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 copyright by Owen Hudson, 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.
Dreams Don't Grow on Trees
Upon hearing that Hal Campbell had been suspended, Haden felt a sickness he couldn't explain. "Things like this are the reasons I want to get out of this town," Haden told Amy.
"Do something about it, then," Amy said.
"What can be done?"
"You're smart, you'll figure something out."
While in his room after dinner doing homework an idea came to Haden. "Hey, Brandon," Haden said, after dialing Brandon's number. "I have an idea of how to help Mr. Campbell. Are you in?"
"As long as I don't get in trouble at school."
"There's some risk. I'd do it, but I don't have that substitute teacher."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Does your cell phone record videos?
"If you could get a video of the sub trying to work a problem, maybe we could get Steve Holden to show it to the school board."
"We're not supposed to be using electronic devices in class. I could get in trouble for that."
"Yeah, I guess I'm asking too much. Okay, I'll try to think of something else."
"Why did you want to give the video to Mr. Holden?"
"Being a lawyer, he would know what we can legally get by with. Anyway, don't worry about it. I'll think of something."
"I got it!" Brandon said excitedly after school the next day.
"You got what?" Haden questioned.
"A video of the sub," Brandon said. "He tried to work a problem, but couldn't get the right answer. Chuck Waters got up and showed him how to work it. I'll E-mail it to you."
"Thanks, Brandon. I'll E-mail it to Steve. Are you going to the school board meeting Thursday?"
"I hadn't thought about it, why? Are you going?"
"My whole family's going. Kyle's dad is representing Mr. Campbell, so his family will be there. Tony's family will be there too."
"I'll spread the word and get some other students to go too."
By Thursday, the school was in a buzz about Hal and the board meeting. Most of his students were in support of him, but a few wanted the 'fag' fired. By the time the board meeting started, Haden was nearly as edgy as he had been his first day of high school.
There were several items on the agenda before the 'personnel' agenda item came up. Lloyd Price, the school board president, asked the students to leave.
"Excuse me, Lloyd," Steve stood and said. "That would be contrary to the open meeting law."
Mr. Price went into a private conference with the school attorney and then said, "Alright, they can stay. We'll be voting on whether to terminate the contract of Mr. Hal Campbell or not."
"Do we have a plan for a replacement if that should happen?" Nancy Lawson, another board member, asked.
"The plan is to hire Keith Marlow, he's currently covering Mr. Campbell's classes," Lloyd said. "He's well qualified."
"Lloyd, I have a video of him in class that I think you should see," Steve stood and said while holding out his cell phone.
"We don't need to see it," Lloyd said. "If a student took a video in class they could be in a lot of trouble for breaking school rules regarding electronic devices in the classroom."
"I really think you need to see it here before it gets posted on YouTube," Steve said. "I think you'll find it to be very embarrassing to the school district."
"I still don't believe we need to see it," Lloyd said.
"Well, I'd like to see it," Gabe Anderson, one of the school board members, said.
"Alright then, we'll view it," Lloyd agreed.
After the board members gathered around the phone and watched the video, Lloyd said, "Okay, we'll reconsider the hiring of Mr. Marlow."
"Wouldn't the hiring be putting the cart before the horse?" Steve asked. "Does this mean that the board has already made a decision on my client, Mr. Campbell?"
"We're just trying to make sure the classroom is covered," Lloyd said.
"Then you did plan to terminate the contract of Mr. Campbell!" Steve declared. "Would you please tell me why you planned to terminate Mr. Campbell's contract?"
"It's a morality issue," Lloyd said, apparently becoming distressed. "I don't think it needs to be discussed with students present."
"You've already dragged my name through the mud, you may as well continue," Hal said.
"The moral issue is that Mr. Campbell is living with another man," Lloyd said.
"Lloyd, I know for a fact that more than one teacher in the district is living with a person of the same sex," Steve said. "Further, there are teachers living with another person of the opposite sex without being married."
"But those teachers are women," Lloyd said while wiping sweat from his forehead.
"So, are you admitting to sexual discrimination?" Steve asked.
"Of course not," Lloyd said, wiping his forehead again. "But ..."
"But what?" Steve interrupted. "You can see that all of these students are here in support of Mr. Campbell."
"Maybe they're here because he's coddling the students," Lloyd said.
"If that's the case, would you tell me why a student could work the problem that the person you planned to hire couldn't?" Steve asked.
"We'll take a vote on whether to go into executive session or not," Lloyd said, without answering Steve.
The board voted three to two to go into executive session. After about 35 minutes, the board returned and voted one to four for the termination of Hal's contract, Lloyd Price being the only member to vote for termination.
Gossip continued the next day at school. Most of the students were happy to know that Hal Campbell was keeping his job. The major exception was Heather, who bragged that her parents cared enough to try to get rid of the 'fag.' The bragging backfired, as many students ostracized Heather following her bragging. She soon went from being one of the most popular students to just another face in the crowd.
"I told you that change could come about," Amy said to Haden, after Hal was reinstated in his classroom.
"It hasn't really changed," Haden said. "Hal still can't openly admit that he has a same sex lover. The only thing that's occurred is that he still has his teaching position."
The drama of the week made the weekend a welcome aftermath. The Harringtons decided they would attend church at St. John's, as each had enjoyed the Christmas mass.
"How can I join this church?" Haden asked Kyle after church.
"Talk to Father Jensen about it," Kyle said. "He'll explain it better than I can. Just go over and tell him you're interested."
"I'd like to talk to him about it too," Amy said.
"I think I would too," Lacey said. "I'm tired of the hypocrites in my church."
"We may as well make it a family affair, then," Darrell said.
"Father Jensen, this is my girlfriend Amy, her dad Darrell, and her brother Haden," Tony said when the priest came to greet them. "And this is Lacey. She'll soon be marrying the other son Perry."
"Yes, we met Christmas day," Father Jensen said. "I'm pleased to see you back."
"They're interested in becoming Episcopalians," Kyle explained.
"I'm pleased to hear that, I assume you've all been baptized," Father Jensen said.
"Yes, we have," Darrell answered for all of them.
"Confirmation classes will begin in April and meet for 10 weeks - with Confirmation Sunday in July," Father Jensen said. "The exact dates will be in the church bulletin. The date for confirmation will depend on the exact day the Bishop can visit."
"I'll be getting married before then," Lacey said. "It'd be nice if we could have the wedding here."
"Bring your fiancÚ in and we'll talk about it," Father Jensen said. "There's also a requirement for premarital counseling prior to the wedding."
"Perry's in rehab at Walter Reed," Lacey explained. "But he'll be home for a week during spring break."
"Oh, Perry was on our prayer list. I think Tony added him. Why don't you drop by the office and we'll go over some of the major things, then when Perry's here, bring him in," Father Jensen said. "I'm very pleased that all of you are considering joining our parish family, as you can see, we're not a large congregation."
"We're going to the Wok for some Chinese food," Debbie said as they left the parish hall. "Why don't we all meet there for lunch?"
"We always say that we have short church services, so we can beat the Baptist to the restaurants," Paul laughed.
"The service was short," Darrell agreed. "I didn't even have time to get in a nap."
The Wok had good food and an adequate selection from its buffet. Not long after each had served themselves, Hal and a man that Haden assumed was Hal's new boyfriend entered. "There's Hal and David," Linda said. "Kyle, go invite them to join us."
Haden liked David immediately and learned that he was an insurance adjustor. David and Hal met as members of the local Lutheran church.
"Hal told me what you did," David said. "You probably helped save his job."
"I didn't do anything," Haden said.
"You got that video to Steve," Hal said. "That helped more than you'll ever know."
"I think the one you need to thank is Steve," Haden argued.
"Oh, I already did," Hal said. "I tried to pay him and he wouldn't take a penny."
"You've done wonders for Kyle," Steve said. "I'm the one that should thank you. I never thought I'd see the day that Kyle liked math."
By the time everyone had finished eating and visiting, a cold gloomy rain had begun to fall. After arriving home, Haden decided it would be a good day to either read or take a nap. He opted for the nap.
"Amy went to a movie with Tony," Darrell said when Haden woke up. "What do you say we just have soup and a sandwich?"
"Sounds good to me," Haden agreed. "People say that Chinese food doesn't last long, but I disagree. That was some good food. I'll go feed Ranger and then open a can of soup and make sandwiches when I finish."
"I'll do it while you take care of the mutt," Darrell said. "How about grilled cheese and tomato soup?"
"How many grilled cheese sandwiches can you eat?"
"One is plenty."
"Dad, the rain is starting to freeze on the trees," Haden said when he'd finished feeding Ranger.
"It probably won't amount to much, but after we eat, help me bring the generator up from the barn."
"Do we have gas for it?"
"It's a diesel and I always keep diesel on hand. I can always burn it in the 'tank,' as you call my truck."
"What will it provide power for?" Haden asked, after they'd put the generator in place.
"Most everything in the house, but we still need to conserve fuel in case the power goes off and stays off for a while. The main things are the furnace, refrigerator, and freezer. It helps that we cook with gas and have a gas water heater, as well as a gas dryer. This is a transfer switch, it switches from the main power supply to the generator," Darrell explained.
"Why do we need a transfer switch?"
"It prevents a back feed of current from the generator to the power lines. It could be dangerous if workers were working on what they thought was a dead line."
The next morning, Haden woke up to a cold room. He tried to turn his bedside lamp on, but it appeared to be broken. He was trying to remember where he put his flashlight when he heard the generator start. In a short time his bedside lamp came on, then he heard the furnace blower.
Haden decided to shower after the house got a little warmer, so he just washed his hands and face and made his way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. After pouring himself a cup of coffee, he went to the living room where Darrell had the TV on.
"Good morning, Son," Darrell said. "Did the generator wake you up?"
"No, I got cold and woke up," Haden said.
"They just said on the news that the power outage is widespread," Darrell said. "Your school is closed."
"No school today?" Amy asked as she entered the room with a cup of coffee in hand.
"Good morning, Amy," Darrell said. "You heard right."
"Good morning," Amy said. "Why is there no school?"
"There's a widespread power outage because of the ice storm," Darrell said.
"Then how do we have lights?" Amy asked.
"Dad started the generator," Haden said. "Dad, how long will a tank of fuel last in that generator?"
"It depends on how much electricity is used," Darrell said. "Be sure and turn off all the lights and appliances you don't need. If you do that a tank should last 10 to 12 hours."
"Oops," Haden said as he rushed to his room.
"I guess there's no hurry for breakfast since none of us need to go anywhere," Amy said.
"Well, I need to go in," Darrell said.
"Why would you need to go in if there's no power?" Haden asked.
"There could be power at the store," Darrell reasoned.
"Isn't there someone near the store that you could call and find out?" Amy asked.
"Clay Ferguson lives a few of blocks away," Darrell said. "I guess I could call him."
"I'll start breakfast while you make the call," Amy said.
"There's no power to the store," Darrell said when he came into the kitchen. "I called Paul and he said not to worry about going to the store as long as there was no electricity. His house is on a generator too, so they're doing fine. Paul said that he heard the electricity could be off a week before all of the power is restored. The first priority is to restore power to the hospital and other emergency services."
"What happens to the hospital when the power goes off?" Haden asked.
"They have large generators that come on automatically when the power goes off," Darrell explained. "I have a hunch that power will be on at the store soon, since it's near the hospital. Steve lives in that area and will likely get connected early too. But it may be a few days before the school has power."
"Breakfast is ready," Amy announced. "I had a craving for French toast."
"We haven't had that in a long time," Darrell said.
"I love it," Haden said.
"You love food, period," Amy laughed.
"Guilty," Haden confessed.
"Have you thought of Ranger?" Amy asked. "I'll bet you haven't checked that he has food and water, I'm sure his water is frozen."
"He rarely drinks from his water bowl," Haden said. "He seems to prefer to drink from the creek."
"Amy, the French toast was delicious," Darrell proclaimed as he washed down the last morsel with a big swig of coffee.
"It sure was," Haden agreed as he began to clear the table. "Are these dishes in the dishwasher clean?"
"No, there wasn't a full load last night," Amy said. "Go on and take care of poor Ranger and I'll finish here."
"I'm sorry I forgot you, Boy," Haden said as Ranger crawled out of the bed of straw in his dog house. "Look at this, you let your water freeze, but I'll bet you're more interested in what's in your food bowl."
Ranger's wagging tail indicated the positive answer about the food. "Just look at the ice on the trees," Haden continued. "It looks like crystal. I know, you're not interested in anything but what's in your bowl. But don?t you think it would make a marvelous picture?"
Haden rushed toward the house, almost slipping on the ice. "Dad, could I borrow your camera? I don't know how anything so destructive could be so magnificent."
"You know where the camera is," Darrell said. "Pardon me if I don't share your enthusiasm."
"Dad, look at these," Haden said after he'd loaded the digital pictures onto his laptop.
"Well, I'll have to admit, these are beautiful," Darrell said. "You should send them to Weather Pictures at the TV station in Covington."
"Which one should I send?" Haden asked.
"Send all of them," Amy said. "But I especially like the one of Ranger's head peeking out of his ice covered doghouse."
"Where do I send them?" Haden asked.
"There should be a link on their website," Darrell said. "They're giving a nice Cannon digital camera to the best picture each month."
After sending the pictures, Haden called Kyle. "Hey, are you surviving the ice storm?"
"We're camping out in the den around the fireplace," Kyle said. "Mom cooked breakfast on the camp stove. How are you guys doing?"
"We're fine. The house was cold until Dad got the generator started. Now it's nice and warm. We cook with gas, so we have about everything we need."
"Wow, I didn't know you had a generator."
"Dad got it a few years ago."
"I wish we had one. It's boring without a computer or TV. Dad told Mom this morning that we needed to switch from electric to gas for cooking."
"I'll bet Dad has some generators at the store. I'll go ask."
"Never mind, our lights just came on."
"Dad said that you would probably get yours early since you're near the hospital. They already called off school for tomorrow, so you'll get to stay home and watch TV all day."
"I'll have cabin fever before we get back to school. Dad said that the roads are almost free of ice. I don't know why we don't have school."
"Duh, I think the power has to be restored first."
"Yeah, I forgot about that. Hey, I've got to go; Mom's calling for me to put the camp stove back in the garage."
Haden spent the afternoon reading and just goofing off, he even managed to get in a nap. He went out to check if Ranger's water had refrozen. Fortunately, it was ice free, a good indication that the ice would be melting. Ranger came running from the barn when he saw Haden, probably hopeful that Haden had a treat for him. And Haden just happened to have a dog biscuit in his pocket.
After playing with Ranger for a while, Haden went back in the house where Darrell and Amy were busy preparing dinner. "Need any help?" He asked.
"I think we have everything under control," Darrell said.
"I guess I'll go watch TV for a while, then."
"I'll be in when the news and weather are on," Darrell said. "I'll most likely go to work tomorrow."
"I know that I'm ready to go back to school," Amy said.
When the news came on, Amy and Darrell joined Haden to watch. They learned that Sparks received the worst of the ice storm. Electricity was restored to almost half of the town, but it would take five to six days before all the power could be completely restored. Crews would be working throughout the night.
"We'll eat dinner right after the weather," Amy said during the commercial break.
Mike Brown, the station's meteorologist, explained the ice storm, "Freezing rain is rain that falls when surface temperatures are below freezing. Unlike rain and snow mixed, ice pellets, or hail, freezing rain is made entirely of liquid droplets. The raindrops become super cooled while passing through a sub-freezing layer of air many hundred feet just above the surface, then freeze upon impact with any object they encounter. Unfortunately, the encounter in the Sparks area was with tree limbs, which then came down on the power lines."
"The temperatures are now above freezing and the highways and streets are mostly clear. However, a word of caution, the melted ice could refreeze tonight as the temperature drops below freezing again. Just be cautious of icy spots in the morning and travel should be safe. You should also be cautious of downed power lines."
After the weather forecast, Mike Brown said, "Be sure and send your weather pictures for a chance to win this Cannon digital camera. Tonight's picture was sent in by Haden Harrington of Sparks. It appears that Haden's dog Ranger, isn't very happy with his ice covered house."
"Maybe Ranger's warm and cozy and just doesn't want to come out in the cold," Laura Wells, the female anchor, interjected.
"Would you blame him?" Chuck Nash, the male anchor, asked.
"Wow, I can't believe they actually showed my picture," Haden said.
"They were all excellent pictures," Amy said. "But I told you the one of Ranger was the best one."
"It was a good one," Darrell agreed. "Now let's eat before Haden's head gets any bigger."
Haden didn't bother to set his alarm when he went to bed, since it was announced on the late news that the Sparks schools would be closed the next day. 'It's good that I like to read,' Haden thought before dropping off to a peaceful sleep.
The sound of ice falling from the trees woke Haden the next morning. Although he knew there was no school, Haden decided to crawl out of his warm bed. After a quick shower, he followed the aroma of coffee and breakfast coming from the kitchen.
"Good morning, Son," Darrell said. "I made scrambled eggs and sausage. Help yourself, but you'll need to make your own toast."
"I'm making toast for myself, go ahead and sit down and I'll make yours too," Amy offered.
"Thank you, Amy," Haden said. "Thank you too, Dad. Why are you dressed like that, you're not going to work, are you?"
"Yes, the power is on at the store," Darrell said. "Amy, if you need me to stop by the grocery store, call me. I hope they're open too."
"We can go shopping," Haden said.
"No, the roads may not be safe, you two stay off the roads," Darrell ordered.
"But, Dad ...," Haden said.
"This isn't open for discussion," Darrell said. "Both of you are to stay off the roads. Even if there's no ice, live electric lines could be down."
"Alright, Dad," Amy agreed.
"Haden, do you understand?" Darrell questioned.
"Yeah, Dad," Haden grudgingly agreed. He had symptoms of cabin fever, but knew the case was closed.
After feeding Ranger, Haden helped Amy with some house cleaning. Once the house work was done, Haden decided to get a head start on some school work. Before Haden knew it, it was past 4:00 p.m., so he went to help Amy with dinner.
"What can I do to help?" Haden asked Amy, who was busy in the kitchen.
"You can unload the dishwasher."
Haden had almost finished the task when his phone rang. Haden didn't recognize the number, but answered it anyway.
"Haden, this is Roger. I wasn't sure if you'd be home from school or not."
"We didn't have school today. The ice storm brought down most of the power lines. I hope we get to go back tomorrow. How are you doing?"
"I'm doing great. You're not going to believe this, but my dad called and wants me to come back there and live with him."
"Are you going to come back?"
"Hell, no. I'm getting to know Mom again and I'm happy here. I don't know what's up with Dad anyway. He found out that I'm gay and kicked me out. I kind of think something's going on with the scam they have going at the church and it isn't bringing in the money that it used to. Or he may be just trying to get out of paying child support."
"That's probably it."
"He also said something strange."
"What was that?"
"He said that they have a place that could cure homosexuality. But the really strange thing is that he wanted to know about you."
"What about me?"
"He said that they could get you cured too."
"Yeah, like that could ever happen."
"If I were you, I'd watch out for my dad, my uncle, and your mom. No telling what they're really up to."
"I'll bet that's what the new building near the church is for. I'll talk to Dad when he gets home. He may need to talk to Steve."
"What was that about?" Amy asked when Haden completed the conversation.
"You're right, Steve should be told about this," Amy said, after Haden gave her the details of the conversation with Roger. "Wait until after dinner to talk to Dad about it. I don't think we need to upset him before he eats dinner."
"I'm going to call Steve about this," Darrell said after Haden divulged the conversation he'd had with Roger.
"What did he say?" Haden asked, after Darrell completed his phone discussion with Steve.
"He's on his way over to talk to you," Darrell said.
"I'm sure they're up to something," Steve said, after Haden once again repeated the information of his conversation with Roger. "Haden, I want you to be very careful until we can figure out what's going on."
"What do you mean?" Haden asked.
"Just don't go anywhere alone," Steve said. "This may be one of those places that actually kidnap and imprison young gay people to 'cure' them. I think their TV and phone scam is drying up their funding, so this may be something new."
Going back to school the next day was a welcome relief to both Amy and Haden. "Don't let Haden go anywhere by himself," Darrell cautioned Amy before he left for work.
The weekend seemed to arrive all too soon for Haden. He'd welcomed the opportunity to finally get out of the house. Darrell had warned him again not to go anywhere alone. Amy was going to Covington with Tony and Kyle was spending the day with his grandmother. This meant that he would once again be stuck at home with nothing to do. At least on Sunday the family would be in church.
The weather had turned unusually warm and Haden decided he would till the garden in preparation of spring planting. After completing that task, he went to check the mail before fixing himself a sandwich. As he was checking the mail on his way back to the house, a car suddenly pulled into the drive and two men tried to drag him into a car. He immediately recognized them as the McFadden brothers.