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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyrighted by Darrin Thomas, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Once everyone was in the gym and seated the principal stepped up to the microphone.
"Ok everyone, please settle down!" He said waiting for quiet.
"Today, one of our own returned to us. Those individuals, who know him, are very grateful he has reappeared. After Dylian told me what he experienced in the past few months, he asked to speak to you. Please remember that it took a great deal of courage to even attempt what he did. Never forget, Bluejays, respect is to be shown to everyone. That is what I demand from all of you. Now I will let our friend speak."
The educator handed my son the microphone.
"Thank you Mr. Dorn! Hi, my name, for those of you who don't know me, is Dylian Price: soon to be Thomas. My mom died when I was four. After that, my older brother and I were placed in foster care. Being a ward of the state is hard. Kids get moved around a lot: we were lucky that it did not happen to us. Things were okay until last year when my new mother was killed in a car crash! The case worker left us with our dead guardian's husband, John: He started drinking. My brother protected me from most of the beatings that the man tried to inflict on me! Then, he found Simon with a friend in his room: we weren't allowed to have anybody over. He walloped him really badly. Later that night some men came to our place and took Si away. They tried to make him a sex slave: YES! A prostitute!"
My brave boy, took a deep breath, before continuing, "With my bro gone, the man turned his attention to me. I was the only one left that he could take his drunken anger out on. Nothing I did was good enough! Making straight 'A's didn't mean anything to him: I kept the house clean, but he could care less! I tried everything possible so John wouldn't get mad and hurt me. Then, he decided that he could make more money selling me to the same people. But, to make sure I would cooperate with my new "owners" he decided to break my spirit. My so-called guardian tried to do this by physically and verbally abusing me. When I fought back, he took a belt and whipped me: This time the pain was so bad that I complained to Social Services. Instead of believing me the woman in charge called me a fibber! When the man found out what I told her he threatened me saying, "If you ever utter another word to anyone else I will kill them!" Waiting three weeks he tried again: But, I fought back and got beaten really badly for my efforts! That is when I decided to run away. I made plenty of mistakes: The biggest was not trusting adults around me to help. Now, I am going to show slides taken when my new father literally stumbled across me. There are also photos of the boys that were found with my brother. While watching these pictures please think about your friends: How you would feel if it was one of them?" the nine year-old concluded sounding a lot older then he really was.
The cascading series of images elicited 'gasps' and 'ewws' throughout the gym. Dylian looked around and found that most of the teachers and staff were crying. He also saw that many of the children were wiping their eyes, as well. Upon ending, my son purposely permitted a long period of silence. When everyone had regained their composure the moderator stepped back up to the microphone.
"I am sorry that I didn't fully warn you about the contents! However, I want you to feel the extensive nature of the damages inflicted. Please try to remember that you were only able to see the physical portion of the abuse. The emotional side I can't show! Maltreatment affects each person differently. Now, what should you do about it? The individual has several options. The best thing is to report it, even if you are threatened, as I was. I should have told Mr. Dorn, Mrs. Smith, or Ms Cutter: Instead, I went to my case worker, who refused to believe me, calling me a liar! However, being a "Mandated Reporter" she was required, by law, to inform the authorities or face incarceration. Since, she didn't, she has been jailed. But, remember, the important thing to do is let someone know! Don't ever be afraid that you are going to get into trouble. Never feel guilty about being a victim."
My little hero turned to the adults sitting next to him, stating, "Today, I asked my dad for help. So, here with me are a few good friends that I would like to introduce to you. First, is my Uncle Bruce: an ex-Navy Seal and, now, Head of Security for DJ Enterprises. Next, there is Thorn: formerly of the Secret Service who was assigned to protect the President's family. He works for my father. Then, there are Curt, Sally and Kevin: all former police officers serving us. Every one of them is not just employees but like family to me. Why are they here? Well, that's easy: to answer any questions you may have. Talk to them about what is happening to you, or to someone else that you know and may need help. Together, we are going to make sure that every student in this school is protected and taken care of. And, that, this institution is abuse free. For that is to happen everyone must help! You don't have to be beaten or afraid: no need to live with that kind of secret any longer! Every adult at Bird will listen to you, as well. But, if they don't: Well, just look over at my security detail!"
There was laughter throughout the gym, however very little came from the staff seating area.
"I want to thank you guys for listening to me. And, please speak up! Let's end all abuse and fear!"
My boy handed the microphone back to Mr. Dorn, walked off the stage and out of the gym.
No one really knew how upsetting the whole speech had been for Dylian: not even Nicky. The brave diminutive hero went to the bathroom and locked the door. Even Thorn wasn't able to catch up with him. My son sat down on the toilet and cried. He felt that he was going to be sick to his stomach. There was a loud knock, but he did not hear it. The nine year-old lost all concept of time until his phone started ringing. Looking he saw that it was his father.
"Hi, little man!... How are you doing? Are you all right?".
"I don't know, Daddy! I guess I am okay."
"Then, how about letting me in?"
"WHAT?! You're here!" my sweetie asked sounding very worried.
"Yes, of course I am here! My fearless ace needs me." I told him with as much love, as I could pour into it.
I heard him burst into tears and, then, the click of a lock. Opening and bolting the door I joined my son.
"Why aren't you with Simon?" He cried hugging me tightly.
"Your brother had surgery on his head in an attempt to restore the sight in his right eye. He came through the operation just fine, and he is now sleeping. He won't wake up for the next eight hours. I needed to leave, so I thought that I would come see how you were holding up! I was a little concerned when I found you barricaded in a bathroom! Want to tell me about it?"
"I talked to the school about everything that happened to me! It was harder than I thought it would be. After I finished speaking my head felt like it was ready to explode! I just sat down and cried. I didn't get sick or anything. Then the next thing I knew you were calling me!"
My son calmed down a little, as he talked.
"I know: I spoke to Mr. Dorn. He told me what a great job you did at the assembly! Saying he never heard anyone speak so eloquently on the subject of abuse, as you did! I bet you didn't know that at least fourteen children have come forward about being abused. You are responsible for all of that! You have no idea just how proud of you, I am! Talking in front of the other kids was a very hard thing to do. But look at the rewards, all ready. So far you have helped many other boys and girls! I can't wait to tell Simon when he wakes up. I am sure that this is what he wanted. Now, let's get out of here: Will you take me to meet your teacher?"
Holding out my hand the boy eagerly grasped it tightly. Then, he guided me down a long corridor before stopping in front of a room. My son turned to me and stated, "This was my class! Do you still want to go in?"
"Yes!... I do!"
"Um, Mrs. Smith?" my youngster asked shyly.
All the kids stood up and started clapping.
"Oh, Dylian! Are you all right?! You had us worried there for a while?"
"Yes Ma'am, I was just a little overwhelmed, afterwards. I would like you to meet, Dad. Father this is my teacher!"
The nine year old was still acting a little bashfully.
"It is a great honor to meet you! Both of my sons speak very highly of you. As does Nicky."
Walking over to where his buddy was sitting my little man joined his fellow pupils.
"It is me that is indebted! I have known of you for many years. Your sister and I were in the same class in high school. I was sorry to hear of her passing! Also, my brother works for you. But, more importantly, I can't tell you how much that little boy over there loves you! He is a very special young man! If I had known what he had been enduring I would have stepped in long ago! He just never let on. I even asked him several times how things were going at home after his foster mom was killed. He wasn't in my class at the time, but I still knew of him because of Simon. We are going to really miss him around here! And, I heard that we are losing Nicky, as well. I do want to thank you for not splitting up that pair. Those two are as close to being brothers as any boys could be. And, I was afraid that you would separate them! I don't think that either could survive: not after the year they have had. What Dylian did today was incredible! The last news I received was that fifteen students came forward to report being abused: which is all thanks to my star student! And, to think, he is only nine! Just imagine what he will do with his life!"
The lady looked at my son with pride and love in her eyes.
"I know just what you mean! I want the little hero to continue speaking out about malevolence at all the surrounding elementary schools. However, I can't expose him to the emotional turmoil he experienced after the assembly! I am so darn proud of him! The question is: How can we move forward without harming him?"
I realized I was rambling, but I couldn't help it.
"I know what you mean! I was very worried when Dylian ran away! However, that incompetent caseworker told us that he had been moved to a new foster home: So there was nothing I could do! But there is, now! I want to help in anyway I can. Please don't forget that!"
"I won't! By the way, who is your brother? You said that he worked for me."
"Oh, yes!... He is one of my ace pilots! If I recall correctly he has only been employed by me for about six months: is that correct?"
"WOW! I am impressed! You must have hundreds of employees, and, yet, you remember a new worker. That is remarkable!"
"Not, really! You must understand: My helicopters are my "babies". So, I am deeply involved in the hiring of each pilot."
"It's a dream come true for Josh! Right now he ferries passengers, but what he really wants to do is pilot airborne ambulances. My brother has always loved flying or anything involving it. I tried to talk him into bringing his aircraft here for my students to see, or, even, just jet by. However, he said that he was not permitted to do so: "It would be against company rules" to quote his words!"
"I think the kids would get a kick out of it! Let me make a call."
"Really?! They just finished a project on aerodynamics. Granted it was paper airplanes, but, still, that would be fantastic!"
I called Dispatch: instructing the woman on duty to send two of my flying machines to the school and to have them land on the playground. I stipulated that Josh be one of the pilots. I was told that my babies would be here in less than an hour. I let it be known they better arrive in under fifteen minutes.
"Um, Sir, that is not possible!"
"Well, seeing how I own them: Make it so!
"Excuse me! And, just whom the hell do you think you are?!" She said angrily.
"I am Drew Thomas! May I ask for your identity, please?!"
I remained calm.
"Right! As if "HE" would call!" She snorted.
I was now becoming very upset. I don't tolerate disrespect or, allow, rudeness from my staff! Hanging up I called my second-in-command.
"Miles, I want two birds to land on the playground of Bird Elementary School! One of them is to be piloted by Josh Coleman. Both are to arrive in one quarter of an hour! Further, FIRE the woman who is the dispatcher right now! Don't even let her finish the shift! Make her aware that she was talking directly to me. And, no severance package! I will fight any attempt she makes for unemployment."
"Drew, slow down buddy! What the hell is going on?!"
"I will talk to you shortly! But, for right now, please do as I requested!"
"Fine!... I will call you back with an ETA (estimated time of arrival)."
I went back over to Mrs. Smith and let her know what I had set up. She was very excited. I also told her that Josh was going to be one of the pilots. She thought that was a great idea since her class had already met him. Ten minutes later I heard that wonderful sound of the rotating blades. My "babies" were coming for a visit! Walking over to my son's teacher I said:
"My birds are approaching. Please assemble the kids in the cafeteria, so they can watch them land!
"Children. I have a surprise for you! Follow me quickly!"
Mrs. Smith led the class over to the lunch room. On the way, my boy grabbed my left hand and Nicky grasped my right. I couldn't have been happier! Dylian looked up at me and smiled like he knew something was up. Leading the pupils over to the wall of windows, their teacher just stood looking out onto the playground.
"Um, what are we doing, Ma'am?" a slightly confused little blond girl asked.
"Ali, look outside! You might just be in for a surprise."
Mrs. Smith smiled at the blond.
As if by pre arrangement, at that exact moment, one of my big choppers, an Aerospatiale SA 365 Dauphin 2, was coming into view and preparing to set down. DJ Enterprises owns seven of these awesome machines. The kids went nuts! Dylian looked up at me with a huge smile on his face. That was all I needed to make this worth the cost. The big graceful work of art landed on the playground and slowly started to shut down. Even, I, an experienced pilot myself, was excited. As soon as the blades stopped turning, we heard the second approach. This one was a Bell 206B Jet Ranger III. Once both had shut down, Josh's sister asked if anyone wanted to go out and look at them more closely. All the kids, including myself, screamed:
The lady laughed at me.
"Ok, I expected the children to get excited, but "YOU"! You own these things! And, I heard you also fly them. So, why the excitement?"
"The day I become unaffected seeing one of them land, take off, or fly, will be when I am no longer alive!"
Both pilots stood outside their flying machine waiting on us. Mrs. Smith's brother had a very worried look on his face, as I walked up to him.
"Hi Josh, you might not remember me, but I am Drew Thomas."
I held out my hand.
"Yes, Sir! I do know who you are, but why are you here? I was radioed by dispatch and told to report to Bird Elementary!"
"Don't worry! I called for you and Pat to come here. The kids have had a tough day and just finished a project in science about aerodynamics. I thought it would be a nice treat for them to get to see, and touch a real helicopter."
"Fine, but what are you doing at this school?"
"My youngest son attended your sister's class. That is, he was prior to becoming my child. He came today to say goodbye to his fellow students and favorite teacher. You might have heard through the company grapevine that I have taken in two boys: Simon and Dylian! Well, that one holding your sibling's hand is my younger son! I am sure that you will be seeing both of them a great deal in the future. Now, here is what I would like you to do: Please go over there and teach whatever you can to those kids: Make them happy!"
Josh headed over to his "baby" where Mrs. Smith and her star student stood talking with a few of the excited kids. Pat had his hands full with half the class, so I headed over to him.
"Help!... Mr. Thomas!... I am being attacked!"
The pilot laughed, as the kids were swarming his stationary aircraft.
"Just make sure the keys are out!" I jokingly answered back while fielding questions.
It wasn't long before other excited little tykes came out to look at the two helicopters that had taken over their playground. Both navigators were holding their own conversing about flying, so I decided to head back to the hospital.
Before leaving I asked my son if he wanted to accompany me or come over in the evening.
"Dad, if it's okay with you I would like to hang out with Nicky. Then, later on, his father can bring me to the hospital!"
The boy was staring at his well-worn shoes before adding:
"Daddy, I really need to see Sara. She was very upset when we left this morning, so I promised that I would return this afternoon: She thought I wasn't coming back, again."
"That's fine with me!... Thorn will drive you there and, then later, to the hospital. Also, I need to talk with Nicky's mom: Will you please ask her to call me?"
"Yes, Daddy! And, thanks!"
My boy gave me a big hug and kiss.
Walking over to my employee I informed him of the revised plans. Then, I said goodbye to Mrs. Smith and thanked her for hosting me. I told the two pilots to stay for another half hour and, then, hit the skies.
I went to Mr. Dorn's office to pass on my farewells. I knew he was already busy dealing with the large number of kids that had reported being abused. When he saw me enter the school office the principal stopped talking to a police officer and walked over to me.
"Mr. Thomas, I understand the distraction on the playground is your doing!" He said laughingly.
"Yes, Sir! I am to blame! I thought the kids needed some entertainment. Thank you for helping Dylian today!"
"No! It is I that owe you a debt of gratitude! What he did today was priceless! I just wish we could duplicate his actions at every school in the district. Our brave little hero single handedly saved eighteen children from destructive situations! That is unheard of for any guest speaker who has addressed a student body about abuse. I am so pleased you allowed him to do this, and for loaning us the extra help."
Mr. Dorn shook my hand.
"Let me know if you need anything else. The Marriot has an open account for any kid that needs help. Just contact Bruce: He knows all about it, and he will handle all the details. Don't worry about the cost!"
After exchanging greeting, I returned to my truck. Then, I headed back to the hospital to be with my elder son.
Thank you for all the feedback. I can't get over how many people like my narrative. I hadn't planned on it going this far. But you all keep encouraging me to continue writing this story! And, that is what I am going to do, as long as there is a demand for it. I also want to thank my Editor! You are a friend and a great editor! Thanks for your support! This Chapter is dedicated to a special young man! Zac you're the best!
Please remember that kids are our future. It's time to protect them.
No Child Should Have To Sleep On The Street Tonight!