Pieter and Johnny were studying when I entered the house, while Edwardo and Ruben quietly played a computer game on Mary's laptop in the family room. 'Damn, she is good!' I chuckled as Ronnie's new sons started to jump up and greet me, then after glancing toward the kitchen, waved and continued their game. I decided not to break the mood and just waved at the brothers and Mary then went directly into my bedroom to change clothes.
I quickly shed my pants and shirt, looking forward to getting into the pool and relaxing. I had just stripped out of my socks and underwear and stepped into my walk-in closet to get a pair of swim trunks when my door bedroom door burst open. "Adam!" Cindy growled from the bedroom.
"Cindy! Please, I'm changing clothes!" I snapped, digging for something to put on.
"You have to sign these immediately!" "Time is running out, if you hurry I still can file this afternoon! Come on!" she demanded.
"Cindy!" I yelled.
I started to relax slightly when I heard the bedroom door close, assuming she had come to her senses and left my bedroom. I almost jumped out of my skin when Mary's voice snarled, "Do you mind! There are young people trying to study out there!" Her voice had the bite I had never heard, that of the school mum from hell and completely opposite from the kindly grandmother tone I was used to.
'Fuck, where's Angel? Did she fly back for the floorshow?' I asked myself as I frantically hopped around the closet, trying to get both legs into my trunks at the same time. 'I have got to get the well tested, it HAS to be something in the water!' I decided about my nut-ranch.
Cindy and Mary were standing just inside the bedroom's door, in the middle of a staring contest, when I came out of the closet. "I apologize for the disturbance," I told Mary. I ignored Cindy's glare and continued, "I normally wouldn't ask this Mary, but may I speak to Pieter for a couple of minutes? Something, , , pressing has come up."
"I'll get him," I offered when she agreed. Taking the papers out of Cindy's hand I added, "I'm sure Cindy wants to fill you in on her day while the boy and I are talking." My neck tensed as I felt the darts Cindy was firing from her eyes strike it.
I grabbed a beer from behind the bar before kissing Edwardo and Ruben on the top of their heads, then went into my study. After rubbing Johnny's shoulders for a second and kissing what ended up being one of his headgear straps, I gave Pieter a quick peck on his hair and whispered that I wanted to talk to him into his ear. He gave me a slightly worried look, but leaned against me as I guided him out of his chair.
'How to handle this, and get the right effect', I asked myself as we walked arm in arm across the family room toward the patio. True to form, Cindy had maneuvered through the bureaucratic quagmire otherwise know is INS. Using legal loopholes and some 'creative lawyermanship' I hoped was legal, she had managed to bypass the months long wait to get the lad's status changed from visiting the US on a medical visa to permanent status, based on the 'medical emergency' she was asking me to certify.
As we stepped onto the patio I started to usher him into one of the loungers, but his face told me otherwise, and I sat down and lifted his little body into my lap. He squirmed on my thighs and looked at me with a half frightened, half businessman face as I put my arm around his thin waist.
"Have you had any more dreams?" I asked. "Or had any more come true?" I felt his muscles stiffen as he nodded his head he had not, and mouthed something without words. "These are two legal documents about you, that I have been asked to sign." He took a deep breath as his little abdomen tightened as stiff as steel.
"But, if I sign them, they are not dreams you can wake up from, they are sort of forever. A lot like that," I said, pointing up at my mountain.
"This one says you have to stay in America until you are at least eighteen years old," I fibbed. "This one certifies, well says, that your new parents are the right ones to raise you, and that it is, okay for them to adopt you." 'Welcome to cooperate America, you will fit in well!' I thought as I looked at the baby-faced Wall Street level CEO sitting in my lap.
"But, like I said, if I sign them there is no turning back, this isn't a dream. You are stuck in America, and are a good as adopted, and very soon. Do you want me to sign these?"
To my surprise he jerked the papers out of my hand. His beautiful eyes darted back and forth at lightning speed as he riffled through the pages for a split second before he announced, "There, Pappa, that is you. That is where you sign it, please, please?"
"I will, but I didn't bring a pen out here," I snickered. My chuckle quickly turned to anguish when he planted his hand in my groin and pushed off my lap with such force I was sure I was sterile, and wondered if he had dislocated both, or only one of my hip joints.
"Ouch! Slow down!" rang from the patio door. That's what you get for eavesdropping, I groaned as I saw Cindy just inside the door, hopping around on one foot and rubbing the instep of her other.
A split second later a platinum topped rocket burst out the still open door, its colt-like legs flailing like an ice skater's as they fought for traction and raced toward me. Oh Shit! I thought when I saw him go airborne. I tried to brace myself for the supersonic little body before it landed in my lap.
"I brought two sir! So if one doesn't work, here Pappa, please!?!" he gasp, thrusting a pen into my hand. "Pappa, why are you crying?" 'Wait until you reach puberty, you'll know', my bruised crotch answered for me.
'Fuck it, let's do it right!' I decided. I turned his little body so his thin back was to me, and used his bony torso as a desk to sign each of the affidavits. "Your are really stuck now!" I teased, pulling him against my chest.
"Congratulations, young Pieter Roberts, but remember I'm still your spare dad!" I said before kissing his temple. I almost died when he squirmed around in my still aching lap, but enjoyed what had to be one of the warmest hugs I had ever received from anyone, accented by ten or fifteen face kisses and giggled I love you Pappa's.
Edwardo and Ruben appeared at the sides of my chair a couple of seconds later. As soon as Pieter what I was sure, in Portugese, filled them in and showed them the documents they began cheering and congratulating him, leaning into my lap to hug him. I caught a glimpse of Cindy off to the side, smiling as she watched the boys.
I'm sure from hearing the commotion Johnny rushed out the door a minute or so later. "What's going on?" he tried above the cheering and laughter. He stopped only a foot or so from his friends and I and looked down at the pasture for a quick second before hooting, "For real! Yeah, Yeah!" he told the horses staring at us.
'Shit, I'm going to end up a cripple over this!' I gasped as he landed on my knees and hugged Pieter. Thankfully both boys climbed out of my lap as all four of them passed the sacred documents between themselves and danced around. After a deep breath and long swallow of beer, I risk climbing out of my seat, I'm sure at least partly to investigate the damage to my body.
"I'm sorry I was so, so demanding," Cindy said as she helped me to my feet. "I was just so excited, so anxious to make everything official before something went wrong. I didn't consider how it would impact my, my new son. I am sorry Adam," she apologized.
I attempted a few steps, and thankfully figured out that my legs were not broken, and that my reproductive organs were at least considering dropping back into my groin and out of my throat where they had taken refuge. I had just taken a couple of normal breaths when she asked, "But may I use your fax? I have to get this filed!"
"Of course, you know you don't have to ask!" I answered, trying to get my voice back to somewhere near a normal tone. As much as it hurt I had to chuckle when we looked around. "You're welcome to use my printer too," I added as we watched Johnny and Pieter rush through the pasture gate, waving Cindy's sacred documents at the four legged fan club waiting for them.
"Go on, it's okay," I told Edwardo and Ruben when I noticed them standing at the edge of the patio deck, casting frightened glances between us and the pasture.
"Adam! God Damnit Adam, you have to teach Johnny some control!" Cindy barked as we watched my boy holding out one of the court documents to Ginger and Zoe.
"Self control, I'll work on it, perhaps group therapy," I chuckled as I watched her fume.
Venus, Zeus and Hera nosed the paperwork Pieter was holding out to them. "Whatever, if Ginger and Zoe approve it, it's official!" I teased before limping to the pool's edge and sliding into the water.
Big Ronnie arrived at the house while we were eating supper. He and Cindy spent a few minutes going over the details for tomorrow's INS hearing after we finished eating, and I felt a little sorry for his new sons a few minutes later when he announced it was time to go home. Despite assurance they would be back at the ranch after the hearing to begin their studies under Mary's tutelage, they weren't at all happy about leaving their young friends, both two and four legged.
It didn't really occur to me that the horses the brothers had been riding earlier were still saddled until the other boys announced they were going down to groom their animals. Ruben snapped immediately, informing his new dad they couldn't leave, that they had to take care of their mounts.
I earned a pair of shocked, then disbelieving looks when I suggested, "Why don't you ride them home?"
"They are your horses," their new dad added. "You guys ride over and I'll meet you there. Then after the hearing I'll help you saddle them, and you can ride them back here to start school."
From their facial expressions I waited for smoke to puff out of their ears as they digested our suggestion. "We may ride horses to school?" Edwardo risk in a high voice.
"You're in Texas now, everyone rides horses to school!" I teased. 'Well, at least here on the nut ranch', I chuckled to myself as they hooted and hugged Ronnie and I.
Young Pieter wasn't overly thrilled a few minutes later when Cindy told that he and Junior had to go home. When Cindy informed him she was going to drop him off for a dentist appointment on the way to the hearing, then Johnny and Mary would pick him up he all but pouted. Our assurances the appointment was just for an Orthodontic exam, and no more fillings or shots helped a little, but Mary saved the day when she suggested they stop for pizza before returning to the ranch.
His babyish face brightened briefly, then tensed slightly as he considered her suggestion. "Thank you ma'am, but, perhaps we could eat those, how do you say, tomato pies? The ones like Doctor Pappa, and Mom and Dad took me to eat? You will like them ma'am, they are very delicious!"
"An excellent idea! I will give Mary directions where to find the Tomato Pie Restaurant," I interceded as Mary shot Cindy and I a confused look. Cindy and I had to avert our eyes from each other to keep from bursting out in laughter as I showed them outside.
"You're evil, evil inside," Mary softly chucked when I whispered her where to find our mystery Tomato Pie Restaurant.
I had to force myself to concentrate on my patients the next day as the morning wore on, wondering what has going on at the Federal building, and with the Sanchez family. After each patient session I rifled through my messages and email, and even found myself giving my cell phone dirty looks for not producing the phone call I was waiting for.
'What do the TV lawyers say about long hearings, about how long a jury deliberates?' I asked myself as lunchtime approached. 'Wake up, dumb ass', I thought as I tried to remember old episodes of LA Law and Law and Order I had watched back in Medical School, looking for legal advice.
I was about to begin the last patient session of my morning when my cell phone rang. I took a deep breath when I saw Jay's name on the caller ID before answering. "Good morning Jay. How is everything going? Well I hope,"" I answered.
"Hectic but well I suppose. I had an emergency last night and managed about three hours sleep on the plane, and have been in meetings all morning, but I'll survive. If I ever get to the house and slow down things have to get better."
"What about, , ," I tried to asked.
"I'm between meetings, but I wanted to ask if you would be available to meet with a couple of colleagues and myself later in the day. We would like to discuss something with you." he cut me off. 'I knew I should have gone to that damn hearing', I chastised myself. 'You're not needed'. 'Cindy, you are dead meat!'
"Ah, of course. Do I need to get over there now? What went, , ," I stopped, not wanting to invite disaster. "I can break free if needed," I offered. Sharpen your claws girl, I mentally told my Jaguar. I sat my next patient's chart down and started toward the exit door.
"No, not at all. If this jells we are looking at weeks, or months of work, if everyone involved can come to terms. Perhaps after you finish your rounds, can we meet for a drink or supper?"
'Weeks? Or months?' I gasped as I collapsed against the wall. 'Oh God, I knew everything was going too well. And this prick want to worry about it over a drink tonight?' "What happened? Are the boys, , ," I decided not to go there. "Where are the boys?" I risked, praying he wouldn't say in INS custody.
"They are with Ronnie, I think they were going home. I had to rush to another meeting so I didn't, , ,"
"At the hearing! What happened at the God Damn hearing!" I demanded so loudly he probably could hear me without the phone connection.
"Oh. It was very routine, Cindy performed her magic as expected," he replied. "I'm sorry, I thought you had been notified. As Cindy predicted the immigration and adoption plan was approved, the immigration judge will basically sign off on anything your Judge Rodriguez approves."
"Adam? Adam are you still there?" his voice snapped me back I'm sure several seconds later. "Would you have a few minutes this afternoon? I have to fly back to Norfolk tonight, but this could very well be worth your while, worth all of our time."
"Let's meet at the ranch, about four. I want to get home as soon as I can," I mumbled. "If you wouldn't mind, call Mary and asked her to prepare a snack, we can meet at my house." 'Kill Cindy, a slow, painful death,' I added to my to-do list as I crawled back down the hall to my session.
'Yes, finally, it's about that time!' I snickered as my ranch's white fence came into sight. Zoe, Hera and a couple more big black heads, staring impatiently down the road, seemed to agree as I got nearer. Zoe's angry glare told me she wasn't waiting to greet me. This is going to be an interesting tale, I thought as Edwardo and Ruben's saddled horses joined Zeus and several other animals to watch the gate open. Damn, they do know! Did they hear them or smell them? I added when Cornerstone's van stopped behind my car and let Mark and Ronnie off, their fan club snorting and neighing from the other side of the fence.
Both boys dove into the back seat before I drove up to the house. I braced myself for them to slam into our good afternoon hug as I parked between a couple of strange cars in front of the house and climbed out of the car, but signed and shrugged my shoulders as they bailed out of the car and ran past me toward the pasture. 'Well, I know where I rate!'
Edwardo and Ruben were tucked under Jay's arms when I entered the family room. To my surprise they were talking to John, my old Medical school roommate that had helped arrange the surgery on Johnny's leg. I had just extended my hand toward John when a high pitched rang "Pappa!" from behind. I turned in time to see Pieter sliding down the stairway's banister. He slipped under my extended arm before John could accept my hand.
"I wonder where you are going?" I teased as I pulled on the back belt loop of his tight Levis, after hugging him. Before he could answer Johnny pushed under my other arm and threw both arms around my waist. "Do you remember Doctor, , ," I began, but was cut off as Mark and Ronnie darted in and hugged Jay.
"Welcome to my nut ranch," I chuckled toward John.
After a couple of harsh glares the boys calmed down enough that I could introduce them to our guest. A split second huddle later Mark and Ronnie bolted upstairs as the other kids broke toward the patio door at a dead run.
"Amazing, a truly remarkable recovery. He is even using his arm!" John commented as he watched Johnny sprinting toward the pasture gate.
"He has about seventy-five percent function, I'm going for ninty-nine percent, and a baseball pitcher," Jay said.
"Thanks to you, both of you," I answered. "I'm sure your boss will be thrilled too," I added toward John.
His and Jay's soft chuckle made me turn toward them. "Former boss," Jay smirked. "We are waiting for another to arrive, but let's sit down, we will fill you in."
I started to show them into my study, but hesitated when Mary appeared, serving me my afternoon beer, and Jay and John mixed drinks. "Take off your coat and tie" I told John. "Let's step into my office," I suggested, guiding them to the patio.
As we settled into the chaise lounges they filled me in on the first tidbits of what was going to be an interesting afternoon. I wasn't very surprised to learn that Jay had purchased the practice he had been considering, and he and his mate were indeed moving to San Antonio. They caught me off guard a bit when they informed me that John was joining him as a partner in the practice, overseeing its operation as the retiring physician withdrew and Jay wrapped up his obligations in Virginia. Their association even made more business sense, as they explained, they intended to expand the practice to include pediatric sports medicine, which John had developed a level of expertise in.
"Well, congratulations!" I saluted my friend, holding up my beer for a toast. "But, I hope you can do something about his dress standards," I teased toward Jay as I pushed on my roomie's starched white shirt with my finger.
"Yes, good point!" John tittered, removing his cufflinks and rolling up his sleeves.
I chuckled and excused myself, and slipped into my bedroom. 'What the hell', I thought as I changed into a pair of walking shorts and tee shirt. "Here, get out of that shit," I told John when I returned to the deck and I tossed him a polo shirt. He grinned and almost frantically stripped off his stiff garment. "There is hope for you!" I tittered as he leaned back and relaxed.
I felt my eyes bug slightly a couple of minutes later when Mary showed Tom Flowers onto the patio. She returned a few seconds later with a round of drinks for everyone while we were still greeting him.
"Now, we have a proposal we would like you to consider," Jay began as everyone sat back down.
They quickly caught both my attention and interest over the next few minutes as I listened Jay and Tom lay out their idea. They were proposing to form a medical group, with Jay and John, Tom, myself. They have approached Carl to join us, and a couple of other physicians of different pediatric specialties, everyone moving our separate practices into a common location to form a super clinic of sorts. Miguel had expressed an interest in joining the organization as a consulting partner. The more I listened the more their idea impressed me.
"How much money do you spend outsourcing your billing, transcribing and such? And PT and OT?" Jay asked. "What about reception and nursing staff, and office space? Lab services too.
"With the size of the group, we can do all this in-house, and reap the profits that all the vendors are now. We can hire some associates for general pediatric work, and provide a single source for each of our patient's needs, and what can become a huge patient base." The longer I listened the more intriguing their idea became. Over time Jay had plans to expand into an in-house day surgery area and other opportunities.
"A group that did the same thing in California, and within four years each of the members were grossing seven figures a year," Flowers injected.
A horse, galloping at a modest pace across the pasture, distracted me. As it neared the gate several of the kids fell in next to it prodding their animals.
'What about food service?" I chuckled as we watched Jay's mate and his entourage ride up to the gate and dismount. "Get me more details, but I'm extremely interested, let's go forward with this," I said as the boys rushed up the hill in front of big Ronnie.
"Dad, are you going to ride the horses with us, please sir if you will!" Ruben screeched as he pushed his way into Jay's lap.
"That is a world away from fighting my way down Norfolk freeways! I love it!" big Ronnie announced, glancing back toward the pasture as he joined us.
"Yes Dad, it is so wonderful, and they are wonderful horses!" Edwardo exclaimed, pushing against Ronnie then rushing toward Jay and his brother. "Come on Dad, please will you ride with us?" he told Jay.
"Yes, I will, but where are your manners, Doctor Pop and I have guests!" Jay responded giving both boys a slight glare. "Doctor Flowers, these are my new, just as of today my brand new sons, Edwardo and Ruben. Also my brother and partner Ronnie."
Flowers paled as he looked at Jay, then Ronnie. "Good day," he all but grumbled. He glanced at John before shooting me a lost look. "A pleasure to meet you, I'm sure," he mumbled toward Ronnie.
As Jay and Ronnie teased and hugged the boys I felt a knot develop in my stomach, watching Flowers study them and his facial expression tense. His jaw dropped when Pieter pushed against big Ronnie and hugged the man.
"Doctor Owens, may I speak to you for a moment?" Flowers growled as he stood. He didn't wait for an answer and marched inside. Jay and Ronnie accepted my facial gesture and didn't react as I followed Tom into the house.
He began unloading on me before I could close the door to my study. "What is going on here? His Partner? As in domestic partner? And a pair of what they called Dad's for the same boy?" he snarled. "That one, he was touching our patient! Would you care to tell me what is going on here Doctor?" he demanded. Before I could respond he asked, "Are you one of, of them?"
I bit my tongue and forced myself to snap back to my professional mode, wishing I had remembered to bring my beer in with me. "One of what, would you define one of what you meant by 'them'?"
"Those pedophiles, those queer bastards that pray on, , , Oh my God, you adopted some, , , how many children are you holding out here? You, people are talking about starting an orphanage? Why, to be assured of a fresh supply?" he snarled. "I think this discussion has gone full cycle, I'm reporting you to the Medical Society!" he proclaimed and started toward the door.
"Go for it, Doctor. But before you do, let me explain a couple of things to you. Please sit down." we stared at each other for a second or so. "Please, before you fuck up irreparably, sit down," I asked as gently as I could muster. "Please sit down, if you take me on I promise I'll cut you off at the knees, and I can do it!" I told his angry face. This is going to be fun! I thought as I locked the door to my study.
I didn't snap that Cindy's Suburban was in front of the house as I showed Tom out a few minutes later, until I saw her and her husband on the patio. What now?I asked myself. I grabbed a fresh beer before joining them. Thankfully the boys were all back in the pasture, and from everyone's expression I was sure they had been sent there.
"What was that all about?" Jay asked. "I thought I had been very open with him when I approached regarding the group, I informed him of my sexuality early on."
"You didn't take into account that he could be an over-protective Pediatrician," I answered. "If you are gay and touch a child you're a chicken-hawk. When Ronnie touched his patient he went ballistic."
"He's also a Bible Belt Baptist, Baylor degree and all," Carl injected.
"Shit!" Cindy snarled as she threw a stack of papers on a nearby table. "Excuse me, my language," she blushed. "What's the damage, what should we be prepared for?"
"I don't think there is going to be a problem, we had a little chat," I replied.
"Adam, if he even spreads rumors, he could delay, or sabotage all three of the new placements. He could even endanger Johnny's future here."
"He won't, we reached an understanding," I assured her.
"I know you are good, but you turned him around in ten minutes? What on earth did you tell him?" Jay asked.
"I just told him how the cow ate the cabbage," I tittered with all the Texas twang I could muster. "I told him a little about my trip to South America, and where they boys used to live." I had to pause briefly to suppress my smirk, and added, "Right after I printed out his email telling me how to falsify INS affidavits, he became a very attentive listener."
"You Bastard!"" Carl hooted. "And I was going to buy flowers and peace signs to paste on your car!"
"Are you spelling that with ea' or ie', Doctor?" Jay chuckled. "You should see him when he is angered!"
I reached behind my neck and gave my ponytail a flip, then pinched two fingers together in front of my lips, as if holding a joint. "Wow man, I guess I been around your old lady too long," I grunted. The deck roared with laughter when Cindy answered by giving me a one finger gesture.
I relaxed when Cindy began going through the paperwork she had and learned they were just the legal documents she had filed regarding custody of the new boys. None to my surprise she had fast tracked everything, and had already arranged my schedule for a mass hearing before Judge Rodriguez Friday afternoon. "Oh, he wants all of your boys present," she told me. "But he specifically excused Ginger!" she laughed.
Jay and Ronnie excused themselves to go riding with the boys as soon as Cindy finished going over her paperwork. I was debating if I wanted to ride or get into the pool when Carl asked if we could talk or a minute. 'I knew things were going too well', I thought.
"We wanted to discuss two matters with you," he began. 'Okay!'I told myself as Cindy reappeared with a fresh round of beer for Carl and I. "Pieter has become attached, well better put fallen in love with Venus, and we would like to buy her."
"She's not for sale. As soon as Pieter's status is settled I'm going to give her to him as a welcome gift. Well maybe give them to each other, with the bond they have, it's just a formality anyway."
They glanced at each other for a second before Cindy replied, "Adam, that is wonderfully generous of you, but I have a good idea of what she is worth! Especially with foal, she is a ten, maybe twelve thousand dollar animal!" She paused, shooting her husband another glance. "At least we would want to replace her, buy you another mare."
"Her real value is in the happy faces and giggles she generates every time your boy, well our boy sees her, that's all I care about. And thanks for your offer, but right now I wouldn't want any more animals here, poor Zeus has his, , , hands full as it is." Carl coughed softly at my comment.
"When the foals start dropping this place is going to be busy as it is. If everything works out regarding the Children's Home and land purchases, let's work something out about another horse then. Please, I want to do this, he is my kid too, I get custody on weekends, remember?"
I was surprised they either missed or ignored my quip about their new son. "We wanted to talk to you about that too," Cindy said.
'Gulp!' I thought trying to digest their faces. "I'm not sure what the best way to say this, as I know we are imposing, or better put trespassing on our relationship with you," Carl began. He took a deep breath before continuing, "We have decided to move to the country, and we are very interested in any of that land you might choose to exercise refusal on."
"We discussed this with Ronnie and Jay. We would like to buy some land and build out here," Cindy added.
I looked down at the pasture as I realized they were not going to drop some bomb shell about their new son's relationship with me. "A commune!" I chuckled. "Doctor Conservative wants to join a commune! A Yuppie commune at that!" I teased."I love it, let's sit down with the Sanchez' and work it out!"
Edwardo and Ruben seemed a little restless, I presumed from Jay's impending departure as he prepared to leave for the airport later in the afternoon. I ended up with Ruben tucked under my arm, big Ronnie escorting Edwardo as we walked back toward the house after seeing their new dad to his rental car. "Hey, he will be back Friday, that's not that long!" I tried to Ruben.
"Yes sir," was his only response, more toward the horses watching us from the pasture than to me.
I poked him in the ribs and only got a slight reaction. "Well, you guys get to come back tomorrow for, for school and get to ride over here and home," I tried.
"Yes sir," he mumbled. "Will we be allowed to, , ," he trailed off with out finishing. I guided him off to the side, next to the front door of my house. After a little prodding he softly continued, "Ronnie and Mark said we must attend school again tomorrow after we finish our lessons." He pawed the grass with his foot a couple of times, then added, "Will we still be allowed to ride horses tomorrow? We very much enjoy riding them."
"What is aqua-tairian, Pieter and Mark said it is very hard to learn. We promise we will try very hard," Edwardo injected. I was trying to figure out what on earth they were talking about. When I looked around he was leaning against big Ronnie's stomach next to us.
"They said Maestro Stewart is very harsh, and we will try very hard, but, , , we will sir," Ruben said as he pushed against me.
'I'm going to kill them, line them up for painful executions', I thought as I looked down at the two frightened faces flashing pleading, more begging expressions between their new dad and I. 'Even Junior gets it, and he's not even here!' I decided. I had just begun to formulate a torture plan when Ronnie's cough distracted me. When I looked at him his face was bright red, he was clinching his jaw and coughing to keep from laughing. I had to look away before I cracked up. 'Yeah well, I wonder who they learned that from?' I asked myself, thinking back to the tease I had perpetrated on Mark and his brother on our first weekend on the ranch.
"I think you mean Equestrian, instead of Aquaarian or whatever," I began. I took a deep breath hoping for the composure to continue. "Mrs Stewart is a very demanding teacher and might make you very tired, but I would guess you will get to ride your new friends tomorrow, quite a bit."
They studied my face for an instant and darted inside. "I guess the old saying is true, what goes around comes around," I quipped to Ronnie.
Mark and Johnny met us just inside the door, pushed a fresh beer into our hands, then Johnny pushed his way under my arm as Mark snuggled against Ronnie. 'Yeah, a little brown-nosing is going to get you out of trouble, trouble you are not in', I thought. 'What the hell, I'm sure not going to turn it down!' I decided as I enjoyed Johnny's cuddle and scratched his bare back. "I take it someone is going to get wet?" I teased, reaching down and gently swatting his speedo clad butt.
'Either they are more worried than I thought, or have gotten into something else', I wondered when my Ronnie followed us onto the patio and sat a platter of crackers and cheese between our chairs, and stood between us like a well trained waiter. 'Hmm, something is awry here, I thought, when the two younger boys climbed into our laps, Johnny squirming against my stomach and chest.
You guys aren't going swimming?" I risked after several seconds.
They exchanged glances before my Ronnie pushed his way next to me in my lounger, flashing a nervous silver grin. "Ah, well, we was wondering something sir, I mean Dad," he began. He twisted, pushing under my upper arm. "Ah, don't you want some crackers? They're your favorite ones, and I cut the cheese up by myself!"
'Yeah, this is a cheese slicers festival, sure!' I silently snickered as Johnny pulled my other arm around his thin waist. Yes, thank you!" I managed, reaching over Ronnie's shoulders and grabbing a cracker. "Aren't you guys going to eat something?" I asked.
'This has got to be heavy duty', I told myself when all three of them declined. 'My boys turning down food? What on earth have they gotten themselves into!' My concern elevated toward anxiety when I noticed Mark cuddling with Ronnie like a puppy, his facebow almost buried in the mans chest.
Ronnie and I ate a couple of more snacks as the sounds of silence neared almost deafening level. "Ah, well, ah, Junior and Pieter are gonna get to spend the night tomorrow, aren't they? Like they always do?" my Ronnie whined.
"Everyone does after we get riding lessons," Mark told his living chair.
"So, well, are Eddie and Ruby gonna get to? I mean can Eddi, , , Edwardo and his brother, please sir? Sirs?" my oldest son asked. "They gotta, have to come back for school at Saint Mary's anyway." He turned so red I could feel the heat from his face singeing the hair on my arm as both the other boys shot him death glares. "I mean with Mary," he groaned.
Mark seemed to be the first to recover. "And everyone will do their homework and be good, we promise. Please Ronnie?"
My guest's jaw was as tightly clinched as I was sure mine was when he glanced toward me, both of us trying to keep from bursting out in laughter. "Well, it sounds like a requirement of attending Saint M, , , it is fine with me, if Adam and M, , , Mary approve," he more hacked than said, his chest quivering as he fought back laughter.
"Thanks Uncle Ronnie!" Mark hooted. He kissed the man's cheek, but then stiffened and looked over at his big brother.
"We was, we were wondering too, maybe, , , if we can tell them they can?" my Ronnie asked.
'Oh boy', I thought. Ronnie and I exchanged glances before I said, "Okay, but I want you guys to remember they might still be insecure, a little scared." Their slightly evil grins told me I was talking to myself.
After another quick round of hugs all three of them stood. Ronnie and Mark giggled at each other and ran toward the pool while Johnny darted to the patio door. "Come on Pieter, Pop said we can swim!" he shouted into the house, then rushed to the water.
"Boys, take off your, , ," I yelled. "Headgear," I added too late. 'I'm glad they weren't nervous', I snickered. 'Junior's influence is here at least.'
"I hope they're not too much trouble, especially on a work night," my guest commented after we enjoyed a good chuckle at my embarrassed boys faces.
"It's become a tradition," I commented. I was enjoying the memory of all seven boys stacked into one bed last weekend when a horrible thought slapped me in the face. 'Shit!' I silently groaned. 'If we open the orphanage, no, don't go there.'
"What do you think your boys have in mind for mine, tomorrow?" he asked.
"I don't know, but I wonder if I should install surveillance cameras. Put all those evil little minds together, I bet I could get a blockbuster hit from home video!"
"It would have to be Sci-Fi, no one would ever believe this place is real!" he snorted more toward the mass of kids playing happily in the pool than to me.
'You are right my friend, I'm not sure I believe all this is real', I thought later as we watched Ronnie and his new sons gallop toward their home, and into a sunset that Hollywood directors would have killed for. I found myself wishing young Pieter had not gone home with his parents, so I could share the latest example of Heaven on Earth with him as I hugged the three thin kids leaning against my stomach. "Love ya, guys, but homework time," I mumbled as I turned them toward the house.
I was about halfway through my morning schedule the next day, checking my messages between patient sessions, when I read one that made my neck muscles tighten. 'Let's meet for lunch,' Cindy began. 'Ronnie, Angel and I have been talking and we need to discuss something. Call me.' 'What now, as much as I love her why did I get stuck befriending a damn lawyer?' I asked myself as I dialed her cell phone. 'Oh well, at Ronnie's restaurant I at least I know the food will be good!' I thought as I rang off.
Cindy and Ronnie's proposal was more interesting, and less threatening, than I had expected. Together with Angel's staff they had redrawn the property lines between my ranch, Jay and Ronnie's, and the extra eight hundred acres. What they had in mind was that Cindy and Carl buy two hundred acres, that included the ranch house from the third property, Jay/Ronnie and I each acquire an additional hundred acres, and the foundation buy the rest, the five hundred they wanted for their proposed Boys' Ranch.
"This could work out wonderfully," Ronnie informed me. "One of my sister's concerns has been what to do with the ranch house and barn. They were hesitant to tear it down because of its age, but it did not fit into their site plan. Further, if we all sign up to forming a cooperative regarding pasture usage, we can get a significant tax break."
"And Billy Ray said renovations would only take about a month before we could move in!" Cindy added. "Please think about it, a perfect solution for everyone."
I studied their map again, almost forgetting about my lunch. My mountain would remain intact, and all three families would be less than a mile of pasture land from each other. "Let me think about this, actually go ride where what would be," I offered. I bit my lip to keep from saying I wanted to verify the legalities.
"Fantastic, here is the paperwork!" Cindy bubbled. "Ronnie, Carl and I have signed it, get it back to me right after you do!" she declared. Her face told me she wasn't offering an option when she added, "Billy Ray said he can begin work tomorrow morning, I hope that works!"
The boys were still involved in their riding lessons with Stewart when I got home. I joined Mary in the kitchen as I enjoyed my afternoon beer and she filled me in on her day, glancing out the window as we talked. When I saw Edwardo and Ruben trotting their animals around, their wide smiles and happy faces clearly discernible even from a distance I had to chuckle.
"I see your new students survived the rigors of both your tutelage and that of the horrible Maestro Stewart," I teased.
"That was cruel, they were beside themselves all day with worry," Mary answered. I thought I might be in trouble until I turned and saw her somewhat diabolical smile. "I thought the top of their heads were going to pop off when Ann arrived and they learned what she instructed," she tittered. "Oh, did you notice her other new student?"
It took me a second discover what she was talking about as I studied the pasture, and noticed a great big kid enjoying himself as much as the others. "Well, Miguel will be very proud to learn his son has gone back to school!" I snickered as big Ronnie spurred his mount into a gallop.
'Oops!' I thought as I felt a pair of big eyes drilling into my head through the window. "I think I'm being paged," I told Mary. 'Okay big fellow, good idea', I silently answered my stallion, already ready saddled and staring pointedly through the pasture fence.
After changing into some faded jeans I started out my bedroom door but turned back and rushed to my study, and grabbed Cindy's map and my PDA. After a little digging I snapped the GPS interface into the PDA and was out the door.
"I know you want to run, but then we have to do some work," I told my big black mount as I released my ponytail and climbed aboard him. 'Well, in a few minutes', I decided, as Zeus broke into a full gallop and the wind refreshed my face and scalp. 'Go boy, go!' I thought as I leaned into his mane and prodded him to go supersonic.
"Yes, this will work, it will be perfect," I told Zeus an hour or so later as we gazed down from my mountain's summit. 'Quit talking to your fucking horse, you're not that nutty, well, yet!' I cautioned myself. 'Yeah well! Or are you?' I wondered when Zeus gave a loud snort and looked around at the vista below, seeming to follow my gaze even though I was on his back, watching the back of his big head.
I spent ten minutes or so matching the landmarks I had noted during our ride to the GPS coordinates. Yes, this will work boy, we are going to do it," I told Zeus and dialed my cell phone.
"Adam, where are you? I've been waiting to talk to you, the boys are out looking for you!" Cindy barked even before I could say hello.
"I'm enjoying my heaven, or my little piece of it," I answered. "I wanted to, , ,"
"Are you alright? You sound, a little drunk Adam!"
"No, just high," I answered looking down at the summit. "John Denver would call it Owens mountain high. If you are sure everything is proper, that nothing can go wrong, call Billy Ray and tell him to begin work, I'm in."
The phone was silent for a couple of second. I was about to ask if she was still there when Zeus twisted and softly snorted. "Hi Doctor Pappa," Pieter's beautiful voice rang as Venus' head appeared next to Zeus's. Johnny and Mark's greetings followed as their steeds lined up on the other side of me. "We knew you were here! We told mom you were. What'cha doing?""
"Realizing another dream, Pumpkin, that another one can come true," I whispered. I didn't realize I had done it until after I plucked his little body off of Venus and perched him in Zeus's saddle in front of me.
"Dad, DAD!" Mark's high pitched bark interrupted me. "Mrs, well Pieter's mom is pissed and yelling all kinds of stuff!" 'Oops!' I thought, as I remembered I was talking on the cell phone.
"Say, hi Mom, we'll be home by dark," I told the platinum topped youngster pushed tightly into my crotch as I held my cell to his face. "Sorry babe, but we have to go. We are working on making our dreams come true, but call Billy Ray." I added after putting the cell phone back to my face. I hung up without waiting for an answer.
"Have you had any dreams lately?" I asked my young saddle-mate. He shrugged and leaned his thin back into my chest. "Have you and Venus had any dreams together?" I tried.
He leaned over toward and looked at his horse for a second, and shrugged again. Ginger let out a snort followed by a sigh from Johnny. "Venus is all sad and stuff when he has to go home. She wants him to live with her like Ginger and me," Johnny said.
"Yes, I wish there were two of me, so I can live with my new family and live here like Johnny and everyone at the same time," Pieter proclaimed.
"Hang onto that wish, dream about it," I told him. I gave him a hug before adding, "Let's go home, we need to go talk to mamma." I glanced around at what would be the new property lines for a minute or so before helping him climb back onto Venus.
The rest of the boys were closing the tack room when my little group rode up to the barn a few minutes later. Edwardo and his brother gave me a look I couldn't interrupt as I dismounted and shooed Zeus into the barn.
"I see you two survived your Equestrian lessons, were they as hard as you thought?" I teased. They exchanged glances as they blushed slightly. "Got'cha!" I hooted, poking their stomachs.
They giggled and looked up at me as if about to say something when Pieter and my Ronnie snickered. When we looked all of the other boys were standing together flashing diabolical smiles. Ruben groaned, then to my surprise stuck his tongue out at them and pushed against me.
"Everyone gets to pick on the new kids, remember!" I teased, pulling both of them against me. "Hey, who is going to groom Zeus for me? Are you guys big enough to?"
"Zeus? Your big horse?" Edwardo gasp. I opened my mouth to tell him the stallion wouldn't hurt him when he added, "We are allowed to care for your horse? Yes Pappa we will! Thank you Pappa, I mean Doctor! We will be excellent stableboys! "
They both rushed away, but only ran a few steps before turning back toward me. "Is it true we will be allowed to live here all night?" Ruben risk. His brother's face matched his in showing their skepticism.
"We will perform every of the duties Junior and Mark said we must, we promise we will!" his brother chimed in.
"You guys are welcome, I am looking forward to an, enjoyable evening," I answered. When I glanced around trying to find which of my boys was closest, which one to kill first, I just caught a glimpse of a couple of teenage bubble butts evacuating.
I had just started to designate who would die first when Ruben's screech distracted me. "Cool, Totally Awesome! Yea, yea!" he hooted. 'Isolate them, keep them separate from the others, while they still speak some English', I told myself.
I was a little disappointed at Cindy's decision not to tell the kids about our land deal and her kids new home until she could talk to her daughter, but understood. She caught my attention during our conversation when she told me "Jenny is growing into such a bitch, she can move out here or go to boarding school." 'Okay!' I thought as she added, "IF she lives that long."
I laid in wait all evening, through supper, the boys clearing the table and loading the dishwasher, even through homework and bath time for my boys to spring their next stunt on Edwardo and Ruben; all the while wondering if the boarding school Cindy was considering for her daughter was co-ed, and strict enough for my rats. I found myself getting nervous, waiting for the plot to unfold as the kids bedtime neared. Well, if their little scheme is for tonight, we will find out, I decided. "Bedtime kids, you guys go get under the covers, I'll be up in a minute." I announced.
I got the normal groans from my boys, and heard but couldn't understand a few moans and mutters as they all shuffled toward the stairwell. "Dishwasher! Just the dishwasher?" Edwardo barked. "Pieter! Even you! You are a very bad boy, Pieter!" he hooted, darting after the little platinum streak that was scorching the carpet on my stairs as he ascended them.
'Well, maybe kill them tomorrow', I thought as I listened to the giggles and snickers from Mark and Ronnie's bedroom. 'Maybe kill one or two of them, but not tomorrow', I decided a few minutes later as I studied the bright Texas moon accenting the rainbow of different colored halos ever so slightly peeking out the top of the blanket on Ronnie's bed. I even felt the glow of Mark's from under the covers, buried between Johnny and Ruben as I kissed everyone goodnight.
A conflagration of happy squeals and splashing from the patio awoke me the next morning. 'Fuck you, you're fired!' I sneered at my alarm clock before punching its off button with a harsh blow. After relieving my bladder I started toward the pool in my briefs, but remembering Jay's new boys were here I jumped into a pair of swim trunks.
I enjoyed a series of hugs and hooted greetings as I was surrounded by boys after diving into the pool. Junior was about the fourth kid to hug me. "Look Pop, I remembered my headgear!" he proudly smiled, his braces almost blinding me in the morning sunlight.
"Fantastic!" I began, wondering if he was still sleepy or a donut or two short of a dozen. "I'm very proud of, , ," I hesitated as I felt what I hoped wasn't what I thought push its sharp end between my thighs. "You." I took a deep breath before looking below the water line. "Ah, Junior, I think you forgot something else though," I whispered as I looked at his naked body pressed against mine.
"Oh, they came off when I dove in," he casually answered, pointing toward a small piece of cloth at the bottom of the pool.
"Good morning Adam!" Miguel's voice rang. I fought off cardiac arrest as I looked around and saw the distinguished physician offering a coffee cup toward me from the lounger he was relaxing in. "You must sleep late here!" he tittered.
I think my face provided enough of a response to Junior, and he dove away from me toward his briefs. "Good morning Miguel!" I managed. 'Well, maybe let Junior live for now, I'll let his mother kill him!' I decided. 'What if he does become leader of the world, like I'm sure he will!'
The old man was a true statesman as we talked over coffee, ignoring my red face. He was in town to work with John on the medical group project, and to enjoy a little time at his sons' ranch before the Friday hearing.
"Oh, I brought you these," he told me, offering a small package. "After the shop keeper called and I realized you never had time to pick them up, I took the liberty of ordering a couple more."
I gasped when I opened the package, the engraved Sharks teeth I had ordered before my fateful encounter in the streets of Brazil. "Thanks, thanks so much," I exclaimed as I noticed Pieter's Ruben's and Edwardo's charms in the box. "But, who is Tito? Did this one get mixed into the box by mistake?" I asked.
"No. Tito is the boy you saved in Recife, that my son operated on. He is still recovering from his injuries, but doing well. When he moves to our new Boys Ranch, we thought you might want to present that to him."
'Wow, he is, wow!' I thought. "Yes, thank you," I gasped. I somehow managed to politely excuse myself to get dressed and made it into my bedroom before I started sobbing.
The rest of Thursday and even Friday morning were a whirlwind of activity, visiting possible sites for our new clinic and dealing with the bull involved in closing the deals regarding both the land purchase and the super practice.
'At least one long hearing, then it's the weekend!' I told my big cat's steering wheel as I pulled into the Juvenile Justice Center's parking lot. 'A batch of Big Mac's and supersized malts on the way home!' I decided.
'A mass hearing, what the fuck does that mean? How long is this shit going to take?' my neck complained as I cinched it into my tie, and stiffly starched shirt collar. 'What are you bitching about! We've been stuck in this shit all day!' I could feel my arms complain, to being stuffed into a suit coat over the irritating shirt sleeves they had been imprisoned in all morning.
'I know, but soon we will be free, and', , , I started to answer. Quit talking to your God Damn clothes, you need to see a shrink!' I chastised myself. I felt my shoulders relax slightly when I saw Cindy's Suburban in the parking lot.
Jay, Miguel, Carl and Cindy were sitting on a bench just outside Rodriguez's courtroom chatting. Junior, Jennifer and Pieter squirming nervously on another bench near the adults.
"Pappa!" Pieter hooted when he saw me. I ignored a couple of nasty glares from other people in the hall as I scooped the boy's little body up and gave him a hug and he wrapped his legs around my waist.
"Hey, you look great!" I told him as I sat him down. His smartly tailored silver/gray blazer set off his hair and complexion almost as wonderfully as the contrasting tie he was wearing sent a new dimension into his already miles deep eyes. "What's this?" I teased as he grinned and revealed a set of metal brackets attached to his teeth.
"They got him this morning," Junior said as he pushed against me. "I mean, ah. Well, Mom, I told him you were going to get him!" he blushed.
"Mary, Ronnie and the boys just called and are on their way into the center, I think we better go into for the hearing," Cindy said, her eyes firing poisoned darts into her son. She fired a preemptive load into her daughter's head as she turned and walked into the courtroom.
"Where are they, Rodriguez does not like to be kept waiting?" I whispered to Cindy after glancing at my watch a couple of minutes later. We exchanged nervous glances as we both looked at the watch on my wrist. I shot her a questioning glare when I pulled my cell phone out and she stopped me.
"All Rise," the bailiff ordered, interrupting our less than happy exchange of scowls. We both stood as Rodriguez walked past his high bench into the middle of the courtroom.
He glanced around, then cast a curious eye toward our table. He seemed as if he was about to speak when the courtroom door burst open with a rattle so loud everyone turned toward it, wondering if it had been torn from its hinges.
"Pop! POP HELP PLEASE!" Johnny screamed as he rushed into the courtroom. He skillfully dodged a couple of Sheriff's Deputies as he ran toward me. "They busted Mark and Ronnie and Uncle Ronnie and Mary is freaking out and you gotta help! Ronnie's Pissed and is gonna really hurt them he tried to bite a couple of them and stuff and, well and, please Pop, Dad! PLEASE!"
Thankfully Rodriguez held his hand up, signaling to the two cops that chased Johnny into the room to back off. "Would someone care to tell me what is going on? What is the problem?" he thundered. The Judge blushed ashen, then red as his bailiff whispered to him a split second later.
'Please God, would you rescue us from this? Tell us later!' I silently prayed as they exchanged words I could not hear. I pulled Johnny tightly against me.
'Oh SHIT!' I gasped when I saw the door to Rodriguez's chambers open slightly, and my Ronnie cautiously poke his shy smile and embarrassed face through into the courtroom.
To Be Continued…
Notes from the Author:
I have not abandoned Shawn and Joey, another chapter is forthcoming. (or for England Swings). Some developments, between my good friend and collaborator Miguel, that might make many PJD readers happy have been going on, Read more soon when Mike gets well!
Everyone please say a get well prayer for him! He's stuck in a hospital, in a different state from his family, taking shots in the arm and butt instead of from a jigger glass!
If you will forgive, a personal note to Miguel: Hey, at least you get a break from getting poked by a pair of horns, or from your Unicorn Colt! (Got'ch again boys!)