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Chapter 57 – Confrontation

 

“Good morning,” Dr. Schaid greeted us as we sat on the couch in her office and Tom wrapped his hand around mine.  “It’s nice to meet you.  Let’s start with which one of you is Mr. Sanders, please.”

 

I raised my free hand in acknowledgement and said, “That would be me, and please, I go by Max.  This is my fiancé, Tom Wright.  It’s okay for him to be here, isn’t it?”  Tom gave her a little wave and crooked smile.

 

“Of course, it is, Max.  Our sessions are for you, so, whatever makes you more comfortable.  Before we get started, you should know that Dr. Kirkland has given me a little bit of background about why you’re here.  As I understand the issues, you’re dealing with the rather sudden recovery of memories you’d repressed for what, twenty years or so, right?  Memories of some rather severe sexual abuse.”

 

“Yes, and I’d just as soon forget it all, again, but Dr. Kirkland told me that would be very self-destructive.  That now that those memories are back out in the open, it’ll be easier to deal with them.  Not too sure I believe that.”

 

“No, he’s absolutely right.  One thing to keep in mind as we travel this road together, we can’t do anything to help you if we don’t know what you want or need help with.  Also, whatever we discuss in your sessions will remain confidential unless you give me permission to discuss your case.  That would include any possible court proceedings.  Without your permission to do so, I can’t say anything.”

 

“I’m aware of that.  I’m just trying to avoid having to relive it again and again and again.  I know avoiding my problems won’t solve a damn thing, but that’s exactly what I want to do.  I just want my life back.”

 

“Most of my patients start out feeling the same way, but they come to see the value in being open and honest as their lives slowly improve.  Why don’t you start by telling me how you feel about the memories you’ve recovered so far?”

 

“If there ever was a loaded question, Dr. Schaid, that’s it.  How do I feel?  I feel hate, anger, disgust, fear, helplessness, frustration, rage, loathing, aloneness, sadness, hate … wait, I already said that, didn’t I?”

 

“And for whom do you feel all those emotions?”

 

“The Muellers, the church, myself, my parents, my sister, damn near everybody and everything.”

 

“Max, I won’t sugarcoat this.  We have some serious work ahead of us, but you’ll get through it and be stronger than you ever have been.  Are you ready for that?”

 

“Guess we’ll find out together, won’t we, doc?”

 

 

I slid the envelope inside my jacket and zipped it shut.  “About as ready as I’ll ever be.  Let’s do this.”

 

Derek and I walked into the church together and I said, “Come with us, Henry.  We may need your help in a moment.”  We continued down the corridors until we reached Michelle’s office where I asked, “Is Pastor Warren still hiding in his office?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Well, we’re ready to start our work and I need to talk to him for just a moment before we do.  I’ll just knock on his door.”  I stepped over to Warren’s door and gave it light rap while testing the knob to find it was, truly, locked.  “Pastor, this is Sergeant Brock and Deputy Timmons, we need to have a short chat before we begin our work.”  I waited for a few moments and when he didn’t respond, I knocked again, just a bit more forcefully than I’d done before.  “Pastor, if you don’t come out to talk, we’re coming in.”  After another short wait with no response from within, I stepped back and kicked at the door knob to break in.

 

As the door flew open, I was mortified to find Warren laid back in his chair, eyes and mouth wide open, skin turning bluish-gray and an open pill bottle in the middle of the desk.  “Well, shit, I sure didn’t see that comin’,” I muttered to no one in particular.  “Derek, check him out, though we all know it’s a waste of time, then call the morgue and get them out here.  Find his keys, too.  Henry, Andrew, guard the front doors and don’t let anybody in except for Zach, Perry and the medical examiner.”  My guys followed their orders and while they were all otherwise occupied, I stepped into Michelle’s office to deliver some bad news.

 

“What’s going on?” she asked.

 

“I’m afraid I have some bad news for you and the church, Michelle.  It pains me to be the one to tell you, but Pastor Warren has taken his own life.”

 

“WHAT!?  Oh, my God.  WHY!?!?  What am I gonna tell mom?”

 

“What did I miss?” I asked.

 

“He’s my dad!” Michelle screamed.

 

I hustled around the desk and pulled Michelle into a hug to try to comfort her.  “I’m so sorry, Michelle.  I had no idea.”  I let her weep into my chest until Derek came into the office shaking his head ruefully.  Seeing the confused look on his face, I let him know Michelle was much more than just the secretary here.  When she had finally gotten some control back, I gently set her back in her chair and asked, “What’s your mom’s name and where do you live, Michelle?  I’ll have Derek go pick her up and bring her here to be with you.”  She gave me a name and an address that was just a few blocks away and I dispatched Derek to retrieve her, but not before I had him give me Warren’s keys.  I still had a task to perform.

 

“Michelle, there are going to be a bunch of people here very shortly.  I don’t want you to hear the conversations we’re going to have or see what happens next.  Why don’t you let me take you to the sanctuary and you can wait there with Henry or Andrew until Derek comes back with your mom?”  She nodded numbly, so I helped her stand again and led her to the sanctuary.  Once she was seated in a front pew, I stepped into the corridor and asked, “Henry, would you please come keep an eye on Michelle?  If she needs anything, get it for her.”  As he headed my direction to do as I asked, I knew this was my opportunity to correct my biggest fuck-up from yesterday.  As I headed back down the corridor to the door Andrew was still guarding, I asked, “Andrew, would you watch the front door?  I sent Henry to keep an eye on Michelle.”

 

“Sure thing, Sarge.”

 

As we passed each other in the corridor, I thanked him and the stopped in front of Warren’s office.  As soon as Andrew rounded the corner, I quietly slid over to the locked office and, after pulling on a pair of gloves, I retrieved the key from my pocket and unlocked the door.  After stepping inside, I closed the door behind me.  I flipped on the lights and, using Warren’s keyring, I found he did, indeed, have the keys to the file cabinets there.  Guess we answered the question as to his involvement in events.  After unlocking the cabinet I needed to access and removing the steel bar, I pulled out the third drawer.  I removed the FedEx envelope from inside my coat, tore it open, retrieved the contents and slipped Max’s file back into the cabinet, right where it was originally.  I then replaced the steel bar and relocked the cabinet.  After taking just a moment to review everything and make sure I hadn’t missed anything, I turned the light back off and exited the office while ensuring the door was locked again.

 

I breathed a huge sigh of relief in the corridor as I peeled the gloves back off my hands and stuffed them in my coat pocket.  Now, I just had the FedEx envelope to deal with.  After a quick look around, I crossed over to the men’s bathroom and stood in the stall, shredding the envelope and flushing the bits into oblivion.  That done, I took another deep breath, stepped back out into the corridor and headed for the front door to wait with Andrew for Zach, Perry and the medical examiner to arrive.  As I made my way through the church, I pulled out my phone and sent a quick text saying, ‘Mission: Accomplished’.  I was slipping my phone back into my pocket as I turned down the corridor to the front door.

 

 

“Well, Max, we’re reaching the end of our time today.  And we’ve covered a lot of ground.  Now that I know what we’re dealing with, we can come up with a plan of attack to help you reintegrate these memories in a proper manner and deal with your feelings about them.  Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?  And what about you, Tom?  You’ve been awfully quiet.  What would like to see happen next?”

 

“Tom suggested I may want to write about what I’ve been through.  I hope you don’t think the same.”

 

“Actually, Max, I was going to suggest that.  Some of my patients have written remarkable stories of their lives as we’ve worked through their problems.  Admittedly, some haven’t, but I do tend to see better outcomes from those that do.”

 

“Great,” I muttered.  “Just another chance to relive all that crap.”

 

“I know you don’t see it right now, but writing can be very therapeutic.  It gives you a chance to really think about the things that are important to you, what you hope to accomplish and where you want to go from here.  And since you have a history of writing, rather good books I’d like to add, I think doing so about this would help you immensely.”

 

“So, you do know who I am.”

 

“Of course, I do.  I go to great lengths to know who I’m working with, Max.  And even if I didn’t, I’d most certainly recognize you.  I really enjoyed reading your books.”

 

“Well, if I’m going to write about this nightmare, also, I guess you’ll get a sneak preview of my next book, won’t you?  Though I have to admit, my writing did help me, in a roundabout way, come to terms with who I am.”

 

“Max, please, you don’t have to write a book about it, just your feelings and thoughts.  Your hopes and aspirations, what you want to achieve with your life from here on.  Now, what about you, Tom?  You seem to be itching to ask a question.  Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

 

“Well, Max has this crazy idea about confronting the people who abused him.  I think it’s a horrible idea and I can’t see anything good coming from it.  Do you think that’s a wise thing to do?”

 

“If it’s something Max wants to do and it can be arranged, then, by all means, do it.  At this point, there’s really nothing to lose.  Some people find some relief by directly confronting their abusers.  It’s a chance for Max to tell his abusers they no longer have any control over him, that he’s taking back what they stole from him all those years ago.   Others, though, never regain the strength or resolve to follow through on that dream.  If Max feels like he’s ready for that to happen, it’s not for us to question it, we just need to try and make it happen for him.”  Jean turned to look at Max and asked, “Are you sure you’re ready to confront your abusers?”

 

“No, but I know I have to at some point or I’ll never get any peace.  And the sooner, the better.”

 

“Do you know where they are and can a meeting be arranged?”

 

“They’re in jail and we’ve already set it up.  We’re headed there next,” Tom answered.

 

“I wasn’t aware of that,” Jean responded.  “That certainly makes it an easier situation to deal with then, especially since there won’t be any chance of any physical interaction.  Under those circumstances, I think it will be a positive for Max.”

 

“We’ll find out shortly, I guess,” Tom begrudgingly agreed.

 

“Well, gentlemen, I think that will end our session for today,” Jean said as she stood.  “You can exit through this door.  It leads straight to the hallway so anybody in the waiting room won’t see you.”

 

As I stood, I shook Jean’s hand and said, “Thanks for your time.  I know I’m not going to enjoy our times together, but I also know I need them.”

 

“No need to thank me, Max.  I’m here any time you feel the need to talk.  Shall we make Tuesdays at ten a regular appointment for you?”

 

“Probably, yes.  For about the next ten or twenty years,” I chuckled.

 

“However long you need me, I’ll be here for you, just as Tom is.  Well, maybe not just like Tom, since you aren’t going to be marrying me, are you?”

 

“No, I don’t think that would work out too well,” I laughed.  “This sweet guy has my heart and everything attached to it.  I guess I’ll see you next week then.”

 

“I’ll be here.  And if you need anything before then, don’t hesitate to call.”

 

Tom and I took our leave and as we walked to the car, he pulled out his cell phone.  After a brief glance, he said, “If I’m translating this correctly, your visit with the Muellers is a go.”

 

“Then, let’s quit wastin’ time.  I’m actually looking forward to this.  I can’t wait to see their faces when they find out I’m the one who fucked them.  Life’s sweet when you get the be the fucker and not the fuckee.”

 

We settled into the Shelby and headed deeper into town for me to face the past, yet again.

 

 

Just as my patience was about to wear out, Zach and Perry finally arrived in their van and the medical examiner was following right in their tire tracks.  Both pulled up to park next to my car and as Zach exited his vehicle, he asked, “What’s the meat wagon doin’ here?”

 

“Because we have a body inside.  Unless, of course, you want to deal with it?”

 

“Yuck, Sarge, don’t be sick.  You know I don’t deal with dead folks.  Never gonna happen.”

 

“Then I suggest you and Perry wait outside while they deal with Pastor Warren, okay?”

 

“He’s dead!?  What the hell happened?”

 

“From initial appearances, it looks like a drug overdose.  The medical examiner will be the final judge of that verdict though.  And speaking of the Grim Reaper, here he comes.  Greetings, Sebastian.  How goes the war?”

 

“Can’t seem to win for losin’, Sergeant.  Every time I get my tables cleared off and cleaned up, somebody always seems to find a way to fill ‘em back up.  What, or shall I say, whom do we have here, Sergeant Brock?”

 

“We have Pastor Warren Lancaster, expired at his desk, with an empty pill bottle in plain view.  I assume that to be the cause of death unless you rule otherwise.  No evidence of foul play since he was alone in a locked office.  And please be careful how you speak inside.  His daughter is the church’s secretary and is currently in the sanctuary with one of my guys.  Her mother, the Pastor’s wife, should be here shortly.”

 

“Now, Sergeant, you, of all people, should know how I discuss these situations around others.  I’m nothing if not discreet and respectful.”

 

“I’m well aware of that, Sebastian, just wanted to give you a heads up.”

 

“Where’re we headed?”

 

“Straight down the corridor inside about thirty feet, then take a right.  You’ll find your victim in the second office on the left.  Let me know when you’re done and we can take over.”

 

“As always.  Come on, Chris, grab the gurney and let’s get this over with.”  The two began their trek of doom and, as I turned back to face the street, I saw Derek returning with Mrs. Lancaster.  After parking the car, Derek assisted Mrs. Lancaster and they joined me under the drive-up’s awning.

 

“Are you in charge here?” she demanded as she strode towards me with purpose.  “This young man wouldn’t tell me a thing except I was needed and had to come with him.  He wouldn’t even let me drive myself.”

 

“I apologize if he seemed heavy-handed, ma’am, but I didn’t want you to have to try and drive after you hear my news.  Let’s step inside and join your daughter in the Sanctuary.  We can talk there.”  The three of us entered the church and after reaching the sanctuary, Mrs. Lancaster made a beeline for her daughter and pulled her into her arms.  The poor girl seemed to be catatonic, but considering the circumstances, that was understandable.

 

I sat on the pew with Mrs. Lancaster and Michelle.  After getting her attention, I said, “I have the sad task of letting you know your husband has passed away.”

 

“WHAT!? How!? Why?”

 

“I don’t have those answers just yet, ma’am, but what I can tell you is we wanted to talk to him this morning.  Michelle told us he was locked in his office and had been since they got here this morning.  When I knocked on his door and announced our presence, he didn’t respond.  After another attempt with no response, I forced the door open.  Deputy Timmons and I found your husband sitting in his chair and there was an open pill bottle on his desk.  After determining there was nothing we could do for your husband, I sent Deputy Timmons to bring you here to be with your daughter and notified the medical examiner to take care of your husband.”

 

“I want to see him,” she demanded.

 

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but that’s not possible right now.  When the medical examiner completes his work and is ready to leave, you can see your husband then.”

 

“This just doesn’t make any sense.  Warren was so happy here.  He loved his congregation and despite the long hours he invested in this ministry, I’ve never seen him so content.”

 

“Mrs. Lancaster, please know how sorry we are for your loss.  I know the pain you’re feeling right now.  I’ll do everything I can to minimize your anguish, but I also have to warn you that we may have some questions for you in a few days that only you will be able to answer.”

 

“Ask me whatever it is you think I can tell you.”

 

“Not right now, ma’am, not today.  All I can tell you at this moment is we’re in the middle of an investigation and when we know more, we’ll deal with our questions then.”

 

“I know what happened here last night, Warren and Michelle could speak of nothing else.  Do you think my Warren knew what was going on and did nothing?  That’s simply not possible.  You don’t know my husband.”  No lady, I don’t.  And you sure as hell didn’t know him either.  “Warren loved children and would never allow harm to befall an innocent.”  You’re half-right, there, honey, just not the half you think.

 

“As I said, Mrs. Lancaster, we will talk about it later.  Right now, you need to concentrate on your daughter and the two of you will need to help each other get through this difficult time.  I’m going to check on the medical examiner and see what progress he’s made.  I’ll leave Henry here with you two.”

 

Derek and I left the Sanctuary and headed for the pastor’s office.  We arrived just as Sebastian and Chris were placing Warren’s body on the gurney.

 

“You need any help?” I asked.

 

“Nope, we got him,” Chris answered.  We waited as they got Warren’s body positioned and the bag zipped shut.  I noticed Sebastian had closed his eyelids and mouth.

 

“So, doc, what’s your preliminary findings?”

 

“I’m inclined to agree with you on the drug overdose.  The narcotic he had would kill a horse.  This poor man never had a chance.  From his liver temp, I’d say maybe one to two hours ago.  A little lividity in the legs, of course, but no rigor, yet.”

 

“Did you find any kind of note he might have left behind?”

 

“Nothing on his body or on the desk.  His computer’s on, so he may have left something there.  If he did, that’s for your geek squad to deal with.  We’re ready to go.  I’ll have more details for you once we complete the autopsy.”

 

“Thanks, Sebastian.  His wife and daughter are still in the sanctuary and may want to see him before you leave.  You okay with that?”

 

“Up to them.  I’ll try to dissuade them, but if they demand to see him, I won’t stop them, either.”  Derek and I stood back and watched as Sebastian and Chris wheeled the body away.  We stood in silence for a moment and waited to see if our assistance would be needed as they left the church.  We finally heard some discussion taking place and then the zipper on the body bag being opened.

 

The next thing we heard was a peal of anguish that morphed into outright rage as Mrs. Lancaster screamed, “Warren, you selfish bastard!  What have you done!?”  When she quieted down, we heard the zipper again, then the wheels of the gurney squeak as Pastor Warren Lancaster continued his final journey from the church.  Next stop, the M.E.’s office for the ultimate insult to a life gone horribly wrong.

 

Knowing Perry and Zach would join us momentarily, Derek turned and quietly asked, “Did you get it done, Sarge?”

 

I looked at him quizzically and replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Deputy.”

 

“You know, getting Max’s file back where it belonged.”

 

“Deputy, get a hold of yourself.  Whatever you’re thinking never happened.”

 

“What was that, boss, I think my brain just cramped.  I forgot what we were talkin’ ‘bout.”

 

“Good.  See if you can keep it that way.”  I’d whispered my response, but Derek could definitely hear the seriousness of my words from my tone.  The words had no sooner left my mouth than Perry and Zach came around the corner, cases in hand.  “Morning, again, gents.  Ready to get to work?”

 

“Ready as we’ll ever be, boss.  What’re we doin’ today?”

 

“Zach, you’re the computer freak.  I want to dig through Warren’s computer and see what you might find.  Look especially hard for anything that might explain his untimely death.  Perry, I want you to continue your work in the stairway and the room below.  When Zach’s done with the computer, he’ll join you downstairs in hell.”

 

“Gee, thanks, boss,” Perry replied sarcastically, “You’re all heart.”

 

“And don’t you ever forget it, Perry,” I grinned while patting him on the shoulder.  After pulling on a fresh pair of gloves, I opened the office, turned on the lights and located the release for the hidden door.  Once his access was restored, Perry got back to his work in the stairway while Zach attacked the computer in the office next door.  Derek and I headed out to our cars to retrieve the boxes we’d brought with us to haul away the files and anything else we found.

 

As we passed the sanctuary, Mrs. Lancaster came out and asked, “Do you have someone who can take us home, please.  I have a church membership list there that I can use to start making phone calls and let the board know what’s happened this morning.  I feel that’s something I should do, but I prefer to not do it here.”

 

“Of course, Mrs. Lancaster.  Henry, please drive these two ladies home and then come back.  We’ll need your help.”

 

“Sure thing, Sarge.  Ladies, come with me.”

 

Henry led them out the front door and to his car as Derek and I followed along to retrieve our boxes.  As we reentered the church, I had Andrew join us so he could help with emptying the file cabinets.  Once in the office, I said, “Okay, the first thing we need to do I see what’s in these file cabinets.  Andrew, you take the left, I’ll take the center and Derek, that leaves the one on the right for you.”  We each pulled open the top drawer of our cabinet and goggled at the sheer number of files contained within.  Acting as if I hadn’t known what was inside for Andrew’s benefit, I let go a low whistle and shook my head.  Time to put my acting chops to work.  “Okay guys, I have a bunch of file folders labeled with names and dates.”

 

Derek caught on immediately and added, “Same here, Sarge.”

 

“Over here, too, boss.”

 

“The first file I have here is dated about 15 years ago.  What’s yours Andrew?”

 

“About thirty years.”

 

“Mine starts about eight years ago,” Derek added.

 

“Okay, first thing we need to do is see if we can locate a file with our complainant’s name.  He alleges his abuse was about twenty years ago, so let’s see if we can locate that approximate time.  Since the oldest seems to start in the left cabinet, check it first, Andrew.”

 

“Last file here is about twenty-six years ago.”  He closed the top drawer and opened the second.  “First file is right after the last in the drawer above and the last date is … twenty-two years old.”  After closing the second drawer, he moved on to the third.  “Same thing, first one is right after the last in the previous drawer and the last date is … eighteen years old.  Should be in here, Sarge.  What name we lookin’ for?”

 

“Max or Maxwill Sanders.”

 

Andrew started his search at the front of the drawer and worked his way back, folder by folder while Derek and I had a quiet discussion about nothing.  When he reached the middle of the drawer, “Might have it here Sarge, the date’s about right, but the name is Maxie Sanders.”

 

“Give me the file and hold that spot, Andrew.  If this isn’t our complainant, we want to put it back where it was and keep looking.”  I opened the file and described the contents.  “Okay, I have three discs, marked as DVDs, labeled with the same name on the folder and dated, one disc for each year our complainant alleges the abuse occurred.  Next, we have …,” I paused as I made of show of counting the pictures, “nine, no, ten pictures.  One juvenile male and one adult male and female.  Jesus, this is some sick shit.  Victim appears to be fourteen or so.  That also matches our complainant’s description of being abused by two adults.  There is a resemblance to our complainant, but I can’t be certain.  Derek, what do you think?”

 

“I don’t want to look at that shit,” he protested.

 

“But you’re the only other person here who knows what our complainant looks like today.  Here, I’ll flip one of the pictures over and cover everything but the victim’s face.  Will you look at it then, tell me if you think it’s a match?”

 

“If I have to,” he muttered, scrunching his face in disgust.  After rearranging the pictures, I showed it to Derek.  “Shit, boss, that poor kid looks like he’s howling in pain.  But, yeah, I guess it could be a match.  Take it away, I don’t want to see no more.”

 

I put the pictures back in their original order and closed the file.  “Okay, I’m going to say we have a match with our complainant.  Derek, bag this file and set it aside.  I’ll have to have him verify that it really is him, I guess.  I’d say that makes our case for us.  Let’s get the rest of these files boxed up.  I want them boxed in the same order in which they’re filed and a date range on the outside of each box.  Let’s get to it, boys.”

 

 

Tom and I walked into the office where he’d worked for five years amid cheers and greetings of congratulations.  I was introduced to everyone as not just his fiancé, but the love of his life.  Every time he said it just made me feel better and better about us and our future lives together.  After several minutes of throwaway introductions and numerous handshakes, we finally found the one person Dylan had told us knew of our purpose here today.

 

“Mornin’, Kelly, how ya’ doing?” Tom asked.

 

“Fair to middlin’, Tom.  And this must the man who stole you away from us,” she added, looking at me.

 

“Guilty as charged,” I smiled.  “Max Sanders, nice to meet you, Kelly,” I greeted her, extending my hand for the obligatory shake.  Not content to receive just a handshake, she batted my hand away and gave me hug.

 

“I’m not like the rest of these fools ‘round here, Max,” she commented as she released me.  “I ain’t afraid to be seen huggin’ a guy.  Now, from what Dylan told me, you two are here to see a couple of our prisoners, that right?”

 

“Yes,” Tom answered.  “We want to see Frank and Iris Mueller.  Well, he wants to see ‘em,” he added, hooking a thumb in my direction.

 

“No problem, got an interview room set up just for you.  Come with me.”  Kelly led us down a hallway and to a room near the end.  After making sure the room was still empty, she let us in and said, “Get as comfortable as you can.  I’ll be back in just a few minutes.”

 

While we waited, I asked, “Can anybody watch or record us in here?”

 

“Not in this room, no.  No mirrors, windows, cameras or microphones.  This is the one we used when we would discuss interrogation strategies and we didn’t want none of that being recorded.  And remember, we don’t know about the pictures.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I got it.”  We passed the rest of our wait in silence and true to her word, Kelly returned in couple of minutes with Frank and Iris in tow.

 

“What the hell are these perverts doin’ here?” Frank complained.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Mueller.  As far as I know, you and your wife are the only ones here and this isn’t actually happening.”  Kelly locked their handcuffs to the steel rings embedded in the other side of the table and disappeared without another word.  As she did, I tapped on the phone hidden in my pocket to start my own recording.

 

“What do you two faggots want?” Frank yelled.

 

“Good morning, Frank, Iris.  It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?” I greeted them cheerily.  “I need to say some things to you both and this may be my only chance.  From my understanding of how things are, neither one of you will see the light of day again, ever.”

 

“Bullshit!” Frank roared as he tried to stand and promptly fell back into his chair when he’d reached the limit of freedom the cuffs would give him.  “Our lawyer will take care of this ridiculous vendetta of yours.”

 

“Frank, Iris, I want you to listen to me very closely.  It’s over.  You and all your friends are going away.  And you want to know how I know that?  Because I’m the one who talked to the police.”  A wide and evil grin spread across my face as the realization of their tenuous situation hit them and their eyes reflected intense fear back at me.  “Yes, you rotten motherfuckers, ME!  I get the distinct pleasure of being the one to ruin your fuckin’ lives.  Seems only fair, though, since you fucking ruined mine for so many years.  You want to know the difference between us, though?  I’m going to get my life back, finally, while the two of you get to spend your golden years behind bars.”

 

“You fucking arrogant little prick!” yelled Frank.  “You have no idea who you’re messin’ with!  I was a fuckin’ Navy Seal!  When I get out of here, I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you!”

 

“Only in your dreams Frankie boy, but you’ll never get the chance.  I told them all about the special lessons you and Iris gave me.  I told them about the hidden room in the basement of the church where you took me and who knows how many others.  The police are in there right now, collecting evidence that will see you all rot in prison for the rest of your lives.  I’m rather looking forward to your time in prison, Frankie.  I bet you’ll become butt buddies with your cellmate in no time at all, though you really won’t have a choice, will you.  You want to know happens to child abusers like you in prison, Frankie?  Let me tell you.  You are going to get your ass reamed day and night for the rest of your miserable fucking life.  You’ll have every hairy, slimy, disease-infected cock in that prison shoved in your mouth and down your throat until you gag on it.  In your cell, in the yard, in the mess hall, it won’t matter, somebody’s going to be raping you, just for the sheer fun of it.  Fun for them, of course, but hell on earth for you.”

 

“Never gonna happen, you’ll see,” Frank replied pompously.

 

“Oh, but it will, you’re just too stupid to realize it.”  Iris had been silent so far, so I turned my attention to her.  “And what about sweet little old Iris.  Don’t be sittin’ there thinkin’ you’re safe from that torture.  Oh, no, the same shit is gonna happen to you, too.  Those women you’ll be locked up with know more than a thing or two about raping other women.  So, don’t you worry, you’ll get your punishment, too.  It might be a splintered broom handle, a hair brush, a rusty screwdriver, or maybe even a fist, but it’s gonna happen.  But, I gotta ask Iris, was I the only boy you two fucked over with your little lessons or were all your victims boys?”  Tom was staring at me in disbelief at the crap that was flowing freely from my mouth.

 

“Don’t say a goddam thing, Iris!” Frank bellowed.

 

“It was always boys, Maxie,” she cooed.  “And you were so cute.  In fact, you were the cutest of all of them.  None of the others could ever hold a candle to your beauty, baby.”

 

“SHUT UP YOU STUPID BITCH!  What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

 

“I’m telling one of my lovers the truth,” she answered, as if it should be plainly obvious.  “Of all of them, Maxie, I loved you the most.  I loved watching you come, baby, knowing I’m the one who made it happen.  The way you quivered and shook with delight as you came was so touching and sweet.  And your hairless little dickie tasted so sweet.  Then, when you actually started shooting some spunk, oh my God, it was like the nectar of the gods.”  This whole conversation had kinda jumped right off the rails and was starting to seriously nauseate me, but I let her continue to dig her own hole.  “And when you were fucking me, my sweet baby boy, the look in your eyes spoke volumes of your love for me.  I loved to feel your little pecker twitch and throb in my pussy when you came” she moaned.

 

“And what do you think your husband got out of all of it, Iris?”

 

“Stop this!” Frank screamed.  “Not another fuckin’ word, dammit!”

 

“Let me tell you since you’re too fucking stupid to figure it out for yourself.  He got to live his dream and fuck the shit out of little boys.  Because, you see, Iris, he didn’t want you, your saggy tits or you’re well-worn and skanky cunt.  He needed a little boy’s tight ass wrapped around his cock.  He needed to fill a little boy’s mouth with his disgusting cock.  He wanted all those little boys to have what he never gave you, his fucking come.  That’s the only way he could ever get off, wasn’t it, Iris?  He never came for you, did he?  Not once!  Oh, but when he was fucking little boys, he could come like a fucking racehorse, and more than once, couldn’t he?”

 

Iris turned to look at her husband as if seeing him for the first time, but the rage in her eyes was evident to all of us.  “Franklin motherfuckin’ Mueller, you rotten bastard!  You’re were lying to me all those fucking years?  All the shit I did for you to help you get boys and that’s how you repay me?  That’s why we never had our own kids, isn’t it?  Oh, you were goin’ through all the right motions, all right, but you never really fucked me, did you?  ‘Cause you could only get your rocks off when you had a captive little boy at your fuckin’ mercy.  You God damn, motherfuckin’, lyin’, useless piece of shit!”

 

“You two were fucking made for each other,” I spat.  “Frankie, a fucking faggot who could only make it with little boys and you, Iris, who helped him and loved to be fucked by little boys, too.  God, you both make me sick.  The world will be a much better place without the two of you in it.”

 

“You make me sick you lyin’ faggot!” Frank screamed.  “Why the fuck you think anybody believes your lies?”

 

“Iris believes me, Frankie.  And now she knows who you really are.  Why she needed to hear me say it to really believe what she already knew, I don’t know, but whatever it takes, I guess.”

 

“Okay, big deal.  I like to fuck little boys and come on their faces and in their tight little asses.  I fucked your sweet ass for years and nobody ever lifted a finger to stop me, not even your pitiful, weak, faggot lovin’ old man.  I been fuckin’ little boys since long before your faggoty little ass was a gleam in your daddy’s eye and I’m gonna keep on fuckin’ ‘em when I get the fuck outta here.  And I’m gonna start with those two blond cocksuckers you stole from me, you rotten motherfucker.  I’m gonna fuck their brains out while I make you watch, rip their tight little asses’ wide fuckin’ open just so I can hear ‘em scream bloody murder.  And when I’m done with those little faggots, when their limp and lifeless little bodies have been tossed aside, I’m gonna kill your sorry fuckin’ faggot ass, right after I fuck you one more time.  Who the fuck you think the cops are gonna believe, me, the fuckin’ war hero, or your lyin’ faggoty ass?”

 

“Oh, I’m sure they’ll believe you, Mr. War Hero Navy Seal.  In fact, I hope like hell they do,” I replied calmly as I pulled my phone from my pocket and stopped my recording.  “Words right from the horse’s ass, Frankie.  You just toasted yourself.  I hope you rot in fucking hell.  Let’s get outta here, Tom.”  We stood up and left a shocked and bewildered Frank and Iris behind as we exited the room.

 

“You fuckin’ set him up!” Tom gushed in awe after we closed the door.  “You planned this from the very beginning.”

 

“You’re god damn right I did.  I wasn’t takin’ a chance on those fucker’s getting cut loose.  I knew if I just kept talkin’, at some point Frank just couldn’t resist the temptation to brag.  Their lives end today.”

 

“Holy shit!  I wish you’d told me what you were doin’.”

 

“I thought about it, but I didn’t know how it was all gonna go.  As it turned out, I think it went pretty well.  What do you think?” I deadpanned.

 

“Fuckin’ perfect, babe.  I couldn’t have set them up any better than you did.  I bow down to the master,” he chuckled as he did, indeed, make a small bow right there in the hallway.  “Let’s go find Kelly and have her get them back to their cells.”

 

“She may need some help this time, bubba.  I’m pretty sure they won’t go willingly.  Not when they know how truly screwed they are.”

 

“Good thinkin’, babe.”  As we rounded the corner into the main office, we saw Kelly immediately and waved for her to come over.  “We’re done with them, Kelly, but you’re probably gonna want some help getting them back where they belong.”

 

“They came with me easy enough.  I can get them back just fine.”

 

“Huh-uh,” I said, shaking my head.  “No way, Kelly.  That was before I recorded both of them incriminating themselves.  Whatever cool they may have had is long gone.”

 

“Get two of the biggest guards from detention and have them take ‘em back, one at a time,” Tom recommended.

 

“If you think so.”  She grabbed the phone on her desk and made the call. 

 

A minute later, we heard a yell from down the hallway, “We need some help down here!  Call 9-1-1 and get an ambulance here, FAST!”

 

The three of us ran down the hall to see what was happening and we found Frank curled into a ball on the table, moaning piteously and holding his crotch with both hands.  Iris was standing over him, panting heavily, dripping sweat and spitting in Frank’s face.

 

“Let’s see you come now you useless motherfucker,” Iris hissed, to which Frank could only reply with a low moan of anguish.  The two guards disconnected Iris from the ring in the table and began leading her out of the room.  As they passed by us, she said, “I still love you, Maxie baby, and I always will.  It’s all his fault we can’t be together anymore.  It’s too bad you had to grow up.”  Then she blew me a kiss as the guards continued their trip back to her cell.  As she disappeared through the door into the detention area, I couldn’t take any more of the sickness, turned around and vomited into a bucket that had been conveniently located in the corner. 

 

Tom grabbed me and held onto me until I quit heaving.  When I finally stood back up, wiping my mouth on my sleeve, he guided me back to the main office and then into the breakroom.  He pulled a can of 7UP from the fridge and handed it to me.  “Here, drink this, slowly, it’ll help settle your stomach.”  He waited with me until I’d calmed back down and finally asked, “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I think so.  Thanks.”  After a short pause, I added, “Fuck, that was fun.  I’ve waited eighteen years to get that off my chest.  You ready for round two?” I asked.

 

“Not on your life.”

 

“God, what a sick fucking bitch.  She really needs to have her brain rewired.”

 

“Or, better yet, removed.”

 

“Not that I care or anything, but you think Frank’s gonna be okay?  I’d sure hate for some murderer to lose his bitch before he even gets there.”

 

“Depends on how hard she kicked him.  If it was hard enough, she could’ve exploded his testicles.”

 

“HA!  Couldn’t happen to a better fuckin’ piece o’ shit.”

 

“Well, that’s about all the fun I can handle for one day.  You ready to head for home?”

 

“That depends.  What time is it?”

 

After a quick look at the clock on the wall, “12:15, why?”

 

“Good.  Plenty of time for one more stop before we go home to meet Ron at two.”

 

“Where the hell you wanna go now?” Tom protested.

 

“The church.”

 

“Aw, c’mon, Max.  Haven’t you had enough for one day?  This has got to be killin’ you.”

 

“Actually, hon, I haven’t felt this good in fuckin’ years.  Besides, I want to Dylan to hear this recording.”

 

“If you insist, I’ll make it so.  But I’m still drivin’.”

 

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

As we left, we stopped to thank Kelly for her help and apologized for the mess we’d made, both in the room and the bucket in the hall.  As we settled into the Shelby, Tom asked one more time, “You sure you wanna do this today?”

 

“We’re already in town.  Drive, Jeeves.”  With no further argument, we left the parking lot and made the turn that would take us in the direction of the church.

 

 

“Okay, that’s all the files boxed and ready to go.  Henry, Andrew, get these loaded up and back to the station.  I want them in my office and the door locked when you’re done.”

 

“Yes, sir,” they replied.  They each picked up two boxes of the twenty-four we’d filled and headed out to their car to begin loading them up.

 

“Derek, I want you to start on the desk, please.  Every drawer gets emptied into its own box, then sealed.  We’ll go through them at the station.  I’m going to step outside and have a smoke.”

 

“You don’t smoke, Sarge.”

 

“I know, today’s gonna be my first in years.  After shit like this, I need to pollute my lungs so it’s not just my brain that’s fucked up.  Get to it.”  As Derek turned to begin work on his task, I headed outside to clear my head and get some fresh air, though a fucking cigarette would certainly ruin that fresh air.  The first drag nearly choked me, but I persevered until it no longer hurt to suck that crap into my lungs.  I’d finished the first one and was about to light another when a blue Mustang pulled into the parking lot.  Great, I thought, a church board member was coming to see what was happening in their damn church.

 

I was surprised, however, to see Tom and Max lever themselves out of the car and start walking in my direction.  As they got closer, I called out, “Afternoon, boys.  I didn’t expect to see you today, especially here.  How was your appointment this morning?”

 

“Which one,” Max asked.

 

“The doctor, first.”

 

“’Bout like you’d expect, it sucked, but I think she can help me, so I’ll keep going.”

 

“Good, I’m glad to hear it.  Now, how’d the second one go?”

 

“That one was quite a bit more interesting.  I got something here you need to hear.”  I pulled out my phone, located the recording and pushed play.  I could see Dylan’s emotions change as the recording progressed, at one point closing his eyes and shaking his head with disgust.  Then, when he finally heard Frank start his admission of guilt, he released a loud ‘whoop’ of excitement.  When the recording finally ended, he was practically dancing with joy.

 

“Jesus Christ, Max, you really got them to screw themselves.  Too bad we can’t use it.”

 

“Why not, Boss?” Tom asked.

 

“Their lawyer wasn’t present.  Hell, I don’t know if they even have a lawyer, yet.”

 

“Look,” Tom started, “we might have been in a police station, but neither one of us is a cop.  We’re private citizens.  And this wasn’t an interrogation.  It was a conversation between a victim, ‘scuse me, survivor, and his abusers that somehow got recorded.  You gonna look a fuckin’ gift horse in the mouth?”

 

“Good points, Tom.  I think we could successfully argue the admissibility of the recording since neither of you is on the force.  Remind me, again, why I let you quit.  I’m really beginning to regret that decision.”

 

“And yet, we’re still workin’ together, aren’t we?  Funny how life rolls sometimes.”

 

“Max, will you come inside so I can have Zach get that recording now?”

 

“Sure, why not.  We can’t take long, though, we gotta be home by two.”

 

“Five minutes, ten tops, I promise.”

 

As the three of us headed inside, we were passed by two deputies carrying four boxes outside.

 

“What are they doing?” Max asked.

 

“Uh, loading evidence to go to the station,” I replied.

 

“Gotcha, mine in there?”

 

“Not a clue what you’re talkin’ about,” Dylan replied, shaking his head. 

 

Max gave me a quick thumbs up to let me know he understood and would say nothing more.  As we turned the corner to locate Zach, Max suddenly froze.  He hadn’t seen this hallway for quite some time, but, to him, it felt like it was just yesterday.  After a few more steps, Tom suddenly realized Max wasn’t beside him any longer and he turned around to find him standing there like a petrified tree.  Which, he kinda was.  Petrified, anyway.  Though shaking like a tree in the wind, he really didn’t look much like a tree.

 

“Dammit, I knew we shouldn’t have come here!” Tom exclaimed.  “Sarge,” he yelled over his shoulder, “I got to get him out of here.  Bring Zach outside.”  Tom picked Max up and carried him outside to stand in the sunlight and fresh air.  “You okay, babe?” he asked with serious concern.

 

“Yeah.  Sorry, I didn’t expect that to happen.  I just couldn’t go any further.”

 

Dylan and Zach arrived and after surrendering my phone to the head geek in charge, he promptly made a copy of the recording and handed my phone back to me.

 

After Zach headed back inside, Dylan apologized, “I’m sorry, Max, I should have known better than to take you back in there.”

 

“Don’t worry about it.  Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to do it, but this obviously ain’t it.”

 

“Look, Max, we better head for home,” Tom said.  “Ron should be there in about forty-five minutes.”

 

“Yeah, okay.  Anything else we can do to help you today, Dylan.”

 

“You’ve done more than enough, already, Max.  Go home and relax.  We got this and, more importantly, we got them.  None of them are gonna wiggle their sorry asses outta the jam they’re in.”

 

“Okay then, let’s hit the road, Tom.”

 

As we settled back into the Shelby again, Tom commented, “You’re really enjoyin’ this being chauffeured around shit, aren’t you?”

 

“You bet your sweet ass I am.  Home, Jeeves.”

 

As Tom drove away with Max as the passenger, I envied the two of them and the close relationship they’d created in such a short period of time.  I almost hated them for being so damn happy.  As I stewed on my thoughts, I pulled out and lit my second cigarette.  It had been seven years since my last smoke, but the stress of dealing with this nightmare was gonna kill me, one way or another.  And if I was gonna die, it might as well be on my terms.  Not like I had that much to live for anyway, going home to an empty damn house every night.  What’s the point of extending that boring and lonely existence any longer than necessary?

 

 

As we turned the corner for the house, we saw a Merry Maids truck sitting in the circle drive by the front door.  Looked like Ron arrived a little early for his job.  He must have seen us drive in as I saw him getting out of the truck as we pulled in the garage.  Once back in the comfort of home, we headed to the front door.  While I hung our jackets in the closet, Tom opened the door to let Ron in.

 

“Oh, hi,” he said with a confused look, “I’m here to do some work for Mr. Sanders.”

 

“I know, Ron,” Tom replied.  “Come in, please.”

 

Once he stepped inside, Tom closed the door.  Ron took a quick look around and when saw me, said, “Afternoon, Mr. Sanders.  Why don’t you tell me what you want done and I’ll get what I need from my truck so I can get started.  I understand from Joyce I’m going to need a ladder.”

 

I let go a little laugh and replied, “That’s just what I told her so I could be sure she’d send you.”

 

“Okay, I’m confused as all get out now.  What’s going on, Mr. Sanders?” Ron asked.

 

“Come on in and let’s sit down.  We’ll help clear your confusion.”  I led the way to the living room and once we were all comfortably ensconced, I continued.  “First off, please call me Max.  Second, you haven’t met him before, but this is my fiancé, Tom Wright.  We’re sorry to get you out here under false pretenses, Ron, but I didn’t think Joyce would appreciate the true reason we wanted to talk to you.”

 

“And why is that?” the nervous young man asked.

 

“Well, if you’re interested in a change of employment, we’d like to offer you a job?”

 

“Are you kiddin’ me?  As what, a full-time maid?  Hell, I already have that job.”

 

“No, we don’t want you to just do cleaning.  Let me tell you what we’re thinking about.”

 

“I’m all ears.”

 

“As I just told you, Tom and I are getting married.  That’s happening May seventeenth.  The other thing that has changed since you were last here is we are in the process of adopting at least four boys, and we’re hoping for five, ages six through nine.  And, as of Sunday afternoon, there is a sixth boy living with us, at least temporarily, as sort of a foster family thing.  While Tom and I have been doing okay by ourselves so far, we can see there are certain things we could use some help with.  At some point soon, Tom is going be starting a private investigation business that will take him away from the pleasure of all the mundane necessities of maintaining a household.  We’re looking for someone to help us out with cooking, cleaning, menus, transportation, whatever might come up.”

 

“So, there’s the two of you, six boys, this house, the pool, and god knows what else you ain’t mentioned yet.  And you want me to help you deal with all that.”

 

“Oh, one more big thing you should know about.  Later this year, our parents will be moving onto the property, as well.  We still have some details to work out about how, exactly, that’s going to transpire, but it’s coming.”

 

“And now you’re adding elder-care to the job.  You don’t want much, do you?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“No, you won’t have to help our parents.  They’re still young enough that if you offered to help them with anything, they’d probably knock you on your ass.  They’re moving here to be closer to their family.”

 

“Okay, I think I might be interested, but I got two questions you have to answer.  First, why me?  And second, how much would I get paid?”

 

“Good questions.  Let me answer your second question since it’s the easiest.  We’ll double whatever hourly rate you’re currently earning with semi-annual reviews and appropriate raises.”  Ron’s eye lit up with excitement.  “We’ll also include health insurance, dental and vision care, paid vacations and a reasonable annual deposit into a retirement account.  How does that sound to you?”

 

“Like I’d be a damn fool to pass it up.  Now, answer the other question, why me?”

 

“That one’s a little harder to answer, but here it is.  When you came out a couple months ago to help clean this place up, I felt some kind of connection with you.  Maybe it was just wishful thinkin’ on my part, but I’d kinda hoped to hear from you after you’d left.  You’re handsome, young, strong and, I think, a kind person.  You seemed to be the kind of person I was starting to look for to share my life with, but I was too insecure to come right out and say it.  I didn’t want to offend you in any way, so, as you were leaving, I dropped that not-so-subtle hint of coming back to use the pool in the hope you’d call me sometime.  You never did, so I just let it go.”

 

“So, what you’re telling me is you had the hots for me, but you chickened out.”

 

“Well, yes, I guess so,” I reflected.

 

“Well, crap.  Guess I blew my big chance, didn’t I,” he laughed.  “You still feel the same way?”

 

“Sorry, Ron, no.  Since then, Tom and I have found each other and we’re committed to our relationship.”

 

“Damn.  No worries, Max, it’s my loss.  I gotta tell ya’, though, that you held my interest for a while, too, and I thought a lot about takin’ you up on your offer, but I was too much of a chicken to follow through, too.”  We all laughed at his comment.  “But it’s easy to see how hooked you two are and I wouldn’t want to come between you.”

 

“Tom and I have talked about this and we’re comfortable with it as long as you are.  If you think it’d be too weird for you, say so now and we’ll find someone else.”

 

“Oh, no, don’t do that.  While it might have been an interesting experiment of sorts to see what might have happened between us, I know how to set my own limits and stick to ‘em.  I was just hopin’ it wouldn’t be awkward for the two of you if I was around all the time.  I’m cool with it if you are.”

 

“Good.  Just two more things to throw into the pot before you make a decision.”

 

“Let me guess, I have to be here early every morning and into the evening and I have to work naked all day long.  Am I right?”

 

Tom and I looked at each other briefly and we burst out in laughter, confusing the hell out of poor Ron.

 

“You’re right on the first half and almost right on the second.”

 

“I was just kiddin’ ya’, man.”

 

“I know that, but you need to know we’re not.  We get the boys up at 6:30 in the morning to start getting ready for school and that’s one of the things we’d like your help with, so early in the morning is a given.  We usually eat supper around five to five-thirty, and you’d be welcome to join us if you’d like.  To make the long hours easier to deal with, we’re prepared to offer you the use of a spare bedroom.”

 

“Wait a damn minute!  You’re basically asking me to move in with you?  And get paid for it?”

 

“Well, yeah, I guess we are.  Considering the times we really need the help, it seems the logical thing to do.”

 

“Okay, that makes sense and I could deal with that.  But what about the naked thing?  Why’d you laugh and say I was almost right ‘bout that?”

 

“Here’s the thing you really have to think about.  We’re nudists, Ron.”  Poor Ron’s eyes shot wide open in surprise.  “We don’t wear clothes when we’re at home.  And while we won’t require you to join us in being nude, you’d be more than welcome to do so.  I think you’d probably be more comfortable if you did instead of being the odd man out.”

 

“But what about your parents.  What happens when they move up here?”

 

“My parents are old hands at it, Ron,” Tom answered.  “I didn’t know it until recently, but they’ve been nudists for years.  Max’s parents are, what I guess you’d call, recent converts to the lifestyle.  It’s still pretty new to them, but they seem to be enjoying it.”

 

“Ain’t that weird, though?  I mean, I’m cool with bein’ naked and all, but I ain’t too sure ‘bout doin’ it ‘round my mom and dad.  I don’t think I could handle that and I know they couldn’t.”

 

“I won’t lie to you, Ron, the first five minutes were a little awkward.  But after that, it seemed so normal, I didn’t think about it anymore.”

 

“If you say so, man.  Okay, let me make sure I got this straight.  You double my salary, raises, maybe, every six months, a room, the other bennies, and I can be naked if I wanna be.  And all I gotta do to get all that is some cookin’, cleanin’ and drivin’ the kids wherever.  Damn, that’s a hard decision,” Ron commented sarcastically.  “There’s gotta be a catch, but I can’t see it.”

 

“Tell him what the catch is, Tom.”

 

“You sure you wanna hear this, Ron?” Tom asked.  After a quick nod, Tom continued, “You ever touch any of our boys anywhere below the rib cage, we cut your dick and balls off, stuff them down your throat and throw you to the wolves for supper.”

 

“Whoa,” Ron breathed, “That seems a bit extreme.”

 

“Tom, I do believe you’ve scared the shit out of him,” I chuckled.

 

“Good, I intended to.  Okay, okay, we won’t turn you into a eunuch and feed you to any wolves, but we will immediately fire your ass, with no chance for unemployment and we take back any money that’s been deposited into the retirement account and give it to your replacement.  Got it?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I got it.  You didn’t have to threaten me, though.  I might be gay, man, but I don’t go for little boys, no way.  I want a man in my life.”

 

“Good, just so we understand each other right up front,” I replied.  I looked to Tom and asked, “Anything else we forgot?”

 

“Yeah, we probably ought to tell him ‘bout the other thing.”

 

“What other thing?” I asked.  Tom looked at me like I suddenly had a grown a second set of genitals in the middle of my forehead.  “O-o-o-h, that, yeah.”  I turned back to the again confused Ron and continued.  “Before I tell you any more, we need to know if you’re serious about accepting our offer.”

 

“Serious as a heart attack, guys.  I love the whole idea.”

 

“Glad to hear it.  Now, we have a few rules here related to our nudity and other things.  First, erections happen.  It’s a normal part of bein’ a guy.  We all know we have very little control over when they happen or how long they last.  It’s not a big deal and we don’t comment on them when they do happen, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.  If you don’t think it will go away on its own, then excuse yourself and deal with it in private.  Second, when what we call ‘other people’ are here, we get dressed and remain dressed until they leave.  That’s common courtesy for any guests that aren’t nudists.  Third, any sexual activity is to happen in your bedroom with the door closed.  That includes masturbation, whether solo or with others, and oral and anal sex.  We follow these rules, the boys follow these rules, and you will, also.  You’re more than welcome to invite a friend over, but if you’re gonna get frisky with each other, we don’t want to witness it.”

 

“That all sounds fair and reasonable and I can live within those rules.  You ain’t kiddin’ ‘bout the erections, either.  The little head’s got a mind of its own, doesn’t it?  Two questions, though, what do you mean by other people and what rules do the boys follow?”

 

“We have a few very select friends and family who know we’re nudists and will join us when they visit.  One of them is Tom’s old boss at the Sherriff’s department, also my sister and brother-in-law and, of course, our parents.  As for our sons, they follow all the rules.”

 

“Wait, you mean they’re doin’ it?  How old did you say they were?”

 

“Six to nine.  And, yes, they’ve all discovered the joys of sex and are quite active.  You should probably also know that at least the four we are for sure adopting are gay.  Does that bother you?”

 

“Whoa, and I thought I was early at eleven and my brother was twelve.  I’m a bit of a slacker compared to your boys,” Ron snickered.  “No, man, that won’t bother me at all either.  I woulda been surprised as hell to find it out on my own, though.”

 

“Well, we’re trying to keep your shocks to a minimum.  If we didn’t already have the feeling you were going to accept our offer, we would haven’t told near as much as we have.  So, what’s your decision, or do you need some time to think it over?”

 

“I’m all in, guys.  When can I start?”

 

“Whenever you want.  If you want to give Joyce two weeks’ notice, I think that’s fair to her, but we’ll leave that up to you.  That would also give us the time we need to get the second bedroom done for the other boys and get rooms rearranged again.  We might have an empty bedroom, but it is completely empty as it’s about to get painted and have some new furniture delivered.”

 

“That’s all right, ‘cause I’ll have to tell my roommate I’m movin’ out and give him a chance to find someone else to share the rent.”

 

“Is he just a roommate?” Tom asked.

 

“Sure is.  He’s as straight as an arrow.  He really didn’t like the idea of sharing the place with me, but he needed help with rent, bad, so he gave in.  It’s worked out pretty well, though.  We’ve become pretty decent friends the last several months.”

 

“Well, I guess the only thing left to say at the moment, Ron, is welcome to the family.  We’ll look forward to having your help.”

 

“Wait a sec, Max, there is one more thing I want to make sure Ron knows,” Tom interjected.  I looked at Tom in surprise as I couldn’t imagine what we’d forgotten.  He turned back to Ron and added, “You probably already know this without me saying it, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Absolutely nothing that happens here gets discussed anywhere or with anyone outside this family.  We’ll have a confidentiality agreement you’ll have to sign before you can start working here.  With Max being who he is, the tabloids would love nothing more than to get a story of any kind that would hurt him or his career.”

 

“No worries, guys, my lips are sealed.  With what you’re going to pay me and everything else, I won’t need to worry about money for a long time.  I won’t betray the trust you have in me in any way.”

 

“Good decision, Ron,” Tom intoned seriously.  “Now, welcome to family,” he added as he stood up to shake hands.  I followed suit and then we all sat back down.

 

“Now,” Ron started, “You got anything you want cleaned?  Seems like I need to tell Joyce I did something real this afternoon.  Right before I give her my notice,” he laughed.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” I responded.  “Just tell her I had you cleaning ceiling fans or something like that.  I’ll even give you some cash so she can see you got paid for doing something.”

 

“Cool, Max.  You’re a helluva a guy.  I think I’m gonna really like working here.  Well, I better get going.  Thanks, you two.  I really appreciate the opportunity and I won’t let you down.”

 

After a quick look at the clock, I said, “If you hang around about ten more minutes, you can meet the boys, see what you’re really getting yourself into.”

 

“Yeah, I can do that.  Mind if I use the bathroom while we wait?”

 

“Not at all, Ron,” Tom answered.  “Right down that hall, last door on the right.  You want anything to drink?”

 

“That’d be great, thanks,” he answered as he stood up and headed for the bathroom.  Tom walked to the kitchen and got some tea for all of us and both returned at the same time.  As we sat there, Ron piped up and asked a question that surprised me a little.  “So, Max, it’s obvious you got money.  And Tom made that comment about you being who you are.  Tell me, man, who the hell are you and what do you do?”

 

After we stopped laughing, “I’m an author, Ron.  I’ve written four books that have all ended up on the New York Times’ best-seller list.  So, yeah, I’ve got a bit of cash.  You really didn’t know?”

 

“If I knew, I wouldn’t have asked.  I was never much of a reader and that’s probably how I missed connecting you to that.”

 

“Well, I have some spare copies of all my books here, of course, so if you ever want to give ‘em a shot, just let me know.”  DING!  DING!  DING!

 

“What the hell was that?” Ron asked as Tom stood to grab his jacket and head out to pick up the boys.

 

“We have a sensor at the end of the drive that lets us know when someone’s coming.  The three dings is the boys’ signal telling us they’re home from school and ready for a ride.  Brace yourself for the stampede.”

 

“Be right back,” Tom called as he disappeared down the hallway.

 

A weird thought popped in my head as Tom closed the door to the garage and I turned to Ron and said, “Ya’, know Ron, this is gonna sound pretty stupid, especially since we’ve just hired you, but I don’t know your last name.”

 

Ron almost fell out of chair with laughter before regaining control and answered, “Cain, C-a-i-n.”

 

“That’s good to know.”  We sat quietly as we waited for the Tom and the boys to return.  As I heard the garage door rumble shut, I waited patiently for the stampede I knew was coming.  I was not disappointed when the door slammed open and house shook as twelve feet hauled six bodies down the hall at full speed.  Joey was the first to round the corner into the living room before he came to a screeching halt after seeing a stranger in the house.  The other five piled into his abruptly inert figure and they tumbled to the floor in a gale of laughter and a wild mass of tangled limbs.  Joey, being on the bottom of the pile, received the worst of it all.

 

“Mmph, get off me you clowns, you’re killing me,” he grunted.  When all were finally standing again, Tom squeezed behind the mini-herd to hang his jacket back in the closet.

 

“Hi, Dad.  Who’s that?” Alex asked bluntly.

 

“Boys, this is Ron Cain.  You’re going be seeing a lot more of him around here in a couple weeks so come over and say hi.”  They moved as one in Ron’s direction until they stood next to his chair.

 

“Hi, I’m Joey, nicetomeecha.  This here’s is my brother Alex, next is T.J., then Logan, Andy and Mike.”

 

“Hi guys, nice to meet all of you, too.  I’m hoping we can all become good friends.”

 

“What’s he talkin’ ‘bout, dads?” T.J. asked, looking at Tom and me.

 

“Well, we’ve just hired Ron to come in and help us deal with things.  He’ll be joining us in a couple of weeks.”

 

“You mean, like, all the time, he’s gonna be here?” Joey asked.

 

“That’s exactly what we mean.  Once T.J., Mike and Andy get moved into their new room, then Ron’s going to move into their old room.”

 

“Oh, man, that’s gonna suck big time, dads.” Alex whined.

 

“Why do you say that, Alex?”

 

“You know,” he answered while pulling at his shirt.

 

“Oh, that.  No worries boys, that won’t be changing.”

 

“Yahoo!!” they all yelled. 

 

“Well, see ya’ later, Ron,” Mike called out as the herd turned and headed down the hallway to drop their coats and backpacks in their rooms.

 

“Well, that was interesting,” Ron commented.  “They didn’t seem too impressed or thrilled at the idea of me bein’ here.”

 

“Don’t worry, Ron, they’ll be cool,” Tom responded.  As if to prove the point, the first two returned and headed to the kitchen to deal with homework and get their snacks, sans clothes, of course.

 

“Hey, Ron, wanna join us for our snack?” Andy asked as he and Mike passed by.

 

“Sure, why not?”  We all got up from our chairs and followed the nude lads to the kitchen.  As Tom and I got busy setting the boys up with some fruit snacks and milk, Ron hung out at the end of the counter.  The remaining four boys slowly materialized and took their places at the counter, also comfortable in their own skin.  Thankfully, Ron seemed to take it all in stride.

 

“You want something, Ron?” Tom asked.

 

“Actually, a small glass of milk sounds good right about now.”

 

“Comin’ right up.”  With the boys and Ron served, the sensational six-pack cracked open school books and got started on their homework.  I noticed Joey and Alex had a book I’d not seen before and asked about it.

 

“Oh, yeah, that, it’s the fifth-grade math book.  Cool, huh?” Joey commented.

 

“Yeah, Mr. Thomas gave them to us after school,” Alex added.

 

“Wait, what grade are you two in?” Ron asked.

 

“Third,” they answered together.

 

“Then why do you have a fifth-grade book?”

 

“What we have here, Ron, is a couple of genuine math whiz-kids,” Tom answered.  “They were bored with their regular math, so we asked the school for some testing to see if they could move up.  Turns out, they only do that testing at the beginning of the school year, but Max talked ‘em into givin’ the twins the fourth-grade book, just to see how they’d do.”

 

“Yeah?  What’d that take ‘em two, three months to get through it?”

 

“Under two weeks, Ron,” I answered.  “And they didn’t work on them every day.”

 

“Holy Toledo.  They got me beat.  Remind me to never play number games with them, okay?” he chuckled.

 

Ron looked back across the lineup of boys when T.J. suddenly raised his head from his book and stared at him.

 

“What’s up, son,” I asked.

 

“Yeah, I know I’m a cute little shit, Ron, but I’m taken.  Sorry, dude,” he quipped, then returned to his work.

 

“What the heck?” Ron exclaimed.

 

“Oh, yeah, we shoulda warned you about that, too,” Tom chuckled.  “T.J. and the twins all have the talent for seeing images in other people’s minds and T.J. can actually pick up thoughts.  The longer he’s around you, the better he gets at it.”

 

“Co-o-o-ol beans, dude.  That’s awesome.”

 

T.J. looked back up and responded, “Yeah, sure, it’s cool sometimes, but it really sucks at other times,” he opined while looking at me.  “I just need to learn how to get a handle on it so I can turn it off when I want to.”

 

“Well, don’t look to me for help with that,” Ron replied.  “I can barely read my own mind sometimes, let alone someone else’s.” 

 

The boys laughed at Ron’s comment and when they calmed down a bit, T.J. commented, “You’re all right, Ron.  I think you’ll fit in just fine around here.”

 

“Well, I guess I’ll get out of here and go give Joyce the bad news.  Max, Tom, again, thanks for the opportunity.  I think this is gonna be great joining your family.  Boys, nice to meet all of you.  Looking forward to some fun times.” 

 

Tom and I followed him to the door to let him out.  “Thanks for coming out, Ron.  We’re glad you accepted our offer.  We’ll be looking forward to having your help around here.  And like T.J. said, you’ll fit in just fine.”

 

“And once you know when you want to move in, let us know so we can be sure we’re ready,” Tom added.  “We’d hate for you to show up and not have a bed for you.”

 

“I’d hate that, too,” Ron agreed.  “Though I suppose I could always bunk with you two until you had a bed for me,” he added with a mischievous grin and a lascivious wiggle of his eyebrows.

 

“Don’t hold your breath, bucko,” Tom countered with a chuckle.  With that, Ron got in his truck and headed out.

 

After we watched him pull away and were headed back to the kitchen, I asked, “Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?”

 

“Yeah, I think so.  Once I get back to work, I’m not gonna have as much time to help out.  I think having Ron here will also take some of the load off you.  That will give you more time to concentrate on yourself.  Besides, after meeting the guy, I really like him, too.  I’m still gonna do a background check on him, though.”

 

“Good, I’d rather be safe than sorry.  And the confidentiality thing is a good idea, too.  I hadn’t even thought about that.  I’ll call James and have him come up with something.”

 

“Why don’t you go do that now?  I’ll check on the boys and see what they want for supper when the time comes.”  We went our separate ways and after sitting at my desk, I dialed James’ number.

 

“The Cantrell Practice, this is Rose.”

 

“Good afternoon, Rose.  Max Sanders here, is he available?”

 

“One moment, Mr. Sanders.”

 

“Afternoon, Max.  You just caught me.  I was about to head home for dinner.  What’s up?”

 

“Then I’ll be brief.  We need a confidentiality agreement for a household employee.  I don’t want it to be so severe the guy thinks he’s looking at a death penalty if he blabs something, but severe enough to keep him from talking about our private life in public.  Can you do that?”

 

“I can have a basic CA for you to review by Friday.  I’ll fax it to you, make any changes you think you want and fax it back.  We’ll take it from there and have a completed agreement next Tuesday or Wednesday.  Good enough?”

 

“Excellent, James.  Thanks for everything.  Now, get the hell out of there and go have supper with your family for once.  I know they miss seeing you.”

 

“Thanks, Max.  I’ll talk to you later.”

 

When I rejoined the family, I asked, “So, did we figure out supper yet?”

 

“I think we’ve settled on grilled cheese and tomato soup,” Tom answered.

 

“Sounds great, let’s get busy, then.”  Tom and I went to work building sandwiches and getting the soup warming in a pan.  The boys took care of their task of getting the table ready.  I noticed Logan joined right in to help out.  I was happy he was fitting in as if he’d always lived here.  Thirty minutes later, we were ready to enjoy our simple but yummy supper.

 

I’d just taken my fist bite of sandwich when Joey asked, “Hey, dad, how’d your appointment go this morning?”

 

Oh, hell, here we go.  “About like you’d expect, Joey, but I think she can help me out.  I’m glad Pops was there to help me get through it.”

 

“If you come up with anything we can do to help, you’ll tell us, won’t you,” Alex asked.

 

“Of course, I will.”

 

“How was school today, guys?” Tom asked.  “Any of you learning anything new today?”

 

“Not us,” Alex answered.  “It was really pretty much a wasted day.”  Joey and Logan nodded their agreement.

 

“Well, what happened that makes you say that?”

 

“Mr. Thomas was out sick and the stupid replacement didn’t have a clue what she was doin’,” Joey answered.

 

“Yeah, they really shouldn’t allow people that old to try to fill in,” Logan added.  “We spent half the day with her askin’ us to repeat stuff ‘cause she couldn’t hear nothin’.”

 

“Sorry you three had such a rotten day.  What about you three?” I asked looking to T.J., Mike and Andy.

 

“It was okay, I guess,” T.J. answered.  “I’ll be glad when school’s out, though.”

 

“We had a good day, didn’t we Andy?” Mike answered.

 

“Yeah, it was Mark’s birthday and he brought treats for everyone.”

 

“How are Mark and Billy doin?” I asked.  “We haven’t heard you talk about them for a while.”

 

“They’re good.  They’re still hopin’ to come back out to go swimmin’ some time,” Mike answered.

 

“Well, there welcome any time.”

 

“Except this Saturday evening, remember?” Tom interjected.

 

“What’s happenin’ then?” T.J. asked.

 

“We’re having a couple guests for dinner and a swim.”

 

“Oh, man.  Are we gonna have to wear clothes?”

 

“It’s Dylan.  What do you think?”

 

“Sweet,” Alex crowed.  “We like Dylan.”

 

“Yeah, he can throw us farther in the pool than you guys can,” Joey added.

 

“Oh, we have some guests coming over tomorrow night, also,” Tom added.

 

“Who?” Mike asked.

 

“You guys remember the EMT Rick who came to help T.J. the night he got hurt in the pool?”

 

“Yeah, I do,” T.J. replied.  “Why’s he comin’ over?”

 

“He’s bringing his two sons, Josh and Eric, to go swimming.”

 

“Cool,” Alex enthused.  “Any idea how old his kids are?”

 

“Eleven and thirteen.”

 

“Are we gonna have to wear shorts when they’re here?” Andy asked.

 

“Tom and I will be when they get here, but you guys won’t have to if you don’t want to.  Rick, their dad, knows we live nude and that’s why he’s bringing his boys out.  He says they used to be nude all the time but their bodies have started to change and he thinks they’re embarrassed about it.  He’s hoping that if they’re here with all of us, they’ll see there’s nothing wrong about not wearing clothes.”

 

“What time are they comin’?” Logan asked.

 

“Around 6:30 or 7:00.  So be ready.  And if his boys don’t want to be nude, do not pressure them.  Let them do what they feel comfortable doing.  Got it?”

 

“Got it, Dad.”

 

Despite all the gabbing, we’d finished our meal and it was time to clean up.  While Tom and I took care of the griddle and pans, the boys took care of the table and loading the dishwasher.  When everything was done we decided to watch some more Star Trek and headed to the theater.  When the second episode ended, we took a break to use the bathroom, get our popcorn snack and headed back for the third episode of the night.  By the time it was over, all six boys were starting to yawn, so we sent them on their way to get ready for bed and finished loading the dishwasher ourselves. 

 

When we stopped in to say goodnight to the twins and Logan, they were curled up in the middle of the bed and snoring lightly.  We pulled up the covers for them, then gave our nightly kisses and love yous.  After turning out the light and closing the door, we turned to do the same for the other three.  T.J., Mike and Andy were already curled up and had pulled the covers up, but weren’t asleep quite yet, though they were close.  We shared our kisses and love yous with them and quietly retreated to relax a bit before going to bed ourselves.  We settled in the living room and I heaved a great sigh of contentment.

 

“What?” Tom asked.

 

“Nothin’, really.  Just had a good day.”

 

“You coulda fooled me.  You were pretty freaked out earlier.”

 

“I know, but overall it was a great day.  I really think Jean can help me deal with my issues without me losing my mind.  And getting that recording of Frank and Iris, well, that was just icing on the cake.  I’m pretty proud of that.”

 

“You should be.  That took some serious balls to pull off.  God, it still gives me the creeps the way Iris talked to you, though.  And Frank, sweetheart that he is, threatening to kill the twins and then you.  Talk about your sick motherfucker.  That’s what’s gonna get him life.”

 

“I’m just glad I was able hold it all together until we were done.  I feel really bad about pukin’ in that trash can.”

 

“Don’t.  Why do you think those rooms and that hallway are nothing but concrete?  I’ll tell you why, makes ‘em easy to clean.  A little barf ain’t nothin’ compared to what else has happened, trust me.”

 

“The thing that happened at the church, though, that really freaks me out.  I was fine until we turned the corner.  Once we did that, I felt like I was thirteen again and just fuckin’ froze up.  Literally, I couldn’t move a muscle.  I definitely need to bring that up next Tuesday with Jean.”

 

“Hell, I’m surprised you made it through the front door.  I should have known better than to take you there.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, hon.  I survived it, thanks to you.  I’m kinda surprised we haven’t heard from Dylan, though.  I figured he call tonight.”

 

“He’ll call when he has a chance.”

 

“Oh, I know.  Just anxious I guess.”  I’d just picked up my book to read for a bit when the phone rang.  “Who’s calling now?  Don’t people know we go to bed early?”  I looked at the caller ID before answering and saw it was Lee.  “Oh, shit, it’s Lee.  This can’t be good.”  When I finally answered, I greeted her with, “Hey, sis, what’s up.  Everything okay?”

 

“Are you watching TV?” she asked.

 

“Hell no, I’m getting ready to read.”

 

“Do yourself a favor and watch the news in about ten minutes.”

 

“Why, what’s going on?” I asked with serious concern.

 

“I just saw a teaser for the local news and it looks like their lead story is about the preacher at our old church killing himself this morning.”

 

“WHAT!!??” I yelled as I dropped the phone on the floor.

 

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