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Chapter 13 – Saturday

 

Saturday morning rolled around and I was awake early.  I pulled on some shorts and a shirt and headed out to the kitchen to get some coffee brewing and start working on some breakfast.  The smells of fresh coffee, bacon and sausage were finally influencing my house guests and I was hearing noises from the other end of the house.  Carol was the first to emerge from her bedroom.  She came into the kitchen and sat at a stool at the counter. 

 

“Anything I can do to help, Max?”

 

“I don’t think so, Carol.  Everything’s about ready.  I’m just about the head down and wake the boys.”  I took off down the hall and stopped at T.J. and Mike’s bedroom first.  After knocking, I pushed the door open to find both boys sitting on the edge of the bed, T.J. still nude and Mike in his pajamas.  “Are you two ready for some breakfast?”

 

“Just about”, T.J. answered.  “Mike’s been to the bathroom and I’m just heading there.”  He stood up and ambled slowly to the bathroom.

 

“Sounds good.  Make sure you both wash your hands, come out to kitchen and have a seat at the table.  And T.J., please put on of pair of shorts.  I was serious last night about wearing clothes in the rest of the house when other people are here.”

 

“Sure thing, Max.”

 

I turned and headed to the twins’ bedroom to repeat the process and heard light snoring through the door.  I opened the door, looked in, and found the boys all tangled up with each other and the covers on the floor.  How they could sleep tied in a knot like that was beyond my ability to comprehend.  I walked to the bed to wake them.  I gently shook Alex’s shoulder, told him it was time to wake up and come have some breakfast.  As he untangled himself from his brother, Joey started to open his eyes, also.  It was obvious as they rolled onto their backs that both would benefit from a quick trip to the john.  I told them to hit the bathroom, wash hands and come out to eat breakfast.  I also reminded them to pull on a pair of shorts before they came out to the kitchen.  They mumbled they would and I headed back to the kitchen to finish up and get food on the table.

 

When I got back to the kitchen, T.J. and Mike had joined Carol on a stool at the counter and were talking.  Mike was still in his pajamas and T.J. was shirtless, but at least he had on a pair of shorts.  I pulled plates out of the cabinet, handed them to T.J. and asked him to set the plates on the table.  I then handed Mike silverware and napkins for everyone and had him add those to the table.  Both boys seemed happy to help and the table was ready for our breakfast.  Joey and Alex stumbled down the hallway towards the kitchen.  Amazingly, they both had listened to me and had on shorts.

 

I asked them to get some glasses out of the cabinet for the four of them, while pointing to the cabinet, then fill them with milk and set them on the table.  Everything was finally ready and we sat down to eat.  Talk was light as the boys plowed through the eggs, bacon, sausage and toast.  I had to help Mike put some honey on his toast as he was having a hard time squeezing the silly bear.  Once we were all done eating, I asked the boys to take their dishes to the sink and then had them come back to the table.

 

“Okay, boys, what would you like to do today?”

 

T.J. was first to answer and he, of course, wanted to go swimming.  Mike wanted to play on the Xbox and the twins said they wanted to see more of my property.

 

“Okay, how does this sound to you?  Why don’t we take a walk through the snow and the woods for a while?  When we get back to the house, we can take a swim to warm up, then have lunch.  After lunch, we can relax in the theater and watch a movie and have some popcorn.  We can figure out the rest of the day after that.”

 

“Yeah, let’s go!”

 

“Whoa, buckos.  None of you are quite dressed for a walk in the snow.  Why don’t you head to your rooms, get on some warmer clothes, including two pair of socks?  When you’re changed, come back and we’ll head out.”  The four scampered to their rooms to get ready.  I turned to Carol and asked, “How, about it Carol, you going to join us.”

 

“I’ll pass, if you don’t mind, Max.  I’ve never been much for the cold.  If my parents didn’t live here, I’d probably be in Florida or Arizona somewhere else warm.  Besides, I need to call Anna and tell her about the Mueller’s and see if she has any thoughts on where the twins will go next.”

 

“No problem, Carol.  I’m the same way with the cold.  I don’t usually wander the woods this time of year, but I thought it would occupy the boys for a while.  Besides, your call is important.  I’ll be interested to hear what Anna says.  When you’re done with your call, if you’d like, feel free to grab a book from my study.  There’s plenty there to choose from.”

 

“I’d like that, Max.  I’ll curl up by the fireplace and read a bit.  You guys have fun out there and I’ll see you in a little while.” 

 

I headed to my room to get bundled up for a snowy trek through the woods and then met the boys by the front door.  We headed out and I led them to the nearest trail I had cut through the trees, one that usually took about an hour to hike in good weather.  As we walked, the boys were constantly chattering about the things they were seeing.  I suggested they might want to quiet down for a little bit as we were coming to a point on the trail where I frequently found deer.  The boys got all quiet and started tiptoeing through the trees.  As we turned a corner in the trail, we were not disappointed.  Six deer were straight ahead of us, grazing through the underbrush.  The boys were awestruck.  T.J. started to get closer and I grabbed his shoulder to hold him back.

 

“Hold on, there, T.J.  They might look tame, but they’re as wild as they can be.  They’ll tolerate us being here as long as we don’t get any closer.”

 

“Aw, man, I wanted to pet one.”

 

“Sorry, but these guys and gals aren’t pets that you can touch or hold.  If you tried, they’d either run off or knock you silly with their hooves.”

 

“That’s too bad,” Joey said, “I bet they’d make great pets.”

 

“Yeah, we could put up a fence in the yard and corral them,” added Alex.

 

“What’s this we stuff?  You don’t actually live here, you know.  Not yet anyway.”

 

“Yeah, we know,” Alex mumbled.  “Soon enough though, I bet.”

 

“I’m hoping for that also.  Well, you guys getting cold yet?  Ready to head back to the house and go for a swim?”

 

“Yeah,” they all hollered, scaring off the deer. 

 

We turned around and headed back to the house.  When we got back to the house, we headed in through the garage so we could remove our snow-covered clothes there instead of tracking snow throughout the house.  We all stripped down to our underwear then headed into the house.  I grabbed a towel from Joey and Alex’s bathroom so I could get through the house and past Carol without embarrassing myself or her.  While the boys got changed in their rooms, I headed to my bedroom to get changed for a swim, hearing a whistle behind me as I passed through the living room.  We met up in the living room to head out to the pool.  Carol got up to join us and caught up with the group as I unlocked and opened the door to the pool.  The boys tossed their towels on the table and jumped in the pool.  I sat with Carol to ask about her call to Anna.

 

“So, did you get in touch with Anna and, if so, what did she have to say?” I asked.

 

“I did.  She was less than thrilled about the Mueller’s skipping out, but when I told her why they did, she didn’t seem too unhappy about it.  I think Anna’s finally moving into the current century with her thinking.”

 

“And…?” I prodded.

 

“I gave her my thoughts and, surprisingly, she agreed with me.”

 

“Quit holding back,” I uttered, “What’s going to happen with Joey and Alex?  I can’t stand not knowing where they’re going tomorrow afternoon.”

 

“Well, Max.  I have one more call to make to finalize the plans, but I have to wait until I know the person’s available before I call.”

 

“When will that be?” I pushed.

 

“About an hour or so.  I’ll make the call as soon as I can.”

 

“It sounds like you’ve done all you can for now.  I guess I’ll join the boys in the pool for a bit.”

 

“You go right ahead, I’ll be right here reading and watching you guys play.”

 

I jumped in the pool, much to the delight of four rambunctious boys.  We spent the next hour swimming and playing.  I spent some more time with Joey teaching him to float and once he seemed to have it figured out, I moved on to help Alex.  Alex caught on to floating very quickly and it was T.J.’s turn.  The whole time I was working with those three, Mike was just swimming back and forth across the width of the pool.  He’d take a short break every 5 or so laps and then start up again. 

 

Once T.J. had floating mastered, I waded over to Mike and said, “You swim pretty well for a munchkin, Mike.  How’d you get so good?”

 

“It’s the one thing I liked to do that my mom and dad liked, too.  We lived in a trailer park that had its own pool and I’d go there every day I could.  Last summer, the park arranged to have YMCA lifeguards come in to give lessons to all the kids in the park.  It was great.  When the classes were done, I got a ribbon for being the best swimmer in the park.”

 

“I can see you learned a lot.  You might be able to help the others learn to swim better.”

 

“I can’t do that, they’re all older than me.”

 

“Just because they’re older, Mike, doesn’t mean they can’t learn from you.  I bet you’d do just fine helping them.”

 

“I don’t know, Max.  You think they’ll listen to a pipsqueak like me?”

 

“If I tell them they have to, they won’t have a choice, will they?”

 

“No, I guess not,” Mike giggled.  “Thanks, Max.”

 

“You guys getting hungry, yet?  I’m starving.”

 

“Yeah, let’s eat,” they screamed.  Man, they were loud inside that shelter.

 

“Okay, let’s get dried off, showered, dressed and fix some grub.”  We climbed out of the pool and grabbed our towels, and did a quick wipe-down before darting for the house.  Once inside, we headed for our bedrooms to get cleaned up.  After I was dressed, I headed to the kitchen to start the grill built in the stovetop so I could cook hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch.  I stopped at T.J. and Mike’s room to see if they were okay and finding they were, headed to check on the twins.  They were drying off, so I headed back to the kitchen to start the cooking.

 

When the boys returned to the kitchen, I had them set up the table again like they had done for breakfast.  I had to reach the plates for T.J., but the others were able to get the items they needed by themselves.  I offered Pepsi as drinks with lunch and that option was well-received.  Alex had gotten the glasses and Joey poured the drinks, then they each took two glasses and carried them to the table.  The table was set and ready in very short order, we just needed the food.  I asked Carol to get the chips out, then had Joey get the ketchup, mustard and relish out and on the table.  By the time those were ready, the meat was done. 

 

I set the platter of burgers and dogs on the table, then grabbed the buns.  Between Carol and I, we pretty quickly had the boys’ plates all set and it was our turn to fix our plates.  Lunch was a fairly quiet affair and the platter was soon empty signaling clean-up time.  I had the boys take their dishes to the sink while Carol and I started cleaning up the remaining items.  Alex and Joey seemed to charge with the dishes, first rinsing their own and then T.J.’s and Mike’s and stacking them all in the sink.  They came back to the table to get the last of the plates and proceeded to rinse and stack them with the others.  The kitchen was cleaned up in a heartbeat with all the help the boys added.

 

“Great job, boys.  Thanks for your help.  I could get use to this.”

 

“We’re just trying to do our part, Max,” Alex remarked.

 

“Yeah, we’re doing everything we can to have you pick us as the ones to adopt,” added Joey.

 

“Hang on there, hotrods, this is not a competition or a test.  Come here, all of you, take a seat on the couch.  We need to have a chat.”  I could tell that T.J. and Mike were unhappy with what the other two had said.  Just as I sat down to start the conversation, the phone rang.  I was going to ask Carol to grab it and take a message, but she had disappeared.  Bathroom break, I assumed.  “Hang on guys, I have to answer that.  Don’t go anywhere.  We’re still going to have a chat.”

 

I grabbed the phone in the kitchen on the fourth ring, “Max Sanders.”

 

A deep voice asked, “Is this Maxwill Sanders, the famous author?”

 

Great, I thought, a lunatic fan.  “Nope, sorry, you have the wrong number.”  I looked over at the couch and saw I had four sets of eyes watching as the boys kneeled on the couch, peering over the back at me.  I turned around so they couldn’t see my face as the call continued.

 

“Are you certain?  I was sure this was the right number,” the deep voice continued.  “Aren’t you the Maxwill Sanders who is hosting four young guests for the weekend?”

 

“Well, yes, I am, but how could you know that?”

 

The voice abruptly changed to one I immediately recognized, “Max, it’s Carol.  I’m calling from the bedroom,” she chuckled.

 

“Might I ask why you are doing this?” I quizzed her, but trying to sound disinterested so as not to attract too much attention from the boys.

 

“Sure,” Carol continued. “As I understand it, those four young guests are all looking for new and forever homes.  Is that correct?”

 

“You know it is.”

 

“Well, I thought you’d like to know that after our conversation this morning,  Anna has given her approval for you to adopt all four.  Do you think you can handle that?”

 

“Are you serious?”

 

“As a heart attack, Max.”

 

“When?”

 

“Well, the final paperwork needs to be completed and you will all have to go court in about six months for the official hearing in front of a juvenile judge, but with my recommendation, that’s just a formality.  And, if you want, the boys can go ahead and move in now.”

 

I was really trying hard to maintain my composure and sound natural.  “Sounds good.  Can I ask why we’re having this conversation over the phone and not in person?”

 

“I thought you’d like to tell the boys yourself.”

 

“Thanks, I’ll do that right now.”

 

I hung up the phone and took a moment to catch my breath and wits before turning around and walking back to couch to finally have my chat with the boys, a very different conversation than the one I had originally planned.  I sat on the table facing the boys, took a deep breath and began the conversation that would forever change our lives.

 

“Well, boys, it’s a good thing I answered that call as it was very important.”

 

“It was about us, wasn’t it?” asked Joey.

 

“You’re not going to adopt us after all, are you, Max?” added Alex.

 

T.J. dropped his head and I could see tears forming in Mike’s eye.

 

“You’re right Alex, I’m not going to adopt one of you?”

 

“Why not!?  I thought you liked us.”

 

“Oh, I do.  More than I should after such a short time together.  But that’s why I’m not adopting just one of you.”

 

“Huh?  What you spoutin’ Max?”

 

“Nope, I decided adopting one of you wasn’t going to work because I could never pick just one of you.  So, I’m doing the only logical thing and I’m going to adopt all four of you.”

 

“No shit!!  Yee-ha!!” yelled Joey as he jumped off the couch and started dancing.  He abruptly stopped and said, “Oops, sorry Max, that slipped.”

 

“It’s okay this time, young man.”

 

“When do we get move in?” asked Alex.

 

“Last night,” I said.

 

“Really, we get to stay and not go back to our other homes?”

 

“Yep.  You guys good with that?”

 

“You bet!!”

 

Joey, Alex and T.J. started a little happy dance when I finally noticed Mike was curled into ball on the couch and appeared to be crying.  I sat down next to him and pulled him up in my lap.  He was most definitely crying.

 

“Hey, Mike, what’s up?  Didn’t you hear, you get to stay here with T.J., Alex and Joey and become my sons.”

 

“Yeah, but I like Mr. and Mrs. Kirkland.  I’ll miss them.”

 

“I’m sure you will, buddy.  Don’t worry, you’ll still get to see them.  I’ll make sure of that.”

 

“You will?” he sniveled.

 

“Of course, I will.  Would you like to call and tell them the news?”

 

“Really?  I can do that?”

 

“Of course, you can.  Come on.  You other three, quiet down for a minute, Mike needs to make a phone call.”

 

“Who’s he calling.”

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Kirkland.  He wants to tell them the news about being adopted.  And when he’s done, I think T.J. should call the Hamilton’s and let them know, also, okay.”

 

“Sure thing, that’s a great idea,” T.J. answered.  “They were hoping things would work out this time.”

 

“Wait, you’ve been through this before and nobody followed through.”

 

“Yep, this is my fourth home visit.”

 

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that, T.J., but no more.  You have a home now! And three new brothers, to boot.”

 

“I get to kick ‘em!?  Cool, come here you two, Max says I get to kick you.”

 

“No, I didn’t, T.J., you misunderstood.”

 

“Rats.  I was lookin’ forward to it.  Maybe later,” he laughed.

 

“Come on you two, let’s go make those calls.  Carol, can you do me a favor and make sure these other two don’t tear down the house while we call the Kirkland’s and Hamilton’s so the boys can tell them the good news.”

 

“Sure, you go on.”

 

“Thanks, Carol.  I think we’ll use the phone in the study.  It should be quieter in there.”

 

“Ha!  I have no doubt.”

 

Mike, T.J. and I headed for my study.  I took a seat at the desk and asked, “Who wants to go first?”  Mike raised his hand.  I pulled him over and set him in my lap.  I put the phone on speaker and dialed the number Paul had given me last night.

 

“Hello?” Paul answered.

 

“Good afternoon, Paul, this Max Sanders.  How are you today?”

 

“Good, Max, how are you and the boys doing?  I worry about Michael.”

 

“We’re all doing just great, Paul.  Thanks for asking.  Is your wife close, Michael has something he’d like to tell you both.”

 

“Sure, hang on a second.”  Paul covered the phone and I heard him call, “Joy, come here, Michael’s on the phone and wants to tell us something.”  He came back to our call, “She’s coming.”

 

“No problem, Paul, do you have a speaker on the phone so she can listen, too?”

 

“Sure, let me switch it on.”  Paul made the switch just as his wife came in the room.  “Okay, Joy’s here and we’re on speaker.”

 

“Michael, it’s Joy, how you doin’?”

 

“I’m great Mrs. Kirkland.  Hi Mr. Kirkland.”

 

“Hi, Michael.  What’s this news that couldn’t wait?”

 

“Well, Max, um, Mr. Sanders just got a phone call and after the call, he told us he gets to adopt all four of us.”

 

“Wow!  That’s great news,” Paul said.  “Congratulations Max and Michael.”

 

“Oh, Michael, that’s just wonderful.  We’re going to miss having you, though,” added Joy.

 

“I’ll miss both of you, too, but I’m getting a new dad and three new brothers.  I never had brothers before.  It’s gonna’ be great!”

 

“Paul, Joy, Max again.  Michael wanted to be the one to tell you the news.  I got off the phone no more than five minutes ago, and he couldn’t wait to call.”

 

“When will he be moving in with you, Max?” Paul asked.

 

“Well, that’s what’s gonna’ be a bit weird.  According to Carol, he moved in last night.”

 

“Oh my, that’s awful quick.  Are they sure about this?” Joy asked.

 

“Yeah, they are guys.  After the incident with Frank and Iris at Steak ‘n Shake last night, Carol made some calls this morning and made arrangements for Joey and Alex to just stay here instead of trying to find another foster family for a couple of weeks or months.  Since they were bending rules for those two, they decided to bend them for the other two.”

 

“What incident, Paul?  You didn’t tell me about anything that happened,” Joy commented.

 

“I’ll tell you later Joy.  Listen, Max, what do you want us to do with Michael’s other things that are still here?”

 

“Well, we could come in later this afternoon or evening to pick them up, if that’s okay with you?  The only problem is my car’s a Mustang and doesn’t have a lot of room, so we’d probably have to make a couple trips to get everything.”

 

“No problem, Max, but it sounds like you have plenty other things to deal with today.  How ‘bout we pack his things up and bring them out to you?  That would give us a chance to goodbye to Michael.”

 

“Yeah, you’re right, I have more than enough to deal with now.  It’d be a great help to us if you don’t mind making the trip.”

 

“No problem, Max, we’ll be glad to help any way we can.  I can bring Joy up to speed on last night as we put things together.  Shouldn’t take us too long and we could be there in a couple hours.”

 

“That would work out fine, Paul.  Say, I was planning to order pizza for supper tonight, would you two like to join us?”

 

“Sure, Max, we’d like that.  Should we bring anything with us?”

 

“Just your appetites, I’ll have everything else covered.  Let me give you directions to the house.” 

 

“Just give me the address, Max.  We have satnav in the car and I’m sure it can find you.”

 

“Okay, here it is.”  I gave them the address and phone number just in case their navigation unit wasn’t updated and needed to call.  “Thanks, again, folks, we’ll see you in a while.”

 

I punched the button to disconnect the phone, told Mike to go out with his brothers while we called T.J.’s foster-parents.  Mike scooted off my lap and ran out to the living room.  T.J. then hopped up and filled my lap again.  I dialed the number for the Hamilton’s.

 

“Hamilton house, who do you want to talk to?” a young voice answered.

 

“Hi, is your mom or dad there?  This is Max Sanders.”

 

“Yeah, hang on.”  I heard a clunk as the phone was laid down and a kid yelling, “Mom!  Phone’s for you.  Some Sandy dude.”

 

T.J. laughed, “That’s Olivia, no manners at all.”

 

Nancy picked up the phone, “Hello?  Max?”

 

“Hi, Nancy, yes, this is Max Sanders.  We met last night at Steak ‘n Shake when you brought T.J. out.”

 

“Is everything alright?  I wasn’t expecting to hear from anybody until tomorrow afternoon.”

 

“Things couldn’t be better, Nancy.”

 

“Oh, thank goodness.”

 

“T.J.’s here, too, and he has something he’d like to tell you himself.  Is your husband home so he can hear this, too?”

 

“No, George is at work, again.  Hi Thomas, what’s going on.”

 

“I got some great news, Mrs. Hamilton.  Mr. Sanders can adopt me!  And the others, too!!  I’m finally getting a real home,” T.J. squealed.

 

“Oh, that’s great Thomas.  I’m so happy for you and the others.  This is a wonderful thing you’re doing, Max.  Life-altering, but wonderful.”

 

“It will surely change life around here, no doubt about that.  For the better, I’m hoping.”

 

“Oh, for sure, Max.  There’s nothing better in this world than being a parent.”

 

“Now, what arrangements can we make to pick up T.J.’s other belongings?  Mike’s foster-parents are going to bring his stuff out in a while and are going to join us for a pizza dinner.  Would you and your family like to join us?  We have plenty of room for everyone.”

 

“I’ll have to call George and ask him, but I think that’ll be fine.  To be honest, T.J. didn’t have a lot when he came to live with us, so it won’t take long to pack it up.”

 

“You’d be doing me a huge favor, Nancy.  I appreciate it.”

 

“Oh, happy to help.  I’m just so happy for Thomas.  I’ll call George right now and let him know our evening plans have changed.  Give me your address, Max, and we’ll see you in a little bit.”

 

I gave Nancy the address and we hung up.  I lifted T.J. off my lap and we headed back to the living room, me walking and T.J. dancing the cutest little happy dance I have ever seen.

 

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