My Carl

Chapter 6 - SNOWBIRD FOR CHRISTMAS?

I felt pretty upbeat as I left for work despite it being 30 degrees and raining. I had to snicker as I remembered Carl last night, I thought I was going to have to throw him down and strip him to get his ski clothes off him to go to the cleaners, but repeated assurances that he would get them back and I think more a warm house and insulation clothing designed for zero degree weather, finally won out.

There was little to do when I got to work as more and more people began to disappear most the military traveling home for Christmas.

Helen was waiting in the parking lot when I arrived for our luncheon and Tim was right I was not disappointed. I think Samoan (Hawaiian) she belonged more in a Playboy centerfold then working for a living. A perfect tan (in mid winter?) accenting her olive skin she had to have E or double E breasts, about a twenty eight inch waist and the thighs of a kick boxer, she was just built like a brick shit house! Although I like chicken breasts only slightly more then Big Macs that's what I ordered as we started talking.

Casey was everything Tim had stated, Helen stated if we were accepted into their program they would reimburse me for 'maintenance needs' (which meant food and such) and would pay for all of Carl's needs from clothing to tutoring, basically whatever I felt he needed he got at their expense. "If you will raise him we will pay for everything" she explained as I bit into my first bite of grilled breast, wishing it was the fresh breast I was really interested in tasting. Somehow I managed to conduct an intelligent conversation with her over lunch. As we left she gave me a CD asking me to fill out the questionnaire on it and send it to the internet address it linked to, saying how she was looking forward to meeting dad and the boys.

I was still thinking about Helen as I drove back to the base when my cell phone rudely interrupted my day dream, a call from the kids' school. 'Last day before vacation, what kind of shit did the twins get into now' I thought as I answered. It was the school's vice principle but instead of telling me the twins were busted again, he informed me that Carl's mother had left the school a few minutes ago after trying to pick him up. As CPS had asked he had told her that Carl was not in attending that school any longer but he was extremely concerned, he was sure this was not the end of the situation. I thanked him for his help and reiterated that no one but myself, my dad, CPS and God were to have access to Carl before ringing off.

I was about to call dad when the cell rang again, this time Judy asking if I was expecting a handy man to trim my trees. She saw someone suspicious walking around my house and he said he was our new tree surgeon. She had called the police but they seemed unconcerned, suggesting she call back if she had something criminal to report. I had my truck in the middle of a bat turn into oncoming traffic as I verified with her my van was not in the driveway (that dad was not home). I filled her in on the school's call asking her to call Tim immediately to lock Carl and the twins down, then call dad's cell phone and divert him should he be headed home.

I got home in about five minutes, what should have been a fifteen minute drive. As I rounded the corner there was an older station wagon in front of my house that I parked in front of. As I started up the lawn I saw a man looking in the windows of my house, when I approached him he was an older, very worn image of Carl, I had no doubt who I was approaching. I reached for my cell but he was advancing to me too fast. "Where's my boy I need him back." he snarled. A glance into his glazed, bloodshot eyes told me he was stoned and had been for some time. "You got my boy? I want him back."

I backed away several steps, scared shitless actually, before responding "Your BOY is safe now, he isn't here but you're not getting him back, what say you get the f*** out of his life!" hoping Judy or someone had called the cops.

He responded instantly pulling a knife from his belt slashing at me. I guess being a veteran of multiple bar fights from my biker days has its advantages, I took stiff punch in the ribs but blocked his knife thrust grabbing his attacking wrist, kicking what could have been fifty yard field goal into his groin, 'six points for two balls at once?' I wondered. He doubled over only slightly and lunged at me swinging with his free hand. Side stepping him I used the knife laden wrist I still had a death grip on to pivot and slingshot him face first into the house. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my back yard gate open and suspecting things could get worse in a hurry dribbled his head against the siding several times until he dropped the knife and went limp against the wall.

I was turning to confront the figure now rushing toward me from the back yard when a voice from the street yelled "Freeze! Police! Get on the ground, Do It NOW, DO IT NOW!" Having hear that statement several times in my younger days I put my hands out to my sides as I was evaluated the woman rushing toward me. It didn't take long to determine her position, she froze in med step, from the horrified look on her dirty face I was sure she was looking down a one eyed stare - the barrel of a gun -

I dropped to my knees and was going laying down when I saw two uniformed figures rush past me guns drawn. Another cop started to frisk me when still another grabbed my forearm squeezing it painfully hard. I looked over and was about to protest when I saw blood seeping through the white cloth he was pressing against my skin. Hoping against hope that it was the cop's blood I looked away mentally began giving myself a preflight, checking for damaged parts. Judy's voice interrupted my evaluation as she informed the cops I was the home owner and such. The cop grasping my arm guided me to roll over and sit up as I saw Judy dialing her cordless phone. When I looked around there was probably ten cops in my yard and an ambulance in the street. I was trying to convince myself this was really happening when I heard Judy say "Tim you better get home right now, Christian has been stabbed."

I felt my stomach ricochet off my Adams apple as my ass hole sucked in probably a gallon of air, but looked back at my forearm now being treated by a paramedic. Thankfully nothing serious I had about a two inch slash that was now just seeping blood. After they checked me over, cutting off a thirty dollar shirt to check my ribs, they said I would be okay, that I needed to get my ribs x-rayed and stitches in my arm. They offered to transport me via ambulance but said it wasn't really necessary. I declined just asking them to help me up. Carl's dad did get to ride in the ambulance, his mother was taken away in the back of a cop car.

I asked to go to the courtyard, then inside, where the cops video taped a brief statement from me before suggesting I get my arm taken care of, they would get back with me as needed. The adrenaline rush, shock whatever was wearing off as I had slipped on a loose tee shirt, my ribs starting to hurt and my arm feeling like it had just been branded. I was trying to decide if I could drive myself to the minor emergency clinic when Judy reappeared stating she WAS going to drive me, and I didn't argue. I did manage to call dad as Judy drove, bringing him briefly up to date and asking him to take care of Timmy until we returned. Before we rang off I asked him not to tell the kids what had happened until I got home.

The clinic showed me back to the treatment area as soon as we walked in. After a quick set of x-rays a nurse immediately began not so gently scrubbing my arm wound. I had to bite my tongue to keep from asking if she scrubbed car tires for training, but knew I was not in a good position to piss her off. She was spreading instruments onto a tray next to me when the treatment room door opened and Tim walked in. "Damn, I cant leave you alone for five minutes and you get your ass in trouble!" The nurse had turned to challenge him when he flashed his badge, saying he was with CPS on official business. Giving each of us a questioning glare she finished her task informing me the doctor would be seeing me shortly. "Neat what these things can do!" Tim snickered as the nurse closed the door. "I guess you are official business, you're a foster parent! Are you okay, what the f*** happened?"

I had almost finished giving him a synopses of the afternoon when the doctor walked in. He was putting on his surgical gloves when Tim excused himself, telling me Judy had gone home and that Helen was also here in the waiting room. Twenty two stitches later the doc told me my ribs were only bruised and my arm would heal fine, that I could expect to be pretty sore for a couple days, but make a full recovery. He offered to give me a prescription for pain relief but I declined.

Helen met me in the reception area saying Tim was outside on the phone. As we walked outside she explained that she was at the CPS office when Tim received Judy's call and decided to come see how I was, hinting toward stopping by the house while she was nearby. I hesitated, but knowing better then to refuse a case worker visit invited her, stipulating I intended to have a few 'pain killers' when I got home. I hadn't seen Tim when he said from behind us "Yea they come in six packs, doctor's orders?" Helen laughed, saying she'd pass unless I had something to add to a diet coke.

"Don't worry about Helen" Tim said as we pulled out of the parking lot, Helen following. "She's cool, she can drink both of us under the table and drive us home." A little relieved I snickered before he continued "Remind me not to piss you off, you really did a number on that dude! He's in emergency surgery getting his skull glued back together, not to mention his nose and dislocated elbow." I just grunted as I called dad warning him of Helen's visit. "What are you going to tell the kids?" Tim asked.

Saying I didn't know, we agreed they, especially Carl, had to be told something. I decided I would fill them in later in the evening, for right now I would just say I had gotten hurt and such. We agreed that Helen's visit might be a blessing her presence would probably help defuse the thousand questions routine I was expecting.

She was every bit the distraction I expected. When we pulled into my driveway Tim held back to fill her in as I went inside. The boys were playing in front of Tim's house but burned a trail in the yard following us in. As I introduced everyone I would have given a week's pay to have a hidden camera in the room, I think I could have doubled my pay if I could have charged the kids for a magic cure to dry mouth. The twins were just tall enough to be at eye level with her nipples and faintly raised a hand as they said "Hi Ma'am" in unison, each clearly speaking to one of her size EE breasts (Tim had confirmed this on the way home). I almost felt sorry for Carl. Standing in front of the twins looking up in awe as if studying the Grand Peaks, his mouth moved several times before Jeff subtly poked him in the back forcing a weak 'Hi' out of his lungs.

"Hi Carl I've heard a lot about you, its so great to meet you!" Helen bubbled, stepping toward the three petrified specimens that until now had been my overactive kids. "Now I know why your dad brags about you so much Jerry and Jeff, you are two good looking guys!" she continued tossing their hair.

I waited until their faces calmed from deep red to a dark pink blush before saying "Jeff, would you get Mr. Young and I a beer? Get M (pausing I didn't know if she was married or not) Ms Cruz a glass of coke on ice" I waited a couple of seconds, getting no reaction for my apparently fossilized son I popped him on the butt saying "Some time today if you don't mind sir!" For the first time since they were born I was a little glad I couldn't read their telepathic conversations when they both, in perfect unison, mumbled 'yes sir' and started into the kitchen.

Tim and I enjoyed a couple of cans of beer, Helen sipping on a rum and coke, Carl next to her as we talked. After a few minutes before I remembered work. I was due back to the base at about 12:30 and it was now after four o'clock. I started to excuse myself when she commented how impressed she was with my home, hinting to see the rest of it. I asked dad to show her around while I called the base when she said "Would it be okay if Carl showed me around?"

They disappeared down the hall as I slipped onto the patio and called my supervisor. After filling her in on the afternoon I said I would have to see how I felt in the morning before deciding if I could report to duty or not. She interrupted me suggesting I take sick leave tomorrow and the half day we had to work Friday, wishing us Happy Holidays she said she would see me next year.

Helen and Tim had left, much to the boys disappointment, and we ordered Chinese for supper before anyone even noticed my arm bandage. Biting my lip I told myself it had to come out sooner or later and gave the kids an abridged version of what happened this afternoon, downplaying the violence as much as possible. The were calmer in their reaction then I expected, after providing several assurances that I was okay Carl asked where his parents are. When I told him mom was in jail and dad 'had go to the hospital before going to jail' his only concern was if dad could away from the hospital. When I assured him there was a policeman with dad he seemed relieved asking a few more questions about my condition.

The delivery boy's arrival thankfully interrupted our discussion, and from the way the kids flew to attack him it was clear my problems had not damaged their appetites. I was a little concerned as the youngster limped back toward his car, the twins having ravaged him of everything eatable, but he seemed okay as he drove away. What little discussion we had during supper was centered around Helen or more exactly her figure. I was impressed that everyone kept their comments fairly tasteful, the twins cramming what had to be five pounds of food per second under their headgears as Carl inhaled bucket loads of stir fried pork and chicken along with the better part of a dozen egg rolls.

Their normally flat trim stomachs were bulging like my beer belly as they cleared the table. Jerry started teasing Carl about taking Helen in his bedroom and I was thinking about interceding when Carl retorted "Yea but I fit under them perfect!" holding his hands to the top of his head "You guys just get to look!" Before I could react the twins were rushing toward Carl who was beating a supersonic retreat out the door. They didn't stay out long, it was starting to rain again so came inside asking if they could get on the web.

I agreed and went into my bedroom inserting Helen's CD into my computer. That only lasted about five minutes before my ribs informed me they were going to relax or make me very sorry, so I got out my laptop, grabbed another beer and crawled into bed, propping myself up with pillows and restarted the CD. I had answered ten or fifteen of Casey's hundred or so questions, typing one handed, when Carl appeared in the doorway. "What'cha doing, why are you in bed?" he asked.

"Oh, just surfing," I replied, tapping my hand on the side of the waterbed. "Pop's had a long day and I just wanted to relax, what are you guys doing, why aren't you flying?" I asked as he sat on the edge of the bed.

"Well we were looking at Colorado and stuff but I don't think they're looking at the right stuff." he paused, but before I answered continued "What about my old mom and dad, , , ah, are they gonna get out of jail soon? Do I gotta go live with them again? Maybe I should, well I mean can I call my judge?"

I tried to lift him onto the bed, but after some pointed protests from my ribs and forearm guided him to prop next to me on my pillows. "Let's see, a thousand questions," I began. "Your mom and dad are in a lot of trouble son, do you understand that?" getting a nod I continued "No, they are not going to come get you, they can't if they wanted to, Carl it might be a long time before they even get out of jail, Judge Kiley knows all this and she wont let anything happen, okay?" Pausing I asked "How do you feel about them being in jail, about your dad being in the hospital?"

He looked away for probably a minute before explaining that if they were in jail they couldn't hurt anyone that they belonged there. "Jeff said my old dad tried to fight you and that's how he went to the hospital." he asked. Suppressing the urge to go ring the twin's scrawny little chicken necks I took a deep breath and acknowledged the confrontation. "Wow" he responded. "He always beats people up finally he got it." his face seeming to relax.

Deciding it was definitely time to move on I asked him what was wrong with what they had been looking at regarding our trip. He explained that he didn't think the twins were looking at where we were going, that he didn't really believe them. I closed Helen's questionnaire and opened the laptop's browser, going to the Beaver Creek site. While waiting for a large graphic that mapped their available activities I was about to ask if that was what they were looking at when he exclaimed "That's where we're going? That's what we were looking at! Dude, , , for real I mean for real pop?"

"What, only movie kids go there?" I quipped poking him in the ribs as I slid the laptop over to him I told him to look around, that's we were going. He pissed me off a little as he within seconds seemingly mastered the microscopic mouse ball and compressed keyboard I hated about laptop computers, but spent a couple of minutes viewing screen after screen of the lodges activities, eyes wide as saucers. I noticed he had quit surfing, his glowing face souring. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"It says you gotta be five feet tall to do all this, what am I gonna do?" Glancing at the screen I saw he was looking at the para gliding activity, being pulled into the air on a modified hang glider by a snowmobile. It took several tries before I convinced him that there were some activities he would be too young or short to try, I think I convinced him he could do anything that didn't list a requirement that would disqualify him. After looking at a few more pages he seemed satisfied and I leaned back on my pillows enjoying watching his wide eyed explorations.

I tried to ignore the incessant buzzing in my ear for several seconds before remembering I had forgotten to turn off my ever diligent alarm clock. Cracking one eye open as I swung toward the offending demon and noticed I was still dressed and laying on top of the blankets. I noticed Carl asleep next to me, pillows piled all around him. It didn't really register that only one of his four feet had a sock on, all I was thinking about was attacking the buzzing beast. I fumbled for the off button and having no luck decided a lethal blow to the snooze button might work. Raising my arm for the strike my body painfully suggested a much gentler approach so I gingerly pressed the button. I was guiding my head back toward the pillow when I noticed my open laptop sitting in the chair next to my bed, Binki sitting with his front feet on the keyboard, back feet on the chair cushion, staring at the screen as if he was on line.

I closed my eyes for a couple of seconds before everything started to sink in. Why was Carl in my bed, both of us on top of the covers, why did he have three bare feet and one hosed? Why was my bunny rabbit surfing the internet at five o'clock in the morning? Hoping I was having a dream instead of a flash back from my deviant youth I reached up to adjust my pillow when my ribs assured me I was not dreaming. Almost afraid to look, I verified Carl did indeed have four feet. When I looked back at the chair Binki looked over at me twitching his nose. I propped myself up slightly only to discover Carl actually had six feet, but four of them were attached to thin legs traveling to the other side of the stack of pillows, attached to a pair of identical skinny kids.

'So much for sleeping in' I thought dragging myself out of bed. I started to shuffle toward the kitchen when I remembered the alarm clock. After turning it off I did risk another glance at my laptop, at least was in suspend mode.

I let Carl sleep as late as I dared before sending him to get ready for Roy to pick him up. Roy arrived on time and before they left I informed him I would pick the boy up from the dentist, his last appointment, that we needed to do some shopping.

The twins opted to wait outside when we arrived at the dentist office, although this was a general dentist I got the impression they didn't want to risk this guy making any additions to their metal laden mouths. Roy was in the waiting room and told me everything went well at the shrink, that Carl had three cavities that were being filled. He went on to say the parents were not going to be any threat for a long time, mama's bond had been set at three hundred thousand dollars, and a proxy bond for papa was waiting for a half million. "They still have to appear on the federal charges." he added.

Carl was none to happy when he came out of the treatment area, his pixie little face having a somewhat chipmunk appearance from getting fillings. As we left the building I was about to asked if he wanted to go home and rest when the twins walked up. Giving a toothy smile Carl sarcastically cracked "See, mine are still all white, ha ha!" he took off at full sprint around the building doing a fairly good job of dodging the Jerry and Jeff's swings and kicks. Soon they returned, the twins leading their prisoner one holding each arm everyone giggling like crazy.

Carl complained a little about getting the fillings in his teeth or more the injections before, but was seemingly completely happy with his visit to the shrink talking more about her 'chests' then anything. I bit my lip to keep from commenting as he explained to the twins that 'they were nothing like Ms Cruz but would do'. . .

Before we left the house I had given Jeff and Jerry the Christmas money from my co-workers, instructing them to find something Carl would enjoy. When I parked at the mall I slipped Jeff my car keys and as we entered the building, per plan, the twins excused themselves saying they had to go to the restroom. I managed to keep Carl with me and we walked around a few minutes before entering a large sporting goods store. When we walked into the ski department he was fascinated, looking at everything he could get near soon getting away from me as he darted from display to display. Noticing a few concerned glares from the sales staff I rushed to catch up, finding him standing in front of their ski slope simulator, a large inclined conveyer of sorts for trying out their products.

I slipped him under my arm to keep him from getting away when he asked "What's that?" I was trying to be sure he understood my description when a clerk approached us of course offering to be of assistance. "I'm gonna go skiing!" he proudly announced "I'm going with my new brothers and dad and we're going all the way to Colorado!" face beaming.

He captured the clerk's heart immediately and after asking him had he ever skied etc she said "Well, would you like to try?" Despite my explaining we were going to rent our equipment from the lodge, I was only looking for a few accessories and such she soon was fitting him with boots, elbow pads and such before helping him onto the simulator. After a few instructions she turned it on letting him ride what would have been about a bunny slope.

He picked up the basics amazingly quickly and was just testing his luck at shifting his weight around when I heard "Dude! Check it out!" behind me. The twins rushed around me leaning on the machine's railing cheering him on. As usual they caught everyone's attention quickly, the clerk asking if they were Carl's 'new' brothers. Soon all three boys were on the simulator acting like they were warming up for the Olympics, the twins silver smiles so wide I almost had to squint.

After five minutes or so I thanked the clerk and apologizing for the boys imposing suggested we not take up any more of her time. "They're not imposing at all, sir." she responded "Look behind you, they are some of the best advertising we could have." Behind me was a crowd of about twenty five people, some standing and watching, others browsing the department as they enjoyed the show. I picked out insulated socks, hand warmers and such for everyone and had just paid for my purchases when Carl stepped off the belt panting slightly, the twins following shortly.

I don't think any of them had noticed the audience they had attracted until a few people applauded softly. Seeing their following the twins turned red faced and threw their hands up trying to cover their headgears. After a second they put their hands down grinning like opossums as several people commented about their skiing and such. They were changing out of their equipment when I heard a high pitched voice proclaim "Jerry, Jeff, you guys were great!" Both of their faces turned ashen, then red and were tinting toward green as they started to reach to cover their mouths, but before Jerry could a teenage girl flung her arms around him in a hug. Another girl about the same age quickly embraced Jeff, both the girls babbling what was pretty close to hero worship. As usual they recovered quickly and started posing for their fans like they were receiving gold metals (well maybe silver is how I teased them later). I thought I might have to call EMS when one of the girls gave Jeff a peck on the nose before they responded to a call from what was clearly one of their parents. After several seconds I saw Jeff's chest move, at least he was alive.

We thanked the clerk and were leaving the store when I commented "I guess you guys were right, anyone that sees a kid in headgear cant do anything but laugh at how stupid you look." which earned me matching 'up yours dad' glares from the twins.

The sadistic side of me has always enjoyed watching store manager's reactions when I take the boys to an eatery advertising 'all you can eat' specials. The Long John Silver's - a fast food fish chain - we stopped in on the way home was a prime example as we had been there many times before. As usual the manager had a pale look on his face when he saw the twins, but disappeared when he noticed a third kid in tow. I am sure I heard his soft sobs from the kitchen, he knew any chance of profit was gone for the day, as I ordered four all you can eat plates, but after they inhaled what had to be a hundred pounds of fish, fries and hush puppies I was driving out of the parking lot with three beer bellied kids.

As I parked the van in the driveway Jeff leaned over and whispered to remind me they had stashed packages behind the rear seat, Jerry asking if they could go to Timmy's. I waited until the three of them, again flat bellied skinny kids, disappeared into Tim's house before retrieving Carl's gifts. Unable to resist I took a sneak peak at the twins' purchases and was astonished with their good tastes. 'Yea well, so much for my tastes, back to the mall tomorrow' I thought as I grabbed a package from under the tree and stashed the twins purchases.

Grabbing a beer to pacify my increasingly sore ribs I sat down to my computer and again stated on Casey's forms. That lasted about five minutes before my body demanded relaxation. After making sure Binki didn't need my laptop I booted it as I crawled into my recliner. Over the next couple of hours I made moderate progress filling out their forms and relaxing before the phone rang. It was Judy saying they were going to go out to dinner and a movie, asking if they could take my kids. I heard some squeaky voices in the background before she asked if they could spend the night, Timmy wanted to have a sleep over. I started to challenge her sanity but thanked her and agreed, asking her to enforce the twins headgear wear. After I rang off I considered cruising to a bar or two for the evening, but my sore ribs and arm overruled suggesting the recliner club for our evening's entertainment.

The kids crawled back to the house about ten in the morning looking like sleep deprived zombies as I had expected. After shoeing them into the shower I sent the data Helen requested to Casey and after tucking everyone in bed went to exchange my problem gift and pick up our ski wear from the cleaners. I spent an hour or so cramming, compressing or whatever all of it into containers that would fit in my aircraft before starting my pre-Christmas checklist, tomorrow was Christmas eve and three short parties with friends and relatives, Christmas day would be even more busy. Everything seemed okay, the boys had not eaten too much of the fare I had planned to serve, the gifts under the tree undisturbed.

Soon the twins, then Carl appeared in the kitchen all wearing only gym shorts. Every part of them but their stomachs still appeared to be sleepy as they consumed a mountain of snacks but soon disappeared into the family room, crawling up on the carpet next to each other as they turned on the TV. I was about to join them in my recliner when my cell phone rang. Silently cursing, wondering what my idiot staff had f***ed up now at the base as I rushed to answer, I was relieved to see it was Tim.

"Hey dude, where can we meet I need to talk to you." he began. Informing him I had taken the day off and was home he asked if I had spoken to Helen or 'my girlfriend', then saying he would be there in ten minutes, wait for him. I rolled my eyes but thinking this could be the start of another long evening stated a frozen ham in the microwave then confirmed there was enough beer in the refrigerator.

When the doorbell rang I didn't bother to get up and immediately Tim appeared in the kitchen, the slim arm of a youngster showing behind him. "Get me a beer son." Tim demanded. Timmy slowly crawled from behind his dad his red face almost accenting his facebow and neck strap of his new headgear.

Seeing his embarrassment I grabbed him as he walked by. "So, you're one of the antenna team!" I asked. "Three headgears in the same aircraft, the only way I know that will work is if you help me fly, okay?" not waiting for an answer I popped his butt telling him welcome to the club, that my boys were crashed in the family room. He started out of the kitchen when Tim snapped 'Beer!' Timmy got each of us a beer before disappearing to join my boys. We listened as they teased him about his new decorations briefly, all of them having a giggling as the twins welcomed him to the 'club'.

"Did you hear from Kiley?" Tim began. "Her clerk was suppose to call you, Carl's parents relinquished their rights this morning right after she had them served. She has reviewed the applications you filed with Casey and well, if you agree, she would like to give Carl some good news for Christmas, but time is short." I was trying to remember if I had checked the messages on my home phone when he continued "Time to cut the shit Christian do you want him or not? We both know you do, you got your ass carved up for him and we both know it wasn't because he was a brother biker or shit. It would be pending consummation after all the 'I's' get dotted and 'T's get crossed, but Kiley and Casey can make it happen this afternoon if you agree."

I downed the last of my beer as I evaluated Tim's statement. After a minute I got Tim and I a fresh beer swallowing most of mine in one swig before I asked why the urgency, rephrasing my query to how everything could happen so quickly. "You and Carl , well and your family are perfect for each other. In two weeks you have completely turned him around from being a kid that belonged in a rubber room, so he wouldn't hurt himself, to being a happy, energetic boy wishing his future would just happen more quickly. His shrink verified that this morning, she said you are the perfect replacement parent for Carl, the only adult he trusts, probably the only peers he completely trusts is the twins. Kiley wants you to adopt him through Casey and wants it to happen before Christmas."

I took a big swig of air before getting still another beer. As I sat back down Tim handed me his phone saying "Just push 'Talk', you know how. Its your girlfriend's private number." After glancing between Tim and the cell a few times I pushed the magic button.

A voice that as I expected was Kiley's answered. Unsure how to begin I remained silent for several seconds before she asked a bit harshly "Mr. Young, is there something I can help you with?" Reluctantly I identified myself and was about to explain why I was on Tim's phone when she changed to her grand motherly voice saying "Christian, thanks for calling, may I call you Christian?" before I could respond she continued "I have read the reports regarding your confirmation, I so am thankful you were not seriously injured, are you recovering well?" I opened my mouth to answer when she said "I'm sure Mr. Young informed you of the actions we are proposing regarding Carl, are you amenable to a foster adoption via the Casey Foundation? We will have to conduct a hearing after the new year, it will be a year or so before I would order the case finally consummated, but if you agree I would like to resolve this for Carl before Christmas."

As I was digesting her statements I drifted onto the patio for a bit more privacy when she asked "Christian, will you foster adopt Carl?" I more grunted then said an acknowledgment. Not granting any relief she asked "Do you want his sir name changed to Miller?" I started to suggest we should ask Carl but said yes, provided that could be corrected if he objected. She asked me to reaffirm my decision, and after I said I would adopt Carl she thanked me informing me a 'court officer' would be delivering some documents to me shortly. I rang off and turned to go back inside to find Tim and my dad sitting behind me on the patio.

"Yea, you're as heartless as ever." my dad quipped.

"You need to be more fair, that was a hot mama he was talking to!" Tim snickered "Hell, Sam, she's probably five years younger then you are, you know your boy cant resist a hot babe!" I gave each of them a one finger salute and was accepting their congratulations when I noticed a reflection from inside the patio door, it was Jeff's silver smile, I'm sure in reaction to my obscene gesture.

He had started back into the family room by the time I got to the door. "Jeff, can I see you for a minute?" I asked as he disappeared round the corner. "NOW please!" I snapped before he could get into the family room. He sheepishly came back into the kitchen standing in front of me. "How much of that conversation did you hear?" I asked. Ignoring his claims he was inside, the door was closed so he couldn't hear anything I pulled his upper headgear strap away from his head a little letting it snap back against his hair "I mean with your little Marian antennas were you listening to me?"

"No sir" he responded. After a second his face brightened and he said "But thanks dad, thanks so much! You're a neat dad."

I stiffened as he wrapped his arms around my sore ribs but managed to continue "Not a word to ANYONE especially Carl until I say so, understand? Is Jerry listening?" he gave me a perplexed look. "If Carl finds this out before I tell him you are BOTH dead meat, is that clear?" He paused, I'm sure re-synching antennas, before agreeing. I pulled his head against my chest briefly before kissing him on the top of the head. Kissing a second time I popped him on the butt saying "Give that one to your brother."

He giggled softly and started out of the room before turning back "Well, when are you gonna tell him?" he asked.

"What did I say you might find under the Christmas tree?" I replied.


To Be Continued…