After the group exited the bus at the Cove, everyone said their 'Good Nights' to Eric and his mom, as they were headed home, to get the youngster in bed. The boys then headed upstairs to their bedrooms, while the adults headed to the kitchen to make some fresh coffee.
"I can't believe the day we had," voiced Aidan. "I knew the Alamo was here, but I never thought any of that other kewl stuff was here, too. That 4D movie was a blast and looking out over the city from the top of that tower was terrific, too."
"I thought the Alamo would be bigger," said Clint. "You see it in all those movies and you'd expect it to be more than what we saw today."
"Clint, you need to understand that the city of San Antonio evolved around where the uncompleted church was," began Ryan. "People just bought up the land and built their stores or whatever right there. There wasn't any Historical Society or Preservation Group around back then, to protect the entire Alamo grounds. You saw the diorama in the gift shop and how large the place actually was."
"Yeah, but still, you'd think…" and Clint's thoughts just faded away.
Then Collin spoke up, "Clint, there is a place outside of San Antonio, that has a 'rebuilt' replica, where, supposedly, John Wayne made the first movie about the Alamo. If you were going to be here for a week, we could have done that tour as well. There is so much to see and do around here, just as there is back in San Diego."
"Well, at least we got the Boardwalk to go to," piped up Doug.
"We have not only SeaWorld, but we also have a Six Flags and the World's Best Water Park, in New Braunfels, called Schlitterbahn. And, then, there is also the tubing down the many rivers around here. We could keep you busy all summer long, if you lived here," added Ryan, to the conversation.
"Yeah, I could live here for sure," sighed Brent.
"If you stayed, your mom would have a fit, Brent," said Clint. "She'd fight tooth and nail to get you back with her."
"Yeah, I know … it's just that … well, she only has me … but sometimes I feel like I'm being smothered. We had a very loud talk about us coming here. She really didn't want us to come … meaning ME. She had to rearrange her work schedule, so I could come," explained Brent.
"She could have let you come by yourself, Brent," said Collin. "I mean Jack and Eileen were gonna be the chaperones and all."
"That didn't matter to her. You saw how she was, when you came to visit and to see Aidan, and how she wanted to know everything about what we did, and who I was with, and wanting to meet you all, but especially Mr. Ken. I know she means well, but, she … she just over does it, too much. She treats me like I was a 5th grader, or something." With that said Brent got up and walked out of Collin's room, where all the boys had gone after they came home.
"I'll go get him," said Doug.
"No … wait … give him a few minutes," said Aidan. "He gets this way sometimes, after saying those things about his mom. They've been bugging him more and more, lately. I'm afraid … I'm afraid he'll do something stupid one day, because … well, because he just wants to be a regular teenager and his mom … she just keeps on and on."
Just then, Chief walked into the bedroom holding a message in her mouth. She sat right down in front of Collin and dropped the note.
"I better read this. The arrival of Chief only means Big Bro wants something. … Okay, here it is, 'Ryan, get your sorry butt down here, it is time to go home' signed Mom."
"Uh ah, let me see that," said Ryan, grabbing the note out of Collin's hand. "Shit … she did send this. I better get going."
"We'll all come," said Collin.
All the boys followed Ryan down the stairs. Even Brent came along as he was only out in the hall listening to everyone talking.
It was a little past 9 PM when Mary and Ryan walked out the Cove's front door, after saying their goodbye's to the California Boys, and the adults who came with them. Of course, Ryan wasn't too happy about having to go home, but his mom said he'd get to see his new friends tomorrow. Mom had spoken, and off they were.
After those two left, those remaining all went down to the Great Room to talk more as a group. The boys were asked to tell a bit more of themselves and how they were enjoying their visit.
After a half hour of that, the boys went looking for something cold to drink and that is when Collin talked to Mr. Ken about what Aidan said about Brent, and how his mom keeps smothering him.
"Collin, what would you want me to do? It's not as if he was my nephew or something, that I can interfere. But, I would have to agree with you, on his mom's overwhelming him with 'love'," said Mr. Ken.
"Well, maybe you can just talk to Brent, about what Aidan said to us upstairs. Y ou know, about doing something stupid one day. Maybe, if he can talk it out with someone, you know, he kinda trusts and he knows … won't go talking to his mother. I don't think he has anyone he can go to, Bro," a concerned teen asked his mentor.
"Okay, I'll see if he and I can talk some. I'll use my Study, as a ruse, to get him alone. But, I won't offer any guarantees. If he doesn't want to talk, I can't make him," agree Mr. Ken.
"Bro, that's all I can ask. At least, we can say we tried," said Collin.
"We?" teased Mr. Ken.
"Yeah, WE! If it weren't for me, you'd not know anything about this to do anything to help," replied Collin who then smiled and stuck his tongue out.
"That's real grown up, Collin," teased back the man.
"Yup, but I'm still a kid at heart," came back Collin.
Once the boys got something to drink, Mr. Ken, somehow, did get Brent back into his office and he asked the young teen straight out. "Brent, Collin tells me you're having problems with your mom smothering you all the time, and not letting you grows up. He asked me to take some time and talk to you about it … but only if you want to. He thinks that maybe … well, talking to someone, who isn't going to go back to your mom and tell her everything, will give you a chance to talk out the problem. I'll listen and give you some insight, but it has to be up to you."
The man and teenager sat there in silence for a few moments. Mr. Ken could tell Brent was in deep thought; by the way he was just staring out and not moving. Then, the lad turned towards the man and there were tears streaming down his face. Mr. Ken immediately got out of his chair and went and pulled the boy to him. They stayed that way for a few minutes before Brent said anything.
"I'm sorry for crying like that, Mr. Ken," was the first thing Brent said.
"There is nothing to be sorry about, Brent. Sometimes, as we are growing up, we are inundated with more than we can handle and we need someone we can talk things over with. Most kids go to either their mom or dad, but I take it, in your case, you feel like there is no one. Am I right?" asked Mr. Ken.
Brent looked up into the man's eyes to gauge his sincerity and seeing he could trust him, responded by saying, "Yeah … I don't have anyone I can go to … you know … to talk about things. I know my mom means well, but … well, she's a mom and doesn't know what guys are going through. I can't talk to her about 'guy' things."
"Brent, is there a girl somewhere in this equation?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Well, it's not like that … it's just lots of man things. Like, when I was going through puberty, and then there was my acne, and now I'm sixteen, and I want to drive, and I want to have some freedom and get a job. Oh, Mr. Ken, I could tell by the way you treated and talked to your 'little brothers', when you visited, that they had what I want so bad. I want a 'dad' or a man I can talk to.
"I tried to get mom to get me a Big Brother. You know, one of those guys who takes kids and does things and takes them places. Someone, the kid can talk to about 'guy' stuff. … She was afraid I'd be molested or even worse … raped and she wouldn't even take me to the place to even talk to them," answered Brent.
"Brent, Collin, and I take it, Aidan, is concerned that you might do something stupid, and they want me to talk to you just to see if I can help at all," followed up Mr. Ken.
"Well, I'm not going to kill myself, if that's what you're asking. I just want to be normal, whatever that is, for a growing teenager. I would like her not to call me every ten minutes, asking where I am or what I'm doing. I would like to be trusted for once. I would like to get my driver's license; but Noooo, she says it is too expensive. I could get a job, and help pay for it, and in the meantime, I could learn some responsibility," finished Brent.
Just then, there was a light rap on the Study door and Janice stepped into the room.
"Mom, what are you doing here?" asked a surprised, but even more pissed off, Brent, as he wiped his tears away from his eyes.
"I was looking for you and one of the boys said they saw you walking away with Mr. Ken, so I came looking for you. … By the way, I heard what you were talking about Brent," said Janice.
But no sooner had she finished when Brent lashed out and said, "See, Mr. Ken, I can't go anywhere without her spying on me and wanting to know everything I am doing and now … and now she was even listening in on our PRIVATE conversation.
"I told Collin the night of his Birthday party that I didn't think I'd ever want to leave when we had to, and I teased him about you taking in another new 'brother' or two. But, there she was again … listening to what I had to say, telling me not to get any crazy ideas, and that she needed me at home with her. … What is she going to do when I go off to college? Make me go to that lousy local community college so she can keep me home and make me a 'momma's boy' forever? I wish I could stay here!"
That said, Brent ran out of the Study, with huge tears falling from his eyes, because of what he was afraid to tell his mom had come out full force. The truth, as he knew it, hurt him really deeply, and he needed to get away.
Collin heard a deep thumping noise and when he looked, he saw Brent hurrying, and grabbing his coat, and heading out the door. Fearing he messed up, Collin grabbed his coat, and quickly went looking for his friend. He caught up to the teen down at the water's edge, and gingerly approached him.
"Brent?" asked Collin very lightly.
"D… did I mess up by asking Bro to talk to you?" asked Collin again, very gingerly.
Not getting a reply to either question, Collin slowly went up to the lad and, when he heard him crying, he grabbed the teenager and held him tight.
Up in the Study, Janice was also crying. Mr. Ken had her sit down in one of those soft leather chairs and handed her a few tissues and just stood back, and waited for her to speak.
By now, the rest of the California boys had grabbed their coats and headed outside looking for their hometown friend, and Collin. Seeing two figures down by the water, they headed in that direction.
"Brent," immediately said Aidan, as the California Boys reached the two figures, "are you okay? We all saw you run out and … well, you're our friend and we have to stick together. … Is there anything we can do?"
Collin released Brent, some, to give the teen some breathing room, in order to answer, but what the boy did, instead, was break away and go to Aidan and continue to cry on that teen's shoulder. The rest of the boys just stood there waiting, and hoping, that Brent would come out of whatever happened to him and be Okay.
Janice finally composed herself and sat up straight, looked into Mr. Ken's eyes and asked, "Wha … what did I do wrong? All I said was that I heard what you were talking about. Why did he run out like that?"
"You really don't know, do you?" asked Mr. Ken.
She shook her head and wiped more tears and sat there.
"If you heard us talking … then you heard what your son had to say and … and you know it was about you, and … how he sees it as the way you treat him. And now, you say you don't know why he acted the way he did? … Janice … I really don't know what to say to you, other than … than that you and your son have got a lot of talking and listening to do with each other," was all Mr. Ken said, not wanting to get into a pissing contest with a mom, about her boy.
By now, the five teens all walked to the boat dock and sat on the benches there. It was quiet for some time when Doug asked if Brent and his mom finally had it out. The question was an honest one, but not one that anyone, should have asked at that point in time.
"You know, Doug,' said Clint, "you really know how to 'fuck a skunk'!"
"Wha? What?" said Doug.
But before Clint could say anything more, Brent spoke up. "Doug, she heard everything I was talking to Mr. Ken about. Everything! So, I blasted her with everything I had been thinking about for months, now. … She's made my life a living hell and treats me like I … like I'm still a ten year old. I said … I told Mr. Ken, in front of her, that I … that I wished I didn't have to leave here … ever."
That last revelation shocked all of the boys, including Collin. None of the lads had anything they wanted to, or could say. The California boys all knew how Brent's mom was towards her own son, and how he had to endure her constant calls and questions. They knew of their, recent, constant battles about driving and getting a job and silently wished they could do something. It appeared that by Brent's having it out with his mother that things might not get any sort of resolution anytime soon.
When Janice didn't come back after looking for her son and seeing all the boys getting their coats and heading outside, Jack and Eileen decided they'd go look for Mr. Ken to see if he knew anything about what was happening. They found him in his Study with Janice sitting in a chair crying. They hesitated before slowly entering the room.
"Mr. Ken … is there something going on that … that we can help with?" asked Eileen.
Ken had no idea what to say. He found himself in the middle of something he wished he had known about before inviting all these people to his home. He stood there looking down at Janice, hoping she'd say something to her friends, the Horner's.
"All the boys grabbed their coats and went rushing out. We waited for … well we waited and waited, then figured we'd see what, if anything, we could help with," this time said by Jack Horner.
"Jack, I'm not really sure what, or even if, we can help here. I t seems Janice and Brent were already on their way to a confrontation before coming here, and … well … Janice overheard what her son was trying to explain to me. … She decided to let Brent know she heard and …" was all Ken got out before Eileen spoke up.
"And that was what triggered Brent storming off. It was something that was bound to happen. We, and all the kids mostly, saw it coming," said Eileen.
"Then, why didn't anyone tell me?" asked Janice.
"Well … ah … because you are so 'right' all the time when it comes to Brent," said Jack. "We've all tried to say stuff, but you keep reminding us 'He is your son' … and so what we did was … we let you dig your hole deeper and deeper, and now it will be a long, hard way to dig out," added Jack, in an accusatory tone.
"I tried to be a good mother," said Janice.
"But you never turned into a 'mom'" said Eileen. "You've never let your son grow up. You've kept him in a pre-teenager's life and he has resented that for a very, VERY long time, Janice," added Eileen.
While the four adults talked things out in the Study, the five teenagers were still out on the boat dock talking, as well.
"Collin, does Mr. Ken treat you like a young kid? Does he check up on you 24/7? Do you have any freedom to do things at all?" were just a few of the questions Brent asked his Texan friend.
"Brent, I've only lived with Mr. Ken since last October, but … well to be honest … Bro has given me lots of space and freedom. But, before I was kidnapped, and I lived with my parents they, well, my dad, actually, kept a tight rein on what I did and who I saw or hung out with. He wanted me to only be associated with the 'right type of people' if you know what I mean?
"Mr. Ken has treated me more like I was his younger brother, and … well; he has allowed me to be a teenager. If I was still at home, I know I would never have had the same amount of freedom or even done half the things I've done so far, living with him. Matter of fact, if they ever find my grandmother, and I have to go live with her, I could very well find myself back in the same boat. My grandmother is my dad's mom, so I bet he learned from her, as to how he treated me.
"Brent, you can't hold what is bothering you inside. When you do, it only eats away at you like a cancer and … when it comes out, it hurts not only you, but others around you, especially your mom in this case," is how Collin answered Brent's question.
It was quiet for a few moments when Brent asked, "What do I do, now? She heard what I was asking Mr. Ken to help me with. How am I going to get her to even listen to me, let alone let me out of her sight, until I am old and gray?" When he finished, Brent let the tears fall some more.
"Am I such a bad mother to want to make sure my son is safe? Shouldn't I know where he is and what he is doing?" asked Janice in a way to make it look like she wasn't the problem.
"Janice, you can keep saying it that way, but … but the end result will always be the same!" said Jack. "Listen to yourself. You called yourself 'mother' and you never ever consider yourself a 'mom', especially to your son. Yeah, we've all heard you call yourself 'mother', hundreds of times, but Brent needs more than that. He needs to learn trust and responsibility, but you've never given him that chance. He has to beg to come over to study with Aidan, but as long as you can see and watch him, you're okay. You never think of what it was doing to your own son."
Ken was still standing there, listening to the other adults talk, and was very glad he wasn't in the conversation at all. He was also thinking how lucky he was that Ryan and Collin both had good heads on their shoulders and would come to him when they had a problem. He did wonder, though, if he would be the same as Janice, if he ever had a young child from birth, to mold and help grow up, to meet today's world.
"Brent, you know you can come live with us," spoke up Aidan. "You know mom and dad love you as much as … well, we all love you, man," said Aidan almost saying out loud he 'loved' the boy.
"Thanks, Aid," responded a still teary eyed Brent, "but I don't think that will solve anything. It would probably only compound things the way she acts at times. She'll begin to blame you guys and never see that she is the one who makes my life so miserable."
Clint and Doug sat there in silence, not knowing what to say. They liked Brent as much as anyone, in their circle of friends, but they never saw anything like they were now.
"Brent," a tentative Clint spoke out, "you know, we'll all … all help you, no matter what. If you need specifics, or whatever it is to help, you know, convince her how wrong she's been about you … then, we'll help. Won't we fella's?"
There were guttural sounds from Doug and Aidan and Collin that they agreed with what Clint had just said.
"Thanks, guys, I really appreciate that," said Brent. "But … but what do I do, now. We all have to fly back together, and … and I bet that will be the quietest plane ride ever." Brent then half hardily laughed at what he had just said.
"Eileen, have I been that bad a mother?" asked Janice of what she considered her good girl friend.
"Janice, I'm afraid what my husband said is true. Brent has got to be allowed to grow up. He needs to make some mistakes, now, so, when he is an adult, he will know what not to do. The night Aidan was attacked. We knew there were people around us who thought our son was gay, but … well, we still allowed him to live his life. He could have stayed inside with us that night, but he decided he could handle it, and he so wanted to study with Brent, so we let him go.
"You know, Jack even offered to drive him over and pick him up that night, but Aidan said 'we couldn't watch over him every minute of the day; that if people wanted to get him they would, 'no matter what'. Since that night, we have constantly second guessed ourselves about that decision, to let him walk to your place, but Aidan has argued that it would have happened anyway. Who ever thought those people would hurt him, so bad, that we'd almost lose him?"
"We are extremely happy that we still have our son … and would we change what happened if we could? Yes … we would change it and let it happen or not, some other time. But, the thing is, we allowed our son to make that decision, to go out that night, even though it might be a bad idea."
Janice sat there the entire time listening to what the Horner's had to say and tried to think how bad a 'mother' she had been to her son but could never 'see' she was. She then looked up to Mr. Ken again and asked him a question.
"Mr. Ken, do you think I am a bad mother?"
Ken didn't want to be drawn into this, but he had no way out this time, so he thought a few seconds before responding.
"Janice, I think what the Horner's are trying to tell you is… that you are being more a 'mother' than a mom. It takes a mother and a father to make a child. It takes a mom and dad to show the child the way, and then let them try it on their own. It takes a mom and a dad to enable that child to grow, and give them the means to learn, and become their own person. It takes a mom and a dad to give encouragement to get up, after they've fallen.
"The father and the mother are the disciplinarians. It is the mom and the dad who are the loving parents who take pride in their child's achievements and allow them to be their own person … learning along the way what is right and what is wrong. Janice, it is up to you to determine if you are the mother, and disciplinarian, or the mom and encourager to your son, Brent.
"If you actually heard what he was saying to me about you then … well, then you know he feels smothered. He is someone who feels as if he is in a prison, being watched all the time. He was asking me how he could talk to you about those and a number of other things that have been bothering him, for such a very long time. He's sixteen … but he says he feels like a ten year old, because that is how you treat him. Janice … it is up to you to make this right. It's NOT Brent's responsibility. You're the adult, and it is you who is supposed to teach him and guide him and allow him to be his own person, along with your guidance."
While the adults were still in the Study, the boys decided they'd better go back up to the house. Once inside, they took off their coats and Collin led them to the kitchen for some drinks and sweet cakes, Momma Maria always kept there.
The adults never heard the teenagers come back into the house and they, too, had decided it was time to sit down with a hot cup of coffee. Ken guided them into the kitchen to make the coffee and get Momma's sweet cakes out, when they came upon the teens.
The adults stopped dead in their tracks, and the teens got awfully quiet. They watched as mother and son just stood there looking at one another. You could have heard a pin drop.
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