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Gregory Patrick


Jaiden � Chapter 146

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Greg Patrick


“Sally, did you see the email from Leon and Peter?” “No, I haven”t, not yet; why?” “Seth wrote them a thank you note for taking him to see the elk in Cataloochee. They apparently made a considerable impression on Seth by taking the time to do that for him. I”m really proud of Seth for writing the thank you note; it”s the first time I”ve ever known him to do that.”


“Let me read it right quick.”


“Wow! For someone Seth”s age, this is a good thank you note.” “I thought so too.”


“Hello.” “Richard, this is Peyton. Did you get an email from Leon and Peter?” “I did, and I am beyond proud of Seth. I”ve never known him to write a thank you note before, especially a good note like the one he sent to Peter and Leon.” I agree; our little brother did a fantastic job. I hope he can visit with Leon and Peter this summer and perhaps do something he”s never done before, like trout fishing in one of the mountain streams near Leon”s and Peter”s home.” “That would be nice, Peyton, but it may spoil him.” “What”s so bad about that, Richard? That boy has gone through hell growing up, and he deserves to be spoiled.”


“I can”t argue with that, Peyton. I would love for him to spend time with Sally and me in Erie this summer. I miss him horribly, but at least I know he”s happy in Orange Beach.” “He is starting vet school in the middle of this month, so he may not take time off this summer. Maybe I”ll talk to Dad and get him to speak with Seth and suggest he spend time with you and Sally this summer.” “I would be appreciative if you would do that, Peyton.”


“Richard, I change my mind; I”m not going to do that, I”m going to get Jenny to do it. She can get Dad to do things I can”t, and she would be good at talking to Seth and getting him to go to Erie for the summer. I”ll talk to Mom since she and I work well together to accomplish mutual goals. If Dad ignores Jenny”s request, he”ll have to listen to Mom, or he”ll regret not listening to Jenny for a while.”


“Peyton, you know just how to work our parents, don”t you?” “Richard, I wouldn”t say I know how to work them, but I know who to go to.


“Hey, Jenny, this is jerk-butt, Sr., how are you?” “Peyton, I”m well; how about you.” “Sis, I”m well and in need of a favor.” “And that will be…so I know how much that favor is going to cost you?”


“Richard and Sally would like for Seth to come to Erie this summer and spend some time with them, and Leon and Peter want him to spend some time with them in Brevard. Do you think you could convince Dad to talk to Seth and get him to take the summer off so he can spend time with them?” “Peyton, do you think that it is fair to ask me to do that? You know I can and will do it. Seth has worked incredibly hard the past two-plus years getting ready for vet school, and I think it would do him good to have some downtime.” Let me do some calculating, and I”ll call you back at the end of the week.” “Thanks, sis; I love you!” “I love you too, jerk-butt.”


Mom, this is your female child progeny. Is Dad around?” “He is, Jenny, but he”s taking a nap.” “Don”t wake him; just ask him to call me when he”s good and awake.” “It sounds like you want him to do something.” “I do, Mom; how do you always know that?” “I”m your mother, dear, and I taught you well.” “Yeah, you did, Mom; thanks!”


“I want him to talk to Seth and see if he can get Seth to take the summer off before starting at the university so he can visit Sally and Richard. They asked Peyton if he could help them arrange that. I think it would be a good idea for Seth to have the downtime before jumping into a strenuous class schedule since he has worked so hard in college and high school this past year.”


“Jenny, your dad and I have talked about that, and I can tell you we totally agree.” Awesome, Mom; Leon and Peter have asked to spend some time with Seth as well, and I think they have planned out a host of places to take him, especially on the weekends.” “Let me talk to your Dad when he wakes up and get him to call you.” Thanks, Mom.” “You”re welcome, sweetie.”


“Hey, jerk-butt, I talked to Mom, and she”ll talk to Dad and then get him to call me. She said they had already talked about Seth needing some downtime, so I think Dad is keen on the idea and will help you. As soon as I hear something, I”ll call you. If Dad calls you, call and let me know what he says.” “I will, Jen; thanks so much for your help.” “You”re welcome, little brother.” “What? No jerk-butt this time?” “Nah, I love what you”re doing, and we need to work together to make it happen.” “Call me if Dad calls you first.” “Will do; love you.” “Love you more, Peyton!”


“Richard, I called Jenny, and she called Mom; Mom and Dad have already discussed Seth taking the summer off, so I think it”ll be a go. As soon as I hear from Dad or Jenny, I”ll give you a call.” “Thanks, Peyton; Love you.” “Love you more, Richard.”


Leon, this is Peyton. Dad talked Seth into taking the summer off to spend time with you and Peter. You two talk about when you would like to have him at your home and let Richard know. Seth will be spending some time with Richard and Sally as well. The babies will be here this summer, so Seth can spend some time with them, and they can get to know each other as much as possible.” “Thanks, Peyton; let me talk with Peter, and we”ll get a time nailed down and let you know.” “Good deal, bro, love you!” “Love you more, Peyton.”


“Peyton, what are you all smiles about?” “I love it when I conspire with Jenny to get mezitli escort something done, and the plan comes together like a well-baked cake.” “Love, the way you said that I don”t think I want to know what you and Jenny cooked up.” “Dad talked Seth into taking the summer off before beginning vet school so he can have some downtime with Richard and Sally and with Leon and Peter. They both asked if Leon could come up for a little while this summer, so I called Jenny; Jenny called Mom, and Mom talked to Dad. Since Mom and Dad had already discussed the idea, they agreed; so Dad convinced Seth it was a good idea.” “I agree, Peyton, and spending time with Sally and Richard will be good for both of them.” “Babe, I couldn”t agree more. Did you let the four of them know?” “I surely did, Jaiden, and they are as happy as larks.” “Good!”


“There are Daddy”s boys; did y”all have a good nap?” The children crawled up on the couch with their dads and snuggled closely. Abraham Dovid and Jason Scott looked at Peyton and asked, “Daddy, weed stowee?” They usually ask Jaiden to read to them, so Peyton melted like butter in a hot pot when they asked him. “OK, boys, get the book you want Daddy to read to you.”


“Abraham Dovid went to the bookshelf and retrieved “Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney. Peyton started reading: “Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, hung on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare”s very long ears…” The boys giggled as Peyton read the story, and as soon as he finished reading the book to them, they headed for the French doors to go outside to play. Jason Scott yelled, “Daddy, wittle Nutbwown wabbit when they got to the doors.”


Peyton and Jaiden walked to the French doors, and sure enough, there was a small brown rabbit in the backyard. Peyton went to the fridge and got a handful of broccoli, and some baby carrots, and threw them into the yard for the rabbit.


The boys giggled when they saw the rabbit go to and eat the vegetables. Then, they sat on the deck and watched him until he had eaten what Peyton threw to him and then crawled under the fence into the field behind the house. Jaiden said the boys enjoyed watching the rabbit as much as the Georgia fans watched as their team beat Alabama in the SEC playoffs in Indianapolis.


The following morning, Peyton got up, went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and saw Jaiden stretched out on the deck looking worried. Finally, he walked onto the deck and asked, “Jaiden, why the gloomy face?” “Jaiden didn”t say anything; he simply handed Peyton his phone.


When Peyton read the text Jaiden had received, he was shocked to his core. A friend of Jaiden”s from Abingdon was beaten severely by his dad after a guys” mom called the man and told him to keep his son away from hers, and told him why she was demanding that action. That night, he went into his son”s room and beat him unmercifully with a broom handle.


The other boy”s mom told the man she had found a tape of her son kissing his son. One thing led to another, and the man”s son found himself on the streets and severely depressed.


His name was Willard. He called the boy he was caught kissing, and they found a motel where they could be together without having to be scared. Willard”s friend was the night clerk at the motel and fixed the two up with a room.


They spent the night together, naked and in love. Later, they went to a spot in a park where Willard liked to go when he needed to be alone. Michael fell asleep while Willard stayed somewhat awake.


Willard said, “Michael, I love you,” and Michael went back to sleep. However, Willard wasn”t beside him when he woke up early the following day. Michael looked to his left and saw Willard hanging from a limb in a large oak tree; he had committed suicide.


The police responded, and Michael”s mother was called, and she drove to the park to get Michael and take him home. She was crushed that her son was devastated by her call to Willard”s dad that resulted in Willard”s death. Michael truly loved Willard, something his mother didn”t understand or try to understand; she was angry beyond belief.


When she realized how much her son was hurting, she realized what she had done. She couldn”t change what had happened, but she learned to love her son because he was a good person and had a right to love whomever he wanted.


“Peyton, do you realize that had Leon not been put in front of us, that could have been him?” “What if we never forgave him and never showed him we loved him, that we would always have his back? I can”t fathom him doing what Willard did; I wouldn”t be able to live with myself if Leon had taken his life because of depression.”


“Sweetheart, I am so sorry you lost your friend this way. I don”t know what to say except that I pray he is in Heaven, that he is happy, and will never have to experience the loneliness of being gay and always being persecuted for being who and what he is.”


“Peyton, I feel the same way, but damn, it hurts so badly.” Peyton sat on the deck swing, pulled Jaiden onto his lap, and held him as Jaiden held him in Orange Beach.


Dale and Charley got up, looked outside, and saw Jaiden was horribly upset. So, they closed the curtains at the French doors, got the children up, and fed them their breakfast. They didn”t go outside, and they kept the children inside until they knew Jaiden had reposed himself.


After an hour or so, Peyton came inside with Jaiden and prepared him something for breakfast. While the two ate their breakfast, Charley took the children outside to play so Jaiden”s depression wouldn”t affect them.


Dale stayed inside and cleaned the kitchen, and washed all the dishes. Then, he slipped Peyton a note and told him to take Jaiden upstairs and lay down with him, that he and Charley would watch the children. All the while, Peyton thought, “you”ve gotta love Charley and Dale.”


Jaiden and Peyton slept for a little over two hours before they got out of bed, showered, dressed, and took everybody to Tony”s for lunch. Jaiden perked up somewhat when the children asked for pepperoni `peetsa” instead of their usual skety.


For the rest of the day, Jaiden did the one thing that always made him incredibly happy: he played with his sons.


That night after the children had gone to bed, Dale prepared everybody a cup of coffee and took it out on the deck so they could sit and talk.


Jaiden told Dale and Charley what he had been upset about. That”s when Dale hugged Jaiden and said that he hurt with him and that Charley and he loved him and Peyton.


Jaiden spoke of how beautiful the night was but that he wished they were all back in Erie so he and Peyton could go to the overlook on Lake Erie and look at the city”s lights. Of all pozcu escort the places he enjoyed going to in Erie, that spot was his favorite.


Saturday morning, the guys got the children up, fed them breakfast, and got them ready to go to the synagogue for Saturday services.


When they got to the synagogue, the Rabbi saw Jaiden wasn”t looking very happy, so he asked Jaiden to meet with him briefly after the services.


When Jaiden met with the Rabbi, the Rabbi said he was concerned that Jaiden looked sad rather than his usual happy self. Jaiden related what had happened, and the Rabbi said he would put Willard on the upcoming El Malei Rachamim Prayer service. Jaiden thanked the Rabbi and joined his family to go out for Saturday lunch; he was still orthodox enough that he didn”t want any of the adults cooking on Saturday before sunset.


Jaiden asked the children what they wanted for lunch, and they all said, “kickin ivers.” So kickin ivers it was � at B. B. King”s Restaurant.


“Peyton, do you have any Beano on you or in the van?” “Jaiden, there is a bottle in the glove box.” “Good, I”m going to get the kids some broccoli salad. They love the stuff, and they deserve it after being so good all week.”


“Jaiden, are you sure you want them to eat broccoli salad? What if the Beano doesn”t work since it has been in the van all week?” “The van has been parked in the air-conditioned garage, so the Beano should be OK.” “But what if it isn”t?” “Peyton, if it isn”t OK, and the children get gassy in a bad way, you can drive the van, and I can walk home.” “OH, NO, JAIDEN! You aren”t getting off that easy; you drive the van, and Charley, Dale, and I will walk home.” “Peyton, did you know you have a mean streak?” “It”s not a mean streak, Jaiden; I have a sensitive nose.”


“Peyton, you”re saying you have a sensitive nose but you stay in bed, under the covers, and fart so badly that the sewage treatment plant smells better than the bedroom?” “Jaiden, I have you know that when I fart, it smells like roses!” “Sweetheart, I love you more than anything in this world outside of our boys, but I”ll have you know that saying your farts smell like roses is pure pontificated bovine fecal matter, and they smell like it too.” “Now you know you like the smell of my farts.” “I don”t like the smell of your farts � or mine for that matter � but I sure do like to plug the hole to stop them.” “Jaiden, do you have something you”d like to do on your mind?” “Maybe!”


Dale spoke up and said, “Jaiden, Peyton, you realize Charley and I are in the van � and so are the children.”


“Yes, but I don”t think what I said will get me in trouble.” “I”m sure you don”t and won”t � until the kids go to the nursery at the temple and tell the nursery workers that daddy likes to plug holes to stop farts.” “Oh, sorry, Dale, I meant I like to plug the rabbit holes in the back yard with dirt.” “Nice save, bro; let”s hope it works.”


When the crew got home, Jaiden walked to the French doors in the den and saw several rabbits in the backyard. “Hey, kids, come look at the rabbits in the backyard.” The children laughed at the antics of the rabbits playing and eating.


Jaiden took the opportunity to ask the children if they wanted him to plug the holes under the fence so the rabbits couldn”t get into the yard. Or, do they want him to leave the holes so the rabbits could get into the backyard to play; naturally, the children chose the rabbits.


Peyton was sitting on the couch with Jaiden, Dale, and Charley watching a movie when his phone pinged. He checked the phone, and Leon sent him a message with an attachment and asked Peyton to let him know if he could open the pictures in the text.


Peyton clicked on the message screen to open the pictures and was amazed at what he saw. “Guys, look at these pictures Leon just sent to us.”


Jaiden looked at the pictures and couldn”t believe the herd of deer resting in Leon”s and Peter”s backyard. He commented that the deer were beautiful with the snowy backdrop. The picture that surprised him the most was the red fox crossing the yard with a rabbit in his mouth. The fox didn”t seem intimidated by the deer or Leon and Peter sitting on the screened porch.


Leon”s text said they seemed to see something different every day. They love their home, the community around them, and all the craft businesses scattered around the mountains.


Classes started at Wellstone, and Leon had his first test and told Peyton he missed one question but still made a 95 on the exam.


He is enjoying Wellstone to the fullest and said he was incredibly comfortable with Melanie Griffith in the counseling center. She works closely with Leon to help him stay calm and focused.


“Leon, we got the pictures you sent. The deer are gorgeous with the snowy backdrop, and the fox was so cute, even if he did have a rabbit in his mouth.” “Peyton, the deer are pretty much around all the time, so Peter puts out cracked corn, and he bought a heated water bucket so they could have fresh, unfrozen water to drink.”


“We see the fox occasionally, but he gets more regular as he gets used to us. He doesn”t try and come up to us, and we don”t go in the yard when he is outside. The last thing we want to happen is to get bitten by a wild fox.” “Dad will be glad to hear that, Leon. He”s encountered some sick foxes in Orange Beach. So, if he is walking the property, he usually has his pistol on him.”


“I can understand that, Peyton. This home is so beautiful, and we have enjoyed seeing the wild animals that pass through the yard. However, there is one animal we named Stripey that we avoid as much as possible.” “Why is that, Leon?” “Stripey is a skunk. He eats corn with the deer, and they seem to get along well, so we leave Stripey alone.” “Too funny, my brother!”


“I hate to run, Peyton, but Peter just got home, so I need to get him something to eat and fix him a cup of coffee.” “OK, Leon. I love you and will talk to you later.” “Love you guys too, Peyton.”


The following morning, Peyton got a call from Harry Anderson. “Peyton, Harry Anderson here. Judge Pesco called to tell me that Leon”s bio-donor will plead guilty to Murder in the First Degree and accept a sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole.”


“I told him Leon is in school at Wellstone and that Peter is an emergency room Physician, so the Judge said he would have the sentencing hearing on Saturday so it wouldn”t interfere with Leon”s or Peter”s schedules. He said my Dad called and spoke with him. Dad told the Judge about your and your Dad”s medical schedules. Hence, he scheduled the hearing for Saturday week at 1 p.m. Would you mind letting your parents know about the hearing?” “Harry, I appreciate your letting escort bayan me know; I”ll call Mom and Dad right now.” “Thanks much, Peyton.” “Thank you, Harry.”


“High, Mom. This is your brightest, best, favorite child. Harry Anderson just called to let me know Judge Pesco has set the sentencing hearing for Leon”s bio-doner for Saturday week at 1 p.m., so the hearing won”t interfere with anybody”s schedules. The man is scheduled to plead guilty to First Degree Murder and accept a life sentence without the possibility of parole.”


“Mom, are you still there?” “I am, Peyton. The news caught me off guard. I was hoping that SOB would do that to take the stress off Leon; you have no idea how happy I am that you called to tell me that. Hold on a second, your Dad is walking into the room.”


“Jim, Peyton is on the phone about the sentencing for Leon”s bio-donor.” I hope he is calling to tell us I get a chance to get my hands on that son-of-a-bitch! I want to break every bone in his body.” “Honey, I know you do, but they aren”t going to let you do that.” “Yea, baby, I know that, and it pisses me off! Let me talk to Peyton for a minute.”


“Hey, jerk-butt, this is Dad. Your Mom and I will fly up Friday week if that is OK. Check with Leon and Peter and see if it is OK to fly into Brevard and stay with them on Friday night. I”ll rent a Lincoln Navigator, and we can drive to the hearing together. That way, I don”t have to argue with them about taking gas money for the trip. Plus, Peter can help keep Leon calm if he doesn”t have to worry about driving and everything else involved with the drive down to Tennessee.”


“Dad, you are so awesome! Jenny and I think you are the best Dad ever! You never disappoint us with the love you show to all your children.” “Peyton, I”m just trying to do what a responsible Dad should do. I”m going to look after my children and grandchildren until the day I die; it”s my favorite job in life. Although you have to admit, I had a wonderful teacher when I was growing up.” “That you did, Dad.”


“Leon, this is Peyton; I hate to bother you, but Dad asked me to call and see if it would be OK for us to fly into Brevard the evening of Friday week and stay with you and Peter so we can all travel together to the hearing Saturday week.”


“Peyton, I didn”t know the hearing would be Saturday week; when did you learn about that?” “Leon, I”m sorry; I thought Harry Anderson called you before calling me this evening.” “He”s on the phone with Peter now, Peyton, so that may be what they are discussing. Let me talk with Peter when they hang up, and I”ll call you right back.” “OK, Leon, talk to you shortly.”


“Leon, that was Harry Anderson; your bio-donor has decided to plead guilty to First Degree Murder and accept a sentence of life without the chance of parole.” “Peter, that is such a relief; I was dreading a drawn-out trial. Peyton called, and he, Mom, and Dad would like to fly to Brevard the evening of Friday week and stay with us so we can all drive down to the sentencing together.” “Babe, call Peyton back and tell him we think that is a wonderful idea; I”ll be off that weekend, so I can go to the sentencing with you.”


“Dad, this is Leon. I talked with Peter, and we think you, Mom, and Peyton flying into Brevard Friday week is a great idea. Besides, we”d love to see y”all. Will you bring Seth with you?” “Son, if we don”t, we will never hear the end of it.” “Good, Dad, we”ll see y”all Friday week.” “Leon, I”ll call Peyton and let him know.” “Thanks, Dad: I love you and Mom.” “We love you more, buddy!”


“Peyton, this is Dad; I talked with Leon and Peter, and we are all set for Friday week; we”ll meet you at the airport in Brevard around 6 p.m. if that is OK.”


“Dad, I”ll fly out of Memphis around 6:00; I have to work until 5, and then the hospital will let me off a little early; so I won”t be able to see you until around 6:30 or 7.” “OK, we”ll get our flight scheduled as close to yours as we can so we can get there at the same time.” “OK, Dad; see you Friday week around 7.”


“Jaiden, I”m about to head to the airport for my flight to Brevard.” “Peyton, come into the conference room with me for a second, please.” “What did we come to the conference room for?” “This, Babe.” Jaiden kissed Peyton, wished him a safe and comfortable trip, and told Peyton he loved him. “I love you too, sweetheart. I”ll call you tomorrow after everything is over.” “OK, I”ll keep my phone on me.”


Peyton arrived at the airport, went through TSA, and got on the plane for his trip. But, when he walked into the jet”s business section, he discovered he”d be sitting next to someone he knew: his parents.


“Mom, Dad, I didn”t know we”d be on the same flight.” “Son, we didn”t either until we found out there would be a 30-minute stopover in Memphis. But, you”ve gotta admit, Peyton, this works out beautifully.” “Mom, it really does. I can”t wait to see Leon and Peter. By the way, Mom, where is Seth?” “He”s sitting a bit further back, so it”ll be easier for him to see the clouds and mountains during the flight.” “Mom, as soon as we get into the air and the flight attendants permit it, I”ll go speak to him.”


“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Captain; we are at cruising altitude, so you may stretch your legs if you need to and move about the cabin with caution. Please follow the flight attendant”s directions as they look out for your safety.”


“Hey, buddy, you wanna get up and give your brother a hug?” “Peyton! I didn”t know we”d be flying together.” “Neither did I until I saw Mom and Dad sitting next to my seat.” “I wish I could sit with you.” “Seth, let me see what I can do.”


“Mam, the seat next to mine in the business section is vacant. Would it be possible for my little brother to sit with me; we didn”t know we”d be on the same flight together?” “Sure, sir, that will be fine.” “Thank you so much!” “You”re welcome, sir.”


“Seth, I thought you were sitting further back to look out the window at the sights.” “I was, Dad, but this old man came back and asked me to sit with him.” “Hey, Seth, I”m not an old man! You”ve been around Dad too much.” “Maybe, but you must admit, you got your heart rate up enough to consider it exercise.” “Brother, you”re too smart for your own good.” “Nah, I”m learning to pick on you as Jenny does.” “I should have known she”d rub off on you too much.” Seth didn”t say a word; he looked at Peyton and grinned.


At 7:10 p.m., the plane landed in Brevard. When Peyton, Seth, and their parents deplaned, Leon and Peter were standing at the turnstile, waiting for Leon”s parent”s luggage to come down.


“Guys, we were going to drive to your house so you wouldn”t have to be here.” “We know, Dad, but we thought we”d take y”all out for dinner when you got here.” “Great, but I”m paying.” “Dad!” “It”s either I pay, or we both have to argue with your mother.” “I concede, Dad.” “That”s a wise move, son. I conceded to her orders in Orange Beach.” Everybody laughed at that statement, but they knew it was true: nobody would argue with Mom because she always wins.

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