deal with this new reality on his own. Now, riding in the Expedition on the road to Warnton the boys were lost in their grief and there was nothing he could do until they got home. He opened the center console and took out the CD case. “Jamie, could you select something that you think Jerry would’ve wanted to listen to,” he said as he reached back. Jamie took the case and began to thumb through the CDs looking for something that was a favorite of Jerry. He was almost to the end when he found the “2112” CD by Rush. “Here, for some reason Jerry seemed to like this one,” Jamie said as he handed the CD to Geoff. Geoff inserted the CD in the player and listened to the familiar introduction to the “2112 Overture.” He never understood why Jerry insisted on listening to Rush. Of course, he was a child of the fifties and sixties, while Jerry grew up listening to Rush and other prog rock bands before glam rock, punk, and grunge swept the scene. He thought he was cultured because he listened to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones before starting to listen to Bette Midler when he moved to his uncle’s mansion in Hollywood while attending college in LA. He never figured it out why gays preferred listening to a chanteuse in a gay bar rather than some new rock band with their slender bodies at the Hollywood Bowl, which he was oft to attend. “What are we going to do about dinner?” Erik asked. “Oh, I’ll figure something out,” Geoff said. “Maybe, I’ll order pizzas.” “I don’t want pizza,” Ian said from the far backseat. “What do you want?” Geoff asked. “I don’t know, but I know I don’t want pizza,” Ian said. “Okay, that’s one ‘no’ for pizza. Any other requests?” “He just died when he wanted to talk to me,” Steven said. “I don’t think I can eat anything.” “McDonalds is okay with me,” Erik said. “Maybe a Number 1 with a root beer.” “How many more for Mickey D’s?” Geoff asked. “Can I have a Happy Meal?” Steven asked. “I thought you said you didn’t want anything to eat,” Billy said. “But, why can’t I have a Happy Meal?” Steven whined. “Steven, you can have a Happy Meal,” Geoff said. “Thank you, sir,” Steven whispered. “What was that?” Geoff asked. “I said thank you, sir,” Steven said. “Good boy,” Geoff said. “Okay, Mickey D’s is coming up. You other boys figure out what you want. I don’t want to have to sit at the ordering microphone for hours while you decide what you want to eat.” “Are we going inside or can we eat in the Expedition?” Billy asked. “We can eat in here if you want,” Geoff said. “I’d like to do that,” Erik said. “Me, too,” said Jamie. After they all had their dinners and Billy took the wastepaper to the trash receptacle, Geoff started the black rig and reinserted the CD. He drove out of the parking lot and headed east on Ridge Road intending on connecting with Highway 104 east to Warnton. “Can we go back on Lake Road?” Erik asked. “Why should we do that; you can’t see the lake,” Jamie said. “Please, just for me this time,” Erik said. “Okay, son, I’ll take us back on Lake Road,” Geoff said. “This is the stupidest thing we’ve ever done,” Jamie said. “Driving home along the shore of Lake Ontario so a blind kid can enjoy the view.” “You don’t understand a thing about what Jerry means to me,” Erik yelled. “Why can’t I just have it my way for once?” “Okay, okay, I hope you enjoy the view,” Jamie said. “Hey, take it easy on the kid,” Billy said. “Maybe, he was down there with Jerry once and just wants to remember how it was.” “But, he’s blind!” Jamie exclaimed. “He can’t see the lake, the lakefront homes, or anything along the road.” “Jamie, I’m going down to Lake Road, so just be quiet and enjoy the ride,” Geoff said. “Maybe, I don’t want to go home that way. Don’t I get a say in this?” “Not this time,” Geoff said. “Yeah, so shut the fuck up,” Billy said. “Billy! You know the rule, no swearing,” Geoff said. “Yes, sir,” Billy said. “Ian, can I sleep with you tonight?” Steven whispered. “Uh, why?” “I don’t want to sleep alone and the other boys are gay. They might want to do things. You know?” “I don’t think they’d do anything to you.” “But, you don’t know; do you?” “No, I don’t.” “So, can I sleep with you?” “I’m okay with it, but you’re going to have to get Mr. Johnson’s permission.” “Will you go with me when I ask?” “Sure, no problem.” “Thank you, you’re nice,” Steven whispered. “Can I ask you a question?” Ian whispered. “What?” “Why don’t you go by Steve?” “I don’t know; everyone has always called me Steven. Do you want to call me Steve?” “I’d like to, if it’s okay with you.” “Just us; okay? What do I call you? Ian doesn’t sound like it can get any shorter.” “Well, let’s see, how about you call me Mike or Jim? They’re from my middle names.” “You have two middle names?” “Yes, it’s common in the old country.” “What old country?” “Ireland.” “Oh; is that where you’re from?” “No; that’s where my people came from.” “Oh; can I call you Jimmy? I had a friend where I used to live named Jimmy.” “Okay, Steve, I’m Jimmy to you and only you.” “Can I sit next to you. I promise I won’t touch you.” “Okay, at the next stoplight or stop sign you can move over,” Ian whispered as he wondered what Steve meant when he said he wouldn’t touch him. He knew there was something wrong with that statement, but maybe Mr. Johnson would let him know what was with Steve. “There don’t seem to be any of those on this road,” Steven whispered. He unclipped his seatbelt and scooted across the seat. “Hey! Who undid their seatbelt?” Geoff hollered as he pulled over onto the meager shoulder on the side of the road and stopped the rig. A car honked its horn as it slipped by. “Come on, who’s the guilty party?” “It was me, sir,” Steven said. “There I refastened it.” “What are you sitting next to Ian for?” Jamie asked. “’cuz I want to,” Steven said. “He doesn’t mind, so why do you?” “Geoff, Steven has moved over next to Ian,” Jamie said. “That’s okay; maybe, he just needs a little comfort right now,” Geoff said. “Oh, yeah, I guess he did get quite a shock with Jerry dying with him right there.” Geoff was about to go on his way when a Monroe County sheriff’s car pulled in behind him with its lights flashing. He sighed and watched the deputy exit his vehicle and come up on the passenger side of the rig. He pushed the window switch for Erik’s window and waited for the deputy. “Hey, what’s up?” Erik asked. “Police; probably wants to know why I’m partially blocking traffic,” Geoff said. “Oh.” The deputy came up to the window and looked in; and, then he asked, “Have a problem, sir?” “One of the boys in the backseat undid his seatbelt and I pulled over to see what the problem was,” Geoff said. “So, is everything okiedokey?” “Yes; in fact, I was just getting ready to go on my way when you came up behind me.” “Well, you are on a double-blind curve and very few people who live along here obey the speed limit. If everything is okay, I guess you can go. Have a safe trip.” “Thank you, deputy, for your concern.” “Oh, one thing, these boys, they don’t look like you one bit. Are they a church youth group of some sort that you’re escorting on a fieldtrip?” “No, deputy, I’m their foster father and we just came from the Rochester medical center where a friend of theirs just died. One of the boys wanted to go home on Lake Road in remembrance of his friend.” “Oh, I’m sorry, but I had to ask.” “I know, deputy, some things are not as innocent as they appear. Good day,” Geoff said. When the deputy turned to walk back to his car, he raised Erik’s window and pulled out onto the road. “Nosey, SOB,” Jamie said. “Just doing his job,” Geoff said. “But, why did he assume we were a church group?” Billy asked. “Probably because we don’t look like boy scouts,” Jamie said. “Oh, yeah, no uniforms,” Billy said. “You know the houses along here aren’t all that big, but they all seem to be on huge lots. Too bad we don’t live down here.” “You’d have to give up Per and I would have to leave Curt,” Jamie said. “Oh, yeah, that’d be a huge bummer.” “I could look into buying a place down near Sodus Point,” Geoff said. “But, we’d still have to change schools and I’ve heard the people over in Sodus aren’t all that friendly toward gays,” Jamie said. “I could homeschool you guys,” Geoff said. “All of us?” Billy asked. “Sure, why not?” “Me, too?” asked Steven. “You, too, Steven,” Geoff said. “Do you think Jerry would like living down on the lake?” Erik asked. “I think he would be happy wherever we are,” Geoff said. “Is everyone in favor of me looking into buying property down near Sodus Point?” “I’m okay with it,” Erik said. “We’re okay with it, right Jamie?” Billy said. “How about you two in the back?” Geoff asked. “Yes, we’re for it,” Ian said. “Good, I’ll contact a real estate agent in the morning,” Geoff said. * * * That evening Geoff sat in his study looking up real estate agents serving Wayne County until he came across a link to real estate listings in his area. He was looking at a twenty acre lot that wasn’t beachfront, but was across the street from a community park that had a sizable shoreline. He looked up and saw Steven and Ian come into the study; and, unexpectedly Ian shut the door. “Can we talk to you in private?” Ian asked. “I don’t see why not, you did shut the door,” Geoff said. “What’s up?” “Steve here wants to sleep with me tonight,” Ian said. “I thought we weren’t going to share our private names with others,” Steve said. “It’s okay if Mr. Johnson knows,” Ian said. “Okay, Jimmy,” Steve said. “I see you two are getting close?” Geoff asked. “That’s good.” “I told Jimmy I don’t want to do naughty things like David made me do; I just want to be close to him tonight,” Steve said. “Okay boys you have my permission on this considering what happened earlier,” Geoff said. “Thank you, sir,” Steve said. “Yeah, thank you,” Jimmy said. “Come on, Steve, let’s go see what the other boys are doing.” “They’re with their boyfriends,” Steve said, “except for Erik. I think he’s alone in his room.” “Then we’ll go visit Erik.” Geoff watched the two boys walk out the door and he returned to perusing the piece of property he’d seen online. According to the description the lot had water, sewer, electricity, and gas at the street. The price was two hundred and fifty thousand, but he didn’t know if that was reasonable for that area. Considering it was just across the street from the community park, maybe there was something wrong with it. Finally, he decided he had to know more about the property. He picked up the receiver of his land line and dialed the number of the agent. After four rings he heard the sound of someone answering and a voice that said, “Hello?” “Angela Rawlins?” “Yes?” “This is Geoffrey Johnson up in Warnton. I saw the property you have for sale down in Sodus Point and I was wondering if you can give me some information on it.” “Which property are you interested in; I have six properties in that community.” “This is the twenty-acre vacant lot across the street from the community beach.” “Oh, yes, would you like to see it?” “I was concerned about the price; it seems a little low.” “Oh, no, you see it’s across the street from the community beach and there is a lot of traffic down there in the summer. A lot of people park on the side of the road.” “So, it would be advisable for me to put in some sort of barrier like a fence or a bramble hedge.” “Yes, that would be advisable. Plus, you might consider a gate into your property.” “Yes, I suppose that would be advisable, also. When can I see the property?” “I’m free tomorrow; say about one o’clock in the afternoon?” “That’ll be fine; see you then.” Geoff hung up the phone and looked across the desk at Jamie. “Yes?” Geoff asked. “Were you calling about some property down in Sodus Point?” Jamie asked. “Yes, would you like to go with me to look at it tomorrow?” “I have school.” “Oh, yes, you’re right.” “Take Erik; he’ll be able to give a good report.” “I can write notes for all of you other boys.” “No, we’re foster kids. The real estate agent might be intimidated by our presence. Erik is your adopted son. It’ll look good when you start talking about landscaping.” “What kind of house do you want me to build?” “Something all on one level would be nice.” “Okay, if I buy the land I want you to find me an architect.” “Sure thing, Dad.” “Dad?” “Yeah, I want you to adopt me.” “Okay, Jamie, I’ll call the lawyer and get the paperwork started.” “Thank you.” * * * Geoff sat in his easy chair in his study reading L’Étranger by Albert Camus while his charges read their assigned books. Because it had been a very eventful day he allowed each of the boys to have a small glass of red wine diluted in accordance to each of their ages. He felt that the wine might help them sleep, but was ready to come to their aid in case anyone of them might have a troubling dream. The experience of having a close friend die always tended to be traumatic in unknown ways. He feared most for Steven who had been closest to Jerry when he died, but Steven wanting to spend the night with Ian was encouraging and he didn’t expect the boy to be troubled by a bad dream. “Sir? Why did that woman doctor say that Jerry passed when he actually died?” Steven asked. “Steven, some people have trouble with expressing the fact that someone has died and they say that the person has passed or passed on in the belief that the deceased’s spirit has left the body and passed on to the spirit world,” Geoff said. “That’s stupid,” Steven said. “Jerry just died. I don’t know where his spirit went, but he just died. Why couldn’t she say that?” “Well, I suppose she said that he passed in the belief that we might be members of a religion that doesn’t accept the simple death of the body. Do you understand what I just said?” “She said Jerry passed because she thought we couldn’t accept that he died?” Steven asked. “Yes, that’s right,” Geoff said. “See, that’s what’s wrong with religion,” Ian said. “All this namby-pamby talk about people passing on when they just die. Why can’t people simply accept that?” “It’s because she thought we were children and we couldn’t accept the fact that Jerry died,” Erik said. “They always assume we can’t handle the facts of life.” “Well, I know I can handle the facts of life,” Jamie said. “Just ask Curt.” “You got that right,” Billy said. “Why do you two always have to reduce things to talk about sex?” Erik said. “Probably, because we’re getting it and you’re not,” Jamie said. “Fuck you!” Erik said. “I’m man enough; are you girl enough?” Jamie asked. “Now, now, enough of that talk,” Geoff said. Steven softly touched Ian’s forearm and whispered, “They’re talking naughty, aren’t they?” “Yes, they are,” Ian whispered. “Can we go to bed now?” Steven asked. “Are you finished with your chapter?” Ian asked. “No; do I have to finish it?” Steven asked. “That’s the rule,” Ian said. “Phooey!” Steven exclaimed. Geoff sat there contentedly watching the boys interact and a stray thought came to his mind of Jerry sitting in his chair—which surprisingly remained empty—reading his Anthropology textbook and drinking his single malt scotch. He felt a tear dribble out of his left eye and heard the front doorbell chime. “Who’s coming to our home this time of night?” Jamie asked. “I hope it’s not a new kid,” Billy said. “Yeah, we’re getting kinda close and don’t need some new kid messing up the works,” Erik said. “Now, now, boys you know we have open bedrooms and we just have to accept the fact that a new boy might come to our house,” Geoff said as he got up and made his way to the door. He walked out of the study and down the hall to the foyer where—at the front door he peered through the peephole—he opened the door and saw Bill Daniels standing next to a skinny boy of indeterminate age holding a medium sized duffle bag. “Bill, come in, and who is this?” Geoff said as he pulled the door open wide to allow Bill Daniels and the boy room to come inside. “Geoff, this is Troy Hensley; he needs a home,” Bill said. “Hello, Troy, welcome to my home,” Geoff said. The boy stared at the floor and didn’t say anything. “Is there somewhere Troy can wait while we talk?” Bill asked. “Certainly, all the boys are in the study reading their nightly assignments,” Geoff said. “Come along Troy and I’ll introduce you to the boys of the house.” Leaving Bill in the foyer, Troy followed Geoff back through the hall to the study. All the boys, except for Erik, stood up when the new boy came into the room. “Boys, this is Troy Hensley; he’s come to live in our home,” Geoff said. “Please make him welcome while I speak with Bill Daniels.” Geoff walked back to the living room where Bill was sitting on the green brocade sofa looking at a copy of the book Chanel: Collections and Creations by Danièle Bott. He looked up when Geoff sat beside him. “Nice book,” Bill said. “Yes, I try to have a good selection of books for guests,” Geoff said. “So, what’s the boy’s situation?” “His mother OD’d on heroin last week and his father is in Attica doing fifty to life for murder. He has a grandmother he doesn’t remember down in Greenville, Mississippi, and an uncle in Meridian who he’d rather not see again for some reason. He’s been having trouble in school because, well, he’s soft spoken, speaks with a slight lisp, and has various gay affectations. He says he’s not gay, but I suspect that’s because his parents couldn’t accept a gay boy living in their home. I brought him here because, well, I thought your boys might be able to help him.” “I see,” Geoff said. Meanwhile in the study, Troy stood in the doorway staring at the other boys. He didn’t know what to expect from a room full of white boys, but he suspected they weren’t going to take a liking to him simply because he was Black. “Hi, Troy, my name is Jamie.” “Hi,” Troy whispered. “I’m Billy.” “I’m Erik. I’m blind so I can’t see you.” “I’m Ian and the little one here is Steven. Where are you from?” “What it to you?” Troy asked. “Just making conversation,” Ian said. “We all come from different places and I was just wondering where you’re from?” “I live in Lyons,” Troy said. “Did you go to high school down there?” Erik asked. “No, middle school.” “Oh, so you’re, what thirteen or fourteen?” Billy asked. “No, I be fifteen, I havin’ trouble with school.” “Well, it’s a good thing Mr. Daniels brought you here,” Jamie said. “All of us help everybody else with their school work. Even Geoff helps out sometimes.” “Who Geoff?” “That’s the man who owns this house,” Erik said. “He help you boys with your school work?” “Why don’t you come over here and park your ass on something soft,” Jamie said. Troy dropped his duffle bag and went over to Jerry’s old chair. He was about to sit down when Billy said, “No, don’t sit there. That’s Jerry’s chair.” “Oh, sorry, where can I sit?” Troy said. “Well, I guess you’re going to have to sit there, since there aren’t any other chairs, except for Geoff’s, of course,” Jamie said. “Are you sure is okay? I don’ want to make this Jerry dude mad,” Troy said. “That’s okay; Jerry died this afternoon,” Erik said. “I guess you can be the new occupant of the chair.” “Are you sure it okay? I don’ want to give the wrong impression since I new.” “No, go ahead,” Jamie said. “You all readin’ books. What with that?” “Everybody gathers here at night to read for an hour,” Jamie said. “What kinda books do you read?” “Oh, Geoff picks out the books we read.” “Books by white writers you mean.” “Are you Black? You don’t look it,” Jamie said. “Course I Black, why can’ you see it? Is plain as day. Course Momma white, but man who rape her was Black. That what they always tol’ me. I black as nigga from Af’ca.” Geoff walked into the study, but stood at the door watching the boys interact with Troy. From what he saw, he didn’t have any worries that this was going to work. “Troy, could you come over here?” Geoff asked. “I want to give you a book to read.” “Yes, suh.” “What kind of books do you like to read?” “I don’ read much, ’cept books in school.” “Okay, you’re fifteen, but still in eighth grade and not reading on your own. Let’s see what I’ve got for a boy your age. Oh, here’s one you might like,” Geoff said as he pulled Where the Red Fern Grows from the bookshelf. “Here try this one.” “Is this dude white?” “Why, yes, of course.” “I don’ like readin’ books by white folk.” “He thinks he’s black,” Billy said. “You do?” Geoff asked. “Of course, can’ you see it?” Geoff stared at the skinny, blue eyed, sandy haired boy with close set eyes, a long straight nose, and thin lips. Troy was the very definition of a Nordic white boy. He wondered why Troy so strongly believed he was black. “Jamie, I think we’ll put Troy in the bedroom next to Steven. Go ahead and take him upstairs and get him settled in. Troy, welcome to 319 Winesap Lane, I hope you find your stay here pleasant and peaceful.” “Thank you, suh. What should I do with this book?” “Oh, leave it on the table beside your chair. It’ll be there when you come down tomorrow night to read with the others.” Jamie led Troy out of the study down the hall and up the stairs to the second floor where he said, “This door here is to Ian’s suite, across the hall was Jerry’s suite.” At the next set of doors, he said, “This is Billy’s suite and across the hall is Erik’s suite. Down here at the cross hall, on the left is Steven’s and on the right is your suite. You’ll be sharing a bathroom with Steven.” “Who do the cleanin’ here?” “Well, it used to be done by Jerry. But, since he died today, I suppose we’ll have to come up with another plan. I’m sure Geoff will get that figured out in the next couple days.” “You don’ call him mistah or such.” “No, I don’t and he doesn’t mind. Actually, sometime in the next couple weeks he’s going to be adopting me. I’m going to have to get used to calling him Dad.” “Wow, I wish he do that for me, but considerin’ I’m black and a fag, I doubt tha’s goin’ to happen.” “Don’t be too surprised what’ll happen around here.” “What you mean?” “Well, I’m gay and most of the boys here are gay,” Jamie said after he sat down on Troy’s bed. “Plus, he’s going to homeschool all the boys here. I guess he’s going to find some property down by the lake and build a new house for us.” “What is he, some do-gooder, white ass lib’ral?” Troy asked. “No, Geoff is just concerned about the boys under his care.” “What you have to do for him? Let him fuck you?” “Definitely not, Geoff isn’t interested in boys.” “I believe it when I see it.” “How’s your clothes?” Jamie asked. “What you mean?” “Do you need anything?” “Like what?” “Oh, pants, shirts, underwear, pajamas, you know, clothes.” “I don’ wear ’jam’s. Them for lil kids.” “At night we all gather in Geoff’s study and read our books, like the one he gave you. Most of us boys wear pajamas or underwear with a robe over them.” “Okay, I could do the robe thing. How much does that cost?” “Nothing, Geoff will buy it for you.” “You sure I don’ have to let him fuck me?” “Look, Geoff definitely doesn’t have sex with the boys; not even Jerry and he wasn’t even a foster child.” “Hello, boys,” Geoff said at the door. “Jamie, are you getting Troy settled?” “Yeah, it’s the same thing as with all the new boys,” Jamie said. Geoff walked across the room and pulled out the desk chair, turned it around, and straddled it, resting his elbows on the backrest of the chair. He said, “Troy, I’m sorry about your mother, if you need some time before going to school, I’ll arrange it.” “She do smack; she knew what she was doin’. Are you goin’ to be sendin’ me down to Miss’sippi?” Troy said. “That’s up to Mr. Daniels. As far as I’m concerned, you’re a resident of this house and will remain in this house until you graduate from high school,” Geoff said. “What are you some kind of weird white lib’ral faggot?” Troy asked. “Well, I am gay, but I tend to be a right leaning centrist.” “I don’ unnerstand,” Troy said. “Then I suggest you look that up.” “How?” “Do you have a smartphone?” “No.” “Do you have a laptop?” “No.” “Then in the morning I’ll drive you into Rochester and get you a smartphone and a laptop.” “Why?” “Because that’s how I run my house.” “Is he for real?” Troy asked looking at Jamie. “As real as it can get,” Jamie said. * * * Later that night Steven lay on his back in Ian’s bed not knowing what he should do. He wanted to snuggle up against the side of the older boy, but he was afraid Ian would push him away, not wanting the closeness of a little boy. Finally, after many minutes of conflicting thoughts he turned on his side and surreptitiously as possible he inched his way under the bedcovers until he was up against Ian’s side. He laid his arm across Ian’s chest and waited for the inevitable rebuff. “I was wondering how long you’d wait before coming to me,” Ian said. “Jimmy, I was afraid you wouldn’t want me close to you.” “Steve, just lay as close to me as you want,” Ian said. “Thank you.” * * * The following morning, Erik and Troy sat at the dinette eating their French toast, fried eggs, and bacon. Erik had a glass of orange juice, while Troy was drinking milk. All the other boys had gone to school and Geoff was waiting for these two to finish so he could drive Troy into Rochester to get some clothes, a smartphone, and a laptop. Erik was going with them since Wally was in class and wouldn’t be home until around twelve-thirty. As Geoff stood at the counter drinking a cup of decaf he noticed a strange feeling in his upper abdomen. He’d eaten a bowl of canned peaches and a granola bar, as he did most mornings, so he was surprised he was having indigestion. After a while both boys finished their breakfast, but hadn’t made a move to leave. “Troy, could you clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher?” Geoff asked. “Yeah, get da nigga to do da cleanin’,” Troy said. “Look, son, there aren’t any servants in this house to clean up after you. I would’ve asked Erik, but he’s blind. Oh, he’d do it, after a fashion, but I thought you were a better choice because you can see what you’re doing.” “Oh, yeah, sorry Erik for thinkin’ you got eyes like me,” Troy said. “That’s okay; I know this is all new to you and it’ll take a while for you to get into the groove,” Erik said. “Yeah, I be cool with that,” Troy said. He got up and cleared the table as Geoff asked. Then he said, “Suh, you said we goin’ in to Rochesta’ this mornin’. When we goin’?” “As soon as you two get yourselves together,” Geoff said as another twinge hit him in the lower chest. He went over and sat in the dinette silently wondering what was wrong with him. After about thirty minutes both boys presented themselves in the kitchen and when Geoff got up from the dinette he had a slight sensation of faintness. They went out the backdoor and into the garage. “What do you think we should use?” Geoff asked. “The Explorer, since there’s just three of us,” Erik said. “Troy, what’s your choice?” Geoff asked. “Why you ask me? I just be da dumb nigga here,” Troy said. “Troy, I don’t want to hear you use that word around me ever again,” Geoff said. “And, you are not dumb, poorly educated maybe, but not dumb.” “That what you say,” Troy said. “Hey, man, cool it; Dad’s just trying to help you,” Erik said. “Yeah, well, I met whiteys want help me before,” Troy said as he opened one of the backseat doors, got into the Explorer, and slammed the door. “Dad, you’ve got a lot of work to do with Troy,” Erik said. “Yeah, and I hope he’s willing to learn,” Geoff said. “Come on, let’s get on the road; I have to be back before one.” Erik got in the other backseat door and looked over at Troy, “I thought we could sit together and talk, if that’s okay with you.” “Yeah, sure, you cool,” Troy said. After starting the engine, Geoff opened the console and took out the CD case. He thumbed through the CDs until he came to Sly & The Family Stone’s greatest hits. He took it out of the sleeve and inserted into the stereo’s CD slot. When the first song came on, Troy said, “Who that?” “Sly & The Family Stone,” Geoff said. “They whiteys?” “No, they’re black.” “You play black music?” “Some, but I don’t play hip-hop or rap.” “Too bad, some that good.” “You ever listen to B. B. King, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder?” “They black?” “All of them, and I enjoy listening to them.” “You weird, man, you weird. Never heard of no whitey likin’ black music, ’cept maybe rap.” “I tell you what, when this CD is over I’ll play one by B. B. King.” Geoff pulled out of the garage half listening to the boys chatting in the second seat while Sly & The Family Stone were singing “I Want to Take You Higher.” He drove out the alley and headed for the road to Rochester while another twinge struck his chest. Unconsciously, he felt his left carotid artery with his right hand, but the steady pulse told him whatever he was feeling didn’t concern his heart. The ride to Rochester was marked by music Geoff enjoyed, the barely audible chattering of the boys, constant attention to the traffic on State Route 104, and the increasing twinges in Geoff’s chest. He kept checking his pulse, but couldn’t detect any abnormality. Just as he drove onto to the Irondequoit Bridge an unbelievably sharp pain filled his chest and he realized he couldn’t breathe. With rapidly fading consciousness, Geoff slammed on the brakes, put the Explorer in park, and then slumped forward against the steering wheel causing the horn to shriek in distress. “What’s happening?” Erik screamed. “The dude fainted,” Troy said. “Where are we?” Erik screamed. “Easy, dude, we stopped on a bridge, let me check what goin’ on,” Troy said. He undid his seat belt, stood up as best in could, and reached around the driver’s seat and nudged Geoff. Cars behind and around them were honking their horns and after a short while a policeman came to the driver’s door. Troy looked out and then reached across Geoff and unlocked the doors. “What’s going on here?” the policeman asked. “The dude fainted,” Troy said. The policeman felt Geoff’s carotid and didn’t feel anything. He spoke into his radio, “Central we have a heart attack victim out here westbound on the Irondequoit Bridge. I need an aid car and backup. You boys, who are you?” “He’s my dad and is Troy’s foster father,” Erik said. “What’s wrong with him? Is he dead?” “Not my duty to say,” the policeman said. “I need you boys to exit on the right side of the vehicle and I’ll put you in the backseat of my car.” * * * “Erik, please come in,” the man said. Erik got up from his chair in the lobby and waited for someone to escort him to the office. “Oh, sorry, let me help you,” said a woman who had previously introduced herself as Ms. Madeleine, Mr. Morgan’s assistant, when she met him down on the sidewalk after he got out of the cab. If he hadn’t been blind, he would’ve noticed that the room was quite large, had tall bookshelves along two walls, and a view of the Hudson River. “Here, you can sit in this chair,” the man said. “I am Benedict Morgan, Geoff Johnson’s attorney of record and since you are his sole heir, I am also your attorney of record.” “What a coincidence, my middle name is Benedict,” Erik said. “How much?” “Just like a teenager, always wanting to get right to the quick. Geoff’s estate including real estate, stocks, bonds, and cash totals nearly seventy million and a few odd cents here and there.” “Wow! Is it all mine?” “Well, after taxes, it will be somewhat less. Per Geoff’s will, I am also your trustee.” “Meaning?” “I will administer the estate, provide lodging for you, and give you an allowance.” “Where will I live?” “Close to wherever you go to school, I suppose. Have you given any thought about where you want to go to school?” “Someplace good, I suppose.” “A college prep school?” “Yes, are there any in New York City?” “We have a number of excellent ones. I’ll have my secretary make inquiries, especially considering your disability.” “It always comes down to that doesn’t it.” “Have you given any thought about college?” “Columbia is where my mother went. Dad, my real dad, went to Harvard. I suppose either one would be good, that is considering my disability.” “I’m certain either school would be happy to have you as a student.” “It’s a shame about the other boys. I wish they could be with me, but they’re foster kids and Mr. Daniels is taking care of them, I suppose. I wish it could’ve turned out different, but I guess I’m just going to have to live with the fact that I was the only boy Geoff got around to adopting. Will I have someone living with me?” “Yes, we’ll hire a cook/housekeeper and you’ll also have a chauffeur. Have you thought of what kind of car you’ll want to ride in?” “A Mercedes SUV, black. I know I won’t see it, but I’d like to make a good impression. Can I go back to my hotel, now?” “Certainly.” Erik stood up and waited for Mr. Morgan to come to escort him out of the office. Then a thought came to him and he said, “I know you’ll be selling Dad’s house, but could you buy me a lakefront vacation home on Lake Ontario? Nothing too big and definitely not more than one story high; and, enough bedroom suites for myself, the cook, and the chauffeur. I suppose you might have to build it or maybe remodel something suitable.” “Can I ask why?” “I went down there once with Jerry before I went blind. It was nice. I liked it. Geoff was going to build us a new home down there and homeschool us. Everything just turned out wrong. Okay, I’m ready to go.” When Erik got to his hotel room, he went over to the sofa, opened his guitar case, and took out the instrument. He quickly tuned it by ear, played a “C major” scale across the neck and back again. He thought of how his life had turned out and began to strum the guitar while softly singing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound …” The End
  15. Chapter 10

    As is stated at the beginning of my story "The G.M.O.s", Carlos and Stefan have a future on their new ship. I haven't given much thought to taking their future and turning it into a new story. There are so many possibilities to such a story. Unfortunately, I'm now concentrating on the sequel to "319 Winesap Lane", which I will start publishing once the final chapter of "319" is posted.

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