Castle Roland

Dreams Don't Grow On Trees

by Owen Hudson

In Progres

Chapter 4

Posted: 16 Apr 15

Dreams Don't Grow on Trees

Copyright © 2011 Owen Hudson

"Dad, I don't need to lie down," Haden protested after the family hug and cry. "I'm not tired and I feel fine."

"Son, I know you may not be tired, but the doctor said you should get plenty of rest," Darrell said. "I'm not telling you to take a nap. I'm just saying you need to rest for while."

"Dad's right," Amy agreed. "I'm going to start dinner while you rest."

"Amy, did you forget that Kyle said that his mom was making a casserole for us?" Haden asked.

"I did forget," Amy admitted. "I guess I'll do my homework while you rest."

Although Haden wasn't tired he knew better than to argue with his dad. It wasn't that he feared physical punishment, he feared disapproval. Haden had no intention of sleeping, but he soon drifted off to sleep. He was having a vivid dream of Kyle in bed with him, gently kissing him. He could even feel the warmth of Kyle's body.

Haden opened his eyes and realized that it wasn't a dream when he saw Kyle smiling at him. "Our dads want to talk to us," Kyle said. "But I think I'd rather cuddle with you."

"What do they want to talk to us about?" Haden asked in a near panic. The thought of cuddling seemed like a much better alternative.

"Don't worry," Kyle said in a calming voice. "I think it's probably legal stuff. Dad brought a lot of paperwork with him."

"Tell them I'll be right there," Haden said. "I need to wash the sleep out of my eyes."

"Haden, I don't think you've met my dad Steve," Kyle said. "Dad, this is Haden."

"I'm pleased to finally meet you, Haden," Steve said. "I've known your dad since high school and of course we saw a lot of Perry."

"I'm pleased to meet you too, Mr. Holden," Haden said, while shaking Steve's hand.

"Forget the Mr. Holden thing," Steve said. "Just call me Steve, after all I have a feeling our families will be seeing a lot of each other."

"Before you guys get started, Amy and I have dinner on the table," Linda Holden said upon entering the room.

"Haden, this is my mom, Linda," Kyle said. "She'll want you to call her Linda, right Mom?"

"Of course," Linda agreed. "Haden, I'm sorry about what happened. How are you doing?"

"I'm fine," Haden said. "It was just a mild concussion."

"Come on and eat and then you guys can get started," Linda said.

"Mmm... This is really good," Haden said as he took his first bite of the casserole.

"I'll leave the recipe with Amy," Linda said. "It's really easy to make."

"Thank you, Linda," Darrell said. "I want Haden and Amy to concentrate on their school work and not this farm and housework. It'll be a little easier for them now that Amy has a car."

"I wondered whose car that was," Kyle said. "Isn't that the car Tony's mom had?"

"It is," Amy said, without explaining the circumstances of the car.

"If everyone is finished eating, let's get started," Steve said. "I'll get my files and we can work right here."

"I'll clear the table," Amy said.

"No, Amy, I'll do it," Linda said. "You may be involved in this discussion too."

"There's peach pie if anyone wants dessert," Amy said. "I think I'll have mine later."

"Me too," Linda agreed. "I suggest we have it after you guys are finished."

"Okay, here's what we have," Steve began in a businesslike tone. "I didn't know if you wanted to file a restraining order against Brenda or not, but I prepared the document in case you did."

"I think it would be best," Darrell said. "I don't want her around the kids unless I'm present."

"If you'll sign here I'll file this for you tomorrow." Steve pointed to the signature line. "Darrell, Amy said that you were going to file for divorce. I've prepared the document for that also. I saw a copy of your parents' will in our files and I noticed that this place was willed to you alone. They even stipulated that in case of divorce Brenda had no claim on the property. I've also asked for child support."

"If she's incarcerated how will she pay child support?" Darrell asked.

"I talked to the DA and he doesn't think what she did was illegal," Steve said. "It's much like what the televangelists are doing. However, I'm sure she'll do some time for what she did to Haden. She does have that money in the bank. The preacher's brother is also involved in the scam. The three of them controlled all of the church's finances. Those accounts are frozen and the judge will likely order money be set aside for child support. Haden, we're suing for pain and suffering for the battery on you. We're asking for $20,000, but I expect you'll get only half that amount."

"That'll really help with college," Haden said.

"I'll bet you get a scholarship," Linda said. "Kyle said that you have really good grades, you too, Amy. Amy, what area of study are you planning?"

"I'm taking pre-nursing courses now," Amy said. "Haden and I both are taking AP courses."

"Good profession," Linda said. "I'm a nurse myself. I'm the patient educator at the hospital. The hospital has scholarships for nursing students. The only stipulation is that the recipients agree to work for the hospital. I'll get you an application if you like."

"Yes, thank you," Amy said.

"Amy, did you see any part of the attack on your brother?" Steve asked, apparently wanting to get the subject back on track.

"Just the results of the attack," Amy said. "But Mom still had the trophy in her hand and there was a lot of blood on Haden's bed."

"I called Reverend McFadden and told him that if he even so much as hinted that you two boys were gay that there would be a lawsuit," Steve said. "You know it's a shame that this community is so judgmental and you feel that you must hide what you are."

"Mom was really angry," Haden said. "I hope she keeps her mouth shut."

"I told the preacher that he'd better keep her quiet," Steve said.

"What about the preacher's wife?" Darrell asked.

"He wasn't married to the woman that he passed off as his wife," Steve said. "Apparently he sent her packing when Brenda came into the picture."

"It seems that for every decent Christian there's a dozen like the Reverend McFadden," Linda said.

"That's for sure," Darrell agreed. "Now, I believe there's a peach pie that needs our attention."

"Amy, you know that you don't have to cook breakfast for me," Haden said when Amy put a plate of sausage, eggs, and toast in front of him the next morning.

"I fix my own breakfast and it's just as easy to fix yours and Dad's too," Amy said. "Besides, I'm afraid Dad would go to work without breakfast if I didn't fix his."

"I do know how to cook breakfast," Darrell said as he entered the room.

"But would you?" Amy asked.

"I may not cook a big breakfast like this," Darrell said, obviously enjoying his sausage and eggs. "But your grandma made sure that all of us knew some basic cooking."

"Dad, why is it that you haven't talked much about Grandma and Grandpa?" Haden asked.

"Mom and Dad never liked Brenda," Darrell said. "I didn't want to start a fight by mentioning them."

"What about Mom's parents?" Amy asked.

"Well," Darrell said and then paused, giving him time to choose the right words. "I didn't know your other grandparents. Brenda never had anything to do with them and refused to let them even see you kids. Everyone said that they were good people but very poor. They had even less than our family had."

"Are they still alive?" Amy asked.

"I don't know," Darrell said. "They moved away when Haden was a baby. I have no idea where they moved to. Now you two had better get ready for school. Thank you, Amy, for breakfast. I'll clean up here."

"It feels strange not riding the bus to school," Haden said as Amy pulled onto the highway toward town.

"Yeah, but it's a good strange feeling," Amy agreed.

Although Amy had assured Haden that the staples in his scalp weren't noticeable he was conscious of them. Amy had even helped him comb his hair to conceal them. Nevertheless, Haden was relieved to see the end of the school day. He quickly exited the building and headed for the bus loading zone before remembering that he'd rode with Amy.

"You forgot that we drove to school, didn't you?" Amy laughed when Haden got in the car.

"Yeah, I did," Haden giggled. "But I can sure get used to this."

"Oh no, we're low on gas," Amy said as she turned the key to start the car. "Do you have any money?"

"I have $5.00."

"I think I have about $18.00. Give me your $5.00 and we'll stop at the Handy Mart and get $20.00 worth of gas."

"I wonder how much we should plan to budget for gas," Haden stated, more to himself than his sister.

"The way the price changes it will be difficult to plan," Amy said as she pulled up to the gas pump. "I'll go in and pay if you'll pump the gas."

As Haden was pumping gas, a nearly new looking Ford Mustang pulled up to the pump behind him. Haden recognized the driver as Roger McFadden, Reverend McFadden's nephew. "Well if it isn't the fagot that ratted out his own mother," Roger said. "There's no court order that keeps me from telling everybody the truth about you."

"The truth is that you weren't there and don't know what you're talking about," Haden countered.

"I know that you had your boyfriend's dad freeze my dad's and uncle's bank accounts," Roger said.

"Roger, your uncle could be in trouble for even talking about the case," Amy said as she returned from paying for the gas.

"Either this fag withdraws the lawsuit or I let everybody know about him and Kyle," Roger said in anger.

"You'll do no such thing or your little secret will get out," Amy said with a laugh that apparently got to Roger.

"You don't know a damn thing about me," Roger said, somewhat shaken.

"Oh, but I do," Amy said. "You're forgetting who our mother is and she's been close to your uncle who couldn't keep his mouth shut."

Roger jumped in his car and burned rubber as he pulled away from the gas pump without purchasing gas. "I don't think we have to worry about him now," Amy laughed.

"What exactly do you know about him?" Haden asked as he opened the car door.

"Nothing," Amy said, after she'd buckled her safety belt and started the car, as if to add suspense.

"Nothing? Roger seemed to think that you do."

"I just figured that a family like the McFaddens would have plenty to hide, including Roger. I also think that Roger may be gay."

"What makes you think that?"

"Didn't I figure you out?"

"Yeah, but I'm your brother."

"I have several classes with Roger and I've noticed that he's always eying good looking guys. And he's always with Grant Burns. Tony said that it's common knowledge that Grant likes to watch guys in the shower."

"I'm surprised that those football jocks don't beat the crap out of him."

"They'd get kicked off the team if they did. Besides, Tony said that they just let him see just enough to tease him. Hey, your phone's ringing."

"Damn, I forgot that we had phones," Haden said while taking the phone out of his pocket. "Hello. Oh, hi, Dad. No, we're on our way home now. We had to stop and buy gas. Well, we had $20.00 between us. Okay, we'll do the outside chores first. No, I promise I won't lift anything heavy. Do you really think Amy would let me get by with that? Yeah, I did fine today, no headaches. Okay, we'll see you at six. I love you too, bye."

"What was that all about?"

"We're supposed to meet Dad at the Holden's for dinner at six. It has something to do with the case."

"Good, we can tell Steve about Roger."

"What do you think Steve wants to discuss with us?" Haden asked as Amy parked the car in front of the Holden's.

"I suppose we'll find out. Now stop worrying."

"There's Dad now," Haden said as Darrell parked behind Amy's car.

"Let's go inside," Darrell said, hugging his son and daughter. "It's cold out here."

To Haden's surprise, Hal Campbell was enjoying a glass of wine with Steve. "Hi, Mr. Campbell."

"Hi, Haden, but we're not at school so it's Hal," Hal said. "I assume this lovely young lady is Amy?"

"Yes, this is my sister Amy, and you've met my dad," Haden said.

"Yes, how are you, Darrell?"

"I'm well," Darrell said, shaking Hal's hand.

"Would you like a glass of wine?" Steve asked.

"Maybe just one," Darrell said. "I have to drive home."

"I can drive home," Haden offered.

"That's right," Darrell smiled. "You do have your license now."

"Kyle, would you find out what Haden and Amy would like and get drinks for them?" Steve asked.

"I understand that you have some legal things to discuss," Hal said. "Linda invited me over for dinner. So I'll leave right after we eat."

"I don't mind if you stay if nobody else does," Haden said.

"You're welcome to stay as long as Steve approves," Darrell said.

"As long as Steve approves what?" Steve asked as he handed the glass of wine to Darrell.

"We were discussing that it was okay with us if Hal stays while we discuss the case," Darrell said.

"As long as you don't mind, it's fine with me," Steve agreed.

"Haden and I stopped to buy gas on the way home today and Roger McFadden stopped there too," Amy said. "He threatened to spread the word that Haden and Kyle were gay unless we dropped the case."

"It appears that I need to be contacting the reverend again," Steve said.

"It isn't likely that Roger will say anything," Haden said. "Amy told him that he'd better keep his mouth shut or she'd let his little secret out."

"What secret is that?" Steve asked.

"I don't know for sure," Amy said. "I just assumed that he and his family had some type of secret."

"It worked because Roger jumped in his car and burned rubber getting out of there," Haden said.

"I'm sure that there is a secret there somewhere," Steve said, after he stopped laughing.

"He's gay," Kyle said.

"How do you know?" Steve asked.

"Roger made a pass at me once when we were the only ones in the restroom," Kyle said.

"I got a call from Brenda's attorney today and they want to settle out of court," Steve said. "They agreed to pay $20,000 to Haden. They also agreed to $600 a month in child support."

"I'm surprised that Brenda agreed to that," Darrell said.

"She's trying to stay out of jail," Steve said. "I talked to the assistant district attorney and he said that it would be our best chance of getting money out of her. Haden, the choice is yours?"

"Mom wouldn't have to go to jail at all?" Haden asked.

"She'd get probation and community service," Steve said.

"What do you think, Dad?" Haden asked.

"It's all up to you, Son," Darrell said.

"Let's take the money," Haden said.

"How can we be sure that the child support will be paid?" Darrell asked.

"Although Brenda agreed to it, I'll be asking the judge to order that enough money from her account be taken and placed into a special account to pay child support until Amy and Haden are 18," Steve said. "In fact, the $20,000 will be paid tomorrow and the child support money has already been set aside. I'm asking for the court order so that the money will stay there. Darrell, Brenda also agreed to the divorce with no claims on the property."

"I'm surprised that Brenda didn't put up a fight," Darrell mused.

"Apparently that one weekend in jail was enough for her," Steve said. "She wanted no part of a long jail sentence."

"Dinner is ready," Linda entered the room and said.

Dinner was pork chops with apples, candied sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables, and hot rolls. For dessert there was a wonderful blueberry buckle with vanilla ice cream.

"Haden and Kyle, help me and we'll clear the table and load the dishwasher," Amy said after the group had stuffed themselves.

"I can do it," Linda protested.

"We can too," Amy said. "You've cooked a wonderful meal and this is the least we can do."

The remainder of the evening was spent in lively conservation. They soon learned that Hal had a great sense of humor. He had the group in stitches when telling about his teen years.

Haden ended up driving the truck home since Darrell had a third glass of wine. "I'm not drunk, but to be on the safe side you'd better drive," Darrell had said. "That is if you don't mind driving a 'tank' as you call it."

"I'd rather drive my own," Haden said with a laugh as they followed Amy down the street.

"As soon as you get the money from your settlement with Brenda you can buy one."

"Really, how much can I spend?"

"Son, it's your money, but I'd suggest you try to stay under $5,000. It would be nice if you had a little nest egg when you start college. I spent $2,000 on Amy's car, so I'll add $2,000 to your $5,000."

"Dad, you don't need to do that."

"I know, but I want to do this. Remember, I've been saving for you a car, and we'll keep the remainder of that for emergencies."

"It's good that you'll be getting child support from Mom."

"I was just thinking about that. I make enough money to pay the bills and buy groceries. I want you and Amy to have the child support money."

"Dad, that's $300 a month for each of us. We won't need that much."

"I'll not be giving you an allowance, and you'll have to buy your own clothes and gas for your cars. I'll have your insurance on my policy. I suggest you try to save some each month. When you get your money we'll talk to Paul about investing it in a safe account. I'll call him tomorrow as soon as we get the check."

"Who's Paul?"

"You know Paul, Tony's dad."

"I forgot that his name's Paul. Isn't he some kind of banker?"

"He owns the bank. We'll go to the bank tomorrow and talk to Paul. If you want, we'll go into Covington this weekend and look at vehicles."

"Sure, that would be great."

"I made an appointment for you to see the doctor this Friday. You'll have to miss your last hour. I'll pick you up at school."

"Look what I have," Darrell said, waving an envelope when he arrived home from work the next day.

"I actually got the money!" Haden exclaimed.

"You sure did," Darrell said. "Let's get to the bank. Paul's waiting for us."

"Dinner will be ready when you get back," Amy said.

"I thought we might eat out," Darrell said.

"There's no need to waste food," Amy argued. "You two go on and we'll eat when you get back."

"Here's what I suggest," Paul said, after Haden and Darrell arrived at the bank with the cashier's check. "We'll put the $5,000 in Darrell's account for the car, and I suggest a CD for the remainder. It wouldn't make as much money as the stock market, but it's safer."

"Put half of it in Amy's name," Haden said.

"Haden, are you sure?" Darrell asked.

"I'm sure," Haden said.

"Alright, if you're sure," Darrell agreed. "Paul, Haden and Amy will be getting $300 a month each in child support. When that starts, I want them to open an account that has a debit card."

"See me and I'll set it up as an employee account," Paul said. "That way there won't be any fees."

By the time Friday arrived, Haden was anxious to see Dr. Ortiz to have his staples removed. Dr. Ortiz had been the family doctor for as long as Haden could remember. Dr. Ortiz always had a joke for Haden when he visited. It started when Haden was seven and asked, "Why did the computer go to the doctor?"

"I don't know, why did the computer go to the doctor?" Dr. Ortiz smiled.

"It had a virus," Haden giggled.

The jokes changed as Haden grew older. Haden thought the joke on this visit was Dr. Ortiz's best.

A man staggers into an emergency room with a concussion, multiple bruises, two black eyes, arm in a sling, and a five iron wrapped tightly around his neck. Naturally, the doctor asks him what happened.

"Well, it was like this," said the man. "I was having a quiet round of golf with my wife when at a difficult hole, we both sliced our balls into a pasture of cows. We went to look for them and while I was rooting around I noticed one of the cows had something white at its rear end. I walked over and lifted up the tail, and sure enough there was a golf ball with my wife's monogram on it, stuck right in the middle of the cow's butt. That's when I made my big mistake."

"What did you do?" Asks the doctor.

"Well, I lifted the cow's tail and yelled to my wife, 'Hey, this looks like yours!' I don't remember much after that."

"Now let me have a look at that wound," Dr. Ortiz said, after they'd all had a good laugh.

"Will I get the staples out today?" Haden asked.

"It's been a week, right?" Dr. Ortiz asked.

"A week today," Darrell said.

"It appears to be healing well," Dr. Ortiz said as he examined the wound. "I think we can safely remove the staples today. There's a healthy blood supply to the scalp. It bleeds a lot when there's an injury, but it also helps speed up the healing process."

"How do you remove the staples?" Haden asked.

"With a staple remover," Dr. Ortiz laughed.

"A staple remover?" Haden laughed. "That's funny."

"No, really that's what it's called," Dr. Ortiz said. "I think it's safe for you to resume normal activities. Just avoid contact sports. There's a slight chance you could develop migraine headaches. If that happens call and make an appointment. When you shampoo your hair, don't massage your scalp until the wound is completely healed."

"Amy, do you want to go with Haden and me tomorrow to look for Haden's car?" Darrell asked during dinner.

"What time will we be home?" Amy asked. "I have a date with Tony."

"We should be home by midafternoon," Darrell said.

"Sure, I'll go," Amy said. "We'll take my car and see how it does on the highway."

"What are you doing up so early?" Amy asked the next morning when she saw Haden in the kitchen cooking breakfast.

"I woke up early," Haden said. "I guess I'm excited about getting a car. Dad's in the shower, we'll eat as soon as he's finished."

"I didn't know you knew how to make pancakes," Amy said.

"I've seen you and mom make them, and I just followed the directions on the package," Haden said.

"That was a good breakfast, Son," Darrell said after finishing off his plate of pancakes and sausage. "As soon as everybody's ready we'll be on our way to go car shopping."

"Here, Dad, you drive," Amy said as she handed the keys to her car to him. "I don't think I'm ready to drive in Covington."

After looking at several vehicles, Haden had narrowed his choice down to a Jeep Liberty and a Ford Mustang. The Liberty had a lot of miles on it and the Mustang was priced $1,000 more than he planned to spend. They decided to think about the purchase over lunch. It was decided to have lunch at a Chinese buffet in a small strip mall.

"Look, that SUV that the couple just drove in has a for sale sign on it," Amy said as she looked out the window. "And they're coming inside."

"Could I go ask them about it?" Haden asked.

"Just tell them that when they've finished eating we'd like to look at it. They're already at the buffet line now. Let them return to their table first."

"They said to bring our drinks over and we can talk while they eat," Haden said when he returned.

After introductions, Gerald Fletcher said, "It's a 2005 Ford Explorer with 62,000 miles. We're selling it for $7,500.00."

"I only have $7,000 to spend," Haden said with disappointment.

"I'm sorry, but that's already well below Blue Book value," Gerald said. "It was our son's SUV and he was killed in Iraq. We don't need three vehicles."

Haden suddenly realized that Perry was in Iraq and could be killed also. He quickly left the table and rushed to the restroom to avoid being seen crying.

"Is he alright?" Mary Fetcher asked.

"His brother is in Iraq," Darrell explained. "I'll go check on him and be right back."

"I'm so sorry," Gerald said, as Darrell left the table.

"You had no way of knowing," Amy said. "Haden has always been somewhat emotional."

"I'm sorry," Haden said when he saw Darrell enter the restroom. "I'm just afraid that something bad will happen to Perry."

"I know," Darrell said. "Remember most of our military come home just fine."

"But many don't."

"Your brother's a survivor. He'll come home. Now dry your eyes and come back out."

"I hope you're right, Dad."

"It'll work out."

Haden composed himself and returned to the table with Darrell. Mary Fletcher placed her hand on Haden's and gave him an understanding smile.

"Would you like to look at the SUV?" Gerald asked.

"I don't think so," Haden said. "I don't have enough money to buy it."

"Let's look at it anyway," Darrell suggested.

"It's really clean," Amy said upon seeing the vehicle.

"Conner was particular about keeping it spotless," Mary said.

"Do you want to drive it?" Gerald asked.

"I don't know," Haden said. "I can't afford it."

"Maybe we can work something out," Darrell said. "You may as well drive it."

Haden loved the SUV the minute he drove out of the parking lot. They drove the few miles to the college and then Haden pulled into a parking lot and said, "Dad, you drive it back and see what you think."

Apparently Darrell was as pleased with the SUV as Haden was. "If Haden likes it we'll take it."

"But, Dad, I'm short $500.00," Haden said.

"I'll make up the difference if you like it," Darrell said.

"I really like it," Haden admitted.

"I can give you a deposit now and bring the cash Monday, or I can write a check for the entire amount," Darrell said.

"I think we can trust you with a check," Gerald said. "Mary, do you still have the title in your purse?"

"I do," Mary said. "There's a notary here in the mall, we can go there to have it notarized."

After dropping the Fletchers off at their house, Haden followed Darrell and Amy back home. He was all smiles with the realization that he was now the owner of a new, at least to him, Explorer.

"I'll tell you the same thing I told Amy when she got her car," Darrell said when they arrived home.

"I know, Dad, I was there," Haden said. "When can I get insurance? I want to show it to Kyle."

"Kyle can come over here and see it," Darrell said. "I'll have to call Joe McNeil and get you on my policy."

"Could you call him now?"

"It's Saturday afternoon, his office is only open until noon.

"Could you call and see, please?"

"Alright, but it's a waste of time."

"Thanks, Dad. I really want to drive it to school Monday."

"Oh, hello, Joe, I didn't think you'd be in this late. I was going to leave a message. Haden got a used Ford Explorer and will need to be added to the policy. I wanted to make sure he's covered before he starts driving it around town. Yeah, we can come by."

"What did he say?"

"He said to come by and he'd make a copy of your driver's license and fill out some papers. Then you'll be covered."


"He said to come on by now. He's there catching up on some work."

"Dad, could we go by Kyle's to show him my Explorer?" Haden asked, after they'd taken care of the insurance.

"Drop me off at the house first. How are you on gas?"

"It's just under half a tank."

"Here's $20.00 for spending money, but remember when you get your child support money you'll be on your own."

"I know, Dad. But I really don't plan on doing anything that I'd need money for."

"I know, but I also know how teenagers are. Will you be home for dinner? Amy's going out with Tony and won't be home. I thought I'd grill steaks, bake some potatoes, and make a salad."

"I'll be home for that. I may ask Kyle to eat with us."

"Let me know so I can thaw an extra steak."

"I will, Dad."

Kyle was thrilled with Haden's Explorer and both parents had to go out and see it. "I'm very happy for you," Linda said.

"Yes, you've made a wise purchase," Steve said.

"Dad's grilling steaks, would all of you like to come over for dinner?" On the spur of the moment Haden decided to invite the entire family. "Amy's going on a date with Tony and it'll just be Dad and me."

"That would be awfully short notice for your dad," Linda said.

"He said to call him and let him know," Haden said, not mentioning that only Kyle was mentioned.

"Aright, as long as your dad knows," Linda said. "I have an apple pie in the oven that I'll bring."

Darrell was pleased that Linda and Steve were also coming to dinner. He was renewing a friendship with them.

"Since Dad's cooking dinner I need to get home and do the outside chores," Haden said.

"I'll go and help you," Kyle offered. "Mom, I'll ride with Haden and then ride back home with you guys."

"Alright, we'll be out when the pie is finished," Linda said.

"McFadden assured me that his nephew would keep his mouth shut," Steve said as they ate dinner.

"That's good news," Darrell said.

"The best news is that the judge refused to unlock Brenda's account until the child support money was set aside. It's to be paid to the Child Welfare Department and they'll issue monthly checks. They issue the checks the first Wednesday of the month, which will be this next Wednesday."

"That's good to hear," Darrell said. "Gas for two extra vehicles would be a bind on the budget."

The Harrington family soon adjusted to the new routine. Haden and Amy decided to alternate weeks for driving to school. They decided that it would save on the gas budget. All was going well until Darrell came home from work and said, "Kids, we need to have a little family meeting."

"What's up, Dad?" Haden asked.

"It appears that the lumber yard is going broke and will close," Darrell said. "I'll have to find another job."

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