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When we were driving up to the main road from the parking lot, we saw Mr. Spencer on the shoulder by his car, as he wasn't allowed on the property. Carson was walking towards him with his hockey bag slung over his shoulder and his mother was walking beside him. A short conversation took place and Mr. Spencer grabbed Carson's coat sleeve, shook him violently then punched him. We could also hear that he was yelling at him. It was obvious that Carson had told him that they lost and his father was now out of control. He shoved Carson to the ground and then pushed his wife as she tried to stop him.
"Dad, stop. He's going to hurt Carson and his mom," Sean said.
"Dana, you stay with Garth and call the police," I said, as Sean and Jake took off with Glen following, after the LX came to a stop.
The boys got to the scene before me and they stood beside Carson and his mom as I hurried to catch up. I was surprised that Glen took off, as he had been very outspoken after the game as to what he thought of Carson. I think the fact that Mr. Spencer roughed up his wife was his motivation. When I got there Carson had picked himself up and his mother was in between him and his father, who was yelling at the two of them. Carson and the mother were cowering at the barrage of words and it was quite evident that he had been drinking. Glen moved over and stood right beside me and I could see from his body language that it wasn't going to take too much for him to get into a physical confrontation with Mr. Spencer.
"This is none of your business, Burger. Get out of here," he said, as he came closer to me.
"The moment we saw you assault your son and wife it became our business."
I could see that Glen was wound up like a coiled snake ready to strike. It was clear that he thought he needed to protect me, so I put my hand on his shoulder and gave him a reassuring look to calm him down.
"We're not going to let you hurt anyone," Jake said, as Sean and he had moved to the side of Mr. Spencer.
He was now eyeing the situation and he became very agitated and started to threaten us. I wasn't certain what was going to happen but I was sure that between the four of us we could subdue him if we needed to. He realized it as well and wasn't making any serious moves to get into a physical confrontation, however, that didn't stop his verbal abuse. I wasn't quite sure what I should do since the police hadn't arrived yet, as I didn't want to force him to get into his car and drive away, as he was intoxicated. At the same time I wasn't about to let him leave with Carson and his wife.
"We'll be Ok, thanks for your concern," the mother said to me in a shaky voice, indicating that she wanted to leave with him.
I wasn't surprised by her statement, as I knew that victims of domestic violence were often afraid to leave their abusers for fear of reprisals. This type of behaviour often enabled the abuse to continue unabated.
"Mrs. Spencer, I can't in all good conscience let you and Carson go with your husband," I said.
"I agree with Mr. Burger. We're going to make other arrangements, Mrs. Spencer," Jim Lampton, the father of one of Carson's team mates said, as he now joined us.
He was a police detective and was now taking charge of the situation, as he had seen the assault as he was getting into his car in the parking lot with his son and wife.
"Mr. Spencer, did you drive your car here?" Mr. Lampton asked.
Carson's father wasn't thinking straight and he told him that he did. When Mr. Lampton asked him what time he had arrived, he had enough information to add a DUI charge after they took a breathalyser reading. Just then a police cruiser showed up from Dana's call.
Mr. Spencer wouldn't cooperate with the policemen, and after they took Jim Lampton and my statements as to the assaults, they told him he was under arrest. They then handcuffed him as he struggled and took him away, after they gave the car keys to his wife so she could take the car home. Dana had now joined us with Garth and she comforted Mrs. Spencer, who was very distraught and was pleading with the officers not to take him away.
It was a little awkward with the boys and Carson, as they felt for his situation, but at the same time they were having a hard time forgiving him for his rough play on the ice and his obnoxious behaviour.
Finally Carson reached out a shaky hand and said, "I'm sorry for everything, Sean."
Sean hesitated, but finally shook it and gave him a smile. He realized that Carson was in for a rough go and was empathizing with him. I was guessing that the thought of some of the abuse he had endured was softening his opinion of Carson.
"Mrs. Spencer, you can't drive in your condition. I'll drive you and Carson home and Al and the boys will follow us," Dana said.
As we were driving them home I called Katharine using the Bluetooth in the car and my Blackberry.
"Hello, Uncle Alan. I'm guessing that once again this isn't a social call. Don't tell me you've found another boy in need?" she said, as she chuckled.
I explained the events and asked where there was a woman's shelter available should Mrs. Spencer need it. I wasn't sure what sort of course of action would take place with Mr. Spencer and whether there would be a restraining order against him or not.
"I think there's one in town. Since there's a child involved, I can send someone around tomorrow to give them the information Mrs. Spencer will need," she said.
Mr. Lampton and his family followed Dana and me, as Mr. Lampton wanted to set up a time for one of the police domestic violence counsellors to come around to counsel Mrs. Spencer. We left them and took Sean to Scott's to get him stitched up, then joined the boys at Montana's for the after game celebration.
We had a great meal and then presented the boys with plaques commemorating the season with their own personal hockey card we had made up from the individual pictures that were taken at the beginning of the season. I also gave them Tim Hortons coupons which were much appreciated by them as well as their parents.
The boys got each of the coaches a plaque which said 'The World's Best Coach' on it. Then Jake and Brandon got up to make a presentation to me. My loquacious son, Jake, then made a speech that only he could have made, about how everyone had learned a lot from me and appreciated my patience with a 'rag tag' bunch of guys, as he put it. Then Brandon gave me an 8*10 inch framed team picture, which each boy had signed. It had been Brandon's idea and he was beaming as he handed it to me. While they were hooting and hollering, I composed myself and thanked them for being a great group of boys and for being so thoughtful.
As we left the restaurant I put my arm around Sean and Jake and said, "I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed the season with our team, boys. I also have to tell you that I'm so very proud of how much you two have improved over the season and how you've conducted yourselves on the ice."
Carson was very subdued the next few days at school according to Sean, Jake and Glen. Even though the physical altercation between him and his father wasn't of a serious nature, it had apparently taken its toll on his psyche.
"His friend, who's a jerk, doesn't hang around with him because he says he's not fun anymore. Some friend," Jake said, with a disgusted look on his face.
"He just sits by himself at lunch and isn't very sociable when we try to talk to him. He just wants to be alone," Sean said. I was proud of him for reaching out to Carson in view of the past history between the two of them.
That evening Dana called the mother and she found out that there was a restraining order against Carson's father. He had to complete substance abuse rehabilitation and anger management classes before it would be reconsidered. We were glad Mrs. Spencer had taken the advice of the Domestic Violence counsellor the police had sent to talk to her.
"I hope things work out for them. She said that Carson is really mixed up and is angry that his father isn't with them anymore, but is also hurt the way he lashed out at them at the rink," Dana said, with a great deal of concern in her voice.
Garth was really getting into the jokes and just about every day he and his friends would trade 'funnys' as he called them. Whoever picked him up after school was always treated to the day's new jokes and only the highlights were shared when we got home.
"This guy asked this other guy 'Have you ever seen a man eating tiger?'" he said one day, as he wiggled into the front seat of the LX with his backpack still on his back as usual. He thought it was a particularly funny joke as he stopped to giggle.
"Are you going to tell me the rest of the joke?" I asked, with a big smile.
"The other guy said 'No, but in the Swiss Chalet I saw a man eating chicken'," he said, as he now was in full giggle mode.
"You're a funny guy, Garth Webster," I said, as I poked him in the ribs, which elicited more giggling.
That evening Sean and Jake were going to Junior choir practice, as they were going to start learning a couple of new songs for a performance at the main service two weeks in the future. We were having dessert and the boys had been talking about it as part of the dinner conversation. Garth had paused eating his dessert which was a cue that he wanted to say something. Nothing usually interrupted his dessert, so we knew it was something of particular importance to him.
"What is it, Garth?" Dana asked when Sean had finished speaking.
"Do you have to be really good to get into the choir?" he asked, with his serious look.
I was rather surprised, as he hadn't given us any indication that he wanted to perform, as he had been taking guitar lessons for a few months and he was a little shy about playing in front of us. Although he liked singing in church, we hadn't suggested the choir because of this reluctance.
Before Dana or I could answer Jake piped in with a big smile and said, "You just have to want to sing."
We told him that he could go with the boys that evening to see if he liked it. We also told him that if he made a commitment to the choir he had to give his best and make all the practices.
"Why don't you come too, Glen?" Sean asked.
That didn't meet with a very positive response from Glen and we didn't push it. I was a little disappointed as this would have been good to bring him a little further out of his shell.
Garth liked the choir and he looked forward to all the practices, partly because of the singing, but also because he enjoyed spending time with Sean and Jake and their friends. We continued to try to get Glen interested, but it just wasn't happening.
As the big performance date got closer, Garth asked Sean and Jake to practice with him as he was starting to get a little nervous. We couldn't understand why, as his voice would blend in with the other kids, as we were sure he wouldn't be doing any solos. We really hadn't talked to the boys about specific details about the performance, as we wanted to be surprised. The Friday and Saturday before the Sunday service the three of them went down to the studio after dinner. I was very proud of my two sons for being so patient with him and it also gave Dana and me some time to spend with Glen.
On Sunday morning we had the boys dressed up in their suits and they all looked very handsome. Garth and Sean were at opposite ends of opinion as to the choir gowns, as Garth thought it was cool.
Katie, Marty, Carol and Kyle had joined us as we were going to make it a family day and have brunch afterwards. John Webster was also joining us and I went over and picked him up in Dana's RDX, while she drove the boys over in the LX. John was now able to get around with a crutch, but he still tired very easily.
We arrived earlier than the boys and Dana, as I wasn't sure how long it would take us to get there so I left lots of time to pick him up. We waited in the foyer as there was a seat that John could sit on until they arrived.
"Now we have three angels in the house," Dana said, as she looked at the boys as they carried their gowns into the church. Sean gave his usual pained expression which made us chuckle.
We weren't sure what they were going to perform but Sean had brought his acoustic guitar along. John was beaming as he saw his boys again, especially Garth with his gown. Both Glen and Garth went over to him and they hugged before Garth, Sean and Jake took off to get ready.
It was the usual formal type of service and confirmed in my mind why I liked the contemporary service better. Before Reverend McLaughlin's sermon, Erin Brady the Junior choir leader got the choir set up at the front of the church to perform their numbers. Garth and the smaller children were in the front, and Sean, Jake, Charles and Stéphane were in the back with two older girls.
The first song was 'Onward Christian Soldiers' and the male part of the regular choir also joined the kids, while the organist provided the musical background. They did a great job and we were so proud of the boys. Garth was really into the singing, as he had a big smile on his face as he opened his mouth wide and sang the high parts with the younger kids.
The last song was 'Tears in Heaven' by Eric Clapton. Sean got his guitar and Jake came forward to sing the solo part. Charles and Stéphane, as well as Garth, joined the two behind them. Now it made sense why Garth was a little nervous.
Sean started the song and Jake sang the first verse by himself and he was marvellous. He was getting so good, as Erin had done a great job helping him with his phrasing and voice control. Sean was also impressive as he had learned the picking to the song, likely with some help from Colin, his guitar teacher. I glanced at Dana and she was starting to get choked up. When they got to the second verse, Jake stepped back and joined the rest of the boys as they sang the next verse together. We were very surprised when they got to the last verse and Garth stepped forward. He sang the solo part of the last verse and his young soprano voice was loud and clear. When they were finished, Dana was sniffing and dabbing her eyes with her Kleenex. John and I weren't saying a heck of a lot either, as we were really moved, as well. Usually no one clapped in the formal church service, but Randy broke with tradition.
"Let's show these young people and Erin how much we enjoyed this performance," he said, as he started the applause. Everyone was on their feet within moments and gave them a standing ovation.
After the service, the boys met us in the foyer in their gowns. Sean was resigned to having to wear it until we had pictures taken. One of the best pictures was of Glen with Garth in his gown and John in the middle. All three of them had big smiles on their faces.
"You're quite a little songbird, son," John said to Garth as he gave him a big hug. Garth was beaming.
Dana put her arm around Garth and gave him a big kiss on his cheek, much to his chagrin.
"You made us all very proud, young man. You have a lot of talent that you've been hiding," she said, as she gave him a squeeze.
Needless to say Jake and Sean got their fair share of accolades by all the family. They were lapping it up, even Sean who had forgotten he was still wearing his 'geeky' choir gown.
We all went back to the house and Dana's daughter, Susan, joined us. We were going to use this opportunity to present Dana and Susan's plan to John. When we were finished eating the boys went downstairs to watch an afternoon NHL playoff game in the Media room while the adults had coffee and tea upstairs. Katie, Carol, Kyle and Marty had to leave early, as they had another function to go to in Toronto.
"Are you going to be around next Wednesday in the afternoon?" Marty asked, as Katie and Carol were getting their coats.
He said he had a meeting in the city and wanted to drop by to talk to me. I was puzzled and I said I would be around, as I had scaled back on a lot of my work with the school board's corporation, and pretty well did most of the work from home.
"Our brothers are real performers, Dad," Carol said, as she was back in the hall putting on her coat.
"Maybe they'll inspire you to get out your guitars again", Katie said, as she gave me a kiss goodbye.
When we came back in to sit down in the Living room I decided to talk to John about the future, which would be a good segue for Dana and Susan to introduce their plan.
"John, you're making very good progress and pretty soon you should be thinking about the boys and your future plans. I hope you're going to consider living in town next year. I have to decide now about where to enrol them for school next year and activities," I said.
He told us that he hadn't given it too much thought as he was still focused on his rehabilitation. He said that he wanted to live in town but he wasn't sure if he could afford it or if it would be convenient to where he would be working. I was glad to hear him talking about working, as he was starting to sound a lot more positive about his future than he had been.
"The boys have made some real attachments here, least of which is you and your family. This has been so positive for both of them," he said.
Dana had left the room while he was talking and now had reappeared with a portfolio and sat down beside him.
"John, Susan and I have been talking about a business venture for some time that we would like to launch here in town. We've been missing some key ingredients, but we think that we've found them," she said, as she opened the portfolio.
She laid out the business plan and the availability of the old town hall, complete with the financing. Susan then pitched her part of the plan and then Dana told him that his role would be as the head chef.
"I'm overwhelmed. This looks fantastic, but will I have enough money to do this and buy a place for us?" he asked.
Dana smiled and said, "Part of your investment will go towards the upper floor of the building. Take a look at this."
She laid out the plans for the loft apartment, complete with the costing of the renovation and furniture. He looked over the plans as Dana and Susan explained the layout to him.
"One of the good things about the location is it's two minutes away from us if you needed us for anything," she said, as she gave him a big smile.
He was speechless for some moments and was getting very emotional. Finally he said with a big smile, "This is beyond my wildest dreams. When do we get started?"
We talked for about another hour and finally John was getting very tired. We called the boys upstairs so we could explain the future plans before he said goodbye to Glen and Garth. Garth was ecstatic and Glen was very happy in his own reserved way.
"I get to go to school here and we're going to have a great big home with my own room?" Garth said, as he wrapped himself around his father. Glen followed and gave him a great big hug as well.
"I think Dana deserves a big hug also. She put together the plan with her daughter," John said. The boys didn't hesitate, which brought a big smile to Dana's face.
Over the course of the afternoon Susan and John had got along very well, as they were very close in age. John had remembered that they had worked together in the past and they seemed relaxed with each other. I was confident that Dana, John and Susan would work well together in this new venture.
"I can't tell you how happy I am. I know our whole relationship didn't come together under great circumstances, but I feel so positive about how my family's lives will be in the future," he said, as he got his coat on to leave.
"Things have a way of working out," Dana said, as she gave him a big smile.
Like most boys Garth's age, he was very transparent when it came to his emotions. I was picking him up one day after school and he was not himself, as he was very sombre. He didn't have any new joke or tidbit from his day which was very unusual and he didn't respond very positively when I tried to make conversation with him.
Finally I asked, "Did you see Garth come out of the school?"
He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "I'm Garth. What are you talking about?"
"This isn't the Garth we pick up every day. What's up, big guy?"
He looked at me with a very concerned expression for some moments and finally said, "What if I fail grade 3 this year?"
I was not expecting that comment and I was wondering where that was coming from. After some probing it appeared that he was stressed at the grade 3 EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) standardized testing that Ontario schools were mandated to administer. My girls had missed this when they were in school as it was a more recent phenomenon. I wasn't a real fan of this, as it was politically motivated with little pedagogical benefit behind it. The government used it to rank schools, which by and large was a foregone conclusion, as the schools in the better economic areas always performed well. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the schools in the disadvantaged areas always came in last and needed more resources, which they usually didn't get. It also put a lot of stress on the Grade 3 and 6 kids, which were the grades where the testing occurred.
"What makes you think you're going to fail, Garth?" I asked.
"Ms. Boyter gave me some extra sheets to do at home," he said, as he tried to get them out of his backpack which was still slung over his shoulders.
"Why don't you take the backpack off and get them," I said, as I chuckled.
When I looked at them they were all literacy based and were for extra practice.
"Why does the fact you have extra sheets make you think you might fail?" I asked.
He told me the dumb kids got the sheets and that the teacher told them this test was very important. I was a little disturbed by his comment that the dumb kids got the sheets and I probed a little more. After some more conversation, it appeared that many of the kids got sheets to help them in areas that they were having some difficulty with.
"Where did you get this idea that dumb kids got the sheets?" I asked.
"Jawinder said so."
"Did Jawinder get any sheets?"
"I don't know."
"Jawinder can't be that smart. Isn't he the kid that told you how a Dolphin breathes?"
He was a little perplexed at my comments as he thought he had things all figured out. Now things weren't making sense to him.
"How many kids got math sheets?" I asked.
"Tons. Even Mandy. She's real smart," he said.
"Not as smart as you in math, young fellow. She got extra math sheets. You didn't," I said, as I ruffled his hair, which finally got a giggle out of him.
As we drove home I had a talk with him about what the test was about and that it really had nothing to do with his marks that would determine if he passed or not at the end of the year. He felt a lot better, especially after I said that I would help him with the extra sheets after dinner. I knew he was feeling better when he remembered he wanted to tell me about the science lesson that day. They were still studying about oceans and creatures that lived there.
"We learned about oysters. Their balls turn into pearls," he said.
Once again I had to keep a straight face and after a few moments I said, "Oysters don't have testicles, Garth. The oyster makes a pearl when something that irritates it gets inside its shell. Don't tell me you weren't listening again."
"Oh yeah. Now I remember," he said, with a big grin.
As we drove off, I knew Dana would get a big kick out of the latest Garthism when we got home.
Josh Chambers was becoming a good friend to Jake and Sean. He hadn't been to the house for some months, though, and he hadn't met Garth or Glen. The boys had gone to Toronto a few times and stayed with Katie or Carol as they got together with Josh, Melissa and Rachel, who usually stayed over at Melissa's house. They loved to go to the movies and hang out afterwards. The boys finally got Josh to come and stay Friday and Saturday night with us and this was the first meeting with Garth and Glen.
Josh made friends very easily and everyone was comfortable with each other within minutes of Josh arriving. Garth couldn't resist and told him one of his jokes.
"Why are goldfish red?" he asked Josh.
Josh smiled and said he didn't know. Once again Garth started to giggle and finally said, "Because the water turns them rusty."
Not to be outdone, Josh told Garth a joke.
"Why does a flamingo lift up one leg?"
Garth didn't know and Josh said, "Because if he lifted up both legs he'd fall over."
We all laughed, but it was more at Garth's giggling than the joke. Josh had a big smile on his face as he put out his hand and high-fived Garth.
We were having an early dinner as the boys were going to the show. We had suggested that we would take Garth separately, but they all insisted that Garth join them. They chose 'How To Train Your Dragon' which was an appropriate movie for Garth.
While we were eating, Josh talked about Camp Tonawonka, which is where he was going in the summer.
"My Dad's going to be one of the counsellors with Bryan. Mark and I are going to be up there all summer. It'd be cool if you guys could join us," Josh said.
Sean and Jake were very excited about the prospect and we decided that they could go for a week, as we had a number of plans already in place for the rest of the summer. I also knew that Melissa and Rachel would be going, as the decision would probably be relayed to them before the weekend was over. My niece had been inquiring if we were going to send the boys back to the same camp again this summer and indicated that Rachel would love to join them if they were. I knew that Melissa would follow.
Glen and Garth were already signed up for the Tim Horton's camp for a week, as their father had done that before Christmas time. They had been sponsored the last two years and they had been accepted again for this summer. They had made a few friends up there that they were looking forward to seeing once again and they didn't want to change to another camp now. I had called the camp and told them that we were going to be paying for them, which freed up two spaces for some other needy kids.
"I'll speak to your Dad tomorrow to see what we have to do to set this up. Maybe Charles and Stéphane would like to go as well," I said, to Jake and Sean.
On Saturday, Sean, Jake and Glen were going to an evaluation hockey game which would determine whether they would get a tryout for the minor midget rep team the next season. I had signed both Glen and Garth up for hockey in the town league, so that's why Glen was eligible. Charles and a number of the other boys from our team were also invited. Josh was looking forward to watching the boys and spending time with Garth and me.
"I like watching hockey, especially if some of my friends are involved, but I didn't really like playing it when I was younger," Josh said. "Your foster dad says you're a little dynamo on the ice, Garth."
Garth giggled as he lapped up the praise. He liked Josh, which wasn't surprising. All of Sean and Jake's friends got along with Josh and recognized his special talents and charisma. We were joined by Mark after he had dropped Charles off at the dressing room. We got caught up on things as we hadn't seen each other since the championship game.
"My son seems to delight in causing me parental stress. The latest thing is his request to get an earring," Mark said.
"Glen had talked about one, but we told him that he would have to wait until he was living with his father. Neither Dana nor I were wild about the idea, so this was our way out of making a decision," I said as I chuckled. I felt for Mark, as Charles was still putting him through his paces.
The rep team coaches were sitting near us as they were going to watch the game from the stands. After the warmup we overheard some of their remarks.
"Is number six the redheaded kid? He's got a rocket of a shot," Bernie Johnson, the head coach said to his assistant, as he was talking about Charles.
The game was not rough, as there was to be light checking. They wanted to evaluate skill level not the boys' toughness. As the game progressed they had some very positive comments to make about all the boys from our team, particularly Sean and Jake. Bernie now knew we were sitting behind them, and he came over after they had finished.
"You've done a marvellous job with all the boys on your team this year. I remember seeing some of your practices at the beginning of the season and you didn't have anyone on your team that was performing like these boys did today," he said, as he shook my hand.
He told me that he was going to invite all of them to the tryout practices in the late summer, if they were interested. I decided I would leave it up to the boys to make the decision, as it would be a huge commitment if they made it.
"How'd we do?" Jake asked as we walked to the LX.
"Great. All of you boys are going to get a chance at the end of the summer. It's up to you what you want to do if you make it," I said. They both gave me big smiles.
The boys came back to the house to have some pizza and watch a playoff game on TV in the media room. Ronald joined Charles and was invited back as well. Mark left and told Charles to call him when they were ready and he would come and pick Ronald and him up to take them home.
Glen was acting a little funny after Charles arrived. They had gotten along over the last few weeks, as they seemed to have bonded. I was wondering if it had anything to do with Ronald and Charles being a couple, as they likely had held hands at some point after the game. We hadn't mentioned anything to Glen as none of us in the household gave their relationship a second thought. Sean had long ago gotten over his homophobia and was more accepting of their relationship, even though he wasn't completely comfortable with their lifestyle.
After about ten minutes Glen came back upstairs and told us he was going to his room to go on the computer. Dana and I thought it was a little odd and we were just about to go down to his room to ask what was wrong when Josh, Sean and Jake came upstairs and went down the hall to the bedrooms. We waited for a few minutes and when they didn't come back out, we went down to see what was going on.
"Ronald and Charles aren't any threat to you, Glen. That wasn't fair what you said to them," we overheard Jake say as we stood in the hall outside Glen's room.
"Charles is your friend. He knows you're not ever going to be his boyfriend, so what's the big deal," Sean said. I thought that was a truly remarkable statement coming from my son, after his initial reaction to Charles being gay.
"You like girls, don't you Glen?" Josh asked.
Josh continued, "How hard do you work at liking girls rather than guys?"
"I don't have to work at it. It comes naturally," he said with typical male bravado.
We could tell Josh was getting wound up and he said, "In other words, you were born that way. So was Charles. He didn't choose to be gay. My best friend Mark in Calgary is Gay and it doesn't make any difference to the way I view him as a friend. Charles hasn't changed but your perception of him as a friend has. Just think for a moment of what Charles, Ronald and my friend Mark have to endure. You don't have to hide that fact that you like girls but they have to be discreet about who knows they're Gay. You don't have to worry about getting beaten up or ostracized by your peers or be called a faggot but they do. They will likely be discriminated in the workplace at some point when they get older and in other social situations because of it."
Josh was very persuasive and after some minutes Glen emerged from the room with the other boys and went back downstairs to the Media room. They didn't know we had been listening in, as we had retreated back to the Living room.
We asked Sean when we were saying goodnight to him what had happened and if it was resolved. He said that Glen had been outspoken about the fact that Charles and Ronald were gay and used a couple of derogatory terms. After he came back down the stairs, he apologized, but was keeping his distance from them.
I knew that Dana and I would have to have a talk with him, but we decided it could wait.
The next day I had to pick up Glen from school as I had to drop him off at Phil's. It didn't make sense to have Sean and Jake take the bus so I told them I would pick them up as well. Dana was getting Garth and would likely be treated to a new 'funny' and some of his usually interesting perceptions of the day's lessons. I didn't know it but this was going to be very different than picking up Garth.
As I parked at the curb, I saw a number of kids running en masse around the corner of the building. I instantly knew from my years of experience in Secondary Schools that meant there was a fight about to go down. I got on my cell phone and called the main office and told them to send someone out to join me in quelling the impending altercation.
When I rounded the corner I saw the crowd about 300 yards away. As I got closer it parted and Scary Larry and another one of the goons were running towards me followed by Charles, Ronald, Sean and Jake. I started running towards them but before I could get close Charles and Ronald had tackled Scary Larry and the other one had tripped and Sean and Jake pounced on him. When I got closer I heard Scary Larry scream as Charles stomped on his hand, which loosened the knife that he was clutching, which was now lying on the ground near him. We were now joined by the Principal, Gord Caudle and another teacher.
"Al, Glen is over there with Steve Bertram, my vice-principal. His arm's been slashed. We've got these two under control."
I rushed over to Glen, who was surrounded by a crowd of about 50 kids. When I got there, Steve was on his cell phone calling the office.
"Call 911 and get an ambulance here," he said, as he hung up.
I bent down to see the extent of the damage, as Glen was sitting on the ground holding his forearm. It was obvious he was in a lot of pain and there was a slash in his jacket sleeve where the knife hit his arm. One of the gym teachers rushed up with some towels and we got his jacket off, pulled up his sleeve and applied pressure to the wound. There was a fair bit of blood, although it didn't appear to be a deep cut. We got the flow stopped and we took him into the office.
"I'm Ok. He didn't get me that badly," he said as we sat down in chairs in the outer office.
He told me that he usually took that door out of the school as it was less crowded and hardly anyone used it. He was on his way to meet Sean and Jake when Scary Larry and his friend confronted him. He blamed Glen for getting him in trouble by 'squealing' on him about the 'sack whack' incident and pulled a knife on him. Glen blocked his attempt to stab him with his arm and that's how his coat and arm got cut.
"How did the other boys get involved?" I asked.
"I don't know. After I got cut the next thing I knew Charles had come up from behind him and whacked him in the head with his backpack," he said.
That diverted Larry and his friend's attention and by that time Sean and Jake arrived with the crowd of kids. Larry realized that he needed to make a getaway and ran, which is when I came into the picture.
Within a matter of minutes the ambulance arrived. The cut appeared worse than it really was, as it wasn't too deep as we now had the flow stopped. His jacket had saved him from a more serious wound. Gord and the boys arrived in the office with Scary Larry and his accomplice. Larry was in a lot of pain as it appeared that Charles had broken his hand when he stomped on it. They were ushered into Gord's office to wait for the police to arrive and take them away.
Sean, Jake, Charles and Ronald huddled around Glen to see how badly he was hurt. I thanked Charles for saving Glen from more serious injuries and asked him how he and Ronald happened to be there.
He hesitated and finally said with an embarrassed look on his face, "Not many people go out that door. Ronald and I always go that way so nobody will see us holding hands or..... ."
I put my arm around him and said, "Thank you, young man. You don't need to be embarrassed."
Glen got up and held out his hand and locked thumbs with Charles and said, "Thanks. I owe you a lot and I'm sorry I hurt you and Ronald with the way I acted. I was stupid. Everyone was right. You're still the same guy I've been hanging around with and your being.... you know... shouldn't change anything."
He then locked thumbs with Ronald as well. He was showing a lot of bravery with the way he was holding it together through his pain, but his reconciliation with Charles and Ronald took the most guts. I was very proud of all the boys, but particularly Glen.
"You handled that like a man, Glen," I said, as I put my arm around him and gave him a big smile.
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