Castle Roland

Scout's Own

by Eric Aune


Chapter 1

Posted: 30 Apr 15

Scout's Own

Copyright © 2015 by Eric Aune and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Author's Note: I wanted to explain a bit about where the title of this story comes from, especially for those who are not familiar with the Scouting program. In this story it has two meanings, which is why I chose it.

In Scouting depending on who you talk to it has a couple of meanings. For many they equate it to a religious observance. At many large Scouting events or locations like a week long summer camp, it is used to mean a non-sectarian religious observance. For others it is a time of reflection on how an outing went or in the case of those of us who have gone on the 12 day backpack trip in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, how the day went. Each evening, we would gather together and talk about what went well that day, what didn't go so well, what can we do as a team to improve our performance. Every member contributes to the reflection on the day, they call it Roses and Thorns.

In this story, I add the meaning; Scouts take care of their own. This is a story of a group of Scouts who took a phrase out of the Scout Oath, "To Help Other People At All Times" and brought it to life in taking care of their own. They do it by pulling out an idea from more than 150 years before they were born, and using it to bring that phrase to life. I hope you like it.

Scout's Own LogoCole stood in front of the group in the middle school multipurpose room as he looked over the milling group of boys. Some of them had just returned to the multipurpose room after bringing the equipment that they had been using during the meeting back to the storage bin that was located out next to the teachers' parking lot. They had had to be careful in their activities tonight, because of the voting booths along one side of the room. They had been set up in the room, in anticipation of the room being used as a voting location for Tuesday's Presidential Election. In the back of the room, he saw some of the parents and adult leaders standing next to each other and talking. He watched the boys of Troop 77 for a few more moments before bringing his arm up into the scout sign. He said nothing. He just stood there and waited for the boys to notice him.

At 16, Coleman Anderson was what you might picture in your mind that a Senior Patrol Leader and soon to be Eagle Scout would look like. His uniform was correct, his merit badge sash held a multitude of merit badges on it, a bit more than the 21 required to make Eagle Scout. He was a Life Scout now and had just completed his Eagle Scout Project. He only had to finish some final requirements on a couple of more Eagle required merit badges that he was working on, before he could have his Eagle Scout Board of Review and attain the rank of Eagle Scout.

It had been a strange last few months since June, when former President Jack Bryce won the nomination from his party for President. Now with the National Election coming tomorrow, he had heard his parents talking about how terrible Jackson Bryce was. He had been an average president at best to them. Not very good, but he had been adequate. In contrast they were very happy with President Ashwood. Now when they had one of their many parties for their likeminded friends and associates, they all talked about how bad Jack Bryce was and called him a terrorist, even an international terrorist, which made no sense to Cole. Cole remembered when Bryce had been President prior to Ashwood and he could not reconcile the image of him as the international terrorist that Ashwood was portraying him. No one had ever said anything like that about him, until after Bryce announced his candidacy.

Because of Cole's interest in politics, he had been involved with student government since middle school and he was presently Junior Class President. Most of the other students and many of the teachers expected him to continue in student government and he would probably be elected Associated Student Body President in his senior year. Because of his long time interest in politics, he paid attention to what was going on around the country and the world. He believed that the Executive Orders that Ashwood had been putting out since February were blatantly unconstitutional. The anti-gun legislation was against the second amendment, and then the anti-gay legislation was completely wrong as well. He never discussed this position with his parents, even though he knew they were involved with local politics themselves, because he knew that would just cause problems. They, of course, completely supported everything that President Ashwood had done, and had been unhappy when the Supreme Court had rejected all of those Executive Orders saying that they were unconstitutional.

Right after Bryce announced his candidacy, Ashwood seemed to go into overdrive. He began to issue more Executive Orders beyond what he had already issued prior to Bryce's announcement. He was trying to circumvent legislation by banning gun ownership and removing children from loving homes because they had gay parents. His orders also revoked adoptions from those parents as well. When the Supreme Court said that his Executive Orders were unconstitutional, then on top of that, 47 of the 50 states declared that they would not enforce any such Executive Orders, it seemed to stop or at least slow Ashwood down, at least as far as Cole had heard.

It didn't make sense to him, that someone who had done such a good job as President could change in just a few short years. His parents of course had never really had anything good to say about Bryce. But when he talked to his grandfather, he heard nothing but good about the man and his grandfather always gave reasons why he thought that Bryce was a good man, whereas as his parents never could give any reasons why he wasn't, except that he didn't follow the word of God and did things and made decisions that any God fearing person abhorred. Their biggest complaint was how he bowed to the "evil faggot minority", as they called them, and gave them rights that they didn't deserve, including taking children into their homes to raise. Cole could never understand why they thought that way. Why would who you love, have something to do with evil. He didn't care one way or another about that.

To him it was not an issue. He didn't think he knew any kids his age that were gay, but he did know some adults who were. There was his younger brother Cooper's best friend Tyler, who had gay parents. From the times he had met Tyler's parents, they were not how his parents and the pastor at their church portrayed them. Acting girly and trying to molest boys to change them into one of them. He knew there were gays who acted that way, but for most of them, you wouldn't know it if you passed someone on the street who was gay, because they looked like everyone else. The only difference was who they loved. He had been glad that Ashwood seemed to have backed off a little bit, but for the last few weeks, he wasn't so sure. Things seemed to be starting all over again as the election neared. Ashwood and his supporters were strident in their accusations against Bryce. They had heard that Bryce had gone into hiding, but he was still running for President. Cole really hoped that Bryce would win, so that they could get rid of all this craziness and get back to normal.

As Cole stood there, Evan Gale the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader hurried over to join Cole and match his stance with the Scout Sign up. The other boys slowly noticed their two leaders standing in front and they shuffled around until they were in their patrol lines and they copied Cole and Evan's position. From the back of the room, the Scoutmaster Richard Woods made his way to the front and side of the troop and held his hand up in the Scout Sign as well. The room quieted down and Cole let his sign drop. "Two!"

Everyone let their arms drop to their sides as they gave their attention to Cole. He called for any adult announcements and one of the Assistant Scoutmasters came forward.

"Hi boys. So you know, we decided that we were going to go to Boxwell for the winter camp. It's the week after Christmas, so make sure you have your permission slips and final camp fee payment in, so that no one who wants to go, gets left behind. Thank you. I'll be in the back."

Cole looked around and there were no others waiting to make any more announcements, so he turned to the Scoutmaster. "Scoutmaster's Minute?"

Richard looked at his Senior Patrol Leader and nodded as he stepped to the front and brought his hand up to the Scout Sign and began to speak.

"On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country, and to Obey the Scout Law, To help other people at all times, To keep myself Physically Strong, Mentally Awake, and Morally Straight."

He put his hand down and looked at the boys of the troop.

"Just forty words. The Scout Oath is just forty words long, but in these concise phrases are the values and ethical standards that have molded generations of boys into a special breed of men; responsible and responsive, capable of leadership, yet trained in teamwork, able to adapt and face the changing challenges of their times. The unique strength of the Scout Oath is that it remains as relevant today as it was in 1910 when the Boy Scouts of America was formed. And, if ever there was a need to develop men who can overcome challenges, it is now. Our world is changing faster than ever before, for both good and bad. The seeds of the future are already sown. What Boy Scouts does for each boy, it does for the man he will become. In doing so, Scouting paves the way for individuals along the road of life."

He paused for a few moments before he continued.

"I believe that there will be some challenging times ahead of us and we need to remember not only the Scout Oath, but the Law, Motto and Slogan as well. There may be times that we will be asked and expected to do something that doesn't seem right. Before you agree to do something, remember to think about the Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan. If it doesn't fit with those values, then it probably is not the right thing to do. If you follow those values, the choices you make, may at times be among the hardest choices you will ever make, but you will know in your heart, that they will always be the right choices, because they stand up to the test of the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan and Motto."

He stepped back over to the side. Cole stepped back up to the front and raised his hand once again into the Scout Sign. "We'll end the meeting tonight with the Scout Oath. Ready, begin. On my honor…"

The boys of the troop, the Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters recited the Oath with Cole. "Two."

He looked at the boys as he dropped his hand. "Okay, make sure you check with Mister Pickens about getting your paperwork for winter camp taken care of. We'll see you next week, same time, same place. Troop dismissed."

There was the usual gaggle of boys moving around the room, some quickly headed off with their parents to get home, others walked with their parents over to where Mister Pickens was seated in the back of the room, to take care of winter camp paperwork, and a few went over to Mister Woods, to see about getting some rank requirements signed off in their Scout book. Cole stuck around to make sure everything was where it needed to be and the room was at least as clean, if not cleaner than they found it. He also checked that all the election stuff, like the booths and all were undisturbed and ready for tomorrow's election. Evan went over to Cole. He sort of looked around and then pulled Cole over to the side where no one else was around and moved closer to him.

"Cole, I need to talk to you when you get a chance. It's about some things I've found out on the net." Cole looked at his friend and nodded. "When?" Evan glanced up to make sure they were still alone. "As soon as you can, could you come by my house so we can talk? Maybe tomorrow after school."

Just as Cole started to ask for more information, the school janitor came into the multipurpose room to remind them it was time to lock up for the night. Cole gathered his younger brother Cooper and they, along with Evan, Mister Woods and his son Danny were the last to leave, telling the janitor good night. Cole led Cooper over to the old pickup truck that his grandfather had given him a few months ago after he passed his driving test.

The truck was old in age, but not in looks or how well it worked. It was a 1955 green 3100 Chevy pickup. The bed of the truck had wooden rails around the sides that were varnished and shiny. He and his grandfather had worked for many hours together on it, until it was fixed up the way Cole wanted it to be. His grandfather had owned it since it was new and he had kept it running and had originally planned to give it to his son Wayne, Cole and Cooper's dad, but Wayne never wanted it; it was just an old truck to him and not a classic. As he learned how to work on the truck from his Grandpa, Cole found out that he really liked working on it.

So when Cole was old enough, his Grandfather, Dwayne, taught Cole how to drive the truck and made sure that he knew everything he needed to know to maintain it. Cole's dad was always too busy. When it came time for his driver's test, his Grandpa took him for the test, because once again, his dad was too busy.

When he finished the test, Dwayne let Cole drive him back home. When they got to the house, Cole got out with his Grandpa and held out the keys to the truck, thanking his Grandpa for letting him use the truck for the test. Dwayne reached out like he was going to take the keys, but instead folded Cole's hand over the keys and then pulled an envelope out of his back pocket and handed it to him. Cole opened the envelope and saw that it was the pink slip to the truck, with his name already on it. He looked at his Grandpa in surprise.

"But Grandpa, you love this old truck."

"Yes I do. But I know you love it too, and I've always thought a boy of mine should have it. Your Dad never wanted it and never wanted to do the work to keep it up. Lucky for me, I got a second chance with my grandson. When I saw how much you liked it, I knew years ago that when you passed your driving test, I would hand it over to you. So it's yours now."

Cole hugged his grandfather tightly. When he stepped back, both of them were a little misty eyed. "Thanks, Grandpa. This is so awesome. Thank you so much. I can't wait to tell Coop." The older man was smiling and nodded. "Then I guess you better get going."

He pulled out his wallet and pulled a $50 bill out, handing it to Cole. "Here, why don't you go pick up Cooper and take him out for lunch."

"Wait, I've got money. You don't have to give me any more. You just gave me your truck."

"Humor an old man, son. Just go out and have some fun with your brother."

Cole hesitated a moment longer and Dwayne stepped forward and hugged his grandson, slipping the bill in his back pocket. "I'm very proud of you Cole. You're a great kid and I know you'll go far. Now go and get your brother and have a good time."

He stepped back as Cole reached into his pocket to pull the money out. He looked at his grandfather and then with a big smile he slipped the money in his wallet and then hugged him again. He stepped back and was almost skipping as he went back around to the driver's side and hopped in. He looked at his grandfather who was leaning inside the passenger window. "Remember, drive smart. Don't be an idiot like some of these other kids I see around here. I've kept this truck in good shape for over fifty years. I want you to be able to give it to your son or grandson someday."

"I will Grandpa, don't worry." His grandfather smiled at him. "I never worry about you, son. Take care." Cole gave his grandfather a little wave. "Bye Grandpa." Dwayne stepped back and waved as Cole drove off.

Just like that, the truck became Cole's. His dad knew about Cole getting the truck and both of his parents thought it was beneath him to be working on it, like some poor mechanic, but Cole loved to do the work himself to maintain it and he had been teaching Cooper about how to fix it as well. Nearly every time that Cole was working on it, Cooper would be right beside him, getting just as dirty and greasy as Cole. Their mom hated seeing them looking like two common mechanics, but she tolerated it.

They were about to leave, when Evan walked over from his dad's car to the driver's side of the truck, Cole rolled down his window. "Cole, I just wanted to remind you that I need to talk to you." Cole nodded. "Okay, I'll try to get with you as soon as I can. I'll let you know."

Evan nodded as he stepped back from the truck and Cole pulled out of the school parking lot and headed for home, waving goodbye to Evan, Mister Woods and Daniel. A short time later they pulled into their garage. When they walked into the house from the garage, their mom saw them and glanced at her watch frowning a little. "Do you see the time?"

Cole nodded, "Yes Ma'am." She looked at the two of them. "Why do you have to be so late, it's nearly nine? They should end these meetings earlier, so you can be home at a decent time." The brothers glanced at each other. "I'm going to talk to your father about this. Maybe it would be best if you stopped taking part in this group. I will leave it up to your father." Cole started to say something, but she had turned away from them with an obvious dismissal. The two boys left the kitchen and headed upstairs to their rooms. Cooper followed Cole into his room and sat on the bed while Cole took off his uniform shirt and hung it up.

"Do you think that we'll have to quit Scouts?" Cole looked over at his brother and shook his head. "No, I don't think so. I'll talk to Dad about it and do what I can to convince him, not to make us quit. Maybe I'll talk to Grandpa, too. He'll help us." Cooper still didn't look convinced. "Why is Mom so mean like that sometimes?"

Cole sat down next to his brother and put his arm around him. "I don't know. She's always busy doing things with the other wives and doesn't pay attention to us anyway. At least as long as it doesn't interfere with her social standing. Sometimes I wonder why they even had kids, they've never spent a lot of time with us, unless it was to show us off. I wish they were like some of our friends' parents."

Cooper nodded, "Yeah, like Tyler's. They always have time for him. And Danny's dad helps coach his Pony League team besides being Scoutmaster for the troop." Cole hugged Cooper to his side. "I know, but at least we have Grandpa and Grandma. They make up for the lack of interest that our parents show us." Cooper nodded as he leaned into his big brother's side. "I just wish…"

"Yeah, Coop, I know. Me, too. Go get your uniform put away bro, and then we'll go down and see what there is to eat, then afterwards we'll watch a DVD."

Cooper hugged his brother before he got up and went to his room to change. When they got back downstairs, they saw that their dad was home and he gave them a perfunctory greeting as he headed to his study. They made some sandwiches and drinks and headed back up to Cole's bedroom to watch the movie. They got up on the bed and leaned against the headboard to get comfortable. When they were finished, they brought their plates downstairs and put them in the dishwasher. As they were passing the open door of their father's study, they heard him call to them.

"Boys, come in here, I wish to talk to you."

They glanced at each other before turning into the room. They stopped in front of his desk, which had several open files sitting on it. Wayne Anderson took off his glasses and looked at his two sons for a moment before speaking.

"Your mother informed me that you were a little late this evening. She also said that she thinks that you should drop out of Scouts." Cole immediately protested, "But Dad…" Wayne got a stern look on his face and held his hand up to stop Cole from continuing. Cole nodded. "Yes, sir."

Wayne nodded at his son's immediate obedience to his unspoken command. "Now, I've decided that you can continue to attend, but I must insist that you be home as soon as possible. As soon as the meeting is over, don't lollygag, get right home. There are too many things going on around here right now, for me to have to deal with you upsetting your mother. You know we have that election night dinner party tomorrow night. Your mother is very busy with that, so it would be best if she doesn't have anything else to worry about. I plan to have a talk with Richard Woods about this and will insist that he either start the meeting earlier or let you two leave early. Is that understood?"

He looked at both of them and they nodded. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir, for letting us continue to go."

Wayne gave them a nod, "Of course. I believe the program teaches good citizenship and moral values. As long as they continue to do so, I have no problem with you taking part. Remember, when you get home tomorrow, get cleaned up and dressed in your suits, so that you are ready when our guests arrive." Cole smiled, "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir, goodnight, Dad."

Wayne was already looking down at the papers on his desk and waved dismissively to them. They turned and left. Upstairs, they let out a breath and smiled at each other. Cooper hugged his brother. "Well, at least we can still be with our friends and do Scouts."

"Yeah. Don't worry, Coop, I'll make sure we leave earlier, so that we are on time." Cooper smiled at his big brother. "I know. Goodnight, Cole."

"Sleep tight, Coop." Cooper let his brother go and headed to his room to get ready for bed, while Cole did the same.

The next morning Cole pulled into the parking lot of Hillwood High School. He and Cooper jumped out and headed to the front doors. Out front one of the boys from the troop, Tyler Lindsey-Grayson, called out to them. The boy's all bumped fists in greeting, before they split up. Tyler and Cooper were both Freshmen and had luckily ended up in all the same classes, while Cole, as a Junior this year, headed to his first class.

When they got home that afternoon, there was already extra staff and caterers moving around getting everything ready for the party that night. Their mom met them at the door with her instructions. "Now, I want both of you boys to get cleaned up. Be dressed in your good suits by the time the guests arrive so that you can be there to greet them with your father and I."

"Will there be any kids our age?" She scoffed at Cooper. "Of course not, this is a dinner for adults, not children." She had looked down at a paper that she had in her hand, so she missed the scowl on Cole's face and the disappointed look on Cooper's. She looked up and continued giving her orders.

"When it's time for dinner, you can go to the breakfast nook and the cook will serve your dinner there. The dining room will be no place for children. Once you have eaten, I expect you to go up to your rooms and not make a lot of noise, so that you don't disturb our guests."

"Can we bring some snacks upstairs with us?" She paused as she considered it and then nodded. "Yes, that would be fine, but make sure that you don't make a mess up there." Cooper nodded. "Yes, Ma'am."

She smiled at them, satisfied that they would do as she required. "Just remember, once you are dressed, don't do anything to wrinkle your suits. When President Ashwood is elected, I'm sure that your father will rise up in the local political scene. He is very well known as one of the President's staunchest supporters in the area. There will be important people here and we want to make a good impression."

"Yes, Ma'am."

She smiled once again and turned away, satisfied that all was right in her world. The two brothers turned and headed upstairs to their room. Cole dropped his backpack on his bed and turned when he saw Cooper coming into his room.

"Why is Mom like that?" Cole let out a sigh of frustration. "You know that she's always been that way. She's always been more interested in what other people think, than what we think." Cooper nodded. "I know, but it sucks you know. The way Tyler talks about his dads…" Cole held up his hand and went to check the hall outside his door, before turning back to his brother.

"Coop, you know we can't let Mom or Dad hear about Tyler's parents. If they knew he had two dads, they'd blow a gasket and we'd be yanked out of the troop or they would insist that Tyler be kicked out. You know how they feel about gays."

Cooper paled a little and swallowed as he looked down. "Oh, um, sorry, I forgot. It's just that from what he's said, and you've met them, they're really cool. He says they always pay attention to him and do things with him, like I wish ours would do with us."

Cole closed the door and went over to his brother and led him over to the window seat, sat down, pulled Cooper back against his chest and put his arms around him. "I know. I wish that, too, but I'm used to it by now. I wish it was different, but it's not. Sometimes I wish that we could just live with Grandma and Grandpa. They at least pay attention to us and treat us well. When I was younger, I used to wish that we could go somewhere and find a new set of parents. You know, turn ours in as defective and get a new set issued."

Cooper giggled a little at that. "Yeah, like they say, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your family."

Cooper giggled some more and Cole dug his fingers into his younger brother's sides to get his mind off what he was feeling, causing him to laugh some more. Cole knew that he only had a little less than two years to go and then he would be off to college. He worried about what it would be like for Cooper when he was gone though. He decided he would talk to his Grandpa and see if there was anything he could do to help Cooper, well both of them really. Maybe they could move in with their Grandparents. Mom and Dad didn't seem to care for them very much. He'd have to think about that.

He gave Cooper a little push and stood up. Cooper turned around and hugged his older brother for a moment. "I'm going to go do some of my homework, before I get dressed up. Thanks Cole. You can always make me feel better." Cole reached up and ruffled his little brother's blond curls and smiled.

"Yeah, I have some to do as well. We wouldn't want to look bad for our parent's friends by not doing well in school." Cooper rolled his eyes. "No we wouldn't want that." He smiled and left the room. Cole pulled his history book and notebook out. He put on some music and sat at his desk to get working on it. They were studying the antebellum period before the Civil War. The current homework had to do with the effects of slavery and the men and women who had escaped as slaves and became prominent in the abolitionist movement.

In his room, Cooper took his own homework and notebook out. When he opened the notebook, he saw the note he had written at the end of school. It was Tyler's new phone number. He'd recently gotten a new cell phone and number. He smiled and pulled his own phone out and brought up Tyler's name and entered the new number. When he finished he looked at the picture that he had of Tyler. He was smiling and was wearing a stocking cap that was tilted toward the back of his head a little allowing his dark brown hair to cover his forehead just above his blue eyes. Cooper smiled as he lightly touched the picture. He sighed for a moment before he put the phone down and got to work on his homework.

The boys had just finished getting dressed. They had been able to get about an hours' worth of homework done before getting cleaned up. Their mother showed up just as Cole was tying his shoes and Cooper was sitting at his desk chair. "Good, you both look ready. The guests will start arriving at six, so be sure you are downstairs at five forty-five in the foyer. I want you two to be there and help us greet our guests. Once they are all here, you will be excused to the breakfast nook for your dinner and then back upstairs to your rooms, but keep the noise down."

Cole nodded, "Yes, Ma'am." She looked at them again and then with a final nod of satisfaction, she turned and went downstairs. The boys looked at each other and frowned. Cooper looked at the door and then brought his hand up in a salute. "Yes, sir." Cole chuckled a little. "Yeah, she does like giving orders."

Cole sat down on his window seat and looked outside. Cooper went and sat next to him. The two brothers said nothing, just looking out over the covered pool in the back yard. They could see some of the extra staff moving around making sure everything was just as their mother wanted. The temperature would be cool outside, but portable heaters were set up all around the pool and patio area, so some of the guests would probably go outside to mingle.

"Well, we might as well get this over with. My cheeks already hurt from all the fake smiling I'm going to have to do and I'm sure my hand is going to ache a bit too from all the hand shaking, especially those idiots who squeeze hard trying to show how tough they are."

Cooper nodded in agreement and they got up from the seat. Cole laid his arm across Cooper's shoulders as they made their way out of his room and started their reluctant walk of doom. As they got to the bottom of the stairs, their mother was walking toward them and she seemed to be scowling a bit.

"I told you to be down here at 5:45. It's nearly six."

Cole glanced at his watch and was about to say that it was only 5:44, but the look his mother gave him, told him that if he said anything, there would be trouble, so he closed his mouth and nodded. "Sorry Mom."

She looked them up and down before turning away and gesturing for them to follow her. In the foyer, she directed them to where they would stand. Their father walked up and looked the two boys over, and seemed to find them satisfactory as he took his place. She inspected him, making sure everything about his suit, was just right. Moments later the first guests arrived. The two boys had to endure the handshakes from everyone and as usual some of the men tested themselves against the boys, showing how tough they were. The guests included local and state politicians, business men and of course as usual, the local well known preacher, Reverend Doctor Josiah Campbell, of the church that the family attended.

When they saw him, they both glanced at each other and grimaced slightly. If they had their way, they would never set foot in that place again. The man seemed to only talk about how only those who thought like he did, knew how this country should be run, were the right sort of people to be in charge. He was always singing the praises of President Ashwood and what a great God fearing man he was and how he would lead this country in the right direction. Last Sunday, he had once again, condemned Jackson Bryce as a terrorist, bent on turning the country over to everyone who were of the lower races, such as; Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Asians, Homosexuals, Atheists, and so on, and how God hated all of those types of people. All of whom apparently were going straight to hell. It got to the point that the two boys wanted to puke. They would much rather go with their Grandparents to their church, which was much more friendly and preached closer to what they believed God felt toward people, love, not hate. Even when Reverend Campbell held a simple conversation with someone, his voice was easily heard. It was as if he wanted to make sure everyone knew he was there.

"Good Evening, Wayne, Evelyn. So nice of you to invite me tonight." The three adults shook hands. "It is our pleasure Doctor Campbell. Your presence will bring the Lord's blessing on our endeavors."

The good doctor glanced around to see who else was there and made sure people were looking his way, before he continued speaking. "Yes. It is always important that everything that we do is done in his name. The two of you have always been among our best church members, always supporting our endeavors, whatever they may be and have helped to spread his message to the tainted, so that we can bring them back to the fold."

Evelyn smiled at his praise. She gestured to the two boys. "You know our sons, Coleman and Cooper." He looked at the two boys and nodded as he stepped over to them. "Of course. Very good to see such fine upstanding and God fearing young men. We will need such young men in the near future, to help us spread God's word."

He shook their hands and then stopped as if he had just thought of something. "So Coleman, how old are you now?"

"Sixteen, sir."

"Excellent. Sometime after the first of the year, I would like to talk to you about being a counselor this summer at our church camp. I'm always on the lookout for those who I think would be a great role model to the younger people of our congregation." He glanced at their parents. "With your parent's permission, of course."

He smiled as he turned back to the boys. "Remember the commandment boys, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother', you always should do as they say. They know what is best for you."

His mother practically gushed, "I think that is a wonderful idea Doctor Campbell. I'm sure Coleman would be extremely honored to work at the camp this summer." Josiah smiled. "Then it's settled. I will contact you after the first of the year. That's when we start picking out our camp counselors."

He patted Cole on the shoulder and reached over to tousle Cooper's hair, like he was some favorite uncle or something. "And you young man. With your brother working there, we can make sure you get a discount to go to the camp. I'm sure you will learn much about the Good Lord's word and how you will prosper in life, by bringing him into your heart, so that it will make you a better person."

Cooper nodded and Josiah gave him a pat on the shoulder, before going off to talk to a group of businessmen that he knew. The two boys looked after him and shook their heads slightly at how much they disliked him. Luckily, their parents were greeting the next guests, and didn't see them, otherwise, they would have been in big trouble, for, as their parents would say, showing disrespect for such a great man of God. It took fifteen more minutes of fake smiles and handshakes before they were peremptorily dismissed by their mother. They made their way to the breakfast nook. When the cook saw them, she brought them over some plates that she had kept warm in the oven for them. Missus Davis had been their cook for many years and she liked the two boys. Like many of their other friends, the Andersons had hired black women as their cooks and housekeepers and had no problem with them as long as they knew their place. Elaine saw how the boys were treated by their parents and didn't like it one bit. But she knew that it wasn't her place to say anything, unless she wanted to lose her job, so she gave her friendship to the boys and tried to give them as much love as she could, without causing her any problems with their mother.

She brought their plates over to them with a smile and gave them each a little hug. "Well now the hard part is over and you can escape those snakes out there."

Both boys giggled a little. They cared a lot for Miss Elaine as she had always told them to call her, and knew what she thought about those people who came to these dinner parties. She was glad that the Andersons, always hired caterers and extra help when they held these parties. All she had to do was oversee everything. The best part to her was taking care of the boys, since they were always relegated to the breakfast nook for their dinner. They were never allowed at the dining room table with the guests. She knew that the boys didn't like any of these guests either and preferred her company anyway. She carried a third plate over to join them. Normally she wouldn't do this, but she knew that Missus Anderson wouldn't be coming in the kitchen at all, because she would be too busy schmoozing with the guests.

They sat there and ate, while she listened to what the boys had been doing in school and scouts. She told them about her grandchildren and what they were doing. It was a nice companionable meal. They were soon done though. Elaine looked at the boys and smiled. "You two run along now and have a nice evening. Unfortunately, I'm stuck here until everything is over."

They gave her a hug. "Thanks, Miss Elaine. Goodnight."

They left the breakfast nook and as they passed the dining room, they could hear the clink of glasses and silverware. The sounds of conversations, and they could easily hear Doctor Campbell's booming voice, overpowering anyone nearby as he spoke. The boys could only shake their heads as they headed upstairs. Once upstairs they took off their suits and got into more comfortable clothes. The two boys met in the game room. The game room had been an extra bonus room on the second floor that had been set up for them as a playroom when they were younger, now it was where they would watch TV, DVDs or play video games. It had a 70" flat panel TV on one wall. When their friends came over, this is where they spent a lot of their time. Since their parents didn't want a bunch of kids hanging around all the time, it didn't happen very often, so they usually only got to have their friends stay over for a birthday. They usually would visit their friend's houses instead, because everyone had more fun at any of their friends' houses than at the Anderson boys' house, mainly because of their parents' attitude.

They turned on the TV and first had to look around to find a channel that wasn't talking about the election. They decided on a DVD instead and had been watching a movie for about an hour, when Cooper reached over and picked up the remote to pause the movie. Cole glanced at him. "What?"

"I thought I'd go get us some snacks. I'm kinda hungry." Cole chuckled a little and nodded. "Sounds good. I could use some munchies. You want some help?" Cooper shook his head. "Nah I got it. I'll be right back."

Cooper left the room and headed downstairs. He could hear people talking and the occasional clink of glasses. He knew that his mom wouldn't want him to be seen in his casual clothes at one of her parties, but years of having to deal with these dinner parties, he and Cole both knew how to get around the house without being seen when they wanted to. It took a bit longer than the direct route to the kitchen. He had to duck into rooms and around corners to stay hidden, but he made it fairly quickly. When he entered the kitchen, Miss Elaine looked up and started toward him.

"Boy, what are you doing in here, dressed like that?"

"Cole and I were a little hungry and we wanted to get some snacks. Mom said that we could."

She shook her head. "Not dressed like that, and you know it."

"It's okay Miss Elaine, Cole and I know how to get around without being seen. It's not like they care anyway."

Elaine looked at the young boy and her heart went out to both of them. "I know honey, but you know what would happen if she saw you dressed like that and any of those stuffed shirts out there saw you, she'd be mortified and you would be in trouble."

"Okay, I'll be careful, but can I get some chips and drinks for Cole and me?" She ran her hand along his cheek for a moment and smiled at the boy. "Of course you can. Here boy, let's get the snacks and get you out of here before someone sees you."

The two of them bustled around quickly pulling a big bag of barbecue potato chips out of the pantry and a couple of sodas from the fridge. She made sure that Cooper had it firmly in hand and slapped him on the butt as he left. "Now, you be careful and don't get caught. I'll probably see you boys tomorrow and remember don't make a big mess up there in your room."

He looked over his shoulder and gave her a smile as he stopped at the door and glanced into the next room. When he was sure it was clear, he slipped through and made his way through the house. He could tell that it seemed like everyone was gathered in the salon and living room at the front of the house, so he knew he probably had a straight shot to the stairs and up to the game room. He was being careful and was just about to go upstairs when he heard some men talking nearby. He looked around and saw that it was coming from his father's study. He could see that the door was slightly open and he knew he shouldn't but he was curious, so instead of going directly upstairs he went down the hall a little bit and stood near the open door.

When he got to the door, the voices were clearer and he was able to look inside the room and saw several men in there. He had to shift around a little to see everyone, but he saw that besides his father, Doctor Campbell was in there, along with a handful of men, that he didn't know. They looked familiar, because they had been guests at other dinner parties before, but he couldn't recall their names. It had been Doctor Campbell's voice that had caught his attention and Cooper could see that he was talking right now, as he lounged in one of the comfortable chairs in the room.

"So you're telling us that the president is ready to push ahead with this policy?"

"Yes Josiah, I am."

Cooper could see a big grin appear on Doctor Campbell's face. "Hot damn, finally a man with the balls to do what's needed. Not like that faggot lover Bryce, who tried to bring down good family values, by allowing those perverts to have kids in their home, where they can do God knows what to them and change good Christian boys and girls into being faggots just like them."

"I assure you Doctor that is what he has planned."

Cooper wondered what they were talking about. What was the president going to do that made someone who was so full of hate, so happy?

"Well Robert, when is this glorious plan to go into effect?" The man named Robert continued. "They haven't released the exact date in case those bastards who keep hacking into the communications and internet nodes find out, but from the rumors I've heard, they will start doing the roundups soon. Maybe in the next couple of weeks or even earlier."

Doctor Campbell nodded as he thought about it. "Good. So they're going to round up all the faggots and put them into what? Camps of some kind?" Robert nodded. "Something like that, yes. They will be put where they can't interact with good decent Christian people like yourselves."

Cooper could see that everyone in the room was nodding and had satisfied looks on their faces as they digested this. Cooper heard his father's voice next. He shifted around a little so he could see his dad and the look on Wayne's face was filled with his disgust at the thought of those kind of people. What he said shocked Cooper to his core. "Too bad President Ashwood won't do what Hiller did to those Jew bastards in Europe and just wipe them off the face of the earth."

"Who says that's not in the plans?" Wayne looked at Robert with some surprise on his face. "What, you mean, he's going to get rid of them?"

Robert shrugged, "I don't know, but I have heard that all options are open, so you never know. And it's not just the fags. They're going to go after all those activists, especially those meddlesome ACLU bastards. Those fucking bleeding heart communists, think that those people who work hard and make good money, should be giving all their money to those lazy ass Mexicans, Asians, Blacks and whoever else, who are just living off the public tit and not even trying to be productive citizens of this country."

Doctor Campbell stood up and walked over to the window that looked out on the front of the house, with his hands behind his back. The others watched him silently. He turned back around and Cooper nearly recoiled from the look of, for want of better word, evil glee on the good doctor's face as he looked at the men in the room. "This is great news Robert, thank you for telling us. Now we need a plan. How can we help bring about this great plan of our president's?"

"What would be helpful is if you and the other Christian gentlemen in this room could assist with putting together lists of these local undesirables, it would help when it becomes time to start the roundups."

"Who will be doing these roundups, the cops?"

"No. The plan is to use the National Guard, and government agents that can be trusted. Some of the locals might be sympathetic to those undesirables and might not prosecute the orders with the right amount of vigor."

Josiah Campbell was nodding as were other men in the room. "I think you may be right at that. I think we can easily come up with a selection of names to give to you. I can think of a couple of faggots to put at the top of the list. Grant Lindsey and his perverted lover Damon Grayson."

There was obvious distaste on Josiah's face. "You get two birds with one stone. Both are activists, although that faggot lawyer Grayson, or should I say Gayson?..." Josiah laughed a little at his own stupid joke which got a little smile from some of the others. "Anyway Grayson, is some kind of ACLU lawyer and the other fag does something with corporate law, I believe."

"Don't they have a kid living with them?" Josiah looked at Wayne and nodded. "I think so."

"What about the kid then." Wayne asked.

"Well if they've perverted him into being just like them, then he goes with them, if not, maybe there is a good Christian home that can take him in, otherwise he'll have to fend for himself. Although I think the kid's a teenager, so it might be too late to fix him and most people don't want to take in a kid that old."

Josiah was quiet for a moment before he nodded to himself before continuing to speak. "Robert, I've got an idea that maybe you should send up the chain of command, about getting some orphanages built up. Maybe there are some suitable buildings and building complexes that can be turned into orphanages for those kind of kids. Old Army bases or something like that."

The man named Robert nodded as he considered it. "That may be a good idea. It would cost some money to do, but I think it's possible."

"We should work with good Christian folks like us to administer the orphanages. So these poor boys and girls learn how they can live their lives in the manner that God intended. We could maybe use the assets seized from the people who are rounded up to help pay for them"

Robert considered that for a moment before nodding. "That may work, I will gladly push your proposal up the chain."

Outside Cooper had stood their mostly frozen in shock as he listened to what they were discussing. They were going to take people out of their homes, take their kids away from them and turn them out in the street. It sounded like his best friend was in big trouble. He knew he had to tell Tyler and his dads about it, but first he had to get out of here and back up to Cole and tell him. Cole would know what to do. Cooper was almost shaking as he backed away and quickly hurried upstairs.

When he entered the game room, Cole smiled absently to him before picking up the remote and continuing the movie they had been watching. "What took you so long Coop? Did you have to hide from mom?"

When Cooper didn't answer, Cole looked over at his brother who had walked over to one of the tables and placed the drinks and chips on it, before he went to stand over by one of the windows, where he was silently looking outside. Cole became concerned that their mom had caught him and had punished him, so he got up and went to his brother. When he got close to him, he could see Cooper's faint reflection in the window and it looked like Cooper's cheeks looked a little shiny. He gently took Cooper by the shoulders and turned him around. He saw that Cooper had silent tears dripping down his cheeks and his chin was quivering a little. He pulled his brother into his arms and held him as Cooper buried his face into Cole's chest and began to cry softly.

"Hey bro. It won't be so bad, she'll get over it and I'll tell her that I asked you to go downstairs and get us some snacks. I'll make sure that I share the punishment as well, since it's just as much my fault as yours."

He felt Cooper shaking his head against Cole's chest and then he looked up at his older brother. "It wasn't Mom."

"Oh, Dad caught you. It doesn't matter. Like I said I'll talk to him and I'll share the punishment, you won't have to deal with it alone."

Cooper shook his head. "No, that's not it. It's something else."

He let go of Cole and went to make sure the door to the room was closed before he pulled Cole over to one of the couches in the room, far away from the door, just in case someone came into the room. When they sat down, Cooper moved up close to his brother and Cole put his arm around Cooper which caused the younger boy to lean into him to pull in every bit of comfort he could get from his brother.

"I wasn't caught. I was on my way back here, when I heard some people talking in Dad's study. It was Doctor Campbell, Dad and some other guys, one of them was named Robert. I recognized the others because they've been here to other dinner parties, but I don't know their names."

"Probably just some guys who are part of the business or political scene here in the Nashville area. That's the only type of people Dad ever invites to these things." Cooper nodded before continuing.

"Well, I couldn't help myself because the door was cracked open a little and I wanted to hear what they were talking about. It was scary, Cole, what they were saying. They were talking about rounding people up and putting them somewhere like jails or something and putting kids in orphanages. Dad even said something about Hiller and wiping them off the face of the earth. This Robert guy said that it might happen. They all seemed real happy about what this Robert guy was saying, especially Doctor Campbell. He was almost happy about it and offered to help get a list of people together for Robert. He mentioned the first people on the list would be Tyler's parents."

Cole listened to his brother recount the plans that he had heard, and asked him a few questions about everything that had been said. Especially what Doctor Campbell and their Dad had said. He couldn't believe his Dad had suggested killing people off and the other guy saying that it might happen. This was America; we don't do those kinds of things. That happens in third world countries, not ours. The people of this country have rights against that sort of thing. It was all in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. Cole couldn't believe that there were Americans who would even stand for that sort of thing. All he could do was try to comfort his little brother. Cooper had pressed his face into Cole's chest and wrapped his arms around Cole and began to cry again.

Cole was surprised at how hard Cooper was taking this, but then he realized that Tyler was Cooper's best friend and he was probably really worried about what was going to happen to him. Well they definitely needed to talk to them and warn them about what Cooper had heard. He tried to get Cooper to calm down some, but he was trembling and crying.

"Hey bro, it will be okay. We'll let them know and maybe they can get out of here before anything happens. I know that you'll miss Tyler, but he'll be safe. We'll go over there tomorrow and warn them. Tyler will be okay."

Cooper shook his head and he seemed to be trying to say something but it was hard to understand because he was crying. Cole put his hand under Cooper's chin and made him look up. "I'm sorry, bro, but I didn't understand what you said."

Cooper pulled his chin away and looked down as he mumbled something.

"What was that? Tell me Coop, please. You know I've got your back and Tyler is one of us. He's a Scout and Scouts help their own."

Cooper looked up with tears in his eyes. "Dad's going to kill me." Cole was shocked when he heard Cooper say that. "What? What do you mean, he's going to kill you?"

Coopers chin was still quivering as he tried to speak. "I… I'm one o..of them." Cole was really confused now. "You're one of them who?"

Cooper looked at his brother and there was pain and fear in his eyes. "I… I'm… gay." Cole's eyes widened as he realized why what he had heard had caused Cooper to act like this. "You're what?"

Cooper started to pull away, afraid that if he was within reach of his brother he would get hit, but Cole wouldn't let go. Cooper tried to pull free, but Cole tightened his grip and held him. "I'm gay, you know a fag, homo, queer, fudge packer."

Cole put his hand over Cooper's mouth and made him look up at him. Cooper cringed a little as he saw the angry look on Cole's face. He closed his eyes waiting for the first punch, but nothing happened, so he opened his eyes and found his brother looking at him with tears in his eyes, even with the anger lurking in the back of his eyes.

"I don't ever want to hear you use those words ever again, especially when you are talking about yourself. You're my brother and I love you more than anyone else in the world. I will not let you call yourself derogatory names. I don't care who you like. I only care about you."

Cooper buried his face into his brother's neck as he crawled into his lap and cried with relief. His brother still loved him. Cole held him and rocked him trying to get him to calm down. He was starting to get worried that someone would hear them and would want to know what is going on. That could be bad.

"Shh, little brother. We'll figure this out together. C'mon settle down. You know I won't let anything happen to you. C'mon let's get you to bed. You're probably all worn out and could use the sleep."

After a few moments, Cooper nodded and sat back, climbing off Cole's lap. Cole reached over and wiped the tears from Cooper's face with his hands and smiled at him. He stood up and put his hand out for Cooper to grab and pulled him up. He put his arm around his brother. Cooper put his arm around Cole's waist as they walked to Cooper's bedroom. In the room, they went and sat on the bed. Cole gave him one last hug and then got up and started to leave the room.

"Wait Cole, don't go. Please stay for a little bit and sit with me until I fall asleep. Please?"

Cole smiled and nodded. Cooper took off his shoes and socks and stripped down to just a t shirt and underwear before getting into bed. He looked over to his brother and Cole turned the light on by the bed and turned off the ceiling light before he sat on the bed next to his brother. He reached out and ran his hands through Cooper's curly hair. Cooper smiled and closed his eyes for a moment. "Cole?"

"Yeah Coop?"

"Um, there's something else."

"Okay. What."

"I'm in love with Tyler."

"Oh, and does he love you? You know, are you guys… boyfriends?"

Cooper shook his head and his eyes got moist. "No, he doesn't know. I don't know if he is or not and I'm afraid he'll hate me if I tell him. I don't want to lose him as a friend."

"Ah Coop. Why would he hate you? He's your best friend. Besides he has two dads. If he hated you, he'd hate his dads and we know he loves them lots. So I don't think you have anything to worry about. Even if he isn't gay, he'll still be your friend."

"But I don't want anything to be weird between us. If he knew I loved him, it might make him act kind of weird around me, instead of like my best friend. I don't want to lose that. If I keep it a secret, then nothing will change."

"Yeah, but if you keep it a secret, you won't know what could happen. You need to take a chance little brother. If he's gay and you don't let him know you like him, he might find someone else and it will be too late for you. Don't wait, let him know."

Cooper was quiet as he thought about what Cole had said. He looked up at his brother. "What about you?"

"What do you mean, what about me?"

"Well is there a girl that you like?" Cole gave a little bit of a nervous laugh and Cooper's eyes opened wide.

"You mean, you're gay too?" Cole turned red and shook his head quickly. "No, I'm definitely straight."

"Then why don't you have a girlfriend?" Cole shrugged. "I just haven't found the right one yet. When I do, you'll be the first to know. Now try to get some sleep. Dream about Tyler and all the things you want to do with him."

Cooper tried to look mad at Cole but the blush stopped that. "Hey, don't make fun of me. I tell you my deepest secret and you make fun of me." Cole once again smoothed his hair back and then leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. "Well I am your big brother and it's my job to embarrass you, so get over it."

He began to tuck the blankets in around his little brother and stood up. "Now try to get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning and we'll talk about this some more. We'll figure it out. Tomorrow I'll drive us over to Tyler's house and tell them about what you heard. We'll make sure they are safe."

Cooper nodded and turned on his side. Cole turned the bedside light off. "Good night Coop."

"Night Cole. Love you."

"Love you, too, bro."

Cole left the room and went back into the game room. They had something like a wet bar with a small refrigerator and cupboards behind the bar. When they had friends over, they would keep the drinks and the snacks in here, otherwise they were empty. He put the two soda cans in the fridge and the chips in the cupboard above it, before sitting down in one of the chairs. He turned the movie on, but wasn't really watching it as he sat there and thought about what they could do. He knew that his dad could never find out about Cooper. If anything were to happen to his little brother, he'd want blood, but he didn't know what to do. The movie finished and he was still sitting in the room staring at the screen when he heard someone behind him. He was startled and looked over his shoulder. His dad was standing in the doorway.

"Didn't you hear me Coleman."

"Um, sorry sir, I was thinking."

"I said, that I thought it was time for you to go to bed, it's late."

Cole stood up and nodded. "Yes sir. I guess I lost track of time."

His father nodded once and then left the room. Cole stopped the DVD and put it away. He looked around to make sure there was nothing for his parents to find fault with and then went to his bedroom. He glanced into Cooper's room and could hear his quiet regular breathing. In his room, he stripped down to t shirt and underwear and went into his bathroom to get ready for bed. When he lay down, he put his hands behind his head and looked up at the dark ceiling. He was trying to figure out what was the best way to approach Tyler and his dads, so that he didn't sound like a nutcase. He rolled over feeling a bit frustrated. This isn't what a teenager was supposed to be dealing with, but he was almost an Eagle Scout, so he was certain he'd have some kind of idea about what to do, if he slept on it. So he closed his eyes and tried to get to sleep.

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