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
The summer was winding down for the Harrington family. There had been trail rides, and many family gatherings. Darrell and Rita were planning on taking some time off work to spend with the family. Annual vacations had been normal for Rita; however, Darrell had rarely taken a vacation. There had never been enough money for a real vacation, thus Darrell usually took cash, rather than time off work.
"Would you kids like to go to Disney World in Orlando for a vacation?" Rita asked during dinner. "Your dad and I have been thinking about a family vacation."
"I've already had a vacation this year," Haden stated. "I'll stay home and take care of the dogs and horses."
"Son, the horses will be fine in the pasture, and we can board the dogs, or hire someone to come by and feed them," Darrell pointed out.
"Thanks, Dad, but I'd really rather stay home," Haden said, without mentioning that he preferred taking vacations with Kyle.
"Alright, Son, it's okay if you don't want to go," Darrell agreed. "What about you, Amy?"
"I'll be taking my LPN boards," Amy said.
"I thought you were studying to be a RN," Rita said.
"I am," Amy said. "The Board of Nursing allows us to take the exam to be a Licensed Practical Nurse with one year of RN education."
"I don't understand," Rita said. "If you'll be a RN when you complete your education, why would you bother being a LPN?"
"Well, for one thing, taking the LPN exam is good practice for the RN exam," Amy explained. "The big thing is I could work, if I need extra money."
"Honey, I don't think you need to work," Rita said.
"No, you don't need to work until you finish your education," Darrell said. "A few years ago that may have been necessary. But with your scholarships and our financial situation, we can afford to educate you kids."
"It's just a safety net," Amy pointed out. "Besides, I've already paid the fees."
"What about you, Adam?" Rita asked. "What do you think about going to Disney World?"
"I was beginning to wonder if anyone was going to ask me," Adam said, with a mischievous grin. "Yeah, it would be fun."
"When are you going?" Haden asked.
"Rita's vacation starts a week from this Friday," Darrell said. "Oh, I suppose I should get the SUV serviced."
"Dad, wouldn't it be better to take Mom's car, since there're only three of you?" Haden asked. "It would cost a lot less in fuel."
"Honey, he has a good point," Rita said.
"Yeah, It does make sense," Darrell agreed.
"I suppose I need to take my car in for service, then," Rita said. "I could take it during my lunch."
"I'll drop by your work and take it for you," Haden offered.
"Thank you, Son," Rita said.
"You'll need to make hotel reservations right away," Amy pointed out.
"I'll let Arlene at Magic Carpet Travel find something for us," Rita said. "I think maybe a condo would be nice."
"How many days do you plan on being in Orlando?" Amy asked.
"Maybe three or four days," Darrell said. "Then we'll tour some of the historical sites, possibly even up to Washington, D.C."
"It really smells good in here," Rita said when she returned home from work the next day. "What're you cooking?"
"Roast chicken with potatoes and onions," Haden said. "There's also olive oil and garlic marinated grilled squash, and a garden salad. And for dessert, there's banana pudding."
"It sounds wonderful. Where're Adam and Amy?"
"Amy went to the university to take a practice LPN test, and Adam's horseback riding with Justin."
"Is there anything I can do to help with dinner?"
"Thanks, but I have it under control. By the way, George called today and wanted to know if Adam could go spend a week with him before school starts."
"What did you tell him?"
"I said that you'd let him know. I didn't mention that you already had plans."
"I don't know how it would work with George living in a small travel trailer."
"Oh, he said it felt too cramped, so he bought a used three bedroom mobile home."
"Did you mention this to Adam?"
"No, I thought you and Dad should discuss it first."
"Thanks, that's good."
"Hi, Mom," Adam said when he came inside and poured himself and Justin a glass of lemon aid. "Mom, could Justin go to Disney World with us? He's never been there, either."
"We'll discuss it with Betty and Grant," Rita said.
"They're having dinner with us," Haden said. "Betty called to say she has a dental appointment when she gets off work, and she may be a little late getting home, so I invited the family to dinner."
"Come on, Justin, let's go feed the dogs," Adam said, after putting their glasses in the dishwasher.
"Are you sure I can't help with dinner?"
"I have it under control. The chicken should be done in about 25 minutes. I'm going outside and grill the squash."
"I'll at least set the table."
"I've already paid Arlene the deposit on a condo in Orlando," Rita was informing Darrell when Haden returned with the squash.
"I know that George wants to be a part of Adam's life, but I don't think we need to change our plans," Darrell said.
"Mom, Dad, don't you think Adam should have a say?" Haden asked.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right," Darrell agreed, as Rita nodded her agreement.
"I guess, I'm reluctant to let him go all the way up to North Dakota by himself," Rita admitted.
"We'll discuss it with him," Darrell agreed.
"Hi, Amy," Rita said when Amy returned home. "How did the practice test go?"
"I guess, I did okay," Amy said. "I scored 90%. What's this I overheard about North Dakota?"
"What do you think?" Rita asked, after a brief explanation.
"I think you need to discuss it with Adam," Amy said.
"Well, that's what Haden said," Rita said.
"Mom and Dad are here," Justin said, when his parents followed him and Adam into the house.
"Haden has dinner ready," Rita said. "You boys go wash up for dinner."
"It smells good in here," Betty said. "Thanks for inviting us. I hope you have enough for extra mouths."
"I cooked two chickens, so there'll be plenty," Haden said.
"We need to ask you about something," Rita said. "Adam wants Justin to go with us to Disney World, and we'd love to have him."
"He'd really enjoy that," Betty said. "I'm okay with it, if you are, Grant."
"I'm okay too," Grant said. "We'll pay his part."
"We'll have a two bedroom condo, and he'll be sharing a room with Adam, so that part's covered," Rita said.
"Just give him a little spending money, and we'll cover the rest," Darrell said. "It'll be more fun for Adam to have his buddy with him."
"Tell me, how long will you be gone?" Betty asked.
"We planned to spend four days in Orlando, then tour up the coast, maybe to Washington, D.C.," Rita explained. "However, Adam's uncle George has asked that he come up there and spend a week with him, so those plans may change."
"So, what're you going to do?" Grant asked.
"We're going to leave it up to Adam," Darrell said.
"Leave what to me?" Adam asked, as he and Justin seated themselves at the table.
"Your uncle George called and wants you to go spend a few days with him before school starts," Darrell explained.
"Would that mean we couldn't go to Disney World?"
"We'll still go, but we wouldn't tour the East Coast."
"The decision's yours," Rita said.
"I wouldn't want to hurt Uncle George's feelings, but what would I do all day while he's at work?" Adam answered, after thinking for a few seconds.
"I think George would understand, if you didn't want to go," Darrell said.
"Well, I'd kinda like to see him."
"Only you can decide," Darrell said.
"Why don't you go on to Orlando, then you and Mom drive him up to see George," Amy suggested.
"Here's an idea," Haden said. "You could spend a couple of days with George, then take a motor tour and see some of the places like Little Big Horn, Yellowstone Park, and Mount Rushmore."
"That'd work," Darrell said. "Honey, what do you think?"
"I think it's a great idea. By the way, Justin, you're going to Disney World with us," Rita said, when she noticed the disappointed look on Justin's face.
"Am I really!" Justin exclaimed.
"Yes, Son," Grant said. "We agreed to let you go."
"Thanks, Mom, Dad," Justin said as he gave his parents a hug.
"Could he go with us when we go see Uncle George?" Adam asked.
"It's fine with us, if Betty and Grant are okay with it," Rita said.
"What do you think, Grant?" Betty asked.
"I'm okay with it, but it's asking a lot of Rita and Darrell," Grant said.
"Really, we don't mind," Rita said.
"Alright, then," Grant agreed.
"Alright!" Adam said, and high fived Justin. "I'm hungry, are we going to eat before the food gets cold?"
"Dig in," Haden said, and placed a platter of roasted chicken on the table.
"Haden, I believe this is the best squash I've ever had," Rita said.
"Yes, it is," Betty agreed. "How did you do it?"
"I'll e-mail the recipe to you," Haden said. "It's an easy way to fix squash."
"I have more squash than I can use," Betty said. "This is an excellent way to prepare it. Do I taste olive oil and garlic?"
"Yes, I squashed the garlic and cooked it in the olive oil for a short time."
"This chicken's really good too," Grant added.
"Yes, Haden, you prepared a gourmet meal here," Rita said.
"I talked to George," Darrell said the next day.
"And?" Rita questioned.
"He's fine with us spending a couple of days there, then touring the sites that Haden suggested. He also said that Justin's more than welcome. He said one of the bedrooms even has bunk beds the boys can use."
"I assumed we'd stay in a hotel," Rita said.
"George insisted we stay with him; especially, in view of the fact that there isn't much in the way of lodging. We'll take the boys to Disney World, then come back home. After a good night or two of rest, we'll head on to North Dakota."
"We could plan on arriving there on Friday, spend the weekend with George, then continue our tour on Monday when George goes to work."
"I like that idea."
"You should go through Saint Louis and let the boys see the Budweiser Clydesdales," Haden suggested.
"Oh yes, they'd love that," Rita agreed. "We can take them to see the Arch too."
"Adam, I'll help you pack for our Orlando trip," Rita said, as they prepared for their trip.
"Mom, I've packed for camping and trail rides," Adam said. "I know how to pack."
"Son, I know," Rita admitted with a smile. "This isn't a camping trip, though."
"I made a list."
"Do you mind if I see it?"
"Well, it appears complete except for a jacket."
"Mom, it's August, and in Florida."
"I guess I was thinking of our trip to North Dakota too. We're also going to the mountains, and it could get chilly after sundown."
"I didn't know it gets chilly there. Which one should I take?"
"Your blue one should be about right, but you can get it when we come back home from Orlando."
"Mom, when we go to Walmart, could I get some binoculars?"
"How much are they?"
"Haden checked and said they had some as low as 20 something dollars, but he said I should spend at least $50 to $60."
"Alright, your dad and I are going to Walmart later. You may go with us and pick out what you want."
"I may need to take some money out of my account."
"We'll purchase it for you."
"Well, then could I still take some money out anyway, and get binoculars for Justin?"
"Honey, I think we can afford to buy Justin's too."
"I hope Justin has a camera too."
"I'll mention to Betty that it would be a good idea that he has a camera."
"I saw one like mine for $55."
It had been decided that the vacation trip to Orlando would begin Monday morning with the hope of a smaller crowd than the weekend. Sunday would be a travel day.
Justin normally walked over to the Harringtons', but since he had a travel bag, Betty dropped him off before going to work.
Pour yourself a glass of juice and have a seat," Amy said. "I'll have your omelet ready in a minute."
"I love omelets," Justin said.
"Do you want bacon or sausage?" Haden asked.
"You could have both," Adam said. "That's what I'm having."
"Or you could have both," Haden said with a laugh.
"Did you remember to bring your camera and binoculars?" Adam asked, as he and Justin loaded their bags in the car.
"They're in my bag," Justin replied.
"Haden, don't forget to feed the dogs," Adam said, as Haden arranged the bags in Rita's car.
"I won't forget," Haden promised.
"Well, you're not used to feeding them, and I am," Adam said.
"I'll tell you what," Haden said, "call me every day and remind me."
"You bet I will," Adam said, and gave Haden, then Amy a hug.
"Don't we get a hug from you?" Amy asked Justin.
"Sure," Justin said, before giving each their hug.
"It's going to be quiet around here without those two," Amy said, as the vacationers departed.
"Yeah, and we'll miss Adam and Justin too," Haden joked.
"Yeah, them too," Amy said with a snicker.
"What're your plans while they're gone?"
"I'll be taking my LPN exam today at 1:00, and tomorrow Tony and I are going to Nashville."
"Don't give me that look. I know you and Kyle sleep together when you can."
"What you do is your business. But remember, neither of us can get pregnant, but you can."
"I'm on birth control - I haven't told Dad, but Mom knows."
"So you told her, but not Dad?"
"Remember, we're on her insurance now? And if Dad were to ask me, I wouldn't deny it."
"So, what do you and Kyle have planned?"
"We'll have the house to ourselves, so we'll hang out here. Of course, we can't plan much, since Kyle watches Jarred while Linda's at work."
"I have an idea, what if Jarred spent some time with Wade?"
"We can't just send him to Aunt Julie without an invitation."
"I'll drop by Aunt Julie's office today and talk to her. I'm sure Wade would like the company."
"Thanks, you're a pretty good sister, after all."
Haden was busy feeding the dogs when Amy returned from the testing center. "How did the test go?" Haden called out.
"I'm happy it's over," Amy said. "The computer cut me off after 85 questions."
"Oh no, what will you do now?"
"No, no, the computer will shut down when it determines that one has reached a point where they will either pass or fail. So, I either passed or failed."
"We know you're smart enough to have passed. When will you get your results?"
"My results will be available online in 48 hours, but the official results can take up to six weeks. You didn't cook dinner, did you?"
"No, Kyle invited me to their house for dinner. You're invited too."
"Debbie invited me to dinner there, and you're invited too. Oh, I talked to Aunt Julie, she's working, but she called grandma - the boys will be spending a couple of days with Grandma and Grandpa. Aunt Julie called Linda, and she agreed to let Jarred go."
"You're welcome. Now maybe you and Kyle can take a little trip."
"Did you forget I promised Adam I'd feed the dogs."
"You could board them."
"No, if Adam found out, he'd never forgive me. We'll hang out here, and maybe go riding and spend some time at the swimming hole. When are you and Tony leaving on your trip?"
"In the morning. Oh, you and Kyle will need to take Jarred to Grandma's tomorrow morning. Aunt Julie said that Grandma was excited about having the boys for a few days. It still amazes me that Mom rejected Grandma and Grandpa. We couldn't ask for better grandparents."
"We're very lucky that you found Grandma."
"That's what it was, pure luck."
As promised, Adam called to remind Haden to feed the dogs. "So, what have you guys done so far?" Haden asked, after convincing Adam that the dogs were being well cared for.
"This place has a pool, but it isn't as much fun as our swimming hole."
"So, you've already been swimming?"
"Yeah, after we went grocery shopping with Mom and Dad."
"Why are they shopping for groceries while on vacation?"
"Mom said that we should enjoy this nice condo, and have breakfast here, but really, I like my room at home better."
"Well, you and Justin will have fun at Disney World tomorrow. I hope Justin remembers to call his parents."
"I'll remind him."
Jarred was all excited when he and Kyle arrived the next morning to have breakfast with Haden, Amy, and Tony. "When are we going?" He asked, as soon as he finished his breakfast.
"We'll go as soon as I clean up the kitchen," Haden said, as he smiled at Jarred's eagerness to see his friend.
"I'll do it, you guys go on," Amy offered.
"No, you and Tony will need to be on the road," Haden said.
"Jarred and I'll help," Kyle offered. "It'll keep his mind off of going to see Wade."
"Well, Wade's my best friend," Jarred reasoned.
"You boys stay around for lunch," Grace said, when Haden and Kyle dropped Jarred off.
"Oh, Grandma, we just had a big breakfast," Haden said, as he noticed Wade and Jarred making plans for Walter to take them on a buggy ride. "Don't you two wear Grandpa and Grandma out."
"Hey, you must think we're old," Grace said, with a chuckle. "Walter already said he'd take them for a buggy ride when he gets home from work."
"Alright!" Wade remarked, as he high fived Jarred.
"Jarred, you mind Grandma and Grandpa," Kyle cautioned, as he and Haden prepared to leave.
"I will," Jarred promised.
"If they don't, Grandpa won't take them on a buggy ride," Grace said, with a chuckle.
"Well, what do you want to do?" Kyle asked on the drive back to Sparks.
"You know what I want to do," Haden said with a laugh.
"Besides that?" Kyle asked, as he gave Haden an approving smile.
"We could go riding or swimming."
"Let's go swimming. We could go into town, buy some steaks, and have dinner at the picnic area."
"It's kind of strange to have the swimming hole all to ourselves," Kyle said, after diving into the cool refreshing water on the hot, late summer day.
"It is. And the water feels great. You know, Adam said he likes our swimming hole better than the pool at their condo."
"I can't say that I would disagree with him."
After alternating between swimming and lounging the remainder of the afternoon, Haden said, "I'm hungry, let's grill the steaks."
"Do you think the potatoes are done?"
"They should be, they've been on the grill for an hour."
"Jeff did a nice job on the toilet," Kyle remarked, as he and Haden washed up. "I also noticed he built a storage at the end of the toilet for the gas grill and supplies. Hey, there's even hot water in here."
"Jeff installed a tankless electric water heater. There's also an electric heater that comes on automatically, when the temperature gets near freezing. Jeff said it would pay off in the long run, should the pipes freeze and burst. The ladies really enjoy not having to go all the way to the house to pee. I suspect Adam and the other younger boys just pee in the water."
"We haven't seen Jeff around in a while."
"I think Jeff's enjoying married life."
"Do you want to meet me in Covington tomorrow after my football practice?" Kyle asked, as he grilled the steaks.
"I don't know, what did you have in mind?"
"I need a few things before our classes start, and maybe we could catch a movie."
"Sure, I need a few things too," Haden said, as his phone rang. "Yes, I fed your dogs."
"Did you give them fresh water?"
"Yes, Adam, I gave them fresh water. Are you guys having fun?"
"Man, are we ever. Tomorrow we're going to Animal Kingdom. I'm really looking forward to that. Oh, and I got a surprise for you, and also Amy."
"What did you get?"
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?"
"I guess you're right. Don't forget something for your nephew."
"I got him a Mickey Mouse tray thingie --- Mom, what's that tray thingie that I got Dustin called? Oh yeah, it's a feeding set. It has a plate that has separate food compartments, a bowl, a spoon, and a sippy cup."
"He'll like that, but it sounds like you're spending all your money on gifts."
"Well, Justin's parents gave him $100, so Mom and Dad gave me $100. Justin and I pooled our money to get a gift for Perry and Lacey."
"Remember to buy something for yourself."
"I already did. I gotta go, we're going to dinner now. Bye," Adam said, and hung up before Haden could get his goodbye in.
"I assume they're having a good time," Kyle said.
"It sure sounds like it. Hey, did I tell you that Perry will be a non-paid assistant coach at the university?"
"No, how did he manage that?"
"Well, since Coach Billings was his high school coach, and is now an assistant at the university, he talked the head coach into giving Perry a chance. It's about the only way Perry might gain enough experience to become a high school coach."
"I sure wish he could still play."
"I'm sure he does too, but at least, he's gaining coaching experience; and at least, you're on the team."
"That's just it, I'm a walk-on, and the scholarship players have been playing since they were freshmen - but since I took the first two years off, I'm only on the third team."
"You'll work your way up."
"I wish I had as much confidence as you."
"What're you buying?" Haden asked Kyle the next day when they met at the mall.
"Mom and Dad gave me enough money for a new laptop, and I'm giving my old one to Jarred. He's always in my room playing on it, anyway."
"Remember, when you gave your old one to me?"
"I completely forgot about that."
"I passed it on to Adam, and he used it until he recently had trouble with the old Windows. Mom and Dad got a new one for him."
"Does Adam really use his computer?"
"Actually, he does, but mostly for home work."
"Let's get something to drink before we shop."
"That sounds good to me. Where do you want to eat dinner?"
"Perry asked us to meet him, Lacey, and Dustin at Applebee's at six for dinner."
After purchasing Kyle's computer, and a few items of clothes; Kyle and Haden went to Applebee's. They were about 15 minutes early, and surprised to see Perry and his family entering the restaurant when they arrived.
Haden immediately took Dustin from Lacey and kissed his forehead. "Wow, Dustin you're really getting big."
"He sure is," Lacey said. "It's going to be difficult for me to leave him with a sitter when I start my teaching job."
"That'll be Adam," Haden said, as he handed Dustin to Perry. "Yes, Adam, I fed the dogs. I also gave them fresh water. Now, what else do you want to talk about?"
"Shut up, Haden. I was going to say hello first."
"Did you guys have fun today?"
"Man, it was so cool. I took a bazillion pictures. Tomorrow we're going to Epcot, but I don't think it'll be as much fun as Animal Kingdom."
"You'll enjoy it. Hey, do you want to say hello to Perry?"
"Is he there?"
"No, we're having dinner at Applebee's. Dustin sure is getting big."
"Man, I wish I was there."
"Well, do you want to say hello to Perry, or not?"
"Of course I do. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah, Dad said that we'd drive back after Epcot, and we'd be home tomorrow evening."
"Okay, here's Perry. Bye."
After chatting with Adam for a few minutes, Perry said, "Hey, buddy, our table's ready. We'll see you when you get home. Bye."
"We need to do this more often," Haden said, as the group left the restaurant.
"We sure do," Perry agreed, as he gave his brother a hug.
"We need to pick up Jarred," Kyle said, as he pulled out of the drive.
"I forgot about that," Haden admitted.
"I promised we'd take him for a horseback ride tomorrow."
"I'll fix a picnic lunch."
"That sounds great."
Haden was enjoying his first cup of coffee the next morning when Amy and Tony came downstairs. "I didn't know you were home," Haden said.
"It was around midnight when we got home. Have you heard from Mom or Dad?"
"I talked to Adam; they'll be home this evening. I guess they'll need to leave the next morning to get to North Dakota."
"I bet Dad would fly them up to North Dakota, then they could rent a car for the remainder of the trip," Tony said.
"It might be difficult to get a rental, since that area is booming," Haden pointed out. "Besides, I'm not sure Dad would let Paul do that."
"Dad mentioned that he needed to go to Nebraska soon," Tony said. "I'm sure he could go Friday."
"Alright, you talk to Paul, and I'll call George about a car rental."
"Tony, I'll ask your family over to dinner tonight, and we can work out the details," Amy said.
"I'll call George as soon as I get breakfast done," Haden said.
"He'll be going to work soon," Amy pointed out. "I'll fix breakfast, and you can call him now."
"Good news," Haden said, after making the call. "George likes the idea of them flying up there. He said he has a company pickup, and Mom and Dad could take his car."
"That is good news," Amy remarked. "But how would they get home when they dropped George's car back off?"
"George said there's a small airport there that has commuter flights," Haden said.
"I'm sure Dad would fly up there and pick them up," Tony said.
"Dad wouldn't want to let him do that," Amy said.
"What if he paid for the fuel?" Tony asked.
"He might do that," Haden said. "We'll discuss it tonight."
"Are you hungry already?" Amy asked when Haden came in the kitchen and began preparing sandwiches.
"Kyle and I are taking Jarred riding."
"That's nice of you. Oh, Tony called and said that Paul readily agreed to fly the family to North Dakota."
"Amy, thank you for inviting us to dinner," Debby said when they sat down for dinner that evening.
"Well, it's good to have company, and we wanted to talk to Paul about something," Amy admitted.
"Yeah, I already told Tony I'd fly the family to North Dakota," Paul said.
"Dad may insist on paying," Haden said.
"I know he will," Amy agreed.
"I'll let him pay for the fuel, if that'll make him feel better," Paul said. "It'd still be less than paying for tickets on a commercial flight."
"They were talking about stopping in Saint Louis and let the boys see the Budweiser Clydesdales," Haden mentioned.
"That wouldn't be a problem," Paul said. "I'd like to see them myself. We can leave here Friday morning, stop in Saint Louis, then fly on to North Dakota. I'll then fly back to Nebraska and take care of my business. Then I'll fly back and pick them up."