Despite Johnny's objections I was able to convince, or coerce, him go with Cindy, who had agreed to take Ronnie and Mark to school and Johnny to Hill Country. "I'll see you this afternoon, I promise. I would bet you will enjoy today's session more than you think you will." I told him. After a group hug they were off, and I was dialing my cell phone as they rounded the corner. 'I bet you will, little man,' I snickered.
Rodriguez called me into his chambers after I testified at the second hearing. "I spoke with my counterpart in Arkansas after your hearing," he began. "They have dropped their action against Johnny. I traded the boy for the bigot, after he spends tonight as a guest of the county," he snickered.
"I need a written evaluation of Johnny, including what you said in court earlier. I am in the process of having all the charges against him consolidated to this court, and with your conclusion he was operating under duress I intend to drop all actions against him, he will start afresh with a clean slate." he said. I assured him it would be on his desk very promptly.
Cindy was elated when I called her and told her of the Judge's request. I wasn't surprised either when she said she would be delivering the final petitions regarding Mark and Ronnie before lunch today. She had already prepared them and just needed to add the date, but didn't have access to a printer in court. "You probably will want to stop by Cornerstone to change the records to reflect their new last name," she added. 'Ronnie Owens, Mark Owens, yeah!' I thought.
She accepted my offer to have her family join mine for supper to celebrate. "I was thinking somewhere, ahh… formal, how about Chuck-E-Cheese!" I offered. We both had a good laugh and agreed on 6:00.
The rest of my day seemed like it was thirty or so hours long, but finally I finished my afternoon hospital rounds and was on the way to Hill Country. I had to smile as I thought about the hospital staff’s reaction to my getting custody of their former patient, I got so many hugs and handshakes my body felt a little sore.
The nursing staff on Johnny's ward at Hill Country amazed me. After they sent him to a therapy session in another part of the center, they packed his few belongings and cleared his room. I rushed his things back out to the car before rejoining them, just as they were moving extra chairs, along with a cake and cooler of drinks into his old room. As soon as everyone crowded into the room, including several off duty staffers that came in for the occasion, the charge nurse called to therapy.
"Has Doctor Pop gotten here yet, he always come about now," we heard Johnny's alto voice through the intercom they intentionally left open.
"Not that I know of, I'm sure he will be here soon," we heard the charge nurse say.
"Well, can we call him? He's got that phone he carries everwhere," he said after a pause. "Can I wait out here for him? I won’t run or nothing," he pleaded.
"Go to your room," she ordered as the electronic lock buzzed. "And shake the door when you get inside, so I know it's locked." "Go!" she barked after a pause.
"Yes ma'am," he whimpered, I could almost hear his tears. As we waited much longer than it should have taken for him to walk the thirty feet or so to his room I could picture him shuffling down the hall. Finally we heard him sob, "Please ma'am," through the door.
"Go!" the nurse barked, again more from the other side of the door than the intercom. "And lock yourself in."
After another pause the door slowly opened. His chin was on his chest, and his teary eyes were staring down at the floor so much he didn't notice the twenty or so of us as he started into the room. One of the nurses silently counted with her fingers to three and we all yelled, "Surprise!"
He sullenly looked up before his mouth fell agape and his face paled. "Congratulations, you're going home!" the charge nurse told him as she pulled him under her breasts, pulling his back against her. His eyes widened to the size of saucers as he looked around. Our eyes only met for an instant before he pulled out for under the nurse's cuddle and dove into my lap, burying his pixie face into my chest.
"You ready to go home?" I asked him. He just sobbed and pushed more tightly against me. "I want you to still come for therapy, but just during the day, you live at the ranch now!"
"Not yet!" the charge nurse countered. "Not until you eat a piece of your cake!" she added, holding out a plate loaded with ice cream toped cake. Someone pushed the meal tray from his bed in front of us and she sat it down, offering a spoonful of the treat to him.
He turned slightly toward it, but pushed back against my chest. "Okay, if you don't want any!" I quipped, leaning forward and pulling the spoon into my mouth.
"Pop!" he howled. "POP!!!" He attacked the next spoonful offered with a vengeance.
Ten or so minutes later about a dozen staffers escorted us to my car, hugging and teasing the boy all the way. "Wow, I really getta spend the night at the ranch again! Thanks Pop!" he bubbled as I drove out of the parking lot.
"Well, but you are not going to spend the night, son," I answered. He stiffened before I could continue. "You are going to spend the next several years there, our ranch is your home now!" I again wondered if I should write a letter to the UK congratulating them on designing such a strong seat belt system that they had blessed my Jaguar with, as he hooted and stressed the restraints, hugging my arm. I started to explain what his schedule would be, what was going to happen now, several times as we drove toward the ranch, but finally gave up, deciding to wait until he came down from cloud nine.
'There is nothing normal about that little horse,' I thought as I saw Ginger waiting for us at the gate, staring at the passenger side of my big cat even before I turned off the road. She bucked and pranced as she ran next to us toward the house. Johnny darted to the fence as soon as I stopped, and I had to shake my head as I watched her intently listening to Johnny as he talked to her, clearly filling her in on the day's developments. 'Maybe we should have had her testify at the hearing this morning,' I snickered as I went inside.
I was a little surprised that the boys were in the pool instead of riding. I barely had time to accept my afternoon beer from Mary before they rushed inside, wrapping their wet Speedo clad little bodies into a dripping hug. "Thanks Dad! But where's Johnny!" Mark asked, soaking my starched shirt as he rubbed against me.
"Yeah, Mary said he was gonna come home with you!" Ronnie added. Buddy pawed my trouser leg as if also demanding an answer. "Yeah, and wow, his room is totally awesome!" he added. Mary and the boys exchanged dirty looks as she pushed towels at them, she glaring down at the water dripping on the carpet.
"He's outside talking to, , , to your little sister. Go get him, and let's show him his room, and we need to talk, a quick family meeting," I told them.
They both darted toward the door when Mary snapped, "Put some shoes on!" They both sheepishly slipped on their sandals as she added, "And," looking toward their headgears, laying on the breakfast bar.
Johnny was awestruck as the boys led him around his bedroom. He pawed his new computer, then the home theater system identical to the one in Mark and Ronnie's bedroom, almost as if he was worshiping them. All the boys almost gasped as I explained how all the computers were now networked to our new server in my study. I didn't tell them that it was actually for parental control that I added the server, so I could better regulate their internet and computer use.
I felt my heart throb as I watched Johnny inspect his bedroom door several times as he passed it looking around his new room. I stepped to the door and pulled him under my arm on his next pass. "No, son, it does not lock, there is no way to lock it. Those days are over, okay?" I whispered. He carefully inspected the door another time before burying his face into my chest.
I was surprised a few minutes later, when we went back downstairs and Mary was still there. "You said we were going to have a meeting!" she said, I'm sure in response to my questioning face. I hugged her with my eyes as I sat down on the family room's couch, the boys piling around me. She sat down in my recliner and I started to speak when Ronnie reached down and deposited Buddy in my lap. 'Well, better Buddy than Ginger, or Zoe!' I silently laughed.
"Okay guys, a lot is going on, a lot of changes for all of us," I began, still talking toward Buddy. "Will everyone listen to what I have to say BEFORE you react, I mean answer?" I got a series of worried nods from my new sons. "I guess the most important thing I want to say is Buddy has been here for two days and hasn't hurt the carpet yet!" I proclaimed. The comment had the perfect effect, all the boys stared at me lost for a second before relaxing hugging and praising the little fur ball.
Everyone listened intently, but comfortably as I explained that Johnny did indeed live here now, that I would drive him to Hill Country every weekday morning for therapy and tutoring, and that either Mary or I would pick him up each afternoon. As I told Mark and Ronnie that they were extremely close to having their adoption finalized, I enjoyed some of the most wonderful hugs and snuggles I think I had ever received, and no one offered any objection to eating supper in town.
"We are also going on a trip this weekend," I told them. They all got quiet, and looked up at me curiously. "We are going to Virginia, and meet a Doctor there, who wants to evaluate, , , to see you, son," I said toward Johnny. "He MIGHT be able to help your arm work again. We are going to go see if he can."
The room quickly became deathly quiet, the boys exchanging glances as if trying to verify they what they thought they did. "No, no way!" I barked at Johnny, breaking the long silence. "I'm sorry, but Ginger CAN NOT go! Horses don't do airplanes!" I teased, poking thin stomach. He giggled, but fell silent again.
"Wow, do you think he can Dad?" Ronnie asked. They listened intently as I explained what had transpired with Sanchez over the past week, trying to use terms I thought they would understand.
"Airplane? We're going to go on an airplane?" Johnny mumbled. "Why can’t we go in your car?"
"Do you know where Virginia is?" I asked, getting only a shrug. "I want you to find it on your computer later, but it would take about four days to drive there, and about four hours to fly there." His face told me I wasn't getting through to him. "Has any of you ever flown? In an airplane?" They all acknowledged they never had.
"It's really nice, you guys will love it," Mary injected. "Did you know you can watch movies on board. . . I mean while you fly? You get to eat, , , dinner on the plane too!" Mary and I both laughed as their faces perked up.
"Speaking of dinner, we have to meet the Roberts. Everyone in the shower, then shorts and polo shirts!" I snickered. I pulled them into a hug as I added, "We will talk about it some more later, but we have to fatten you guys up!"
"Mama was right, the way to a young man's heart is through his stomach," Mary chuckled as I showed her out.
Johnny was very quiet on the way into town. I tried to feel him out if he was worried about flying or his upcoming ordeal with his arm, but got no response. I ended up spending more time arguing with my other two about wearing their headgear. I forced them to put them on before we left the house, and intended to let them leave them in the car, but the more they complained the closer I was to making them keep them on.
"No more argument boys, you can take them off when we get to the diner, but if Junior is wearing his, you go back out to the car for yours." I finally proclaimed. I'm not sure if my compromise or Chuck-E-Cheese coming into sight swayed them, but I suddenly had a pair of bubbly, smiling teenagers. Their jubilation was short lived as the fickle finger of fate seemed to strike. As I turned into a parking spot we noticed the Roberts walking toward the eatery's entry door, Junior's thick facebow reflecting brightly in the neon lights. "Sorry guys," I tittered as they begrudgingly began hooking their straps back around their heads.
All the kids began completely enjoying themselves almost as soon as we got inside. I had taken Ronnie and Mark to Chuck-E-Cheese a couple of time before when they still were living at St. Paul's, but it quickly became clear Johnny had never been there, or anywhere close to it. At first he followed his new brothers around looking at the many, many games and activities available, his face seemed to be wondering if he would actually be able play any of them. Five minutes later he was ricocheting between the games, his face so happy I bought a disposable camera and followed him around.
I thought I would have to drag him to our table when our mountain of pizza arrived, but after a small test bite, my one armed eating machine kept up quite well as all the kids inhaled a dozen or so slices each. As the kids seemed to be finishing their feeding frenzy, Cindy subtly signaled the waiter while I reviewed the documents she had given me shortly after we arrived. Quickly a couple of waitresses began placing small glasses of ginger-ale in front of us as Chucky, the smile-faced big hairy rat mascot of Chuck-E-Cheese, slipped up behind my boys.
"Everyone, I have an announcement, and wish to propose a toast, two toasts." I told our table. "First, to Master Mark Owens, and Master Ron. . .ald Owens, who as of today are legally and officially my adopted sons." Mark and Ronnie stared at me wide eyed until Chucky bent down and hugged them, as we held our glasses out to the boys. "And to my new, soon to be my adopted son, Johnny! You're not legally an Owens yet, but you are my son now!" Johnny all but disappeared as the costumed character embraced him from behind the boy's chair, hugging him and planting a kiss on Johnny's head with his oversized smiling headpiece.
The waitresses set a cake on the table and quickly served each of us a piece. I had to snicker as I noticed the smeared frosting that still faintly said 'Happy Birthday' above the kids neatly scripted first names. A minute later Chucky leaned down and hugged me. "We're sorry sir, but we have never done an adoption before!" a female voice whispered from within the mask.
Cindy, Carl and I leaned back and ordered another pitcher of beer as the five of them rushed back into the jungle of games, still chewing their last bite of cake.
I only received a few groans when I sent everyone upstairs to bathe again, and Ronnie and Mark to do their homework, when we arrived home. I let Buddy outside and started to check my PDA, trying to decide if I could afford to drink another beer or so and still function tomorrow, but decided screw it, knowing I was going to drink one anyway. 'How often do you so instantly increase the size of your family like this!' I told myself, wondering if I should celebrate or mourn.
I had put Buddy to bed in the spare room and was relaxing in my recliner a few minutes later when something softly brushed my arm. Johnny slipped under it, then climbed into my lap as I looked around. "How long do you think I getta stay here?" he almost whispered as he tucked the top of his head under my chin.
"For a very long time son. How long did I tell you, don't you remember?" I answered, pulling him against me. He molded his bare chest tightly against mine.
"Well, maybe if you can tell me again? It feels neat when you say it. Please?"
"For a very, very long time," I told him, trying to keep my voice from cracking. "At least until you grow up, and then until you want to leave." He answered by relaxing against me, and within a minute or so I was listening to his soft breathing as he slept in my arms. 'Please God, a very, very long time,' I silently added.
I enjoyed his snuggle for a half hour or so before slipping my arms under him and I carried him upstairs. I started to take him to his new bedroom, but noticed the other boys sound asleep, sharing Ronnie's bed. I stood in the door was for probably a couple of minutes enjoying the moonlight reflecting off their golden hair. 'What the hell,' I thought as I carried Johnny into the room. He didn't even stir as I slipped him under the covers next to Mark. I have no idea how long I stood in their doorway watching my three little angels before my bladder, demanding relief, snapped me back to reality and I went to my bedroom.
I slapped the buzzing beast on my bedside table several times as it attacked my slumber the next morning, but finally realized it wasn't going to die, and woke up enough for the aroma of the coffee pot to enter my consciousness. 'Yeah, well, maybe it's Friday,' I thought as I sat up, swinging my feet off the bed. My toes ran into a huge lump in the carpet as I did. When I looked down it wasn't a lump, but Johnny, still wearing only his briefs, crawled up in a fetal position below me, sucking his thumb. He didn't wake up, but Buddy pushed his furry nose out from the boy's chest and looked up at me.
"Hi guys," I whispered as I sat Buddy on my bed then picked Johnny up. I gently pulled his thumb out of his mouth as I hugged him.
"Hi Pop," he mumbled as he opened his eyes. "I dreamed you was gonna leave," he told my chest as he buried his face into it.
"But I didn't, did I?" I answered, kissing the top of his head. "Looks like you are stuck with me, doesn't it!" he squirmed in my lap before Buddy began trying to climb into his lap. "I would guess someone might want to go outside, and I bet there are some hungry kids somewhere around here! If you'll let him out and go wake your brothers up, I'll look around for some breakfast!"
"You're a neat Pop," he whispered. He pushed against me for a second before pushing off my lap and calling Buddy to go with him. 'No, you are a neat kid,' I smiled as I watched him rush to the patio door.
I couldn't count the number of times during my workday that I snickered as I remembered leaving him off at Hill Country on the way to work. It didn't take him long to realize he wasn't being sent back to the secure wing of the facility, and was grinning like an Opossum as he walked me back to the Patient's entrance, unescorted. When I reminded him he was to wait inside, in the small foyer, and not venture outside until Mary or I drove up to the door every afternoon to pick him up he blushed and promised. I was almost to my car when I heard his shrill voice yelling, "Bye Dad!" I turned around, about to go back, but he just pulling his carrot topped head back inside the door, his feet inside. I'm sure he didn't see me as he tested the door to see if it would open several more times.
The boys were still having their riding lesson when I got home. Mary surprised me by saying she had packed for the boys, even offering to pack my luggage if I let her know what I wanted to take. After I thanked her and declined, saying I would pack tonight, she asked if she could take Buddy home for the weekend.
"Thanks again, but the Roberts are going to keep him at their house. By the way, they are going to take care of the horses too, I want you to enjoy a long weekend off, you have earned it." She started to argue, that there was still housework to do. "Well, if you really want to help out, you could take Ginger home while we are gone, I know she will be lonely!" Her 'Up Yours!' look answered for her.
I changed into my trunks and swam for ten minutes or so before the boys and Stewart came out of the pasture, the boys racing ahead of their instructor and darting toward the house. I climbed out of the pool and toweled off when I noticed Stewart walking toward the patio instead of the side gate as she normally did. I hugged the kids for a minute or so, Johnny bubbling a million words a minute about his day at Hill Country and his first riding lesson until she joined us.
"He's a very good student, he's going to be a good rider," she began, tousling Johnny's hair, making the lad gleamed with pride.
I felt my stomach bounce off my kneecap as Johnny added, "She let me ride Zeus!"
Stewart just had time to say how well all the boys were doing when Junior exclaimed, "I'm hungry! Come on dudes, I know our Nanny's got something yumm!!!" Stewart teased me about my rapidly growing family as she spent a couple minutes filling me in on everyone's progress.
I had to laugh too as we ate supper and Johnny bragged about having homework tonight, Mark and Ronnie looking at him as if he was completely crazy. I had to take a deep breath to keep from crying when Johnny countered, "Well, I ain't gotta, , , ah got to go to school much, I think it's neat!"
The boys seemed somewhat more relaxed as we talked about tomorrow's trip and plane ride, before I sent them upstairs to do their homework and bathe. Johnny amazed me, completing each his assignments surprisingly quickly before he proudly presented them to me to check for him. I got some groans and dirty looks when I told them they could only take a quick ride tomorrow after school, that I expected them to take a bath and be ready to leave for the airport when I got home, but soon they were all sound asleep, Johnny even promising to sleep in his bed for the first time.
He was so cute I thought about him all day as I left Johnny off at Hill Country the next morning. As I stopped in front of the Patient entrance and released his seat belt, he grabbed the box of floppy disks containing his homework and started out of the car, before turning back to me. He pushed over the center council and threw his arm around my neck, hugging me, as he whispered, "Thanks Pop, I mean Dad. I love you Dad!" After I kissed his forehead he climbed out of the car and scampered into the building, turning to wave before he went inside.
After we loaded our luggage into the car and I locked the house that afternoon, I wasn't too surprised to find the boys at the pasture fence talking to the horses. I shook my head as I watched, Johnny pointing to his paralyzed arm as he talked, all the horses eyes following his gestures. I had to call them a couple of times before they started back toward the car. Johnny followed behind Mark and Ronnie after Ginger stuck her snout through the fence and sniffed her young master's arm for a second before pushing her face against his chest, clearly waiting for a kiss.
All three boys eyes were as wide as saucers as we made our way through the airport terminal. They were staying very close to my side, almost taking turns nuzzling under my arms as we checked our baggage and waited in line for security to screen us. When we finally made our way to the front of the line and the screeners went through our carry on bags, they quickly found Mark and Ronnie's facebows. The rent-a-cops looked them over for several seconds, poking at the blunt ends of their inner facebow, I think trying to figure out how to use the harmless appliances as weapons, as I began explaining to the gathered group of high school dropouts what these mystery items were for.
Finally a supervisor showed up. I thought Mark and Ronnie were going to die of embarrassment when they finally had to install their headgears in front of a couple of hundred people waiting in line behind us, but we boarded the plane in time.
All of them were in total awe as we found our seats on the huge wide body jet, and I somehow shepherded all three of them at once. They muttered 'Wow!' and 'Awesome!' and such as we settled in. After I got everyone's carry-on stuffed above us, and their seat belts fastened, I whispered to my two wide eyed tin grins they could take their headgears off for the trip, not sure if I was talking to zombies or kids.
"Whatever," Mark mumbled after several seconds. "Everyone's seen us anyway." As the pilot began starting the aircraft's engines, and all three boys began to get more jittery, I began to understand the public exposure of wearing braces might not be the problem.
"Flying is great," I said, tousling their hair. "Hey, and as soon as we get in the air we get munchies!" I teased. They were all tense as boards as the big jet began vibrating and racing down the runway, pushing them against the back of their seats as it launched itself into flight. 'Wow!' and 'Awesome!' began to ring into my ears as we gained altitude and they pulled against their seat belts toward the windows and panoramic view below. They settled down and seemed completely happy as we leveled off and they began watching a movie and supper was served.
The boys lost a lot of their secure attitude as we deplaned and entered the terminal at Norfolk, and I had a triple load of boys under foot.
"Doctor Owens, I'm Jay Sanchez," a voice said. A well tanned man with almost jet black hair was extending his hand to me as I turned. "And this is my partner Ronnie," he continued as we shook hands.
'Wow! Thanks for the warning, Doc!' I thought shaking Ronnie's hand. I was amazed as I looked at the man I was shaking hands with. Except for ever so slightly darker shade of blue in his eyes, he was an older version of Mark and Ronnie. His blond hair was as golden as theirs, his thin build was what I pictured my sons to have at his age.
"Pleasure to meet you, thanks so much for coming to pick us up, I apologize for the hour! But I'm Adam. These are my sons," I answered, touching the top of their heads as I continued. "This is Mark, and my Ronnie, and this is. . ." I reached behind me, almost dragging our patient from behind my hip, before I continued, "Johnny. Boys, say hello to Doctor Sanchez and Mister, I'm sorry I didn't catch your last name sir,"
"Sanchez, but please call me Ronnie, I hope your boys will too," the older Ronnie informed me.
"Doctor Jay, not Doctor Sanchez, please," he responded, offering his hand to each boy.
"Arf! You used to play Basketball!" my Ronnie exclaimed.
"A different Doctor Jay!" Sanchez snickered, patting the top of Ronnie's head. "But you are a very perceptive young man!" Ronnie blushed, but followed Sanchez's hand as the Doctor withdrew it, lining up almost against his new friend.
As we moved toward the baggage claim area Johnny remained tightly tucked under my arm, but I could feel a slight, almost moon like gravity pull as he subtly guided us closer to Sanchez and his partner. As we stopped in front of the luggage drop-off he had positioned himself between Sanchez and I, probably two inches between Johnny's shoulder and Sanchez's elbow.
"Are you really gonna fix my arm?" he whimpered.
"I am going to do the best I can, I hope I can," Sanchez answered, reaching around Johnny and cupping his crippled shoulder. Johnny relaxed in my cuddle for a second or so before slipping out from under my arm and leaning into Sanchez’ snuggle. He remained glued to the doctor as we crossed the parking lot.
"Wow, a Humvee!" Mark exclaimed as Sanchez unlocked the door to his oversized SUV. "Cool!" Ronnie chimed in.
"It's a Hummer, the civilian version," Sanchez replied. Seeing their bewildered faces he added, "Mine doesn't come with machine guns.
"Or canvas seats!" I quipped as I looked around the luxurious interior, probably as plush as my Jaguar.
I was a little in awe as Sanchez turned into a long winding driveway and drove toward a sprawling beachfront dwelling, set at least a quarter mile from the road. As he maneuvered around the split level house and parked under a wide deck, the ocean's waves splashing ashore only a hundred feet away in the moon's light almost looked like something out of a vacation advertisement. "God, this is beautiful," I commented as I looked around.
Their home was as impressive as was their beach. A huge deck had a swimming pool as its centerpiece, but was also equipped with a hot tub and a small wet bar, extending across the entire back of the house. Their spacious den, all five bedrooms and even their kitchen opened directly onto it. "There's a shower and changing room below the deck, when you guys come back from the beach help yourself!" Sanchez told the kids as they showed us around.
The boys only gave me brief glares as I sent them to get into bed a few minutes later, the trip clearly taking its toll on them. Sanchez and I retired to his rear deck as the older Ronnie also excused himself, saying he had to be to work early. I had to cover my mouth a few minutes later when Johnny, now clad only in a pair of Hill Country gym shorts came back onto the deck hugged me, then Sanchez. "Do we get tucked in?" he whimpered.
"I think so!" Sanchez replied, scooping the boy up and carrying him down the deck. He dropped my little bundle into bed like a sack of potatoes before pulling the covers over the boy. "Sleep good little one, thank you for coming into my life," he softly said as he tucked the lad in. After I kissed Johnny's forehead Sanchez and I stood next to each other at the door leading back onto the deck from Johnny's bedroom for probably a couple of minutes, both of us silent as we studied his angelic beauty.
"Your face was worth a thousand words when I introduced Ronnie as my partner earlier," Jay said as he handed me my drink after I had tucked my other two kids in.
"You damn sure surprised me!" I answered. "This is great, I didn't know Yankees could make a proper Margarita!" I teased as I took a sip. "I hope you made a pitcher!"
"That isn't much of an answer Doctor," he said after several seconds of silence.
"Adam, remember?" I corrected before taking a long swallow of my drink. "Yeah, you shocked the shit out of me, I was expecting to meet, well your partner to be, some blushing bubbly bride. Ronnie caught me off guard to say the least. I'm very sorry for my reaction, I was operating in a protection mode, protecting my kids. We are a half a country a way from home, all three of my boys had been abused before they came to live with me, please forgive my paranoia.
"You two have a fantastic life, I can tell that in just the short time we have been together. I love your home, the life you have built, please forgive me for being a freaked out pilgrim." I paused for probably a minute before downing my drink and adding, "You and your partner both have Sanchez as a last name, are you married?"
"Ronnie and I are also brothers, adopted brothers. We fell in love as teens, about the age your Ronnie and Mark are." He poured each of us a fresh drink as he continued, "Our families seem to have many similarities. A single man, who like you is a physician, adopted both of my brothers and myself, when we were all young teens about the age of your boys.
"Before I met my father I had to survive on the streets in Recife, Brazil by doing what I needed to in order to survive. My mother was a hooker, a drunk and a drug addict, so it was up to me to fend for myself. I found out she died from AIDS and all three of us had to be tested, and we are clean, thank God. I even had to resort to selling myself in order to earn a few bucks to either buy food or glue."
Seeing my face, or the amount of my drink I inhaled, he added, "Yes Adam, glue. I'm lucky my now father found me and saved my life, otherwise I probably would have ended up a vegetable, or dead. One night I made a very serious error in judgement and went into a darkened alleyway, and the next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital. My father happened to be nearby when a man attacked me, and not only transported me to the hospital, but paid my medical expenses before he even knew my name.
"He saved Steven, my other brother, from getting raped, while trying to find out my name. Steven suggested Ronnie, who knew who I was. Steven's mom had died from a drug overdose and Ronnie's mother was murdered almost in front of his eyes. There was one thing still bothering my dad though, who was behind all this? It didn't take him long to find out."
"It seems the local sheriff was behind all the senseless killings. The older kids had to pay him protection money or they would be 'punished' for not doing so. If this went on too long, they were taken care of once and for all. Dad told me that a nurse even tried to kill me with an overdose of medication. Once I woke up, I was back to my old self again, not wanting to trust anyone. That didn't last long.
"When I saw Dad, I started telling him off, and that lasted all of about two minutes when Ronnie let me have it right across the mouth. I think that was the only time he ever hit me but it worked. He told me that I didn't get it, but I did, right in the mouth. He told me Dad saved my life, probably all three of our lives, and if I ever shouted at Dad again, he would let me have it again. Well, after that Ronnie and I became very close. As time went on, we both realized two things. First we were gay, and second we loved each other. Not like we love Steven, but like Steven and his wife Angela. I know this is a shock for you but now you know the whole story."
"An amazing story," I said after a minute or so. "Forgive me if I am a little slow, but what you are telling me seems like something out of Hollywood, too good to be true. I am looking forward to meeting your father very much." I took a long swallow of my drink, hoping it would give me a little more composure, before adding, "God, I just wish, after all they have gone through, my sons could grow up as happy and well adjusted as you and your brothers have."
I gazed out at the ocean's waves, so peacefully landing ashore for a few seconds. "I am too personally involved to deal with them professionally, I probably should not have committed to adopt them, especially Johnny, but, well I'm not sure what to do, well now. I love him more than life, but what Johnny thinks is, I mean what he thinks he has to do to show love is, well, with his body. He thinks loving an adult is giving his, well, earning my love is having sex with me! I just want to raise him, and protect him! To see him, them, mature and develop, like you and your brothers. I just want my relationship with him to be as my son, not a Boy-toy! I'm sorry, a bad choice of words."
"A perfect choice of words and frankness, thank you," he answered. "Johnny has been through a lot, as have your other boys. If you would like, I could talk to him and maybe get him to see that sex does not equate to love, and that all you want to do is to be a father to him. A father who loves him for who he is and not what he is." After I didn't answer for a minute or so he added, "But we have all had a long day, let's get some rest. Let's talk again in the morning."
Both the drinks and our long day was taking its toll on me and I didn't argue. After Jay and I checked on the boys, now a mass of tangled arms and legs in the same bed, Jay led me to my bedroom and disappeared down the deck.
My nose awoke me. Still half asleep I found myself trying to interrupt the aroma that made my stomach growl; besides the wonderful smell of coffee, it smelled somewhat like ham, but if it was ham it had to be Moses's sacred hog being cooked. My bladder reinforced my stomach's demands and I bailed out of bed to the bathroom, then to find the kitchen.
Jay was sitting at the breakfast bar sipping coffee and watching my boys play in the pool when I stumbled into their kitchen, squinting at the morning sun radiating the huge glass door opening to the deck and pool. His mate was working at their stove, the source of the aroma that woke me up. "Well, you did survive!" he announced, setting a cup of coffee in front of me.
"You have some wonderful kids," Jay added. "They are so full of life, so happy. I'm a little jealous." I muttered a sleepy thanks and sipped on my morning caffeine fix for a minute before he added, "Mark and Johnny are involved, aren't they?" I looked back out at the boys, flocking as he said, "Watch their faces, their body language, they are so happy together."
"But call them inside, breakfast is served!" Ronnie announced, setting platter after platter of eggs, toast, fruits and Canadian bacon on the table. "I have an early luncheon, I need to get to work," he added as Jay called the boys out of the pool.
I'm not sure who was more impressed, my sons' bottomless pits we used to call stomachs in Medical school, or myself, as we enjoyed our breakfast, as perfect as if served in a five star restaurant. I started to worry if the boys might explode as I watched them eat.
Everyone was finishing their breakfast when Ronnie excused himself, saying he was behind schedule and had to leave. Just out of curiosity I asked him where he worked . "I'm a cook," he said. Jay gave his partner a slight grin.
Sanchez spent over an hour examining Johnny. The boy wasn't too happy about the electrodes the doctor's nurses glued to his head, torso, arms and legs, but I was proud of him as he lay still through all of his trials. His face was almost as happy as when he was riding Ginger as the nurse finally detached him from his electronic harness and Sanchez suggested he meet his brothers in the clinic's snack bar and get something to drink.
"I feel I have between an eighty and ninety percent chance of success repairing the bundle. Perhaps, he could regain ninety percent reuse of his limb. However, time is a concern, the longer we delay, the more his chances of full recovery diminish." Sanchez told me after the boys left.
"God, that is beyond belief!" I exclaimed. "When can you operate, when should we be back up here," I gasp more than spoke.
"I'd like to perform the procedure a little later in the morning," he answered. "I have an operating room reserved, we'll let him finish his coke and go to the hospital. The procedure should take about two hours, and he probably will be able to spend tonight at my house." He paused briefly, I'm sure letting his statement soak in. "He'll be back to almost full activity by tomorrow, just wearing a shoulder immobilizer."
"I, ah, wasn't expecting things to happen that quickly," I stammered, still digest the 'a little later in the morning' part of his statement.
"We will make two incisions, less than a half inch each, here and here," he said, pointing at one of the boy's x-rays and indicating Johnny's upper spine and just inside his shoulder. I'm not going to put him under, just sedate him somewhat and a couple of locals. Can you monitor his vitals while you talk him through sending different motor impulses?"
"I suppose I. . . you mean in surgery? I'm not a surgeon doctor! I haven't been in surgery since medical school, and I'm NOT going to begin a refresher on my own son!" my arm throbbed as if it remembered the defibrillator shock from my last visit to an operating theater.
"You will do fine, and micro-surgery is almost bloodless," he countered. "Your presence will be of more reassurance to him than anything else could. And I need to have him think about moving different body parts, not what is going on around him. If I work with the wrong nerve bundle his big toe might wiggle every time he raises his arm." he quipped. "Come, let's go give Johnny the good news."
'But I don't do surgery, I don't do ANY blood!' I told myself. He was already out the door before I could protest.
To Be Continued…