'Looks like today is Pieter Day', I thought when I checked my calender Friday morning. My nurse had scheduled me to attend a meeting with Cindy, Carl and the Pediatric Endocrinologist that had been evaluating the boy at eleven o'clock, then lunch with the Roberts and Pieter, after which I would bring the lad back to my practice for our work up. 'Well, maybe we can get out of here early', I decided.
I was impressed by the Pedi Carl had chosen, Doctor Tom Flowers. I had worked with him on several of my cases, and knew he was one of the best in the country regarding glandular and hormonal problems. I also knew he didn't beat around the bush or waste time, a ten minute treatment review with him was a long meeting.
I had wondered what Cindy was going to do with our young patient during the meeting, and was disappointed to learn she had scheduled a dentist appointment to coincide with it. 'Thanks babe, of course any kid is going to try his hardest in an evaluation right after he gets a mouth full of fillings', I thought.
"This is going to be an interesting, challenging case," Flowers began before I could say anything to Cindy. "We are dealing with two concerns regarding the child, a clear growth disorder and a suspect case of delayed puberty. Unfortunately, there is probably as much information we don't know, and have no way of finding out, as what we do know, especially regarding the growth disorder, which should be our primary focus.
"I'm sure Carl and Adam know this, but to be sure Cindy, excuse me all of us are on the same wavelength, let's review." He went on to explain that important tools in diagnosing and treating delayed growth were the size and stature of the biological parents, and if the child has been abused or neglected in his early years. "We would probably be safe to presume an abusive situation after his kidnaping, but it would be vital to know about the first three to four years," he said.
"Clinically, the child seems to be relatively healthy, for the present. However, his bone age is that of a ten and a half year-old." He checked his notes before continuing, "MRI shows his Pituitary to be normal. Blood tests show the gland is functioning on the low end of the normal scale, but within tolerances. But, we can only find trace amounts of any of the growth hormones in his blood. Genetically we find no problems."
"What's next, where do we go from here?" I asked after he was silent for a couple of seconds.
He scanned the room again. "The child is here on a medical visa, how long do you expect for him to be in the country? He is in foster care, how long do think he will be in your placement?"
"As long as it takes," Cindy answered. I was wondering how much she was going to tell him when she added, "Frankly, the longer the better. We would like to raise him."
"I'm glad to hear that!" Flowers proclaimed. "If we begin any treatment I would need assurances that we are in this for the long term. I would need to see the child every three to six months at least until he is eighteen, or perhaps longer. Until he finishes growing."
"You have it." Carl declared before Cindy or I could open our mouths.
"Pieter is also under my care, to help him deal not only with his size, but the abuses he suffered in the past. I expect his treatment will also be long term," I added.
"How much of a risk is his condition to his health?" Cindy asked. I was a little surprised to see her lawyer face, instead of that of a worried mom, when I glanced at her. "Can you justify changing his immigration status from visitor to immigrant?"
"Although he is healthy, he is at risk, at a definite risk if he were to go untreated. Once he, maybe I should say if he enters puberty his pituitary function, along with his hormonal levels absolutely must be monitored by a qualified Pediatric Endocrinologist." He grinned ever so slightly before adding, "Yes Mom, I've been here before. Between Adam and I we can provide affidavits that will not only allow you to change his INS status but to file for his citizenship. I just have to add my notes from this meeting to mine, you will have it right after lunch."
He turned toward me and added, "I'll email you some suggestions regarding wording and such if you don't mind, but the snow job you did regarding his entry visa was right on target."
'God Damn it! A speechless lawyer and no camera!' I silently snickered as I watched Cindy's mouth fall agape.
"For the present, we are going to worry about his growth disorder. If he doesn't begin puberty by the time he turns fourteen we will begin to address that concern.
Give him these, they should stimulate his pituitary to produce more growth hormone," Flowers said, handing Carl two prescriptions. "Administer the IM (inter-muscular injection) first, and only to an upper extremity, nowhere near his genitals. The other is two more doses of the same med but oral, qd (once per day)."
He handed Cindy an appointment card and added, "I'll need a blood sample in thirty days, I took the liberty of scheduling an appointment with my lab. I will need one each month for a year. Oh, and fatten him up Mom, he is six pounds underweight, even for his ten year-old body." As I expected he was out the door a few seconds later.
"Congratulations Mom, Dad," I commented as we walked toward our cars.
"I'm still having trouble believing all this, that it is going so well, and so quickly. I keep waiting for something to collapse around us," Cindy said, her voice distant.
"Well, we have a year to work through any snags," I answered.
"In that amount of time we can even find a good attorney for him, if need be," Carl injected, giving his wife a snide grin. I cracked up when she responded by giving her husband a one fingered salute. "Go pick up our son, we'll talk about that tonight," Carl tittered.
"In your dreams, after that comment that is all you will get tonight!" his wife countered. "For several nights," she snickered before turning toward her Suburban.
After spending two hours in the Dentist's chair young Pieter was much more upbeat than I expected over lunch. His beautiful little face reminded me of an angelic Chipmunk from the Novocaine injections and new fillings, but the ordeal clearly had not effected his appetite once he got started.
It never occurred to me, I don't think any of us had ever considered there were kids in this world that had never eaten Pizza, but we soon found out he had never heard of it. He chanced several questioning glances at his new parents and I as we made our way through the buffet then at the assortment of sliced pies on the steam table. After a quick whispered exchange his face tightened a little as Cindy sat a slice of supreme pizza on his plate. He gave me a questioning look when she added a slice of pepperoni, but after I gave him a nod he followed us to our table.
The little guy was priceless as he timidly glanced between his parents and I. I'm wasn't sure if he was wondering what to do next, of if he really wanted to risk a taste of the strange looking slice of the piece of cardboard covered with slightly blackened tomato sauce and cheese in front of him. After watching me pick a slice up with my fingers and take a couple of bites he carefully picked up a piece and almost daintily took a small bite. He cautiously chewed a few time before his eyes widened and he risk a slightly larger sample.
Three huge bites later that slice was history. 'His fillings aren't bothering him too much!' I silently snickered as I watched him inhale his other slice. "Go get some more, try a couple of different kinds!" I told him.
He longingly glanced at his empty plate then behind him toward the buffet. After another glance at his plate he mumbled, "No, thank you sir."
"Go get some more Sweetie!" Cindy bubbled. "You can have all you want!"
As he turned more to look at his new mom's waist than her face I slipped the remaining slice off my plate onto Carl's. "Well, I'm going to get a second helping, can I bring anyone anything?" I announced as I picked up my plate and stood. "Are you sure you don't want more, you didn't eat much?" I asked.
He glanced at me for just an instant, then back toward Cindy. I took a step toward the steam tables before he grabbed his plate and sprang out of his chair like he had been fired from an ejection seat. He blushed and gawked as I piled four slices on his plate for him, but annihilated them with the voracity that would frighten the most seasoned storm trouper as soon as he sat back down.
He was as much in awe when he followed us to the automatic ice cream dispenser a few minutes later and watched his new mother pull the handle and draw him out a large bowlful. He seemed to recover somewhat, or his stomach took over one of the two, as he watched us scoop spoonfuls of toppings and confectionary onto our desserts, but quickly caught on and topped his with what had to be a couple of thousand calories, which vanished quickly as his pizza had when we sat down.
He seemed to struggle a little, but finished off his second bowl of ice cream. We were about to leave when he rubbed his now budging little stomach and let out a soft groan. He gave his ice cream and pizza plate what seemed to be a parting glance then said, "It is true, America is a wonderful place."
He was timid, almost bashful when I led him into my practice a half hour or so later., But soon I wasn't sure who warmed up to who, my staff to him or he to them after I introduced everyone and began showing him around the office. Both my nurse and my receptionist all but nudged me out of the way as they escorted their new patient around, cuddling and goggling over him like he was their new toy.
It took me several minutes to realize that I had been abandoned after everyone disappeared into the evaluation area of my practice, the receptionist station empty, my phone messages undelivered, and my afternoon patients sitting in the waiting room. 'Well, at least I know where I rate, I just own the place!' I groaned after I listened to my staff's party like laughter, mixed with Pieter's now almost trademark Pillsbury Dough Boy giggles through closed door. I sighed, stepped into the waiting room and ushered my next patient into a treatment room.
When I checked in on him between patients over the next couple of hours the computerized program we chose to use to evaluate his academic level, along with his IQ, social and emotional state was working perfectly, he thought he was playing games on the computer. He was so captivated by it I didn't tell him I was leaving the practice for my afternoon hospital rounds and just told him to have fun.
He was still as happy and silly as a two year-old in heaven when I returned to pick him up. After giving me a wonderful hug his face tightened somewhat. He seemed a bit more insecure as accepted the CD containing his evaluation and told my staff to have a good weekend. He stiffened like a board when guided him under my arm and out of my office into the parking lot.
"I am not to be examined?" he asked. His voice raised in pitch as he added, "Where are you going to take me? Where do I, what are, , ,"
It took me an instant to snap to his concern, but his frightened face said a thousand pages. 'Shit, I have got to find a way, he has to learn to trust again!' I thought, or more prayed. "I forgot, maybe we better do that!" I said.
I pulled him in front of me and gently poked his thin stomach a few times until he squirmed a little. He started to stiffen but I got one hand under his armpit and gave a few tickles before he could pull away. Another couple of pokes into his belly earned me a squeal and an even more squirmy kid.
"You passed the Squirm Worm test, now we just have to test your Giggle Box!" I told him. A couple more tickles to his rib cage and tummy and I had to hold him up as he wiggled and giggled uncontrollably in my caress. "You passed your examinations, ready to go home?" I chuckled as I scooped his little body up and carried him to the car.
He was still giddy by seemed to calm down a little as I drove. After a couple of minutes he seemed to turn a little sullen and I could almost feel his eyes penetrating my head. "Must I go, , ," he began, but stopped short.
"What did you ask?" I tried.
"Nothing Doctor," he told the passenger side window. He was silent for over a minute then asked, "Does Junior visit your ranch every Friday?"
'Ah-hah!' I thought, remembering I said we were going `home'. "Yes, I believe about every Friday now."
Another moment of silence. "Will he visit this Friday?" I was trying to decide if I leave him hanging or not when he added, "He has told me it is very enjoyable sir."
"Yes, he seems to have a good time whenever he visits," I answered, fighting to keep my voice casual.
His angelic little boy face assumed its corporate level businessman expression as he stared out the windshield, clearly in deep thought. I kept glancing at over at him, waiting for him to think of a way to overcome his shyness and ask what I knew he wanted, an invitation to the ranch, for probably two or three minutes.
It took me a second or so to snap when he slumped into his seat before I realized the exit that would take us to Cindy and Carl's house was approaching. You are no dummy, but, I Got'cha! I silently snickered, pushing the accelerator pedal a little further to the floor, lengthening my big cat's stride as we passed the exit.
I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing as we passed his exit and the car picked up speed. He at first glanced out the passenger window then his neck and upper chest seemed to telescope upward and pivot like a submarine's periscope peering above the dashboard. He glanced down at the adjoining streets that would have taken him home as we sped across the overpass. When he looked back in my direction his mouth was slightly agape and his eyes showed a hint of bewilderment.
After he glanced out the back window I silently thanked the Brits again for installing a high quality restraint system in my Jaguar, otherwise I would have had a lapful of boy and a steering wheel to try and deal with at the same time. He did manage to stretch far enough across the car to hug my upper arm with both of his arms and bury his little face against it.
"Thank you Pappa, you are a totally awesome Dad, I mean Doctor," he exclaimed before kissing my arm several times. 'Totally awesome? Oh well, we had a teenager that spoke the Queen's English for almost a week', I thought.
I was a little disappointed a few minutes later when my fence came into sight, and there wasn't a greeting committee staring down the road. As soon as the electric gate began to open that changed, as Venus, Zoe and Zeus charged across the pasture toward us followed closely by several more horses. 'I think someone has found a friend!' I chuckled as Venus snorted and kicked up here back legs as she ran ahead of the car and other horses next to us, turning her thick neck back toward us and giving me 'Well, come on!' glares.
When I parked in front of the house Ginger was standing next to the pasture fence with her head poked between the rails. I somehow managed to catch young Pieter after he bolted out of the car, before he darted to the fence. "Johnny is probably still studying, you have to wait until he is finished before you go riding," I told him.
'Yes, he is going to fit in very well', I snickered as I tried to ignore his first 'Yeah, thanks, asshole' look and let him go.
"Shit it's so neat to get home to where you are loved so much!" I told my car as I absorbed Ginger's nasty stare, clearly saying, 'Where is my boy, shit him up NOW!' Before I stepped inside the house I shot Ginger back a glare. 'Remember me, I feed you!' the evil side of me thought. She seemed unimpressed, but I would swear she understood my thoughts as she pawed the ground with her hoofs impatiently and shot another nasty look toward the house.
I couldn't help but beam with pride when I deposited my laptop in my study. Johnny shot me a brief grin and turned back to the assignment he was working on, but the little peck of a kiss I planted on top of his head earned me a happy giggle and an almost blinding smile as I left my study. Mary was nowhere to be found, so I slipped into my bedroom and climbed into a pair of swim trunks.
'Well, the weekend is beginning!' I chuckled as I stepped back into the family room and saw Mary and Cindy at the breakfast bar, spoiling Johnny and Pieter as they scooped whipped cream onto the youngsters slices of pie. After watching for a couple of seconds I walked behind the bar and got myself a beer. 'At least he's wearing his appliances', I thought as Johnny sucked a huge glass of chocolate milk through a straw, more like an industrial vacuum cleaner then a skinny kid.
Johnny pushed under my arm as I stepped from behind the bar. "Hi Dad, I missed you!" he exclaimed. I felt my heart warm somewhat, and was about to tell him I had missed him too when he added, "And Mary said I could stop studying when you got home."
"Yes Pappa, it is neat you are here now," Pieter said, joining our hug.
"Thanks guys," I chucked. "But we have been together all afternoon, remember?" I told Pieter. He blushed and buried his face in my stomach.
"Can we ride the horses now?" he begged.
"As soon as Johnny changes, you can't ride in school shorts." They both bolted out of our cuddle and up the stairs.
I started toward the patio door and my well deserved swim when Cindy said, "I have some great news, but did you get Flower's email? Have you completed your evaluation, and your affidavit on Pieter?"
'Yeah, sure, I did both of them during the drive home', I silently groaned. I tried to ignore her impatient glare, but took a glance out the patio door at the invitingly wonderful pool before going into the study and docking my computer to check my email. Flower's note had arrived, and I didn't see any problem with his suggestions.
"As soon as I evaluate the results of today's work up, I should be able to complete the affidavit in short order," I told Cindy as I started back toward the pool. "What's your good news?" I threw in, hoping to change the subject. I could feel her eyes drilling holes in the back of my head as I approached the patio door. "Give me fifteen minutes in the pool and I'll get started, okay?" I offered.
Not looking back I opened the door. Just as my shoulders and neck began to relax from the smell of chlorine and the thought of leaning against my favorite water jet a strawberry, then a platinum streak flashed next to me, both of them almost a blur as the flew across the deck. 'Have fun little guys', I chuckled, as I watched them sprint toward the group of horses pacing near the pasture gate.
I had only taken another step toward the pool when Mary asked from behind me, "Is it safe for them to try to saddle their horses? With Johnny's arm and Pieter's size?"
'Shit!' I groaned, realizing she was right. I gave the pool a longing look before turning back inside to get my shoes.
"I'll saddle if you start on my son's paperwork," Cindy offered. She gave me a 'Do it, now!' glare as she stepped outside. 'And I thought I was still a bachelor!' I told myself as I nodded in agreement.
I had just stepped inside when the front door burst open and the other boys rushed in. After giving me a quick hug they all darted into the kitchen acting like they hadn't eaten for weeks as they drooled at Mary's pies. A couple of seconds later Johnny, then Pieter squirmed their way around me and rushed inside, greeting their brothers and lining up for their second snack in the same hour. I cast the pool a wishful look and shrugged my shoulders before grabbing a fresh beer and going into my study. 'A man's home is his castle, my ass!' I told myself as I inserted the CD with Pieter's work up into my computer.
The evaluation offered no surprises regarding my new patient, and I completed both my assessment of it and the court documents that Cindy was so impatient to get much quicker than I could have expected. I fired off a copy to Cindy and Flower's email addresses, and sent a hard copy to my printer, to let the seemingly expectant mother, Cindy, read it immediately.
'I see! Is she in Legal labor? Waiting to deliver her already pre-teen boy?' I asked myself as I checked my email while I waited for my printer to warm up, and read Jay's new email, with a copy to Cindy. He was in Brazil, having flown down last night to evaluate the boy I had encountered on the streets of Recife, and was now visiting Edwardo and Ruben at Miguel's estate.
'Thank both of you more than we can express for making this happen so quickly! Both Ronnie and I have adjusted our schedules regarding Tuesday's court appearance. Castillo has assured us we should be able to move the boys to the US a few weeks after the hearing.' I read. I wondered what was coming next when I read, 'Dad and I will be arriving in San Antonio tomorrow afternoon, and would like to discuss a matter with you, regarding our land and helping more children.'
Cindy was thankful for getting my paperwork, but reeled when she read Jay's note. "Damn idiot!" she snarled. "He's a fucking Judge and can't read!"
Before I could ask what was wrong she stormed out of the study. 'Screw it, I'm going swimming!' I decided. 'I think I'll keep my head underwater', I thought as I walked through the family room and saw her pounding the buttons on her cell phone like they were ten little punching bags.
After I swam a couple of laps I noticed Cindy had moved to one of the loungers on the deck, but was still burning up the airwaves. From the expression on her face and her hand gestures I wondered if the antenna on her phone was burning as hot as whoever's ears were listening to her tongue lashing. I tried to ignore her tirade and relaxed in the pool for ten minutes or so before curiosity got the better of me and I climbed out and started toward her. I paused briefly, then went inside and made her a rum and coke, and got myself a fresh beer.
She gave me a warm smile when I sat her drink next to her, then continue to chew out someone on the other end of the phone conversation. A minute or so later she sat her phone down. "Please excuse my language earlier, inside," she said to me as she took a long drink.
"I spent a lot of Miguel's influence and a substantial amount of the Sanchez money to fast track all this, and Castillo blows it, the idiot puts it on the back burner!" she snarled. "I'm waiting on a call, but I probably will have to leave shortly, either to find an immigration judge or fly to Brazil, but would you mind having a couple of extra boys stay with you for a couple of days?"
"You know your kids are always welcome here, I expected both the boys to stay the weekend anyway," I answered.
"I meant Edwardo and Ruben. I had found a back door that could get them into the country, and in Jay and Ronnie's custody, but they have to be at the INS hearing Tuesday to pull it off. Jay has to return to Brazil Sunday to perform surgery, and Ronnie is committed to a major luncheon in Seattle Monday. Some big Microsoft function, and they insisted he personally supervise it."
After I assured her Mary and I would be happy to have the brothers stay as long as needed she went on to explain that after Monday Ronnie had no commitments for a couple of weeks, and had planned to stay in Texas with their new sons until they obtained full custody of Edwardo and Ruben. Jay would commute between Virginia and here.
"Oh, Ronnie is on the way down, he said he would be here in a couple of hours," she told me. 'Oops, better tell Mary, time to fire up the barbeque pit!' I decided, trying to determine what I could thaw and have ready quickly.
Cindy was on and off the phone for the next while, as Mary and I coordinated our plans. Not long after I lit my pit either the smoke or scent caught the boys' attention and they abandoned their four legged friends, rushing to the patio.
I somehow managed to keep from getting bit, or bumping into anyone's noses as I dodged the five hunger racked faces watch me scrub the grill. The way everyone's faces were sweeping up and down intently studying each stroke of the brush I had to resist the temptation to bend everyone but Pieter over and use their facebows to scrape, but didn't.
"This is turning into one of those days," Cindy groaned from behind us. "I'm sorry guys, but I have to go into town, for how long I don't know. And Carl is in an emergency surgery, a long one."
Junior leaned against his mom as she hugged him goodbye, but Pieter turned ashen and slipped behind Mark and Ronnie. "May I have a hug before I leave?" Cindy asked, extending an arm toward the little bit of his head showing behind the other boys. Mark and Ronnie jumped into her snuggle wrapping their arms around her and Junior as Pieter tried to hide behind me.
"Come here sweetie, I have to leave," Cindy said toward him. He gave me a forlorn look and shuffled to his new mom. "What's wrong, you're not afraid to stay with Doctor Pop, are you? I'll see you tomorrow, I promise!" she bubbled.
I would have sworn I saw the light peach fuzz on the back of his thin neck stand up like hackles as his little head seemed to vibrate from the gears grinding in his brain. "I am allowed to stay, all night?" he whimpered.
"Only if you promise to have fun, you have to promise!" she answered. She accepted whatever he whispered to her stomach as an answer. "I'm sorry guys, but I have a Federal Judge waiting for me, I have to go," she said. She kissed all of the nearby heads and darted back into the house and out the front door.
I was tempted to step over and hug him as I watched his innocent little face, showing a totally amazed expression, stare after his new mother. "I may, I really can!" he mumbled. I took a step toward him, but he turned toward his brother and Mark before I could reach him. "I may stay here, awesome!" he exclaimed. "Awesome, totally awesome!" he howled in his angelic voice.
'Modify your evaluation, add a fifth foreign language to his skills list – `American Teenager', I told myself as I watched them high-five and hug each other. 'Well, the little shit is a fast learner!' I somewhere between groaned and chuckled.
They rode for a few more minutes, before the mystique of the grill and what is was doing seemed to get to them, and they took their steeds to the barn. Ten minutes later they rushed up to the house, and after giving the still empty pit and me a nasty glare took off upstairs to change into their swim trunks.
I had started into the house for a fresh beer when I heard a commotion in the pasture. 'Oh shit', I thought when I looked around. The Sanchez Hummer had stopped at the far end of the pasture with Zeus standing directly in front of it, his head lowered and ears flat on his neck as he pawed the ground with his front hoofs like bull preparing to charge. Zeus and Hera were flanking the sides of the vehicle, their ears invisibly flat. Several other horses were formed into a loose semi-circle behind their main assault team. 'Don't get out of the car, whatever you do', I silently prayed.
Just as I turned to get some shoes the patio door burst open. Ronnie and Mark flew out it and rocketed toward the pasture wearing only Speedos and sandals. Johnny and Pieter were right behind shirtless but still in their jeans. I was about to call to them to be careful when Junior ran past me, wearing nothing but his headgear!
It took me an instant to recover as I watched his tight little biscuit butt bounce as he ran across the patio. "Junior! Junior, stop, NOW!" I yelled. "Right now!"
One of Pavlof's dogs? I asked myself as I watched his hand jerk up and touch his facebow, then turn and give me a lost look. "Junior, go put on some, , , some shoes!" I ordered, trying to keep from cracking up in laughter.
He gave the hand still touching his headgear a somewhat lost glance then looked down at his feet. He turned crimson when he realized he had forgotten much more than his shoes, then gave me a completely embarrassed look as he rushed back inside. 'Definitely a future President, he'll make it two terms!' I told myself as I rushed for my shoes.
I risk another glance at the Pasture as I opened my bedroom door of the patio, and wished I hadn't. My boys were just reaching the gate, but as I glanced at the Hummer I saw one of the rear doors open. Oh Fuck! I groaned. To my surprise little Steve jumped out the door, yelling something back into the cabin. Zoe charged a couple of steps toward the little guy then pulled up, raising her head as she looked him over.
A split second later Raven and Ginger bolted out of the backup formation and ran to the youngster, ignoring Zoe and Zeus's snorts and neighs. 'Damn-it, where is my camera!' I cursed as I watched Stevie hug his horse's neck and Zoe cautiously walk up to the Hummer and look inside, more like a suspicious security guard than an Arabian mare. She peered through the windows for a couple of seconds before turning her head toward her stallion and snorting. 'Welcome back to the Nut Ranch, Ronnie!' I chuckled as Zeus and the other horses relaxed and stepped out of the big vehicle's way.
Although I wasn't too surprised that Steve had conned his way into the trip I was caught off guard when his mother climbed out of the Hummer with Ronnie. After we greeted each other and chatted for a minute or so I was a little relieved to discover they were more interested in changing and getting into my pool than anything else.
Our evening was wonderfully relaxed. After a supper of grilled shrimp and tuna, and a set of Mary's side dishes and pies that seemed to impress even our guest chef, the adults settled onto the patio to watch the sunset and relax. The boys saddled up and rode another hour or so until it was almost dark, then disappeared upstairs for what had to be a mass shower.
I relaxed on the patio for a few minutes after Angel and her brother excused themselves back to their new house later in the evening. When I went inside, trying to decide if I wanted to watch some TV or go to bed I had to snicker. 'Well, he's fitting in well', I thought as I looked down at the nest of blankets in the middle of the family room floor. As usual all the boys were sound asleep, with some corny Sci-Fi DVD playing. Ronnie and Stevie were cuddled against each other, with Junior's back pressed against Ronnie as he snuggled with his little brother. Buddy's nose was slightly poked out of the top of the blanket just above the lump I was sure was Mark, who was nestled against Johnny's chest. I grabbed another beer and climbed into my recliner, and enjoyed studying their beauty and innocence for probably a half hour before climbing into bed.
It felt good the next morning when the sound of the boys laughing and splashing in the pool awoke me instead of the buzzing monster next to my bed. I started to join them, but realizing it was going to be a busy day decided to get dressed and get my morning hospital rounds over with early.
Mary was cooking breakfast when I went into the kitchen, and after a quick cup of coffee I declined her offer to make me something, telling her I would pick something up in town. I started to leave without telling the boys, but a loud burst of laughter from the patio told me I had to enjoy their love for a minute.
As I expected my clothes got soaked as I hugged everyone and told them where I was going. After kissing them and telling them I would not be long everyone raced back to the pool but I started back inside when Pieter pushed under my arm again.
"Thank you Pappa," he exclaimed, his voice even higher pitched than usual. "May I visit here today too?" he softly asked. His pleading, almost begging eyes almost melted me onto the deck when I looked down at his worried face.
"You may visit, I mean stay here all weekend if you wish," I told him. I didn't realize I had done it until I had already scooped him up and tucked his little bottom on my forearm and his thin torso against my chest. "But you are not a visitor, your one of my kids now, just like your brother is, okay? Do you understand what a second home is? I want this to be yours."
He tucked his face into my neck and collar bone and whimpered a couple times. I reached up to cup his head in my hand but before I could he pulled away and kissed my cheek, then my nose. "I love you Pappa," he whispered. I was about to answer when he laid a short pecking kiss on my lips, and pushed his face back against my neck.
I couldn't help but indulge in a few seconds of his embrace as I stroked his back and neck. "I love you Son, so very much," I answered, my whisper probably softer than his. "Welcome home, thank God you are here," I added. I kissed his ear, the only body part I could reach before adding, "Pappa has to go to work, I will be back soon. You have fun while I'm gone, promise?" I got a slight vibration that might have been a soft snicker as a reply.
"Yes Sir, Pappa," he gleefully added as I sat him down. "You are a totally cool Pappa too!"
'Oh well, so much for the Queen's English!' I chuckled, as I kissed the top of his head. I snickered and thanked Mary when I went back inside and she handed me a towel.
After finally completing my rounds, almost two hours later than I expected, I stopped at the butcher shop for a couple of racks of fresh ribs and a load of steaks, and launched my Jaguar toward the ranch, deciding to risk the cops and let her run.
As she cruised out of town and traffic lessened my mind drifted off my driving back toward home and Pieter, and how wonderfully loving, and appreciative he was this morning, how wonderful it felt to be rewarded with his love, and trust. His happy, totally trusting face and warm snuggle played back like it was on a three story high Cinemax screen in front of me.
I didn't snap that I was steering onto my exit to the ranch, nor that I was doing a little over a 140 miles-per-hour until a big blue blob interrupted my dream. Thankfully my big cat had sharpened her claws this morning, and she slowed down before just before I crashed into the big Suburban in front of me that was taking the same freeway exit I was. 'God Damn, you're not a Grandma yet!' I cursed when I realized it was Cindy's SUV I had almost rear ended, and she was only doing about 70 miles-per-hour. 'Screw it, I'm going home!' I decided, as I pulled on my cat's tail and shot around Cindy.
I saw a few of the kids riding at the back of the pasture as I drove up to the house, but no other horses to be found. When I returned to my car after carrying a load of meat into the house, Cindy's Suburban was pulling up next to me in the driveway, her and Miguel's faces visible through the windshield.
"I brought a surprise Adam!" Cindy exclaimed as she opened the back door of her SUV. I turned to look at her as she added, "Come on guys!"
After a second or so Jay climbed out of the back seat. I was starting to wonder what she was going on when he reached inside and plucked a very ashen faced Ruben out of the car. An instant later he all but pried Edwardo out.
"Hi guys!" I exclaimed, trying to hide my shock. "Welcome to my home!" I was trying to decide how to deal with their clearly frightened expressions, and emotions when the thunder of hoofs coming around the house caught everyone's attention.
Both of the brothers stiffened and turned even more pale as they saw the herd of riders and horses race to the pasture fence. They pushed against Jay and Miguel as if trying to get back into the Suburban as the boys dove off their mounts and over the fence.
Ruben was the first to snap. "That is Johnny, , , and Karl!" he announced.
Before Edwardo could react they were swarmed by a gaggle kids hugging and high fiveing them. 'I wonder who planed this show?' I thought as I looked over the sea of skin tight western Levis, tight fitting tee shirts and wide belts and even wider belt buckles, that everyone but Edwardo and Ruben were wearing. 'Is it Rodeo time?' I wondered. I couldn't argue with the results of their costumes, within minutes Edwardo and Ruben were chatting and giggling as they walked with the other boys to meet the horses, several of which had their necks stretched between the fence rails.
I excused myself after spending a couple of minutes to greet Jay and Miguel and slipped into my bedroom and climbed into a pair of shorts and tee shirt. When I rejoined them big Ronnie and Angel were also in the family room chatting as Cindy prepared everyone drinks from the bar.
"It is such a wonderful afternoon, may we sit on your deck?" Miguel asked as he stuffed a Margarita glass in my hand. Everyone adjourned to the patio before I could answer. 'What's this all about?' I asked myself, as Angel sat down next to me and placed her fully laden portfolio in her lap.
"We wanted to talk to you about a project we would like to pursue," Miguel began. "Partly because you have right-of-first-refusal on the eight hundred acres adjoining your and my sons' properties, but more importantly because we would need your help and support to turn the project into reality.
"A while back I had mentioned the idea of turning that land into a Children's Home, I think you call it a Boys Ranch down here," he said. "Angel, and her staff at our foundation have been studying the project, and we would like to purchase the land, or part of it, and open such a home on it."
"I think we should be frank, Adam," Jay added. "We intend to have the home focus on needy boys, from Brazil as well as the US and other countries, but more importantly children such as yours and what we hope will be my mate's and mine soon, boys that have had problems in their lives regarding their sexuality or have been sexually abused. That is where we need your help which would be key to its success." Jay added.
I felt a little threatened when Angel opened her notebook and withdrew several packets. "We have obtained the necessary permits and authorizations. To start out we intend to build six cottages to house about sixty boys." I was amazed when I glanced at a professionally prepared site plan.
"Our people suggest the ideal size would be five hundred acres," Miguel injected. "Ronnie and Jay would like to purchase the hundred acres adjoining their land, and I would like to offer you zero percent financing on the two hundred abutting your land. You could also obtain a tax advantage if you applied the fees for your professional services to residents to forgiving the loan."
"Our tax people can show your's how to do it, and make it fairly legal!" Angel tittered.
"An interesting proposal," I answered. 'Interesting indeed', I thought. A concern I have had since I bought the ranch was what would happen to the land abutting mine, my worst fear was that it would be subdivided into a housing development or such.
"Whether this project works or not, you might have new neighbors, or I should say full time neighbors," Jay said, interrupting my thoughts. "It is too early to say for sure, but Ronnie and I might move to San Antonio." I listened wide eyed as he went on to say he had been looking into buying a well established Pediatric Surgery practice here from the current owner who was retiring.
I guess seeing my expression he added, "Ronnie and I have been talking about it after each of our visits here. Besides the warmer climate year around, what San Antonio calls rush hour is about as crowded as Norfolk's Sunday morning church traffic." He paused and looked out at the pasture and the kids happily playing. "And we have decided we want to raise our sons in a rural setting, not a rat race. And we would very much like to be an active part of the new children's home."
Almost as if on cue Ruben let out a loud squeal from the pasture, followed by a lot of clapping and cheering from the other boys. I fought off panic, then cursed myself for not issuing my standard restriction when new kids came to the ranch, that I wanted to be there when they rode for the first time. Ruben was sitting on Hera, giggling and grinning like an opossum as he looked down at his brother.
'I'm going to kill them, all of them!' I decided. 'Well, maybe I'll just castrate Pieter, the others know better!' I thought as I sat down my drink and started to stand up and go nail their asses. Before I could Johnny and Ronnie positioned their mounts on each side of Hera, and Mark appeared from behind his horse holding her bridle. 'Well, or should I just reconsider boarding school?' I wondered as we watched Mark walk his mare and her grinning cargo around the pasture as Ronnie and Johnny kept their horses right next to Hera, pointing and seemingly offering suggestions to their student rider.
"This is the environment we want our new sons to grow up in," big Ronnie announced.
"Yes, look at my two!" Cindy chimed in. When we followed her gaze everyone on the deck grinned as we saw Pieter and Junior leading two freshly saddled horses out of the barn.
'Now I know what it feels to be unemployed', I thought, as I watched Stevie and Junior hoist Edwardo onto Venus while Pieter, looking a lot like a circus Mouse reining an Elephant, held his mare's bridle. The patio was deathly silent as we watched Junior and Steve leap onto their mounts, line up on each side of Edwardo and begin their riding lesson with him as Pieter led his new horse by her bridle.
"What is the status of the brothers, Edwardo and Ruben?" I risked after a couple of minutes. "I presume you did some good last night?" I said to Cindy.
"Oh, they are here for a seventy-two hour evaluation," she answered, much more of her attention directed to the pasture than me. "You ordered it last night." She blushed a little before as her face contorted slightly, then changed to her lawyer face. "I'm sorry, I was going to tell you later, when we had time to talk, but I was in a bind after Castillo's screw up and had to act quickly!" she said, her voice dripping with such commitment it would have convinced any jury of her sincerity. "And all you have to do is sign a hard copy of the physician's order Carl wrote for you, well and have an evaluation ready for Tuesday's hearing!"
I was about to nail her to the cross for overstepping her bounds, and endangering my practice and career when Ruben's high pitched howl distracted my attention back to the pasture. 'Fuck, if I had only known she was a lawyer when I met her', I thought as we all watched our new guest trotting Hera across the pasture, with Johnny and Ronnie loosely flanking him. 'Well, I wonder what I authorized? This time?' I asked myself, as Mark joined his student and the other young instructors on one of the horses Pieter and Junior had saddled. 'Where do I sign', I silently groaned.
To Be Continued…
Notes from the Author:
Thanks for everyone's comments regarding continuing PJD. I was amazed, my mailbox was overloaded beyond its limits for three days after I posted PJD 30, and I am still getting notes. This story has to end sometime, but some things are in the works that will allow it to continue, please trust my collaborator and I. BTW I have not abandoned Shawn and Joey another chapter will be out soon.