After Sheriff Jackson and Rich left, Ethan watched Jamie sleep and thought ‘He’s my brother and I am more than a little biased, but he is a damn good looking young man. He’s good, too. He could easily have resented my acting as his parent, but he hasn’t. I never really said very much to him about it, but my only criticism of him was when, frankly, he was being a slut, fucking any girl that would open her legs to him and it seemed most would and did.’ Ethan grinned and thought, ‘Kathryn has taken care of that. I don’t know if they are having sex and, frankly, don’t want to know. I did notice that he never talked about her the way he used to talk about women before she became a part of his life. I don’t know whether he is in love or not, but she’s definitely a friend and he thinks an awful lot of her. What the heck? He’s only sixte ...whoa ... he’s seventeen. Why does that sound so much older than sixteen?’ Ethan had not slept well. He thought it was a side effect of the shot but, for whatever reason, he had tossed and turned and when he dozed off, had fitful dreams. Now, he gradually drifted off as he sat thinking about Jamie.
Ethan was awakened by a touch on the shoulder. He turned and saw Fr. Mason. “Oh, good morning, Father. I should have called you.”
“I’m not surprised that you didn’t with what you have on your mind. How’s Jamie doing?”
“Okay, I guess. I haven’t talked with anyone official since yesterday. He has just given his statement and was so upset and exhausted when he finished that a nurse gave him a shot. He’s been asleep for ...” Ethan looked at his watch “... almost half an hour. I was asleep almost as long.”
“Bonnie Akin, Chad Wallace’s grandmother, does some cleaning at St. Matthew’s. When she came in my office this morning, she was all upset because Chad was in jail—again. From her convoluted story, I had no idea what had happened just that Chad had been unjustly arrested. She asked me to call the sheriff and explain that Chad was innocent and, in fact, had been with her. When I asked what he was charged with, she got all confused and told two or three stories. ‘You want me to call Sheriff Nesbett?’ I asked. She told me no, not Nesbett, Sheriff Jackson because Chad lived in Bragg County. Anytime a parishioner in Bragg was involved in some situation—I’ve had them on both sides, legal and illegal—it had been up to me to deal with it so I knew Sheriff Jackson. When I called his office, Mavis told me he was at the hospital. She asked if she could help and knowing that Mavis knows everything that goes on in Bragg and surrounding counties, I told her what Chad’s grandmother had told me and had asked that I talk to the sheriff. ‘She says he was with her,’ I said.
“‘Reverend, the woman is a born liar. If she hadn’t made excuses for Chad’s behavior since he was born, he may have turned out a decent human being. Instead, Chad has been a bully since he could walk and anytime he beat upon a kid, it was the kid’s fault in Bonnie Akin’s book. This time he has really stepped over the line. I suspect yesterday was his last day of freedom until he is an old man.’ She then gave me a recap of what had happened. I’m sorry, Ethan. You have enough on you without some bullies piling on more—pardon my French—shit.”
“Well, I’ll admit, sometimes it gets to be a bit much. The way things stand right now, we are down two people at Arkadelphia. Without Michael and Alfred, we’d really be in bad shape. I don’t know how long it will be before Andy and Jamie will be back to school and work.”
There was a tap on the door and Dr. Stokes walked in. “Father, Ethan. Ethan, glad you are here. I checked Jamie this morning and everything looks fine except for the burns on his genitalia. Dr. Bailey and I both feel it would be best to keep Jamie and Andy here for three or four days. I always worry about burns becoming infected. Given the condition of the two when they came in and where they had been, I am really worried about that. Here, he can be checked every time his vitals are taken and we can start treatment at the first sign of trouble. Aside from the burns, both are coming along as well as can be expected.”
“So you think he can go home in three or four days? I know that will be the first question he asks,” Ethan said.
“It will depend on the burns.”
“So far as the danger of infection goes, I have no problem with his being here, otherwise he could be taken care of at home, which he would prefer.”
“In that case, unless there are complications, plan on his going home in three days, but it will be a week or so before he can go back to school.”
After the doctor left, Fr. Mason asked about Sally Ann and Scotty. Ethan told him they were doing okay, considering.
He then asked how Michael and Alfred were working out.
“Frankly, Father, as I said, we’d be in a real bind if we didn’t have those two. Alfred has worked with me and I feel he isn’t nearly as incapable as people have said. Jamie says he’s a real natural with the cattle. They act as if he had been with them for ages. I suspect within a year, he’ll be working cattle most of the time. Jamie and Andy are pushing for Arkadelphia to become a Brangus cattle station. I don’t know whether they will end up with a bull or not, but some of the cows can be difficult to handle.”
“What is a Brangus?” Fr. Mason asked.
“It’s a cross—a very specific cross—between Brahman and Black Angus. That’s about all I know about it. Remember I’m the nut man; Jamie’s the cowboy.”
They had talked about fifteen minutes and when Fr. Mason was preparing to leave, Ethan asked him to anoint Jamie and he did.
Jamie slept another half hour. When the nurse was checking his vitals, he awoke and immediately asked about a shower. She pointed out that he had burns which could not get wet, but said she would check with Dr. Stokes.
It was fifteen minutes before she came back and said Dr. Stokes wanted Jamie to wait a couple of days before he showered to give his back time to heal. “The skin was broken in several places where you were beaten with a belt. They need to heal a little more before you take a shower. Ethan can give you a sponge bath.” It wasn’t a shower, but it was a bath and Jamie much appreciated Ethan doing it for him. After he was dressed, Ethan buzzed the nurse and while they were waiting for her, told Jamie Dr. Stokes had said it would be three or four days before he could go home. Jamie groaned, then asked if he and Andy could get a semi-private room together. “Since all we’ll have to do is watch some woman on TV scream ‘He my baby daddy,’ at some man who claims he’s a virgin, we’ll be bored out of our skulls when we could be studying stuff from Joe.”
When the nurse came to dress Jamie’s burns he asked her if he could be moved into a semiprivate room with Andy. “I think the move would be greeted with open arms by the hospital,” she said. “Sheriff Jackson has made it very clear you are to have the best, otherwise you would have been placed in a semiprivate room with whomever happened to be in the other bed. Everyone wants a private room these days and they are always full, so releasing two? You can bet it will be done.”
Twenty minutes later an orderly came and announced Jamie was moving, placed his things on the bed, wheeled it out the door and down the hall. He wheeled Jamie into Room 24, a corner room so they had two windows. His bed had barely been locked when a second orderly pushing Andy came through the door.
“How you doing, Andy?” Jamie asked.
“Let’s just say I’m not as shitty as yesterday,” and both boys cracked up, then groaned as their ribs reminded them they had been beaten.
Now that Jamie had company, Ethan said, “Jamie, I’m going to run. I’ll let Joe know you two are here and will have time on your hands and maybe he’ll come up with something special for you to do. I’ll see that both of you get your work from the school as well. Anything else I can do?”
“Bring our laptops, please,” Andy said.
When Ethan was halfway out the door, Jamie called out, “Ethan, has the blue lupine seed arrived?”
“Could you see that they’re planted? They need to be drilled, not broadcast like the crimson clover.”
“Michael, Scotty and Ash will start planting clover tomorrow, but I’ll personally see that the blue lupine is drilled. How much did you order?”
Jamie blushed. “Well, the plantation bought enough for an acre.”
“How much will I be planting, Jamie?” Ethan asked, smelling a rat in Jamie’s response.
Jamie glanced at Andy before answering. “Well, Andy and I bought enough for another acre.”
“So, there’ll be two acres of blue lupine in the new grove.”
“Yeah,” Andy answered. “We thought we’d plant it and no-one would know until it came up.”
Ethan shook his head and said, “Guys, that grove is about a hundred acres. Two acres more or less in blue lupine is no problem. I’ll see that it gets planted.
When he got home, there was a note from Sally Ann saying Kathryn and A’isha had picked her up and they were going to the hospital. Scotty had left a note saying he had gone to see Rich and was going to the hospital from there. Ethan fixed a sandwich for lunch, paced around the house for half an hour and decided to go to see Davis and Molly. After telling them what the doctor had said, he asked Davis how they were going to handle the work with two people out for at least two weeks. “We have the cover crop to get planted and it’s time to start harvesting pecans. I don’t know what’s going on with the cattle.”
“Nothing much. Randy and the boys have been discussing what we need to do. All three are now convinced we’d be wise to become a Brangus cattle station—I think they’ll all be saying ‘G’day’ soon—and if we go that route, there’ll be some major changes in the operation. I think I’ll be overruled if I objected and what they have said makes sense. They’ve convinced Joe they know what they’re doing, so during the changeover things will be a bit slack so far as cattle are concerned. If push comes to shove, Molly and Ginger both have driven sweepers and the pickup/cleaners during harvest and I’m sure would do it again. We have Michael and Alfred and it seems Alfred can do a hell of a lot more than people have given him credit for. We can always hire day labor is needed. Don’t worry about that.”
“Speaking of cover crops,” Molly said, “I had an invoice for sixty pounds of blue lupine seed, but I saw a hundred twenty pounds were delivered. What do I do about that?’
Ethan laughed and answered, “I guess watch your back so a certain two seventeen-year-olds don’t pull another one on you.” He then told him about Jamie and Andy paying for the additional seed, expecting to plant it without anyone being the wiser.
Molly and Davis both had a good laugh and Molly asked, “And they plan to collect seed so they can expand the planting?”
“That’s the plan,” Ethan answered.
“Then we’ll have a beautiful two acres in the spring. I have seen blue lupine in Florida. I just hope it doesn’t winter kill.”
“So do I or we may have two boys to bury.
Ethan started walking home, but turned and went to the equipment shed, attached a drill to a tractor and drove to the office and picked up the seed and headed for Pleasant Grove and the new grove. Since the ground had been well-prepared, he could move fairly quickly drilling in blue lupine seed, but it would take a while. Well, he had until 5:00 to work. The time he spent working kept his mind from dwelling on all that was going on and knowing he was doing something important for Jamie gave him a good feeling.
He stopped the tractor and walked into the edge of the pines at the south end of the grove to piss. Away from the smell of the tractor exhaust and diesel fumes, he took a deep breath of the pine woods, a smell he loved. Suddenly, as had happened before, there was a breeze from the south and while it carried the scent of the pine woods, there was also a hint of the paint solvent smell. He shrugged his shoulders and headed home. He had enough to worry about without worrying about a strange smell.
Ethan finished with the blue lupine shortly after 4:30 and drove back to Arkadelphia and parked the tractor. As he did, he decided he’d shower at home. Walking home, he got a big smile on his face at the thought that Scotty might be there. He was doubly pleased when he saw his lover’s car and half ran up the steps and into the house. Scotty met him at the door and grabbed him and planted a passionate kiss on his mouth.
When they broke the kiss, Ethan looked into Scotty’s amazing eyes and asked, “Miss me?”
“Damn right I missed you,” Scotty said and kissed him again.
“I think you rather miss me a few more minutes than continue holding a dirty, sweaty body. I’m headed for the shower.”
“I don’t know. I kinda like the smell of my sweaty lover. I’ll meet you upstairs,” Scotty grinned.
Ethan showered, wrapped a towel around his waist and went to the bedroom where Scotty was waiting. It was only a matter of minutes before Ethan had Scotty undressed and the two fell on the bed, kissing passionately, tongues busy. Soon, cocks replaced tongues as they moved from kissing to sucking in a sixty-nine position. They were so eager that it didn’t take long for them to bring each other off. Their kisses afterward carried the taste of both as they explored mouths with tongue, mouths that had recently been filled with sweet man’s seed. Then, sated, they fell asleep.
Thirty minutes later they were awake and stroking each other while exchanging kisses. After they had covered their stomachs with cum, they cleaned up and went downstairs and fixed sandwiches.
Sally Ann walked in at 9:30 and Ethan asked, “How’s our brother?”
“Well, if he’s ambidextrous, he’s probably lying in bed wondering how he’s going to get cleaned up. If he’s not, he’s probably writhing in agony from blue balls. I tell you the way he and Kathryn carry on is enough to embarrass a young girl half to death.”
“Sally Ann, I have seen you and Keith together. I don’t think there’s a whole lot Jamie and Kathryn can do in a hospital room that would be new to you and Keith,” Scotty said.
Sally Ann didn’t bat an eye. “I’ll admit,” she said with a grin, “we don’t do badly. In fact, we’re pretty good.” Having said that, she headed upstairs to her room.
Monday morning, Ethan took Sally Ann to school and met with each of Jamie’s and Andy’s teachers. Each one had asked what had happened and Ethan told them they had been kidnapped and assaulted. As soon as he said that, everyone had responded in some variation of “I’m sure it was ‘Tad Hayes and his goons.’” Two had said that if they had not been football players and had Tad’s dad’s influence, they would have been in jail where they should have been. All had assured him they would see that Sally Ann had Andy and Jamie’s work so they would not get behind in school.
After he met with the last teacher, he went to the office and told Mrs. Anderson, the principal’s secretary, he needed to see Mr. Washburn. When Mrs. Anderson told him he could go in, Ethan greeted the principal and told him Jamie and Andy were in the hospital and wouldn’t be back in school for a week or longer.
“Why are they in the hospital? No doubt reckless driving. We do stress safe driving, but every year there’s at least one accident. Maybe if Jamie hadn’t befriended that Andy Hickey it wouldn’t have happened”
“There was no accident, Mr. Washburn. They were kidnapped and assaulted.”
“Now those are serious charges, Ethan. What really happened?”
“They were kidnapped and assaulted,” Ethan repeated, coolly, suspecting Mr. Washburn knew who was involved and was working hard to excuse the four football players. He told himself to keep cool, but it was difficult.
Mr. Washburn said, “I suppose the police were involved,” said in a tone that clearly indicated he had expected a negative answer.
“Both local and federal,” Ethan replied. Anyone who knew Ethan would have seen he was barely keeping his temper under control. “And yes, the culprits were caught and kidnapping and aggravated assault are among the myriad charges they face, some of which will be prosecuted as hate crimes.”
“Exactly who were the outsiders who dared hurt one of our community?”
“Outsiders? Outsiders? You know damn well who they were. Look at your absentee list and you’ll find four of your former football heroes are absent. Oh! I forgot. In spite of all you and Everett Hayes could do, the school tribunal couldn’t stomach allowing the three back in school after they jumped Jamie the first time. All you two and Everett’s lawyer were able to do was get them out on bond, but that was enough to allow them and Chad Wallace to jump Jamie and Andy, kidnap and assault them.”
“Well, I am sorry the boys were hurt, of course, but I’m sure it was just a case of boys being boys that went a bit too far.”
“Boys being boys don’t piss on other boys. Boys being boys don’t shit and cover the bodies of other boys with it. Boys being boys don’t shove beer bottles up boys’ asses. Boys being boys don’t burn someone’s initials on his cock and balls. You, sir, you, Evan Washburn are an ignorant asshole who places your precious football players on a pedestal and proclaims they can do no wrong.”
“Well now, as I said, those are serious charges. Just what was done to Jamie and Andy?”
Even though Ethan had just told him what had been done to Jamie and Andy and although he had always been told to respect teachers and the principal, he had finally had enough. “Four of your football players and a former one are guilty, four of whom you’re trying, again, to get off the hook. Those four and Jake Ballock are in jail on state and federal charges and Ethan and Andy are in the hospital. You may as well know the four will not be back in school and will be looking through bars until they are old men.” He then began telling Mr. Washburn, in graphic detail, what they had done to Jamie and Andy. “You have to bear some of the blame for that Washburn. Had they not been bonded out of jail, they may have given some thought to what might happen if they attacked Jamie again.
“You’ll be happy to know that Clyde Shepherd is adding a pile of civil suits to the criminal charges, including one against you for aiding and abetting their behavior. While I doubt that you’ll be convicted, if I were you I’d be contacting my professional insurance agent as soon as I leave and don’t think I’ll settle for some paltry sum to keep you out of court. I might have, had you not displayed the very behavior that resulted in my brother and Andy suffering as they have and will. You might think about that, and you can be sure as of this moment, I am after your job. Kids in this school deserve better and I will do all in my power to see they get it.”
“Come now, Ethan, be reasonable,” the principal said in an oily voice.
“Oh, I have been and am and you don’t want to make me unreasonable. I expect absolute cooperation in seeing that Jamie and Andy get their work and are treated fairly, and that you better believe.” Ethan turned and walked out. When he passed Mrs. Anderson’s desk, he said “Mrs. Anderson, you might need to get your smelling salts and a paper bag. Evan Washburn is probably hyperventilating or has fainted.”
Ethan had told Jamie and Andy he’d come by during lunch, but thought he better work before and after. They understood and said so.
After he left Washburn’s office, he went home, changed into work clothes and drove to the new grove and started planting what was not in blue lupine in crimson clover. He worked until 1:30, drove back to the equipment shed, showered and dressed in the clothes he had worn to school and headed for Audubon and the hospital.
He had put the study materials Joe had left for Andy and Jamie last week, along with pads and pens and their laptops in the car before he left for school. When he walked into the hospital room, he was surprised to find Joe there and Jamie and Andy looking over new material Joe had brought. “Joe, didn’t expect to see you here,” he said as he and Joe shook hands.
“You don’t think I’d leave my prize cowboys without work did you? The hospital wouldn’t permit a herd of cows in the room so I did the best I could. Didn’t know writing was next to impossible for the two.”
Ethan laughed. “I kinda forgot that myself. Don’t know how they are going to do their school work either.”
“Well, I brought voice recognition software and you brought their laptops, so they can do some. It’ll be slow until the computers learn cowboy, but they’ll get it done.”
They chatted until time for Joe to go and he had just left when Dr. Stokes came in. After he had looked over the two, Jamie asked about a shower. Dr. Stokes looked at his back, cock and balls and said, “Okay, but you must not allow the burns to get wet. They still have healing to do. I’ll send the nurse.”
When the nurse came, she asked Jamie what he needed. “A shower!” he responded. “Ethan can help me.”
The nurse told Ethan he could give Jamie and Andy showers provided he was very careful with the burns. “You can use the hand-held spray so long as you carefully avoid them. I’ll see what I can do about protection.” Both young men were half embarrassed to death when she came back with a plastic bag and rubber band and told him to put his penis and scrotum in it the rubber band around them. “Damn, I don’t need a hardon and certainly not a cock ring,” he said when she left after making sure the plastic bags was perfectly watertight. As she turned to go, she said, “When they have been bathed, there’ll be a clean gowns on their beds. When they’re dressed, buzz me and I’ll attend to their burns. Dr. Stokes has ordered a very light cover, just enough to protect the burns, but allow air to get to them.”
Getting Jamie—or Andy—in the shower was not as easy as Ethan anticipated because of their bruises, cracked ribs and dislocated shoulders. When Jamie gasped a few times, Ethan apologized for hurting him, but Jamie assured him a shower was worth it. Andy did as well.
At home, Ethan changed clothes again and joined Dek and Ash who were doing a single pass with offset discs to prepare the neglected groves for clover. Dek agreed with Ethan and Ash that the groves at Pleasant Grove would use a cover crop to control weeds. They knew that the use of herbicides would likely not be eliminated for some time, but from the beginning their use would be greatly reduced at a considerable saving in money, wear on equipment and labor. They would continue using them in circles around the base of the trees for a while.
When the three took a break, Dek asked Ethan how the boys were doing and Ethan told him what the doctor had said. “I don’t know what I am going to do about Andy,” Dek said. “I called his mother about coming and staying with him and she was having no part of it. She and Ray have moved in with a man she has been having an affair with off and on for a couple of years. He’s a big football fan and took Ray under his wing three years ago and got real friendly with him and Lori, the wife. I went up a while back to see about reconciliation and was essentially told to go to hell by both Lorie and Ray. I did think she would be willing to help Andy, but because she sees Ray as her road to big money and Ray has always resented Andy, she refused.”
“Sorry about that, Dek,” Ash said. “Know the feeling of being dumped.”
“Yeah, sorry Dek, but may have a solution to your problem. The bedroom opening on to the den is handicap accessible since my dad had it until he died. Why don’t you let Andy stay at my place? We can exchange the bed in that one with the twins in the guest room. The bathroom is equipped with hand rails. They could phone Molly if they have a problem while we are at work.”
Dek thanked Ethan profusely and said he was greatly relieved.
Two days later, Ethan got a call from Jamie mid-morning telling him they could go home when he came at lunch. “Bring clothes,” Jamie said just before hanging up. After he gave the matter a moment’s thought, he called Molly and asked about driving her car and she was happy to have him do so. He told Dek he was picking up the boys when he went to the hospital and told him he needed clothes for Andy.
At the hospital, Jamie and Andy were eager to get dressed and on the way home. While they were getting dressed, Ethan got them checked out of the hospital. Back upstairs, he found Drs. Bailey and Stokes waiting for him. They went over copies of the post-discharge instructions, told him they wanted to see the two in their office in a week and gave him prescriptions for ointment for their burns and an antibiotic they were to take as a prophylactic measure. When they were ready, orderlies appeared with wheelchairs and took them to the front entrance. Ethan drove to where they were waiting and the orderlies helped them in the car. In Braggton, he stopped at the drugstore and dropped off the prescriptions. He drove to Hardee’s and ordered cokes for the three while they waited on the prescriptions. While they waited, he told the two the arrangements he and Dek had made for Andy to stay at the Taylors’. The two young men thought that was a good idea.
Half an hour after dropping them off, Ethan picked up the prescriptions and headed home. When he had the two settled with TV and DVD player remotes at hand, he fixed a pile of sandwiches, put them on paper plates, filled glasses with ice, and put them on a tray then added cokes, bottled water and chips and carried it to the den.
After they finished off the food, Ethan said, “Before you get too settled, see if you can get in and out of bathroom. If you can, I won’t worry about it.” Jamie said, “I’ll give it the real test. I need to go to the toilet.” When he came back, he said, “I managed very well, well, wiping my ass with my left hand takes some doing.” Assured that the two could handle the situation, Ethan left them, took the car back to Molly, got dressed in work clothes and headed back to the grove.
* * * * *
Arkadelphia Plantation is being published exclusively on the AwesomeDude website. I chose to do this in appreciation of the time, money and effort invested by the Dude. I happened to be in Korea when awesomedude.com was launched. In fact, after completing the program which took me to Korea, I spent a short time with the Dude whom I had met through his finding A Special Place on Nifty. During that time, we talked about what he hoped to accomplish with the new website.
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