Jaiden � Chapter 148
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“Leon, would you take a walk with me?” “Sure, Seth; where would you like to go on the walk?” “Just down the road and back. I saw a waterfall down the road to the left going out of the driveway. It”s about a mile from here.”
“It”s cold outside, so we”ll have to wrap up in the Thinsulate jeans and quilted shirts to keep warm. Do you have a hat you can wear that will cover your ears?” “Yes, sir. I made sure to pack that.” “OK, get dressed, and let”s go!”
“Seth, you didn”t want to walk down and see a waterfall, so what is on your mind?” “Your bio donor. We both went through similar problems, but mine were a bit worse than yours.” “Seth, yours were a lot worse than mine; we both know that.” “Maybe, Leon, but it bothers me that you had to face your bio-donor face-to-face in court after what he did to your mom.”
“When my bio-donor went to court and then to prison, I went to court, but I didn”t have to see him directly; you did with yours. I just wanted you to know how much I hurt for you when you got up and said what you did. I wanted to cry, but I didn”t. And I really did want to say some things to the man, but I knew what I was thinking would hurt Mom, so I kept quiet.” “Why did saying how I felt in court bother you so badly?”
“It bothered me because I love you so much, and I know you didn”t deserve to be treated the way you were when you were growing up. I saw the same pain in your face that I felt when my dad beat me up so badly. First, I was embarrassed to tell Jaiden and Peyton what had happened to me. Then the way the doctor examined me in the hospital…I was horrified. I never had anybody look in those places the way the doctor did; it hurt when he examined my insides through my bottom.”
“Seth, you don”t need to be embarrassed about that exam. Jaiden and Peyton loved and respected Richard when they were classmates in med school, so they became outraged when he told them what had happened to you. A better word than angry is incensed. It means they were way beyond mad at the assault you experienced, and they wanted to make sure you were cared for and would be OK, and that”s what they did.”
“I know, Leon, but still � it was embarrassing to me. After I got out of surgery, Jaiden took care of things with the police and the judge, and Peyton sat with me all night. When I finally woke up, he was the first person I saw, and he had tears in his eyes. I was hurting badly from the surgery, and Peyton had a pain pump hooked to my IV, and after a few minutes, I didn”t hurt anymore. The next morning, Mom and Dad came into the room, and she was so sweet. She had never seen me before, but she treated me like I was already her son.”
“I could tell Dad was furious, but he tried his best to make me laugh � and I did, but it made my insides hurt. He sat with me all week, and he or Mom stayed with me every night that first week. After that, dad went back to work in Alabama, but Mom stayed in Erie.
“I know, buddy. You wouldn”t be here if Jaiden and Peyton hadn”t done what they did. And you know what, I wouldn”t be able to love you like I do if you weren”t here.” “Leon, do you really love me?” “Seth, I love you more than you will ever know. I don”t have the words to say how much I love you, how proud I am that you”re my little brother. You are such an amazing young man.” “Really?” “Really, buddy.”
“Leon, would you give me a hug?” “Leon melted when Seth asked for that hug. He grabbed his little brother, pulled his head to his chest, and gave him a kiss on the forehead. He held Seth for several minutes before they continued their walk.” Leon didn”t say anything as they started walking as warm tears streamed down his cold face.
“Leon, are you happy now?” “Seth, I am more than happy; how could I not be? I have a family I always wanted but never had. We both have a wonderful new Mom and Dad who love us more than anything. I have three of the best brothers a guy could want, and you are one of those three. So, how could I not be happy?”
“I just wondered if you were as happy as I am since Mom and Dad adopted me.” “I am, Seth, so please don”t worry about that. When I found out how happy you were after seeing the elks, I felt like I had jumped over the moon; I don”t remember when I was happier than I was that day; Peter felt the same way. He still talks about how proud he is that something so small that we did with you could make you so happy.”
“You and Peter made me feel loved that day. I mean, I feel loved by our family, but there was something special about the day we went to Cataloochee. It just made me feel so special and so proud that you are my brother.”
“Thank you for saying that, Seth. Peter and I love you more than anything in this world, and for you to say what you just said…” When Leon stopped in mid-speech, Seth was concerned, so he looked up at his brother and saw tears falling from his eyes. “Leon, are you OK?”
“Yeah, I am, Seth. Today was hard for me, and I was feeling a bit down, but you just put me on top of the world; when I tell Peter what you told me, he is going to be on top of the world with me.” Being the loving young man he is, Seth gave Leon a tug around his waist, a hug, if you will.
As they walked back to the house, Leon asked Seth if he was going to take the summer off and spend some time with Peter and him. Seth said he was, and he could hardly wait mezitli escort to do that. Leon smiled and told Seth that he and Peter had several things they wanted to do with Seth. “What have you and Peter planned, Leon?” “You”ll find out this summer, little brother. It will be a surprise for you.”
“Did you young men have a good walk?” “We did, Mom, and we had a good talk too.” “That”s good, Seth. Did you see the waterfalls?”
“No, mam, they were a little further down the road than I thought, so I can see them while I”m here this summer.”
“Ah, so you are going to take the summer off from school?” “Yes, mam. I thought about it and decided I could use a break from school before I get too busy with academics.”
Dad Riley asked everybody what they wanted for dinner, and Seth suggested they go to Tony”s in Brevard since they hadn”t yet been there. Seth was the one person who kept the balance for everyone all day, so nobody went against his suggestion.
Seth sat in the swing on the lower front porch watching the animals walking into and through the yard. He had been relatively quiet all day, so Peyton went outside and sat with him. “Seth, after you stared Mr. Pettigrew in the eyes and turned and walked away, you seemed to mumble something that made the Judge laugh. Wanna tell me what you said that the Judge thought was so funny?”
“If I tell you, do you promise you won”t tell Mom or Dad if they ask?” “I won”t, Seth. If they ask, I”ll tell them it”s personal between you and me.”
“I didn”t tell Mr. Pettigrew what I wanted to say since I thought it would upset Mom – and make Dad a little angry. So, when I turned to walk back to my seat, I looked toward Mr. Pettigrew and called him a sorry piece of shit.” “Seth, that is hilarious; no wonder the Judge laughed the way he did. I don”t think Mom would be upset with you saying that, and I don”t think Dad would get the least bit angry.”
“Mom told me what she had intended to say to Mr. Pettigrew, and believe me, it was a lot worse than what you said. And as for Dad, him calling Mr. Pettigrew a pussy in court was worse than you calling him a sorry piece of shit. So, I wouldn”t worry about Mom or Dad being upset with what you said.” “Good, because I really don”t want to upset either one of them.”
“Hey jerk-butt, let”s take a walk; I”m not used to spending so much time in the house. If I was at home, I could go outside and do something on the farm.” “I thought you were getting a bit antsy, Dad.” “Peyton, it”s worse than being antsy.”
When they got on the roadway to take their walk, Dad Riley told Peyton that he was worried about Seth being depressed after going to court earlier that day.
“Dad, it did bring back some bad memories for Seth, and he is upset that Leon had to face Mr. Pettigrew when he made his statement. That has really bothered Seth. He is also worried about you and Mom being upset about what he said as he walked away from that man.” “Yeah, that was funny; even the Judge thought so.” “You know what he said?”
“Of course, we could see his mouth, and it was very evident that he called Pettigrew a sorry piece of shit.”
“Dad, Seth is scared to death that you and Mom would be horribly upset with him if you knew that.” “Peyton, in the three years that Seth has been with your mom and me, we”ve never heard him utter or say one profane word. But, even if we had, a teenager wouldn”t be normal if he didn”t use a few bad words occasionally. I hate that Seth is worried about that; do you think I should say something to him?” “Dad, if you bring it up in a nice way and tell Seth you and Mom thought him saying that was funny, I think he would be much more relaxed and less worried.” “Peyton, I”ll do that when we get home, and Seth and I are alone together.”
When Peyton and his dad got back to the house, Peyton went into the kitchen and got himself a cup of coffee to warm up a little more quickly � and his dad was right behind him. Then, when they had drunk their coffee, his dad got up and went to the den in the basement where he knew Seth was reading. He pulled his usual stunt to make his boys jump when he wanted them to think he was upset before talking to them. Sensing something amiss, Seth got up and walked toward the doors to go outside. When he did, his dad grabbed him by his shirt collar and said, “boy, get back here! You and I have something we need to talk about.” To say Seth was quaking in his boots would be an understatement.
“Son, your mom and I saw what you said to Mr. Pettigrew in court. You don”t use language like that, so your mom and I were surprised. We were so proud of you for standing up for your brother that we could have shouted. When you called Pettigrew a sorry piece of shit, and the Judge threw his head back and laughed, we knew you had gotten the man”s attention – and there wasn”t a damn thing he could do about it. Geez, son, that was so much fun watching him sit there and take what you dished out to him.”
“So, you and Mom aren”t upset with me?” “Not in the least, Seth. You wouldn”t be a typical teenager if you didn”t get upset or mad occasionally and say some off-color words. Now you need to relax and get over thinking your mom and I are upset with you because we aren”t.”
“Dad, it wasn”t that I was scared I had made you and Mom mad; it”s that I love you and Mom so much that I didn”t want to disappoint you.”
“Seth, son, please don”t ever think your mom and I will be disappointed in you; you have done so much to make us proud of you. Even your mom”s and my friends constantly tell us how proud they are of you.”
“Really, Dad?” “All the time, Seth. I don”t think you realize what an awesome young man you are, and I think that goes back to how you were treated before you became our son.” “It does, Dad; the past haunts me all the time, but I deal with it.” “Do you think it would help if you see a counselor as Leon has?” “Maybe, I just don”t know. In some ways talking about the past will bring back some sad feelings and possibly some anger, but at the same time, it may help me to let go of the past and make moving forward easier for me.”
“I”ll tell you what: let me talk to your mom and see what we can do about finding a good counselor for you, someone who has experience helping young people who have suffered bad things in their lives as you have. Just keep this in mind: your mom and I love you without reservation, and we will do whatever it takes to help you be happy and well adjusted, OK?” “Yes, sir.”
“Jim, what did you discuss with Seth?” “Phyllis, he has been scared to death that you and I would be angry with or disappointed in him for what he said to pozcu escort Pettigrew in court this morning.” “You”ve got to be kidding me; I thought what he said was just as hilarious as what the Judge thought.” “So did I, and I told him that how we felt. He relaxed when I told him that. Seth said he wasn”t so scared about us being mad but that he loved us so much that he didn”t want to disappoint us.” Phyllis choked up as she said, “Jim. That Seth thinks he disappointed or ever would disappoint us breaks my heart.” “Same here, sweetheart, and I told him so.”
“Do you think it would make Seth feel better if I talk to him about that?” “I think it would, Phyllis; you”re a lot better at assuring the children of that than I am.”
“Jim, don”t you dare discount how good you are with our children. You are just as good with them as you think I am. In fact, when it comes to reassuring them when they need it, you surpass me in more ways than I can count.” “Do you really think so, sweetheart?” “No, Jim, I don”t think so…I know so! You are an incredible parent, and it is no wonder considering who your teachers were.”
“We have been married 43 years, and we have been a couple almost 60 years � and don”t you say anything about my age. You have amazed me one way or another every day that we have been together. Of course, we”ve had our differences over the years, but you have always recognized that I am always right!” “You know, babe, I love you to Mars and back.” “Maybe so, sweetie, but I love you more, and I always will.”
Mom Riley made herself look busy in the kitchen after she yelled: “Seth, get your butt in the kitchen; we need to have a talk.” “Seth walked into the kitchen shaking like a leaf.
“Son, sit down at the table; we”re going to have a mother-son talk, understand?” “Yes, mam. What did I do?” “Nothing, not one thing wrong.” His mom pulled out a chair and sat in front of Seth. He was so scared that tears were welling up in his eyes.
“Son, you need to get this in your head: your dad and I will never be disappointed in you, and there is nothing you can do that would disappoint us. Of course, you”re a teenager, and you will make mistakes, but that doesn”t mean they will disappoint us. You know what you can and can”t do, and you do a great job at keeping your relationships age-appropriate. The only thing your dad and I might be disappointed in is that you haven”t done the most minor something we could be concerned about. That makes us sometimes worry that you aren”t being an average teenager and having some fun and taking a few risks here and there.”
“Mom, I love you and dad too much to take a chance on disappointing you.” “Son, let loose and have some fun. Talk to Peyton about how he did that growing up. Call Jenny and ask her; she”ll tell you what she did.”
“Now, what I am fixing to do is going to hurt me a lot more than it will you: stand up and sit on my lap.” “Mom, I”m too heavy to do that.” “As I said, it”s going to hurt me a lot more than it will you; just do it.” So, Seth got up and moved to sit across his mom”s legs as gently as he could. When the task was accomplished, he got the most loving hug ever from his mom, not to mention the obligatory Riley kiss on the forehead.
“Seth, I love you more than anything in this world, just as much as Jenny, Peyton, Richard, and Leon. They love you almost as much as I do. I say almost because nobody can love you as much as your mother does, understand?” “Yes, mam, I love you too.” “I know, sweetheart, I know.”
Seth sat on the deck at the back of the house, watching the squirrels, birds, and other animals playing on the mountainside when Peter noticed him sitting alone. He went outside on the deck, sat next to Seth, and asked, “Watcha thinking, Buddy.” “I was thinking how fortunate I am that Mom and Dad adopted Richard and me, how much happier I have been since they did that. Pennsylvania could have put me in a foster home where I could have been abused like my bio-donor beat me.”
“I”m comfortable here like I am on the farm. I hadn”t realized how much I missed the mountains until this visit with you and Leon. My old dad would take me to the hills, put me out of the car, and then drive off.”
“I”d walk the trails I knew about. Sometimes I would discover new ones as I waited for my bio-dad to come back and pick me up. Then, when I”d get in the car, he”d usually slap me pretty hard in the face.”
“Seth, Richard never said anything about that.” “Peter, he doesn”t know about it. I never told him because I didn”t want to worry him while he was completing medical school.” “Don”t you think you need to let him know about that, Seth?” “Maybe, but if I did, he”d get upset, then mad, and he wouldn”t be able to concentrate at work, and he needs to concentrate at work.”
“I was so miserable that I made plans to kill myself after the man molested me so badly and caused me to be in the hospital so long. I knew Richard loved me, but he was trying to get through medical school, and he didn”t need me holding him back.”
“What made you change your mind, Seth?” “Mom and Dad. When they came in, I could feel how much they loved me even though they had no idea who I was, other than Richard”s brother. It”s hard for me to describe, but I could feel it. Then there was Peyton and Jaiden and their interest in helping me get well, and how they took Richard and me into their home so we would be safe.”
“Dale is really good at working with people who are upset or have personal issues as I did. Charley is the best at keeping me focused; he keeps anyone around him focused. Like you and Leon, Peyton, and Jaiden, they are uncles to me. Jenny calls me a couple of times a week just to talk, and she always makes me feel good about myself.”
“Jenny calls Leon the same way, and he says the same thing you just said. Seth, anytime you want to talk, talk to your mom and Dad; they can help you with whatever problems or worries you have. You also have your brothers and me you can talk to, and there is Jenny, too.”
Peter, I used to talk to Jeremy, but he”s at Wellstone, and I don”t get to see or speak to him very often. So, when I come up this summer, I”d like to spend some time with him if he stays on campus.”
“Seth, if Jeremy goes to Erie for the summer, why don”t you have him come down when you come to visit with Leon and me?” “You wouldn”t care if I did that?” “Not if it makes you happy; Leon and I wouldn”t care at all. Besides, Jeremy probably knows more things we can do in the area than Leon, and I know about.”
Seth reached over and took Peter”s hand and held it tightly as he stared straight ahead and said, “Thanks, escort bayan Peter, that would mean a lot to me.”
“Let”s go inside and have some fresh donuts and coffee.” “Mom probably wouldn”t like me eating donuts so close to dinner time, Peter.” “Come on, it”s doctor”s orders, and Mom won”t argue with doctor”s orders.” So, they went into the kitchen and ate several donuts each, glazed for Peter and chocolate cake dipped in peanuts for Seth. When they finished their treats, Seth went into the den to sit with Richard and their mom.
Peter looked at Leon and said, “I”ve got to go out front for a little while to cool down. Leon looked at his face and could tell he was furious and horribly upset, so he got up to go outside with his husband. Mom Riley saw Peter”s face, lightly poked Jim in the ribs, pointed at Peter, and told him to make sure everything was OK.
Dad Riley followed Peter and Leon toward the front porch. When he got to the den, he looked out the doors and could tell Peter was so angry tears were rolling across his swollen face. So, he walked outside and asked, “Peter, Leon, is there something I can do to help?” “Peter looked at him and asked, “Dad, how much do you know about Seth”s life before mom and you adopted him?”
“Peter, so much happened to that boy that I don”t think I”ll ever know everything; his mom and I just try to make sure he”s as happy and well-adjusted as possible. But sometimes we are concerned about that. Seth talked to me the other day, and when we get home, we are going to get him into counseling and see if it will help him to resolve some issues he is having.”
“Peter looked at Dad and said, “Dad, you have no idea how happy I am to hear that. Has Seth ever talked to you about how the SOB he used to call Dad would take him to the mountains in Erie, put him out of the car, and drive off; about how scared he would be of the bears and cats in the mountains when he would have to wait in the dark for someone to go back and pick him up; and how that bastard would slap him repeatedly in the face when he would get in the car to go home?”
“Damn it! With God as my witness, if I ever see that man and can get my hands on him, he will beg for someone to kill him when I get through; I won”t kill him, but he”ll be in so much pain he will beg God to end his pain.”
“Peter, I have lived my life, and you have just begun to live yours. So, if he ever gets out of prison, which I doubt will ever happen, you better call me and let me take care of him; all I”ll have to do is make a phone call, and he will disappear, never to be found. You can do that, Dad?” “No, Leon, but I know who can � and will!”
“Leon, when you see Melanie, ask her if she can talk to Seth while he is here and let me know, please.” “I will, Dad, I promise.”
The three went back into the house and to the den to be with the rest of the family. Peter walked over to Mom Riley, kissed her on the cheek, and said, “Thanks, Mom.” He knew she had sent Dad Riley out to make sure he was OK. Seth was fast asleep with his head resting on his mom”s leg as she lightly rubbed his hair and the side of his head.”
“It was dinner time, and Dad Riley was hungry, so he looked at everyone and asked, “would y”all like to go to Ruth Criss” in town and get something good for dinner?” The vote to do that was unanimous! Everyone thought Seth was asleep, but when his dad asked the question about dinner, he raised his hand in agreement without ever opening his eyes.
When they got to the restaurant, Tony was the manager for the evening. When he saw the group walk in, he sat them in the best spot in the house and then walked into the kitchen. Darrell, Josh, there is a group I will be sitting with in the dining room. I want them all to be served Porterhouse steaks, salads, and whatever they want to drink. Just ask them how they want their steak cooked, what dressing they would like on their salads, and what they want to drink. Then, when they finish their dinner, see if they want dessert. The one thing I do not want you to do is to tell them I am comping their meals; understand?” “Yes, sir.”
The waiters knew what Tony always got to eat, so they put his order into the computer and went and took everyone else”s order. When the steaks came out, they were cooked to perfection, and the sides everyone wanted were served in abundance.
Tony sat next to Leon during the meal and asked him how the morning in court went. Leon mentioned a few things before Tony admitted he had talked with Harry. He was incredibly proud of Leon for how he held his composure and said what he wanted to say.
When the dinner was completed, Dad Riley asked for the check and the waiter told him the bill had been taken care of. “By whom,” Dad Riley asked. The waiter told him he couldn”t say and walked off. Dad tried to talk to Tony about paying the bill, but Tony wouldn”t here of it, so everybody piled into the car and headed home.
When they got home, Seth was tired, so he told his mom he was going to his room, get in his bed, and watch television. He tried to do that, but it didn”t quite work, because within thirty minutes, Seth had fallen fast asleep. His mom checked on him at 10:30 that evening, and when she found him dead to the world asleep, she quietly turned off the television and the lights and went back to the den.
“Jim, when I checked on our son, he was sleeping hard so I cut off the television and the lights. It”s a bit unusual for him to go to bed and fall asleep so early in the evening; I hope he is OK?” “I”m sure he is, Phyllis; I think he has been stressed out from reliving some things this morning, and his way of coping with the stress and relaxing was to get some sleep. When we get home, I can talk to his doctor and get the name of a good counselor and get Seth in to see him or her.” “Jim, I think he would be more comfortable and less intimidated by a female counselor.” “Phyllis, I think you hit the nail on the head saying that.”
The next morning, Seth arose early, got a cup of coffee, and sat on the rear deck under the propane heaters and watched the deer as they came in to eat. He knew he probably shouldn”t have done what he did, but his bound toos overrode his can”t help its: he opened the screen door and let the baby raccoon inside. When he sat down, the raccoon climbed into his lap and let Seth hand feed him. When the little animal had eaten all he wanted, he curled up in Seth”s lap and went to sleep.
Jim and Phyllis went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast for everybody. Jim looked out the door and saw Seth sitting quietly sipping on a cup of coffee. He saw the baby raccoon curled up asleep in Seth”s lap and called his wife over to look. About the time she turned to see what Jim wanted her to see, Leon and Peter walked into the kitchen and Dad Riley told them to come look at Seth. So, they, along with Phyllis, walked quietly to the doors, peered outside at Seth, and got a cozy feeling when they saw the baby animal curled up asleep on Seth”s lap.