The Little Pipsqueak
© 2012-2013 Matthew Templar
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 copyrighted by Matthew Templar, 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.
"You all know what we need to do to prevent this atrocity," he said to the group of men scattered in the first three rows and to the women occupying the two rows behind the men. "A man has no business raising a son alone. It was never what the Lord intended. Children need a mother's love, don't they ladies?" he asked, raising his head as if to look over the men toward the back.
But before he allowed them to answer, Justin Overby continued his rant, "It is our responsibility as good Christian men to put an end to this, this attitude that lays aside the teachings of the Lord and subjects children to single men who have no idea how to raise a child on their own. And don't forget the studies that not only prove this but always weigh in on the probability that it will turn into deprivation, perversion, incest and, of course, sodomy."
There were few 'yeahs' and some mutterings from the men. The women for the most part looked a little confused but at least several were in agreement with the speaker.
In the back of the small church sat two men in clerical collars. One was middle aged in his early forties. The other younger man looked like he was barely out of the seminary and, indeed, that was the case, having graduated that May. In this church he was still considered a vicar, having a full year of internship ahead of him before he could be called to his own parish.
"I guess it's my turn, Joshua," the older pastor whispered to his novice. "Watch how I calm them and yet see that the mission of the church is fulfilled."
"But, sir, what studies is he talking about?" asked the confused young man as his employer walked down the aisle toward the front.
"Now I'd like to ask Rev. Jacoby to come forward and give us a word and his blessing," said Mr. Overby, motioning toward the pastor at the back of the nave.
As the pastor moved slowly, reverently to the front of the church, Justin's thoughts wandered to the history of their church and its beliefs.
The protestant sect that comprised their church had been set up many decades before, breaking from a much more tolerant organization that was getting off track. But being subject to a hierarchy of the faith, as it were, was not something this particular church was in favor of, being of a mindset that took their beliefs to even more fundamental principles. But the faith of the main body of believers differed from those of this particular church in that they truly believed in salvation through grace given by their God in the form of Jesus, God's Son.
Justin remembered questioning both the pastor and, eventually, Justin Overby about their faith as he was taught and formed his faith, salvation through grace.
While the pastor was very diplomatic, not quite coming out and saying that the grace theory was all bunk and that they had to fight for what was right, work their faith to impart it on others and right the wrongs in an ungodly world, he came as close to doing so as he could. Diplomacy, however, was not a virtue that was shared with Justin Overby, who said what he thought, which was that all other people claiming to be Christian or not would burn in hell if they didn't abide by the rules set in the bible and their faith's doctrines.
Joshua remembers most clearly the conversation he had with the dean of the seminary, a professor that the young man idolized and counted on for clarity at times like these. He'd called when he became quite concerned about just what den of heresy he was getting thrown into.
"But, sir, I just can't understand where they're getting their information."
"Oh, it's straight from the bible, young Justin. You know that."
"Yes, but there is so much in the bible and they are only using a very small part that is mostly out of context, especially when it relates to our times, to say nothing of what you taught us about the times when it was written."
"Ah, so now you are seeing what man's influence can bring to even the most holy of teachings, the bible. Son, I believe in the inspired word of God, but it is in a context written for a time long ago. It doesn't mean we shouldn't learn from it, but it does mean that we need to take into account its setting and those of the writers. It's a guide that leads each individual when accompanied by prayer and meditation."
"And that is what this group of, of, well, the group that I met the other night, that's what they aren't doing at all," continued the young man. "It's their way or the highway, and from what I understand them to preach, that highway leads to hell."
"Exactly. Unfortunately, so many have learned to use the bible to support their own agendas. It works pretty well until they are put in their place by the truths we know to be correct."
"But how do we know we're correct, sir? Maybe we're just as far off as they are."
"Joshua," the kind, level-headed pastor said into the phone, "Close your eyes and imagine, what Jesus would say or do if he were to walk into the room?"
As Joshua was absorbing the sight in his mind's eye, his mentor continued in a warm, gentle tone.
"'See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, Joshua, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in Him, Who is the head of every ruler and authority.'
"That's from Colossians, chapter two, Joshua. What do you think it means to you?"
"Human tradition? Elemental spirits of the universe? Believe me, sir, I'm standing in the midst of them."
"I believe that too, Joshua. By the way, you need to read the rest of that passage."
"Then why have you sent me to such a place, sir? I don't want to sound ungrateful, but it does seem like the worst possible place to begin my faith's walk."
"Why, Joshua, would I send you to a place where all was peaceful and joyous? What a waste of such devotion. I see in you a young man with a pure heart who will do the Lord's perfect will for the good of all. Now, go and minister to those who will hear the Lord through you. But Joshua?"
"Yes, sir," answered the terrified vicar.
"It has to be your faith, your heart knowledge of what you have learned and what you think the Lord would do if, and He is, by the way, by your side through all you do."
Suddenly a calm came over the young man and he knew what he had to do.
He opened his eyes to see the pastor of the church where he served, about to speak to the assembled group.
"It's Friday, my children. In seven days' time a man will try to take two children from a society that recognizes the evil that will undoubted come out of such a man and his desires. We, as the embodiment of Him who has sent us, must stand in his way and prevent such an ungodly act from taking place.
"Now, Justin and Dorothy Overby, come forward and receive the Lord's blessing for what you are about to accomplish."
As the couple walked up to kneel in front of their pastor, Joshua felt a chill slice through his inner soul. He held onto the pew in front of him, bowed his head and prayed while the ceremony proceeded not thirty feet in front of him. By the time he was done with his silent pleas to his Maker, the group began to file out of the room.
"So, boys, there you have it. Pretty much everything I told you is all I know. I should also say that I called Cybill Hawthorne and asked for her help along with that of her sister, who represented Jeffy in his trial."
When I looked up all three boys were still sitting on the floor in front of my recliner where I related all that had happened up to then. Tears were streaming down the cheeks of Elliot and AJ. Jeffy was turning red faced, not a good sign at all.
"Jeffy, I need to know what you're thinking, right now," I asked him.
"Pop, it can't be. It makes me so mad to think it's all in the hands of some bit . . . um, judge that has no idea what she's doin'. She's trying to break up a family that's already a family. It can't happen. I just want to . . ."
"Okay, Jeffy, slow down and take a deep breath. All three of you in fact, take a slow breath. Then let's go over what we know."
I could see AJ's chest puff out as he drew in the biggest breath he could. I saw Elliot breath in deeply too, just not in such an animated way as AJ. Jeffy watched the other boys. His face was still red, his fists clenched. I slowly leaned toward him.
"Daniel Jeffrey Connors," I said with all the love I could muster for him, and that was a lot, "I need . . . No, we all need you to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. We need to talk about this before we think about doing something worse than what is called for."
"Sorry, Pop. It's just that . . ."
"Jeffy, the breath first."
He breathed as fast as he could. I didn't say anything; I just gave him a look of disappointment.
He returned with a look that said he understood and then breathed as deeply as he could, then let it slowly escape through his pursed lips.
"Thank you. Now we can talk about this together as the family we are and always will be."
In the end, we knew that all we could do was wait and see what Linda Sue and Cybill could help us with. I knew sleep would not come easily for any of us and I knew that Elliot and Jeffy would probably talk into the late hours of the night and morning.
The next morning had the older boys pacing around like they were waiting for something to happen. I came downstairs with Lewis in my arms to see them wandering around, unsure of what to do.
Lewis was clean and dressed and so just wanted to play. He held out his arms for his big uncle, Jeffy. Jeffy had to think about being interrupted in his thoughts enough to take the baby, but when he did, his demeanor took a one hundred and eighty degree turnaround. Both he and Elliot took the baby into the living room to play with him while I started breakfast. Soon I heard the music of laughter and big boys talking baby talk to our littlest one.
AJ came romping into the kitchen with a container of blueberries in time to wash them and dump the sweet fruit into my pancake batter for their favorite meal of the morning.
While we ate our feast, Jeffy started to talk with his mouth full as he shoved a huge piece of pancake into his mouth.
"Pop, um, gulp, uh."
"Jeffy, good grief! Slow down. Chew your food. It will still be there when you need to take another bite. For heaven's sake you don't have to eat it in one mouthful."
"Yah. You could choke," advised AJ. "I learned that in health class. I know how to grab ya and make you spit up your food. Wanna see?"
"Gross, AJ," laughed Elliot. "Better save that demonstration for when someone really needs it."
"I agree with Elliot, AJ," I added. "But if Jeffy doesn't take it easy, you may be showing us very quickly."
"'Kay. I'm ready just in case!"
"Sorry, Pop. It's just that El and I had somewhere we wanted to go and I guess I got in too much of a hurry."
"I see. Where is it you want to go and why is it so important?" I asked looking at both boys.
Elliot spoke up to offer an explanation, "Pop, we want to do what we can to make our adoptions go forward. We're going to the library to study up on the laws and procedures, including any studies that have been completed about single men adopting."
I was amazed again! I don't know why it should have surprised me, but once again my kids were going, not just the extra mile, but about fifteen just to get to the library. I was so proud of them.
"You guys never fail to make me proud of you. I wish you didn't have a reason to go to all that trouble but I certainly won't stop you. However, you will finish your breakfast at a reasonable rate and you will take water with you since it will get hot out and . . ."
"Po-op!" stuttered Jeffy, trying to swallow another huge bite, "It's just the lib'ary you know. Good grief."
Elliot leaned toward his brother to correct him, "It's a library, genius."
"That's what I said. Lib . . . What? Library? What a stupid way to say it."
"May be but that's the way it is and if you don't say it right they could kick you out of there." Elliot was good at keeping a straight face when he goaded his brothers or me for that matter.
"Really?" asked AJ. "Kick you out?"
"No, AJ," said his other brother with unfounded assurance. "He's pullin' your leg . . . I think."
"Okay, guys. Give me a report when you get back. Remember your cell phones, please. Oh, and Elliot, that reminds me that you wouldn't have to do this if we had a good computer. I promise we'll work on that."
"Thanks, Pop, but I kind of like the idea of working at this. It is going to be one of the most important events in our lives and to have a small part in it, if only to understand what's going on, is a privilege I'll likely never forget."
I think we were a little in awe of his speech. I looked at AJ who was frozen with his mouth open as he stared at his brother.
I looked at Jeffy who looked like he was just catching up to what his brother had just said, then looked over at me, looking back at him.
He smiled nervously and said, "Yeah, what he said!"
The county library was one of the most picturesque buildings in the county seat, the city near which we McGills lived. Its old ornate architecture stood out from the more modern structures around it, including the courthouse which was just down the block. An elderly couple had left money for acquiring and remodeling the building into the fine, two story public living room atmosphere that housed volumes of all kinds of books. Its brick exterior spoke of the years it had seen pass by but the interior was grand and ornate and welcoming to those who visited within its walls.
When the two boys arrived at the library and strode up the many steps to the double door entrance a young man ran past them and got to the door before them, almost running through and leaving them to wonder what his hurry could be. But he did finally notice them and kindly stopped and held the door for them.
"Thank you," said Elliot with a smile.
"Oh, it's nothing. I'm sorry I seem in such a hurry," answered the young, handsome man, hurrying ahead of them once more.
The boys stopped at the front desk to ask where they could find research materials on their subject, single dads raising children.
While the front desk person wasn't quite sure, he said to look in the legal department, up the stairs and the first door on the right.
The mammoth staircase looked like it went forever given the light shining brightly from the sky light in the middle of the atrium.
"What's that smell," asked Jeffy of his brother, making a big deal out sniffing the air as they walked up the steps.
"Books," Elliot answered. "The sweet and maybe a little musty smell of the literature and knowledge that fills the shelves in each room of this building."
"Are you for real? You're starting to sound like when they play us the Travel Channel at school."
"It's a good smell, Jeffy. It reminds me that I have a lot of reading I get to enjoy any time I want."
"Yeah, well, today though, we just need to find the stuff to get us adopted."
As they turned to the right they passed a wall of card catalogs. They also noticed that the young man that had held the door for them was busy looking through one of the drawers that he'd set on a pull out shelf for that purpose.
"Wow, look at all those drawers full of cards. There must be millions of 'em, El."
"And each one represents one book stored here."
They kept walking to the room indicated by the front desk person and walked up to the desk behind which sat a most studious and stern looking lady. Jeffy was thinking that she was the stereotypical librarian of old.
"How can I help you gentlemen," she said with a pleasant smile.
"Um, ma'am, we're um . . ."
Just then the young man brushed past them, in a hurry again, and disappeared within the many aisles between book filled shelves.
"Um, we're looking for information about adoptions and maybe some studies about single men adopting."
"Oh, how interesting," she said, her demeanor softening remarkably. "I think I can help you. Let's see, school is out so it isn't a class project, right?" she asked the boys with a kind smile.
"Oh, no, ma'am," answered Jeffy. "We're the two who want to be adopted by our dad, well, soon to be our dad, I hope."
"Well, isn't that wonderful. Does this gentleman know he's about to be a father? Have you told him yet?" she asked with a sly smile building on her elderly face. She was having some fun with them.
Elliot laughed. "Yes, he wants us as much as we want him. But see, there's this judge that has to make the decision and we heard that she isn't too fond of letting men adopt if they aren't married."
"Oh, I see. That would be Judge Harrington from the Juvenile and Family Court, I assume. And you're looking for some, shall we say, ammunition to support your case?"
"Yeah," said Jeffy. "You pegged it!"
"Sh-h-h-h. Follow me and we'll see what we can find."
As she rose and slowly walked toward the rows of bookshelves, Jeffy and Elliot smiled and did a high five behind her. They felt like they'd hit the jackpot.
Way in the back of one of the many rows, between two almost floor to ceiling windows were two sections of books that looked like they were almost all the same. Of course, closer inspection showed that they were volumes of law books, all neatly in order, except for one that was missing in the middle of the third shelf.
Elliot looked to his left and saw the young man again, this time reading from the very book that was missing.
The librarian followed her finger as she read the descriptions on the bindings which briefly told what could be found inside. She moved along slowly until she came to the place vacated by the young man.
"Oh, well it seems that this gentleman is using the book you'll need. You'll just have to wait until he's through. Now, all three of you know that these books are for use in the library only. They cannot be checked out." She turned to the two boys and said, "I know there's more. I'll go start to look up some possibilities while you wait here. We have to get you two adopted, don't we?"
And she left them.
The two boys beamed with pride that they had someone on their side.
"I'm sorry, boys," said the young man with a curious look on his face, looking up with his finger on the spot where he'd left off, "but I only have a week to get this information. It's very important to me."
"Really? Weird, huh, El," said Jeffy.
"I'm sorry?" inquired the young man.
"Oh, he said that because we only have a week as well. See we're going to be adopted on Friday and we need to study up on single men adopting," Elliot told him.
"You're kidding!" the man said quite loud.
"Sh-h-h-h!" came the admonishment of the others in the room.
"Why would we kid about that, mister? What's it to you?"
"Jeffy!" said Elliot. "Be nice."
"Oh, it's okay. It's just that we're here for exactly the same reason. In fact, you must be the very reason I'm here. By the way, I'm vicar . . . Um, just call me Joshua," he said, holding out his hand.
While the older boys were at the library, AJ and Lewis were getting ready to go outside and enjoy the pool. Of course I would be there close just in case. Karen had the weekend off and I was still reeling from the information from the day before, the stab in the back we'd taken when we heard that we would be facing a much stricter judge than our friend, Judge Davenport.
"You know it's all gonna be okay, Dad, dontcha?" My little optimist was taking Lewis' t-shirt off.
"Well, AJ, I wish I could say that I believed that but in some ways, it's always been too good to be true. I do hope it works out. You boys are my life now and with the addition of each of you, life has just gotten better and better for me."
AJ pulled a waterproof diaper over Lewis' ample butt and pulled it up around the chubby waist, making Lewis giggle. Then AJ stood up and pushed down his shorts and sat down to slip on his own trunks.
"Are they too loose for you, AJ?" I asked.
"Because they caused quite a stir yesterday when you stood up and they didn't."
"Oh, yeah, that," he said, giggling. "They're okay, I s'pose. They're just so heavy when they get wet, ya know."
"Yes, and you hardly have any hips to hold them up. Well, try on the smaller ones. They're called Speedos."
"How come? They super-fast or somethin'?"
"It's just the company that makes them."
He jumped up, pushed off his swim suit and ran upstairs to get the other, smaller pair. I think he just wanted to stay naked as long as he could.
When he came back down the new, smaller swimsuit was all rolled up in one hand held out in front of him.
"Wow, they're practically nothing'," he said, stopping in front of me to show that there was very little showing outside of his fist.
"Well, you still have to try them on. If someone comes over you need to be wearing something. That's all."
"How come Lewis can be naked in front of anybody but not us big guys?"
"That's because . . . um, because he's smaller and won't remember being naked in front of others and how embarrassing it can be."
"Embarrassing? It is? Hm-m-m. Why?"
"It doesn't bother you, does it, to go around naked all the time?" I asked him, still naked and looking at the tiny piece of cloth in his hand.
"Nope. It just feels better. It's like all of me can breathe."
Still, he tried to get the small suit up over pointy hips. He finally came over for help.
"I think they're too small for you, buster," I told him, lifting him up as I tried to hike up the suit.
"So, I can't go outside and play in the water anymore?" he asked with a disappointed look on his face.
I sighed a lot around AJ. Nothing as serious as when we were first together, but he had a way of getting to me.
"Okay, but keep that other pair close by, put on sun screen while I put it on Lewis. I don't want your bottom red unless it's me doing it," I said trying to swat him as he jumped clear of my swing.
Lewis squealed and did one of his deep belly laughs.
When the boys came home, I couldn't have tied them down from their excited jumping around or plugged them up from talking a mile a minute if I'd wanted to. They had stories of the man they'd met. I agreed with them that it was an amazing coincidence but I also agreed that we had just gone from trying to put out some small wild fires to having to deal with a raging forest fire.
"He's really smart, Pop. I think he's got the studies covered," said Jeffy.
"Yeah, Pop," agreed Elliot. "And he said that the church group's leader said there were studies that said men were no good at being single fathers, but we couldn't find any that said that. We even had this cool librarian helping us. And everything we found said that any man that wanted to raise children by himself was shown to be devoted to the task."
"Or crazy," I said, laughing.
That's when they jumped on me. Oh, they try so hard to tickle and pin me but all I had to do was get them laughing and they'd go weak and get the worst of the tickling.
It was the longest week in history. Several things happened to add to the progress or regress of our hearing date, but besides those things, time barely clicked by.
Jeb made his appearance Sunday afternoon, five days before the hearing. He was his usual self until . . .
"Okay, McGills, what gives? I've seen longer faces on giraffes," he told us, plunking down in his favorite recliner.
"Great Grampa, you've seen giraffes?" asked AJ.
"Ha, ha, ha. Just at the zoo, AJ, just at the zoo," said Jeb slapping his knees while he laughed.
Lewis immediately knew that his great great grampa was signaling for him to come on over. He tried to get his chubby legs to go and kind of flopped around like a fish out of water, but didn't get too far. When he let out a grunt we stopped and saw what he was up to.
"Elliot, would you please help Lewis get to his great great grampa?" I asked him.
Without a verbal reply, Elliot scooped Lewis up, swung him around the room twice and set him in Jeb's lap.
Lewis was laughing and so were we all.
"Don't that beat all, little Lewis - a nonstop flight right onto my lap. Nice landing too," laughed Jeb.
Lewis agreed by giving us another one of his patented deep belly laughs that kind of ended in a wild giggle.
"Now, what's with the long faces, family?"
"Well, Jeb, it seems . . ." I started.
"Yeah, great grampa, the judge doesn't want to get us adopted and neither does some church in town. They all think single men shouldn't be dads but El and I couldn't find any studies that said that and neither could Joshua, our new friend that we met at the lib'ary, I mean library."
Jeb looked at Jeffy in disbelief, not about the information so much but about the amount of information he got out in one breath. Then he looked over at Elliot who just smiled weakly and nodded. Next, he turned to me.
"It's true, Jeb. Your buddy Homer Davenport stepped down from the Juvenile and Family Court because of his health."
"Yup. That much I knew. I think he's workin' til mid-week and that's all she wrote."
"Yes, well, the judge that is taking his place has a record of never allowing a single man to adopt."
"Hmmm, that is not a good thing," Jeb replied, thoughtfully rubbing his chin.
"I called Cybill and she's going to call Lenore, her sister and Linda Sue said she almost had her director on our side until she came to visit."
I started the story but AJ jumped in and told the part where he jumped up and saluted and not with his hands. He didn't sat it that way, I did.
That caused a huge guffaw from Jeb after which Lewis broke into another of his deep laughs.
"Great Grampa!" said Jeffy. "This is serious stuff. We want Pop to be our dad more than anything. Why is that such a problem for everyone since AJ got to be adopted?"
"Okay, you're right, Jeffy. Sorry I laughed but there doesn't seem to be a time when you boys aren't entangled in some kind of a mess, and never of your own chosin,' don'tcha know."
"Yeah, but we're all gonna make it through this one too, huh, Great Grampa?" asked AJ, scooting up, look up at Jeb.
He was close enough that Lewis tried to reach out and grab AJ's hair but AJ was quick enough to move back in time.
"Well, po-dunk, I tend to agree with your attitude. I do believe we will see two more added to our family by the end of this week."
I was certainly glad that we had two such great optimists in our group.
Monday morning, Cybill called to say they were studying up on every aspect of the case, including the judge and her background. Then I told her about the church that was going to protest the hearing and that the boys had met a young vicar from that same church that was trying to help us.
"The boys went to the library?" she asked. "I guess some good will come out of this besides an adoption or two."
"Are you sure, Cybill? Is there any doubt in your mind, about the adoption, I mean?"
"Tim, I promise we are doing all we can to make sure it happens. We have several feelers out for attorneys that deal with this type of case and have a couple of very good possibilities."
"Thank you, Cybill, but it doesn't give you very much time."
"Well, we have everything compiled for anyone to read through and one of our prospects is already interested in the case."
"Really? Who could that be, I wond . . ."
"Okay, I have to get back to work, Tim. Don't worry about a thing, least of all some quacks bellowing on the street in front of the courthouse."
"Yes, but . . ."
If I didn't know better, and I wasn't sure I did, I'd have said she wasn't going to tell me who was interested in our hearing. As long as they were helping, it couldn't hurt our chances.
"It just doesn't seem fair that we have to fight for the same thing that AJ got so easily," Jeffy said.
"Well, guys, life can be like that. Sometimes you never know what will come out of something like this. We just have to wait and see, but I guarantee that the final outcome will be in our favor."
"Pop, how can you be so sure? Is there something you know that we don't?" asked Elliot.
"No, I just know how blessed we've been and I know what's best for you two and, for that matter, all of us as a family. There can be only one outcome and I won't stop until it's in our favor."
"Wo-ow!" said AJ.
I just wished I believed my own words as much as my little pipsqueak did.
Linda Sue called to ask if she, Tyler and the Perkins boys could come by. I knew that we'd end up doing a barbeque and Dan would come over after his shift at the sheriff's office. It sounded like a much needed distraction for my guys and me.
Denver, Michael, Enrique and Tyler all came in their swimsuits each carrying a small bag with their dry clothes in them. It was getting to be a regular thing and I loved the idea of getting us all together as often as we could arrange it.
Within minutes there were whoops and hollers coming from the backyard. It only took a few minutes for Lewis to wake up from his nap with all the noise coming from the boys. He made the fact that he was awake known to Linda Sue and I very quickly.
After changing him and spooning some nourishment into him, something he almost resisted in order to go see what was happening with his boys, I pulled up a swim diaper and called from the deck for a boy to come and get him. Denver and AJ were running as fast as they could and took Lewis with them.
Linda Sue and I went back into the house to talk business at my insistence. I needed to know what was happening.
"There isn't much to tell, I'm afraid, Tim. I did go meet with the director, the permanent director, I mean. She was mortified when she heard of Dorothy Overby's reactions when she came over to meet us. She even chuckled until it pulled on her stitches," Linda Sue said, "when I told her about AJ's embarrassing standup act."
That was my embarrassment, not AJ's, of course.
"Is there any way she can supersede anything this woman decides, should Overby refuse to endorse our bid for adoption?" I asked her.
"While she didn't say specifically, she did say she wouldn't let it go that far, that she would do all she could to see it go our way."
That made me feel better, but that was only one part of the three act possible tragedy. The other two being the crowd of church hecklers that was planning to be outside and, of course, our real problem of the lady judge that didn't sound like she was going to bend.
I told Linda Sue about the boys going to the library and meeting Vicar Joshua. They didn't know his last name. She thought it was cute that they wanted to participate by going all the way to the county library and that it was providential that they met with the young man there.
By the time Dan showed up the boys were exhausted and ready for a break and dinner.
As he and I fired up the grill and started cooking, he told me about his end of all the excitement our adoption was causing.
"Man, Tim, you really know how to stir up a community, don't you?" he said smiling.
"It's not my first choice in making a name for my boys and me, Dan. It just seems to come naturally."
"Well, we just had that church apply for a peaceful permit to gather at the steps of the courthouse on Friday."
"You're kidding! They're seeking a permit? You didn't give it to them, did you?" I admit I was a little excited.
"It's not like we had a choice, Tim. They did everything they needed to acquire the permit so of course we had to issue it. Even Norton was fuming when he signed it over to them. He told the guy that applied for the church, an Overby, that they had better obey all the laws and the rules of the permit or expect to have consequences.
"Overby, Overby," I muttered. "Where have I heard . . ."
"You're kidding, dear! Overby?" asked Linda Sue who had just brought out a salad. "That couldn't possibly be the same Overby as our temporary director, like her husband maybe?"
"Honey, I don't know. I just know that I didn't like his 'holier than thou' superior attitude with us."
"Well, that would certainly explain her reactions when she was here, wouldn't it?"
Dan was practically going nuts, laughing so hard when I told him of her visit and what happened with AJ.
"It didn't seem all that funny at the time, Dan."
"Sorry, Tim. There's just no way that this adoption can't go through. First you've already set a precedent having adopted AJ. And you're raising Lewis as your own, which he is. How can those not be factors in your favor?"
"Unless she says I've got more than I can handle now, or something."
"But you are handling them and quite well."
"I thought things were going pretty smoothly in that department or I wouldn't have considered more than fostering the boys. And they have been such great help in caring for their little brother and their nephew."
"Little brother and nephew to be," finished Dan.
"Let's hope so, my friend. Let's hope so."
"Tim. Tim McGill? This is Kaye Curtain, Stewart's mother."
"Kaye, it's nice to hear your voice. How are things over in the city?"
"Oh, fine, Tim. It's good to hear your voice too. And that's why I'm calling. Stewart misses AJ and was wondering if your son could come for a sleepover this weekend."
"Well, I'd say yes without exception if it was any other weekend, Kaye, but right now we're in a bit of a quandary."
"Oh, my. What's happening, if I may ask?"
"Of course, you may, Kaye. You folks are just like family to us and especially because of all that AJ and Stewart went through together."
"I agree, Tim. I do appreciate you saying so. Does this have anything to do with what the two older boys went through? That was a horrible ordeal."
"No, not really except that it has allowed me to try to adopt Elliot, besides Jeffy, which was already in the workings."
"Oh, that's right! Congratulations, Tim! That must be exciting. When is it going to happen? We'd like to support you again, as we did when you adopted AJ."
"Thank you, Kaye. That's wonderful of you to say. I wish there was something you could do and thus is our problem. The adoption hearing is set for this Friday and . . ."
And then I told her all that had been going on and our concern about the possible outcome.
"I, I just don't understand how that can be. I'm not so concerned about any of it as I am about the new judge. How can she deny you your right in the light of all you've done for those boys? Why, if it hadn't been for you and your support who knows what would have happened to either of those boys. Furthermore, who can tell us what would happen to them in the system? That's horrendous!
"Just a minute, Tim," she said.
Then put her hand over the mouthpiece and called to her husband. Of course I could still hear what was going on.
"George, go upstairs and get on the extension. Wait until you hear what the McGills have to deal with."
So when George got on, and after we'd said our hellos, I repeated the tale to him with Kaye injecting any pieces I may have skipped over.
"But I don't understand. You're already proving yourself to be a fine father to those boys. You also have AJ, who is yours, thanks to Judge Davenport and then there's little Lewis."
"Thank you, George. I wish you were the judge in this case. I don't see how she can deny me my boys either."
"Well, if you will allow us, Tim, We'd like to be there to support all of you on Friday. We'd also like to contribute to the festivities afterward, as well. We just know it will all come out wonderful for you and your family, don't we, George?"
I was a little choked up by their confirmation. I guess all the good words had piled up until I was unable to hold my emotions in check.
We talked for a few minutes more and it was decide that they would come over the next afternoon so Stewart could play with AJ.
"Be sure to tell Stewart to bring his swimsuit, Kaye. Ha! We have an above ground pool, you know." Then I told them another AJ story about acquiring the pool.
"That is so darling, Tim. I'll certainly tell him. He'll be very excited.
"And, George, come over after work and we'll grill some hamburgers."
"Fine, Tim. What can we bring?"
We talked a bit more about the barbeque and then said our goodbyes.
The boys were having a ball from the minute the three Curtains arrived. Stewart had an older brother that was going to be a junior in high school. Though just a bit older than my two older boys, he was too involved in his friends to come over, which was fine. Stewart also had a younger sister by two years.
Imogene Curtain was named after her maternal grandmother and was happy to go by Jeanie, even though the spelling was totally different. She also fell in love with Lewis the moment she met him. If fact, we had to stop the kids a few times when they each wanted to go a different direction with Lewis, something he wasn't able to comply with.
At some point, AJ showed Imogene his room and the box of dolls he'd stored in the closet. She was okay with playing with them if Lewis was there too. So, for a time, Stewart and AJ enjoyed some rough play with the older boys, until Jeanie came down with a smelly Lewis.
I decided to show off what my youngest had been learning and asked if he would mind changing Lewis. He almost whined and complained until I mentioned how well he did and that his guests would be impressed by his expertise.
With a puffed up chest and a huge smile, that lasted until he got the dirty diaper off of Lewis, he did a great job, especially considering the smell.
He spent little time wiping up the boy and getting rid of the offensive garment, even starting to change the baby into one of his swimming diapers. Just when he was laying the diaper under Lewis to pull it around him, the urge struck and we had a geyser named Lewis. AJ tried to shield himself while the rest of the kids that had been standing around dove for cover, laughing at the force and quantity that such a small guy could spurt out of his bladder. When he was done, AJ was about to jump into the wading pool to rinse off when all the kids screamed at him to stop! He ended up wiping himself up and taking a quick shower before returning to the backyard.
We had a nice meal with a salad that the Curtains brought. When they went home we were exhausted. Lewis was down and AJ was nodding off. I was wiped out, mostly from the pent up tension of the last few days. Jeffy and Elliot seemed to be doing very well, which surprised me, since they were the targets of the church group and the representatives of the legal system.
"We're fine, Pop," explained Elliot. "We both know everything is going to work out, just like always. We might have some bumps in the way to start but I think it'll work out okay."
Jeffy was quick to agree and I tried not to change their thinking. AJ had already agreed with their conclusion as did Jeb. I guess I was the only one that kept trying to cross my fingers in a hundred different ways.
Thankfully, sleep came easy and it moved us another day closer to the main event.
On Thursday, we decided on simple shirt and ties for all of us. It was hot out and we needed to be somewhat comfortable in a stuffy courtroom. Elliot had his and Jeffy's clothes laid out before they went to bed that night. He was our organizer and fashion coordinator.
"It will all be fine, honey," she said to me. "This is the right thing to do. Those boys need you now more than ever. You are such a good daddy for them, just like you were for your little princess."
I could feel the tears streaming down my face and I wanted to touch her, hold her so bad. But every time I reached for her, called her name, she'd move away and then drift slowly back as I put my arms down.
I don't remember saying anything else but her name. Her face wasn't crystal clear but her voice sounded just like I remembered.
"Just be the good daddy that you are to the boys, sweetheart, and all will go well. They need you and you need them. I'm so glad they all came into your life, even the little one. You needed a family more than you know."
I was sweating, crying, hot and frustrated that I couldn't get to her. It was unlike any dream I'd had before and the first one I'd had of Vivian. It wasn't so much that she was so real as just out of my reach and so slightly hazy like a characteristic vision in a dream.
"We'll be with you but we need to go until then. We love you, darling."
I never saw my little angel but I wasn't going to let Vivian slip away without at least a hug!
So I dreamed that I screamed for her to let me hold her, for her to hug me and stay just a bit longer! I knew I sounded pathetic but I didn't care!
"Vivian!" I yelled one more time and felt myself lunge toward her and . . .
My arms went around her! I felt her warmth, her softness, smelled her fragrance of . . .
Chlorine and baby powder?
"Dad . . . Dad, you're crushin' me!"
That was not her beautiful, lilting voice. For some reason it sounded more like . . .
I immediately let go and opened my eyes.
"Whew! I thought I was a goner. You okay, Dad? You were yellin' kinda loud."
"I'm sorry, AJ. I was having a dream and I thought you were . . ."
"Pop, you okay? Who's Vivian?"
I looked over to see Lewis peering at me through the bars of his crib, laying on his belly and grasping two bars. But I knew it wasn't his voice. Then, still trying to wake up, I swung my head around to see my two oldest boys standing in the doorway with concerned looks on their faces.
"Boys, I'm alright. Thanks for worrying about me. I just had a dream about my wife. Her name is Vivian."
"And your little angel?" asked AJ.
"I said that?"
"Well, it was just a dream, guys. I'm sorry to worry you. I'm fine. We have a big day ahead of us in only a few hours. Can I have a hug then you need to get some more rest?"
I got three of the greatest hugs ever from my boys and then they watched me tuck Lewis back in. He quickly fell asleep and the boys started walking back to their beds.
"We love you, Pop," I heard Jeffy say from the hallway.
Then I heard two, "Me too's."
End of Chapter Forty-nine
End of Chapter Forty-nine