Patient John Doe

Chapter 15

The agents' faces were priceless, almost in total disbelief, as we walked toward the door. Todd was the first to recover, and snarled, "We are not done here, Doctor. I suggest all of you. . ."

"Yes we are," Miguel stated, calmly but firmly as he opened the door for his sons and I. "If we can be of any further assistance, we will be in the ship's dining area."

"We can detain all of you, do you know your sons and yourself could be facing deportation?" the agent barked.

Miguel took a deep breath before he opened his wallet, removing a business card. "Excuse me, I wont be but a second," he told his sons and I as he stepped back through the door. "This is my attorney, if you. . ." I heard him say before the door closed.

"That man is not just slow, he is stupid!" Jay snickered in a low voice.

"He just screwed up big time, I wonder where he will be assigned to write parking tickets now?" Ronnie added. Seeing my lost, somewhat concerned face he added, "Dad and I are both native citizens of the US. Jay and Steven are naturalized citizens, but many, many years ago. Where are they going to deport Dad to, Florida?" he snickered.

"Well, they could exile us to the land Granddad used to own! I would guess Dad could arrange for your boys to be detained with us there!" Jay grinned at me. They let me stew for a few seconds before telling me their Grandfather owned the land Disney World now sits on.

"Come along my son, I will introduce you to some proper cooking," Miguel's voice rang from behind us. As I turned around Ronnie's dad cut us an almost evil grin as he placed his hand on the Ronnie's shoulder and started down the hall. A sailor quickly appeared to guide us.

All three of us snickered as we entered the dining area and saw the boys, already seated. They were now wearing USS George Washington tee-shirts and ball caps. Each of them had a tray almost overflowing with food in front of them that they were attacking with a vengeance, at the same time talking and laughing with what seemed like a sea of sailors surrounding them, so busy none of my sons noticed we were nearby.

"I thought Johnny was shy," Miguel remarked.

"I wonder if we should tell him the two men next to him are Hospital Men (Naval Medical Technicians)" Jay commented.

"Go ahead, but you'll have to chase him down!" I quipped.

"That wouldn't be to difficult," Ronnie added. "I am sure he would take his food tray with him," he added as we all turned to gawk at him.

"No, I know my son better than that," I countered. "He'd inhale the entire tray in one bite!"

We declined our escort's offer to have our meal served to us and went through the serving line. Miguel was correct, the fare would have made the best Wyatt's or Luby's cafeterias in the nation blush with envy. After loading our trays we were ushered to a table at the end of the room. I was a little shocked when as a very distinguished Navy officer introduced himself as the ship's Captain, asking us to join him as he introduced a couple members of his staff seated with him.

Although we made small talk around our table as we ate, the boys remained the focus of attention, probably for the entire hall. I was snickering as a couple of young sailors presented them with huge ice cream cones for dessert, and didn't notice Banks enter the room until he bent over Miguel, whispering something in his ear. 'He doesn't take any shit,' I thought as I watched Miguel gesture toward his tray, then a nearby chair. Clearly frustrated, Banks sat down and waited as Miguel finished his meal.

About ten minutes later Miguel excused himself and stood up. Banks followed, and they walked to a corner of the room and chatted quietly for a minute or so. I had glanced between them and the boys a few times when Miguel waved at me, clearly suggesting I join them.

I left our table and had only taken a couple of steps when "Pop!" rang out from behind me. When I turned back Johnny was darting around tables and sailors as he rushed to me almost in a full sprint. "I couldn't find you, I was scared!" he exclaimed as he slammed against me, throwing his arm around my waist as he hugged me tightly.

"I can tell you were," I laughed as I wiped what I could of his ice cream moustache off his upper lip. "Having fun?"

"It's totally awesome!" he hooted. "I got to sit in a couple of planes, and help fix one of them and steer the boat and everything it's BAD!" I was still digesting steering the boat, remembering the huge cables securing it to the pier I had seen as we boarded, but decided not to go there.

"Would you like to meet the Captain?" Jay injected as he brushed the back of the boy's hair. "Your dad needs to go talk to my dad, and I'm sure the Captain would like to meet you."

Johnny pulled against me as he looked around at Jay, gesturing the lad to join him. "Oh I know him, he gave me my hat!" he announced as he waived back toward my table.

"I wont be but a minute," I reassured him as I passed him off to his Doctor.

I was approaching Miguel and Banks when the young sailor that escorted us to the dining hall joined us, offering us a private room where we could talk. He guided us to a nearby door labeled 'Flag Dining'.

"The government seems to be making some progress toward helping us," Miguel began.

"First of all, Agent West is no longer assigned to the case, Todd has already left the ship," Banks added.

I found myself wondering if I wasn't listening to an audio cassette of a spy novel as Banks brought me up to date, Miguel adding a comment occasionally. Although, according to Banks, the vigilante group Am‚rica Segura said they had to get authorization from their benefactor, they had indicated they would be willing to work with the FBI and DEA. The reward for each member of Martinez's gang would be upped to 500K per ear for the next twenty-four hours in an effort to catch them quickly.

The different factions had agreed to coordinate efforts and share information to get Martinez and his confederates off the street. Any gang members caught on US soil would be turned over to the FBI, who guaranteed they would be held without bond. Any of them caught outside the US Am‚rica Segura would deal with as they chose.

"How does that insure my son's well all of our safety for the present? Until you catch these, , , gentlemen?" I asked.

"We feel very comfortable your family will remain safe," Banks answered. "Several of the young sailors that have befriended your sons are highly trained troops, some Navy SEALS, posing as crew members, and some Marine Corps Security Guards, especially trained to protect diplomats and VIP's all over the world. Three of these young men have passes to leave the ship tonight, and are joining their young friends at Doctor Sanchez's cookout later. Provided they are invited," he concluded, turning toward Miguel.

"I have invited two of my friends also, they should arrive in town within the hour," Miguel added. From his face I was sure he had not invited members of his bowling team.

"We are trying to make every effort to insure your land, and your friends in San Antonio are protected," Banks said. "But, perhaps you should call your attorney. They are safe, but, she asked you call."

My stomach bounced off my heart before ricocheting around my abdomen as I considered his statement. I reached for my cell phone, but on Banks suggestion dialed Cindy on the satellite phone.

"Thanks for calling, God it's good to hear from you, is everyone alright there?" Cindy began before I could even say hello. I managed two or three phrases to assure her we were safe, at least for the moment, before she cut me off. "You should be here, your horses are going nuts beyond belief! We have some video you have to see to believe, I don't mind house sitting for you, but I'm not sure I will EVER horse sit again! Not Ginger anyway!"

I was trying to understand what she meant, picturing my undersized, bashful little filly and wondering what she could possibly have done when Cindy continued, "As ridiculous as this sounds, it's almost as if they, especially Ginger, know something is going on. The other horses keep Ginger in the middle of them, almost like they are guarding her, and she hides behind them anytime any human is in site. The only person they will allow in the pasture is Junior, and he cant get too close to her.

"I called Anne Stewart, and your Vet, even they cant get beyond the gate without being challenged, and I assure you they, especially Zeus, means business." I was digesting her comments, trying to both believe what I was hearing and picture the scene at my wonderfully tranquil ranch when she added, "The FBI and State Police are watching the place, but from afar. When they tried to check the barn and tack room earlier, Zoe bit one of them and Zeus kicked another, thankfully he was only bruised."

'These are NOT a normal horses,' I again thought. After I gave Cindy a brief overview of what had happened today I reassured her that we intended to return to Texas tomorrow afternoon, provided Jay was willing to release Johnny and the cops thought it safe.

From the way Mark and Ronnie were exchanging glances, I had a feeling they were up to something as we walked toward the gangplank. I wasn't in the least surprised when Ronnie slipped under my arm, leaning his thin body against me. "Ah, Pop, I mean Dad, well, ah," he began. "Well, ah, , , is it okay if we invite someone to Doctor Jay's barbeque? We remembered to ask first!"

"Yeah, and their Captain said they can go!" Mark injected, pushing against me on the other side. I bit my lip to keep from snickering as I Ronnie gave his brother a death glare. 'I see, you remembered to ask me before inviting them, but they have already gotten approval?' I thought.

I was debating if I should let them stew for a few minutes when Johnny pushed against my stomach, somehow squeezing between Mark and I with part of his skinny torso. "And they said they'd teach us to body skate!" he exclaimed.

"Body surf, stupid!" Ronnie snapped, pushing Johnny with his hand. I slightly crushed poor Mark, but managed to grasp both Ronnie and Johnny's necks, blocking any further conflict. "Please Dad," Ronnie responded to my grasp..

"Well, actually, you are asking the wrong person," I began. "We are guests in the Sanchez' home, they would have to approve any guest invitations. It's okay with me, but I you will have to clear it with Ronnie and Doctor Jay." I could feel a vibration in both my hands as Johnny and Ronnie's brain kicked into high gear, shortly followed by one in my forearm, where Mark was leaning against it.

"Hi Doctor Jay!" Ronnie exclaimed, flashing a wide silver grin that almost blinded all of us. I had to turn away as the three boys rushed to Jay and his partner, offering hugs and sad eyes in a perfect combination as they seduced our hosts with their proposition.

We decided, for security sake, to go directly back to Jay and Ronnie's house instead of visiting any tourist sites around Norfolk. The boys didn't argue when big Ronnie proclaimed he was ready to get into the pool, and darted into their bedrooms to change as soon as we entered the house, even before we could confirm it was safe, that the house was secure.

Miguel, his sons and I exchanged frightened glances a minute or so later when Mark's high pitched voice howled, "Dad!" I darted toward their bedroom, almost wishing Zeus was next to me instead of a couple of mere humans, when Mark appeared in the hall. "Johnny wants to go swim with us but his thing is all wet!" he complained, holding out his new brother's shoulder immobilizer. "It's all yuckie!" His eyes bulged as he looked up and saw the four of us, I'm sure my hosts in as an aggressive stance as I was, staring at him.

Jay was the first to recover. "Let's go wash it. It is time for Johnny's therapy, and he does not have to wear it right now. I will help you clean his brace, and then I will put it in the cloths dryer and I want you to give him his therapy session," he said as he guided Mark back into the bedroom.

I just had time to change into my trunks before I heard my boys on the deck. I had to snicker when I joined them, Mark was almost glued to Johnny, toting a towel around his neck as he guided his patient to one of the deck tables. "Close your eyes," he instructed as he draped the towel over Johnny's head, pulled the plastic probe out of the side of his Speedo and examined as if it was a surgical scalpel.

"Mark is in love," Miguel told me as we watched the boy probe Johnny's arm and hand. "I can tell by his eyes, I have seen it before," he added, looking at his sons. I could almost feel the old physician's eyes studying me as I watched Mark and Johnny. "I didn't recognize it with Ronnie and Jay for quiet a while, but I can now. How would react you should my observation turned out to be correct?"

Almost with perfect timing Mark pulled the towel off of Johnny's head and kissed him on the cheek. I watched as Johnny giggled and wrapped his working arm around Mark's waist for a second or so before Mark began probing his brother's other arm again. "Jay said you were a little shocked Thursday when he and Ronnie met you," Miguel added after a minute or so.

"Yes, I was, but because they, were not what I, , , they caught me by surprise, not what I was expecting."

"And how do you feel now?"

"As I did by the time we arrived here from the airport, very comfortable, glad to have the privilege of knowing them and being a guest in their home.

"And that they are a gay couple?"

I digested his question for a couple of seconds, trying to decide what he was asking, even starting to wonder if he was testing me. A glance at him told me nothing, his face as calm and celebrate as always. "What I enjoy most about being around your sons is the love, the seemingly perfect harmony they enjoy. The warmth in this house is very contagious, I wish I could bottle some of it and take it back to Texas with me."

After a second or so, it became clear he was not letting me off the hook, waiting for me to continue. "I'm not sure how much Jay has told you about my sons, but all three of them are from abusive backgrounds. I am sure, , , two of them sexually abused, perhaps all three. Those little guys are very insecure, often extremely untrusting creatures, just beginning to crawl out of the hell holes I found them in.

"Except for the first thirty seconds or so when your sons greeted us at the airport, the only time since we have been here I have seen any of their paranoia, fears or distrust surface has been my little carrot top's fear of the knife, as he was with you this morning. Kids are not stupid, and mine. . . I'm a board certified Adolescent Psychiatrist, I am an expert on treating kids with such problems. But right now if feel like what an expert really is, a has been squirt.

"How can one define sexuality issues in boys this young, I guess more importantly, how can I tell what are their true feelings for each other, what is a reaction to previous abuse? Johnny thinks he has an obligation to, to surrender his body to me in exchange for his room and board, is he, well am I making any sense to you?"

"Yes, you are where I was several years ago. What is best, what is healthy for them, a question I asked myself so many nights, as I hoped I was doing the right thing. You did not answer me, how would you react if Mark and Johnny were in love, as a couple?"

I was considering my answer when Miguel's satellite phone rang, making him jerk slightly before pulling it off his hip. "Excuse me," he interrupted, "This might be important," he added as he glanced at the display.

Both Ronnie's appeared as Miguel stepped inside. My little tin grin was wearing his headgear, a Speedo and chef's hat, carrying a tray of glasses and soda cans. His older counterpart was clad in a pair of swim trunks and carrying a large pitcher. "This is excellent Mezcal, thank you so much!" he said as he poured and handed me a salt rimmed glass.

"I helped make them! I'm getting learned how to fix potatoes and whores drawers too," my Ronnie proclaimed. He blushed so red his headgear reflected a pink tint before he corrected himself, "I mean Ronnie is teaching me to make potatoes, and get whores drawers ready to eat!"

I downed almost half of my glass of Margarita, without meaning to, as I absorbed what my innocent, freckle faced son had said. Big Ronnie gagged slightly on his drink as he grasp the boy by the neck and corrected, "Hors d'oeuvres, Ronnie! We are preparing hors d'oeuvres, appetizers!"

"Yes sir," his student told the deck, now clearly too embarrassed to look at either of us. "Well, but they are yumm! I loved the ones when we stuffed the sausages in the little buns, they were totally yummy!" my youngster proclaimed. "I love eating those stuffed buns!"

"They both sound tasty!" I toasted with my glass, trying not to laugh. "I like my drawers spicy!" I added, making our chef's blush change from ashen to crimson and back, his color oscillating like a neon sign. "You are a good cook!" I snickered, trying not to giggle as I held up my glass. My son looked at us with a lost face for several seconds before picking up two sodas and carrying them to his brothers.

"Dad! Dad, Doctor Jay, come here, come here quick!" Mark exclaimed, his voice a full octave higher than normal. "Watch, watch this!!!" he hooted, pointing at Johnny's arm as big Ronnie and I rushed to them. He ignored his new brother's embarrassed face as told him, "Make it do it again!"

Johnny gave us all a bashful look before joining our stare at his bad hand. Mark and I put our hands on his shoulders at almost the same time before I reached up and ran my fingers through his hair. He rewarded me with a modest grin before turning back to his hand, seeming to focus on it as his face tightened in concentration.

"I'll have to call you back," I heard Jay whisper from behind me. I turned toward him as he was lowering his cell phone from his ear. I followed his gaze as he turned back toward the house and nodded at his father, standing in the doorway. My eyes bugged as I saw Miguel slip what I was sure a large frame handgun into his belt.

"Come on, make it do it again!" Mark commanded, making me look back at them. "Come on, you can!"

"But it wont! I think its scared!" Johnny countered.

"Here, let's try this," Mark answered. We all watched as he carefully aligned the plastic probe next to his patient's elbow. I had to smile as he moved craned his neck and carefully evaluated the probes position from a couple of angles before ever so gently pushing it into Johnny's skin. "Now do it!" he commanded. I felt an arm drape over my shoulder and glanced to my side to find Miguel standing between Jay and I.

I could almost feel the vibration of a circus drum-roll emanating from Mark's ears as we all watched, I felt the muscles in Johnny's scalp tighten as he again concentrated almost telepathically on his injured hand. "It wont!" he cried. "I hope we didn't hurt it or nothing! What if we screwed it up again!"

"No, its gotta work!" Mark shrieked. "Oh shit, if I hurt you I'll. . ."

"You didn't hurt your hand, nor your arm," Jay interceded. "What happened, what did your hand do?" he asked as he pulled a chair up and sat next to Johnny. I guided a now white faced Mark in front of me, pulling his back against my chest before wiping his tearing eyes with my finger and snuggling him tightly.

The deck was so silent the surf seemed to stop as Jay gently pumped Johnny for information, until we learned he had moved his thumb, making it curl in toward his palm, and had made his middle finger extend. He had successfully repeated each movement a couple of times before Mark had called us.

"And I screwed it up. Please Doctor Jay, Doctor Pop, please you GOTTA fix it!" Mark whimpered. Another thin body pushed its way under my arm as Ronnie pushed against his brother, hugging Mark with one arm and pulling my forearm against his chest with the other.

"There is nothing that needs to be, , , fixed, Johnny's arm is progressing wonderfully," Jay said, extending his hand toward Mark. Mark pushed more tightly against me, locking both his hands on my other forearm. "You are doing an admirable job helping your brother, you did nothing wrong, I assure you." Mark flinched and started to twist under my shoulder as Jay reached toward us, but relaxed somewhat as the doctor gently brushed the boy's bangs out of his eyes.

Jay scooped Johnny from the deck chair the boy was sitting in onto his lap and slid his chair toward us before continuing, "I told you it will take several weeks to see progress, didn't I? Johnny is going to be just fine, and your help is going to make it happen, it really is!" Mark rolled his head back and looked up at me as his only response.

"I think some hydro-therapy is indicated, perhaps in a saline whirlpool," Jay declared as he looked over his patient's limb. "Would you mind retrieving his splint from the clothes driver?" he said toward Mark. "And please fetch his medication, I'm sure you can administer it," he instructed Mark, his face both professional and detached.

"Yeah, come on dude," Ronnie answered for his little brother, almost shoving him out from my grasp.

"Saline Whirlpool?" I asked Jay as all three boys disappeared inside.

"Yes, we have a very large one," Jay grinned, pointing toward the ocean. "You are a very lucky man, those are some wonderful boys," he added as he poured himself a Margarita.

"Is it safe for Johnny, for any of us to be on the beach? The Navy seems to have disappeared," I asked.

"No, see those fishing boats out there?" Miguel asked, pointing toward the beach. "Two of them are Navy, the other is occupied with some friends of mine. Rest assured, the beach is a safe place." I was looking out at the boats when he added, "Sadly, they are catching fish, and I am not there!"

I was still evaluating their faces, and our safety, when the boys exploded back onto the deck. "Do you have a spare I can borrow?" I whispered to Miguel, tapping the weapon I knew he was carrying.

He studied my face for a second before responding, "If you wish, please escort me to my vehicle."

We had just started inside when Jay instructed, "Grab some boards!" as he guided them toward the stairs leading to the beach. I gave Johnny and the other kids reassuring smiles as they looked back at me as if asking if it was okay to go, and they disappeared down the stairs behind Jay.

Miguel opened the back of his Hummer, then the spare tire compartment. After operating a concealed lever he pivoted the tire to the side, then removed a piece of trim, exposing a locked compartment. "I hope you don't mind a Baretta, that is what I usually carry, this is a spare," he said as he withdrew a zippered case from the compartment. "As you are wearing shorts, I have a modified fanny pack you are welcome to use," he added, pulling one from the compartment. I was a little surprised when he showed me a holster concealed into the waist pouch, along with a place for a spare ammunition clip.

"It has a good feel," I commented as I loaded the weapon.

I was wrapping the fanny pack around my waist when a car turned into the driveway, and had to step next to the Hummer to holster the weapon, but kept my hand on it as the car approached.

"Ah, the Marines have landed," Miguel announced.

I felt a little relieved as I recognized the young sailors Banks had pointed out this morning.

"Good afternoon sirs," one of them began as he stepped out of the car. "Thank you for inviting us." All three of them were wearing tee-shirts and walking shorts, two had deck shoes on, and the third sandals. 'I don't think I want to fuck with these guys,' I told myself as I noticed their muscular physiques, much more evident in their current dress than in their uniforms. They gawked as much as I'm sure I did when everyone noticed they were wearing fanny packs very similar to mine, and I'm sure for the same purpose.

"Oh, but thank you for coming!" Miguel answered, extending his hand. "I hope I remember everyone, Roger, Chad and Chris, is that correct?"

"Yes sir," all three of them replied as we gestured them toward the house.

They quickly struck me as very friendly and cheerful, but extremely professional. They declined Ronnie's offer for any alcoholic beverages, opting for iced tea. Chad, who was clearly in charge, all but charmed his way into a tour of the house, but as we walked them through Jay and Ronnie's beautiful home they clearly were not admiring the decor. Shortly they joined Ronnie as the four of them left for the beach.

"We were interrupted earlier, before you could answer me," Miguel said as we watched the kids rush out of the water to greet their bodyguards. "Regarding Mark and Ronnie," he added.

I thought for a few second, trying to mentally shift gears back to our earlier discussion. "I guess I would let nature run its course," I answered. Noticing Ronnie had set out freshly salted glasses, I poured another drink from the pitcher, I guess hoping I had answered Miguel's query. When I turned to offer him a fresh glass his face told me I had not.

"My kids are my kids, I just thank God for giving them to me. As we both know, if they are gay, straight, or by, it's already in the cards, it was before they were born." I took a swallow of my drink, trying to decide if I was expressing my feelings understandably. "A few grand kids would be nice someday, I'm sure that's the feeling of all normal parents. But shit, what is normal about my family!" I more proclaimed than asked.

"I'm young enough to be my boys' older brother, or uncle, a month ago I was a bachelor enjoying the care free life, Ronnie and Mark were buddies I enjoyed being around on the weekends. Now I'm the single parent of three, one of which has a price on his head!"

To my surprise, Miguel was snickering when I looked over at him. "Our lives, our fates are amazingly similar, Adam. As the cliché‚ says, I have Been There, Done That. I met Julio, who you now know as Jay, one evening when just by chance I saw an adult assault him, almost kill him. Less than twenty-four hours later Ronnie and Steven were with me, and have been. Like you, the furthest thing on my mind that evening was becoming a parent, but I would not trade a minute of it for my entire world."

He listened intently as I told him how I met Ronnie and Mark, even showing him the scar Ronnie had given me when he bit me thinking he was protecting his brother. My arm twitched as I began telling him how I met Johnny, and I'm sure my face reddened as much as my finger did as he injected he too had heard about the afternoon I met the boy.

"See, you are blood kindred," he grinned as he stood and poured himself a drink. "Enjoy your new life, my friend!" he said as he raised his glass to me. "Not only have you earned it, but God meant it to be, and I am positive he intends your rewards to be as wonderful as mine have been," he told me as we both watched our families playing in the surf. "Trust an old man, you are very fortunate, Doctor Owens."

I'm not sure how long Miguel and I had leaned against the deck's railing, watching his sons and mine enjoy the ocean's surf, when the patio door opened, and a young teenage girl and boy burst onto the deck.

"Hi Grande!" the girl hooted, rushing across the deck and pushing into a hug with Miguel. A lanky teenage boy, younger copy of Angelina was right behind, pushing his thin neck under his grandfather's elbow. "Where's Uncle Jay and Uncle Ronnie?" he asked.

"We have a guest, perhaps you should greet him!" Miguel corrected. "Doctor Owens, these are my grandchildren, Angela and Steven. Children, Doctor Owens is visiting us from Texas, as are his sons." The kids started to turn toward me as Miguel added, "As I said, worth every minute."

As I talked to the kids briefly I was quickly impressed with both their manners and intelligence. The girl was more a budding young lady and clearly had inherited her mother's looks. I didn't ask at the time, but the boy was about Mark's age, although taller than any of my kids was clearly entering or about to enter puberty, his feet and hands disproportionate to his lean body. As I greeted them the boy's beautiful blue eyes seemed to suck me into them, as stunning and captivating as Mark and Ronnie's.

Although they were very polite as I unthinkingly asked the standard stupid adult questions about school, sports and weekend life, the impatience built into every teenager began showing itself as they both cast repeated glances at the beach and their uncles enjoying themselves.

Miguel picked up on their wish too. "Are you ready to go swimming?" he asked. Not bothering to answer they both began stripping right in front if us, thankfully down to bathing suits they had on under their clothes. After a quick hug with their grandfather they both darted toward the deck stairs.

Steven had just started to follow his sister onto the stairs when Angelina stepped out of the house, carrying a large tray. I saw the boy's head disappear down the stairs as she said, "I found these in the refrigerator, I'm sure Ronnie wont mind. As usual, he cooked as if he is feeding an Army, there are God knows how many more inside," she added as she offered us an Hors d'oeuvre."

I almost gagged on the snack I had accepted when Steven appeared behind his mother, staring starry eyed at the tray of snacks as he licked his lips. When Angelina offered the tray toward his son he inhaled four or five treats at lightening speed, then gave us a sheepish grin before grabbing another in each hand and charging back down the stairs.

"I'm sure one of those were for his sister," Miguel tittered.

"Dream on, they both were gone before he reached the bottom step," Angelina quipped.

"But he hasn't eaten since right before we left the house!" a male voice added from behind us. "That was almost thirty minutes ago!" it chuckled. "Steve Sanchez," a tall, brown haired man said as he extended his hand to me. I couldn't help noticing he had the same deep blue eyes as his son, again reminding me of Mark and Ronnie's miles deep eyes as we shook hands.

We talked and joked for a few minutes, comparing stories about our eating machines disguising themselves as teenagers before my satellite phone rang. After I excused myself I stepped inside as I answered it. It was Agent Banks, asking if I would connect the phone back to my laptop, ask Miguel to join me in a private area of the house, and call him back for a conference. After I motioned Miguel inside and filled him in he suggested I boot up in the den, that he would ask his son and daughter-in-law to assure our privacy.

"I have some good news and some bad news," Banks began, addressing both of us over my computer's speakers. "The contract on the child has been withdrawn, but word of its cancellation is still being spread, so there is still a legitimate threat. Three of the cartel's members have been captured. Am‚rica Segura has, , , dealt with two of them." I was wondering what dealt with meant when he added, "And we captured the third one in South Texas a few minutes ago," making my rectum suck wind.

"Were they near my ranch, were they looking for my boy or their drugs," I risked.

"We don't know right now," Banks responded. "He was captured near San Antonio, but so far is not cooperating, we just don't know at present." His voice seemed to relax slightly as he added, "Not to worry Doctor, from what I understand your ranch is very safe, I wish the child was there right now." I was about to ask what he meant when he added, "You have a very unique security system, three of our agents have been injured by your guard horses."

'THREE?' I thought. "Another one, oh God, what now! Cindy, do you do Personal Injury lawsuits?' I silently asked.

"Now to the bad news," Banks interrupted my thoughts. "We have learned that the records stolen from the court house in San Antonio referenced to Norfolk, Virginia. We are also sure the perpetrators have hacked your credit card records and know you and the child are, or have traveled to Norfolk. I have reviewed these same records, and we are fairly sure they know you are in town, but not where. We are sure they have not hacked your e-mail, but as a precaution we have sealed any reference to, , , your host at your ISP."

'Big Brother? What happened to security?' I asked myself. '128 bit and everything, and these guys are reading me like a billboard!'

"Between DEA and us, we have over a hundred agents in town now, if these guys cough we will find them. If you don't mind, I would like to have the Marines visiting you stay overnight, they know how to worm their way into an invitation, but please accept it."

"Very well, but I want this ended, quickly," Miguel barked. "I think we talked about thirty-six hours, you have only thirty left before, well as I said, Latinos are not very patient people."

"Yes sir, we are doing our best," Banks answered. Miguel pushed End on my satellite phone without responding.

"Not to worry, my friend, but I must place a phone call," the elderly physician said before disappearing down the hall.

I leaned back in my chair for several seconds trying to digest the conversation. Johnny's distinctive, high pitched giggle, snapped me back making me looked outside onto the deck, now full of kids and young sailors, all crowded around one of the tables looking over Johnny's shoulder.

"And that's Zoe, she's my horse!" Ronnie proudly proclaimed as I opened the door and stepped onto the deck.

"That's Zeus, and Hera, and Ginger, she's my horse, well maybe she's gonna be, I hope I hope I hope!" Johnny exclaimed, pulling a printout out of the stack on the table. "Oh, ah, I didn't mean it, she's your horse sir!" he whimpered when he saw me, as his face drained of all color.

"No, you were correct, she is your horse," I countered as I stepped behind him and brushed his hair. "Actually, they are all OUR horses," I added as I looked down at the twenty or so pictures I didn't know Johnny had brought with him.

"Hi Dad!" Ronnie hooted when he saw me. "This is my friend Steve! I mean Steven!" he proclaimed, grabbing Angelina's son's upper arm. He likes to do ever'thing I do I think, he even likes horses!"

"But I've never ridden them!" Steven junior told his new friend more than me. From the look they exchanged, something told me that was not the end of his statement. "You really have all these horses, they really live in the back yard?" he asked.

I tried to ignore Jay and his mate's faces as I instructed my Ronnie to go get my laptop, and show his new friend some more pictures of the ranch. My hosts, along with Steven's parents were watching the boys rush inside when Miguel made me jump as he whispered, "Again, I know that look, my Grandson has found a friend."


To Be Continued…