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 talk at the dinner table centered on the arrest of Batman's suspected killers. "Adam, are you nervous about testifying?" Rita asked.
"No, I like Judge Spencer," Adam said.
"Adam, she's a Family Court Judge," Rita said. "It's unlikely she would handle this case."
"Why not, she's a judge?" Adam asked.
"Son, there're different judges for different types of cases," Darrell explained.
"Yes, this is a criminal case," Rita said.
"I don't know that I want to testify then," Adam said.
"Adam, if they subpoena us, we have to go," Haden said.
"What if the druggies come after me, if I testify?" Adam asked in concern.
"Son, they're in jail, and that's just not going to happen," Darrell assured him.
"Who'll have to testify?" Adam asked.
"I expect it'll be you, Haden, Jon, and Ray," Darrell said. "And I'm sure there'll be others."
"Alright, I'll do it if Jon and Haden do," Adam agreed.
"They probably won't be in the courtroom when you testify," Rita said.
"Why not?" Adam wanted to know.
"Let's say for example, that you and Haden made up a story," Rita began to explain. "The court could compare your testimony and know that you didn't know what Haden was asked and what he told the court."
"Will you and Dad be there?" Adam asked.
"We sure will," Rita assured him.
"There's a chance you won't even have to testify," Darrell said. "If they plead guilty to avoid a harsher sentence - it won't go to court."
The upcoming trial was in the back of Adam's mind until an investigator from the DA's office brought Haden and Adam in for an interview. "I know you guys have questions about the trial," said Brad Brownell, the assistant DA, after welcoming the Harrington family to his office and offering drinks. Brad's friendliness and demeanor put both boys at ease.
"Adam has been nervous about the trial," Darrell said.
"That's normal," Brad said. "Adam, the defense may try to rattle you, just tell the truth and you'll be fine. It will likely be a few months before this goes to trial. And there's still the possibility that it won't go to trial at all."
The interview didn't take long, so the family decided to drive to Covington for dinner. "Where do you want to eat?" Darrell asked when they were near Covington.
"I understand there's a new restaurant near the river that's really good," Rita said.
"It's still early," Haden pointed out. "It's only 4:15."
"Could we go to the mall?" Adam asked. "I need new shoes."
"Adam, you have several pairs of shoes," Rita said.
"I know ... and I'm sorry, but they're too small and hurt my feet," Adam said.
"Son, there's no need to be sorry," Darrell said. "We're just surprised at how fast you're growing."
"We'll get a pair today, and go shopping again before school starts," Rita said. "We may have to buy you all new school clothes."
"I can't help it because I'm growing," Adam said.
"I know that," Rita said with a chuckle.
The River Bend Restaurant was more than expected. It was an upscale restaurant on a hill overlooking the river. Although the restaurant was pricey, the family enjoyed the meal.
Adam was disappointed that the trail ride was cancelled due to a severe thunder storm. Thunder storms were predicted over the next two days; so, as a precaution the entire ride was cancelled. Adam decided a campout would be the next best thing. "But, Son, the trail ride was cancelled because of severe weather," Darrell reasoned. "If that wasn't safe, a campout wouldn't be safe either."
"I know, I meant next weekend, not this one," Adam said.
"Alright, we'll go," Darrell agreed.
"Good," Adam said. "Alan has never been camping. Mom, do you want to go?"
"No, thank you," Rita said. "I'm not using the toilet where the bears go."
"Mom, I was just kidding about that," Adam said.
"I know, I'm only using your description of it," Rita said with a chuckle.
Ray and his boys had gone out earlier and prepared the camp for the riders. Alan was beside himself in anticipation of his first campout. Alan had become his older brother's shadow, but he was also becoming friends with Jarred and Wade, as they were closer to his age.
"What's that?" Wade asked, when the riders arrived at the camp.
"It's a porta potty," Ray said.
"What's a porta potty?" Jarred asked.
"It's where we go to pee or poop," Alan said.
"How much do they charge to rent those?" Jeff asked.
"It's $75.00 a day, but I decided we needed it as many of us camp here now," Ray explained.
"We could build one and save a lot of money," Jeff said.
"How much would that cost?" Ray inquired.
"I'll donate the material, but we'll need to get the cement poured," Darrell said.
"I'll pay for that," Paul offered.
"I have no plans for next weekend, and can work on it then," Jeff said.
All of the men offered to help with the construction of the toilet. Ray would bring his backhoe out and do the dirt work. Jeff and his crew would construct the forms for the cement as soon as Ray completed the dirt work.
"Jeff, why don't you get with Ray and come out here and work with him in getting the cement work done?" Darrell suggested.
"I can come and help too," Haden offered.
"I can too," Kyle said.
"You've built a corral too," Perry observed.
"Yeah, I thought it would be easier to have a permanent corral, rather than messing with the electric one," Ray said.
"Ray, you didn't have to set up the tents," Steve said. "We could've done it when we got here."
"It didn't take long," Ray said. "My boys helped me."
"Come on, guys, and we'll go gather some firewood," Haden said.
"Dad brought wood out," Alan said.
"Will that be enough?" George asked.
"I brought the propane stoves out for cooking," Ray said. "We'll use the wood for a pit fire tonight. We've pretty much used up the available wood here."
"What's for lunch ... I'm hungry?" Ethan asked.
"Mom sent ham and cheese sandwiches," Jon said.
"My mom sent packets of baby carrots," Ethan said.
"Well, what's for dinner?" Adam asked as soon as he finished his sandwich and carrots.
"Nothing, unless we catch some fish," Walter teased.
"Do we really get to go fishing?" Alan asked in excitement.
"We sure do, as soon as we clean up the camp area," Walter said.
The enthusiastic boys quickly picked up the small amount of trash from lunch and disposed of it. They then headed to the pond to catch dinner.
"Ray, how many ponds do you have?" George asked.
"I've never really counted them," Ray said. "But I'd say that there are a dozen or more, and they're all stocked with fish."
"Maybe we should fish a different pond next time, so we don't over fish this one," Grant said.
"How far are they?" Perry asked.
"Most are a short horseback ride away," Ray said.
"What in the world?" Grant said when he heard the boys yelling in excitement.
"Alan caught the first fish," Jon said, as Alan danced in excitement.
"This is the first fish I've ever caught," Alan remarked.
In a short time, the group caught enough fish for dinner, but the boys wanted to continue fishing. Walter and George agreed to stay and supervise the boys while the others went back to camp to clean the fish and prepare dinner.
"Haden, I brought the ingredients for hushpuppies," George said. "You're the expert on making them."
"And I'm the expert on eating them," Kyle joked.
Dinner was a feast for the hungry boys and men. The menu included fish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, and french-fries. Grace had sent an ample supply of homemade cookies.
The camp out ended early the next day, after Rita called to report that severe weather was predicted to move in. The boys were disappointed, but knew the decision had been made.
"Why don't we build two toilets?" Haden said when he and Adam went to help build the toilet. "It would be nice, in case the ladies come out sometime."
"Your dad is providing the material and Paul is providing the concrete," Ray said.
"Dad's at the store, I'll call him," Haden said.
"But what about the concrete, Paul's buying that?" Kyle asked.
"We have to pay enough for two to get it delivered anyway," Jeff said.
"Jeff, Dad needs to talk to you," Haden said as he handed his phone to Jeff.
"Darrell said that building the second toilet wouldn't be a problem," Jeff said as he handed the phone back to Haden.
All were pleased at how well the toilets turned out. The boys were already planning another camp out to put them to use.
"Adam has grown so much that I'll have to buy all new school clothes this fall," Rita said at a gathering at the swimming hole.
"Oh, I know what you mean," Lois agreed. "It's the same with Jon. Do you know where I can donate his out grown clothes? They're still usable and I hate to just toss them out."
"I'm taking Adam's to the Community Crisis Center," Rita said. "They distribute them to those in need."
"I'll do the same," Lois said.
"I'll donate Justin's too," Betty said.
"Jon, you're supposed to be watching Alan and Lana," Lois called out when Jon got out of the water to use the diving board.
"Mom, they can swim as well as I can," Jon answered. "Besides Haden, Kyle, Tony, and Amy are out there."
"Oh, I know I'm over protective," Lois admitted when the other ladies smiled. "I just about worried myself sick when Ray started letting Jon go riding with the other boys."
"I was the same way," Rita confessed. "Amy, are you leaving?"
"Yes, I have a paper due tomorrow, and I want to make a few revisions," Amy said after toweling herself.
"It seems we hardly see you lately," Rita said.
"I'll have a month free of classes at the end of the summer term," Amy said. "When I start the fall term the hospital is letting me work 32 hours a week. I'll still be fulltime, but it'll be less money."
"Honey, we can help you as long as you and Tony are in school," Rita said.
"Paul and I'll do the same," Debbie said.
"Mom, we're fine," Tony said. "I only have two more semesters before I graduate, and Amy makes enough to pay the bills."
"I know they'll be happy once they finish their education," Linda said.
"That may be a while for Amy," Rita said. "She plans to pursue her PhD."
"At least, she won't have to go away for that," Linda said. "She discovered that she can get her degree online at Texas Woman's University."
"I wasn't aware of that," Rita admitted.
"She just found out," Linda said. "I know her goal is to teach nursing, and she'll be a good instructor."
"He has to pee," Perry explained as he headed to the toilet with Dustin.
"Is he potty trained already?" Debbie asked.
"Yes, thankfully," Lacey said.
Summer vacation was coming to an end all too soon for Adam and his friends. It wasn't that he didn't like school; he just enjoyed summer time activities much more. Adam, Justin, and Jon were entering eighth grade, their last year in the middle school. Haden, Tony, and Kyle were in their final year of college.
"Adam, I got a call from your school that you were on in-school suspension for talking back to your history teacher," Darrell said a few evenings after the beginning of school. "Would you explain what happened? This isn't like you."
"Well, Mr. Griffin is an asshole," Adam said.
"Adam, I can't believe you just said that," Rita remarked.
"Well, he is," Adam countered. "He said that evolution was made up, and that God made man in his image."
"Well, he's wrong about evolution, but you can't talk back," Rita said.
"Mom, all I said was that it was possible that God made man, but maybe he made him through evolution ... it was just a slower process."
"I see nothing wrong with that," Darrell said. "What else did you say?"
"I didn't get a chance to say anything else," Adam said. "He sent me to the principal's office."
"Rita, we're taking Adam to school tomorrow and have a talk with the principal," Darrell said.
"Dad, shouldn't you call Steve?" Haden asked. "He's on the school board and also an attorney."
"I know that, Son," Darrell said. "But I want to give the principal a chance to fix this before I turn Steve lose on him."
"What do they have you doing for in-school suspension?" Haden asked.
"I go to the suspension room," Adam explained. "I have to go there and do my school work. I even have to get my lunch tray and take it to the suspension room, and I work on my school work when I finish eating," Adam explained.
"Dad, Mom, I'd rather you just let this go, and I'll serve my suspension," Adam said on the way to school the next day.
"No, Adam, you're right and he's wrong," Rita said as they arrived at the school. "Go on to class."
"Yes, Adam, I think the school should be teaching science and not the Bible," Darrell said. "Besides, he's a history teacher, not a biology teacher."
"I can't go to class," Adam said. "I have to go straight to the detention room and do my assignments there."
"Come with us to the principal's office, then." Darrell said.
"Detention is next to the principal's office," Adam explained.
"Alright, go there for now," Darrell said.
"We're here to see Mr. Barton," Darrell told the receptionist.
"What's this about?" The receptionist asked.
"It's about us speaking to Mr. Barton," Darrell said in a stern voice.
"I can't let you see him until I know why," the receptionist said.
"I told you why we're here, and that's all you need to know," Darrell said in even a sterner voice.
"I'm sorry, but you can't go in," she responded.
"You may as well call security now, because we're going in," Darrell said
"You can't just storm in here," Mr. Mike Barton said when Darrell and Rita walked into his office.
"We're here about our son Adam Harrington," Rita said as she took a seat in front of the desk.
"I'm sorry, but that's settled," Mike said.
"It isn't settled or we wouldn't be here," Darrell said.
"You need to leave, or I'll have you both arrested," Mike threatened.
"You just try," Darrell said in anger as he took his phone out and dialed Steve's number.
"We came to talk and apparently you don't want to hear us," Rita said.
"Steve, could you come to the middle school?" Darrell said. "Adam is on in-school suspension and the principal 'that you and the school board hired' won't hear us."
"Alright, we'll see you soon," Darrell said with a grin.
"Who was that?" Mike asked.
"Not that it's any of your business, but it's our attorney Steve Holden," Darrell said as a school security officer came into the room. "But I called him as a school board member."
"Stand by for a minute," Mike told the security officer. "Oh, hello Steve."
"That was fast," Rita said.
"I was dropping Jarred off at school and was close by," Steve said.
After hearing both sides, Steve asked, "Mike, what policy are you using to suspend Adam?"
"He was being disrespectful to Mr. Griffin," Mike nervously responded.
"Since when is asking a question disrespectful?" Steve asked. "Furthermore, why is Mr. Griffin teaching creationism in a history class? As you may recall, the board has also declared a policy that the schools would teach science concerning evolution. Teachers are only allowed to mention that creationism is a belief and nothing more."
"I happen to believe Mr. Griffin is right," Mike said. "He was right to ask that Adam be suspended."
"Who made the final decision to suspend him?" Steve asked.
"Did you interview Adam before you suspended him?"
"I didn't see that it was necessary."
"Hand me your policy manual," Steve commanded. "Here, read Section 5A to me."
"All students will be offered the opportunity for a fair hearing prior to any suspensions."
"Was that done?"
"Well ... Well, I didn't think it was necessary," Mike stammered.
"Who approved that policy?"
"I guess the school board did."
"There's no guessing about it," Steve said. "The board did approve it."
"If Mr. Griffin expects to maintain his position here, he needs to stop teaching creationism."
"I believe he's correct."
"You may believe whatever you chose, but it is forbidden by board policy. Now I suggest you send Adam back to his classes, and bring Mr. Griffin in for instruction on board policy."
"Adam shall remain suspended."
"I'll be calling the superintendent now," Steve said. "If he isn't willing to do something, I'll be contacting the other board members and asking for a special meeting."
"I don't think I want Adam to not be in class," Rita said. "He may as well be at home."
"We can have a special meeting within 24 hours," Steve said. It will only be one more day."
"Honey, let's let Adam decide," Darrell suggested as Steve left the room to make the call.
"Jim, will be here in 10 minutes," Steve returned to say.
"Give me a few minutes to talk to Mike," Dr. James Morris said when he arrived.
After about 20 minutes, Jim exited Mike's office and announced, "Mike has resigned rather than follow the school district's policy. He's clearing out his office now. Until the board meets, I'll name Assistant Principal Graves as interim principal."
"I thought Casey Graves should have been the principal in the first place," Steve said.
"What about Adam?" Rita asked.
"When the bell rings, he may go to his class," Jim said. "Steve, Mike said he has been offered, and will be accepting a position at New Life Christian School in Covington."
"Maybe that's where he belongs," Darrell said.
"That's what I told him," Jim agreed.
"Do I need to drop you off at work?" Darrell asked as he and Rita left the school.
"No, take me home," Rita said. "I took the entire day off."
"Was that your girlfriend?" Haden asked Adam when he picked him up at school and saw he was talking to a pretty girl.
"I wish," Adam admitted.
"Oh, does she already have a boyfriend?"
"She's pretty, you should ask her to go to a movie with you."
"How would you know she's pretty ... you're gay?"
"That doesn't mean I can't see beauty in people. You're a good looking guy yourself."
"Now, you do sound gay."
"Adam, I am gay. So are you going to ask her for a date?"
"I might, but how would I pick her up and take her to the movie?"
"There're three licensed drivers in our house."
"I'll try to get up the nerve to ask her. Hey, Mom's home already."
"She took the day off."
"Adam, how did the rest of the day go for you?" Rita asked.
"The other kids think I'm a hero," Adam said with a grin as he retrieved a juice drink from the refrigerator. "They think I got Mr. Barton fired."
"I take it, they didn't like him," Rita stated.
"They all hated him," Adam said. "He wouldn't even let boys and girls talk to each other in the hall between classes."
"Speaking of boys and girls talking, Adam is interested in a very pretty girl," Haden said. "I suggested he ask her to go to the movie with him."
"Yes, Adam, a movie date would be nice," Rita agreed.
"He's concerned about transportation," Haden pointed out.
"Adam, one of us can drive you," Rita offered.
"I'll think about it," Adam said. "I'm going to feed my pets."
"I can't get over how grownup Adam has become," Rita said.
"Mom, he's a teenager now," Haden pointed out. "Have you noticed how handsome he has become?"
"Oh yes, he has always been cute, but now he's handsome."
"I asked Tiffney to go to the movie with me," Adam said a few days later.
"Is she going?" Darrell asked.
"She called me and said that when she asked her dad, he said he would have to meet me and my family first," Adam said.
"While the weather is still nice, we're planning a cookout this Saturday," Rita said. "Invite her and her family to come and join us."
"Alright," Adam said as he began dialing his phone and left the room.
"Mom, Mrs. Lancaster wants to talk to you," Adam returned to say.
After explaining how the "family" often gathered at the swimming hole for cook outs, swimming and fun, the Lancasters agreed to join in. Adam immediately began planning for the weekend.
"This is a lovely place," Leah remarked. "We own Lancaster Realty, would you be interested in listing it."
"Oh no," Rita said. "We like it too much to even think about that."
Tiffney, her younger sister Leann, and brother Tim, quickly joined the others in the water.
"I see that you have horses," Harley Lancaster stated.
"Yes, we each own a horse," Darrell said. "Adam and Haden ride more than Rita and I do."
"We have horses too," Harley said.
"We have camp outs on Ray's place and ride our horses there," Darrell said. "You should join us sometime."
"That sounds like fun, who goes?" Harley asked.
"Just us guys," Darrell said. "However the ladies are welcome. Let us introduce you to what we call 'the family'."
It was discovered that the Lancasters lived just a half mile from the Reeds. Perry, Haden, and Kyle were busy cooking burgers, but took time to meet the Lancasters.
"Your son is very nice looking," Leah said as she observed Adam and Tiffany in conversation while enjoying their meals.
"Thank you," Rita said. "Your daughter is very pretty."
"Tiffany mentioned that he's adopted," Leah said.
"Yes, he was neglected and actually abandoned," Rita said. "Darrell adopted him, and I was his caseworker. After Darrell and I got married, I also adopted him."
"Then the others are your stepchildren?" Leah asked.
"Yes, and I love them as much as I love Adam," Rita said. "I was a widow and Darrell was divorced; we fell in love; and I gained a wonderful family, including a grandson."
Harley and Leah were impressed with Adam and his family, and agreed to allow Tiffany to attend a movie with Adam. Harley insisted that he be the chauffeur for the first date. He would drop them off at the Pizza Hut since it was a short distance from the movie theater. Adam was excited about his first date, and spent a great deal of time getting ready.
"Mom, Dad, could I have a party for Justin and some friends?" Adam asked one evening. "It's Justin's birthday."
"How many friends?" Darrell asked.
"I don't know, maybe 30 or so," Adam said.
"Oh Adam, that's too many," Rita said. "This is a big house, but not that big."
"You could rent the Reed Center," Haden suggested.
"Yeah, thanks, big brother," Adam said.
"You're welcome," Haden said, as Adam high-fived him. "Will there be dancing?"
"Of course," Adam said.
"Have you thought about music?" Haden asked. "You might need a DJ."
"How much would that cost?" Adam asked.
"Probably at least $100 for one," Haden said. "Tony has a friend that does that, so ask him."
"I can't afford $100," Adam said.
"Son, it's a party for Justin, and I bet he's never had one this big," Rita said. "We'll cover the cost."
"Wow, thanks Mom," Adam said.
"Is this going to be a surprise party?" Rita asked.
"I don't think so," Adam said. "I want Justin to invite the people he wants."
"That's smart of you," Darrell said.
"Get with Justin and decide exactly how many, so I can make sure we have enough food and drinks," Rita said.
"Mom, why don't we invite Betty, Grant, and Justin for dinner tomorrow?" Haden asked. "I don't have afternoon classes, and I'll have time to cook."
After dinner the next evening, the two families began making plans for Justin's birthday party. Justin decided he didn't want gifts, but would ask each guest to bring a food item for the food bank instead. And Tony's friend agreed to DJ the party for free since Tony had helped him move.