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cherokee morning song

Cherokee Morning Song

Chapter Thirteen

Jeremy went to bed with questions on his mind about Blake. How did he come to live with his grandmother? How could he appear to be Caucasian and have a dark complexion African American grandmother? Regardless, Blake was very good looking and he was attracted to him. Yet there still was a bit of sadness about him. Jeremy fell asleep thinking about his new friend and how he could to get to know him better.

Jeremy woke the next morning thinking he had slept until mid-afternoon. The room was extremely bright, but his clock indicated the time was 8:19 am. When he opened his window blinds he saw a winter wonderland. It was an unusually heavy snow for mid November in Oklahoma.

“Wow, did you see all of that snow?” Jeremy asked as he sat down for his Sunday morning breakfast.

“Yes, I measured five inches of snow,” Allen said. “It’s too bad we don’t have a sleigh, and then we could hitch one of the horses to it and go for a sleigh ride.”

“It might be fun to go for a horseback ride in the snow though,” Jeremy said.

“Call Cody and Scott and see if they want to ride with us today,” Allen said.

“Mom, do you want to ride with us too?” Jeremy asked.

“I’d love to, but Annie and I plan to work on a fund raising project for Hope House,” Nancy said. “I’m not sure if she will get out in this snow though.”

“I know this snow won’t stop Annie,” Jeremy said.

“He’s right you know,” Allen agreed. “Why don’t you call her and tell her I’ll pick her up in the SUV.”

After confirming that Scott and Cody were indeed riding with Jeremy and Allen, Jeremy saddled the horses while Allen went to pick up Annie. It was decided that they would take the two extra horses to pick up Cody and Scott so they wouldn’t have to walk in the snow.

“The sun brightly reflected off the snow as the group rode and enjoyed the snow covered landscape. “I wish I had brought my camera,” Allen said as they viewed the river valley from bluff above. “Look at how the snow contrasts with the bright blue river.”

“Dad, use your camera on your phone,” Jeremy suggested.

“I didn’t think of that,” Allen said. “They won’t be as good as those taken with my camera, but at least we can get some pictures.”

After ridding for a couple of hours the riders decided that the bright sunshine was deceiving and that they would cut the ride short to get out of the cold.

“Do you think we will have school tomorrow?” Scott asked as they rode back to the barn.

“I doubt they will get all of the rural roads cleared in time for the busses to run their routes,” Allen said. “But, it isn’t likely that they will announce a closing until the ten o’clock news or maybe even in the morning.”

“I hope we don’t,” Jeremy said. “It would be nice to have an extra day off.”

“You won’t think that it in the spring if the school exceeds their snow days and you have to make up missed days,” Allen reminded him.

“Oh yeah,” Jeremy moaned.

“You boys unsaddle and feed the horses and I’ll go inside and make us some hot chocolate,” Allen said when they arrived back home.

After enjoying the hot chocolate and snacks, Allen drove Scott and Cody home while Jeremy cleaned up from their snack.

“Nancy said that you met a new friend in Tulsa,” Annie said when she came into the kitchen to refill her coffee mug.

“Yes, he lives with his grandmother,” Jeremy said without going into details.

“Do you plan on seeing him again?” Annie asked.

“I hope so,” Jeremy said. “He and his grandmother seem to be very nice.”

“Why don’t we invite them down for Thanksgiving dinner,” Nancy said after overhearing the conversation.

“Yeah, that would be great,” Jeremy said. “I’ll talk to him tonight.”

“What are you and your grandmother doing for Thanksgiving?” Jeremy asked Blake when he placed the call.

“I guess we’ll have dinner here,” Blake said.

“Are you having company?”

“No, grandma only has a brother in California and a sister in Florida.”

“Mom said to ask if you would like to come here for Thanksgiving.”

“That would be great, let me ask grandma.”

“Jeremy, what’s this about Blake and me going there for Thanksgiving?” Mrs. Howell asked.

“Mom wanted to know if you would like to come for Thanksgiving dinner. It will just be Mom, Dad, me and our neighbor.”

“We would love to come. Ask your mother what I can bring.”

“Mrs. Howell, we always have plenty of food, and you don’t need to bring anything.”

“I can’t come empty handed; I’ll bring a pumpkin and a sweet potato pie. Have you ever had a sweet potato pie?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“You’re in for a treat then. Sweet potato pie is Blake’s favorite and you may have to fight him for seconds. I see Blake giving me an evil eye, so I’ll give the phone back to him. Tell your parents we thank them for the invitation and we are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with you. Would you E-mail directions to your place to Blake?”

“I will. Goodbye.”

“Wow, I can’t believe that we get to go there for Thanksgiving,” an excited Blake said. “I’ve never been to Tahlequah before.”

“Why don’t you and your grandmother plan on staying over until Sunday? I can show you around town and we will also ride the horses too.”

“I’ll ask grandma about it. I’ve never been on a horse before, but I guess there are a lot of things I’ve never done before.”

“You’ll have fun. I’m going to hang up and go watch the news to see if we’re having school tomorrow.”

“Why wouldn’t you have school tomorrow?”

“Dad said they may not get the rural bus routes cleared of the snow in time for the busses to run.”

“They almost never cancel school here in Tulsa.”

“Tulsa doesn’t have as many rural bus routes and it isn’t as hilly as Cherokee County is. Bye, Blake. I’ll E-mail directions to you for your grandmother. Let me know if you and she will be spending the weekend with us.”

The school closing list on the late news didn’t include Tahlequah. Jeremy really didn’t mind going to school, but if he had to get up to find out there was no school he would have wasted a sleep in day.

Jeremy woke to the obnoxious sound of his alarm clock. ‘Probably no school today,’ he thought.

“Jeremy, get up and have breakfast,” Nancy said as she tapped on his door.

“Is there school today?” A sleepy Jeremy asked.

“Yes, but it is a two hour delayed start.”

“Fuck,” Jeremy said louder than he intended.

“Watch your mouth, young man,” Nancy reprimanded as she walked away smiling.

Jeremy sat down for a breakfast of hot oatmeal and cinnamon toast, one of his favorite breakfasts. “I guess going in two hours late is better than making up the entire school day,” Jeremy said.

“We want you to ride the school bus this morning,” Allen said.

“Why?” Jeremy moaned.

“Because there are still slick spots and we would feel better if you rode the bus,” Allen said.

“But Dad, I drove in the snow from Tulsa just fine,” Jeremy said.

“You were in the SUV then, and your car is much lighter,” Nancy said. “You can ride in with your dad and me if you like. But, you’ll be there about 30 minutes earlier than you need to be.”

“I would rather do that than ride the bus. May I call Scott and Cody and see if they need a ride?”

“Of course,” Allen said. “But, maybe I should call because if Mitch is home he will be more likely to tell you they couldn’t than he would me.”

‘Mitch is an asshole,” Jeremy said as he stuffed the last bite of cinnamon toast in his mouth.

“Jeremy, while I agree with you, I do wish you wouldn’t use that language,” Nancy said while suppressing a smile.

“Thank you for giving us a ride to school,” Scott said as he and Cody got into Allen’s SUV. “I hate riding the bus.”

“You’re welcome, Scott,” Allen said. “What is your family doing for Thanksgiving?”

“We have to go to Uncle Bill’s for Thanksgiving,” Scott said. “That’s like going to an all day church meeting.”

“Going to church isn’t going to hurt you,” Cody admonished. “Besides, Uncle Bill just believes in Jesus Christ as his savior.”

“Well this is supposed to be a day of Thanksgiving, and not a day of preaching about how bad everyone is,” Scott countered.

Thanksgiving Day finally arrived and Jeremy was awake and out of bed early in anticipation of Blake’s visit. “What can I do to help?” Jeremy asked Nancy as she and Annie were busy in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

“Thank you for the offer Dear, but I believe Annie and I have everything under control,” Nancy said. “Since Blake and his grandmother are spending the weekend here you could go check that the bathroom is clean and well supplied.”

“Nancy, I’ve seen your bathrooms when they weren’t clean,” Annie said after Jeremy left the room. “What was that about?”

“Jeremy is just anxious about seeing his new friend,” Nancy explained. “I was giving him a task to keep him occupied until Blake and his grandmother arrives.”

“But, it won’t take Jeremy long to clean what has already been cleaned,” Annie reasoned.

“I know, but it will give me time to think of another task to keep him occupied,” Nancy said.

Nancy was about to run out of tasks to keep Jeremy busy when Blake and Mrs. Howell arrived. “Dorothy, is that really you?” Annie asked when she saw Mrs. Howell.

“Annie? Annie Locust?” Mrs. Howell cried out.

“It’s Annie Wolf now,” Annie said. “You were Dorothy Brown when we were in college together. If you hadn’t helped me with my algebra I probably wouldn’t have passed.”

“If I recall, you made an A in algebra.”

“I did, but only because you taught me.”

“I never made A’s in math until I went to live with Grandma,” Blake said.

“Your grandma was better at explaining math than any math teacher I ever had.” Annie said.

“Jeremy, would you take Mrs. Howell’s things and put them in the guest room?” Nancy asked.

“Please call me Dorothy,” Dorothy said.

Thanksgiving dinner was filled with good food and lively conversation. Allen explained how the Morgan family had decided to move from California to Oklahoma where he grew up.

“I wasn’t very happy about leaving my friends and moving here,” Jeremy said. “But, now I love it here. Blake, how long have you lived with your grandma?”

“Since I was thirteen,” Blake said. “I told you I would tell you about that, and I guess now is as good a time as any.”

“Are you sure?” Dorothy asked.

“Yes Grandma,” Blake said as a look of sorrow came over his face. “I think I need to talk about it.”

“Okay, it’s your choice,” Dorothy said.

“I never knew who my father was,” he began. “My mother was a prostitute and was always high on drugs or alcohol. We were evicted from so many places that I can’t even recall them all. There was many times that the only meals I had were the free meals I got at school. We usually lived in a neighborhood where there were free meals at the school during the summer. I ate more meals there than I did at home.”

“My mom often brought men home and when she did I always retreated to my room. One night when she brought a guy home I went to my room as usual. In the middle of the night my mom woke me and said that her john was willing to pay her $500 for me to sleep with him. When I said no, she hit me a few times and said I would do as she said. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it wasn’t good. When she went to get him I climbed out window and started running. I was wearing just my underwear. A policeman who was patrolling the neighborhood saw me and went to investigate. He then called child protective service.”

“My mom was arrested for possession of narcotics, child endangerment and child abuse. She’s now in prison and I hope she rots in there. Fortunately for me the only foster care provider available was the woman I now call grandma. I’ve never been happier in my life.”

Jeremy as well as Annie and his parents were wiping tears from their eyes when Dorothy continued the story. “When Child Protective Service asked me if I was willing to take a white boy, I didn’t hesitate. He was a boy in need and when we met I realized what a sweet boy he was.”

“When Blake’s caseworker went to get his things from his house there wasn’t much there. He was sleeping on an air mattress. He had two pairs of worn out jeans and a few t-shirts. We had to go buy him new clothes.”

“My only son was murdered when he was a teenager, and after my husband died I was left alone. Blake has been a joy to me. I couldn’t love him more if he were my blood grandson. I was just a lonely old woman with no purpose in life until he came to live with me. You wouldn’t believe the looks we get when he calls me grandma. I was so happy when Blake met Jeremy. That evening I met Jeremy when he gave Blake a ride home, I knew he was good person. I could tell that it didn’t matter to him that Blake had a black grandmother.”

“I did wonder how your grandson could be so blond, but now I understand,” Jeremy said. “I’m hungry again; I think I’ll have another slice of that sweet potato pie.”

“Me too,” Blake said.

“It’s a good thing I brought two sweet potato pies,” Dorothy laughed.

“I hadn’t realized the time,” Nancy said. “If nobody objects, we’ll have leftovers this evening.”

“You ladies did yourselves proud with that Thanksgiving dinner,” Allen said. “I for one wouldn’t mind leftovers.”

“And some more sweet potato pie,” Jeremy said.

“Dorothy, it looks like I need to get your recipe for your sweet potato pie,” Nancy said.

“I would be happy to share it,” Dorothy said. “But, I still expect Jeremy to come for visits so I can get pleasure of seeing him enjoying my pie.”

After dinner Jeremy and Blake loaded the dishwasher while the adult visited over coffee. The boys then went to Jeremy’s room to watch TV. Soon Jeremy saw Blake yawning. “Are you getting sleepy?” Jeremy asked.

“Yeah, I guess I am,” Blake said.

“You can have my bed and I’ll sleep on the futon,” Jeremy offered.

“You have a big bed,” Blake said. “There’s no reason that we can’t sleep in the same bed.”

“You do know that I’m gay, don’t you?”

“Jeremy, you forgot that we met at the cultural diversity center? I’m gay too. But I don’t think I’m ready for sex yet. There’s still no reason we can’t sleep in the same bed though.”

“Do you mind if we cuddle?”

“I think that would be nice.”

Jeremy stripped down to his underwear, and Blake did the same and then snuggled up next to Jeremy. “Would you mind if I kissed you?” Blake asked.

“Not at all, I’ve wanted to kiss you since we first met. But, don’t be surprised if I get hard when we kiss.”

“I’m already hard. Is that wrong?”

“No, it’s natural for two people who are attracted to each other to be aroused.”

Jeremy took Blake into his arm and kissed him gently on the lips. Blake awkwardly kissed him back. The more experienced Jeremy was patient and soon Blake was kissing him back with more passion. Jeremy was surprised when he felt Blake’s hand on his erection.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” Blake said.

“It’s okay; you can touch it if you want.” Jeremy then slipped off his underwear, and Blake then removed his.

“You’re big,” Blake said as he took Jeremy’s hardness into his hand.

“Yours isn’t that small,” Jeremy said as he took Blake’s cock into his hand. “I’ll bet you grow some more there. I did.”

Jeremy continued stroking Blake until he shot a huge load. After Jeremy cleaned Blake with tissue, Blake returned the favor for Jeremy.

“I never thought I would ever be this happy,” Blake said as he resumed cuddling with Jeremy.

“I’m pleased that you’re happy now.”

“My life was awful before I went to live with Grandma. There were times when there was no food in the house and I went an entire weekend without eating. By the time I went to school on Monday I was famished. My teachers began to notice how I always wolfed downed my food after a weekend. They began to send snacks home with me on Fridays. I learned to horde food for those times when there was nothing to eat. My mom got food stamps, but she would trade them for drug money. I later learned to watch the mail for the food stamp card and took it before she could sell it. I knew that half the time she wouldn’t remember if she had already sold it or not. With the food I got with food stamps and what the teachers gave me I began to eat better. I had to be careful that she didn’t find the food I hid in the back of my closet. I only bought nonperishable stuff.”

“I’m so happy that you got to live with Grandma Dorothy,” Jeremy said.

“Me too,” Blake said. “Some of the kids at school give me a hard time because I live with a black woman that I call grandma. But, I don’t care. I’m so much better off than I was before I went to live with her.”

“I just wish we lived closer so that you could go to school with me,” Jeremy said. “Maybe when we go to college we could go to the same college.”

“Grandma wants me to go to Northeastern here in Tahlequah because that’s where she went to college,” Blake said. “I’m trying to get good grades so I can get a scholarship. But, Grandma said that we would mange somehow for me to get a college education. Where are you going to college?”

“I thought about going to the University of Oklahoma, but I also have been thinking about staying home and going to Northeastern. Mom and Dad have a college savings account for me, so I could go almost anyplace I want.”

“We have plenty of time to think about it. What do you have planned for tomorrow?”

“I thought we might go for a horseback ride. My friends, Cody and Scott, will be going riding with us.”

After breakfast the next morning, Jeremy took Blake to the barn to saddle the horses. “You don’t need to be afraid of them,” Jeremy said as he introduced Blake to the horses. “They’re all gentle.”

“I never realized how big they are until you stand near them,” Blake nervously said as he watched Jeremy saddle the horses.

“I’ll let you ride Mom’s horse, Thunder, since he is the gentlest one.”

As if on cue, Thunder walked up to Blake and nuzzled him. “I think he likes me,” Blake said.

“It appears that he does,” Jeremy said as he cinched the saddle on Thunder. “Now why don’t we get you on Thunder and let you get used to him before Cody and Scott get here.”

After a few instructions on handling the reins and riding around the barn a few times, Blake was riding with more confidence. By the time Scott and Cody arrived, Jeremy thought he was ready for their real ride. “These are my friends, Cody and Scott,” Jeremy said introducing his friends. “This is my new friend from Tulsa, Blake.”

“Hi,” Cody said as he walked away to his horse.

“Hi Blake,” Scott said as he shook Blake’s hand as Jeremy answered his ringing cell phone.

“Don’t pay any attention to my brother. He can be an ass at times.”

“I’m used to people ignoring me,” Blake sadly said. “But, I’ve never met Cody before.”

“Cody used to be Jeremy’s boyfriend, but now he’s straight just to please Dad,” Scott said with a frown. “When he’s around Jeremy he acts like an ass because he knows deep down that he is still gay. He will be especially rude to you since Jeremy likes you.”

“How did you know that Jeremy likes me?” Blake asked.

“I know Jeremy, and I can tell by the way he looks at you,” Scott said.

“That was my dad on the phone,” Jeremy said. “Your grandma and Annie are going over to Fort Gibson to visit an old classmate of theirs. Mom and Dad are going to visit some friends in Westville. They will be back in time for dinner, but we can either have leftovers or go into town for lunch.”

The four boys rode down to the river road and chatted like old friends, except for Cody. He sulked during most of the ride. He said little and when he did, he avoided any conversation with Blake. After riding for almost four hours the boys decided to end the ride get something to eat.

“Hey Jeremy who was that nigger woman I saw at your house?” Cody asked with an almost evil grin as he unsaddled his horse.

“You use that word around me again and I’ll beat the shit out of you,” Jeremy said. “The lady you saw is Blake’s grandmother.”

“Oh, then Blake is a nigger too,” Cody lashed out.

Scott punched Cody and knocked him to the ground before Jeremy could react. “Cody you’re an asshole,” Scott screamed. “Just because Dad uses that word doesn’t make it right. Just like him calling you a fag.”

“I’m not a fag,” Cody yelled.

“No, you’re gay and don’t have the balls to admit it,” Scott said. “No apologize to Blake.”

“Hell no, and I’m telling Dad that you hit me when I wasn’t looking,” Cody threatened.

“You do and everybody at school will know that you’re gay,” Scott said.

“I’m not gay, and nobody will believe you,” Cody countered.

“Just a word or two to the right people at school and word will get around,” Scott said. “You know how those kids are at school. They’ll believe shit like that about somebody before they will believe anything else. I don’t think you want to take that chance. If Dad asks how you got the black eye, you weren’t looking when you rode under a tree limb.”

Cody threw the saddle on the ground and walked away in a huff. “I’ll put your saddle away and take care of your horse, brother dearest,” Scott called out. “Blake, I’m sorry for the way my brother acted.”

“It isn’t your fault,” Blake said.

“I know, and in a way it isn’t Cody’s either,” Scott said. “Our dad is a Bible thumping asshole. I ignore him, but Cody tries to please him. Cody wasn’t always the way he is, but he let Dad and the people at church get in his head.”

“It’s a good thing you hit him or I would have,” Jeremy said.

“You guys didn’t need to do anything,” Blake said. “I hear that shit all the time.”

“You shouldn’t have to hear it,” Scott said. “I don’t care if you’re black or not.”

“I’m not black,” Blake said. “I’m in foster care and was lucky enough to get placed with a wonder foster mother who just happens to be black.”

“I’m really sorry for the way my brother acted today,” Scott said.

“Don’t worry about it,” Blake said. “Hey, is that a weight room here in your barn?”

“Yeah, Scott and I work out her,” Jeremy said. “On occasion Cody will too.”

“No wonder you two have such great bodies,” Blake said.

“This body is starving,” Jeremy said. “Let’s go get something to eat.”

“I have to get home,” Scott said. “Dad is dragging us off to church for something there. Besides, you have a restricted license and can only have one passenger.”

“Where do you want to eat?” Jeremy asked Blake as he started the car. “Dad left plenty of money for us to eat on.”

“I don’t know what you have in Tahlequah.”

“We have a lot of the same fast food places that Tulsa has. We also have Chinese, Mexican, and several barbeque places.”

“Chinese sounds good to me,” Blake said. “After we eat, could you show me around town since I’ll be going to college here?”

After eating, Jeremy drove Blake around town and pointed out the areas of local interest. When Jeremy drove by the high school to show Blake where he went to school Blake said, “I wish we lived here so I could go to school with you.”

“Grandma Dorothy is retired, I don’t know why you couldn’t move here,” Jeremy said. “I know she would hate to see you go off to college and leave her alone again.”

“I couldn’t ask her to do that for me,” Blake said. “She’s done so much for me already. Besides, her house is paid for and she would have to sell it and buy another one here.”

“We’ll talk to Annie,” Jeremy said. “If anyone can come up with a plan it would be Annie.”

Nancy and Allen arrived back home soon after Jeremy and Blake did. “Dad, Blake wishes that he and Grandma Dorothy lived here now since he will be going to college here when he graduates from high school.”

“Blake, do you think your grandma would want to live in Tahlequah?” Nancy asked.

“I’m not sure, but she has no ties in Tulsa except that she owns her home there,” Blake said.

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Allen said. “I have a realtor friend that sells for an agent that also has offices in Tahlequah and Tulsa. Would you like for us to discuss this with Dorothy?”

“Thank you, but I wouldn’t want her to think that I’m ungrateful for her taking me in like she did,” Blake said.

“Oh honey, I doubt she would think that,” Nancy said.

“I thought Annie would be a good person to bring it up,” Jeremy said.

“Good idea,” Allen agreed. “We’ll bring it up after dinner and then let Annie take over.”

“Blake, how do you like Tahlequah?” Dorothy asked during dinner.

“It’s really nice,” Blake said. “I can’t wait until I get to go to college here. Jeremy showed me the university and even where he goes to high school.”

“Annie and I were talking about that on the way back from Fort Gibson,” Dorothy said. “I’ll put my house up for sale and when it’s sold we’ll move here if you would like.”

“No shit?” Blake shouted. “Oops, I’m sorry. That just slipped out.”

Everyone laugh, and then Allen said, “I have a realtor friend that also has an office in Tulsa; I’ll bet he could make a good deal for you.”

“Have him give me a call,” Dorothy said.

Jeremy and Blake were excited about getting to go to the same school, and they chatted every evening and made plans for when Dorothy and Blake moved. “Has anyone looked at your house?” Jeremy would ask.

“A couple,” Blake would usually say. “Grandma doesn’t have much hope until spring.”

Annie’s prediction of a hard winter came true. The weather turned very cold with snow and ice. Often on weekends Jeremy had to settle for a phone call to Blake. The roads were just too icy for his parents to allow him to drive.

“Jeremy and Blake gave up hope of Dorothy selling her house before spring. Their time together was limited due to the extreme weather conditions. The weather was in a pattern of several days of cold, snow or freezing rain with a few days of above freezing temperatures that would last only long enough to give hope of spring. Finally by mid March there was genuine hope for spring. The crocuses were braving the winter weather and began to bloom giving even more hope for spring.

As if to have the last say, Old Man Winter blasted Northeast Oklahoma with one last big snowfall. The snow began to fall by midmorning, and by early afternoon school was dismissed to avoid risking the busses going off the icy roads on the hilly roads.

Jeremy was becoming an experienced driver on snow and ice. However, his parents still didn’t allow him to drive unless one of them was with him or when he was and school when the snow began.

The cold snowy days finally gave way to warmer spring days. The redbuds and then the dogwood, and wild flowers came into full bloom, giving the countryside some spectacular colors. Potential buyers began to show interest in Dorothy’s house and the boys had hopes that they would get to spend the summer together.

Fortunately, the school year was extended by only five days, and the last day of school finally arrived and Jeremy had a feeling of gloom. It was a feeling he couldn’t understand, perhaps a feeling something was wrong. The last school day was only one half day and involved turning in textbooks and cleaning out lockers. As Jeremy drove home the sense of gloom progressed to near panic. Something was wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on the cause of his feeling.

When Jeremy pulled into the driveway he saw Annie’s truck in the driveway and Annie sitting on the front porch. His first thought was that something bad had happened to his parents. He jumped out of his car leaving his door open. The look on Annie’s face told Jeremy that something terrible was wrong.

“Annie, what’s wrong?” Jeremy managed to get the words out. “Are Mom and Dad okay?”

“Come and sit down,” Annie calmly said. Her voice was calm, but Jeremy still knew something dreadful had happened.

“Annie, tell me did something happened to Mom or Dad?” Jeremy said with more power.

Annie pulled Jeremy down to the sit beside her on the glider with more force than he expected from this elderly woman. “Your parents are fine,” She began. “However, something terrible has happened to Blake.”

“What?” Jeremy screamed. “What’s wrong?”

“They found him severely beaten near a bicycle trail next to the river,” Annie said as tears began to flow.

“Is he alive?” Jeremy sobbed.

“He’s in the intensive care unit at Hillcrest Medical Center,” Annie said as she wiped tears away. “Dorothy doesn’t know much at this point.”

“I’m going,” Jeremy said as he stood.

“No, you’re in no condition to drive,” Annie said. “Your parents are on their way home and we will all go. Go inside and pack a few things, we could be there for a few days. I called Kay Downing and she will have Scott take care of the horses while we’re away. There are your parents now; we’ll go as soon as everyone is packed.”

After a group hug and some crying, they were soon packed and on their way to Tulsa. Jeremy was gently crying and Annie took his hand to offer comfort. Upon arriving at the hospital they found Dorothy sitting alone in the intensive care waiting room. Jeremy burst into loud sobbing when he saw her. He hugged her and asked, “How is he?”

“It doesn’t look good,” She said.

“What happened?” Nancy asked as she placed her arm around Dorothy.

“We don’t know for sure, but I suspect his no good mother is behind it,” Dorothy said. “She was released from prison a few days ago. She was at his old school asking for his records and someone there told her that he had transferred to Webster. I guess they saw him and abducted him on his way home from school.”

“They?” Annie asked.

“He was also raped,” Dorothy said as she began to cry loudly.

Jeremy also began to cry loudly. One of the nurses heard the loud crying and escorted the group to a private family room. Soon a hospital chaplain joined them and said a prayer for Blake. It was a long night for the group as they took turns going in to see Blake during visiting hours. When it was Jeremy and Nancy’s turn for a five minute visit it took all of Jeremy’s strength to not break down. He took Blake’s hand and said, “I love you. You have to fight to live. Please don’t leave me. We just recently found each other.”

Jeremy looked at Blake for any sign of response, but none came. He fought back tears as he took Blake’s hand and kissed it. The sound of the respirator breathing for Blake covered the sound of Jeremy’s sobs.

Nancy wrapped her arms around her son in comfort when the nurse came to announce that visiting hours were over. When they arrived back in the intensive care waiting room a Tulsa policeman was talking to Dorothy.

“They arrested Blake’s mother and the man that was with her when she was arrested that night she tried to sell him into prostitution,” Dorothy said. “They were on I-40 near Amarillo, Texas. They will extradite them back to Oklahoma. A DNA test will show if he is the one who raped Blake. There was also blood in his car that they will see if it matches Blake.”

“I hope they both die and burn in hell,” Jeremy said.

“So do I,” Dorothy agreed.

The group spent the long restless night in the waiting room with a few short naps. After morning rounds Dr. Mendenhall came to the waiting room to inform Dorothy that Blake’s condition had not improved during the night. In fact his vital sign were a little worse than they had been.

By early afternoon Dr. Mendenhall informed Dorothy that Blake was very critical and his vital signs were very grave and they were going to do an electroencephalogram to see if there was any brain wave activity.

When Dr. Mendenhall informed the group that there was no brain activity and that Blake was brain dead, Jeremy fell to the floor. He woke up in the emergency room with an IV in his arm and his parents at his side. “He’s dead?” Jeremy asked, although he knew the answer.

“Yes Dear, I’m sorry to say that he is,” Nancy said as tears streamed down her face. “Annie drove Dorothy home in Dorothy’s car. We’ll go there when you’re released.”

Jeremy turned on his side away from his parents and cried loudly. After Jeremy had recovered enough to be released they drove to Dorothy’s. “I finally got her to go to bed and get some rest,” Annie said. “She loved that boy like her own. I’m fearful of what will happen to her now.”

“She is family,” Allen said. “We’ll take care of her.”

“I hope we can find some way to fix her heart,” Annie said.

“Why? Why?” Jeremy began to sob again. “He was such a good person and didn’t deserve this. He had finally found a safe place with someone who loved him and now he’s gone.”

The funeral was attended by Blake’s “family” and almost every student and teacher from Webster High School. Even some of those who had called him a fag and nigger lover attended. They seemed to be genuinely remorseful for the way they had treated him when they heard the story of his life.

It was a long summer for Jeremy. He grieved for the loss of the boy he loved. He moped around the house for most of the summer. When school started back in the fall, he was a changed boy. He had little to do with his friend and mostly just went to school and directly back home.

“What are we going to do with him?” Allen asked Nancy when they realized Jeremy was deeply trouble over the death of Blake.

“We have to get him into counseling,” Nancy said.

“I don’t know if we can talk him into going,” Allen said.

“He respects Annie and would be most likely to go if she asked him,” Nancy said.

“You’re right,” Allen agreed. “I’ll call her now.”

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