Tuesday morning was our typical morning. The boys woke up and Rita was there to serve breakfast. Ryker was uneasy and didn’t eat much as he was worried about apologizing. Even though he said hateful comments, I didn’t think this would become a regular thing for him. He was showing some severe guilt as he wasn’t saying much either. In fact, I haven’t seen him this quiet since the funeral of his parents. Besides Ryker, everyone seemed in a good mood as they went upstairs to change. We would be heading to school a little bit earlier today so that I would be able to get Hannah’s parents phone number so Ryker could apologize.
Everyone loaded into the Benz, and we were off. We still had around of foot of snow on the ground, but with higher temperatures coming in by the end of the week, it should be all melted, which means boat season is around the corner. That’s one of my favorite things to do when you break the boat out of storage and put her in the water for the first time of the season. I always tried to get the boat out of storage towards the end of March, so another month and a half, and I would be cruising around the lake.
We arrived at school, and I parked the SUV. Together the five of us headed towards the building. Once we entered, I received hugs from all the boys except Ryker as he wasn’t leaving yet. He was going to walk into the school office and explain what he did. We started making our way, and about 2 feet from the door, Ryker stopped dead in his tracks, as he ducked behind the brick wall beside the door, and rested his back against the wall.
“What’s the matter?” I asked as I bent down to be face to face with him.
“I… I can’t do it…. umm, Hannah is in there.”
“What?” I said as I took a quick peek inside the office.
“She’s sitting down next to that lady. I’m not ready to say sorry, I didn’t think she would be here,” Ryker said as he began to tear up.
“It’s the right thing to do kiddo.”
“But… I… I thought I would do it at the end of the day.”
“Hey hey,” I said as he was really starting to cry. So I opened my arm for a hug and spoke, “Come here, buddy.”
“I’m not ready,” he cried as he walked into my hug.
“It’s okay… calm down. I think this is a perfect time to apologize.”
“Yeah!” I said enthusiastically. “Not many other students are here yet, plus you will be able to get it out of the way and not worry about it all day.”
Ryker didn’t have a reply, he just sniffled as the tears slowed.
“Come on,” I said as I wiped the tears from his eyes, “we will do it together.”
“Okay,” Ryker responded and took ahold of my hand.
We entered the office to see the secretary behind her desk on the phone, and two people sitting in waiting chairs in front of the desk. I presumed that the adult next to Hannah was her mother, so I began.
“Hi, I am Garret Hamel. I believe I have someone here who like to apologize and clear the air.”
The mother gave me an evil grin, but I sort of expected that. She didn’t say anything either, so I placed my hands on Ryker’s shoulders, and let him speak.
“Umm,” he stuttered. “I’m… I’m sorry for calling you ugly Hannah. I didn’t mean it, I just didn’t know what to do when you called me your boyfriend and grabbed my hand.”
“Hannah, you never told me that you grabbed his hand and called him your boyfriend,” spoke the lady.
“So you don’t think I’m ugly?” Asked Hannah as she avoided her mother’s question.
“No. I just didn’t know what to do, and I called you ugly because well… I don’t know. I am really really sorry, and I don’t think you are ugly,” Ryker said in a soft tone.
“And?” I said to Ryker.
“And I’m sorry Hannah’s mom for saying mean things,” Ryker said which caught Hannah’s mom off guard.
Just then the principal walked out of his office and spoke, “Mrs. Bentz, sorry for the wait, I can take you in my office now…. uhh Mr. Hamel, how are you today?”
“I’m good, thank you for asking.”
“Actually, I no longer need to see you Principal Merwood. I believe everything is good now,” said Mrs. Bentz.
“Positive,” she assured and turned to Hannah. “Now Hannah, do you accept umm.”
“Ryker,” I quickly commented.
“Thank you… Hannah, do you accept Ryker’s apology?”
Now principal Merwood was extremely confused, but let the scenario play out.
“Umm yeah I guess so,” Hannah said softly.
It was almost like a wave of relief came over Ryker. I could sense it, his muscles relaxed and he had a smile on his face now. I mean they were in third grade, so it wasn’t like the world was going to end, even if it seemed like that to Ryker. Ryker turned around and quickly gave me a hug before he and Hannah left to walk to class. It was basically as if nothing happened, and the “drama” was settled.
“Now what just happened?” Asked Principal Merwood
“Well first, I’m Garret Hamel,” I said extending my hand to Bentz.
“Victoria Bentz, pleasure,” replied as she extended her hand.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for the way Ryker handled that situation. I already told him that it was wrong and considered bullying. I know, that if one of my boys came home crying from another child, I would not be happy, so I want to apologize again.”
“Well thank you, but it was not a big deal. Hannah told me her side of the story and apparently left off a few details. Anyhow, she was just looking for an apology,” spoke Victoria.
“So confused over here,” laughed Merwood.
“Well long story short,” I began. “Hannah grabbed Ryker’s hand and called him, her boyfriend. Ryker didn’t know how to handle it and called Hannah ugly which left Hannah upset. Apparently, the problem is taken care of now, correct?”
“I believe so,” agreed Victoria.
“Well then, it’s settled, the less I have to be involved in 3rd-grade drama, the better,” joked principal Merwood.
“Agreed,” laughed Victoria.
“Well, nice seeing you again Principal Merwood, I have to be on my way,” I said, as I had to get going for my lunch with Berry Rodgers.
“So do I, I’ll walk out with you,” commented Victoria.
As we walked out of the office, then the school building, Victoria began speaking, “You don’t usually see father figures so involved in the child’s life.”
“Well I mean, usually when there is an issue at school, the moms come in and talk. Most of the husbands are too busy and don’t have time for their children. I know my husband can’t take Hannah to school and stuff.”
“Ah, I see,” I replied.
“Yeah, so it’s nice to see.”
“Thanks,” I said as I reached my car. “Nice to meet you. Again I’m sorry for Ryker’s comments.”
“It’s okay, thanks for being involved in your child’s life.”
“Why did she keep saying that,” I thought, but didn’t reply as I jumped into the SUV and started the engine.
I went home before my lunch to change into better clothes and talk with Rita for a few minutes. I notified her that Christian would be staying the weekend, and also mentioned how Ryker did this morning. She listened but was on a roll cleaning the house and getting laundry washed.
I received a text from Berry with the restaurant and time. I wasn’t familiar with the restaurant, but I did a quick google search and found out it was a BBQ place. It was about 45 minutes from my house, so I had around 10 minutes before I had to leave. Before getting into the truck, I confirmed that Rita would be available to pick Clayton up from school if I hadn’t returned in time.
I hopped in the truck and was on my way to meet Berry. As I was driving, I gave my brother Lucas a call, considering I haven’t spoken to him in a little. We chatted for a bit, and I updated him on the HLRJC organization. He seemed to like the direction I was going and told me to keep pushing forward. He appeared to be in a hurry towards the end of the conversation as he was at work.
I pulled into the restaurant around 11ish and noted that the place was busy. Usually, that’s a good sign to me. I walked into the building and saw Berry sitting with Officer Rory.
“Gentlemen,” I said as I walked to the table, “nice to meet you, Berry.”
“Likewise,” Berry replied.
“Rory, glad to see you were able to help out.”
“Barely,” laughed Berry. “We will see how he does. The rookie better not fuck things up.”
Rory looked nervous as he replied, “yeah yeah, I got this.”
“Well,” I said as I sat down. “What’s good here?”
“This is my all time favorite place, they got the best ribs and BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with that,” suggested Berry.
“I haven’t had BBQ in quite some time, so good choice,” I said.
“First time here as well,” commented Rory.
“Well, should we get down to business?” Asked Berry.
“Sounds good to me.”
“Alright then,” replied Berry as he took out a piece of paper and pen. “Come on Rook, grab your materials, don’t be slowing us down already.”
“Oh, yeah sorry,” commented Rory. He was really flustered, and I couldn’t tell why. I remembered him saying this was his first case as an investigator, but something was off.
“Well Garret, first tell me about the day you found the boy, what time was it? Where did you find him? How far away was he from his house?” Berry spoke.
I paused before speaking, this was actually my first time reflecting on everything and what the boys have been through. It sort of caught me off guard and I didn’t know why, but spoke, “umm yeah, so it was January 23rd, 5:30ish. I found Lincoln outside a homeless shelter a few blocks away from his house. About 5-6 hrs later, we returned to his old house. There we were reunited with his brothers… I’m sorry how does this help?”
“Well we are creating a timeline, or at least I am. Knowing dates and specific times are crucial. Now from police records, I have the time of death around 12 hours before police arrived on the scene,” said Berry.
“So,” chimed Rory, “the Barnards were killed around 1 pm then, give or take an hour or two.”
“Correct,” stated Berry. “So we have a timeline and a name.”
“Uhh yes, the name is Gabriel Murphy,” I said.
“Yes, we know. Now we don’t know anything about Mr. Murphy right now or why he was at the crime scene. As the police records state, he is not involved with the gang…. so Mr. Murphy, why were you at this house?” Asked Berry.
“That’s the million dollar question,” stated Rory.
“I concur,” spoke Berry. “Now we don’t have those answers, but Garret, what do you hope to find out from investigating?”
“For one, I want to make sure my boys are safe and don’t have to worry about someone coming after them. Two, maybe someone will be put behind bars for the acts committed. Three, if it can provide closure for my boys or some sense of relief, I will do anything. And finally, I want to know the fucker that raped my oldest boy. Obviously, this Gabriel Murphy died somehow and for some reason… I want to know,” I demanded.
Berry took a deep breath before speaking, “look I do not promise anything. I’ve learned through my experience in this field, that the answers you want…. may not be what you want to hear. If we move forward, I could find nothing.”
“Well, at least we could say we tried,” I said cutting him off.
“No no, I am going to try. It’s just we may not find the exact answers you are looking for.”
“I know, and I’m okay with that. I just want answers, and if you don’t find them…. at least we tried.”
“Alright, then Garret, should we discuss my fees?”
“Nope that isn’t required, once you find my answers, then send me the invoice. You seem like an honest man, I don’t need to discuss how much it will cost me,” I injected.
“You know,” laughed Berry. “I like you. Straight and to the point.”
Luckily the waitress came over, and we placed our orders. I didn’t know how to respond to Berry, so I was grateful for the waitress interrupting us. After we placed our orders, the conversation started again.
“How long do you think this will take?” I asked.
“It all depends. This could take 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years. However, I will say this. If leads are turning to dead ends, and we’ve looked into every possible scenario, then I will call off the investigation because you’d be wasting my time and I’d be costing you a fortune,” said Berry.
“And Rory, how do you fit into this?” I inquired.
“Since I am on the police force, I have access to more files and previous evidence from the case. Plus, I will be out working with Berry investigating and following leads, when I am not working. I also have inside access to first responders and all that information, so, for example, we know how Gabriel Murphy died,” said Rory.
“What?” I asked. “I thought that wasn’t determined.”
“Well he was shot in the head, what isn’t determined is who put that bullet there… Himself or someone else,” Stated Berry.
“Uh huh,” I said, “look, I just want answers, so how often should I expect to hear from one of you two?”
“That all depends. I mean we could talk daily and become best buds, but I don’t want that, and neither do you. So I suggest every two weeks I will call you and update you on anything new. Now that sounds like a lot of time where we don’t talk, but I do my job better when I am not constantly answering to someone. Sound fair?” Asked Berry
“Two weeks… yeah works for me,” I said. We spent the rest of the meal talking about our past and getting to know each other. I had ordered ribs, cornbread, baked beans, and a side of fries. The ribs were literally falling off the bone, cooked to perfection. The sauce they used was magnificent, and the cornbread was to die for. I mean I had to give props to Berry, everything was just phenomenal. The three of us rested and let the food digest for a few minutes before we paid our checks and went our separate ways.
I have confidence in Berry, he seemed to be a hardass, but he wasn’t a bull shitter, which was good. From my understandings, he digs deep into his cases and doesn’t give up unless it’s the last possible solution. Plus, with the added help of Officer Rory, I think my questions would be answered.
Lunch went later then I expected, so Rita picked Clayton up from school, and I returned home.
“Garret,” Clayton yelled as he ran over to give me a hug.
“Hey Clay!” I replied as I picked him up and kissed the side of his cheek. “How was your day?”
“Mrs. Lispik was sick today, so I had a different teacher.”
“Oh yeah? Was the teacher nice?”
“No, he was sort of grumpy.”
I chuckled at his statement as I set him down on his two feet and said, “Well that’s no fun.”
“No, but I got an A+ on my homework.”
“You did? Well, I think that deserves some type of award, don’t you think?”
“Oh yes yes yes,” Clayton rattled off.
“Rita do we have any treats for our young genius?”
“As a matter of fact, we do,” laughed Rita. “I was going to save the cookies for after dinner, but I think I can spare a few.”
“Yes,” Clayton yelled as he pumped his two fists in the air.
“Here you go mister Clay,” Rita said as she handed him two cookies.
“Thanks, Rita, you’re the best,” he said before running off into the family room.
“Can he just stay this age?” Chuckled Rita.
“Oh, how I wish. He is something special,” I replied.
“He really is, such a little blessing. I must say this, and I hope you don’t hold a grudge.”
“Would never hold a grudge against you.”
“Well alright then, uhh… I umm was getting bored of working here and doing the same stuff. I honestly believed that this was going to be my last year working for you, and it had nothing to do with you. I was just getting sick of it. But now, with these boys, you have brought into my life… I feel as if I was rewarded with a new found hope. I just want to say I am so happy to be working with you and with these kids.”
“Rita, thank you for your honesty. I just want to let you know that you are as much of a part of these boys lives as I am. They look up to you, and they know they can count on you to be there for them. So I thank you for being a role model and helping me out. Without you, I couldn’t be half the father figure I strive to be,” I said. “Now that brings me to my next point. I am becoming worried about you traveling so late and by yourself.”
“Oh don’t worry about me,” quickly replied Rita.
“But I am, would you ever consider moving?”
“Well closer, like 5 minutes away instead of 20.”
“I have thought about the drive, and it is too long, but I like my apartment. I don’t really want to move out,” Rita said.
“Well if you do. Just let me know.”
“Thank you, Garret,” spoke Rita as she rubbed my arm, “you’re so sweet.”
“Just looking out for those I love,” I said. We continued to discuss for a short while before I went in and watched some ESPN. My lap was quickly taken by Clayton, who was obsessed with watching videos on how to ice skate. He was so excited, as was I. Together we watched 3-4 videos that repeated the same steps, but he didn’t care, Clayton was taking in all the information.
It was time to go pick up the other 3 from school and go get haircuts, so I said to Clayton, “come on kiddo, let’s go pick up your brothers. We are getting our haircuts today.”
“Okay, I have to go potty really quick.”
“Alright hurry up,” I said as we got up from the couch. I walked to the coat closet and grabbed our jackets. Clayton returned, and we headed for the Mercedes.
We arrived just before the bell rang and I saw Lincoln walk out first, then came Ryker and Jacob.
They hopped in the SUV, and we were off.
“How was everyone’s day?” I asked
“Good,” all three said.
“Why is Clay in the car? He usually stays at home,” Asked Ryker.
“Cause we are getting haircuts,” explained Clayton
“Yup we all are,” I said.
“Good, I need one,” said Ryker.
“Same,” agreed Jacob and Lincoln.
The barbershop was about 15 minutes away, so we just chatted. I found out that Ryker’s friends accepted what Ryker said to Hannah, was wrong and that everything was back to normal for him. Jacob was able to hang out with his friend, Adam during recess, I believe he even made a new friend. Lincoln had a good day as well, and everything seemed to be good. We arrived at our destination, and we walked into the barbershop.
“My man, how we doing today?” Asked Anthony as I walked in. He has been the guy who cut my hair for ages, and the only person I trust to do it. Anthony is the owner and always has a been friendly guy. He had picked up his business and moved locations twice for expanding and now has 2 others that work under him and cut hair.
“I’m doing fine, I was wondering if you guys had room for 4 new customers?”
“We always expanding,” laughed Rodney, the other barber in the shop.
“Good to hear, I’d like to introduce you to them. This is Lincoln, we have Ryker, then Jacob, and finally Clayton.”
“It’s CLAY!” Interrupted Clayton.
“I always do that,” I responded.
“How we doing today gentlemen?” asked Anthony.
“Good,” they replied in unison.
“Well that’s good to hear, so who’s up first?”
“Me!” spoke Ryker.
“Alright let’s go,” Anthony said as he guided him to the chair. “What are we doing today?”
“What do you mean?”
Anthony chuckled, “like what kind of haircut.”
“Ohh,” giggled Ryker. “Umm I don’t know, I like short on the sides but longer on the top.”
“I gotch you, we gonna do a fade up the sides, with the top being longer so you can push it to the sides and style it.”
“Yeah!” Said Ryker.
“So, who you trying to look all fresh and nice for?” Asked Anthony as he started cutting hair.
“No one, but there is this girl that calls me her boyfriend,” Ryker said.
“Ohhh, give me the details,” Anthony said. He had Ryker talking like crazy, but in return Ryker had Anthony laughing his ass off. It was just hilarious to hear Ryker discuss the issues he was having because he was making them seem so significant in his life when they really weren’t. Plus, I don’t think I ever saw Anthony laugh this hard.
Midway through Ryker’s haircut, Rodney was available, and Lincoln stepped up next. I was surprised by what he wanted. It was similar to Ryker’s, which I called a European soccer player haircut, but Lincoln wanted his hair just a bit shorter on top.
Taz, as they call him, finished a customer, and Clayton was next. Clayton didn’t want anything fancy. Actually, I don’t think he knew what he wanted, so I stepped in and told Taz to do a 2 on the sides and scissors on top. Clayton liked to spike the front of his hair, so I gave that option to him.
Ryker’s haircut required the most attention, then followed by Lincoln, as it took a while for each of them to finish. Although it was taking a while, not once have I ever heard this barbershop filled with this much laughter. I mean the barbers were crying from laughing as they talked to each of the boys. Clayton was first to finish, and Jacob was next, he climbed into Taz’s chair and wanted a haircut similar to Clayton’s. Anthony finished Ryker’s hair, and my turn was next.
“The usual,” I said
“We should let one of them pick your hairstyles,” teased Anthony.
“Wait can we?” Asked Ryker.
“No,” I replied quickly shutting that idea down.
“So last time I checked, you aren’t married or have kids. Unless you livin’ a double life, in which that case, we will keep a secret. BUT, you ain’t living no double life, so you got some explaining to do,” laughed Anthony.
“Oh man where to start, umm I guess in simple terms, I have 4 foster children living with me,” I replied as I didn’t want to go into details.
“Word I can see that, but you’ve been planning this for a while?”
“No, was sort of last minute, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. These 4 boys have impacted me so much,” I said as all ears were listening. “I think they needed me as much as I needed them, I can’t picture my life without them.”
“Respect man,” shouted Rodney.
“Yeah, that’s some high-class stuff man, respect.” Echoed Taz.
“Thanks, but it’s true. They mean a lot to me,” I said.
“Well, you’re doing a good thing. I would like to think there are more people like you in the world but in most cases, it’s the opposite, where the man is leaving his kids behind,” Anthony commented.
“Garret is the bestest,” chimed Clayton.
“Yeah agreed,” spoke the three.
“Thanks boys,” I said as the conversation switched to a casual light-hearted tone. After about an hour of haircuts, everyone was finished. Lincoln looked the most different, but the new look suited him well. Ryker looked handsome as always, and the other two were looking dapper. The total came to $120 including tip, and I paid the bill. We loaded into the SUV, and we headed for home.
We made it back, the boys walked into the kitchen were Rita was prepping for dinner.
“Well don’t you guys all look so handsome, I like the change in style Lincoln,” commented Rita.
“Really? I was nervous to do something different, but I like it,” Lincoln spoke.
“Yeah, I think you pull it off well.”
“Thanks, Rita,” Lincoln said as he ran and gave her a quick hug.
“Hey, Garret?” Asked Ryker.
“Can I go out and play in the snow with Dylan? He said he would be outside after dinner.”
“If you finish your homework you can go play for a little. But after dinner, okay?”
“Can I go?” Asked Jacob.
“Same rules apply to you.”
“Okay,” Jacob replied and quickly pulled out his homework as did Ryker and Lincoln. Clayton had already finished his homework, so I let him help Rita with dinner.
Dinner was excellent as always, and I reviewed the boy’s homework. They completed everything, and Jacob even learned presidents 1-9 now, so like I promised, they were free to go outside and play. They wanted to play on the same hill they did a few days ago, so I loaded those two into the truck while Rita watched Lincoln and Clayton. I drove them down the driveway to see Dylan and his siblings playing on the hill as well as an older gentleman that looked familiar. We crossed the street together, and I heard Dylan yell, “Hey Ryker, come on… race you to the top!”
“Deal lets go Jacob!” Ryker commanded as they joined the other kids on the hill.
I walked over to the gentleman and noticed it was the guy from the boy’s school who complimented my Mercedes, so I said, “Todd Brumm? Correct?”
“Yeah, it’s Garret right?”
“Yup… so you are the people that bought the Jenkins house? Nice to meet you finally, I’ve been meaning to introduce myself for a while, but my hands have been full.”
“Oh no worries, completely understand, but yup, my wife grew up in the area, and she wanted to move closer to family,” replied Todd.
“Oh nice, I’ve been in this neighborhood for a while now, its a nice area.”
“We love it, especially for the kids. Everyone is nice, and the lots are so spaced out. Almost too much space for my liking,” laughed Todd.
“Yeah I know, but you can’t beat it. With the lake and everything, it’s awesome… so I’ve met Dylan through Ryker, and if I recall, you have two others?”
“Yeah, so Dylan is up there along with his older brother Max. This move has been a little tough on Max with making new friends and everything. Then the other is a twin of Dylan. Her name is Kelsey, but the twins couldn’t be more different from each other. I think they are even in separate classes,” chuckled Todd. “If I recall correctly, you have 4?”
“Yeah, Ryker is in Dylan’s class, then I have my oldest Lincoln, who is in 5th grade. I’m not sure if Max and Lincoln are in the same class or not. Below Ryker, is Jacob who is up on the hill with them, he is in first grade, then I have Clayton who is in kindergarten.”
“I’m surprised it’s taken our boys this long to form a friendship,” stated Todd.
“Well,” I said, not sure if I wanted to get into the whole story. “They’re my foster children.”
“Yeah, wasn’t planning on having kids, but uhh… these 4 boys came into my life recently, and don’t plan on letting them out of my life,” I laughed.
“Well that would explain why the boys haven’t connected yet,” laughed Todd.
We chatted for another 30-45 minutes outside as we watched the kids run up the hill and sled down. I bet that Ryker and Jacob were going to collapse after all this activity. We hollered for last rides, and they all ran up one more time and came back down. As they were walking toward Todd and me, Ryker came running over and asked, “Can Dylan sleepover Friday night?”
“That is up to Mr. Brumm,” I replied. “He is more than welcome to.”
“Yeah dad, can I stay the night at Ryker’s?”
“Are you okay with this?” Todd asked me.
“Yeah, that works for me,” I said. Max looked down as he was having fun, but didn’t know if he was invited over, and didn’t want to invite himself, so I spoke, “Hey Max?”
“You are welcome to join in. I’m sure Lincoln would love to make a new friend.”
“Yeah!” I enthusiastically said.
“I think Lincoln is in my class,” replied Max.
“Awesome then, I’ll tell him the plans when I see him.”
“Why didn’t he come out tonight?” Asked Max.
“I think he is hanging out with his youngest brother,” I replied.
“Alright boys, say your goodbyes,” I said. “Todd, nice seeing you again, we will have to do dinner sometime.”
“My wife and I would love that, we will have to set something up,” Todd replied as he handed me a business card with his phone number on it. I took a quick glance and noticed his company was Todd Brumm Consulting. The boys said there goodbyes, and we loaded into the SUV.
We reached the door, and the boys began stripping off their snow clothes, as they tossed there jackets and pants in the laundry room. They got down to their underwear and took off for the family room where Clayton and Lincoln were. Rita was finally leaving early instead of late, as she went when I returned.
I walked into the family room where I saw two shivering boys, and I took a seat in between Ryker and Jacob as I wrapped my arms around both of them.
“Thanks,” Ryker said as he leaned into me more.
“Can… can we go in the hot tub?” Asked Jacob, which made the other three boys turn their heads in my direction.
I didn’t really feel like getting wet, but I said, “Alright boys, let me go clear off the tub.”
“Yes,” I heard come from all 4 of their mouths. I went to put my coat and hat on again as I had no intentions of getting wet. I cleared the snow off the cover and opened the tub. A strong sense of chlorine quickly filled my nostrils, and I hollered for the boys. To no surprise, they came running out in the buck with their members flopping all around. Lincoln was first to enter as he gave me a quick smirk, and I immediately noticed what he was smiling about. Ryker followed as his gorgeous rear end splashed into the water, then Jacob jumped in, followed by little Clayton. They all claimed corners of the tub, and I turned the jets on.
“Aren’t you coming in?” Asked Lincoln.
“Not tonight,” I replied, “I just don’t feel like getting wet, but I’ll stay out here and talk with you all.”
“Okay,” Lincoln said.
“So do you know a boy in your class, his name is Max?”
“Yeah? He is sort of shy, doesn’t say much,” replied Lincoln.
“Well he lives down the road, and his younger brother is Dylan. Dylan is spending the night Friday, so Max is gonna tag along.”
“Really?” Lincoln said with excitement.
“Yeah I hope you don’t mind, Max was out playing with the others and overheard,”
“No this is going to be fun, I can talk to Max tomorrow!”
“That’s the spirit kiddo, love you,” I said as I tussled his hair. “Boys remember we have Christian staying the weekend with us.”
“Yes,” cheered Clayton.
“Yeah I almost forgot,” said Ryker.
“Oh one last rule, no naked-free spirit roaming around with guests, so that means, if you use the hot tub, swimsuits have to be on,” I reminded them.
“We know, we know,” they all giggled.
“Just making sure,” I laughed. They were in the hot tub for around 30 minutes, and it was getting late, so they stepped out and went upstairs for baths and showers. Lincoln took a shower by himself, as did Ryker. Jacob and Clayton took a bath together, and I put them to bed after. I went to Ryker’s room, and he was just getting ready as he flung his underwear off and jumped into bed.
“So how do you like sleeping naked?” I asked as I went over and tucked him in.
“I like it a lot,” he giggled.
“Well you do you kiddo,” I said as I bent down to kiss his forehead. “Goodnight bud, love you.”
“Love you,” Ryker replied.
I went to Lincoln’s room next were I saw him laying on his bed flicking his hard cock.
“Umm, what are you doing?” I asked as I walked in.
“It won’t go down, it’s really annoying,” he said as he flicked it again.
I had to laugh at that as I took a seat at the end of his bed, “stop messing with it then.”
“I want it to go down,” he said and gave it another flick.
I grabbed his hand, and spoke, “flicking it, will not make it go down, it will naturally happen, just don’t think about it.”
“Yeah, the more you play with it, the harder it will get, so just let it go and try to take your mind off of it.”
“Okay, what should I think of?”
“I don’t know,” I laughed. “Umm math.”
“Yeah, what’s 4+4 or 8*12 or 100/4”
It took him a few seconds to answer, but he was able to spit out, “umm 8, umm uhh 96, and umm… umm 25.”
“See,” I said as his penis was returning to a flaccid state, “works every time.”
“Thanks,” Lincoln said as he gave me a quick hug. “Love you so much!”
“Your welcome kiddo, love you too,” I replied. I tucked him into bed and said our goodnights.
I walked out of his room and went to my bedroom to call it a night, but around 9:30 I got a call from Kelly.
“Hey Garret,” She spoke.
“Hey sis, what’s up?”
“Umm well, I was reading over my emails, and the birth certificate document came in for Jacob.” She paused, “He has a different mother than the rest of the boys. According to the birth certificate, his mother is Helen Giradi.”
I was speechless, didn’t know what to say. I honestly thought I was going to drop the phone out of my hand.
“Garret?” Kelly asked.
“Wha… umm what does this mean?”
“I’m not sure, I just have this email from the state department, and since I’m at home, I don’t have access to look up more information. I uh… just wanted to tell you because I thought you deserved to know… I will find out more information tomorrow afternoonish, as I won’t be in my office until lunchtime.”
“Thank you for telling me,” I replied. “I just, just don’t know what to say.”
“Well I will say this, I haven’t heard from anyone with that name nor has the office. So she is not actively looking for Jacob.”
“That doesn’t make me feel much better.”
“I tried, don’t overthink and get some sleep,”
“Love you, sis,” I replied. Before I went to sleep, I got out of my bed and walked into Jacobs room. I just stared at him and watched my beautiful angel sleeping. Children look so peaceful as they sleep, and Jacob was all bundled up. I gave him a kiss on his cheek and returned to my bedroom where I retired for the night.
Around 6 I slowly began to wake up. Through my groggy state, I noticed that a boy was in my bed, sleeping snuggled against me. I took a quick look and saw it was Ryker, and I felt something on my thigh. Ryker was laying on his side with his right leg draped over my right leg, and his hand on my stomach. His prepubescent boy cock was resting on my thigh, and I slowly started to gain my senses. So I lightly grabbed his hip as I moved my leg from under him, and shifted him over a bit. I guess my touch, caused him to roll to his other side, so I was now completely free of his body.
I got out of bed and stripped down to my birthday suit for a shower. Luckily I wasn’t feeling tight or sore like I was a few days ago. I stepped out to dry myself and put clothes on before I headed for the kitchen. Rita hadn’t arrived yet, so I made my morning cup of coffee.
Around 7, Rita arrived, and I told her about Jacob’s news as she made breakfast. She was in shock and couldn’t believe the news, but mentioned the only thing we could do was pray because the situation was out of our control. I didn’t want to agree with her, but unfortunately, she was right. We had no power in this scenario, but speaking of Jacob, he was the first one up and moving as he came downstairs, only wearing his t-shirt.
“No underwear this morning?” I asked as he came over and sat on my lap
“Underwear,” I said and pointed to his bare thigh.
“Oh let him go, Garret,” laughed Rita. “The poor boy is barely awake.”
“I was doing it for your convenience,” I responded.
“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” she remarked.
“Alright no underwear then,” I said, but I did pull down his shirt to cover everything.
“Thanks,” Jacob said as he rested his head on my chest and curled into a ball. I actually think he fell asleep, as it was still quite early for him to be up.
“You’re going to miss these days when the boys are older and don’t snuggle you,” mentioned Rita.
“You’re not wrong,” I replied as I shifted my hand to support his butt which was covered by the shirt.
“I should take a picture,” laughed Rita.
“I love these boys,” I chuckled as I kissed the top of his head. I let him sleep for 5 to 10 more minutes before I had to wake him, and the rest of the crew. I nudged him and kissed his forehead and spoke, “time for breakfast, Rita made some oatmeal with fresh fruit.”
He wasn’t responding, but flickered his eyes, and started coming too. He wrapped his arms around me and gave a tight squeeze. He stood up and did a stretch that almost exposed his boyhood, but the shirt still covered everything, and he finally took a seat. Rita started bringing over breakfast, and I stood to go upstairs. I went to Lincoln’s room first, then quickly grabbed a pair of underwear for Ryker, before heading to Clayton’s bedroom to wake him up. After Clayton was up, I went to my room and woke Ryker.
“Hey buddy, time to get up,” I said.
“Morning,” Ryker replied as he started walking.
“Morning,” I said, “did you have a bad dream last night?”
“Yeah, that’s why I came in here.”
“That’s okay,” I said as I removed the covers. “Rita has oatmeal and fruit downstairs.”
“Yum,” he replied as I tossed him his underwear. He made the weirdest motion to put his underwear on where he brought his feet to his head and slid the underwear on to his legs.
“You’re a goofball,” I chuckled.
“Yup,” he replied as he got his underwear around his hips. We went down for breakfast, which the boys enjoyed. After we ate breakfast, we did the regular routine of getting ready for school which consisted of me helping Ryker pick an outfit for the day, and making sure Lincoln’s outfit matched. I helped Clayton get dressed and assisted Jacob if he needed it. On our way out the door, the boys grabbed their lunches, and we were off to school. On our way there, I reminded Lincoln about Max and about his appointment with Mrs. Ainsworth, which meant I was picking him up from school early. I dropped them off, and I was on my way home. It was a gorgeous day, with temperatures in the low 50’s and sunny, which meant that most of the snow would be gone, at least hopefully.
The rest of my day consisted of worrying about Jacob and this birth certificate, and I spent most of my time searching the internet for information. Believe it or not, Google doesn’t have many answers for “child’s real father produced fake birth certificate” so most of my day was spent kind of pointlessly.
I went and picked up Clayton from school, and we came back to the house. Around 1ish, I finally received the call I’ve been waiting for and took the call in my office.
“Please tell me you have good news, Kelly.”
“I must say, this may… no correction, this is the weirdest case I have ever worked.”
“I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”
“Well, Helen Giradi died 2 days after giving birth to Jacob. Internal bleeding was the cause of death.”
“You didn’t hear incorrectly. His real mother died 2 days after giving birth.”
“I know,” said Kelly
“Whoa, umm I mean… so Jacob has gone his whole life believing a woman who wasn’t his birth mother, was his real mother and that she didn’t care about him. I’m speechless,” I said.
“Yeah… but something still seems weird to me… I don’t know why the father tried to hide her name.”
“I don’t really care why he tried to hide the name as long as Jacob can stay with me.”
“Garret, I’ve never ever run into this before. I can not confirm that, I am honestly stumped. I have to talk with Laura,” Kelly spoke.
“Not her again,” I laughed.
“Hell no, she tried to take the kids away from me.”
“She followed protocol, just like I did. And it’s her, who I learned it from, and it’s someone like her or I that you want to run your organization,” Kelly harshly responded.
“Okay, I’m sorry. Didn’t know it was that big of a deal. But anyway, do I tell Jacob about his real mother?”
“I think it’s a wise idea, I mean he might not think anything of it.”
I just sighed.
“Huh?” I asked
“Well you sighed like something’s wrong,” returned Kelly.
“I just don’t know what to say or how to say it to him. I’ll figure something out though.”
“You’re a smart guy, I’m sure you will.”
“Thanks, so when should I hear from you next?”
“Laura is out of town until tomorrow, so I’ll run it by her and get back to you,” Kelly said.
“Alright sounds good. Oh, are you dropping Christian off or am I picking him up on Friday?”
“Christian has an after-school activity that ends at 4:30 so unless you want to drive and get him.”
“Trying out for the school soccer team, he is super nervous,” said Kelly.
“Well I’ll pick him up, but the boys and I might get there early to cheer him on and support him.”
“He would love that, you’re such a good uncle.”
“Wanna say that one more time?” I laughed.
“Yeah yeah, alright well I’ll tell Christian to pack his bags for the weekend then.”
“Tell him to pack a swimsuit… cya sis, love ya,” I said and hung up the phone.
I sat down in my chair and pondered when I should tell Jacob or better, how I was going to say it to him. I thought it would definitely be a good idea to tell him on his own, without the distractions from his brothers. I just didn’t know what I was going to say, so I thought I would sort of wing it.
After thinking over my actions for a little, I went back out to join Rita and Clayton, as Rita had Clayton helping make a batch of brownies. I decided to go out to my backyard and inspect the property. My house was about a football field and a half away from the lake, so 450 yards. To reach the lake, I had a wooden path built with a with a railing on the side. During the night time LED lights built into the railing would illuminate the walkway, so I was checking to make sure the lights didn’t have cracks and no wooden boards were sticking up. I made it to the lake and saw the ice to be very very thin, which meant spring and early boat season was around the corner. I inspected the boat lift to make sure ice didn’t damage any hydraulics or support beams, as you never wanted the lift to collapse and the boat being damaged. Everything seemed to be in check, so I walked back up the pathway to my large patio in the back of the house. Here I checked the pool cover and filter to make sure the harsh winter didn’t produce any cracks. Just like lakeside everything seemed in check. And oh, those worried about privacy, about 100 ft off of the lake where the gate to the dock is, are rows of trees that made the house barely visible. So people looking from the lake didn’t really see how big the house is or the amenities. After my inspection of the property, I went back in and noticed it was time to pick Lincoln up for therapy.
I hopped in the truck, leaving the SUV for Rita to pick up the other two. I arrived at the school and went into the office. Lincoln was called down, and we were on our way to Mrs. Ainsworth.
“How was today?”
“Fun? I’m shocked, I didn’t know school could be fun,” I joked.
“You’re silly,” laughed Lincoln.
“How was Max? Did you talk to him?”
“Yeah, he was quiet at first, but then he sat with Carter, Devin, and I at lunch. Then during recess, he and I talked about what we are going to do at the sleepover. I think he is really excited.”
“Are you excited?”
“Are you kidding, YES! Plus Christian is coming, I wish LJ could come though.”
“Well, maybe we can FaceTime LJ,” I suggested.
“That’d be cool,” replied Lincoln.
“So what are the plans for the sleepover?” I asked.
“Well umm, I was going to ask if I could move my Xbox to the basement tv, and then Christian, Max, and I could sleep downstairs on the couches and floor.”
“I think that’s a great idea!”
“Yeah really smart. I mean you have a big room, but the basement will be huge and more places to sit. PLUS, I won’t have to hear you three laughing all night.”
“Hey, we aren’t that loud,” said Lincoln.
“Uh huh sure… we can have a snack bar downstairs for you guys. You might have to include your brothers and Dylan, but we will see.”
“What do you mean snack bar?” Lincoln asked as his eyes widened.
“Well, grab like 5-6 bowls, each bowl is filled with something different. One bowl will be popcorn, while another bowl can be potato chips. Another bowl can be cookies, the 4th bowl can be pigs in a blanket, while the last one is filled with juice boxes. Then we set the bowls on the bar top, and it’s like a buffet of food and drinks.”
“Oh… my…. gosh…. can we please please please do that?”
“You’ll have to ask Rita to make the pigs in a blanket, but yeah we can.”
“This is going to be so much fun,” Lincoln replied. We pulled into the parking lot of Mrs. Ainsworth office and walked in.
“Hi Mrs. Ainsworth,” Lincoln said.
“Hey Lincoln, you are cheerful today.”
“I’m having a sleepover this weekend,” Lincoln gladly expressed.
“Okay then, I can’t wait to hear about it,” Ruth said as the two walked in. I was in the waiting room by myself, so I started scrolling through emails. Keith sent me another listing. I looked through it and wasn’t impressed, so I sent him a text that stated, “I like the effort, but that’s nowhere near comparable to our first potential spot.”
To which Keith replied, “no shit… I told you that first property is a deal.”
“Keep looking,” I sent back.
“You’re killing me smalls, that first place is perfect.”
The first location was perfect, just a little bit big. But then I began to think that this first building is our headquarters, so it needed to be significant and successful…. it needed to be a masterpiece. The more and more I thought about it, the more I realized that Keith was right. That property has the potential to be magnificent, so I sent a reply text to Keith.
“You know, you’re right. Tell Amanda to put an offer in on the first building for $2,299,999. I just want a property owned so we can move forward.”
I didn’t receive a text back like I thought I would, but instead, Keith called me no later than 10 seconds after I sent my text.
“Are you serious? This isn’t some kind of fucking joke. You know I love the potential of the building,” Keith said.
I laughed but started to speak, “no I’m for real, but that property isn’t worth 2.7. It’s more like 2.5 million. So, unless they are willing to negotiate, we aren’t buying.”
“Alright, I’ll tell Amanda to submit an offer tomorrow,” Keith said.
“Sounds good, I got to go, buddy,” I said and quickly hung up the phone.
I waited for another 15-20 minutes, and Lincoln stepped out of the room, and it was my turn.
“Any progress today?” I asked.
“No, not really. Lincoln was very open about the sleepover and his activities planned for the weekend, but not about his past.”
“Well can I help?”
“Hmm, I mean I know all about what happened in his past, as you told me most of it, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. He keeps saying I won’t understand what the flashbacks are like.”
I pondered and came up with nothing, “I’m sorry I don’t know.”
“Well, I would like to try something.”
“I want to try and trigger one of his PTSD attacks in my office so I can understand what he is going through.”
“I know you’re the doctor and studied all those years in school, but I don’t think that is a good idea. Once he is triggered, he rarely comes out of the PTSD attack, and afterwards, he is very shaken.”
“I know this will be rough and I don’t know if it will help or not, but if I can trigger an attack, then I can start digging in depth about the core issue.”
“How will this be done?” I asked.
“Well, we will have him come lay down on the couch and have him close his eyes and relax. I think you need to be in the room for him to fully relax because he seems tense around me. Then I will start saying words, like Garret, house, grandma, brothers, and find if something triggers it.”
“Uhh umm, I don’t know. I umm… I am going to leave the decision up to him since he is the one who personally goes through it. I’m just warning you, it’s a horrific scene, absolutely terrible.”
“Okay let me go get him,” replied Ruth. Lincoln walked back in with a confused look, and Ruth began explaining what she wanted to attempt. Lincoln looked uneasy, as he was not sure if he wanted to do this or not.
Ruth contained to explain without giving up, her list of words and Lincoln finally spoke, “Only if Garret is next to me.”
“Of course buddy, I’ll be right here, even holding your hand or scratching your head if you want,” I replied.
“Alright then, Lincoln, let’s have you lay down on the couch,” said Ruth as we left her desk and went to the casual sitting area which consisted of a coffee table, couch, and two chairs. I sat down at the end of the sofa and placed the pillow on my lap, Lincoln rested his head on the pillow and laid down.
“Alright Lincoln, let’s have you close your eyes and try to relax,” Ruth said.
We gave him a few minutes but nothing was working so I began to scratch his head which seemed to ease his nerves.
“Okay Lincoln, I’m going to say a few words. You don’t have to do anything, just think and listen okay? We are going to be starting now,” said Ruth. “Apple.” No response, thankfully.
“School…” and Ruth paused for 10 seconds. “world….,” and waited a few more seconds, “blue… Garret…. orange…. car…. home…. parents…. mom…. dad…. brothers…. parents… father…..” Lincoln seemed to twitch at the last word. “Mother… mother…. father…. father…. father…”
“No please,” Lincoln said and the PTSD attack started. “No stop don’t kill her, please… STOP, don’t…” and Lincoln began to cry but stopped speaking, but I knew what was coming…
“Please no, don’t… Stop, no… no no,” He said
In a high pitched scream, Lincoln began, “No, please don’t, PLEASE STOP NO… NO NO PLEASE… NO MORE STOPPPPP, IT HURTS AHHHHHHHH. I CANT,” Lincoln cried and started squirming and kicking his feet, “PLEASE STOP OWWWWWWWW… PLEASE STOP, NO… NO, PLEASE IT HURTS, I CANT…… STOP, IT HURTS, NO MORE PLEASE. IT HURTS STOPPPPPPPPPPP!”
“Lincoln,” Ruth tried to get his attention.
“Ruth, I told you! He doesn’t snap out of these,” I said as Lincoln kept crying, “STOP, IT’S HURTING ME, STOPPP,” and Lincoln fell silent.
Ruth was shocked, she actually stood up and had to collect her thoughts.
“I’ve never… um, I’ve never heard anything like that,” Ruth said as she wiped her eyes. “This poor child actually relives the day he was abused and saw his mother murdered. This has to stop immediately.”
“I know, I tried telling you this wasn’t a good idea,” I said as I started scratching Lincoln’s head trying to get him to wake up.
“Okay okay, so it’s obviously triggered when he is reminded of his father,” Ruth paced.
“So in other terms, this is never going away?” I worriedly asked.
“No, not exactly, umm… if we can get down to the root of the problem. Like why his father triggers these attacks, then we might be able to stop them.”
“Cause, he saw his parents killed,” I yelled.
“Correction, he saw his mother murdered,” Ruth responded quickly. “There is a deeper meaning to it though. I just, I just don’t know what.”
“His father abused him,” I returned.
“Yeah, but his father isn’t even mentioned in the flashback.”
“He used to be,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, umm, in the beginning, when he first started having these attacks, he mentioned his father.”
“What did he say he saw?” Inquired Ruth.
“I cant recall the exact detail, but I know Lincoln said that his father called him a faggot,”
“I will have to talk to Lincoln more, but from what we just experienced, Lincoln did not mention his father.”
Ruth was correct, not once did he mention his father in the PTSD attack or any recent attack that I can recall. So I spoke, “Did we find out anything from this experiment?”
“WHAT DID WE LEARN?” I asked. “Because I hope we didn’t do this for nothing.”
“We learned what triggers the attacks. When Lincoln thinks about his father, something occurs, and the attack starts. We narrowed down the choices from both parents, or it just being the mother or the abuse. His attacks are directly triggered by his father.”
“We are never ever doing this again,” I firmly replied.
“I don’t plan on it,” Ruth said. Lincoln started gaining his senses.
“Garret?” Lincoln cried as he sat up and flung into my lap.
“It’s okay,” I said as I cradled him.
“I don’t want to do that again.”
“You don’t ever have to,” I said as I gave him a hug.
Ruth exhaled slowly, “I believe we are done for the day, we accomplished a lot. Lincoln you did fantastic, and you are so brave.”
Lincoln didn’t reply as he was still exhausted from his attack. So I carried him out to the truck and placed him in the back. I don’t know if I made a mistake or not, but it was too late now. Halfway home Lincoln was fully back but still didn’t have much energy. We reached home, and Lincoln went to the couch as the others greeted me.
“Alright boys, homework time,” I said after they each gave me a hug.
“But we already did it with Rita,” said Ryker.
“Did Rita check the homework?”
“Yeah, she did.”
“Alright well I want to hear Jacob list the presidents 1-11, and then everyone is free to go.”
“Okay,” Jacob said as he named 1-10 but struggled on the 11th. Not going to lie, I had the help of Google for presidents 8-11, so I suggested that he learn the 11th president later tonight. He still had another day to learn them before his test on Friday, so I let them go play. Jacob and Ryker took off upstairs to play Minecraft, while Clayton went to his room to play some game on his Nintendo DS that grandma and grandpa bought. Lincoln still had spelling words he needed to write down and learn, so he and I focused on that.
As Wednesday nights go, it was the usual. Rita cooked, and the meal was gone in minutes. The boys helped her with the dishes, and then I took Jacob aside.
“Hey Jacob, can I talk to you a minute?”
“Okay?” Jacob said.
“Let’s grab our coats, we are going to go for a walk,” I said.
“Okay?” Jacob confusedly spoke.
We went and grabbed our jacket and stepped outside towards the back. We began walking down to the dock and made light conversation on the way there. We finally reached the dock and sat in the two chairs I leave down there.
“This is so cool, I can’t wait to fish here… I’ve never been fishing before,” Jacob said.
“Definitely be doing tons of fishing this summer,” I replied. “So bud, I want to talk to you about something.”
“There isn’t an easy way to put this, so umm your mom?”
“Well, umm” damn this is hard to say, “she isn’t your birth mom. Umm, your birth mother died after giving birth to you.”
“So the woman you lived with and called mom was not actually the person who gave birth to you.”
“So Lincoln, Ryker and Clay aren’t my brothers?”
“No no, they and you still have the same father, just different moms,” I said quickly.
“Oh,” Jacob said, but I don’t know if he fully comprehended what it meant.
“I just wanted to tell you because I thought it was important to know. It doesn’t change anything, but you deserved to know the truth.”
Jacob didn’t really care, or at least that was the impression he was giving off, but I didn’t believe it. He is processing everything and just didn’t have a reaction which is completely okay.
“Can we go inside?”
“Umm yeah?” I said, “just know if you want to talk or know more, you can come talk with me. Don’t feel like you need to handle this by yourself, come talk to me if you have questions.”
“Okay,” Jacob said and stood up from the chair.
“Hey? Can I get a hug?”
“Yes!” said Jacob and opened his arms.
“I love you so much kiddo, I’m here for you, remember that.
“love you too Garret.”
We walked back up to the house and didn’t really say much. I wasn’t going to push the issue any more then I needed to, but I was surprised he didn’t have any questions.
Anyhow the rest of Wednesday went routinely, and the boys were in bed by 9:30.
Thursday was our typical day, the boys went to school, and came back. We had an early dinner around 4:45ish, which was good for Rita because she could leave early again. Then the boys got ready for their ice skating lessons. We want to the ice pavilion, our local rink, and I was amazed at how large the facility was. The ice pavilion had 5 rinks, with 4 geared towards hockey and 1 for figure skating. We walked to the receptionist and asked for Eric. Eric was the teacher, and he soon walked out to greet us. He was a good-looking kid, with blondish brown hair similar to Lincoln’s hair color, and a fit body.
“Eric? Garret Hamel, nice to meet you.”
“Hey Mr. Hamel, how are you?”
“I’m good thanks, let me introduce you to the boys. This is Lincoln, he is the oldest. Then we have Ryker right here, next is Jacob, and last is Clay.”
“Hey! You got my name right for once! Good job!” Clayton laughed.
“Thanks, buddy,” I said.
“Alright guys lets go get you guys fitted for some skate rentals and helmets,” Eric said as he led the way. He had a key set with him which granted him access to the rental facility.
“They must trust you a lot to have the keys and everything,” I joked.
“Yeah, they sort of have to. I’m the owner’s son,” he responded.
“Makes sense then.”
“Okay, shoes off, and let’s see what size you all are,” said Eric who seemed to have everything under control. After the boys got skates, Eric and I helped the boys tie them. After that, they got helmets and were ready to go on the ice. They had one of the 4 hockey rinks available and all to themselves. His first lesson was just to get the boys to stand and get used to being on skates. I thought it was sort of comical to see them try. Clayton was somehow the most stable, I guess those YouTube videos paid off. Jacob and Ryker were struggling, but Lincoln by far needed the most work. He wasn’t bad but just wasn’t good either. That being said, I was proud of all of them for trying, and I hoped they would like it. After an hour and a half of being on the ice, the boys got a 5-minute water break.
“How they doing out there?” I asked Eric.
“Good, Clayton is a hoot,” laughed Eric. “He was telling me all about the videos he watched.”
“Yeah, he was really excited to try tonight.”
“Well he definitely has some skill, kids don’t pick up on skating like he did. Ryker and Jacob are good, but Lincoln will require some work.”
“Yeah, I could sort of sense that, but if it’s not his thing then that’s okay,” I said.
“Oh no, he seemed to be really enjoying it. He will just need some extra work and practice.”
“Good to know,” I said as Eric left to head back out on the ice. The 4 others followed him, or at least tried, as they stumbled their way onto the ice. Eric decided to do a quick lap around the rink. I was very impressed with his footwork as his crossovers looked terrific. By the end of the lesson, the boys made progress with Clayton by far the best one out there.
While they were at their lesson, I texted Todd Brumm and told him, Dylan and Max could come over around 6ish and to not worry about feeding them since we were planning on ordering pizza. Todd sent a text back stating that, 6 is a perfect time and the boys were excited. I sent a text again suggesting, his boys pack a swimsuit if they wanted to use the hot tub. To which Todd acknowledged.
The boys finished their lessons, and I started helping them take their skates off as Eric was shutting down the rink. Ryker and Jacob walked over to the water fountain, and Clayton was in his own world looking at his skates, so I went to Lincoln first, and he started whispering to me.
“Are we coming back for more lessons?”
I was surprised at his comment because I didn’t think Lincoln would want to come back as he struggled the most, but I spoke, “yeah! That’s if you want to.”
“Yes! Eric is like… really cute… No no, I meant cool, Eric is like really cool,” blushed Lincoln.
“Uh huh,” I laughed, “sure ya did.”
“I believe you,” I joked. “Eric is cute, oh oops… I meant to say cool.”
“You’re not funny,” giggled Lincoln.
“Why you laughing then?” I asked as I got the first skate removed.
“Cause you’re a nerd,” laughed Lincoln.
“A cute nerd, oops sorry meant to say, a cool nerd,” I quickly responded.
“You are both types of nerds,” Lincoln laughed again.
“Well I can deal with that,” I replied as I got the other skate off and Lincoln gave me a hug.
“You’re actually awesome!”
“Thanks bud,” I said as I hugged him back.
“Shhh, Eric’s coming back this way, don’t say anything,” Lincoln said as he let go of my hug.
I thought, “yeah like I was going to go up to Eric and say, ‘hey, my 11-year-old foster son thinks your cute’ and give Eric a wink.”
Eric walked by Lincoln and told him he did a great job, which caused Lincoln to blush. Eric made his way to Clayton as he started to help with his skates. Ryker and Jacob soon returned, and we got their skates off. After everything was put away, the boys thanked Eric, and we agreed on next Thursday for another lesson. The boys loaded into the SUV and on our way home we stopped at Subway for 6-inch subs.
We made it back home around 9, and the boys smelled pretty bad. Might be time to start introducing body deodorant to Lincoln as he was giving off a strong smell of BO. Everyone got showers, and I tucked Clayton into bed. Ryker, Jacob, and Lincoln all fell asleep before I had a chance to say goodnight, but that didn’t stop me from kissing their foreheads goodnight.
I didn’t know if it was a good thing or bad thing that I didn’t hear from Kelly today, but decided it was best to not deal with anything else for the night. I went to the family room and turned on Game of Thrones, and watched the final two episodes left in the season. As always, I was on the edge of my seat, and when it finished, I was disappointed I would have to wait another year to see a new episode. I proceeded to turn the tv off and head to bed.
Friday, February 19th, 2016.
The boys woke up and the breakfast table was filled with chatter about the sleepover. Lincoln had asked Rita if she could make pigs in a blanket for the snack bar and Rita agreed. Before long the boys were ready to go to school and loaded into the SUV. I dropped them off then on the way home I received a call from Kelly, “Hey Sis,” I said.
“Hey Christian is super excited about spending the weekend,” she began.
“Well good, glad to have him,” I replied. “So any news on Jacob?”
“Yeah so, I talked to Laura, and she is stumped as well. We don’t really know what to do here. So Helen Giradi’s mother and father are alive making Jacob have biological grandparents. Now technically, the grandmother and grandfather can get custody of Jacob.”
“It’s the law Garret, we are going to need to notify the grandparents. They have the right to know. Now, this only affects Jacob because he had a different mother than the other boys.”
“This is bullshit,” I said. “I… I just can’t believe this.”
“Why does your mind go to the worse case scenario every time?” Asked Kelly.
“I don’t know, I just picture me losing Jacob and Jacob being separated from his brothers.”
“That may happen, but there are other possibilities.”
“Oh yeah, like what?”
“Maybe the grandparents don’t want to be legally responsible for a 7-year-old boy they’ve never met. Or maybe the grandparents don’t care, and want nothing to do with him.”
“Or they could see a paycheck, and take Jacob in for the money.”
“Well no, Jacob wouldn’t be considered in foster care anymore since he would be placed in a relatives home. Meaning the government wouldn’t pay them,” Kelly stated.
“I… I just don’t know,” I replied.
“Well, we are going to try and contact the grandparents and notify them. We will take this one step at a time.”
“I don’t have a say in this, do I?”
“No.. since the boys are still in foster care, the decision falls on me.”
“Just a heads up, I want to adopt these boys as soon as possible, so foster care doesn’t have control of them. I’m sick and tired of worrying if I will lose them, and now I have to deal with losing Jacob. Like what kind of fucked up system is that?”
“It’s not a perfect system, but I’ve never claimed it to be perfect. Look things will work out.”
“Its a fucked up system,” I said and hung up. I was pissed, more than pissed, I couldn’t understand the logic behind this, but I guess I didn’t need to.
I arrived home and walked into the kitchen when Rita was cleaning. I didn’t even say hi to her as I walked to my office and started to look for lawyers. I didn’t know if I needed one yet but thought it would be a good idea to start. I was not going to lose Jacob. About an hour later, Rita brought me a drink and said, “Everything will work out.”
“My sister said the same thing, but here I am searching for the best lawyer. I… I can’t lose Jacob, I’ve been through this once… It’s not going to happen again.”
“What do you mean?”
“I already went through the possibility of losing the boys once, and I didn’t even consider looking into lawyers or putting up a fight. Not this time, if Jacob gets taken out of my custody, I will be ready with a legal team, to sue the state and CPS.”
“Garret, you need to take a breath. You don’t know what is going to happen.”
“Exactly,” I said cutting her off. “I have no clue, but at least I’ll be ready with a legal team.
“Trust your sister and the system, don’t get worked up yet,” spoke Rita as she exited the office.
Maybe she was right, perhaps I was overreacting… who the fuck am I kidding… I knew I was overacting, but I didn’t care. I had a list compiled of the top 3 lawyers in Columbus that practiced in family law.
I finally left my office as it was time to go pick Clayton up. As usual, he was his happy, cheerful self, and that instantly improved my mood as we talked about his day and how he is looking forward to Christian coming. We made it home, and I went over his homework, which as always was perfect. Clayton wanted to go play ping pong, so I played him to 11 best out of three wins. Of course, he wasn’t that great, and we shifted the rules to his favor, but it was fun. I let him win by two points which made his day. We went back upstairs, and Rita had just finished the pigs in a blanket. Clayton and I had the chance to try a few, and by a few, I think we ate 7 each. Good thing Rita made like 100 of them, possibly more.
Before we knew it, the time had come to go pick up the boys from school. We arrived in the parking lot and waved to Todd as he was picking up his kids. Ryker, Jacob, and Dylan walked out together and were followed by Lincoln. Dylan went to his dad’s car, and the boys loaded in the SUV.
“So how’s Hannah,” teased Lincoln as he buckled his seatbelt.
“Shut it,” Ryker said punching his brother in the arm.
“Hey… no hitting,” I said.
“Sorry, but Lincoln is annoying.”
“What? I saw them walking together again, it was just a simple question,” Lincoln replied with an evil smile on his face.
“Lincoln… you know what your doing, stop antagonizing him,” I said.
“What does an… an… whatever the word you said mean?” Clayton asked.
“It means to make someone angry, annoyed, mad or hostile, and usually on purpose.”
“Oh okay,” Clayton said as he tried to repeat the word he couldn’t pronounce.
“Alright boys lets go get Christian,” I said.
The drive to his school was about 45 minutes away, and the ride there was filled with chatter. Lincoln missed one on his spelling test, and Jacob got a 100% on his president test. However, he was given a new set of presidents 12-22, to learn for next week.
We arrived at his middle school and parked the car. It was a chilly day with temperatures in the mid-40s, so the soccer tryouts were moved to inside. They were just doing an athletic test anyway, which didn’t require them to be outside. We entered the gymnasium and saw Christian chatting with other classmates. About a minute later he spotted us and came running over.
“Hey Christian,” Clayton said and was first to give him a hug.
“Hi Clay,” responded Christian. “I didn’t know you guys were all coming!”
“Yeah we wanted to surprise you and show our support,” I said as I gave him a quick hug. “Aren’t you going to be in trouble for being over here?”
“Oh no, team 3 is running sprint drills or something, I’m on team 1, and I just completed that drill like 10 minutes ago. I have one more test, and it’s the mile test. I have to run the mile in under 8 minutes.”
“Geez this is just middle school sports, I can’t believe tryouts are this rigorous,” I said.
“This is only day one,” laughed Christian.
“Alright well let’s take a seat on the bleachers if you aren’t needed yet,” I said.
“Okay,” Christian responded, “hey thanks for supporting me guys, it means a lot.”
“You’re welcome,” Jacob spoke as he gave him a quick hug. “You’re sweaty and sticky!”
“I know, and I smell,” laughed Christian.
“Eww you do smell,” laughed Lincoln.
“You’ll be smelling my butt when I beat you in FIFA,” responded Christian.
“In your dreams loser,” said Lincoln as they sat down. I sat down on the bench above the boys as Christian was in the middle with Ryker on his left and Lincoln on his right. Jacob was to the right of Lincoln, while Clayton thought it was a good idea to occupy Christian’s lap. I was surprised that Christian was willing to show affection to his cousins with other classmates around, as kids are usually embarrassed by adults or younger family members. Not with Christian, he was loving the attention and even attracted the attention of a few girls from his school who probably thought Clayton was adorable. Only if they knew Christian wasn’t into girls and they were wasting their time.
Ryker began telling Christian about Dylan and Max spending the night, then Jacob interrupted by bringing up the snack bar. They chatted like school girls, it was quite comical to sit back and watch, but before long, team 1 was called back down to the floor. Group 1 consisted of 10 kids, and they lined up on the start line. The coach said the word and the boys began running around the gymnasium. I was curious to see how many laps needed to be complete to be considered a mile, but I got distracted and lost track after counting the leader go around 5 times.
Christian was maintaining pace with the others in his group, as I think he was running third. I heard the coach yell last lap to the lead boy, and Christian wasn’t far behind him. When he passed us, Clayton let out a “go Christian cheer” which I thought was hilariously cute. Christian finished which meant he was free to leave, he was lucky he was team 1 because everyone was able to go earlier than team 2 and 3. He went into the locker room to change out of his sweaty clothes but didn’t take a shower so he would need one when we got back home. I asked him what his time was, but apparently, the coach doesn’t release results until all tryouts are finished, which meant he wouldn’t know until Wednesday.
We hopped into the Benz and were on our way back home. The car ride home discussion was mostly about the sleepover and what everyone wanted to do. The hot tub came up as well as playing a game of football if the weather was good enough. We arrived home around 5:15 and Rita greeted everyone.
“Hey Christian,” Rita said as she walked towards him.
“Hey Rita, I wouldn’t hug me. I smell,” laughed Christian.
“Oh, I don’t care, come give me a hug sugar!” Insisted Rita.
Ryker and Jacob went upstairs to prepare for Dylan, and Clayton followed them. Lincoln, Christian, and I sat down at the table as Rita brought drinks over.
“What shower can I use?” Asked Christian.
“Mine or Lincoln’s,” I said. “Whatever works.”
“I’ll just shower in Lincoln’s.”
“I have to bring my Xbox to the basement, we should head upstairs anyway,” said Lincoln.
“Alright,” Christian said as he drank his juice and went for his bag. “Oh shoot I forgot underwear.”
“Just use a pair of Lincoln’s. They should fit you,” I said.
“Yeah good idea,” Lincoln commented as the two went upstairs. I heard the water turn on, and about a minute later, Lincoln came running back down to the basement with his Xbox in hand. Rita and I just laughed as, he made two trips because he forgot the wires, game controllers, and games.
I went upstairs to change into comfortable clothes, but on my way up the steps I heard Christian say, “Uncle G?”
“Where does Lincoln keep his underwear, he didn’t give me a pair,” Christian said poking his head out the door.
“I guess you’re going commando if you can’t find them,” I laughed.
“Ha ha, funny… but seriously.”
“Umm… they should be the top drawer of the dresser.”
“Which dresser though? He has two,” laughed Christian.
“OH, you’re hopeless,” I joked as I entered the room. “Here.”
“Thanks,” Christian said and dropped the towel, letting everything be on display.
“That weapon hasn’t been in any more pictures, right?”
“Nope, and I don’t plan on it being in anymore,” responded Christian who put the underwear on. They were a bit small on him, but they would do.
“If those are to tight, then we can try the boxers.”
“No these are good, thanks,” Christian said.
“Good, so how are Austin and you?”
“Well I wanted to talk to you more, but I was going to wait until later…. like Saturday or something.”
“Whenever you feel like it, just let me know,” I said. Lincoln had just walked back upstairs and entered the room. I could tell his eyes went directly to the groin area of Christian, as the boxer briefs outlined Christian’s cock.
“Lincoln,” I said to break his stare.
“Xbox hooked up downstairs?” I asked.
“uhh yeah… umm everything is good, just came back up to see if-if Christian was ready to lose.”
“You’re on,” responded Christian who pulled his shorts up. He grabbed a shirt and threw it on as they walked down the steps.
I went to my room and got changed, then checked on the other three. Before long the doorbell rang, and I answered the door. Ryker came running down to help me greet our guest.
“Hey Dylan, hi Max, I hope you guys are hungry. We have a ton of snacks, and pizza on the way,” I said.
“I’m starved,” said Dylan as he walked in.
“Hi, Garret Hamel,” I said as I greeted the wife of Todd.
“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Joanne Brumm. Thank you so much for letting the boys spend the night, they’ve been so excited.”
“Mom! Don’t embarrass us,” Max said.
“Oh you two are so easily embarrassed,” responded Joanne.
“Hey, Max!” Lincoln said as he just walked up from the basement. “Come downstairs, my cousin is here, and we are playing FIFA.”
“Cool! Bye mom,” Max said.
“Yeah let’s go upstairs Dylan, we are playing Minecraft.”
“Awesome!” Dylan said who hugged his mom before taking off upstairs with Ryker.
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” I asked.
“You know what, that would be terrific,” Joanne said.
“Excellent, come on in,” I said as I closed the door. We entered the kitchen, and Rita must have overheard us because she already started a pot.
“Joanne, this is Rita, she helps me with basically everything,” I said.
“Hi Rita, Joanne Brumm.”
“Did you say, Brumm?” Asked Rita
“Uh yes, yes I did.”
“You are not related to Mark, and Tilly Brumm are you?” Asked Rita.
“Yes I am, they are my parents! How do you know them?”
“I go to the same church as them, your parents are terrific people.”
“What a small world,” laughed Joanne. “I have to tell them I met you.”
“A small world indeed,” said Rita. “Joanne, do you take your coffee black or some cream and sugar?”
“Just some cream please.”
“So I was telling Todd we will have to do dinner sometime, and get to know each other more,” I said as we took a seat.
“Yeah, Todd mentioned that idea to me. I would love to, we haven’t really made any new friends since moving back from Philadelphia. We’ve just been so busy.”
“Oh I understand, I thought I knew what busy was until the boys came into my life.”
“Yeah, Todd also mentioned that the boys are your foster children?” Asked Joanne.
“Yup! The best thing that’s happened to me, but it did just recently happen, so I’m still adjusting.”
“Well, I think that’s amazing.”
“So do I,” stated Rita as she brought over our coffees. The rest of the conversation was just getting to know each other, and I found out that Todd had a conference call or he would have brought the boys over to the house. It didn’t matter to me, but she was around for 10-15 minutes before leaving.
Before I did anything else, I placed the pizza order. I ordered 3 pizzas: one plain, one with pepperoni, and a buffalo chicken style pizza. They said the food would be here in 30 minutes which was perfect timing as I saw Rita out the door. She reminded me that the pigs in the blanket need to be reheated in the oven for 5 minutes, at 350. Good thing she told me because I just would have thrown them, in the microwave.
The pizza came, and I hollered for the boys. In no time, 7 boys surrounded The kitchen island filled with chatter and laughter.
“Alright boys, before we eat, I just want to say that Dylan and Max, if you guys need anything tonight, don’t be afraid to ask. And please… please call me Garret,” I said.
“Thanks for the pizza,” Dylan said which started everyone to thank me.
We opened up the pizza boxes and the boy’s dove in. We had some people sitting around the kitchen table while others sat on the bar stools at the island.
“So what’re the plans for tonight?” I asked.
“Can we go in the hot tub?” Asked Lincoln.
“If that’s what everyone wants to do,” I said which everyone agreed. So after everyone was done eating, I sent the boys to go put their suits on, as I walked outside to set the tub up. I walked back inside and grabbed 7 beach towels for them, and was greeted by a shirtless Dylan who still hadn’t changed out of his shorts yet.
“Mr. umm sorry… Garret, where can I change?”
“There is a bathroom right here,” I said and pointed to the door. Dylan was a good looking kid. He had brown hair, which was kept short. He was a little taller than Ryker, and if I had to guess, weighed 60 pounds. He had beautiful facial features with soft green eyes.
“Thanks,” Dylan said.
Lincoln, Christian, and Max came down in their swimsuits and were ready to go, so I let them go out first. Max was similar to His brother Dylan, but taller and longer hair. He probably weighed around 75-80 pounds.
Soon all the boys were in the hot tub and having fun. I turned the jets on full blast and let them enjoy. They were probably in there for 35-40 minutes before I saw them get out. I handed them each a towel as they walked towards the house and directed the boys, to put their wet swimsuits in the laundry room and I would put them in the dryer. As they went in, I went out to close the hot tub and shut everything down.
The rest of the night was easy going, after a few hours of video games, all the boys joined in the basement to watch a movie and enjoy the snack bar. And let me say, the snack bar was a major success.
Clayton fell asleep around 9:30 from watching the movie. I wasn’t downstairs with the boys, so I didn’t know he was sleeping until Clayton was carried upstairs from the basement by Christian. Christian wanted to fully bring Clayton to his bed, so I walked behind Christian as he took on last flight of steps. They finally made it to Clayton’s room, and I took over and tucked him as Christian was trying to catch his breath.
“You okay?” I chuckled as we left his room.
“Yeah… That was just a lot harder than I thought it would be.”
“You’re a good cousin, he looks up to you.”
“Absolutely! You’re a fantastic cousin. For one, you aren’t embarrassed by family members, so when the boys were giving you hugs in front of everyone at your school, you didn’t shy away. Plus, Clayton sat on your lap, and you accepted it like it was nothing. Two, they love being around you, and you treat all of the boys with kindness. Three, you have an excellent personality, so you made it easy for the boys to adjust to our crazy family.”
“Thanks… Clayton is just so cute and adorable,” giggled Christain, “And I guess it’s nice to have family close to my age that lives near me. I wish I could come over every weekend though.”
“Well, we will see!”
“And you’re an awesome uncle,” Christian responded.
“Aww thanks buddy,” I said and gave him a hug.
“You really are though. Like you so cool and easy to talk to. I feel like I don’t have to hide things from you and well… you’re just, just I don’t know, awesome!”
“You’re gonna make me cry kiddo,” I said as I gave him another tight squeeze.
“Thanks for getting really cool cousins for me also,” Christian said as we released our hug.
I laughed, “go have fun,” I said.
Around 11 I decided it was time for everyone to consider going to sleep, but I knew that probably wasn’t going to work. I did successfully divide up the younger ones and from the older ones, as the older group got the basement and the younger group had Ryker’s room. Around 11:30 I did one last check through and made sure everyone was good before I went upstairs to my room.