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
It all happened so quickly that Haden was being pulled into the vehicle before he had time to react. He was being pulled by Roger's dad Harvey McFadden, and the reverend was trying to control his legs. Haden managed to free one leg and landed a solid kick to the reverend's head, causing the reverend to fall to the ground.
"Hurry up," a female voice said, a voice that Haden didn't recognize. "We're close to the highway and someone might see us."
The reverend recovered enough to get to his feet and grabbed for Haden's feet just as Haden landed another solid kick, but this time to the reverend's groin. Suddenly Harvey McFadden was screaming in pain as Ranger attacked him from behind. This caused him to lose his grip on Haden and Haden jumped out of the Lexus. The reverend made one last desperate move to grab Haden before he managed one final kick to the reverend's chest.
"Let's get out of here," the driver yelled as the McFadden brothers managed to get in the Lexus.
"Dad, the McFaddens tried to kidnap me," Haden said when he called Darrell.
"Just now, but thanks to Ranger I managed to get away."
"Call 911 right now, I'm on my way home."
Two Sheriff patrol cars arrived shortly before Darrell. One of the deputies was Coy Davis. "Which way did they go?" Deputy Davis asked.
"I'm not sure, but I bet there're headed in the direction of Covington," Haden said.
"Why do you think they went in that direction?" Deputy Cade Simmons, the other deputy, asked.
"They wouldn't have gone toward Sparks where they would be recognized," Haden reasoned.
"Cade, get a report from Haden while I call in a description of the car and have the highway patrol be on the lookout for them," Deputy Davis said.
"Son, are you alright?" Darrell asked when he arrived and pulled Haden into a hug.
"I'm fine," Haden said.
"What's that bruise on your arm?" Darrell asked.
"I hadn't noticed that," Haden admitted.
"Tell me what happened," Deputy Simmons said.
"I thought I was safe here on our own property," Haden began. "I went to check the mail and as I was walking back to the house. They were on me before I knew what was happening. The reverend may have some fractured ribs. I kicked him pretty hard in the chest. And from the way his brother was screaming, I'm sure he has some pretty bad dog bites."
"Why do you think they were trying to kidnap you?" Deputy Simmons asked.
"My mom has the idea that I'm gay," Haden said, the closest he'd come to admitting to anyone outside of close friends and family that he was gay. "I was told that the church was starting a clinic to cure gays."
"My ex-wife has some mental problems," Darrell added.
"There's an alert to be on the lookout for them," Deputy Davis said after calling in the report. "Haden, I don't think they're dumb enough to try anything again, but don't take any chances. We'll patrol the area, but I'll bet they left the vicinity."
"I think you should check that new building next to the church," Haden said.
"Why is that?" Deputy Davis asked.
"Roger McFadden said that's where their clinic to cure gays is," Haden said. "Since they just tried to kidnap me, they could have other boys in there already."
"Cade, look for evidence here and I'll go over there and check things out," Deputy Davis said.
"Haden, did you notice anything?" Deputy Simmons asked.
"No, but I didn't look," Haden admitted.
"Could you show me where the attack took place?" Deputy Simmons requested.
"Right about here," Haden said, after walking down the driveway.
"Look at this, we have a bloody pant leg," Deputy Simmons said as he placed the bloody cloth in an evidence bag.
"What's going on?" Amy asked when she and Tony arrived.
"The McFaddens tried to kidnap Haden," Darrell briefly explained.
Deputy Davis returned with three boys in his patrol car. The oldest appeared to be about 16 or 17 and the youngest about 12 or 13. "They were locked in that building with no food, and were told they wouldn't get food until they confessed their sins," he said. "They haven't had anything to eat since yesterday. Mrs. Harrington was at the parsonage, but claimed she didn't know what was in the new building. She denied having a key until I threatened to take her in for questioning."
"I have a crock pot of beef stroganoff," Amy said. "I'll heat some vegetables and make a salad for them."
"I can get them something in town," Deputy Davis said.
"Nonsense," Darrell said. "Amy always cooks plenty of food."
"Haden and Tony, would you come and help me?" Amy asked.
"We don't have any more questions for now," Deputy Simmons said, dismissing Haden.
"What do you want me to do?" Haden asked when he went in the house to help.
"You can make some garlic toast while I make a salad," Amy said. "I'll heat some vegetables. I made a big bowl of banana pudding before I left. I think that should do it. Tony, you can set the table."
It was obvious that the boys were very hungry in view of the fact that they ate a good portion of the beef stroganoff as well as the pudding. They ate in almost total silence, but began to chat some once they finished eating. It was learned that none of the boys were from Sparks, but from different parts of the state. Mark, the youngest is 13, Cody is 14, and Wayne is 15.
"Darrell, would it be okay with you if I interview the boys here?" Deputy Davis asked. "I hate to take them to the office for an interview."
"Sure, we'll get out of your way," Darrell said. "Do you want to interview them here at the kitchen table?"
"That would be fine," Deputy Davis said.
"Haden, I need you to help me clear the table." Amy said.
"Boys, this won't take long, then we'll call your parents to pick you up," Deputy Davis said.
"No! Please don't call mine," Cody said. "They're the ones that turned me over to those crazy people."
"Mine too," Mark said.
"Same here," Wayne said.
"Darrell, would you call Rita Holland at Child Protective Services and explain what's going on?" Deputy Davis asked. "Do you have her phone number?"
"I can get it from Steve," Darrell said.
"I'll call Rita," Steve said when Darrell called. "Then I'll come out there and see if there's anything I can do. Those damn McFaddens have gone too far this time."
Deputy Davis learned that Cody was the first to be turned over to the McFaddens, he had been there almost two weeks. Wayne was next, he arrived the day after Cody. Mark arrived two days ago. They were required to read the Bible for about two to three hours a day and then listen to lectures on the sins of homosexuality. Meals were meager and often withheld as punishment.
"I may have to put you boys in a shelter until I can find a foster home for you," Rita Holland said, after interviewing the boys.
"We have a big house," Tony said. "I'll call my parents and see if they will foster them."
"That's nice of you, but they have to be approved as foster parents first," Rita said.
"They fostered a young girl once while her mother was in rehab," Tony said.
"In that case, we may be able to place them with your parents," Rita said. "Give them a call and ask them if they could meet me here if they're interested."
"They're on their way," Tony said, after making the call.
"Who're your parents?" Rita asked.
"Paul and Debbie Miller," Tony said.
"Oh yes, I remember them," Rita said. "In fact, I remember you too. I was just having trouble remembering where I'd seen you before. Boys, do you have clothes at the church?"
"They took our clothes and gave us these orange scrubs," Wayne said. "I think they wanted us to look like prisoners."
"I'll see that the boys get a change of clothes," Rita said, after the Millers arrived. "I'll get vouchers for you to purchase additional clothes for these young men. I'll assign Rene Younger to your case; I think you'll like her. She'll be by Monday to get them enrolled in school, and she'll arrange for them to be seen by a doctor for physical exams. What grades are you boys in? "
"I'm in tenth grade," Wayne said.
"I'm in the eighth grade," Mark said.
"And what grade are you in, Cody?" Rita asked.
"Ninth grade," Cody answered.
"I assume the school bus comes by your house?" Rita asked.
"It does, but they can ride with Tony," Debbie said. "If he has an after school activity either Paul or I can pick them up or they can ride the bus home."
"Rita, if the boys need an attorney to represent them, I'd be pleased to do it for free," Steve offered.
"The boys have made it clear that they don't want to go back home," Rita said. "Your services may be required if their parents try to regain custody. I believe that's all I can do for now. Mrs. Miller, I'll be by your house later with vouchers for the boys' clothes."
"I'll take them shopping for clothes tomorrow after church," Debbie said.
Cody, Mark, and Wayne were made to feel welcome by the congregation at St. John's Sunday morning. The boys looked like average teenagers now that they were no longer in their orange scrubs. Cody appeared to be the most sociable of the three. Mark appeared to be on the shy side and Wayne seemed to be somewhere in the middle.
"We're going to the Wok for lunch if anyone wants to join us," Debbie announced after church.
"Mom, we ate there last Sunday," Tony complained.
"I know, but we need to eat at a buffet since the boys and I are going shopping this afternoon," Debbie said. "It takes too long to order from a menu and the Wok is the only buffet in town that's open Sundays."
"I could eat there every Sunday," Haden proclaimed.
"Oink, oink," Amy teased.
"I guess I'm an oinker too," Steve laughed. "I like their food too."
"Is that Deputy Davis that just pulled in?" Tony asked.
"Yes, it is," Steve said as Deputy Davis walked toward the group.
"I saw you guys as I was driving by and stopped to tell you that the McFadden brothers were arrested in Florida," Deputy Davis said.
"That's good news," Darrell said.
"They went to a small hospital seeking medical care and the hospital personnel became suspicious when they got mixed answers about the injuries," Deputy Davis said. "An alert nurse called the police and they were arrested. We still haven't identified the driver."
"What do you know about the driver?" Darrell asked.
"All we know is what Haden told us ... It was a female, but it wasn't his mom. They were alone when they were arrested," Deputy Davis said. "And they're not talking."
"Thank you for letting us know," Darrell said. "Would you care to join us for lunch?"
"Thank you, but I told my wife I'd be home for lunch," Deputy Davis said. "I'm pleased to see that these young men are in a safe home now."
After getting their food, Wayne sat next to Haden and asked, "Are you gay too?"
"Why do you ask?" Haden asked, somewhat surprised.
"From what I gather, your mom had the McFaddens try to kidnap you," Wayne said.
"Yeah, I'm gay," Haden admitted. "But I'm not out except to family and close friends."
"The reason I asked is I was wondering what it will be like at school," Wayne said.
"We have a lot of bigots in this town," Haden said. "I think it'd be best if you guys didn't say anything."
"What if they ask why we're in foster care?" Wayne asked.
"Just tell them that you don't care to discuss it," Haden said. "If they give you any trouble you should tell Tony. He and his football friends will look out for you."
"We sure will," Kyle said, apparently overhearing the conversation.
"Tell Cody and Mark to let Tony know if anyone gives them any trouble," Haden said.
"Tony seems cool," Wayne said.
"He's a good guy," Haden agreed.
"I guess it isn't going to be much different from back home then," Wayne mused.
"Don't be afraid to ask for help if you ever need it," Kyle said.
"Well, boys, if you're finished eating we may as well go clothes shopping," Debbie said.
"Come by the house for soup and sandwiches this evening," Linda said. Darrell, you and your family are invited too. I don't think anyone would want a big dinner after this lunch."
"That's nice of you, Linda," Debbie said. "But that's a lot of sandwiches for a bunch of hungry teenagers."
"I'll just put everything out and let everyone fix their own," Linda said. "I'll invite David and Hal too."
"What can I bring?" Debbie asked.
"I'll pick up everything," Linda said. "If you want to bring some sodas that would be great."
"I'll make some brownies and lemon bars," Amy offered.
"I thought we were going to spend the afternoon together," Tony said.
"We are," Amy said. "You're going to help."
"I can't wait for her to be my daughter-in-law," Paul said, and everyone laughed.
"Kyle, you and Haden are going to help me," Linda said. "We'll stop at the store on the way home."
"What do you want us to do?" Kyle asked, after arriving at the Holden's.
"I'm going to get you guys started on the soup while I make a vegetable tray," Linda said. "I thought we'd have potato leek soup and chicken soup. Haden, why don't you make the potato leek soup and, Kyle, you can make the chicken soup."
"Lawd, Miss Linda, I don't know nothin' 'bout making no potato leek soup," Haden said in a not very good imitation of Prissy's voice from Gone with the Wind.
"Well, you're 'bout to learn," Linda laughed.
"My soup is going to be better than yours," Kyle said as he and Haden worked under Linda's supervision.
"No way," Haden argued.
"They'll both be good because you're using 'my' recipe," Linda said.
Linda taste tested the soups before the guest arrived and declared them equally good. But this didn't stop the arguing.
It proved to be an enjoyable evening, and the soups appeared to be enjoyed as both pots were almost empty. All seemed to eat as though they'd only had a meager lunch.
The rescued boys were becoming more relaxed and talked about starting school during their meal. "It isn't fair that I have to go to a school where I won't know anyone," Mark said. "Wayne and Cody will get to go to school where they already know Kyle, Haden, Amy, and Tony."
"My dad was in the military," Hal said. "It seemed like I was in a new school every year or so. Some were difficult to adjust to and others were easy. I think you'll soon make new friends here in Sparks."
"Of course you will," Debbie agreed.
"Tony, where are Cody and Wayne?" Haden asked Tony at school the next day.
"Mom took them for their doctor appointments and then to see the dentist," Tony said. "They'll be in school tomorrow."
"How is it having foster brothers?" Kyle asked.
"I'll admit it's different," Tony confessed. "Their home life wasn't good before they came to live with us. Mark must've had it the worst. His dad wouldn't let him eat at the table with the rest of the family. He had to take his plate to his room to eat. He wasn't allowed to watch TV or use the Internet either."
"That's cruel," Amy said.
"It sure is," Haden agreed.
"What about Wayne and Cody, how were they treated?" Kyle asked.
"They were both turned over to the McFaddens almost as soon as their families discovered they were gay," Tony explained. "Apparently the McFaddens had contacted several fundamentalist churches and offered a 'cure' for homosexuality."
"We need to do all we can to help them adjust," Amy said.
"Yes, we do," Haden agreed. "I feel sorry for Mark since he's at the middle school by himself."
"If he can make it through May, he'll be a freshman," Tony said. "Then he'll be here at the high school and you'll be here to befriend him."
"Not really," Haden grinned.
"Why wouldn't you be willing to help him?" Amy asked.
"I was called to the counselor's office this morning and Mrs. Smith said that all I need is my senior English class to graduate," Haden said. "She's putting me in the first English class of the day and then I'll go to Covington for college classes."
"I guess you can't share a ride with the rest of us, then," Kyle said in disappointment.
"Why not?" Haden asked.
"You just said you had Senior English first hour," Kyle said.
"It would depend on your schedule," Haden said. "Remember, college courses are very different than high school. There may be days that conflict, but probably not every day."
"Dad, Haden has some news for you," Amy said during dinner that evening.
"I hope it's good news," Darrell said. "We've had enough bad news for a while."
"I only need Senior English to graduate from high school," Haden said. "I'll have an early class and then drive to Covington for college classes."
"That certainly is good news," Darrell said.
"Mrs. Smith had me fill out papers for financial aid," Haden explained. "She thinks I still have a good chance for a scholarship."
"We'll manage your tuition even if you don't get a scholarship this year," Darrell said. "Amy, your child support money will end when you graduate. I'll make sure you have expense money then. Haden, since you won't actually graduate from high school until next year you'll continue to receive child support money."
"Dad, I can get a part-time job," Amy said.
"Amy, we've already discussed this," Darrell said. "I'm making more money now and I can afford your gas and spending money."
"Dad, I have money in savings," Amy argued.
"That money's for emergencies, yours too, Haden," Darrell said.
"Dad, I can work," Haden said. "My schedule won't be as rigorous as Amy's."
"No, Son," Darrell said. "We're not rich, but with my new salary we're doing okay. From the time you were born I worried about seeing that you got a college education. Thankfully, you're both smart and worked hard to earn good grades. That's already got Amy a scholarship and will help when Haden applies for scholarships."
Haden looked for Wayne and Cody at school the next day, but it was second hour before he saw Cody in the restroom. "How's your first day of school going this morning? Is anybody asking personal questions?"
"Everybody's cool but this girl named Heather. She said she heard that I was at the McFadden's for the cure."
"Good grief, Heather is one of those religious do-gooders. What did you tell her?"
"I didn't tell her anything, thankfully the bell rang."
"We need to think of something to shut her up. We'd better go or we'll be late for our next class. I'll see you at lunch."
"Which lunch period are you in?"
"This is just a small school and there's only one lunch period. We'll save a seat for you and Wayne at our table."
"Have you seen Wayne or Cody this morning?" Amy asked Haden when he joined her at their regular table.
"I talked to Cody briefly, but I haven't seen Wayne," Haden said. "I told Cody we'd save a seat for him and Wayne at our table. Get this, Heather is asking him questions about being at the McFadden's for the cure."
"That bitch hasn't learned a thing," Amy said.
"What bitch are you talking about?" Kyle asked as he took a seat next to Haden.
"Heather," Amy said.
"I should have known," Kyle said. "Hal told me that a student had asked him to be the faculty advisor of a Gay-Straight Alliance here."
"The school board isn't going to approve that," Haden said.
"Hal talked to Dad and Dad's already got the school board to approve it," Kyle said. "There's Tony with Cody and Wayne now."
"How did he get them to agree?" Amy asked.
"The threat of a lawsuit got their attention," Kyle laughed.
"What's funny?" Tony asked as he and his foster brothers joined the group.
Amy briefly explained what was going on. At first Tony was silent, then said, "We have to do something to shut Heather up."
"We need to join the alliance," Amy said. "And you need to get all of your jock friends to join. I'll talk to some people too."
"Heather tried to ask me questions about being in the McFadden's 'clinic'," Wayne said. Mr. Campbell overheard her and asked her to take her seat and to see him after class."
"I'd love to be a fly on the wall to overhear that conversation," Amy laughed.
"I'll let you know if I hear anything," Kyle promised.
"How has your first day at Sparks High School been?" Amy asked
"Other than Heather, it's been okay," Cody said.
"I think I might like it here," Wayne said. "I feel sorry that Mark is at the middle school by himself."
"Mom told him that if he had any problems he was to go to the office and call her immediately," Tony said. "She drove him to school herself this morning, but he'll ride home with us."
"Why, it's the fag hag and her table of fags," Heather walked up to the table and said.
"Heather, sit down, we're going to talk," Amy said.
"Go to hell," Heather responded and turned to walk away.
"Heather! I said to sit down." Amy shouted loud enough that the kids at the next table turned to look.
Heather sat immediately, most likely in response to the authority in Amy's voice.
"Heather, are you a lesbian?" Amy asked, then continued without waiting for an answer. "It seems that those who are most frightened by another's sexuality are the most unsure of their own sexuality. The religious right cherry picks the parts of the Bible to prove their points about homosexuality and then skips the parts that they don't practice."
"Well, I've been taught all of my life that it's a sin," Heather nervously answered.
"If you'd been taught to drive home a certain way and then one day a bridge is out, would you continue that way anyway?" Amy asked.
"Of course not," Heather said.
"Then why do you continue your hatred of someone you think may be gay?"
"They decide to be gay."
"Why would a person want to be gay? If you really believe it's a choice, why don't you choose to be gay just for a few days to prove that it's a choice?"
"Well, I... ." Heather was obviously taken aback.
"Gays are persecuted by so called Christians and those who are unsure of their own sexuality, which are you?" Amy asked.
"I don't know, I don't know," Heather cried as tears began to flow.
"You need to talk to someone, but not your preacher," Amy said, as she handed Heather a napkin to wipe her tears. "Why don't you go to the counselor's office and talk to Mrs. Smith?"
"I can't," Heather said.
"Would you like for me to go with you?"
"Yes, I'll go then."
"Mrs. Smith probably won't allow me to sit in with you, but I'll walk there with you."
"What happened with Heather?" Haden asked Amy as they walked to the parking lot after school.
"I don't know," Amy admitted. "I left her with Mrs. Smith and then went to class."
"Did you hear about Heather?" Cody asked at lunch the next day.
"What about her?" Amy asked.
"I heard some kids talking before class and they said that her dad hit her a few times. There were all kinds of speculations about why he hit her. Nobody mentioned that she's a lesbian," Cody said. "Her mother called the police and her dad's in jail."
"Wow, have you seen her today?" Amy asked.
"I heard something about that," Kyle said. "She wasn't in my English class."
"Yeah, that's what I heard," Tony said. "Apparently she has a black eye."
"Maybe I should've kept my mouth shut," Amy said.
"You had no way of knowing," Tony said.
"Next week's spring break," Amy said. "I'm sure she'll miss school tomorrow and then we start spring break. By the end of spring break the black eye should be gone."
"Yeah, and Perry will be home," Haden said.
"Who's Perry?" Wayne asked.
"Our brother," Haden said. "He was wounded in Iraq and he's been in rehab. He'll be here for the week on leave."
"We'll probably not see him much," Amy said. "He and Lacey are planning their wedding."
"Who got a package?" Haden asked when Amy retrieved the mail from the mailbox after school.
"I didn't order anything."
"Well, it has your name on it."
"Hey, it's the camera!" Haden exclaimed after opening the package. "I can't believe I actually won with that picture of Ranger. I assumed I didn't win."
"It looks like a nice camera."
"I sure couldn't afford one like it."
Spring break finally arrived and Haden was keyed up about seeing his brother. They were to meet him at the airport at 9:10 p.m. Haden had already put clean linens on Perry's bed and empted a drawer for him. Amy had invited Lacey to have dinner with them and then ride to the airport with the family.
The family had just sat down to dinner when to everyone's surprise, in walked Perry and Paul. Everyone rushed for a hug that ended up as a group hug. Then Perry managed to give Lacey a proper kiss.
"You didn't tell us that you would be here early," Darrell said.
"Paul called and offered to fly me home," Perry said. "I wanted to surprise everyone."
"You sure did," Lacey said, clinging to Perry's arm.
"Sit down before dinner gets cold," Amy said. "We can visit while we eat."
"Amy, don't put a plate down for me," Paul said. "Debbie will have dinner ready."
"Paul, we can't thank you enough for bringing Perry home," Darrell said.
"He's like family," Paul said. "It's the least I could do."
"I noticed that you're walking well," Lacey said after Paul departed.
"Yeah, I'm almost done with rehab," Perry said.
"Then you'll get your discharge from the army?" Haden asked.
"There's something I need to tell all of you," Perry said.