- Antoine's POV -
As was our custom, Matt stirred but didn't wake up when the alarm clock announced that it was time to get up and get the day started. My eyes and limbs were sleep filled, yet, I tossed off the covers and made my way into the bathroom where I took care of morning rituals, retrieved and put on a pair of orange nylon running shorts hanging on the door knob. I didn’t know if they were mine or Matt’s… it really mattered little. I pulled on a pair of heavy socks, put on the new pair of tennis shoes, and then finished with a dark blue t-shirt.
After slamming down a glass of fresh orange juice, I took off for Jesus' house where he'd be waiting for my arrival. There were no lights on in the house, which I found to be quite odd. Usually, he was up and ready to go.
They had no need to lock up their house. Their new home had been built with open air architecture, simply because there was no need for air conditioning and heat, although their home had those amenities. With the weather being nearly stationary throughout the year in the temperate climate, there was largely no need for artificial air.
Long ago we'd dispensed with the formalities of knocking and waiting for permission to enter each others' homes, so, I opened the door and entered. Immediately, I reached for a lamp to illuminate the formal entry way, however, nothing happened. Thinking that perhaps the light bulb had burned out I walked to the bar, flipped the light switch, but nothing happened. Looking around the kitchen, I noticed that the LCD lights on the appliances were dark. No doubt, their home was darkened by a power failure.
I sensed movement very close by, but before I could respond I found myself lying face down on the tiled floor with my arms pinned behind my back. The next sounds heard was the sound of a child giggling.
I'd been had.
The boy was getting good, very good, too good for his own good.
I knew his weak points, so within no more than 3 seconds, it was he who was lying face down on the floor with me on top, pining his arms underneath his chest. Yet, just as I was putting on the final 'touch', so to speak, he'd bounced me off. I landed with a thud against the hardwood cabinet. He then played dirty. As I've said, a time or two, I am not ticklish... yet he found my vulnerable place where ticklish was the name of the game. Within seconds we were laughing and carrying on.
Once we were under control, so to speak, I said, “You're getting really good, Jesus. One of these days...”
“One of these days... what? You're getting weak. Your concentration is elsewhere.” Jesus said in broken English, with a laughing childish “tinge” to his voice.
“Nevermind, you just wait. I'll get you.” I bantered back.
“Not hardly. Come, we must get you back into shape. Concentrate.” Jesus threw the words I'd said to him so many times back into my face and ears.
He took me to his bedroom. As usual, he put on a pair of running shorts, socks and tennis shoes in preparation for our run and workout. After running a mile, and after arriving at the rocks, we removed our clothing and did a grueling workout before taking off down the beach for our 7 mile run, running at maximum speed, testing our endurance to its breaking point.
The sun was just coming up as we reached the end of our run down the beach. Jesus then collapsed to the ground, breathing hard, sweating like a pig, looking into my eyes with total exhaustion clouding his vision. He was worked to the maximum, as was I. I joined him. We sat in companionable silence as our breathing returned to normal. He then quickly sat up and pointed to the ocean. I looked to where he was pointing. In the surf we saw two dolphins. They'd look at us. They appeared to be laughing at our human weaknesses. Jesus grabbed my hand, bounded up, and then took off into the surf, not even looking back. I looked at the sun coming over the mountain of rock, and figured we had time to goof off for a little while before having to take off for his house to shower and get ready for school.
For the next 30 minutes, or so, we played with the dolphins in their natural habitat. They loved, and we liked it, too. They would stick their noses between our legs, one at a time; sometimes they'd both get into it... and then lift us and throw our bodies into the ocean, all the while making those sounds known only to their species. Those critters were laughing, yet, everybody was having hella fun.
As if they knew we were running short of time, they left, swimming out into the deep ocean, leaving us alone to fend for ourselves.
Sensing time running out, I hauled Jesus out of the water, used our shirts to dry off with and then tore out to return to his home to get ready for school.
We arrived home just in time to catch Jeremy loading in everybody to take to Alice's home where we’d learn and explore for the next 5 hours, or so.
During a break, Benji caught my attention, nodded that I should join him outside, away from our brothers and friends. We walked down to the shore. Benji looked deeply into my eyes and said, “Antoine, Adam has approached me. He has requested my assistance to make him whole. We have a great challenge... he has nobody with whom to bond. A bonding is mandatory. It is from that bond that healing occurs. It is from that bond that strength is passed back and forth, through and through.”
“Yes, I’ve been thinking the same thing. Another thing I've been thinking of... is that he does not strike me as being a gay person. So far, the bonding experiences have been with he who shares our souls. He is a good person, I sense it, but I do not sense that he's gay, and... well, the final act is the coupling that we know all too well...”
Just then David and Peter arrived. They looked at us questioningly, but didn't immediately say or ask anything. Benji turned to the ocean, and stared way out off in the distance with deep contemplation. I said to David, “We're trying to find someone who Adam can bond with... his situation is different than you and Peter, and Matt and I. Do you have any ideas?”
Peter shrugged his shoulders, not having an answer. David took Peter's arm in his, and said, “We'll think about it. Come on, Alice is ready...”
The rest of the day went smoothly and quickly, despite being a little bit preoccupied with thinking of who we could get Adam to bond to.
- David's POV -
By the time it was time to take off for school, Maria still hadn't arrived to fix breakfast and help mom with getting everybody situated for school. Several calls later, mom finally got hold of her to find out that their power had been knocked out thus affecting phone service and clocks. It's hard to run those electronic devices without having electricity to power them...
Just as we were heading out the door, Antoine and Jesus came running up. I grabbed an apple and orange from the fruit bowl sitting on the dining room table. Antoine took the orange and Jesus grabbed the apple. Jesus, full of himself, recounted his 'surprise' on Antoine early that morning, much to Antoine's consternation... Antoine wasn't fooling us – he'd been had – but he took it all in stride as the rest of us gave him quite a bit of shit... like I said, he took it all in stride, and even laughed at his own ineptness.
Adam, quiet as a church mouse, didn't say anything, but I could tell that he was observing our interactions... in a way, I felt sad for him as he hadn't known any real fun in his life. I hoped that he would soon be able to laugh at himself... simply because it's a good way to not take yourself so seriously. I got to thinking about his giving me confidence in an area that I thought I'd neatly tucked away, and made do with what I had, regarding my getting around the pool more aggressively. His teaching me how to balance and use the water to my advantage was something I hadn't even thought of. I loved him for that.
School was okay. Mostly, Alice keeps the subjects down to 'real life' experiences. Sure we have to write term papers, do math... lots of math because none of us are really, really good with numbers. Alice took Adam aside to give him a battery of tests to find out where he was in his education. He seemed intelligent and up to date on most stuff, the stuff that really matters.
The afternoon 'classes' were frequently interrupted with our outbursts at this and that. The truth of the matter was that it had clouded up, began raining heavily, and interrupted the classroom with rumbles of sharp thunder and flashes of lightening. Alice, getting clearly flustered, changed tracks. Normally, she teaches science in the mornings, as she had done that day. However, she had us all go to a web page that detailed the anatomy of a thunderstorm, and then, because we were rowdy, she assigned a book report on the subject, due the following day.
When we got home, we found mom lying on the folded out chaise lounge. She was more and more finding time for quiet solitude. She was okay, just tired, and enjoyed hearing the rain falling on the pavement. Since the thunder and lightning was still present, there was no swimming in the pool, obviously. Mom mentioned the weather people saying the tropical storm was set in for a couple of days.
Jesus normally didn't take after me like he did to Antoine and Jeremy, so, I was a bit surprised when he sat down in front of me, scooted into my stomach, and put my arms around his shoulders. He didn't say anything, and didn't turn around so I could see into his eyes. I squeezed him warmly, then urged his head into the crook of my neck. I felt him relax. His head lolled to one side, and that was that … he was sound asleep. Mom smiled, then got up and headed into the house, saying that our little sister was fiercely kicking her bladder. I consigned to memory that I'd have to get after her for doing that to mom!
I wrenched my neck in such a way so that I could see Jesus' face. He was sound asleep, relaxed completely, and looking so peaceful. I got to thinking about how much shit the boy had had to endure in his young life, what with seeing his mother abused and his brother killed by their oldest brother. Those bad thoughts were soon replaced as he'd told his story about hoodwinking Antoine that morning. I chuckled, which jarred him a bit. He simply took in a deep breath, opened his eyes but for a second, then was, once again, sound asleep. I kissed his right temple then we jumped when a flash of lightening hit really, really close by, and then, almost immediately was followed by a crash bang clap of thunder. The rain intensified tenfold. Along with the rain came significant sized hail stones banging on the deck pavement. I'd not seen hail like that since we'd moved to Hawaii from Missouri.
Jason and Jeremy entered the covered patio, saw us then grabbed our hands and pulled us into the kitchen. He said, “You guys have no business being out there during the electrical storm.” His eyes then opened as big as saucers as he looked out over the ocean. I'd not seen that look on his face in a very long time. Immediately, I turned toward the open doorway, and just about shit my pants.
A fucking water spout. A tornado. And it was fucking huge. It was a long way out... but still.
Back home in Missouri we would have headed to the cellar... but we had no cellar, and we had no basement.
The hail picked up, and the tornado became water wrapped... a very, very dangerous situation, because you could not see or figure out its trajectory.
Jeremy said very loudly, “Everybody, inside. Go into the hallway between the bedrooms. Go! Jason, go get Antoine and Matt... Where’s Andy and William... David, you and Peter, take mom... go... now. I'm going to call Dad, BENJI, HARRY!”
Normally, storms do not scare me... but with the lightning and thunder getting fiercer and fiercer and the hail stones (rocks) getting bigger and bigger, and with the wind blowing at a gale – I was afraid. I was really scared.
We had so much glass in that house. It was so open air... I was so very afraid.
But... I didn't let that fear paralyze me.
Quickly, Peter and I went to the bedrooms and checked on our brothers. Andy, Benji, William and Harry were exiting the bathroom. Very seriously, dead seriously, “Get dressed NOW! A bad storm is coming in...” I looked to William, “Tornado.”
He exclaimed softly, “Fuck me.”
Hoping to diffuse the situation, somewhat, “You already have been, right? Get the guys dressed... do it now!” I said determinedly.
“Get dressed, you guys. We've been through this before, haven't we, David?” William said without fanfare, but with an intensity that said he meant business.
And then the hail started pounding harder and harder. The house was plunged into darkness, broken only by dark splitting lightning, followed by sharp, scary thunder.
Peter exited Allen and Angel's room. Naked, our brothers went to the dining room, then came running back saying such things as “Holy Shit!” Quickly, they entered their room, and within 30 seconds exited while donning their jeans and t-shirts.
Jeremy said, “Get your shoes! Mom, get here in the hallway, sit down, no, lie down, and don't move. Where's Adam? ADAM!!! ADAM!!!” Jeremy half-screamed.
Adam, with his pants down around his ankles exited his room – he'd obviously been busy... as much as he was trying to hide 'it', 'it' was definitely elongated to its fullest.
“Get dressed. Get in the hallway. A bad storm is moving in.”
And then glass was heard shattering... it was coming from the kitchen and dining room area. Jeremy, Jason, Allen, the oldest and biggest of the group, began herding the younger ones into the hallway, and pushing them down to the floor, lying next to mom.
I was next, however, I resisted -because- Andy was nowhere to be seen, neither was Jesus. AZ and Maria were there, and they were lying on the floor, with Maria's body over AZ's. She was terrorized, yet she was aware and outwardly calm.
Then a crash bang was heard in the main bathroom. The sound of shattering glass was clear. Quickly, I reached for the door knob and pulled the door tightly shut.
Then I heard screaming coming from the open area, just off the dining room... the screams were faint, since the sound of hail hitting the house, and breaking windows made it difficult, at best, to even hear yourself 'think'.
Jason tore out, and within mere seconds had Andy and Jesus under his arms.
Jeremy, seeing that everybody was hunkered down, pushed his Jason, Andy then Jesus down to the floor and covered their bodies with his, just as the wind picked up to gale proportions.
Then more glass broke. You could hear the glass shards hitting the doors to our rooms, which had, thankfully, been closed.
Within 3 or 4 minutes, though it seemed like an eternity, the wind stopped, the hail stopped, and all was quiet except for raggedy breathing coming from us hunkered down on the floor, scared for our very lives.
Jeremy, taking command, as the oldest brother in the group, quietly said, “Is everybody okay? Are you hurt?”
Everybody responded that they were okay and not hurt.
“Okay, the storm has passed. You can get up but stay right here. Jason and I are going to check things out, just to make sure we're safe. I'm sorry for being rough with you, Mom. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I'm okay. I'm rattled but I'm okay.”
I said, “We're all rattled. We're alive, though.”
Jeremy and Jason took off while I began telling them of our experiences with bad storms, including bad hail. The more I talked the calmer I got. I worked my way to Andy and Jesus, as they were the ones who had been outside when the storm first hit. I looked over their heads to make sure they hadn't been hit by the huge hail stones. They appeared to be okay. When I asked them where they'd been... their guilt was readily seen. Andy whispered in my ear, “We were under the deck... uhm...”
“It's okay. You guys are okay, that's all that matters.” I said then kissed his lips and urged him to sit on the floor with the rest of our brothers.
Maria heaved herself up off the floor then took mom's hands and lifted her up. Both mom and Maria were wearing hard soled kitchen type shoes, so they took off out into the kitchen, but soon returned, and said that there was too much glass all around to safely be out and about.
Meanwhile, Peter got up and off the floor, helped me up, and then, since he had shoes on and I didn't, he went to our bedroom door, opened it, and entered. He soon exited, helped me to put on my shoes while saying that our room was largely unscathed, though the sky light in our bathroom was cracked, but not shattered.
Adam had no shoes with him. He started scooting toward his room, but I stopped him. He was scooting along, and I didn't want him getting hurt in case his room had glass in it. Having put his good Sunday, hard sole shoes on, Peter went to Adam's room, and soon returned with a frown on his face, and fear in his eyes. He said, “Adam, your room is toast. There is glass everywhere. He then handed Adam his crutches, then leaned down and put a tennis shoe on Adam's foot.
Mom headed to her and dad's room. Their room, too, was trashed, what with glass shards everywhere. Her cell phone then rang, then it stopped.
Jeremy and Jason returned. Evenly, Jason said, “The communications dish is smashed. We have no cell phone coverage, even Jeremy's special sat phone doesn't work. Don't worry, though, we know that our dads know about our situation.”
To make matters worse, somewhat, Jeremy handed mom a hail stone the size of a softball. Holy fuck, I hadn't seen anything that big, even back in Missouri. I shuddered violently. He and Jason then went from room to room looking for damage. When they returned, the said the most damage was on the south side of the house, and that it didn't look like we suffered any significant structural damage.
Harry, the last one to get up, had obviously gotten sick from his fright. Benji didn't look all that much better. That was the first time that I'd seen him looking so vulnerable. His mates, Andy, William, and even Harry gathered around him and held their loved and bonded one firmly.
Jeremy then commanded that all bedrooms on the south side of the house were off-limits, and that either him or Jason, or both, would kick asses if they were entered.
Since our room was the least damaged, after brushing off little pieces of glass, we urged everybody in, shut the door, and then, one by one, two by two, or in the case of the 4 bonded ones, each went into the bathroom and did their business.
- Meanwhile, at Dad's office, in downtown Maui, Dad's POV -
We'd just finished a meeting with clients from Japan when the internal sirens and warning systems began screaming. They were deafening.
Juan hollered, “HOLY FUCK! JIM look out the window!”
I turned and reentered the meeting room. It was then that I saw a huge white, rain wrapped tornado entering the shores of south Maui. My mind went into overdrive – we lived on the south side of Maui... on the beach... my family... my life...
Fugi came running into the room, “Jim, we've lost contact with your family. I've dispatched our people. They will be arriving momentarily. Come on... we've got a military Humvee on standby.”
Juan said, “They're okay... trust me.”
Horace entered the room, “Come on, we need to go. Satellite showed Jeremy and Jason surveying the damage. Jim, I don't want to alarm you, but, the damage is significant. Teams are being mobilized, as we speak.”
Silently, we took off in the Humvee with Rick, our ops director in the drivers' seat. About 20 minutes later we were pulling up to the road that leads to our house. The road was impassable. There were chunks of building materials, everywhere. Not only that but two beautiful palm trees were stripped of their bark, and they were lying helplessly – across the road.
My heart sunk. I went into full speed ahead. I had to get to my family!
We disembarked the vehicle. Juan quickly surveyed the situation then barked orders for a bulldozer to be brought in, pronto.
I didn't wait. There was no time to figure out logistics. None. Zero.
I pulled off my suit jacket, tie and shirt, and tossed it into the vehicle. I spotted an opening about 300 yards down the stretch of road that leads to our house on the other side.
“Rick, can you drive this thing?”
He looked at me, “Fucking A dude! Get in!”
Juan, just as Rick was about to tear out, flopped in the backseat as Rick did, indeed tear out, spraying rocks and gravel in our wake.
Juan was cussing and raising hell cuz Rick was bouncing us all over the damn place... but we hit a place where no vehicle could pass through. We were still about a hundred yards from the house.
Two of the bigger palm trees, also felled by the storm, blocked our path, and any other path, so we took off on foot, somehow climbed over the fallen trees, and then headed on a dead run to check on my family, and Juan's, too. The closer to the house we got, the more I worried I got, about their safety. Our house was severely beaten and battered, yet, structurally it appeared to be okay, at least from a distance. Not so just east of the house. The many palm trees were lying about, torn and broken, everywhere. It appeared that our home had “just” received a glancing blow. By a glancing blow, I mean the house did not take a direct hit, otherwise the results would have been catastrophic... I couldn't let my mind go there...
We heard sirens in the distance. They were coming closer and closer, yet they did nothing to determine that my family was okay.
Jeremy and Jason were outside surveying the scene when we arrived, breathless and fully exerted. Jeremy had a terrified look deep within his eyes. I pulled him into a deep, deep hug as Juan and Horace went into the house.
“Everybody's okay, Dad.” Jeremy squeaked. I squeezed even harder, saying, “Are you okay, Jeremy?”
Not waiting for an answer, I took us to the solid concrete picnic table that sat next to the pool. The pool, though unscathed, had major big time hail stones scattered about inside, they looked like ice cubes floating on top of the water.
“Dad, it was bad. It was a tornado. It was big fucker, sorry Dad, it was a big one.”
I leaned into my son, kissed his cheek, got up, pulled him up, and together we went into the house, while I, too, was finding that the tornado, indeed, had been a big fucker. I had to see Peggy, and my sons and their loved ones, for myself.
Jeremy said, “I had everybody lie face down on the floor in the hall. Nobody's hurt, thank God.”
“That was the right thing to do, Son. I would have done the very same thing. Jeremy, insurance will pay for the damage, but it will not pay for hurt or harm, or worse, to our family... we're okay.”
Jeremy put his arm around my back, then we entered the kitchen. Immediately, I went to Peggy, pulled her into my arms, and together, we thanked God for sparing our family.
I went to each of the boys, to see for myself, that they were alright and unharmed. They were. After seeing each one and feeling their hugs, my spirit relaxed.
Benji, always the strong one in most every situation, was in Juan's arms, crying softly. Harry, was under Juan's other arm, he was so scared, too. Andy ran into my arms. I wrapped mine around him, protectively.
David and Peter were together, each with their arms around the other. Once again, I saw terror in Peter's eyes, a look that I hadn't seen since that day he'd come to live with us. Antoine, ever the strong one in our family, had tears freely flowing out his eyes and rolling down his cheeks. I urged him to join us. He did. Though he was fiercely making great strides to maintain his composure – he was still a child in my eyes, and he was frightened, like I’d never before seen him frightened. Andy gave way for his brother to receive my full and complete attention, which I gave to him without reservation. I felt his terror and fright, up close and personal.
Peggy joined us. Together we cocooned the boy and held him tight, safely.
Adam, the next boy, I saw terror and haunt in his eyes, slowly walked on his crutches and stood in front of us. Very quietly he said, “I bring bad luck to people... I should have told you so...”
That, what he just said, broke the melancholy and depression from everybody huddled there together, even Antoine broke from our embrace then confronted Adam by saying, “Bullshit. You no more caused this than anybody. Don't ever say shit like that again. You can feel sorry for yourself all you want to, but don't say that kind of crap around here, because it isn’t true!”
Adam backed away, a haunted look in his eyes telling me Antoine's words were hitting his core being.
I started to say something, but Peggy put her hand over my mouth, then whispered into my ear, “The boys will take care of this, just watch them.”
Indeed, each of the boys, including Harry and Jason, gave Adam a piece of their minds, in a way that left no doubt that what Adam had said was pure, unadulterated 'bullshit'.
When they were finished, Peggy said to Adam, “There you have it. Are you with us?
When he didn't say anything, I said, “Adam, we're learning to love you... just give my boys and us a chance, okay... it's going to work out. Trust me.”
Then the Calvary arrived. Men and women began swarming our home, checking out this and that, and everything else.
Maria, with a determined look deep inside her eyes, went into the kitchen and returned with a broom and dustpan.
I couldn't help it; neither could Peggy. We broke down and began laughing. Maria looked up, as if we were Martians from outer space... the look in her eyes said, “What?”
- David's POV -
While dad was checking with the weather service to see if we were free and clear of more storms, and after finding out that the coast was clear, they, mom and dad, decided, with a little help from us, that we could stay home. With that decision made, Rick arranged for 4 industrial size shop vacuums so that we could power suck the carpet and bare floors free of the glass shards. Water damage appeared to be minimal because most of the storm had been hail and high winds. The front of the house, facing south, was sandblasted to pieces. The paint was pretty much all stripped away and left bare.
Another crew arrived. They fastened tarps to the pummeled roof to protect the inside.
Yet another crew arrived to replace the sliding glass door that had been blown off its hinges and shattered in a million pieces in the kitchen.
While everybody was working, the fucking media vans arrived out front. They were taking pictures, entering the property, milling about. Dad put a stop to it when one of the local FOX stations entered the immediate perimeter surrounding our house.
Juan, more forceful than dad, “convinced” them to leave and not come back. When he returned, I walked up to him and asked, “Sheesh, what did you tell them?”
He grinned, “Nothing that your innocent ears should hear. They're gone.”
I chuckled loudly, shook my head, turned away, but then thought I needed to say something, “Thanks, Juan.”
He nodded then headed to where the power company was working to restore the electricity. Apparently, one of the palm trees that got felled also took out the underground power cables on its way down. Word had it that the main power transformer, up by the road, exploded when everything went to ground.
One small problem with sweeping up the glass and shit with the shop vacuums: no power to run them with. That was solved when Horace took off for the maintenance plant to retrieve a generator.
The men covering up the skylights also placed clear plastic materials over the full ceiling to floor windows that had been blown in.
Benji, Harry, William and Andy were cleaning Andy's room as good as possible. Benji was going in full motion, but, when he looked into my eyes they were haunted. He was still oh so very frightened. When I motioned for him to come to me he shook his head 'no' and got busier. Andy looked into my eyes. He was worried. He did walk over to me and we hugged deeply. I whispered in his ear, “You guys need to bond. He needs to feel your strength. He gives and gives and gives; now he needs to receive.”
Andy nodded. When he walked to Harry, I left their room, closing the door behind me.
Allen and Angel were paying careful attention to their room. Since they had a sky light right above their bed, well, the sheets and blankets were majorly wet. And there were hail stones in the middle of their bed. They both looked okay, though. They didn't seem too terror stricken, but, they were quiet – unusual for them.
I then went into the room that I shared with my husband. He was busily cleaning up the bathroom. Two hail stones were in the sink. I swear to God those things were still the size of softballs, and it had been about 4 hours since the storm. We hadn't made the bed that morning. I walked to it and felt around, looking for wetness or glass shards. I didn't find any, thankfully. I made it up then helped Peter finish the bathroom by cleaning the toilet and the sink while Peter finished with the shower. Even the toilet bowl was chipped. Thankfully, it hadn't fractured, or shattered.
I whipped the tool out and sent forth a healthy stream to relieve my fully distended bladder. Peter joined me just as I finished up. I figured I might as well put a little bit of levity into the situation, so I stepped back, reached around, and held his dick for him, squeezing every now and again – gotta get those last drops out, right? He giggled then quickly pushed my hands away after I continued to give him some extra 'shakes'. He said, “Later!”
“Horndog.” He was grinning his million dollar smile. I took the opportunity to reach in and firmly close his mouth, cupping his ass with my hands, and then started sliding them around to the front. I was just reaching for the zipper on his jeans when dad walked in to see if we needed any help with anything, and said that he was going from room to room to assess damages. Seeing us totally tented out, he rolled his eyes, and took off to do what he was doing. I looked into Peter's eyes, and then we enjoyed a moment of laughter, just us, alone, for a few minutes of just 'us' time. No, we didn't tear each others' clothes off and have our way, instead, we were simply quiet, the stillness broken only by our heavy breathing, which was slowly returning to a semblance of normalcy.
We quickly finished up our room, then took the cleaning supplies with us. We walked to Adam's room. He was sitting on his bed staring into space. He jumped when we entered, but then relaxed when he saw it was us. Immediately, I became worried, as did Peter, because Adam's bed was still largely covered with shards of glass.
“I'm sorry, I should have been cleaning...” Adam said shamefully.
“It's okay, Adam. We're going to help you.” Peter said while I took his wrist and lifted him to a standing position. By rote that I knew all too well, he leaned in for my body weight to support his. I took the moment to wrap my arms around him and give a tight hug.
I said, because I felt it, “It's going to be okay. That was a fluke storm. It may have damaged our home, but, it didn't hurt our spirits.”
He relaxed, somewhat. Then he tensed up again when Peter began brushing his back and butt free of little pieces of glass. I said softly, “Don't worry, he's not going to do anything... he's just brushing away any glass. Don't want your ass all cut up, now do ya?”
Peter then lifted out Adam's pants and underwear to check for glass that may have entered his crawl space. Adam's eyes went wide, but, he let Peter finish his quick check. Peter said, “Nice ass you got there.”
He shook his head and smiled. There wasn't much he could do. There wasn't much we wanted him to do because he couldn't support himself and clean, too.
While Peter worked in the bathroom, Adam and I stripped the bed and remade it with clean, fresh sheets. I then retrieved a towel from the bathroom and began the process of wiping down the dressers, end table, and his night stand table.
I guess a guy can smell food two miles away, when he's hungry. Peter's eyes lit up, “FOOD! I'm starved!”
“No shit, Sherlock.” I bantered back.
Adam smiled, nodded, took the crutches I offered, then we took off for the kitchen, because that is where the smell of food was coming from.
Dad, Horace and Juan were carrying in aluminum pans full of food – bar-b-q! Alice smiled, and then hugged each one of us as we ran for the -food-!
- Meanwhile, in Andy's room, Andy's POV -
As soon as David closed our door, I went to William. He was retrieving bed sheets to put back on after we'd stripped the old ones off. He reached up, kissed my lips, and said, “I'm worried about Benji.”
“Me, too. Harry's not himself. He's been cleaning the coffee table thing for like 15 minutes.”
Quickly, we made the bed. While I went into the bathroom to fetch up Benji, William was walking to Harry. Benji looked up, startled out of his tree when I entered the bathroom. Meticulously, he was using a toothbrush to get the glass fragments off the shower floor. I reached down, put my hand on his shoulder and rubbed it tenderly. He was very, very tight, tense. Even though he was thin and wiry, he always had a softness about him, especially when he was being touched by one or more or all of his bonded ones. That worried me.
I said, “Benji, we're okay. Everybody's okay...”
He said, sadly, “As soon as I clean the toilet and the vanity, we'll be all finished here.” Then he turned his attentions back to the shower floor, ignoring my words and attentions on him, my bonded one.
I got down on my haunches so that I could be at eye level with him. I attempted to pull him into me but he snarled after I said, “Benji, William and I want to talk to you and Harry, out there, on our bed. We're all spooked by what happened today. We're all a little bit afraid.”
Benji turned to face me then snorted, “I am not afraid. My spirit is troubled, but I am not afraid! I fear nothing!”
“Benji, it's me, Andy. I can tell you’re unsettled... well, so are we. Harry's nearly catatonic. We need to sit down and talk so that we can get back together again. That's all. It's important, though.”
Benji put his head down. He was contemplating my words. Maybe 30 seconds later, he looked up, and nodded almost imperceptibly. You have to know Benji to be able to pick that up. I reached out my hand. He took it. I led us into our bedroom. Harry and William were sitting on the bed, quietly talking together.
When a serious talk between us is necessary, (or wanted) we sit in the middle of the bed with our legs crossed, our arms intermingled, and our foreheads touching. And, oh yeah, we're naked, too.
Without hesitation, I removed Benji's clothes while William removed Harry's, and then we removed our own and assumed our positions on the bed, together, in harmony.
As usual, we went into and within our spirits fully and completely. I don't remember what happened next, only that I was awakened by soft voices whispering our names, repeatedly.
I emerged first. My arm was lying across my bonded ones. We were spooned together, with me in the back and William in the front, with me spooned into Benji, and Benji spooned into Harry, and Harry spooned into William. I turned my head and saw that it was Angel and Allen who were calling our names.
Angel, seeing that I wasn't fully aware of my surroundings, softly said, “Food. Dinner's ready.”
My eyes flew open. I began shaking Benji then Harry then William. I said but one word, “Food!”
Arms and legs disentangled, clothes were tossed to their rightful owners, haphazardly underwear, jeans, socks shoes were put close to the place where they should be… the smell of BBQ was permeating the room, which quickened our getting dressed, and out the door of our bedroom.
It truly looked like a cattle feed, whatever a cattle feed looks like. Plates were flying. Silverware was jangling and clanking. Voices were exclaiming various variations of “hungry”, and other such things that a herd of hungry teenage boys say when they are about to eat! There was nowhere to squeeze in so Benji took my hand in his and led me to the patio area, away from food. Hurriedly, he was hungry, too, he said, “It's not good to emerge like that... but under the circumstances...”
He kissed me warmly, snaked in his tongue, and then we searched and searched for tonsils, and then his belly rumbled as did mine. Eating could no longer be denied or delayed.
Pork ribs, ham, brisket, baked BBQ beans, coleslaw, cold Cokes, and two apple pies and a cherry pie awaited our consumption. Without regard for decorum or table manners, plates were filled, and very hurriedly we took off for the patio to EAT! We hadn't eaten since breakfast. Mom was worried that we'd call Ella, or even Officer Ramirez, to tell them of our lack-of-food abuse, but nobody did, we were too busy eating, and besides, our cell phones were defunct.
All the workers took time from their jobs to eat with us. Alice had decided, or she was told, matters not, well… she brought enough food to feed a large regiment of hungry soldiers.
Okay, now that we got Benji and Harry straightened out, oh wait... not straightened out like 'that', David take over.
- David's POV -
“Andy, you know you're a goof, right?” I said while jabbing him in the ribs.
“Well, I figured that out.” Andy said giggling.
I think everybody just needed to eat because the mood lightened considerably. I noted that the terror in Benji's eyes was gone, and that Harry was more like himself.
Mom looked very, very tired, but she was sitting with dad and smiling between bites of food.
Jeremy and Jason were sitting together. They appeared closer than normal, whatever 'normal' means.
Allen and Angel were also sitting very close together, as was Jesus and AZ. AZ, between bites of food, looked up and into my eyes. He smiled as he shoveled another rib into his mouth. Jesus was too busy eating to pay any attention to anything other than his plate.
Adam was sitting beside Jesus. Every once in a while he'd check Jesus... I didn't think anything of it because they were both eating like hungry kids... sounds adult, eh?
Antoine and Matt were sitting on the steps, arm in arm, eating quickly. Every now and again they'd look into each others' eyes and smile. Antoine, and then Matt, sensing someone looking at them purposefully turned around and smiled when they saw it was me. I nodded then picked up a rib and began devouring it, feeling okay.
Peter, ever the comedian, leaned over and kissed my cheek, leaving a lip mark full of BBQ sauce. I felt it. It was cool when his lips left. “You oaf.” I said softly.
Just as the sun was beginning to set, the workers left with assurances they'd be back early in the morning to finish up. The electricians said that we'd probably get the power back on midday the following day. Before they left they hooked up the generator to the refrigerator to keep the food from spoiling.
The breeze was dead calm. Mom got some candles out and ready to go as we watched the sun descend its final inches into the ocean.
We were not permitted to go swimming because the pool filters were not working, nor was the automatic chemical dispensers, so, we sat around talking about this and that until exhaustion took over, which sent us to making up the nest, but not necessarily to sleep.
As soon as the sun set, Horace and Alice got ready to leave. They were pretty insistent on taking Jason, William and Jeremy home with them. Juan also needed to leave, and made a very weak suggestion that he take Harry and Benji home with him... both parents' 'suggestions' were met with strong opposition from not only their kids but from their partners as well...
Things were 'slightly' heating up. I mentioned that we'd thought about 'nesting', and suggested we could nest in the formal family room since it was unscathed by the storm that passed through earlier in the day. Peter spoke up and said that we'd all been through a horrible experience, that he was pretty unsettled from the events, and that we would be better off it we all stayed together. Then he poured it on... LOL … I love him so much.
The 'rents weren't buying the sugar and syrup. Adam, meekly, said that he'd never nested before. His voice was barely audible. But … of course … parents have extra sets of ears, and they are certainly capable of hearing things that aren't meant for them... they heard his words.
Adam was our hero! It worked! Yeah!
As it were … the 'rents had the upper hand, however, and Alice exercised it fully and completely. “Tomorrow is a school day, don't forget. Be on time!”
Maria rode home with Juan, leaving Jesus and AZ with us.
Dad then put a damper on things by saying that he had the only working phone in the house, and that he was going to set an alarm for 5:30, the usual time he got up to go into the office. He and mom then went to bed with stern warnings about us not resisting when we were awakened the following morning.
Adam chose to sleep by Peter and me. Jesus chose to sleep on our other side while AZ found somewhere else to sleep. It was pitch black dark so he couldn't see where he was going. He giggled and even squealed while finding his sleeping spot, as people were grabbing his ankles and generally giving him a hard time.
Very sleepily, Angel said, “Thanks, Adam. You're kewl.”
That started a round of praise, honor and glory (heh heh heh) for our newest addition to the extended family. He would later tell me that his tears were freely flowing at hearing the praises for him. He was so happy. And that was a big turning point for him. Before, he'd thought of himself as simply being another mouth to feed, that we were maybe, possibly his friends, yet he was scared, too, because he didn't know what a friend was, or if he would be able to be a friend.
For about 30 minutes, or so, give or take a little while, all you could hear were sounds of contentment, a muffled squeal here and there, and then a very loud moan and groan as Peter took my maleness into his mouth and gave me a wonderful send off to la la land, and then, to top off the evening, much to our surprise, we heard Adam gutterly exclaim, “OH SHIT! OH MY GOD...! OHHHHHHH!” And no, he was not in pain by any stretch of the imagination!
There were plenty of snickers passed through the air waves. Giggling, Jeremy said, “Way to go, Adam!”
*** To be continued
*Editor's Notes: *
I don't know how many of you have actually seen a tornado or been in a town where one has touched down, but let me tell you that even as an adult, you can be seriously scared.
*We had one here in my home town quite a few years ago, now, and it did some really strange things, *
People say that it sounds like a freight train coming by. To tell you the truth, I didn't hear anything like that, because I was standing in our kitchen, and the vent fan over the stove started running. Did I mention that it wasn't turned on? It was making a lot more noise than when it normally runs, and I believe that it was going faster than it had ever run before. Eventually, I figured out that there must be some humongously strong wind blowing.
*We both headed to an inside room, and turned on the TV. There was absolutely no stations coming in, which sort of surprised us, since we are in an area where we receive TV channels from several different towns, and it seemed that there was no signal from anywhere. *
*My next thought was that the preamp on the tower must have had a lightning hit. *
*We finally decided that we might as well go to bed, and when we woke up, the next morning, I walked out on the back porch and discovered that the east wall of the porch was completely hanging away from the floor, jutting out at about a forty five degree angle. Why we didn't check that out when we noticed the high winds, I will never know. I went outside and found tree branches all over our back and side yards. We don't have any trees in either of those yards, so that was another clue that something really big had happened. *
*I walked around to the front of the house, and there on the ground was our 80 ft. tower all curled up and not being a tower any longer. The TV antennas on it were literally twisted into curly qs. *
*The tower must have been taken down when we first heard the fan running, but we never thought about the possibility of the tower falling down, when we had no signal. *
*This house is pretty old. The main part of it was built around 1910, and there have been sections added to it, over the years, so thinking back on it now, I am surprised we didn't have a lot worse damage than we did. *
I know that thunder, Lightning and damaging winds can easily scare children, and I don't blame them one bit.
*I am so greatful that we didn't have any fatalities from that storm. There was a huge mess, all over town, what with tree limbs scattered all over the place, but it was fairly minor damage, really. *
The guys in this story are a pretty resilient bunch, so I have confidence that things will work out pretty well, sooner or later.
I can hardly wait for the next chapter.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher