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A Honeysuckle Home

A Honeysuckle Home

Chapter Four

Aaron looked around to see who had yelled at him. He was surprised to see Tina rushing toward him and Paul with a panic look on his face. “Where have you been all of this time?”

“Tina, this is Paul Wheat,” Aaron said when Paul walked up to them.

“Hi Paul,” Tina said. “Aaron, we’ve been looking for you since you disappear a year ago.”

“Who are we?” Aaron asked.

Monty Ayers and I,” Tina said.

“Why would Dad’s attorney be looking for me?”

“I guess you didn’t know, did you?”

“I didn’t know what?”

“Eric willed the business to me, but he willed the house and all of his other assets to you. You and Paul put your bikes in the back of my truck and I’ll drive you to Monty’s office.”

“It’s okay,” Aaron said when he noticed Paul’s apprehension. “We can trust Tina.”

“What happened that you just disappeared? Tina asked on the way to Monty’s office.

“To make a long story short, Mom and her boyfriend sold me to a pervert,” Aaron explained. “I ran away when he tried to rape me. I met Paul a month after that when his dad beat him up and kicked him out of the house.”

“Some people have no business being parents,” Tina said. “I’d love to get my hands on your parents. How have you been living? You don’t look like you’ve been living on the streets.”

Aaron explained how he had found the ‘Honeysuckle Home’ and how Eric had the foresight to give him the debit card.

“Hi Tina,” the receptionist said when they entered Monty Ayers’ office. “Who are these two handsome young men with you?”

“Hi Page,” Tina said. “This is Paul Wheat and Aaron Decker.”

“Oh my God!” Page exclaimed. “Let me go tell Monty that you’re here.”

“Aaron, come on in and let’s talk,” Monty said when he came out of his office. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Just water for me,” Aaron said.

“Water for me too,” Paul said.

“Nothing for me right now,” Tina said.

“You can talk to me in private or you can have Tina and your friend come in too,” Monty said.

“I want both Paul and Tina in there,” Aaron said. “That is if Tina has time.”

“I’ll make time,” Tina said. “Give me a minute to call my office.”

“Thank you, Page,” Monty said when she placed the drinks on the conference table where he had a folder of paperwork. “Aaron, you probably didn’t know, but Eric left everything but the business to you.”

“I didn’t know until Tina told me,” Aaron said.

“When I returned from vacation in Europe last year you had already disappeared,” Monty began. “We traced Kathy to Las Vegas, but soon discovered that you weren’t with her.”

“The bitch sold him to a pervert that tried to rape him,” Tina angrily said.

“Who was that?” Monty asked as he began taking notes on a legal pad.

“Gavin Bannister,” Aaron said.

“What about you, Paul, did your parents turn you over to Bannister?” Monty asked.

“No, my Dad beat the crap out of me and then kicked me out of the house,” Paul said. “He said that if he saw me again he would kill me.”

“Do you think he really would kill you?” Monty asked.

“I’m pretty sure that he killed my mom,” Paul said. He then explained how his mother had disappeared.

“This is pretty serious,” Monty said. He opened his cell phone and punched in a phone number. “Matt, this is Monty,” he said when Matt answered. “Could you come to my office right away? I have someone you need to talk to. See you in a few.”

“Was that Matt Baker?” Tina asked.

“Yes, it was,” Monty said. “We’ll continue on while we’re waiting for him to get here. Now getting back to business, Aaron you’re pretty well off. Eric’s house is paid off, there is money from the auto accident, and he had made some wise investments. There is also a life insurance policy. Your grandmother also willed her house to you. Kathy has it rented now. I never let her know about the will. I knew that if she found out that you owned the house she would find you just for the money. I figured that wherever you were, you were better off than being with her.”

“How did you find out about Grandma’s house?” Aaron asked.

“I found her will when I filed the probate of Eric’s will.” Monty explained.

“I guess I won’t be able to do anything with any of this until I’m eighteen,” Aaron said.

“Didn’t you just turn sixteen?” Monty asked.

“Yes,” Aaron said.

“We’ll file papers asking for emancipation,” Monty said.

“What does that mean?” Aaron asked.

“If the court grants your emancipation you’ll be granted the right to live on your own,” Monty said. “You can also enter into contracts. In this state your driver’s license will have the words emancipated on it. What about you, Paul, are you sixteen?”

“I will be Monday,” Paul said.

“Would you like for me to file for emancipation for you too?”

“I’d love to, but I don’t have any money,” Paul said.

“I’ll have the money,” Aaron said.

“Eric named me as executor of his will. I have been prepaid, so when I file Aaron’s I’ll file yours too,” Monty said. “Come in Matt,” Monty said when Page escorted him into the room. “Have a seat and Page will get you a cup of coffee. I’m sorry but we don’t have any donuts,” Monty joked.

“Har har,” Matt said. “Hi Tina, it’s good to see you again. Are these two young men the people you wanted me to see?”

“Yes,” Monty said. “I think you should start with Paul. He thinks his dad killed his mom.”

“Okay Paul, who is your dad?” Matt asked.

“Charles Wheat,” Paul said.

“Charles Wheat, the orthopedic surgeon?” Matt asked.

“Yes,” Paul said.

“And who was your mom?” Matt asked.

“Her Korean name was Soon-Bok, but Dad made her legally change it to Susan,” Paul said.

“Tell me what happened,” Matt said.

Paul explained how his mother had disappeared and how and why his dad had kicked him out after beating him up.

“It sounds suspicious that he did something to your mother,” Matt said. “You’re correct that she would need her passport to leave the country. Aaron, what’s your situation?”

“My Mom and her boyfriend sold me to Gavin Bannister and when he tried to rape me I ran. He fell off the porch and broke his neck. Paul told me that he is paralyzed from the waist down.”

“What are your mom’s and her boyfriend’s names?” Matt asked. “They can be charged with human trafficking.”

“My mom is Kathy Decker, I only know her boyfriend’s first name is Coy,” Aaron said.

“I want you boys to lay low for a few days while I do some investigation,” Matt said. “Do you have a safe place where you can stay?”

“They can stay at Eric’s house,” Monty said. “It now belongs to Aaron anyway. I’ve kept the utilities on.”

“I don’t want them even going out for food,” Matt said. “You’ll need to take their food to them.”

“We don’t have any clean clothes with us,” Aaron said. “All of our clothes are in what we call our honeysuckle home.”

“Where is that located?” Matt asked.

“It’s about three miles from Springfield,” Aaron said.

“I’ll drive you over there,” Matt said.

“We have to hike in, a couple of miles,” Aaron said. “There is no road there.”

“Monty, do you want to go along and help carry everything out?” Matt asked. “We can visit with these two on the drive.”

“I’d be happy to,” Monty said. “I only have one appointment this afternoon. Penny and the kids are out of town visiting her parents, so I have no plans.”

“Okay, here’s the plan,” Matt said. “I’ll drive them to the house. Tina, could I get you to pick up some food for them. Get enough food to last at least two or three days. We’ll stop at a restaurant in Springfield and get dinner. I have a plan to spring a trap on Dr. Wheat, but I’ll have to get a judge to approve it. I don’t want to take a chance on him seeing Paul until then.”

“I left the phone on at the house,” Monty said. “Call Matt, Tina or me if you need anything.” Monty wrote his numbers on a pad and then had Tina and Matt do the same.

“I’ll bet you boys are getting hungry,” Tina said.

“I am hungry,” Aaron admitted.

“We’ll go through a drive through and get you a burger and fries on the way to the house,” Matt said.

“I’ll be by later with your groceries,” Tina said. “Write down what you want and I’ll get it. I suggest I just get breakfast items and sandwich makings for now. I’ll get the things from your list of what you need while you guys go to Springfield.”

“Here is the key to the house,” Monty said. “I also wrote the code to turn off the security system on the pad with the phone numbers. Call me if you need anything, and I’ll see you this afternoon.”

“What size are you and I’ll also pick up a change of clothes for you boys,” Tina said.

After giving Tina their sizes Aaron and Paul left with Matt with a stop at a Burger King.

“This is really nice,” Paul said as they placed their food on the bar in the kitchen.

After eating their burgers, Paul and Aaron explored the house. Aaron hadn’t seen much of the house when he and Eric would stop by. “Who is this?” Paul asked when he picked up a picture in the bedroom that had been Eric’s.

“The one on the right is Dad, but I don’t know who that is with him,” Aaron said. “I’ll ask Tina.”

Aaron turned the TV on and then realized that he and Paul hadn’t seen a TV in a year. They flipped through the channels for a while until Tina arrived with the groceries and new clothes. “You guys should shower and change,” Tina said. “There are three showers, so you can both shower. While you do that I’ll put your bikes in the garage.”

Neither Aaron nor Paul bothered telling Tina that they usually showered together. After showering Aaron handed the picture of Eric to Tina and asked, “Who is this in the picture with Dad?”

“That’s Brad,” Tina said.

“Who is Brad?” Aaron asked.

“Brad was your dad’s partner,” Tina said.

“Did Dad buy Brad’s part of the business?” Aaron asked.

“Not that type of partner, he was your dad’s domestic partner,” Tina said.

“But Dad came home with Mom that one night,” Aaron said.

“Aaron, your dad had a lot of issues with his sexuality,” Tina began. “Eric’s family cut all ties with him not long after he graduated from college. He got together enough money to open his insurance office. He later met Brad and was very happy. Then one day he came home from work early and found Brad in bed with another man. Eric was devastated. He tried not to be gay after that because he was hurt so badly. I tried to tell him that it was okay to be gay, but the hurt of breaking up with Brad was overwhelming. He was trying to prove to himself that he could live a straight life. That’s why he went home with Kathy that night.”

“Wow, Dad was gay,” Aaron said.

“After he found you, you were his life,” Tina said. “Aaron, Eric loved you very much. He couldn’t have loved you more if you were his biological son.”

“I know,” Aaron said. “I loved him like he was my real dad.”

Monty arrived with Matt about thirty minutes after Tina left. “Paul, you were right about your Dad,” Matt said. “I went by his office and said that a concerned neighbor had called and said they hadn’t seen you or your mom in a long time. He said that you and your mom had gone to Korea to live. Judge Wooten issued a search warrant for his office and house. The forensic detectives are at his house now collecting evidence.”

“You’ll have to park here and we’ll hike in,” Aaron said when they reached the area of their honeysuckle home.”

“I smell honeysuckle,” Monty said when they came near the honeysuckle vines.

“Yes, the place is just a short distance now,” Aaron said.

“Someone is inside,” Paul said when they came near their place.

“How do you know?” Matt asked.

“The door is open,” Paul said.

“Maybe we left it open,” Aaron said.

“No, I remember double checking it,” Paul said.

“I have my service revolver, and I’ll go first,” Matt said. “Hello is anyone inside,” he called out.

An elderly man who appeared to be in his sixties came to the door and asked, “Are these things here yours?”

“They belong to these boys,” Monty said. “They have been homeless for a year and were living here. I’m their attorney. Is this place yours?”

“This was my boyhood home,” the gentleman said. “It became mine when my parents passed on.”

“I’m Monty Ayers, and if the boys caused any damage we’ll arrange payment,” Monty said.

“I’m Lee Carter, and actually the place is better than it was the last time I saw it,” Lee said.

“We would be happy to pay you rent,” Aaron said. “If we hadn’t found this place we would have been living on the streets.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Lee said. “But, if you want to sell some of your camp equipment I would like to buy it. I planned on bringing my grandson up here to camp out.”

“We won’t sell it, but we’ll give it to you,” Aaron said. “We have camping gear in our garage at home. All we want is our personal stuff and clothes.”

“Are you sure?” Lee asked.

“We’re positive,” Aaron assured him. “It would be a chore to carry this stuff out anyway. There is a lot of food here and you wouldn’t have to bring much in for you and your grandson.”

“That is very nice of you,” Lee said.

“As I said, this place kept us from sleeping on the streets,” Aaron said.

“May I ask why you were out on your own at such a young age?” Lee asked.

“They were unfortunate in having terrible parents,” Monty said. “Boys, we’d better gather your things and head out of here before it gets dark.”

“You boys are welcome to come back and camp here any time you want,” Lee said. I live in Nashville now. When my parents could no longer care for themselves I moved them to Nashville. Not long after that the house burned. We believe it was struck by lightning. The old road up here is just about overgrown with brush now. I had trouble getting my ATV up here.”

“Thank you sir for the offer,” Aaron said. “We may take you up on that offer.”

“What a nice man,” Monty said as they walked back to the truck.

“He sure was,” they all agreed.

“Where would you guys like to eat?” Monty asked as he started the truck.

“I haven’t had Chinese food in ages,” Aaron said.

“I know a good Chinese restaurant on 31th Street,” Matt said.

“Guys, I filed for your emancipation already today,” Monty said as they drove toward Springfield. “While I was there I bumped into Judge Alice Duff, I got permission to have her hear your cases together. She will hear your case Thursday if we serve the papers on Paul’s dad. Since Kathy’s address is unknown, she won’t have to be served.”

“I suspect Dr. Wheat will be in jail by then,” Matt said.

“Monty, I thought you said that Mom had Grandma’s house rented,” Aaron said.

“She does, and I know what you’re thinking,” Monty said. “Officially, we don’t know that she is in Las Vegas. As soon as you’re emancipated and take over possession of your grandma’s house she will stop receiving rent payments. My guess is that she will be back here to collect rent. When she does we’ll have her arrested.”

“It is going to be strange sleeping in a real bed,” Paul said as they undressed for bed after returning home.

“I know what you mean,” Aaron agreed. “It’s strange to hear city noises again.”

After a big breakfast of sausage, eggs, and toast, Aaron and Paul took their coffee to the den to watch the morning news. “We have breaking news from Cynthia Walls,” the morning news anchor said.

“Thank you Chuck,” Cynthia said. “I’m just off of Highway 30 near the new Lakeview Housing Addition. A construction crew has uncovered a shallow grave. The police believe the badly decomposed body is that of a female, and that she may be Korean. They found a charm bracelet with a Korean flag charm on the body.”

“Oh my God,” Paul cried out. “It’s Mom.”

“Maybe it’s someone else,” Aaron tried to comfort Paul.

“No, she always wore that charm bracelet as long as I can remember,” Paul said.

“We need to call Matt,” Aaron said.

“Would you call him for me?” Paul asked as tears flowed down his face.

Aaron picked up the phone and began dialing the number. “Matt, this is Aaron. Paul thinks the body they found is his mom.”

“It very likely is,” Matt said. “I’m on my way out there now. I’ll let you know when I know more. Ask Paul the name of his mother’s dentist in case we need dental records for identification.”

“Matt wants to know who your mom’s dentist is in case they need to make a positive identification,” Aaron said to Paul.

“Dr. Ralph Miller,” Paul answered.

“Thanks for making that call,” Paul said after Aaron hung up the phone. “I’m sorry that I broke down like I did. I’ve know there was little chance she was alive, but this just makes it real.”

“I understand, Babe. I was the same way when Dad died.”

The two boys talked most of the morning and wondered what would happen to them when the morning news anchor came back on and said, “We have more breaking news that may be related to the body that was found this morning. Cynthia what do you have?”

“Chuck, this case is becoming more bizarre,” Cynthia reported. “I’m in front of the home of Dr. Charles Wheat, a local orthopedic surgeon. A body believed to be Dr. Wheat was found by his housekeeper in his Lexus that was inside the garage. The Lexus was still running. Police believe this to be a suicide case. Dr. Wheat’s Korean born wife has not been seen by neighbors in about a year. The Wheats had a teenage son who also disappeared at about the same time Mrs. Wheat disappeared. A police spokesman would not say if they speculate foul play involving the son.

“Cynthia, have they been able to say for certain if the body found this morning is Mrs. Wheat?” Chuck asked.

“Not at this time, Chuck,” Cynthia said. “Dental records have been requested and police expect a positive identification soon. I did talk to the housekeeper and she said that she was hired a year ago. Dr. Wheat had told her that his wife and son had gone to Korea to live and that he needed a housekeeper.”

“Thank you Cynthia,” Chuck said. “We now return you to regular programming.”

“I’m glad the sorry son if a bitch is dead,” Paul almost yelled.

The door bell rang as Aaron was consoling Paul. “I’ll be right back,” Aaron said. “Hi Monty,” Aaron said when he opened the door to Monty. “Come on in, Paul is in the den.”

“Tina called and said her secretary called in sick, but she would be by after she closed the office,” Monty said. “I assume you heard the news.”

“Yes, we had the TV on,” Aaron said.

“How is Paul doing?” Monty asked.

“He’s upset, but that’s to be expected,” Aaron said.

“Paul, I’m very sorry,” Monty said.

“Thank you,” Paul said as he wiped his eyes.

“Your dad had been served papers of your petition for emancipation,” Monty said. “Matt thinks that and the news of your mother’s body being found triggered him to panic and to commit suicide.”

“I’m glad the bastard is gone,” Paul said. “Will this change my chances for emancipation?”

“I don’t think it will,” Monty said. “You’ve lived without parental support for a year. I’m sure the judge will base her decision on your maturity and ability to live on your own. I dropped by the court house and did find a will signed by both of your parents. You are named benefactor in the event of the death of both parents.”

“He hadn’t changed his will?” Paul asked.

“It doesn’t appear so,” Monty said. “Had he divorced your mom, she would most likely have been awarded half of the assets. I’m sure he thought that after you both disappeared it would have looked suspicious if he changed his will.”

“When will Aaron and I get control of our assets?” Paul asked.

“Aaron will get his as soon as he is emancipated,” Monty said. “I already have access to them now as the executor of the estate. Yours will take a little longer. It will be at least six months, but most likely a year.”

“I won’t have any money to live on until then,” Paul said.

“Paul, I already told you that my money is also your money,” Aaron said.

“There was a life insurance policy on each of your parents,” Monty said. “Matt found the policies when they were searching for evidence. There may have been a clause for nonpayment in the case of suicide. However, they should pay for your mother’s policy since she was murdered.”

“I don’t want to sound coldhearted, but how much is that policy?” Paul asked.

“Asking isn’t coldhearted,” Monty said. “Her policy is $500,000, and his was “$250,000. It seems as though he would have benefited more with her death. You should get your money in about a month. Aaron, yours is available as soon as you’re emancipated.”

“How much is that?” Aaron asked.

“Yours is $300,000,” Monty said. “Aaron, I’ve arranged for you to take a driver’s training course. It will start next week. Paul, I’ve reserved a spot for you, but I can’t enroll you until you’re officially emancipated. It was rather expensive, but the school agreed to let you go all day and finish the course in a week.”

“How expensive?” Aaron asked.

“It is $500 each,” Monty said. “I only paid for yours, Aaron. I can’t pay for Paul’s out of your money, but you can after you’re emancipated.”

“Neither of us owns a car,” Aaron said.

“You can legally buy one after emancipation,” Monty said. “Paul, your dad’s Lexus and your mom’s KIA will be yours.”

“I don’t want the Lexus,” Paul said.

“You can sell it, and we’ll petition the court to exempt the KIA from probation so that you may have use of it now,” Monty said. “Since you two are a couple you’ll have to decide which house you want to live in.”

“How did you know?” Aaron asked.

“Tina first noticed it, but it is pretty obvious when you two are together,” Monty smiled.

“I want to live here,” Paul said. “There are too many bad memories in my house. I just want to get rid of it.”

“We’ll put it on the market as soon as we can legally do that,” Monty said. “I’m saying we assuming that you will want me to handle your legal affairs.”

“Of course I do,” Paul said.

“What do you plan to do about your education?” Monty asked.

“We would like to finish high school,” Aaron said. “We’ve already missed a year.”

“I’ll have my wife come by and drive you to the high school to see what you need to do,” Monty said. “Aaron, have you met my wife?”

“I don’t think so,” Aaron said.

“Penny and I will have you boys over for dinner one evening soon,” Monty said.

“How long did you know my dad?” Aaron asked.

“We met when he first bought the business,” Monty said. “I did some legal work for him, and he managed to sell me some insurance.”

“Did you know that he was gay?” Aaron asked.

“I did know,” Monty admitted. “I’m the fool that introduced him to Brad. Now, I need to go over a few things with you guys before your emancipation hearing tomorrow. Judge Duff will base her decision as much on your maturity as on your ability to support yourself. I’ve sent financial statements to her already. She will have a few questions about that. Obviously finances shouldn’t be a problem. She expects respect, so make sure you address her as your honor. She may ask you questions about how you have lived for the past year. If she asks, don’t elaborate. Tell her just the way you told me.”

“What time will we need to be at the court house?” Paul asked.

“Family court starts at 9:00,” Monty said. “I’ll pick you up at 7:30 and take you guys to breakfast. There may be a few last minute things we need to go over before court. We’ll go buy you guys some dress clothes to wear to court later.”

“I’ll bet that’s either Matt or Tina,” Aaron said when the doorbell rang. “Come in Matt,” he said when he opened the door to see Matt there. “Monty and Paul are in the den.”

“How is Paul doing?” Matt asked as they walked back to the den.

“He is doing better now. He was upset, but this wasn’t unexpected about his mom.”

“Paul, the coroner’s office wants to know what you want done with your dad’s body,” Matt said after greeting everybody.

“Burn it,” Paul said. “I want nothing to do with it. What about my mom’s body?”

“It will be a few days before her body is released,” Matt said. “A positive identification should be made by tomorrow, and it may be a few days after that. Are all of your mom’s relatives in Korea?”

“Yes, I’ve never met them,” Paul said.

“What about your dad’s family?” Matt asked.

“I’ve only met my grandma one time and she was such a bitch that I don’t want to see her again,” Paul said. “I think she lives in Alabama. If she wants to take dad’s body there for burial that would be fine with me.”

“You guys look nice,” Monty said when he picked the boys up for court the next morning. “There’s a Denny’s on the way to the court house. I think we’ve covered about everything, but if you have any questions we can try to answer them.”

Paul’s and Aaron’s case was called shortly before 9:30. Judge Duff was a slightly overweight woman with silver gray hair. She wore her glasses down on the tip of her nose and looked over them at Monty and his clients. “Mr. Ayers, I understand there have been new developments in the status of the parents of Paul Wheat,” Judge said while looking over her glasses.

“That is correct, your honor,” Monty said. “However, we are asking the court to consider the fact that Paul was kicked out of the house a year ago and has been on his own since then.”

“Very well, you may continue,” Judge Duff said. “I’ve read the addendum to your original application that you filed after the death of Paul’s parents. I’m satisfied that he will be capable of providing for himself in the long term, but what about the short term.”

“Your honor, may I point out that he will be receiving payment from the life insurance on his mother in the amount of $500,000 in about 30 days,” Monty said. “There is a $250,000 life insurance on his father, but there is a question if that will be paid since the death was a suicide.”

“What plans have been made for the interim?” Judge Duff asked.

“Aaron has invited Paul to live with him if both are granted emancipation,” Monty said.

“Is that correct, Aaron?” Judge Duff asked.

“Yes your honor,” Aaron said.

“Aaron, I understand that you said that mother sold you before she left the state,” Judge Duff said.

“Your honor I can’t say for certain,” Aaron said. “I did see her boyfriend receive something from Gavin when they left me there. When Gavin tried to get me to open the bedroom door and let him in he said that he had bought and paid for me.”

“Your honor may I add something to that?” Monty asked.

“You may if it is relevant,” Judge Duff said.

“I subpoenaed Gavin Bannister’s checking account and there was a check written to Coy Williamson in the amount of $5,000,” Monty said. “Coy Williamson is Kathy Decker’s boyfriend.”

“Thank you Mr. Ayers,” Judge Duff said. “I will be turning this information over to the DA’s office.”

“Paul, do you have any relatives?” Judge Duff asked.

“I have relatives in Korea that I’ve never met,” Paul said. “My dad wouldn’t let my mom have any contact with them. I have a grandmother in Alabama that I met once when I was ten. She wasn’t very nice to Mom or me. She referred to us as gooks. I have never received so much as a birthday card from her.”

“What will your plans be if I grant emancipation, Aaron?” Judge Duff asked.

“I want to finish high school, and then maybe looking into a career in dentistry, your honor,” Aaron said.

“A noble profession, and almost as noble as law,” Judge Duff said with a laugh. “Paul, what are your plans?”

“I too plan to finish high school, Your Honor,” Paul said. “I do plan to go to college. My dad had already decided that I would be going to medical school. But, I want to decide for myself. It may be medicine or even law.”

“Sucking up won’t affect my decision,” Judge Duff laughed. “I think I have enough information to rule on your petition for emancipation. I have no concerns about your financial well being. After meeting you I believe you have the maturity to function and make adult decisions. Your petition is granted. Mr. Ayers, will you agree to mentor these two young men.”

I have discussed this with a couple of friends, Tina Lozano and Matt Baker and we have agreed to be available to them if they need us,” Monty said.

“You young men are now granted the privileges of an adult,” Judge Duff said. “From what I see I don’t need to worry about you. You two are exceptional young men, and I know you will succeed in life. The court clerk will have the documents you will need in about an hour.”

“Thank you your honor,” they all said.

“As adults, what do you men want to do first?” Monty asked when they picked up the court documents.

“I want to buy a truck like the one Dad had,” Aaron said.

“We’ll go this afternoon and look for you one,” Monty said. “I took the entire day off. Would you like for me to help negotiate a deal for you?”

“I’d like for you to come along and step in if I’m about to get screwed, but otherwise I’d like to try to get a good deal myself,” Aaron said.

“I’d like to tag along,” Matt said. “I love shopping for new wheels, especially with someone else’s money.”

“I have to get back to the office,” Tina said.

“That’s the one I want,” Aaron said when they pulled into the dealer’s car lot.

“That’s a used one,” Monty said. “I thought you would buy a new one.”

“Why buy a new one if I can find a good used one at a reasonable price?” Aaron reasoned.

“He’s got a point,” Matt agreed.

“I can give you a good deal on that,” the salesman said to Monty when he spotted the guys looking at the Expedition.

“I’m not the one looking,” Monty said.

“Is this something you might be interested in?” The salesman turned to Matt.

“I’m not the one buying either,” Matt said.

“Well feel free to look around and let me know if I can help you with anything,” the salesman said as he began to walk away.

“Hey, get back here if you want to sell this young man a vehicle,” Matt yelled. “If you don’t we’ll go to another dealer.”

“How old is he?” The salesman asked as he walked back.

“He is old enough to tell you his age,” Matt said. “You need to be talking to him.”

“How old are you young man?” The salesman asked.

“I’m sixteen,” Aaron answered.

“Are either of you his parent?” The salesman asked.

“No, he’s on his own,” Monty said.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t sell him a car without a parent or guardian here to sign the sales agreement,” The salesman said.

“I’m emancipated,” Aaron said.

“I don’t care what you are,” the salesman said. “I can’t sell a minor a vehicle.”

“He said he was emancipated,” Monty said. “That means that he has been giving the rights of an adult by a judge.”

“What are you, some kind of lawyer?” The salesman sneered.

“As a matter of fact I’m his lawyer,” Monty said.

“How does he expect to pay for this?” The salesman grinned.

“I have a pocket full of Monopoly money,” Aaron said. “Let’s go find a dealer that will sell me what I want.”

“Is there problem here?” A man whose name tag said that he was Andy and general manager asked.

“Yes there is, Andy,” Aaron said as he looked at the salesman’s name tag. “Ed apparently doesn’t want to sell me this Expedition.”

“Ed, what the hell is the problem?” Andy asked.

“I just told him that I couldn’t sell it to him since he is only sixteen and doesn’t have a parent with him,” Ed said.

“Did you bother to ask if he had been emancipated?” Andy asked.

“He said he had, whatever that means,” Ed said.

“That means he can purchase it on his own as long as he has the funds,” Andy said. “I assume he has the funds or he wouldn’t be here. Now, I want you to give this young man a deal on this truck.”

“I don’t think I care to do business with him,” Aaron said with authority.

“I’ll get you another salesman,” Andy said.

“You’re the boss,” Aaron said. “I’ll deal with you. That way I won’t have the bull shit of a salesman saying that he would have to get the boss’ approval of a deal.” Aaron noticed that Matt, Monty, and Paul were having trouble not laughing.

“Okay young man, I can let you have this truck for $39,500,” Andy said.

“Oh, I was under the assumption that this was a used truck,” Aaron said.

“It’s a 2008,” Andy said.

“Then why are you quoting me a new price?” Aaron asked.

“He’s good,” Andy said to the group. “Okay, I’ll let you have it for $35,000.”

“I’ll give you $34,000,” Aaron said.

“This is a four wheel drive, low mileage, and it is loaded,” Andy said.

“Yes, that’s why I would pay you $34,000,” Aaron said.

“Damn, he’s better than I thought,” Andy said. “Come inside and write me a check and it’s yours.”

“Not until we test drive it,” Aaron said.

“Okay, let me get a copy of your driver’s license,” Andy said.

“I won’t get mine until after next week, but I’ll let Matt or Monty test drive it for me,” Aaron said. “Which one of you guys will be driving?”

“I will,” they both said.

“Let me make a copy of both of your licenses then,” Andy said.

“I think you got yourself a great deal,” Matt said as he pulled out of the lot. “It handles great.”

After Monty got his turn driving, he too agreed that Aaron had made a great deal.

“Promise me that you won’t be driving until you get your license,” Matt said when he drove the truck into the garage at the house.

“Hey, we’re responsible adults now,” Aaron said. “Isn’t that right, Paul?”

“Damn right,” Paul agreed.

“I see that Monty made it in his old junker,” Matt said.

“Paul, we need to go to the court house and petition that you get possession of the KIA,” Monty said. “I’ve already called Page to type the paperwork. “Do you want to tag along, Matt?”

“Sure, I took the day off too,” Matt said. “Let me take this damn cell call and I’ll be ready. Who is there?” He asked when he answered the call. “What does she want? Okay, we’ll be right there.”

“We’ll be right where?” Monty asked

“Paul’s grandmother is at the Wheat place and said that she has a new will naming her benefactor,” Matt said.

“Well shit,” Paul said. “I should have known that bitch would show up.”

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