Subject: Chapter 8 – My Sons and Their Friends This work is copyrighted by the author, J. Carrington and commercial use is prohibited without permission in writing from the author. Personal or private copies are permitted only if they are complete and include the copyright notice. Placing this story on a website or reproducing this story for distribution without the author’s permission is a violation of that copyright. This is a story of a man’s relationship with his sons, their friends and a variety of other characters. The writing is very detailed and is a written representation of what the author saw as he was writing the story. The series of chapters are completely fictional and are the result of the author’s fertile imagination. Any resemblance to any real person(s) is purely coincidental. The story contains consensual sexual behavior between young adult males and older adult males. It depicts both unprotected sex and protected sex. 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Chapter 8 – My Sons and Their Friends – The Freshman Year I looked at Ryan and tried to imagine what could be happening. I stepped forward, the boys stepped back and allowed me to enter the room. I turned and looked in the direction of the bed. I had to stifle a soft chuckle, as there was Matt lying in the bed with Myles, and Myles was eating a banana split. I asked about Michelle, and they both told me that she had gone down to the cafeteria to eat. I walked in, pulled the chair next to the bed, and sat down. Ryan and Jay sat on the bed with Matt and Myles while Rob sat in the other chair by me. I looked at Ryan and I could tell that his jealousy was getting the best of him, so I knew that he and I had to have a little talk tonight. I was sitting close enough to him that I could, and did reach over and shake his leg. He looked at me, and we made eye contact. He frowned, but he had received my message. We sat and talked for a while with Myles telling us that he had not had any adverse reactions to the chemotherapy and would be going home tomorrow. Matt said that he knew that Myles loved ice cream, so he had the cafeteria lady make a banana split, and he brought it up to the room. Myles grinned, and I happened to be looking at Ryan who grimaced. Matt said “After I got here, his Mom decided that since I was here, she would go eat, so I am keeping him company.” I could tell that this was still not going over with Ryan, but he was trying to be pleasant and positive. Michelle entered the room about thirty minutes later. Rob stood and told Michelle that she could have the chair. She tried to get him to stay seated, but he said “My Dad would kill me if he knew that I sat while a lady stood, he says that it is not being a gentleman.” Rob walked to the end of the bed and leaned on the end railing. Matt looked down at Rob, and said “Rob, let me move my feet, and you can sit there.” Ryan cringed, because now Rob was closer to Matt, and he wasn’t. It looked like this was not Ryan’s day, and don’t think that Jay didn’t figure out what was going on, as he thumped Ryan in the back and said “Behave.” Ryan cut his eyes at Jay, but kept his mouth shut. I glanced at my phone and saw that we had been at the hospital for about an hour. I knew that we had things to do at the house, and I didn’t know how much homework the boys had, so I told everyone that we needed to go. Everyone said bye to Myles, and I stepped over to him, and he mouthed “Don’t even try,” so I extended my hand. I laughed and everyone wanted to know what was funny. I chose not to say anything. We left and rode down the elevator. Jay was watching Ryan like a hawk. We reached the first floor, and Ryan decided to walk a little faster, so that he would be at the vehicle before us. Jay trailed him and was evidently giving him a hard time. It wasn’t long before Ryan was in a bad mood, and I knew that he and I would be having a talking sooner than later. We rode to the house, and I asked about homework. They assured me that they didn’t have any beyond reading a chapter in social studies. I told Rob and Jay good night, and Ryan and I walked into the house. I pointed Ryan in the direction of the family room, and he started protesting. I said “Ryan, you are acting like a horse’s ass. That is your brother. He needs as much support, as he can get right now, and you are not helping matters. Matt is a friend to both of you, and he is not going to play favorites. He is helping Myles in so many ways.” Ryan turned to me and his eyes were flashing “See there, you know it too, Myles is getting special attention from Matt, and I am being left out. Myles had Jared, but he wants Matt.” I said “I think all of the guys took on one of you boys. Initially there were some adoptions, but eventually all of them adopted every one of you as a group. I think you need to settle, and do some careful thinking. If the shoe was on the other foot, you would be thinking totally different.” He pulled his legs onto the sofa and tried to sit Indian-style. I sat down in the loveseat where I could see him, as we talked. He wanted to get huffy with me, but I think he figured that tonight was not the night. I decided to push the issue a little more and, said “Ryan, do you think that Myles put Matt up to lying in the bed with him tonight, or did that just happen?” He turned to me with “I know what you want me to say, so I will say it, just so we can get this conversation over, I am sick of it, and I just want to go to my room and be by myself.” I had had just about enough of his attitude so I reminded him “Ryan, you are the child, and I am the adult, better yet, I am the Dad. I want, and I expect a conversation and a solution tonight.” He started to say something, but didn’t. He sat there for a while and finally said “Dad, I know that Matt is a good guy, he thinks of others most of the time. I figure that he really did bring Myles the banana split and then, crawled up in the bed with him. I don’t know who I am madder at, Matt or Myles. Doesn’t Matt know how I feel?” I thought about it for a few minutes and said “Ryan, I am sure that Matt picked up on your negative vibes tonight, but he is not in this to take sides. He is doing everything he can to keep Myles positive and to help him recover. This disease that Myles is fighting is not like a cold, it could take his life, and should it go there, could you live with yourself for being the way that you are tonight?” He stopped and looked at me and said “But, it is not.” I said “And where did you get that guarantee, there are no guarantees when you are fighting cancer. Think about this Ryan, think about it long and hard. I know you, you love Myles, you loved him like a brother before, and you have welcomed him into this family, I know beyond a doubt that don’t want to lose him.” He sat and looked straight at me. In a few minutes, tears began to slowly flow down his face. He wiped them away, came over and sat with me. I pulled him tight against me and said “Son, I love you, always have and always will, but when you are wrong, it is my job to tell you and help you make course corrections.” We sat quietly for a while and then, he said “Dad, are you and Phil going to be okay?” I said “I hope so, but there is something going on, and I don’t know what it is.” He said “Dad, Phil has made you happy, and I don’t want you to go back to the way that you were before Phil.” I kissed the top of his head, and told him not to worry. He stood up and told me that he was going to his room. I sat in the living room and watched something on TV. I think, I just needed the noise, as I wasn’t comprehending what was happening or being said on TV, because my mind was elsewhere. Around ten thirty, I got up, turned the TV off and went to my room. I stripped down to my boxer briefs and fell into bed. I lay there and pondered Ryan’s issue; I finally decided that I might just have to have a meeting with Matt, so that he will have a better understanding of what is happening. After I had reached that decision, I felt myself relax; I turned on my side and fell asleep. Sometime later, I felt the bed move, but didn’t spend much time focused on it. I needed my rest. I knew it was Phil, and I didn’t care about the time. I just needed to rest, so I could do some clear thinking. Phil evidently wanted me to wake up, because he kept moving and pulling the covers. I was just too far gone; whatever it was, it could keep till tomorrow. I awoke the next morning to find that Phil had once again got up quietly, attended to his morning rituals, and had left the room. I went to the bathroom, shaved and showered. I dressed and walked to the kitchen. There was a cereal bowl in the sink, so I guessed that he had eaten cereal and left. I knocked on Ryan’s door and called him to come eat. I made my own version of an Egg McMuffin. I poured each of us a glass of orange juice, and we ate our sandwich. Jay and Rob arrived and were impressed with the homemade sandwiches. Ryan finished dressing, and we left for school. I met my second, third and sixth period classes in the media center and helped them start their research. Michelle texted me during lunch and told me that the doctors had dismissed Myles from the hospital. She said that they were headed home. That brought a smile to my face, because it seemed as though we were finally taking a step forward, rather than three back. I finished my day in the media center, walked back to my room, and waited for the boys. They arrived, and I told them that Myles was home. Everybody was raring to go home and then, walk to visit him. I pulled into the driveway and everybody dropped their school stuff off in the dining room, and we walked to Michelle’s. We entered and joined Myles and Michelle in the living room. Myles was dressed in a pair of shorts and a long-sleeved t-shirt with socks. Jay started questioning him about the hospital stay while Rob wanted to know what the next steps were going to be. Ryan sat and listened. I was beginning to worry that Ryan had not gotten over the previous day’s issues, but he began to join Jay with questions and comments about chemotherapy treatments and their side effects. As I was sitting talking to Michelle, my cell phone rang. I looked, and it was my lawyer. I answered, and he told me that he had some good news. I told him that I definitely could use some. He said that the adoption had been finalized and that the judge, who is a friend of his, has an opening tomorrow at 3 o’clock. He wanted to know, if we could make it. I asked him to hold on a minute, I got up, motioned for Michelle to follow me, and I gave her the news. I asked her about tomorrow, and she said “You can’t do it fast enough for Myles.” I told my lawyer that tomorrow would work and that we would see him at the Courthouse at two thirty. Michelle asked me when was I, going to tell Myles. I said “Part of me would like for it to be a surprise, and the other part wants him to be prepared, in case, he has to speak.” She said “Doug, if there is the remote possibility that he might have to speak; you better give him advance notice.” I figured as much, so I called him into the dining room and asked him to sit down. He looked from me to Michelle and had a worried ataköy escort look on his face. I smiled, and then, he smiled. I said “Myles, a few weeks ago, we petitioned the courts to make a name change and to officially list me as your Dad. We proceeded legally through the system and filed for adoption. He sat up in his chair. My throat felt like it was closing, but I got the words out “We will make it official tomorrow afternoon at 3:00”. He yelled and hugged me about as hard as he did the afternoon that we told him that he was my son. The boys came flying into the room to find out what was going on. Myles did not waste a minute, nor did he beat around the bush, he told them that tomorrow afternoon his name would officially be Brunson. Ryan was grinning and he, hugged Myles. Jay and Rob congratulated him, but they didn’t have any emotional attachment to the issue. We finished visiting and walked back to the house so that they could do their homework, and I could start dinner. The boys settled in the dining room, and I listened to them talking about Myles and asking Ryan about how he felt about the name change. I started peeling some small red potatoes. I placed them in a pot and added water and salt. I let them boil, until they were tender and while they were cooking, I seasoned and floured several pieces of cube steak. I opened two cans of whole green beans, added a little bacon grease and started them cooking on medium heat. I checked the potatoes, and they were tender. I turned them down and let them continue to cook for a little longer while I fried the cube steak and made gravy. I drained the potatoes and mashed them using my wire potato masher, added some sour cream and butter, and blended them into the mashed potatoes. I called the boys to dinner, and they were at the counter before I had finished calling them to come eat. It was a simple meal, but one that they loved. They finished, returned to their homework, and I cleaned up. Jay wanted to know where ‘ol’ Phil was?’ I said “I guess he is working cause he isn’t here.” Ryan looked at me and rolled his eyes. I walked down to my office and began to work on my lesson plans for next week. I also had to write a quick set, as I would be taking a half day off tomorrow, and I had to have a substitute. I finished tomorrow’s plans and called Meredith to see if she could pick Rob and Jay up after school. She said that she could. I told her about our good news. She said “Don’t you worry one moment, I will have things under control.” I am thinking “what things aren’t under control, but knowing Meredith, I knew she knew and that was good enough for me.” I returned to working on my lesson plans for next week. I had made it through Wednesday when Ryan stuck his head in the door and told me that the boys had gone home; and that, he was going to take a shower and go to bed. He started to leave, but turned walked over to me, hugged me and said “Dad, I am so glad that Myles will have our last name, that just makes it that much more official. I am so glad that I have a brother, and I couldn’t have picked out a better one.” I hugged him back and said “Ryan, I couldn’t have said it better.” He turned and walked to the bathroom, closed the door and started the shower. I finished up my plans and walked over to my bedroom, stripped, showered, pulled on a pair of boxer briefs, and settled in bed. I picked up a new novel and began to read. I read the first five chapters and was about to turn out my lamp when Phil walked into the room. I looked at him, and I could tell that he had been working and was somewhat stressed. He walked on to the bathroom, showered, pulled on some briefs, and joined me in the bed. He looked at my book and then, he said “Doug, can we just turn out the light and call it a night. I don’t know how much longer I can go at this rate; it is taking it out of me.” Well, that is the first time that I had heard that he is working this late, I didn’t know what he was doing, but I did know that he was not here at the house with me like he had been since we met. I closed my book, turned off my lamp, pulled the sheet and blanket up around me and settled in for the night. I lay there for a few minutes, and within that short amount of time, Phil fell asleep. I guess, I joined him a little later. I awoke the next morning with a start, something woke me up. I looked over at Phil’s side of the bed, and he had gotten up, showered, dressed and left the room. I lay there for a while and tried to figure out what was happening. He said that he was working, but where, and why so late into the night? Since when do you plant plants and lay sod after dark? Why did I feel that there was more to this than, he had led me to believe? As I lay there and pondered these questions, I got absolutely furious with myself reflecting on and remembering how I had acted toward him. I had become my mother and regardless of how much I had promised myself that I would never ever show those traits, they just seemed to come out of my mouth. As I was lying there, it suddenly hit me that this was Friday, and this afternoon Myles would officially become a Brunson. I jumped out of bed, showered and spent time laying out my clothes for the trip to the Courthouse. I dressed casually for the day at school, as this would be a pep rally morning leading to a game tonight. I wore the latest school polo shirt, my jeans, and a pair of deck shoes. I walked into the kitchen and Ryan was there having a bowl of cereal. He said that since he went to bed early last night that he had woke up early, and decided to have a fast and easy breakfast. I reminded him that we would be leaving school at noon, coming home, showering, dressing and then, going to the Courthouse. I asked him if he had thought about what he was going to wear, and he hadn’t. I walked with him to his room and well, I almost had a stroke, his room looked like sixteen tornadoes had touched down. I took in a deep breath of air and he started “Dad, I know it is a mess, but I will get it cleaned up. I have been busy with other stuff, don’t say anything.” I looked around and there were clothes all over the place. I vowed to keep my mouth shut and focus on what I had come to do. I asked him to show me a pair of dress pants that he could wear, and he picked out a pair of olive green slacks. We then looked at his shirts and settled on a light muted orange button-up. I looked at his shoes, and I was afraid that he didn’t have a pair that would work, but he remembered that he had an almost new pair of deck shoes that would probably work. He pulled them out, and I agreed that they would work. We finished in his bedroom and about that time we heard the utility room door close. We walked down to the kitchen and met Jay and Rob. Jay started telling Ryan about how lucky he was to get pulled out of school early. Ryan smiled and said “Gotta have connections and a good reason.” Everybody picked up their bags and headed to the garage. As I was driving to school, the phone rang, and it was Myles. He was super excited and wanted some help on making a choice of slacks and shirts. He started describing some of his shirts and I could remember some of them. We settled on a white shirt with tiny blue and gray stripes with navy slacks. I suggested a tie, but he wouldn’t hear of anything around his neck. I drove into the parking lot, parked and finished my conversation with him. I took care of my business in the office and informed the principal that I would be taking the afternoon off to formally adopt Myles. He congratulated me and asked me to convey his best wishes to Myles. I started my day by showing a video and then, discussing various topics shown in it. The discussions were lively and thought provoking. I walked to the office during my lunch and checked Ryan out. We hurried to the parking lot and then, to the house. We ran into the house, headed to the bathrooms, showered, and dressed for our afternoon in Court. We met in the family room, and Ryan reminded me that I should take my camera. I started to say that I would use my cell phone camera, but he wanted the real camera. I located the camera bag and checked the battery, it was fine. We finished inside and walked out to the Denali. I backed out, and we drove to the Courthouse. I finally found a parking place. We walked to the elevators and rode to the floor which housed the Courtroom of Judge William B. Cole. We walked to the huge doors, and as we were about to enter, I heard someone call my name. I turned around, and it was my lawyer and his paralegal. He introduced me to Bree Finnigan, his para-legal, and I introduced Ryan to Byron Gillespie. He said that there was another hearing ahead of us, so we should sit on one of the benches in the hallway and await our turn. As we were just getting settled, Myles and Michelle walked up. Myles had the biggest smile on his face, and Byron said “I would wager a guess that this is the lucky young man.” Myles said “And you would be right. This is the best day of my life.” I looked over at Michelle, and she shook her head letting me know that she was fine with his words, and in fact, she was happy that things had worked out for Myles. After sitting there for about fifteen minutes, the doors opened and several people walked out. Byron told us to sit for a few more minutes, and the bailiff would come for us. We waited and sure enough, the bailiff walked to the door, spotted Byron and asked us to join him and the judge in the Courtroom. We walked in and were seated. Myles and I joined Byron and Bree at one table while Michelle and Ryan sat in the first row behind us. The judge asked if the parties who had petitioned the court for an adoption were present, and Byron said that we were. The judge began by summarizing the petition and then, he asked Myles to take a seat in the Witness Box. Myles’ eyes got big, but he walked up and took his seat. The judge asked him if he had been pressured to go along with adoption, and Myles told him “Absolutely not, because it was an answer to my prayer” The judge, then asked him what would he gain by being legally adopted by Mr. Douglas Brunson. Myles looked at me, and then, turned and faced the judge. He said “I grew up not knowing who my Dad was, I lived down the street from Pops, I mean Mr. Brunson, and he was always like what I thought a Dad should be. He has been there and helped me since he moved into the neighborhood years ago. In my mind, he was my secret Dad. I developed a cancer in my leg this year and since I didn’t know my biological Dad, I wanted Pops to be available for a blood marrow match, if possible. He took the tests, and when the samples were matched, we found out that he was my biological Dad. I could not be happier, because I am getting the Dad and the brother that I have always wanted.” The judge then asked me to come to the Witness Box. I did, and was seated. He asked me several questions as to how I felt about adopting Myles, and I told him that it was an answer to prayers. He stopped me, and said “I don’t mean to be discourteous, but you guys seem to be a powerful praying bunch.” I said “We don’t break the Church doors down every week, but we know and practice the Ten Commandments, try to do the right things, and we pray and give thanks for what has been given to us.” He said “I understand” and asked several more probing questions which I answered in all honesty. He looked out into the Courtroom and saw Ryan. He asked him to come forward, and he asked Ryan a series of questions. Finally, he asked Michelle to step forward. He said “I gather that you are Myles’ Mother, and I want to commend you for raising an admirable son. He is articulate, happy, attuned to the world, loves his family and is very smart. He asked her how she felt about this adoption. She told him that she was happy with it because her child was happy. She said that she was stunned when the results of his paternity were announced, but that she was thrilled to know that her son was the son of Doug Brunson. She stepped down, and the judge called Myles merter escort back up the Witness Box. He said “I have taken some time to read this petition for adoption, and I have listened to you, your Mom, your brother and your Dad this afternoon. It is not often that I get to be the bearer of good news, but today Myles Christopher Brunson, I am pleased to announce to you and your family that I have approved the adoption petition for you to become an official member of the Brunson family. Everybody started shedding tears. Myles looked out at us and started to walk to us, but he stopped, turned and thanked the Judge. The Judge said “Myles, I can see by the reaction of your family that I have made the best decision, I wish you the best, I hope that your health improves and your future always brings you great and wonderful things.” We left the Courthouse after a small huddle in the hallway for congratulations and pictures. I drove into the driveway, and there were “It’s a Boy!” balloons tied to the trees and in the flower beds. Additionally there were signs pointing to Meredith’s house. Myles was blown over by the decorations. In some ways, he was embarrassed, and in others, he was most appreciative. We walked over to Meredith’s, and she welcomed us. She had invited a number of people from the neighborhood, some that I had never met, and as I looked around, I stopped and looked to make sure that my eyes were not deceiving me. There stood Phil, casually dressed and enjoying a conversation with Colt. I walked over, and said “I drove into the driveway and your truck wasn’t there.” He smiled and said “‘Cause it’s parked in the garage.” I thanked him for coming, and about that time, Myles saw him, walked over, hugged him tightly, and thanked him for being there, as well. Phil was touched, as his eyes watered up. Meredith asked for everyone’s attention and asked that they come to the dining room. She had placed a large sheet cake decorated with what appeared to be a teenager wrapped in a diaper being delivered by the stork on the dining table. Ryan fell out laughing, as did Jay and Rob. Myles was a little taken aback, but finally saw the humor and joined in with his comments. The cake was delicious. Michelle said that she had to pull some fast strings with the cake lady to get the cake made and delivered with such short notice, but since we were great and frequent customers, the cake lady pulled it off. I told her the stork idea was awesome and she said “The best part is that it was my idea.” We finished celebrating at Michelle’s and walked back to the house. Michelle said that she had some things to do at home, but that she would be back in less than an hour. Ryan and Myles joined me in the family room, while we waited for Michelle. Phil had stayed a little longer to help with some of the clean-up, and then, he came home. He too, joined us in the family room and he asked Myles about the appearance before the judge. Myles told him about how overwhelming the room felt, how he felt talking to the judge, how it felt to take what is known as the witness’s seat, and how happy he was to be able to be known as a Brunson. Ryan got this look on his face, and I asked him what was he thinking. He said “Dad, we should call Grandmother and let her know that Myles is an official Brunson.” I told him that I liked that, so I dialed the number. She answered on the second ring with “What is wrong? You never call on a Friday unless something is wrong, so go ahead and tell me. I’m in a restaurant so if I keel over, maybe there will be a doctor here.” I had to laugh, and she said rather firmly “Douglas, I am not being funny, what is your reason for calling?” I said “Mom, I find it really funny that you always jump to something negative.” She said “Douglas, I am waiting!” I asked “So which restaurant are you in?” She said “Douglas.” I said “Well, Mom would you please answer my question?” She said “We are at your favorite “The Oaks. Now, tell me, what is wrong.” I said “Mom, would you get Mr. V.E. (Vince Edward – or V.E. as I recently learned to call him) over to the table, and when he arrives, please give him the phone.” “Douglas, you exasperate me, and this is just one example of how you start something and” evidently she saw Mr. V.E. and waved him over to the table. He said “Hello” and I told him who I was and asked him to just listen and not make any comment until the end of our conversation. He said “Okay.” I proceeded to tell him what we were celebrating and asked him to bring two large slices of his multi-layered coconut cake to Mom and Dad’s table because we were having a surprise on the phone celebration. He promised me that he would, and I told him that I would call back in a few minutes and give the cashier my credit card information. He said “You most certainly will not, this is on me.” He handed the phone back to Mom and evidently headed to get the cake. Mom came back on the phone with “Douglas, your Dad and I are waiting to hear what this call is about.” Mr. V.E. returned with the slices of cake and placed them in front of Mom and Dad. I heard Mother say “We didn’t order these” and I could hear Mr. V.E. say “But your son did.” Mom then said “Douglas, what is going on? And why are we getting this cake?” I said “Mom, since you were not here to be a part of the party, we wanted you to have a little cake and be a part of our celebration because as of today you officially have another grandson.” The phone went quiet, but not for long. She said “Douglas, put Myles on the phone.” I handed the phone to Myles, and he said “Yes ma’am, Yes Ma’am, Yes Ma’am, Yes Ma’am, well here’s Dad.” I got back on the phone and had to chuckle because Mom didn’t let him say anything, because she was the conversation. I had no sooner put the phone to my ear than she started “Douglas, I want a picture of the three of you so that I can hang it in the house. I want three types, one with white shirts and khaki pants, one with your school polos, and one with suits, shirts and ties.” I said “I think we can arrange that, but it won’t be next week.” She said “I want it done before Thanksgiving, understand me?” I said “Yes ma’am.” She then asked to speak to Ryan, and I handed the phone to him and he made a face. He said “Hello Grandmother, Yes ma’am, Yes ma’am, Yes Ma’am, Yes Ma’am” and handed the phone back to me. She started telling me stuff, and I finally said “Mom, I called you, and I would like to talk. You didn’t allow the boys to say anything, but I am telling you that I want to talk, and you can acknowledge my statements.” She started “Douglas, don’t be flippant or sassy with me, I know, I raised you better than that and to respect your elders.” I said “Mom, do you want to hear me, or do you already know what I am going to say? I looked over at Phil, and he was shaking his head and looking at me. She said “I don’t know what you are going to say, in fact, I don’t ever know what you are going to say, or for that matter, do. You are Mr. Independent.” I said “I am not arguing with you, so listen up. We had the official adoption finalized this afternoon, and we have a new family member. He is now known as Myles Christopher Brunson. I am his proud father, and Ryan is his proud brother. The neighbors next door hosted a get together to celebrate his good news and most of the neighborhood showed up. We are waiting for Michelle to return and then, we are going out for a celebration dinner. Maybe we can have one when we come to your house. Well, that’s what I wanted to say, now let me talk to Dad.” She handed the phone to Dad, and I talked to him about a few things. He wanted to talk to Myles, so I handed the phone to him, and he said “I am so happy. I told the judge how much I love Dad and Ryan; the judge was great, he asked me some questions and after he announced that I am officially a Brunson, he wished me the best and said the he hoped that my health improves and that my future would bring me great and wonderful things.” Yes sir, I am happy to be your Grandson. I will see you soon. He handed the phone back to me, and I finished the call. I laid the phone down and looked over at Phil and asked, “Why were you shaking your head while I was talking to Mom?” He started laughing, and finally calmed down enough to say, “You know how to pull your Mother’s strings, and I can see why she gets upset with you sometimes.” I looked over and said “So you’ve deserted me in favor of my Mom?” Ryan said “Dad, that is not what he said, but he is right, you were baiting her.” I shook my head and sat back on the sofa. The doorbell rang, and Ryan ran to open it. Michelle entered with a present and two bags. She gave the present to Myles and held the bags until he had opened the gift. He was excited and hurriedly tore into it, wrapping paper going everywhere. He opened the box and pulled out a light blue, long sleeved, buttoned-down dress shirt that had his initials embroidered on the pocket. He rubbed his finger over each letter and thanked his Mom for the gift. She handed one of the bags to me, and the other to Ryan. They contained identical shirts, but with our initials on them. She said “Gotta have those Brunson men looking good.” I thanked her, and Ryan walked over and hugged her. Michelle looked at me, and said “I don’t know about you, but I am past ready for something to eat. Are you ready to roll?” I said that I was, and everybody agreed. We walked out and decided to take one vehicle. Phil decided to sit with the boys while Michelle served as the co- pilot. After driving for a while, I pulled into the parking lot of one of the local Mexican restaurants and Ryan informed Phil that we went not getting any Mexican food to which he asked “Then, why are we here?” Ryan said “They have the best steaks and that is what everybody is ordering.” We got out, walked in, checked in and were seated in less than ten minutes. We placed our drink orders. The waiter brought our drinks and asked if we wanted appetizers. We decided against appetizers, so he asked if we were ready to order, and we were. Ryan, Myles and Michelle ordered rib-eyes cooked medium, while Phil and I ordered T- bones medium rare. Everybody ordered a salad and a baked sweet potato with brown sugar and butter. As we were waiting for our food, I noticed that Michelle was getting a little misty eyed. Ryan and Myles were talking, and Phil and I were watching Michelle. She looked our way and said “I can’t help it, I know he is still mine, will live with me most of the time, but tonight, this name change is tearing at my heart.” Myles heard that, got up, walked to his mother and stood by her. He said “Mom, I love you and will always love you, but this is something that I have wanted for a long, long time. I feel like my prayers were answered, and I am truly happy.” He hugged her, and she let the tears flow. He looked over at me, and I said “Myles, this is new to all of us, and your Mom is right, you will still be with her, just like you have in the past, but you are now an official member of the Brunson Clan.” Our salads arrived, so we focused on them. As we finished those, our steaks and potatoes were brought to the table. Our drinks were refilled several times as we talked and ate our meal. We finished, and I paid the bill. We returned to the vehicle and headed home. I pulled up next to the other garage door and Phil offered to back his truck out and let me in, but I told him that everything was fine. Michelle looked over at Myles and said, “I know it’s Friday night and that the tradition is that you spend Friday nights with Ryan. I take it that tonight is no different, but remember you still have a home down the street, and I love you.” He hugged her, she turned and started to walk away, but Phil called to her and asked her to hold up. He walked her to her car, and they talked for a few minutes. They finished their conversation, and she got in, backed out and drove to her house. We entered the House of Brunson and settled in the family room. Ryan and Myles sat against the sofa while I lay down. Phil took the loveseat. bahçeşehir escort We watched some comedy that they had chosen. Midway into the movie, Phil ducked out and headed to the bedroom stating that he had an early and busy day tomorrow. I stayed and enjoyed the movie with the boys. Ryan turned around and said “Dad, aren’t you going with Phil?” I said “No, I’m staying with my boys. Phil will understand that I want to be with both of you tonight.” He looked over at Myles and shrugged his shoulders. We were back to enjoying the movie and before long, it ended and everybody headed to their bedrooms. As I was walking to my room, I could not help, but think about how many nights I had made this trip after calling the four boys down or settling an argument, and here I was tonight, almost getting emotional because I didn’t have all four of them. Time seems to be speeding up, and they are growing up too fast. I walked into the bedroom, and Phil was already asleep. I slipped into the bathroom, took a quick shower then, joined him in bed. Today, I had one of the most memorable days of my life, and I lay there and relived several of those moments. I think the highlight was when the Judge announced that he had approved the adoption petition and that Myles was now an official Brunson. I smiled, as I recollected that moment and a few others. Finally, my eyes grew tired, and I fell asleep. I awoke Saturday morning and backed over to the middle of the bed, but I did not run into anybody. I sat up and once again, no Phil. The shower had been used, but everything was quiet in the house. I got up and walked to the kitchen. I looked in the family room and then, in the garage. Phil’s truck was missing. I shut the door walked back to my bedroom, showered and dressed for the day. I made a quick breakfast and called the boys. They both came out of Ryan’s bedroom in their boxer briefs. Ryan asked about Phil, and I said “I guess he has already gone to work.” Myles asked “Why” and Ryan said “He and Dad aren’t getting along.” Myles looked over at me and I said “Well, that’s not exactly correct, but I don’t know what to say.” Myles said “Do I need to talk to you two boys?” in his fatherly voice. I had to chuckle, but said “No son, if it is meant to work out, it will. Now, let’s have breakfast and get started on things that we have to do here at the house.” They ate, and afterwards cleaned the kitchen while I started washing clothes in the laundry room. I reminded Ryan and Myles to bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room and leave them. I would add them to the next load, as I had a full load already of darks in the machine. They did, and I sorted everything that had to be washed after I added the dirty clothes from my bedroom. I could not help but notice, that Phil’s clothing was more dirty and greasier that it had ever been. I couldn’t figure that out, but then again, there is a lot lately that I couldn’t figure out. I heard Ryan turn the vacuum cleaner on and begin vacuuming the carpeted areas of the house. Myles emptied all of the trashcans, while I continued with the laundry. After Ryan had finished with the vacuuming, I started him delivering clean clothes to either his room or mine. Myles decided to straighten up the lanai and around the pool while Ryan worked with me. They had finished their chores, and I was still working on mine when my phone rang. I answered, and it was Michelle. She asked me to send both boys to her house because she was going to take them with her for a while. I thought that was nice of her, so they left, and I finished my chores. It seemed like I would never finish washing, folding or hanging clothes, but finally I folded the last pair of boxer briefs. I walked into the family room, turned on the stereo and lay down on the sofa. I fell asleep, but was awakened when the utility room door slammed. I looked, and it was Phil. He said “I am going to get a shower and will be back in a few.” I looked at him, and he was filthy dirty. He headed to the bathroom, and I continued to lay on the sofa. After about twenty minutes, he returned showered and in clean clothes. He looked over at me and said “You need to go shower and redress as we are going off for a while.” I started questioning him, and he said “You are just like your Momma, can’t do something without asking a million questions.” Well that did it, I got up, walked to my room, then into the shower and back to my room to dress for whatever. I returned to the family room, as he was waiting for me. As I entered he stood, and pointed the way to the garage. I wanted to ask questions, but he had nailed me by saying that I was just like my Momma. I would die now, before I asked him anything. I think he knew that as he sorta did one of his little laughs. We walked out, and he directed me to get in his truck. He lowered the garage door and backed out. He started driving out of the neighborhood and made his way to one of the old highways and started heading north. I sat on my side thinking, ‘where are we going’ as there are not any nurseries or stores out this way. We drove for about twenty minutes in fairly heavy traffic and then, the road seemed to clear and we continued for about three more miles. I noticed that a clay road branched off from the highway and thought how quaint. I no sooner had that thought than Phil drove off the highway and onto that clay road without slowing down. I grabbed the arm rest and the edge of the seat. I forgot all about the scenery, as I was clinging onto the seat for dear life, and intently watching the speedometer, Phil’s foot on the accelerator and hopefully, the brake. We continued about a mile on that road, until he began to slow the truck down. I looked around, and all, I saw was barren land and an old warehouse looking structure. He turned in and drove to the structure, stopped, turned the truck off, and said “Well, here we are.” “Here we are what?” I asked. Phil said “Get out, and let’s have a look.” I got out, and we met in front of the truck. We walked to the door of the structure, Phil turned the door knob, and it opened. He pushed the door completely open and stepped inside. I followed. It had a damp feeling and there was a smell of engine oil, pesticides, fertilizers and things like that in the air. I was trying to let my eyes adjust when Phil walked over to the breaker panel and turned on the lights. I looked around and recognized several of the trucks as part of Phil’s fleet. I turned, and asked “What is going on?” He said “Are you ready for this?” I said “Probably not, but go ahead.” He said “You are looking at your future job four years into the future.” I looked at him. He continued “This is going to be the home base for my company, or if by that time, we make other arrangements, our company. It is eighty-five acres, some of which have been cleared while others remain forested. This will be the center for operations of the landscaping business, and will house a nursery, a display garden, sections to house trees, shrubs and other kinds of plants, greenhouses, potting barns, rooting beds, and offices for landscape architects, a horticulturist, bookkeeping services, and administrative offices.” I stood there and looked as he pointed. I saw only empty land; I didn’t see all of the stuff he was naming. He continued “Monday, I am having a doublewide trailer moved and placed just to the right of the entrance to this tract of land. One of my workers and his boys will live there as caretakers and will monitor all after-hours activities.” I was trying to comprehend and visualize all of this, because I am more concrete than Phil. Finally, he said, “I will have the layout of the project on Wednesday, and I will show you, but I have been working my ass off, cleaning this warehouse and moving things so that I could get my equipment and trucks stored here.” I could now see the long hours, and the reason for him being so tired, dirty and greasy. “Oh yeah, I am looking at purchasing another fifty acres, but I am in negotiations for that piece of property. It joins this property to the south, and if I get it, I am going to do two things. The first is, I am going to subdivide a portion of the land and rent it to individuals who want to grow their own vegetables, and on the remaining piece, I will plant vegetables and fruit trees from which we will sell fresh fruits and vegetables. I think that this will work. I am praying that the deal can be finalized.” I said “Phil, this is a monumental undertaking and a great vision, but how in the world are you financing this?” He said “Doug, I have obligated everything I own, almost down to my swimmers. I finally sold my house, used some of my money that Dad left me and signed the rest of my life away. I think that this is a doable project, I believe in it, and it will give me a home base to do the things that I have always wanted to do.” I was in awe of everything that he was telling me, but something he said replayed in my head. “Phil, you said my job in four years; what are you talking about?” He said “Doug, I give you four years, and when Ryan and Myles finish high school and head off to college, I figure based on some of your comments, that you will quit teaching. So I thought, I could put your knowledge and expertise to work here. I also thought that I could really use the boys starting next spring to help plant seeds, pot plants, begin rootings, arrange the plant and tree sections, and when necessary, help sell the various items. The best part of that plan is that by them working for me, I can schedule their work so that they can still go to the farm.” I chuckled and said “You have thought of everything. I really am impressed and it sounds like it will work, but I am not sure that I have what you need to make this function.” He said “Doug, you catch on to stuff easily, look at how you ran the business while I was with Dad. You did as good; as I would have done. Don’t doubt yourself.” I stood there and looked at the entire area by turning a full 360 degrees. He grabbed me by the shoulder, and said “Here, get on the tractor. We are going to tour the perimeter of the land, and I will show you the other piece of land.” I got on; he backed out, put it in a low gear and we began to move forward. We traveled through some small undergrowth and through open fields. The land had a variety of vegetation on it, and as we rode, he began to detail his vision for some of the areas. As he talked, I began to visualize what he was talking about, and I decided that this might not be such a bad project. In fact, I was getting excited. As we returned to the warehouse, he said “Doug, I have not told anyone about this except the worker that will live here, and the bankers. I have worked through the realtors and have not talked in person with the previous owners. I would like to keep this quiet until I find out about the other land. If the deal goes through, then I want to have everybody from the neighborhood out to visit. By that time, I will have the layout drawings for the nursery, associated buildings, and areas for everyone to see. I told him that I could keep my mouth shut, but I was really proud of him and everything that he was planning. He said “Well I had hoped that you might be proud enough to spend some quality time with me in Atlanta tonight.” I said “I can’t leave Ryan, he doesn’t know where I am and I didn’t pack for a trip.” He said “But, I did. I talked to Michelle, and Ryan is spending the night with her. Your clothes and toiletries are in the truck along with mine. So, what do you say to a night of celebration in Atlanta?” I could see that he had put a lot of planning into this idea and to the idea of spending some quality time together, so what else could I say but “I’m all about Atlanta, let’s go!” END of Chapter 8 – My Sons and Their Friends – The Freshman Year Sounds like some fun in Atlanta. How will things go? Will Phil be able to swing the deal for the new land? How will this affect his plans for the land near the development? Will Doug become an active partner in planning for this new endeavor? What will the boys think? Stay tuned as these and other questions might be answered in Chapter 9. Thanks for reading, and I really did enjoy reading your emails about Chapter 7. I hope Chapter 8 answered some of your questions and concerns. Feel free to contact me, I love hearing from you. Jay

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