Castle Roland


by Darryl-Radio Rancher

In Progress

Chapter 1

Published: 15 Dec 14


Copyright © 2006-2014 Str8mayb and Radio Rancher.
All Rights Reserved.


It was late evening Christmas Eve. There was absolutely no doubt we would have a white Christmas this year. Eat your heart out, Bing. The snow was not falling; really, It was as if it were being expelled from a fire hose of gigantic proportions. It came down so hard, that I couldn't see anything in front of me. I had left Chicago before the official start of rush hour, because the weather reports had predicted moderate snowfall, beginning around six o'clock. I knew if I were in the middle of rush hour and the snow started; people would start acting foolish. All the planning I had done, however, didn't do me much good. Well, let me rephrase that just a bit. I would be very happy that things happened the way they did, but that would come later. Right then I wasn't at all happy.

The snow had actually started falling in earnest, just before four. I had been driving for what seemed like days, in reality, however, I guess it had only been a little over an hour. The entire trip I was making, usually only took twenty minutes or so. Today was a different story. I hadn't seen anyone else on the highway. That surprised me, because when the weather is this threatening, there are always nuts running out to get the bottle of milk and the flashlights they are sure they will need to be able to survive the terrible storm. Oh well, I guess I should be grateful for small favors.

As I drove slower and slower, the wind picked up its fury and began to blow the snow horizontally. Snow was coming down so hard and heavy that even in the moving vehicle, it was piling up, on the hood in front of the windshield. It was that heavy wet kind of snow that just stuck where it fell. It didn't blow off very easily. And of course the fact that the hood of the van was warm meant that the snow started to melt and then refroze. I was actually getting a little scared. Soon there would be no movement possible. I realized that if I kept the engine running, moving as slowly as I was, with the snow piling up so fast, it would engulf the vehicle and the engine would not get enough oxygen to sustain combustion. Okay, so I would be stopped dead in the water so to speak, but that was not what I was thinking about. Before the engine ran out of oxygen, I suspected, I would be dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. I pulled to a stop, and looked around for any signs of life. I couldn't see two feet in front of me, or the side either, for that matter.

As I turned off the engine, I noticed that the snow made a great insulator. There was not a sound of any kind, except for the sound of the wind. Then I thought I heard something, but I listened for several minutes, and heard nothing but the gusts of wind. I guess it was the engine cooling down. I was all alone in vast White Sea of snow.

I reached back and retrieved the heavy thermal blanket that I always brought along with me when I knew I would be on the road in the winter. I was once a Boy Scout, and took it really seriously. Be prepared, they always told us. I also kept a battery powered heater, hooked to a spare deep cycle battery, like the ones they use on boats and RVs, which I had wired, through a diode matrix, to the alternator. It was constantly being charged from the alternator, when the engine was running, but even if I used up every drop of juice in it, it wouldn't discharge the main battery.

I had installed the second battery the year before, after I had been silly enough to forget the 'be prepared' instructions, and got myself stranded in a snow storm that wasn't anywhere near as bad as this one, and had ended up with a dead battery, when I had used the darn heater without thinking. I vowed then, and there, that I would never be caught like that again, and it seemed, that my cautiousness had paid off, big time. I figured, the heater should run for at least eight hours, from the auxiliary battery. I wouldn't freeze to death... yet.

The heater didn't have to work quite as hard as it might have, under normal circumstances, since the rear of the van was crammed full to the roof line with presents There was also a big insulated igloo plastic cooler, with the makings of a wonderful Christmas feast, I had managed to acquire, while I had been in Chicago. I wanted to make things easy for the cook and I wanted everyone to have the best Christmas dinner possible. I will spend what ever it takes to make my favorite boys happy. I was bringing the stuff to My Kids. They were my kids, now. They used to live at the I.O. Sooker House; Which has been closed. Now they lived with me!

The group home, they came from was a small home for young 'problem boys'. For God's sake, if you lived like that, you would have a problem, too. That is what they called them, 'problem boys'. I cringed every time I heard the term. Well, they are not a problem now. I love them, and I will protect them, as long as I live, and with my money and resources, I am sure they will be well taken care of for as long as they live.

It was really strange. To this day, I am amazed at the circumstances that caused me to get involved with the "home" and I use that word loosely. I have plans in the works to legally adopt all the boys that lived there, but what with the differing circumstances for each of the boys being placed there, things have not progressed as quickly as I had hoped. Red Tape is slowly wrapping its tendrils around me. I know that I will prevail, however, Bobby and the other boys need me, and I won't let them down.

All I have to do now, is stay alive long enough to get back to them, and they will at least have another good Christmas. I will see to that. If things work out the way I hope they do, there will be many more wonderful Christmases for them and for me. I love them all. I know that they love me as well. It is all thanks to my son, Bobby, who died before he could even meet them.

Oh yes, that's right; I was going to tell you how I got started taking care of the boys from Sooker House. My mind was wandering again, wasn't it? Well, about two years ago. (God, how could it have been that long ago?)

My own son, Bobby, was dieing of kidney failure, It was November of that year. He was only six years old. I loved him so much. His bright sparkling blue eyes were filled with tears, as he lay on the bed, in that hospice, dieing. The doctors and I had searched all over the country, to find a suitable organ donor who had a kidney that would be a match for him, but there was nothing available. He had been on dialysis for almost a year, and he was losing the battle. He seemed to have a very rare type of blood. I had offered to give him one of my kidneys, of course, but mine was not even close to a match for him.

If his mom had still been alive, maybe she would have been able to donate one of hers, but, sadly, she had died giving birth to him. He took my hand, looked deeply into my eyes, gave me his special smile, and told me, "Daddy, God told me that He needs me to come live with Him. He told me that I had a special job that He needed me to do for Him. He said He knows that you will be okay, but, Daddy, He said this was very important; there are some other boys that need your help. He said He would help you find them. I don't understand it, Daddy, and I don't want to leave you all alone, but He promised me you would be all right. I was so worried about you, but He promised me you would be happy. So, please, Daddy, find them, and take care of them. He needs you to do this. I will be waiting for you, but please make the other little boys happy, like you did me. I love you, Daddy." With those words, he pulled me to him and kissed me once more, then his eyes closed, and his breathing stopped. The spark of life left him. I pulled his lifeless body to me, hugged him, and kissed him gently. "I love you so much, Bobby. I will find them, Bobby, I promise." It was a hollow promise, I thought; I didn't have a clue where to look for boys that needed my help.

I gently laid his body peacefully on the bed. I don't know how long I sat there looking down at him. My tears kept falling for a long time. Finally I was able to pull myself together enough to wipe my tear stained face, and take a deep breath. As I stood up, and turned around, my eye caught sight of a newspaper lying folded, on a table next to the chair I had been sitting in. There was an article that jumped out at me, about an orphanage run by some small organization, which took in boys that no one wanted. I hadn't noticed it when I was reading the paper before, but there it was, staring me in the face. Just then, I could swear I heard Bobby's voice say. "Yes! Daddy, that's the one. Help them, please! There is someone there that is going to need you very much. Love him; promise me that you will love him, Daddy! Please!"

I have no idea why I said it, but it just seemed right. I said, "Okay, Bobby, I promise. I tore the article with the address of the place out of the paper, shoved it in my coat pocket, and headed to the nurse's station. 'He's gone, I told the nurse on duty. She assured me that they would take care of what had to be done, and I left the hospice.

I remember driving all the way into Chicago, and to the south side. The area was not a very nice one, which was sad, because it showed all the signs of urban renewal. It was downright depressing. Snow had begun to fall, as I pulled off of the expressway, and found myself on one of the surface streets, that had been recently paved. It is funny, but new pavement doesn't show the snow as well as old pavement does.

I found the place easily enough. The first thing I noticed, was that it was situated among the huge oak trees that had survived for so many years. The building was a rather dilapidated old brick house. It was actually pretty big, though, considering the neighborhood it was in. I think it was the last of the original buildings still standing. After they had finished with the urban renewal. Most of the other buildings of its type had been torn down, to make way for an expressway. Then the city had built several high rise death traps, which housed the most decrepit people that I had ever seen. Drugs and poverty had taken their toll on most of the people that I saw, standing on street corners, looking like death warmed over. The pain I saw on the faces of the people standing around was nothing, though, compared to what happened next.

As I slowly walked up onto the porch of the 'home' and approached the dirty, disheveled, front door, I heard the most pitiful, blood curdling scream, coming from inside. Without hesitating for a second, I opened the door and dashed inside. There, on the tattered carpet, at the bottom of the staircase, I saw a small boy. He was lying in a crumpled heap, not moving. He was still breathing, but his face was covered in blood, and one arm looked like it was all bent the wrong way. I was sure it was broken. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911 emergency. It rang three times, and then a pleasant sounding voice said "Emergency, how may I help you?" I told the person on the other end who I was, and what I had found. I gave them the address. They told me there would be someone at the door in less than five minutes.

I leaned over the boy, kissed him on his cheek where there was little to no blood.

"Hello, son, please don't try to move. The EMT people will be here soon and they will know what to do to help you." I told him, gently. "Don't worry, Son, I'm going to get you taken care of, I promise." Another boy stood on the landing, which was seven or eight steps up. I could tell that he really cared deeply about his friend. He was looking at the boy, lying at the bottom of the stairs. He was sobbing convulsively. Between sobs, I heard him say, "I didn't mean to hurt him. Honest I didn't. We was playin' tag, and I was IT. He tripped on the loose section of carpet, and fell down the stairs. He hit his head. I didn't mean for him to die, really I didn't."

"Come here Bobby," I said, without thinking. I just wanted to comfort the boy. Then I looked up to see the boy on the stairs. He was looking at me with an expression of awe in his eyes.

"How did you know who I was?" he asked.

"Huh?" I replied, not actually remembering what had brought that on. "I'm so sorry, son, but I don't know what you are talking about."

"You knew my name. You called me Bobby." he said, staring into my eyes with his beautiful bright blue ones. I reached out to him with my arms wide open. He came over to me, slowly at first, but as he got closer he started moving faster and faster. By the time he made it over to me he was practically running. I scooped him up and held him to me. He snuggled up to me putting his head on my shoulder, crying softly. I rubbed his back and softly told him,

"Relax, son, everything is gonna be alright." I couldn't believe how cute he was. I couldn't believe his eyes. They looked so much like my bobby's eyes.

"I don't know why I called you Bobby, sweetheart," I said, sniffling, "but maybe it was because you look so much like my son. His name was Bobby, too.

I was still hugging that cute little boy, when it occurred to me that I hadn't seen or heard any adults or found anyone in charge. Why wasn't someone taking care of these kids?

Before I could think of anything further, I heard an ambulance squeal to a halt. I heard the rescue team coming up on the porch. I yelled to them to come inside and help the little boy on the floor.

The Paramedics hurried in and got to work on the boy, quickly. They put his arm in a splint then they carefully lifted him onto the stretcher they had maneuvered into the house. One of the men had managed to stop the boy's forehead from bleeding. The cut wasn't nearly as bad as it had looked at first.

His arm was indeed broken. Someone had given him morphine to ease his pain. He was loopy, but he was breathing steadily, and his eyes were closed. As the medics got him a little more comfortable, Bobby whispered in my ear, "I hope he's gonna be okay. It's all my fault." He had been holding on to me for dear life, ever since he had come to me, when I had called him. Finally he released his grip on me and asked me to let him down. I put him down, and he went over to the boy on the gurney. He leaned down over the boy, kissed him on the forehead, and said, "I'm so sorry, Nathan, I didn't mean to hurt you. I love you."

The boy slowly opened his eyes, and groggily said, "It wasn't your fault, Bobby. I just tripped and fell. I love you, too." His head slowly turned and he looked at me. "Thanks, Mister, for calling the doctors. I don't know what would have happened to me, if you hadn't been here. Hanna wouldn't have ever called anyone. That bitch on wheels, gets off on seeing people in pain. She is really mean."

I leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. "Don't worry Nathan, I won't let anyone or anything hurt you again. I promise, from now on you can count on me. Does she hurt you?"

"Not much," he whispered, "just if we're bad, like if I play with myself, without her permission."

Just then, A huge person of Mammoth proportions burst into the room, yelling stuff that would make a sailer blush. She was yelling louder than I had ever heard anyone yell before. The first impression I had was, 'My God, it's a gorilla.' but it uses words, sort of. There was bellowing like I had never heard before, and the words that were spewing out of it were simply amazing. Then I realized it was a woman.

This huge Neanderthal monster was a woman. I was taken aback. I had never seen anyone that big before. She would have made a gorilla look small. her breasts were humongous, enormous, and most of all sagging and just plain ugly, just like her temper. God that _person _was vicious looking.

As I looked at her pinched up grotesque face, it seemed to me that she looked familiar, in some way, but I just couldn't place her. Where in the world had I seen a face like that before? The zoo? In a movie? As I looked at her, I kept picturing a viking helmet on her head. Then it finally came to me; where I had seen her or something equally as ugly. It was at a church bazaar, the 'thing' that was behind the serving line, had looked a lot like this monstrosity. It was when I was visiting my cousin in PA. The only thing missing, about this ugly creature, was that huge tin of fishy smelling cookies, which no one would touch for all the money in the world.

"Are you in charge here?" I asked her, as Bobby reached out to me again and I picked him up and held him once more.

"He's a cool five hundred a night, and eight hundred for the weekend. And no bruises that show." She was serious. I looked over toward the EMT's and noticed that one of them had a mic in his hand and was holding down the transmit button.

My mouth had dropped open, and Bobby held me tighter. He whispered; would you please take me with you, Mister? No one has ever held me like this before. I will do what ever you want.

"Okay, son," I whispered to him, "just wait a second." I continued to hold Bobby in my arms. The first EMT guy came over, gave me a thumbs up sign, and said,

"Hi Bobby, my name is Ron, I'd like you to come with us, to help us sort out what happened here. Bobby grabbed me around the neck and held on for dear life.

"I think he is a little nervous right now. I will just follow you to the ER. Will that be okay?"

Broadzilla piped up, saying "You gotta pay me first, Hot Stuff. You want him all weekend?"

I couldn't believe my luck when I noticed that the medic was still holding his mic open, and was passing all this crap to the hospital staff. I asked the big "lady" if she would take plastic. Would you believe it, she actually pulled out a credit card reader from behind the desk. The dumb broad was going to take my MasterCard. Holy crap, I thought the Irish were the lucky ones. This broad was even dumber than she looked.

"Bobby," I whispered, "It's going to be all right, Son, I'm going to get you out of here. I promise you will never have to come back here again. Do you have anything that you want to take with you?"

"No, the bitch wouldn't let us have anything. I only have two sets of clothes. And the other one is dirty."

"Okay, son, I will make sure you have what ever you need or want, from now on."

Broadzilla handed me my card back, and I held Bobby close to my chest, followed the medics out the front door, and headed for St Elizabeth's emergency room. I was in quite a hurry to get out of there, so I had just put the card in my pocket and hadn't noticed that she had actually given me a receipt, stating that I had rented two boys, at eight hundred dollars a piece for the weekend. And the bitch had signed the damn thing. This was too good to be true. I carefully put the card and receipt in my wallet.

As we drove behind the ambulance, Bobby asked shyly, "What's gonna happen to Greg, Leroy and Terrance?"

"God, how many more of you are there?" I asked.

"Just the five of us, now. My brother and I ran away a few weeks ago, but I wasn't fast enough, and she caught me climbing the fence. But Chris got away. We haven't heard from him since. I hope he's okay, I'm kinda scared for him. He's small for his age and he isn't much bigger than I am, and he is two years older than me. He has red hair and Green eyes." Bobby giggled, "He looks like a Christmas tree. I think that's why Mom called him Chris. God I miss him. He was the only other person that ever hugged me besides you." He looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes of his, and smiled faintly, Are you really going to take me home with you?"

Tears started running down my cheeks, as I looked at the beautiful boy. "Son, if you want to go home with me that would make me very happy."

"Oh yes, please, I'll do anything you want." he pleaded "I'm verseable. That was what the last guy asked me. I told him I was. I don't know what it means, but he seemed to like it. He said I made him feel real good. I didn't like him though. He kept putting his finger in my hole. He couldn't get his pee pee in it though. He tried it every time, but it didn't fit. He said he would make it fit if he had to force it. It hurt a lot when he put his fingers in there. I sure don't want anything bigger than a finger in there. He has been coming every week now, and takes me to his place. I don't like him at all. He really scared me. He told me if I ever told anyone on him, he would kill me like he did my mom."

When we got to the ER, Bobby and I walked in right behind the Medics, and Nathan. There were policemen there crowding the room. A friendly looking sergeant came up to Nathan and me and introduced himself.

"Hi there," he said, as he reached out and shook my hand. "I'm Sgt Harry Talbert. It is really nice to meet you. I heard the tape, made by the EMTs. You and Bobby did a great job." He smiled at Bobby, knelt down and pulled him into a hug. "Bobby, you can call me Harry, if you like. I have contacted my friend Sandy Schmidt. She should be here soon. She is the head of the Department of Child Protective Services. I would trust her with my life, so I am sure she will be willing to help you in any way she can."

Bobby pulled back away from Sgt. Talbert. "No!" He screamed. I can't go back there." he ran to me, and I held him close. He was trembling. "She'll kill me! She told me if I told anyone, she would kill me! If I go back there she'll know I told someone!

"Bobby, no one is going to make you go back there, I promise." Sgt Talbert said, as he knelt down in front of Bobby. "I am here to help you, Bobby, not to hurt you." Just then a young lady walked into the room. She had a beautiful friendly smile and a pair of friendly green eyes. I liked her instantly. Sgt. Talbert must have had eyes in the back of his head, or he picked up Bobby's reaction to seeing her, because he stood up, turned around and said, "Well, Hello Sandy. It was nice of you to come here so late. Thank you for coming. This young fellow is Bobby, and for some reason, I think he might be scared of you." I saw him wink at Sandy as he turned back to the boy. "Bobby, This is Sandy Schmidt. I promise you that she is not the mean Ogre that you think she is. She helps me find good places for kids to live."

"Bobby, Can you please tell me what happened to Nathan, and let me know why you are so scared." Bobby hugged me even tighter and looked into my eyes; He whispered in my ear, "I don't want to leave you."

"Sandy," I said, "I think I can explain it, If you don't mind me telling it. Bobby is pretty shook up, and he is kind of scared right now. I am sure that if there is anything that you need clarified, when I am finished, Bobby can tell you what you need to know." I looked into her eyes and saw kindness there. I continued telling her what happened.

"I had read in the paper about the 'Home' and I decided to offer my services, to the people of Sooker House. I had parked my van in the parking lot, closed and locked it, and had just reached the front porch, when I heard a very loud scream. It sounded like a young child. I paused for only a second, and my blood ran cold. I instinctively pushed my way into the house. I found a young boy, (Nathan,) lying in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs. Bobby was standing on the landing, scared to death. He was afraid it was his fault that Nathan had fallen." I took a deep breath, and continued, "They were playing tag. Nathan ran down the stairs while Bobby was in pursuit. Nathan tripped, fell, and landed in a heap at the bottom." Bobby was starting to cry again. I held him close and gently rubbed his back, and kissed him on his cheek.

"It's going to be okay now, Bobby, the doctors will take care of Nathan, and you and he will be just fine."

He looked at me, and said, through his tears, "Can we really come stay with you, please?"

I looked at Sandy; shrugged my shoulders and said, "Well, can they come with me? The place they were in is a real dump, I'm afraid. I don't trust that 'woman' that seemed to be in charge. She is not fit to take care of children. I am not exaggerating when I say that she looked down right mean. There are three other boys that live there, and I actually hesitate to use the word 'live' in describing the situation there."

Heck, if Sandy was able to fix things up, and see that I got custody, I certainly could afford to take all the boys home with me.

I had plenty of money, and the place I lived in had plenty of room. I had a huge old house in Mt. Prospect, on fifty acres. I had inherited it free and clear, along with a substantial fortune, when my Uncle Carl had passed away, some five years earlier. I had been the only person in the family that had shown the slightest bit of love to him. He had been somewhat of a grouch, to my brothers, and for that matter to his own daughter. She made no bones about the way she felt toward him either. She hadn't set foot in his house since she turned eighteen. He had been quite strict with her during her early teens, not allowing her to date, and telling her that most of the boys she hung around with were only after her money.

He had set up a trust fund for her, and made it clear that she was not to have access to the vast majority of the money until he, or his designated heir was satisfied that she was capable of handling it.

When the family sat in the lawyer's office, and the will was read, I almost laughed out loud, when I heard the lawyer read the opening words about him being of sound mind and body. The Will continued with, "Most of you deserve nothing more than a swift 'Boot To The Head'." I couldn't help catching my breath, as I thought of the hours that he and I had spent listening to his enormous comedy collection. 'The Frantics' were his favorite sketch comedy troop, and their routine about a will being read had settled in my brain to the point of my being able to practically recite it from memory. It was called "Last Will and Temperament".

His will stated that I was to get all his worldly possessions, with the exception of the trusts that he had provided for his daughter and his other nephews. Ed, ironically got his wine collection, two cases of his best Whiskey and his huge collection of oriental pajamas, unworn of course. The will also stated that if they so much as thought about contesting it, that they should think again, because upon any attempt to contest it, the trusts that he had set up for them would terminate, and they would get nothing further from him. If one of them contested it they all would be cut off. Since they were being given generous allowances, in the neighborhood of a hundred thousand dollars a year, they all decided it might not be worth trying to break the will.

I was brought out of my thoughts by Bobby, kissing me on the cheek, and saying, "Can I get down, I have to pee?" I let him down and Sgt. Talbert pointed toward the restrooms and he ran down the hall to the men's room. He pushed hard on the heavy door and it finally gave way to the pressure. I think if he hadn't managed to get it opened when he did his pants would have suffered.

He really likes you, doesn't he?" Sandy said, smiling. "I'm sorry young man; could I have your name?"

"It's possible, but I doubt it. You don't look at all like a Carl Thoroughgood." I giggled, and then with a big smile, I told her,"I'm sorry about that, but I just had to use it, it was one of my favorite lines from Hudson and Landry. I always loved their comedy. I hope that doesn't make me too silly, or too weird to take care of the kids, cause they really do need to be taken out of that dreadful Hell Hole of an environment.

She giggled, saying, "Oh, I had forgotten that bit. I love the obscene phone bust thing. Don't worry; having a sense of humor actually is a very good thing, particularly when you are dealing with boys. They think farts are the funniest thing going. Oops, bad choice of words. My two boys can carry on a conversation about farts for hours and never repeat themselves. The funny thing is, they start conversations in the car, when I am in the front seat and they are in the back. They don't think I hear them, but they are only a couple of feet behind me, for heaven's sake." She laughed a hearty laugh, the kind of laugh that is very contagious. I started laughing, too. That set off Sgt Talbert.

Sgt Talbert walked over, leaned over toward me and said, "Eeeeeeewwwwwwww!!! She said 'Fart'." We both broke out into another giggle fit.

Just then, Bobby came back in the room, and asked, "Come on, guys, what was so funny?" We couldn't help ourselves, we both chorused, "She said FART!!!"

Bobby looked at Sandy with his intense blue eyes wide open, and giggled, "Awesome! I like you, Miss Sandy, I never heard a girl say fart before. Will you say it again, please?"

"Okay, here goes." She took a deep breath, cleared her throat, turned and winked at Sgt Talbert and me, and dramatically intoned, "Fart fart fart fart fart... How's that?" She giggled again.

"Keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwlllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!" we all chorused.

Sandy walked over to Bobby and kissed him on the forehead. "You guys are incredible. I love it."

She sat down on one of those Gawd awful plastic chairs. You know the ones. They stack one on top of another, in a nest. They looked like they had been through a war zone, which, when you think about it, I guess they had. She gently pulled bobby on to her lap, pulled him to her and kissed him gently on his cheek.

"Sandy," he said, as he looked into her deep emerald green eyes. "Will you help us kids stay with him?" he pointed to me.

"I think that can be arranged." Sandy said, smiling.

"Thanks Sandy," He kissed her right on the mouth. "I love you! I never met a girl that liked me like you do, before." He told her, and then he looked at me. "I know you saved Nathan and me, but you didn't tell us your name. What should I call you?"

"Bobby, you can call me Uncle Carl, if you like, or... Mr. Thoroughgood, I suppose is okay too, but... I would rather you call me Uncle Carl. Oh yeah, please, do me one big favor, there is one thing that I hope to heaven you guys don't ever start calling me, and that is 'Shorty'!" I said firmly.

"Kewl! Uncle Carl, I like the sound of that. I never had an uncle." He got up from Sandy's lap and ran over to me. I picked him up once more. He gave me a big wet kiss right on the lips. "Thanks Uncle Carl."

Sandy used her cell phone to make some calls and told me that Judge Artemus Randell would join us in just a few minutes.

When he arrived, I could hardly believe my eyes. He couldn't have been older than thirty. He was a tall blond young man. He had the same awesome blue eyes as Bobby. When you looked into them, you felt like you were falling into a deep pool of blue liquid. His hair was pulled up into a Pony Tail. And he had the cutest beard, and tiny mustache. He was wearing a pair of skin tight Jeans. They were a dark blue, and you could see every detail of his naughty bits. His silky radiant blue shirt was unbuttoned except for the two bottom ones. Sgt. Talbert was the first one to speak, "Arty, Nice to see you. We have five young boys that need to be removed from a group home. We have evidence that Sooker house is a vermin infested, house of horror. And that is just the people that run it. Seriously, we need a court order that we can serve them with, so we can extract the other three children from there, legally." When Sgt. Talbert finished, he looked at me and asked if I had anything that I wanted to add. I smiled and said, "Thanks to a quick thinking EMT, we have a tape of the person in charge of the house, charging me $800 for each boy to take them out for the weekend, with an admonition not to bring them back bruised..... 'Where they could be seen'. I almost strangled the 'woman', and I use that word very loosely.

Sgt. Talbert smiled at me again, then looked at the judge. "We have someone that is qualified to care for them." he said, as he nodded toward me.

I looked at Judge Randell. "Your honor, I am an independent consultant to major record companies and several recording studios. I design the equipment that is used to record some of the world's greatest recording artists." I often work from my home.

"Well, I must say that I am impressed by the enthusiastic endorsement from Bobby. He seems to think you're his hero."

"I don't know much about the other kids, but if they are half as great as Bobby is, then I am sure we will get along just fine."

At that moment, a nurse came in asking which of us was Bobby. Bobby jumped up and said, "That's me! Is Nathan all right?"

"He is doing much better, we set his arm and cleaned up his cut, but once he woke up from the sedative we had given him, he has been asking to see you. He also asked about the nice man that saved him; he didn't know his name, but he said he loved him."

"Gee that's nice," I remarked, "I think he might be talking about me, but Ron and the other EMTs were the ones that really saved him."

"Can we go see him now?" asked Bobby.

"I don't know, if I can let you see him. The rules specify that only family members are allowed to see him. Are you related to him?"

Judge Randell stepped forward and smiled. "Oh yes, nurse as of this very moment; meet his father and his brother. Is that related enough?"

"Okay that sounds good to me, Judge Randell. As I remember, I think you are his uncle, am I right."

"Works for me, let's go see my nephew." he chuckled.

We all headed back to see Nathan. He had a small bandage on his forehead, and his Left arm was in a cast. When he saw Bobby and me his smile was as bright as a Christmas tree. If I hadn't already fallen in love with him, that beautiful smile would certainly have won me over.

Bobby ran over to Nathan and grabbed Nathan's good hand. "God, Nathan, I'm so sorry I made you fall."

"Bobby, for Christ's sake, you didn't make me fall, that was my own fault for running so fast down the stairs. If I had been paying attention to the damn raggedy rug, I would have been fine."

Bobby was still holding Nathan's hand and I could see the love each of them had in their eyes for the other. Then Nathan turned to look at me. He smiled broadly as recognition came to him.

"Oh it's you. Thank you, mister. You saved me from getting beat. She would have whupped my ass till I was bleedin' again. God I hate that bi... I mean woman. Sorry, She really is mean to us."

The nurse was quiet at first, but finally spoke up. "Judge, there is something I need to point out. Nathan has way too many cuts and bruises all over his back and shoulders for it to have been caused by the fall down the stairs, and some of them are quite old. It smacks of abuse to me. I have seen a lot of this type of thing and it is in a place where you wouldn't normally be able to see it, but we had to get him undressed to clean him up, and he had open wounds on his back, Also his anus shows signs of sexual entry. There has been bleeding and it has scarring that is typically present when sexual abuse is present."

Judge Randell looked at Nathan and asked, "Nathan, can you tell me where you got the sores and bruises, and tell us about the sex stuff?"

Bobby answered, before Nathan could say anything; "Same place I got these." he said as he pulled off his shirt, and dropped his pants, to reveal a patchwork of scars and multi colored bruises, similar to those found on Nathan. "From that...Bitch, Broadzilla, Who else? She rents us out for men to get sex stuff from us."

"Nurse, please get Dr. Goodman in here as soon as possible, and the police photographer as well. We need to document these atrocities. There will be consequences for this abuse. No one gets to do that to a child and get away with it, in my jurisdiction. Judge Randell said, angrily. His eyes were spitting fire.

"One thing is certain, that problem is behind them now. I mean it is finished. They won't be going back to that place; It was never a home. As of the moment that I was informed of the situation, Mr. Thoroughgood has had permanent custody, of Bobby and Nathan, and when we remove the other three boys, from that 'Hell Hole', he will receive custody of them as well. Somehow, I envision adoptions happening in short order, if I get my way, and oddly enough, I usually do... A classmate of mine from Pennsylvania, who is also a family court judge among other duties, showed me how to get things done quickly."

Judge Randell, laughed so hard, I thought his sides would split. The judge walked over to Nathan's other side, bent over and kissed the boy on the forehead. "When you leave here, son, Mr Thoroughgood will be taking you home with him to live. I think you will find conditions with him will be somewhat better than they have been lately.

I was surprised when I heard Judge Randell say that. What did he know about me and why did he trust me so much. It just didn't add up.

"Judge Randell, I am not going to argue with you, but I must admit I am rather surprised that you are willing to trust me with the boys, without knowing anything about me."

"What do you mean; I don't know anything about you? I read the series of articles about you and your search for a kidney for your son, In that Billboard spread. I figure that anyone that would be willing to give a kidney, to save a life must be someone pretty damn special. Besides, you were willing to put yourself out to help these boys. You don't have anything to prove as far as I am concerned. By the way, how is your son doing?"

"Judge Randell, That is the strange part. Just this afternoon, I watched My Bobby leave for a better place, and as he was dieing, he told me to find the other boys that really needed my help. He told me that God needed him to live with Him, and that I needed to go find another boy to love. He said he wanted to make sure I found the boys that needed me. He said he knew I needed a boy to love, and he was sure I would. Then he closed his eyes and went to live with God. Oh Judge, I miss him so much."

Judge Randell came over to me and pulled me into a warm hug, as I cried on his shoulder. Then Bobby came running over to me and said, "You called me Bobby when you first saw me. I couldn't figure out how you knew. Now I know. It must have been me, that your son meant, when he told you someone needed you. He wanted you to find me." I heard my son's voice in my head just then, saying, "Good job, Daddy, you both need each other; now it's going to be all right."

Judge Randell stepped back, and I reached down and picked Bobby up and held him close. I kissed him, over and over, while I cried buckets of tears. He was crying, too, but he stopped sooner than I did. He looked upward, smiled and said, "Thank you, Bobby. He is a great Daddy. I'll take good care of him, I promise, don't worry. I love him, too."

I looked over at Sandy and saw the tears in her eyes. She rubbed her tears away and said, I think it's going to work out just fine with you and the boys, Carl. I am so happy for all of you.

When Bobby and I had kissed each other for the umpteenth time, and we were both getting kinda tired, the Doctor entered the area; police photographer in tow.

  • See deleted scene at the end.

Seriously, the doctor examined Bobby pretty thoroughly and documented the dramatic display of cuts and bruises on his back and shoulders. The Police Photographer. Captured the entire event, and noted everything extremely well.

As soon as the doctor examined Bobby and was satisfied that he had documented everything, he made another examination of Nathan and signed his release papers into My custody. A wheel chair was brought in and Nathan was escorted to the main entrance. Bobby went with me to retrieve the van. We brought it to the front entrance and Judge Randell, Sandy and the Nurse brought Nathan outside. Judge Randell was pushing the chair. The Judge and I helped Nathan into the van and we secured him into the back seat next to Bobby. Both boys wore their seat belts. I said, "Judge Randell, and Sandy; Bobby, Nathan and I will meet you at the facility at around ten in the morning, if that is okay, and we hope that Sgt. Talbert will be there too."

"Oh he will be there, all right, I know Harry, and even if it meant him going there on his own time, I know damn well he will be there. I doubt that I could keep him from being there if I tried." He giggled.

I thanked the judge and said, "Judge Randell, If you would like to join us for dinner one night soon, you would be most welcome to do so." He looked at me and smiled.

"You know, Carl, I think I would like that a lot. Is tomorrow, after we get those boys out of the hands of that Bitch, too soon?"

"Not at all. I know the boys like you, and I find that I feel the same way, so just remember there is an open invitation for you anytime you like."

"Well that sounds great. I will see you tomorrow around 10 AM at that... place."

The drive home was uneventful. Other then the fact the neither of the boys would let me out of their sight for more than ten seconds at a time, the evening went smoothly until it was time for bed.

It was no surprise that they wanted to sleep together, since they had been doing so ever since they had arrived at the facility. It seems that all the boys had been forced to sleep on a rotting mattress on the floor in the basement.

I knew that any bedroom in my house would be a vast improvement over what they had been forced to endure. I was not really prepared for what happened when they saw my king sized heated water-bed. There was no arguing with them. They were going to sleep there with me. Bobby and I made sure that Nathan was comfortable which was not easy what with his cast and all. I snuggled up to him as best I could and he reached out with his good hand and pulled me to him. He kissed me goodnight and promptly fell into a gentle peaceful sleep, as did Bobby, shortly thereafter. I lay there between the two munchkins and thanked God and my Bobby for showing me where to find them. They were just what I needed. My life was whole again. Tomorrow there would be three more. What was I going to do with five young boys?

I woke up as the sun was shining through the window. I had forgotten to close the drapes again. One of these days I will remember to do that. Bobby and Nathan were already awake, sitting on the bed on either side of me staring at me. It was seven thirty and our stomachs were all growling. I walked into the kitchen and saw the mess from the night before, there were dishes stacked in the sink. I knew I had forgotten something. I was going to rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. I was getting forgetful. Or was it just the excitement of having my new sons with me" Guys, get your coats on we are going to IHOP. I can't face these dishes on an empty stomach. We need to hurry a bit so we won't keep the judge and Sgt Talbert waiting.

The boys were amazed that they could eat what ever they wanted and as much as they wanted. Bobby told me they had never been in a place like this before. I think they each ate their weight in bacon and sausage, not to mention the huge plate of scrambled eggs, they each managed to inhale. Nathan had a little trouble keeping up with Bobby with only one hand to work with, but he managed pretty well. God I love these boys.

I paid the cashier for the meals and left a generous tip for our struggling waiter. He had a real cute bubble butt.

After a stop in the restroom, to remove the layer of syrup from every exposed part of each boy, we piled into the van, buckled up, and headed toward our destination. Bobby had grabbed a banana on his way out and the boys were sharing it. How they could still be hungry after all that food was a mystery to me.

When we pulled up to the house there were three squad cars in evidence with their gum ball lights flashing like a Christmas tree, there were shouted obscenities, being hurled at the officers and anyone else that happened to be nearby. Broadzilla was at the top of her form, and a small mousy man stood near one of the police cars looking like he had just been rescued.

The warrants had been served on the two houseparents. There were two boys sitting forlornly in the back seat of one of the police cars. Sgt Talbert was seated in the front seat talking kindly to them. "Don't worry, boys, you will be just fine. Your new father is going to take you away from all this crap."

As I sat there, I noticed a green Volvo pull up behind me. The driver was somewhat nervous when he saw the cop cars, but he didn't see what else he could do but drop off his young friend before he was charged at least another three hundred dollars. She had his credit card number already.

"Greg! Greg! Over here!" Bobby shouted. I found us a real daddy!" As Greg walked slowly over to the van, the young black man in the Volvo noticed that there were two policemen standing at his two doors. "You had better step out of the car sir." Said the young black policeman standing by the driver's side door. "Just what were you doing with that young boy that just got out of your car? Oh yes, you have the right to remain silent and anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. The man actually paled; I couldn't believe it. I actually felt sorry for the guy, a little.

Greg finally got to the van and I noticed his posture was somewhat poor. I asked him if he was all right. He looked first to Bobby and then to Nathan, and finally he looked at me. Our eyes met, and I knew he was going to be my son, too. There was an instant bond between us. He spoke very softly. "Hi, I guess you know what I had to do last night. Axel is not a bad guy, really, just too horny for his own good, and the only people that really turn him on are small boys, but his thing is way too big for me. He hasn't been happy that way, since Chris ran away."

"Greg, I think I should tell you that from now on, no one is going to force you to do anything you don't want to do, not me and not anyone else. Do you understand that?"

"Do you really mean that?"

"I most certainly do, Son. You can do what ever you want when you are living with me, as long as the person that you are doing it with wants you to. Do you understand that?"

"Does that mean you won't hate me for liking to play with other boys?"

"Yes it certainly does mean that. I like men, too. I wouldn't be honest with myself if I got mad at you for wanting to do something that I want to do, too, would I?"

There was another flurry of filth coming from Broadzilla, as two policemen none too gently pushed her into one of the squad cars and closed the doors.

As I was talking to Greg, Judge Randell drove up. He got out of his car and looked around. "What the hell happened here?" he asked, looking at the officer, standing in front of him. The officer started to talk, but before he could say anything, Sgt. Talbert cleared his throat.

"Judge Randell, I have the report right here, in my notebook. The first car here was Lt. Mitchel and his partner, Officer pike. They entered the 'Home' and demanded to see that manager. They were armed with the warrant. The warrant was served to that 'lady' who is now in custody."

That "Lady" was still raging and screaming obscenities. No one was paying much attention to her. She was still locked in the police car.

Sgt.Talbert continued." The officers searched the premises, and found some extremely disturbing evidence." Judge Randell raised an eyebrow. "Okay Sgt. Talbert, I think I should have a look for myself. Would you come with me, as a witness, so no one can say that I tampered with the evidence?"

"Of course, Sir. Please follow me." The two men went inside, and Bobby said, softly, "I bet he is going to be mad when he comes back out of there."

"That's for sure" said Greg. "When he sees those beds in there, he is going to flip."

A few minutes later, Judge Randell came storming out of the house. By the time he and Sgt. Talbert reached the van, they were both out of breath.

"I think it is safe to say that Judge Randell is angry." said Sgt. Talbert. "I knew he would be upset."

"Upset doesn't even begin to describe what I am feeling right now. Even angry is a far cry from expressing how mad I am at the moment. Carl, ordinarily I wouldn't ask you this, but I think you should see for yourself just what these boys have been put through,

Sgt Talbert, would you mind escorting Mr. Thoroughgood back into that building. I won't dignify it by calling it a home. I will be glad to stay here with the boys, and by the way, would someone bring the other two boys over here, please. At least they will be more comfortable in the van where it is warm, and they will be with their brothers. Greg, I am Judge Randell, You can call me Uncle Art if you like."

As Harry and I left Arty and the boys, we passed the other police cars, a scrawny looking specimen of a man. He slowly came up to us, accompanied by one of the other officers.

"Excuse me, Sgt. But this man asked to talk with you two." the young policeman said. "He said it was important."

Alright Officer Henderson. Leave him here, if you like. I will bring him back to you when we are finished. Thanks, George."

Officer Henderson smiled. "You're welcome, Harry. I don't know what we are going to do with HER. He said, pointing to the second police car containing the woman, who was still screaming obscenities, at the top of her lungs. "The bitch hasn't shut up since we first placed her under arrest. I think she might be a little upset." he said, and began to laugh heartily.

What really surprised me was when I looked at the man that George had brought over to us. He was laughing as hard as George. Tears were streaming down his face. I couldn't tell for sure if he were happy or sad. Finally he calmed down a bit. He looked at me and said,

"Sir, I want to thank you for finally getting me out from under her thumb, so to speak. She is not the most loving person that I have ever met." He giggled. "I wish I had been able to stand up to her. I laughed my ass off yesterday, when someone called her Broadzilla. I have been thinking of her by that name for years, but never had the guts to call her that to her face."

Harry spoke up, "When I talked to the other boys this morning, they told me that you did your best to protect them from her, even though you failed most of the time. They say you did try. I have talked to the judge, and he told me that if you cooperate and will testify as to what she did, we will offer you immunity from prosecution. We are going to close this facility for good today."

"Does that mean you have no place to stay?" I asked him.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I have no place to go." He was almost crying.

"I think I can solve that." I told him. "I have a big place that needs someone to take care of it. I don't know how you would feel about working for me; I have the feeling that you can be trusted, though." He looked at me and his eyes brightened.

"I can't believe that you trust me after what I allowed to happen." he blurted out.

"Somehow, I have the feeling that you didn't have much choice." I told him. If you want a job and a place to live, I suggest you get everything that you want out of that house, and be ready to leave with us, when we leave." We are going to go in there. Sgt. Talbert will bring you to my place later. One thing that I want to point out is that you have no right to punish the boys; in fact they will be your bosses. If they ask you politely to do something, I will expect you to do it. Also, If you find that they have done something that you think is wrong, you can tell me, and I will decide what will be done. I am not sure if the boys will want to have you living with them. I am going to ask them, what they think about it. I will give you a place to stay for now, and if the boys agree, you can stay and work for us. Is that agreeable to you?"

"Yes sir, that is very generous of you. Thank you, sir." he said.

"Okay." I said, We need to look at the house. If you think of anything you want to ask me, I'll be back in a few minutes."

Harry and I returned to the house. It was incredible. The first room that Harry showed me had a King sized bed in it, and It was equipped with all manner of equipment designed to hold someone in place. There were also whips and other items that I didn't recognize. I really was upset. The next room had what I thought at first was a smaller bed, but as I looked closer, I noticed it had some sort of a wheel and gear mechanism that made the thing get longer. There were restraining straps where someone was to be held tightly in place, and stretched, to the point of pain and obviously beyond that point.

I really wanted to strap Broadzilla to that table and give the crank several turns till she knew how it felt to receive what she had been meting out to those young children. Then we descended into the basement. There were signs of rodent droppings. The room smelled terrible. I am not sure what caused the foul odor, but I don't think I was even close to being able to figure out how anyone could treat kids like that.

I was just about to gag. Harry put his arm around my shoulder and said, "I'm sorry Carl, but You had to see this. Both Arty and I felt you needed to know just how terrible these kids had it here."

"Well, I know you are right about that, but It's not going to be easy for the boys to get past all this garbage that they have endured. I promise you that from now on, they will have love and care. No one is going to harm them ever again." I told him. He hugged me tight and kissed me on the cheek.

"I wish I had known you earlier, Carl, but I am so glad I know you now. What you are doing for those boys is so wonderful. You and Arty are getting close, too. I can see it in your eyes, when you look at each other. I have known him since we were kids and he has always been my best friend. You and he will make great dads for those boys. You had better get used to the idea. I know he loves you, and my instinct tells me that you love him, too. Don't let him slip by you like I did. I had a chance to tell him I loved him, and I didn't have the nerve. Then I met Sally, and we have been together ever since. I still love Arty. I always will. I know you will be good to him. When you get him alone, tell him I still love him, and that I said you were made for each other. I think that will please him to know that."

We returned to the van shortly after that. All the boys were having a great time talking to Judge Arty. I knocked on the window, and someone opened the door a bit.

"We closed the doors to keep a little heat in here while we waited for you. I talked to all the boys and we have to have them all examined, by a good doctor. It is important to document the damage that has been done to them, by the people that ran this place." Arty said, smiling. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot." he said, several boys slapped him on his shoulder. "I had quite a talk with the boys, and I hope you don't mind, but the boys insisted that you and I become a couple. I couldn't refuse those puppy dog eyes, of theirs, so here goes. Carl, will you be my boyfriend, Please?"

"After what I heard from Harry, how could I possibly say no?" I answered. "Hell, I already love you. What kind of fool would I be if I said no to an offer like that, from someone like you? Of course, I will be your boyfriend and much more if you want me to."

All the boys broke out into cheers. It was so cute. We all insisted that Arty and Harry come back home with us, so they could see just what kind of place the boys would be living in. We stopped at KFC and got four buckets of chicken, and all the fixin's, since we still hadn't cleaned up the kitchen.

Once we all arrived, I gave them the grand tour of the house and let the boys choose where they wanted to sleep. Not surprisingly Bobby and Nathan decided to share a room. I had no problem with that, since there were plenty of rooms, I was willing for each of them to have their own room, but Greg and Leroy also wanted to share a room, so I was quite happy about that, too. I could see how much they loved each other as well. That left Terrence with a room of his own.

"I don't mind being alone." he told me, "I have never had a room of my own, and I am looking forward to having a good night's sleep on a nice bed. I wouldn't mind sharing a room if you find another boy that wants a roommate, but, I will be happy in a room by myself."

I was surprised that everyone was actually eager to go to bed. Bobby and Nathan were the first to go to bed. I was so proud of Bobby. He found several pillows from one of the unused bedrooms and gently cushioned Nathan to allow him to relax in bed he placed pillows under Nathan's cast and made sure he was as comfortable as possible. When I looked in on them, they were snuggled next to each other Bobby had his arm draped across Nathan's chest. They were fast asleep. I walked in and pulled the covers over the boys and left the room, softly closing the door behind me.

Greg and Leroy were lying in bed together as well, when I looked in on them. They were sound asleep in each others arms I had goose bumps just thinking about it.

Terrence was curled up in a ball on the huge king sized bed sound asleep when I looked in on him. Arty had decided to stay the night, which made me very happy. I asked Arty if he wanted a room of his own, and he said, "Not unless you want me to. I have wanted to hold you in my arms ever since I first saw you in that emergency room, and in a way, even before that. I think I fell in love with you when I saw your picture in the magazine and read the articles.

"It was your wonderful smile that hooked me." I told him, as I smiled back at him. "I always wanted to say this, but, I wouldn't throw you out of my bed." We both began to giggle.

Harry surprised me, when he said he wanted to stay as well, until I looked out the window, and saw a fresh covering of snow. It must have snowed ever since we left the facility. There had to be at least five inches on the ground already, and it was only a little past eleven. There was not a single snow plow to be seen. By morning, there would probably be two or three more inches on the ground. The next Thursday was Thanksgiving. It was still snowing lightly. If it kept up though, we were going to have a white Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, I remembered that we often had snow on thanksgiving, but it seemed that the last few years had been much warmer on thanksgiving. There have been a few years that we had been able to eat outside and had a BBQ on thanksgiving.

All the boys settled in quickly, and it seemed that all the abuse they endured had not scarred them nearly as much as I had been afraid it would. Arty moved into the house officially, within a few weeks, and we are very happy together.

I came back to the present. (Ho Ho Ho. Oops Pardon the pun) I was sitting in the van on Christmas Eve dressed in the damn Santa Suit. Contrary to popular belief it was not warm; wondering what to do next, when again, I heard that muffled sound. I had been sitting still for about five minutes, maybe not quite that long. Then I felt the van shake or vibrate. I wasn't sure what it was. I figured I had better get out and investigate. It wasn't bitter cold, (semi-sweet?) but it certainly was cold enough. I tried to open my door, but it wouldn't budge. The snow must have melted and refrozen, so I tried the passenger door and it opened easily. I got out and walked around to the front of the van, I almost had a heart attack right then and there. Lying on the ground against the front of the van; was a boy. He looked to be somewhere around ten or eleven. I couldn't really tell. I knew one thing for sure. I had to get him out of that snow. I didn't want him to catch pneumonia. (I spelled it write, TSL) (Yeah, but you used the wrong rite, it should have been right) I picked him up; he was light as a feather. He looked like he could really use a good meal. There were no tracks to be seen anywhere. I suppose the drifting blowing snow had covered all traces of where he had come from. I got him inside the van and got him out of his wet clothes. He had been out in that snow for at least as long as I had been parked there and heaven only knew how long before that. It is a good thing I had stopped when I did or I would have run right over him. As I was getting the blanket around him, he seemed to come to his senses somewhat.

He looked up at me and asked, "Are you Santa Clause."

I smiled at him. "No, son, not guilty." I told him. I'm not really Santa Clause, but I do Play the part for my boys at home." I told him.

"You didn't see me standing there, did you? I kept yelling for you to stop. I was waving my arms. Your car stopped just as you bumped me and knocked me down. I finally got away from the two Pervs, that had me locked up. I was there more'n a year. Last Christmas sucked."

"WHAT?!!" I said, "Who kept you locked up? That isn't good.

"I never knew their last names. All I ever heard was their first names; Sherman and Grant. They were generally a pain it the ass, in more ways than one."

Just then I saw headlights in the rear view mirror. A snow plow was coming up from behind us. He pulled along side, rolled his window down, I rolled mine down too. He asked if I were alright, and where I was going. I told him the address, and he said I should follow him. He cleared the way and even plowed our driveway. I thanked him.

He laughed and said, "All in a days work. Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas, Santa!

I left the van parked in front of the house. I figured we had plenty of time to retrieve the stuff from it; I needed to get the boy inside and into some warm clothes. I had him wrap himself in the blanket, and I carried him inside.

He leaned against me and sobbed. "Thanks a lot, mister." he choked, and then he kissed me on the cheek.

I pushed the door closed behind me with my foot and Yelled, "Hey Lucy, I'm Home, and I got some 'splainin' to do.

Arty and the frantic five found us floundering in the foyer fumbling frantically for further F words that aren't forbidden to foist on you. Furthermore, for what it's worth, we wanted to forgo frostbite. (Darn, I can't think of any more clean f words.) "Bobby, would you please go grab a pair of my sweats and a tee shirt for our guest. I will meet you in the den by the fire. Please hurry. Arty, did Sandy and Harry make it here through the snow?"

"Yep they are already in the den. What's with the Santa Suit?"

"Duh! It's Christmas Eve, Silly 'Goos'! Who else would be bringing stuff home, the Easter Bunny?

Let's get this guy in the den, by the fire, to get warm. Come on, son."

We headed into the den. Bobby was already there holding a handful of clothes. I sat the boy down on the overstuffed chair near the fireplace, and he let the blanket drop from around him.

"Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis?????????????" Bobby squeaked, In shock.

"BOBBY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How did you get here?"

The two brothers embraced so tightly that if one of the boys had a lump of coal in his breast pocket, It would be a diamond by now.

"God, Uncle Carl, where did you find Chris?" Bobby was crying with joy. Chris was sobbing, too.

Oh, I ran into him on the way home." I laughed.

Bobby looked at me like I was some kind of nut. (Macadamia? OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) "What's so funny?"

Well, he did, actually. He knocked me down, as I was trying to hitch a ride with him."

"Gee! Uncle Carl, why would you hit someone trying to hitch a ride?"

"There were white out conditions, and I couldn't see anything in front of me. He saw my headlights, or he wouldn't have been able to see me either. Luckily, I had just about come to a stop when I bumped him and knocked him into the snow. I didn't realize I had hit anything till he moved and bumped the van, a little. I got out to see what was wrong and found him lying in the snow."

"That's the first time I've ever heard of someone being lucky to be hit by a van." Harry giggled.

"Ebby! I yelled, can you whip up some Hot Chocolate for everyone, please, and Don't forget Chris either."


Yeah! Chris, Bobby's brother."

"You found Chris?!"

Chris looked over Bobby's shoulder. He gasped, "Ebby, What are you doing here?" He leaned in closer to bobby and whispered in his ear; Please tell me Broadzilla isn't here.

"No way, Bro, that Bitch is in Jail. We all live here now, thanks to Uncle Carl and Judge Arty. They will fix it up so you can stay, too."

"Careful, Bobby, watch your language." Chris said, "You don't want to get in trouble."

"Don't worry Chris, I'm the Judge that sentenced that Bitch to fifty years to life. She ain't goin' nowhere for a good long time and she is a real Bitch, so don't sweat it."

"Hey, guys," I said, as I remembered the stuff that was still in the van. As Santa, I want you Subordinate Clauses to go out and help get the stuff out of the sleigh." I giggled, "I always wanted to be able to say that.

There was a mad rush to the front door, and not a single one of them stopped long enough to put on a coat. Oh God, I sound just like a parent. Oh wait, I am a parent.

Poor Chris was still standing there naked, and Terrence had grabbed him, into another bear (hmm maybe that should be Bare, he is naked after all.) hug. I didn't have the heart to make them break away from each other. I could see the love in their eyes even through the tears that were falling.

The boys, Arty and Harry all schlepped the packages in, while Ebby and Sandy brought in the food and put it away.

We all gathered in the huge dining room and Ebby and Sandy brought in a huge tray of cookies and mugs of hot chocolate.

When everyone had filled up on the delicious fresh baked goods, I managed to get everybody's attention. "Okay, I am going to do things a little different this year, since we have all had a pretty hectic day, I am going to pass the presents out tonight, then we can all sleep in late tomorrow morning. How does that sound?"

Oddly enough, no one objected. I reached into the big Santa Bag, and pulled out the first gift. It was for Sandy.

"Oh, Carl, You didn't have to get me a gift." she said. "Of course I didn't have to. I wanted to."

I had found a beautiful necklace and ear ring set, with diamonds and emeralds, inlaid with gold. I helped her put it on and she looked spectacular.

The next present went to Arty. He looked at me and smiled. Inside was a bracelet that had an engraved message. It read, "I love you with all my heart and may we spend the rest of our lives together, to Arty with love from Carl".

Before I could reach for another gift, Arty held my hand and retrieved a package from under the Christmas tree, and handed it to me. I was shocked to see an identical bracelet with its own engraving, which read, "To Carl, the love of my life the one person that makes my life worth living. May we spend the rest of our lives together! To Carl With Love, Arty.

I found another package to hand out and it was for all the boys. It was a new PS3 game. Everyone was thrilled, and there were fifteen new games to play on it. I knew that would keep them pretty busy for quite some time.

I reached in again and pulled out a package for Harry. He opened it and it contained season tickets for the Cubs, the Bulls, the Bears, and the Black Hawks. He came over to me and did a damn good imitation of the hug that Chris and Bobby had shared. Then he kissed me right on the lips.

"Damn, man, sometimes I wish I wasn't straight and already married. Otherwise I would have given Arty a run for his money."

All the boys got a good load of clothing and games except for Chris. We certainly didn't know he would be here, and we had no idea what sizes he wore, either.

"Chris," I'm sorry we don't have any toys and stuff for you right now, but as soon as the stores are open again, I promise you I will get you what ever you like. You can have a full compliment of clothes and what ever toys and games that interest you."

He smiled at me. "Uncle Carl, I hope I can call you Uncle Carl. I don't need any presents. You gave me the best present I have ever had, my brother, my friends, my love, and a place to live. What more can I possibly want?"

"Oh Chris, that is so beautiful. I love you."

"Goodness there seems to be more things in this bag. I thought I had given out everything. Here is a present for Ebby." I told sandy to go get Ebby, and she went out to the kitchen and brought him in. "Ebby, this is for you." I handed him a small box. I don't think he had a clue what it was.

He opened the box and found a set of keys. They were the keys to a new BMW. Poor Ebby fainted.

When we brought him around he looked at me and gasped. "But I don't deserve this."

"Yes you do. The boys all told me how you sneaked food to them when Broadzilla wasn't looking. And how you turned up the thermostat after she had lowered it to the lower fifties during the night. They knew you did it and they appreciated it very much."

I reached into the bag again and noticed there were several boxes still in there. I pulled out six packages that looked like picture frames. There was a name on each of them. I handed them out and then I noticed that the last one was labeled for Chris. It didn't make any sense. Then Arty said, go ahead guys and open them. Each boy squealed in delight as they saw the adoption papers with my last name after each of theirs.

I asked Arty how he had one for Chris.

"That's simple, Carl, I knew you would want to adopt him, too, so I had the papers drawn up. I knew we would eventually find him."

"I think this bag is magic after all," I said, "There still seems to be more in here. I pulled out six more packages these were pretty heavy. They all were labeled as well. One for each of the boys.

The tags read for... and then the name of the boy, and it said from the TGIF Education Division.

I had no idea what they were getting, but, who was I to argue?

The boys tore into the wrapping and found that they each had a brand new laptop computer, the lid of which had the child's name etched into the plastic. They each opened their computers and they instantly sprang to life. There was no waiting for boot up. It was as if the computer had been on all along, and was waiting just for them. On the screen where you would normally expect to see the desktop there was a young boy staring at them. In rapid succession, each computer greeted its owner, by name. In a natural sounding male voice, 'Hello' then a slight pause, and the child's name. Then, 'My name is Philip, and I will be teaching you your lessons. I hope we can be friends."

Bobby looked up at me, smiled, walked over to me and reached out for me to pick him up.

"There is only one thing that could make me any happier than I am right now. I was wondering, if maybe, since we are all adopted, now, if... maybe... we could possibly... call you Dad?"

"Of course you can, and that will make this the best Christmas I have ever had.

End... for now.

Darryl AKA Radio Rancher

Thank you for reading this story. I am planning on continuing it at some point. There are still a lot of things that I want to tell about the people in it, and I simply didn't have the time to do any more.

I want to thank Str8mayb for helping me write this. Without his help, it would never have been written. We have both taken time away from other projects to finish it before Christmas. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did writing it. This story was written by both of us and I honestly don't know who wrote more of it, he or I. Please let us know what you think. or

Special thanks goes to Dark Star for his expertise on the emergency medical treatment, his inspiration, and finding my 'continuity errors.' Thanks again.

It has been a lot of fun writing this story with Radio Rancher. We have done more character development and we know things that you, poor readers, do not. We will plot together and I'm pretty sure you will get to see more of the cast in the near future.

Keep reading and enjoy.

Editor's Notes:

What a very curious and intriguing story! We have a wonderful collaboration in hand and I really enjoyed reading and editing it. Unfortunately some of the scenes in this story have a basis in real life. I love the character development and the wonderful puns and inside jokes {Chocolate is Good}. To those readers who are confused by the inside jokes and references, it is all because of Dark Star, he started it. If you are still confused you haven't read "Out of The Past". I am definitely looking forward to more of this story. I also want to offer my thanks to Crackerwriter for allowing Str8mayb to use his 'James' as the basis for 'Philip'. Merry Christmas to All and To All a Good Night.

TSL AKA The Story Lover


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"Hello." He said, "I'm Dr Mark Goodson, and This is Police photographer Bill Todman. I don't want to make a big production out of it, although our grandfathers would have. We don't play games with people's well being, so let's get this show on the road. Bobby, can you come on down here so we can examine your back, please? He took a quick look at Bobby's back then said, "To tell the truth, Bobby, I've got a secret. I need you to hold very still, for a minute; I have some concentration to do. Now that you are out of Jeopardy, I am sure you will have a much better time of it. I think we Beat the Clock. Those brutes at that facility, didn't tell the truth, and now they will have to pay the consequences. They will pay for their crimes. For once the price is right. The wheel of fortune has definitely turned in your favor."

Judge Randell laughed heartily and said, "Well since you put it that way, when we go to that place tomorrow, we will search it from top to bottom and back again till we find every piece of evidence we can. I think it will be quite a treasure hunt and I believe they will get their day in court. It will be the people's court. Broadzilla will certainly not be queen for a day. I think she is the weakest link.

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