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

© 2011 - 2012 Owen Hudson

Chapter Twelve

"Someone will have to teach me to ride," Adam said after Darrell had adjusted the bicycle for him.

"You don't know how to ride a bike?" Darrell asked in surprise.

"No, I've never had one," Adam admitted.

"Didn't you have a friend that would let you ride?" Haden asked.

"No, I've never had many friends," Adam said with a bit of sadness.

"I'll teach you, then" Haden said. "We still have some time before dinner."

"You can ride until Mrs. Holland gets here with the paperwork allowing me to foster you," Darrell said. "After that we need to take you to town for a haircut."

"Do you get haircuts in town?" Adam asked with a puzzled look.

"We sure do," Darrell said. "Where did you get your haircuts?"

"From my mom."

"You wouldn't want me to cut your hair," Darrell said while thinking, 'that explains the bad haircut.'

"Andy the barber who cuts our hair is very good," Haden said. "How do you want your hair cut?"

"I want it like yours. How much does it cost, 'cause I don't have any money."

"Son, you don't have to worry about that now," Darrell said. "As your foster dad it's my responsibility to pay for things like that. You two be careful and don't break any bones, but have fun."

After showing Adam how the brakes and gears worked, Haden helped Adam mount the bicycle and held onto it while Adam learned to balance himself. Soon Haden released his hold and let Adam peddle while he ran beside him. Within an hour Adam was riding around the yard by himself. It was a wobbly ride, nevertheless, he was riding. He was riding with a huge grin when Rita Holland drove up and managed to stop the bicycle by himself without wrecking it.

"Well, it looks like someone has a bicycle," Rita said when she exited the car.

"Haden gave it to me," Adam said with pride.

"Is your dad inside?"

"Yeah, he is," Adam answered before Haden could. "We're going to town to get me a haircut."

"I'll take just a few minutes of his time and then you can go," Rita said.

"Can Haden go too?" Adam asked when it was time to go for a haircut.

"I probably should stay here and help Amy," Haden said.

"You go on, I don't have much to do," Amy insisted.

"Are you getting a haircut too?" Adam asked Haden when they arrived at the barber shop.

"No, I just got one Wednesday."

"Are you getting one, Dad?" Adam asked.

"I believe I could use one," Darrell smiled at his being called Dad by Adam.

"Andy, this is my foster son Adam," Darrell said. "He and I both need haircuts."

"Adam, why don't you hop up here and we'll see what we can do," Andy said. "How do you want this cut?"

"I want it just like Haden's," Adam said with authority.

"Are you sure you want to be as ugly as Haden?" Andy teased.

"He's not ugly," Adam objected.

"He's not pretty, but I guess you're right, he's not ugly," Andy laughed.

Adam grinned while getting his first barber shop haircut. Darrell and Haden were amazed at how different the haircut made Adam look. He now looked like a typical kid.

"Wow! Look at you," Darrell said as Adam climbed out of the barber chair.

"But I don't look like Haden," Adam said.

"That's because you're better looking than Haden," Andy laughed.

"But I wanted to look like Haden," Adam insisted.

"Haircuts look different on different people," Andy explained in a serious tone. "Your hair is lighter than Haden's, so it looks different."

"Okay," Adam said, seeming to understand.

"Haden, call Amy and see if she needs anything from the store while we're in town," Darrell said as they left the barber shop.

"She said to pick up some vanilla ice cream." Haden couldn't help but notice the big smile on Adam's face at that announcement.

"Adam, do you want to go inside with me to get the ice cream?" Haden asked when Darrell parked the truck at the store.

"Oh yeah," Adam quickly agreed and took Haden's hand.

"While we're here you should get a toothbrush for Adam," Darrell said.

"Okay and he needs a comb and brush too."

"Who do we have here?" Ruthie, the friendly grandmother type checker, asked.

"This is my foster brother Adam," Haden explained.

"Adam, you're a fine looking young man," Ruthie smiled as she handed Haden his change.

Adam just dropped his head and grinned until Haden said, "Adam, you need to tell Mrs. Ulmer thank you."

"Thank you," Adam said with a puzzled look.

"When someone pays you a compliment it's polite to say 'thank you'," Haden explained as they walked to the truck.

"What's a compliment?"

"When Mrs. Ulmer said you're a fine looking young man, that's a compliment."

"Oh, I didn't know that."

"Dad, can we drive by and show Adam where he'll be going to school?" Haden asked after reminding Adam to buckle his safety belt.

"I don't see why not."

"Is that my school?" Adam asked.

"No, that's the high school," Darrell said as they drove past the school. "That's where Amy and Haden go to school."

"That's your school," Haden said when they drove past the elementary school two blocks away.

"I'm not smart in school," Adam quietly admitted.

"Son, that's probably because you moved around a lot," Darrell said. "Amy and Haden are good students, they'll help you get caught up."

'It's a wonder that the boy can even read and write with the life he's lived,' Darrell thought.

"Dad, why don't we buy some books for Adam tomorrow," Haden suggested. "I'll also go through my books and see what he might like."

"I don't like to read," Adam proclaimed.

"You have to read to do well in school," Darrell said. "You probably don't like to read because you're behind in school. We'll have you read some each day and soon you'll like to read just as Amy and Haden do."

"You'll have to read Where the Red Fern Grows," Haden said. "It was my favorite book when I was your age. I'll find my copy for you to read."

"What's it about?"

"It's about a boy in Oklahoma and his two coon dogs."

"Like your dog?"

"Ranger isn't just my dog, he's the family dog; and since you're part of the family now, he's your dog too."

"For real! Do I get to help feed him?"

"For real, and he'd like for you to feed him."

"You boys see if Amy needs any help," Darrell said when they arrived home. "I need to make a phone call."

"Everything's ready," Amy said when Haden offered to help. "We'll eat a little early tonight since Adam might be hungry."

"Yeah, I am," Adam agreed.

"It's nothing fancy, I didn't know that I'd have a new brother here for dinner," Amy smiled. "You two go wash up and as soon as Dad gets off the phone we'll eat."

"That was really good," Adam said after finishing off a bowl of stew and cornbread.

"Would you like some more, Adam?" Amy asked.

"Yes, please."

"I'll give you only half a bowl this time," Amy smiled. "You need to save room for dessert."

"Oh, I'll have room," Adam giggled.

"You can have some fruit later if you get hungry," Amy countered.

After Adam finished his second serving of stew and cornbread, Amy served apple crisp with ice cream, and that made Adam's face light up like a neon sign.

"Adam, help me clear the table and load the dishwasher," Haden suggested after they'd finished their dessert.

"I don't know how to load a dishwasher."

"Don't worry, Haden will show you how," Amy said as she and Darrell took their coffee into the living room.

"Let's go find that book," Haden said as soon as they'd finished in the kitchen.

Adam didn't seem all that thrilled about reading, but he went along to please Haden.

"Here's the book I told you about. Let's read the first chapter now, it's only five pages. I'll help you with this chapter. Later we'll get you a dictionary, so when you come across a word you don't know you can look it up."

Adam began reading, "When I left my office that ..."

"Beautiful," Haden said when Adam hesitated.

"... beautiful spring day. I had no idea what was in store for me. To begin with, everything was too ..."


"... perfect for anything unusual to happen. It was one of those days when a man feels good, feels like speaking to his ..."


"... neighbor, is glad to live in a county ..."


"... country like ours, and proud of his ..."


"... government. You know what I mean, one of those rare days when everything is right and nothing is wrong."

'This is going to take a long time,' Haden thought. They managed to get through the first five pages and Adam seemed to develop an interest in the story.

"What have you two been up to?" Darrell asked when Haden and Adam joined Darrell and Amy in the living room.

"We weren't doing nothing," Adam said, immediately going on the defensive.

"We weren't doing anything," Amy corrected.

"No, me and Haden weren't doing nothing," Adam said.

"Okay, we'll work on your grammar later," Amy laughed.

"Adam and I were reading the first chapter of Where the Red Fern Grows," Haden explained. "We're going to read a chapter a day."

"Good for you," Darrell said. "Before I forget, don't make any plans for Monday after school. Someone from the sheriff's office will be here."

"Are they going to take me away?" Adam asked in a panic.

"Come over here, Son," Darrell said and made room for Adam in his oversize recliner. "You don't have to be afraid anymore. A deputy sheriff will be coming to talk to Haden because someone bad tried to do something bad to him. Adam, I want you to understand that nobody will be able to take you away unless the judge says it's okay."

Adam leaned into Darrell for a reassuring hug. "What did you think of the book?" Darrell asked. "Haden loved it and the movie too."

"Why can't I just watch the movie 'cause I don't read that good?" Adam asked.

"You can watch the movie after you read the book," Darrell said. "That's how you learn to read better."

"Dad, what time tomorrow are you taking Adam to buy school clothes?" Haden asked.

"I thought we'd leave around nine," Darrell said. "You're going too since we want him to be in style. You know that I have no clue as what young people like."

"Would it be alright if Kyle went too?"

"Kyle's welcome to go. Amy, are you going too?"

"I think it would be fun, I'd like to bring Tony too."

"Tony's welcome too. Tell Kyle and Tony to meet us here in the morning. On second thought, ask them to come for breakfast."

"You boys wake up, breakfast will be ready soon," Darrell said, after knocking on their bedroom door.

"Do we have time for a shower?" Haden asked.

"If you don't stay in the shower too long you do."

"Adam, you shower first," Haden said. "I'll shower as soon as you finish."

"I had a bath yesterday."

"I know, but we shower every day."


"No, Adam, you need to get a change of clean clothes," Haden said when Adam picked up the same clothes he'd worn the day before. "I also think we need to get you a robe today. But for now, just take clean underwear and I'll lay out something for you to wear."

After both Haden and Adam had their showers they went to the kitchen where Amy and Darrell were busy cooking breakfast. "My, you look handsome," Amy said while giving Adam a quick hug.

"Haden picked out what I'm wearing," Adam pointed out.

"Haden, would you pour the orange juice?" Amy asked.

"Oh boy, biscuits and gravy!" Haden exclaimed when Darrell took a steaming pan of biscuits out of the oven. "Adam, do you like biscuits and gravy?"

"Yeah, we had 'em at school sometimes," Adam said. "At home I was lucky to have cereal."

Tony and Kyle both arrived just before breakfast was ready. Both made themselves at home and joined the family for breakfast.

"Tony and Kyle, this is our new brother," Amy said.

"Hi, Adam," both said.

"Hi," Adam bashfully replied.

"Hey, Adam, you must have gone to see Andy," Kyle said. "You have the same haircut Haden has."

"Yeah, I did," Adam giggled.

"Adam, let's load the dishwasher and then we'll go brush our teeth," Haden said after finishing breakfast.

"Tony and I'll clean up in here while you two get ready," Kyle offered.

"Before I forget, Mom has invited everyone to our house for dinner tonight," Tony said as Darrell pulled out onto the highway.

"Who's everyone?" Kyle asked.

"Everyone but you," Tony teased. "Just kidding, it includes your family too ... and Lacey's family."

"Is this where we're going?" Adam asked when they pulled into the mall parking lot.

"Yes, haven't you been to a mall before?" Darrell asked as Adam's eyes grew larger.

"No," Adam admitted.

"It's kind of like a small town under one roof," Amy explained.

"Haden, come with me to help pick out Adam's clothes," Darrell said. "After we get his clothes you'll be free to do your thing. We'll all meet at the food court at noon for lunch."

"Tony and I are going to the upper level," Amy said.

"Looks like we're going to the upper level," Tony grinned.

"May I assist you?" A lady in the boy's department asked.

"Adam recently came to live with us and is in need of new clothes," Darrell explained as he put his hand on Adam's shoulder. "I brought my son and his friend since I know next to nothing about what young people like."

"I'm Ann and I'd be pleased to assist you," Ann said. "My son is about his age, so I have some experience."

"I have a voucher from the state, but if he needs more I'll make up the difference," Darrell said, handing the voucher to Ann.

"If I were you I wouldn't spend more than this amount," Ann advised. "They grow so fast at this age and you'll find it difficult to keep up. I know my son grows out of his almost as soon as I purchase them."

"He'll need dress clothes for church too," Darrell mentioned.

"Dad, haven't you noticed that most of the kids at our church wear what they would wear to school?" Haden pointed out. "He needs pajamas, a robe, and house slippers though."

"He also needs a coat," Darrell said.

"Dad, winter is almost over, and Betty gave him two," Haden said. "He'll grow before next winter anyway."

"Yeah, you're right," Darrell admitted.

Adam's eyes grew larger as the stack of new clothes grew. "Are all of these really mine?" He asked.

"Of course they're yours," Darrell smiled, thinking that it was probably more clothes than Adam had in his whole life.

"Let's go to the food court, I need a cup of coffee," Darrell said after completing the purchases. "How about you, Adam?"

"I don't like coffee."

"Adam, you don't have to get coffee," Darrell laughed.

"We'll get you something from Jamba Juice," Haden said.

"What's that?" Adam asked.

"You'll love it," Kyle said. "They have some great smoothies. I'm going to have the pomegranate smoothie."

"Oh, those are good," Haden agreed. "I'll have one too."

"Me too," Adam chimed in, although he wasn't sure what a smoothie was.

The look on Adam's face indicated that he liked his smoothie. "This is really good," he said.

"When you finish we'll go look for a book for you," Haden said.

"I'm still reading Where the Red Fern Grows," Adam said.

"You'll need something to read when you finish it," Haden said.

"There's Amy," Adam said as Amy and Tony approached their table.

"That looks good," Amy said when she saw the smoothies.

"I'll get you one," Tony replied.

"Adam, I got you something," Amy said, after Tony returned with their smoothies.

"You did!" Adam exclaimed.

"I hope you like it," Amy said, handing a kid's Timex watch to Adam.

"Wow! I've never had a watch before."

"Let's see how it fits you," Tony said as he assisted Adam with the watch.

"Its 11:30," Adam said with pride.

"Then we have time to go find you a book before lunch," Haden said. "Dad, do you want me to lock Adam's clothes in the truck before we go?"

"I'll do it," Tony offered.

"Come on Little Brother," Haden said, getting up from the table.

"Where are we going?" Adam asked with a big smile.

"To the bookstore," Haden said.

With Haden and Kyle's help, Adam ended up picking My Side of the Mountain. "Now we need to get you a dictionary," Haden said.

"I want to buy it for him," Kyle said.

"Adam, what time is it?" Haden asked, after paying for the books, although he had a watch.

"Fifteen past twelve," Adam proudly proclaimed.

"Then we'd better get back to the food court for lunch."

"Dad, I saw that Ice Age: the Meltdown is playing," Amy said as they ate. "Let's take Adam to see it."

"I'll take Adam and you guys can see what you want," Darrell offered.

"I want to see what Haden sees," Adam insisted.

"I want to see Ice Age," Haden said to appease Adam.

"I'd like to see it too," Tony also said.

The weather had turned gloomy by the time the group finally left the mall. Haden normally hated gloomy weather, but he was cheerful hearing Adam retelling the scenes of the movie.

"So, I take it you had a good day?" Kyle asked.

"Oh yeah, I got to see a movie, I got new clothes, a new watch, and books," Adam said. "It was better than Christmas."

Haden couldn't help but wonder what kind of Christmases Adam'd had in the past.

"Why are you washing my new clothes, they're clean?" Adam asked when Amy took the tags off and put them in the washer.

"New clothes are stiff until they're washed," Amy explained.

Oh, okay," Adam said. "I'm hungry."

"Adam, you can always have fruit or vegetables for a snack without asking," Amy said. "But don't take sweets without asking. It isn't good for you to have too much sugar. You probably should just take one apple for now; remember we're going to Tony's for dinner."

"Where's Adam?" Darrell asked when it was time to go to the Miller's for dinner.

"I haven't seen him in a while," Amy said.

"He's had a busy day," Haden said. "Maybe he's taking a nap. I'll go see."

To Haden's surprise, Adam was on his bed reading. "Well, look at this, you're reading."

"You said I should read every day."

"I did, but for now we need to leave to go to Tony's."

"Do I get to wear my new clothes?"

"Why don't you wait until church tomorrow and school Monday?"

"Wow!" Adam exclaimed when he saw the Miller's home.

"It is big, isn't it?" Darrell asked with a laugh.

"Well, this must be Adam," Paul said when he answered the door. "I'm Paul, Tony's dad. Come on in and meet everyone else."

After introductions to everyone, Mark asked, "Do you want to go to my room and play a video game with Justin and me?"

"Okay, but I've never played before," Adam admitted.

"That's okay, you'll learn."

"Don't get too involved, dinner will be ready in about 20 minutes," Debbie reminded them.

"Wayne, did you tell everyone your news?" Paul asked.

"I'm going to live with my aunt and uncle in Virginia," Wayne said. "I'll stay here to finish the school year. Everyone thought it would be better not to change schools again. My aunt and uncle want to adopt me."

"How do you feel about that?" Steve asked.

"I'm excited, but I'll miss everyone here," Wayne admitted.

"We'll miss you too, but you're welcome here anytime," Paul said, putting his arm around Wayne.

"My parents want me back if I'll stop being gay," Cody said with a nervous laugh. "And we all know that's not going to happen."

"We haven't talked to Mark yet, but his parents have relinquished their rights to him," Debbie said. "If he's willing, we want to adopt him. Cody, we'd like to adopt you to if you can't be reconciled with your parents."

"That is if you want that," Paul added.

"Of course I want that," Cody said. "My parents would never take me back as long as I'm gay. Mrs. Holland said that my parents have refused to even see me until I renounce being gay. They are religious fanatics who don't act like Christians. My dad once beat the crap out of me because I said I was too sick to go to church. I vomited in the pew and then got another beating for doing that. There's no way I want to go back to that. I'm happy that I'm here now."

"Honey, we're happy that you're here too," Debbie said while wiping a tear away.

"Yeah, me too," Tony said. "I like having a little brother to beat on."

"That must be Mark that you're talking about," Cody countered.

"No, I'm talking about you, Shrimp," Tony teased.

Cody pounced on Tony in a mock fight causing everyone to laugh. "Hey, you two, watch my furniture," Debbie laughed. "Since you have so much energy, come in the kitchen and help."

"What can I do to help?" Betty asked.

"Thank you for the offer, but everything is pretty much done. I'm just giving these two something to do to keep them out of trouble."

"Man, once Adam got the hang of it he's really good at video games," Mark said when he, Adam, and Justin came downstairs for dinner.

"It was fun," Adam agreed.

"I'll make a deal with you," Darrell began. "At the end of the school year I'll get you a Wii, providing you have at least a B average."

"Really! Really!" Adam exclaimed.

"Mark's grades weren't very good when he first came here, so we took him to Lyla Whiteside for tutoring," Paul said. "He goes there Monday through Thursday and the fee is very reasonable. Mark now is a B average student."

"Yeah, Adam, you'll like it," Mark said. "At first, I thought Ms. Lyla was mean, but she's really nice."

"If you have her phone number I'll give her a call," Darrell said. "I was going to let Amy and Haden tutor him, but this would be much better. I don't want their grades to drop because they spend too much time helping Adam."

"Debbie will have the number."

"I have to get Adam enrolled in school Monday, then get appointments with the doctor and dentist for him," Darrell said. "Maybe I could visit with her sometime Monday."

"You should take the day off," Paul suggested.

"I'd already planned on it," Darrell laughed.

"Adam, want to go to my room and play video games again?" Mark asked after dinner.

"Don't we need to load the dishwasher first?"

"No, go on and have fun, boys," Debbie said.

"He's a cute, sweet boy," Linda said.

"He's nervous about starting a new school again," Darrell said.

"That's natural," Betty agreed. "Maybe it'll be easier for him since he's met Justin and they're in the same grade."

"Do they know anything about his mother?" Grant asked.

"Not much," Darrell said. "I actually hope they don't find her. We've only had him since yesterday and he's already part of our family. Haden said that he was hungry, dirty, and in rags when he showed up. By the way, Betty, thanks again for bringing clothes over for him."

"I was happy to do it," Betty smiled. "Like I said, Justin gets more than he can wear."

"It was fun shopping with him at the mall today though," Kyle acknowledged.

"I got a kick out of how much he loved seeing Ice Age," Tony said.

After visiting for a while, Darrell said, "Haden, would you go find Adam? We need to get him in bed so we can get him up and ready for church in the morning. We'll see you folks in church tomorrow."

"Betty and Justin are going, but I'll have to miss," Grant said. "Lacey called and they've found an apartment, so she wants me to bring her furniture."

"She's been collecting furniture since she and Perry became engaged," Betty put in.

"Come on to church and then Haden and I'll help you after church," Darrell offered.

"Tony and I can help too," Paul offered.

"Dad and I'll help," Kyle volunteered before Steve could speak.

"We can go by the store and get one of the trucks," Paul said. "It should be large enough to take everything in one load. Where is this furniture anyway?"

"It's in a storage building on Carter Road," Grant said.

"Why don't we skip the socializing in the parish hall and go to our house after church for a quick lunch, then we can all go to help Lacey get everything put away," Linda said. "We ladies can get lunch ready while you men load the truck."

"Good idea, Linda," Debbie said. "We can all go and help Lacey put things away."

"Do we have to go, Dad?" Adam asked when Haden returned with him.

"Yes, Son," Darrell said. "We need to get you to bed. Remember that we have church tomorrow morning."

Adam was yawning before Darrell pulled into the driveway, and he was almost asleep before Haden could get him into bed. 'I'm happy to have him for a brother,' Haden thought.

Haden woke early and decided Adam should have a regular breakfast rather than the usual Sunday breakfast of toast and cereal. He decided on blueberry pancakes and bacon. The aroma of bacon must have permeated the house as Amy and Darrell soon arrived for breakfast.

"Breakfast smells good," Amy said. "Is Adam still sleeping?"

"He was when I got up," Haden said.

"I'll wake him for breakfast," Darrell said.

"I put his robe on the chair next to his bed."

"He was awake and reading," Darrell said while giving Adam a hug.

"I wanted to know if he gets his dogs," Adam said while eyeing his plate of pancakes and bacon.

"If you've washed your hands, sit down and have your breakfast," Amy said.

"I've washed them, Haden told me that I always should before eating."

"How do you like the pancakes that Haden cooked?" Darrell asked.

"These are really good," Adam said between bites. "Haden, did you really cook 'em?"

"I sure did and I put blueberries in them just for you," Haden smiled. "Would you like another one?"

"Yes, please," Adam smiled at the anticipation of another serving.

"When you finish eating you need to shower and get ready for church," Darrell reminded him.

"I've never been to church before," Adam confessed. "What do I do in church?"

"Don't worry, we'll show you what to do, and when it's time to go to the altar rail just go up with us and cross your arms like this," Amy said while demonstrating. "That way the priest will know to only give you the blessing this morning, then after you're baptized you'll take communion like the rest of us."

"Alright," Adam said, although he didn't understand what communion was.

After church and a lunch of sandwiches and soup, the families headed for Covington with a truck load of furniture. Adam, Mark, and Justin were quickly becoming friends and insisted that they all ride in the same vehicle.

Perry and Lacey were waiting at the empty apartment when the caravan arrived. With all the help it didn't take long for the furniture to be unloaded and in place.

"So this is my new little brother," Perry said when meeting Adam. "You and I'll hang out some when I get transferred here."

"Okay," Adam shyly said.

"I understand that you and my little brother Justin will be in the same grade," Lacey added.

"Yeah, we will," Justin answered. "Lacey, are you going to be living here now?"

"Yes, I am," Lacey said, "but I still have to go back to Sparks and get my things."

"Why do you want to live here before you get married?" Justin asked.

"I'm going to live here to save on gas money," Lacey said. "And I'm going to be working a few more hours at the restaurant now too."

"You didn't tell us that, what about school?" Betty asked.

"Since I won't be driving from Sparks, it'll be about the same amount of time," Lacey said. "Oh Darrell, I almost forgot to thank you for helping us get the car."

"I was happy to do it," Darrell said.

"Honey, are you going back to Sparks this evening?" Grant asked.

"Perry has to be at the airport by 6:15, so I'll just spend the night here," Lacey said. "I have everything I need for now. I'll be there tomorrow to get my other things."

"Perry, I hope you don't mind if we don't go to the airport to see you off," Darrell apologized. "We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow getting Adam enrolled in school."

"Shoot!" Adam quickly exclaimed.

"I understand," Perry said. "Besides, I'll be transferred here soon."

The next morning was a chaotic one as the Harringtons began their morning. Adam wasn't happy about his doctor's appointment and even unhappier about enrolling in school. A good breakfast of oatmeal, toast, and orange juice cheered him up some, that and the fact that he got to wear his new clothes.

The first item of the day for Darrell was to call Dr. Ortiz's office to get an appointment for Adam. "Doctor Ortiz said that he could see him now if you can bring him in now," his receptionist said.

"Adam, why don't you have a seat here in the waiting room while I chat with Darrell for a minute?" Dr. Ortiz asked when the exam was over.

"Alright," Adam reluctantly agreed.

"Darrell, Adam has been abused," Dr. Ortiz said as soon as the door to his office was closed.

"Oh no, was it sexual or physical?" Darrell asked.

"I don't believe he was sexually abused, but he has fairly new bruises on his buttocks and back. There are also a few minor scars from previous abuse."

"Did he say who did it?"

"It was his mother and her boyfriend. He was reluctant to say at first, but I told him that he was safe with you now. I took some pictures and I'll call the sheriff's office."

"Poor little guy," Darrell sighed with tears in his eyes. "How is his health otherwise?"

"He's a little underweight for his age and a little malnourished. Otherwise he's in good health. I'm going to recommend that he go into counseling also. I'll call Rita Holland about that, and I'll also give her a report about the abuse."

"Where are we going now, Dad?" Adam asked as they left Dr. Ortiz's office.

"We're going to the school to get you enrolled," Darrell said.

"Do I start today?"

"Not today, Son. We have an appointment with the dentist at one."

"We're pleased to have you in school here, Adam," Amanda Coleman, Sparks Elementary School Principal, said. "Mrs. Holland had Adam's records faxed from his school in Covington. She said that he moved around a lot and may be behind. She also said that the state would pay for tutoring."

"I plan to send him to Lyla Whiteside for after school tutoring," Darrell replied.

"Oh, she's very good," Ms. Coleman said. "We lost one of our best teachers when she retired. She'll even pick him up here at the school. Of course you'll have to list her as those authorized to pick him up."

"Adam, you'll be in Mrs. Tillman's class," Ms. Coleman said.

"Is that the same class that Justin's in?" Adam asked.

"No, Justin is in Mr. Kennedy's class, but if you want to be in the same class that can be arranged," Ms. Coleman said.

"Justin is the only friend he has so far," Darrell explained.

"He'll soon have many friends here, I'm sure," Ms. Coleman said. "I'm sure he'll do quite well here."

"My son has been working with him on his reading already," Darrell said. "Adam said that he didn't like to read."

"Maybe he needs glasses," Ms. Coleman suggested.

"I'll call Dr. Bishop today," Darrell said. "I'd like to get him in today so that I don't have to take him out of school for an appointment."

"Dr. Bishop happens to be my brother," Ms. Coleman said. "Would you like me to call him and ask Lewis to see him today?"

"I'd appreciate that," Darrell said as Ms. Coleman picked up the phone and began dialing.

"He'll see Adam now," she said after hanging up the phone.

"Adam has astigmatism," Dr. Bishop said after the examination.

"Do I have to wear glasses?" Adam asked.

"I'm afraid so," Dr. Bishop said.

"Everyone will make fun of me," Adam said.

"That's possible," Dr. Bishop said. "But if you laugh with them, they'll get no pleasure and quickly give up. And I'm sure there'll be other kids in your class that wear glasses too. If you're wearing glasses the first day you're in class they'll not know you any other way. Darrell, take this prescription next door to the optometry shop, I'll call over and tell them that I want Adam's glasses made today."

"How long will it take?"

"Probably a couple of hours," Dr. Bishop replied.

"We'll pick out his frames, then go eat lunch," Darrell said. "After that Adam has a dental appointment. We'll come back after the dental appointment."

"Adam, you're having a busy day aren't you," Dr. Bishop smiled.

"Yeah, I am," Adam giggled.

Adam's teeth were cleaned and x-rayed. He had two cavities that were filled. It was then time to pick up Adam's glasses. By the time the glasses were adjusted it was nearly four p.m.

"You have glasses!" Amy exclaimed when she saw Adam. "You look so handsome in them."

"I hope the other kids don't make fun of me," Adam said.

"None of them except Justin have seen you before," Haden said. "They probably won't say anything."

"That's what Dr. Bishop said," Adam admitted.

"Maybe we could give Justin a ride to school in the morning, we go right by their house anyway," Amy said, thinking that Justin would get a chance to see Adam before class. "I'll call Betty after dinner."

Deputy Davis arrived with Rita Holland while Haden was helping Adam with his reading. "You're doing fine with your reading," Haden said when Darrell came to get him. "Go ahead and read and I'll come back to see if you need help as soon as I."

"I can see better now," Adam admitted.

"This won't take long, Haden," Deputy Davis said. "Nora has agreed to cooperate for a lighter sentence. We told her that you knew that she was the driver that day. If you're wondering why Mrs. Holland's here, she's here because Adam has been abused. Has he ever mentioned anything to you?"

"No, but he only came to live with us Friday," Haden said.

"Apparently it was his mom's boyfriend as well as her that abused him," Rita said. "He was afraid to say anything for fear of additional abuse."

"The other thing is they've found his mom and her boyfriend," Deputy Davis said.

"What will that mean for Adam?" Darrell asked.

"Probably nothing for now and probably nothing in the future," Rita said.

"She was picked up for prostitution and possession of meth with intent to distribute," Deputy Davis said. "Her boyfriend was charged with manufacturing of meth with intent to distribute."

"Where were they when they were arrested?" Darrell asked.

"They were in Memphis, Tennessee," Deputy Davis said. "So we're going to file charges of child abandonment, child neglect, and child abuse."

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