Chapter Five


I was very puzzled as I hung up the phone and went to the living room where Mom and Dad were waiting. I told them what Keith had said and added that why he was involved with gangs was beyond me. "Keith certainly is not the kind of fellow who would be involved in serious illegal activities. I just wish I knew what was going on."

"I guess we will find out when he arrives," Dad said. "I agree he's very unlikely to be involved with gangs. I have heard rumors around school about gangs and I know the dress code prohibits wearing gang apparel-as if any of the administrators knows what that is!"

"Dad, Joe told me to call him anytime. I know he meant in regard to being gay, but he said call anytime. He might know something." I took Joe's card from my pocket and as I did, remembered he was off duty. I turned the card over where he had written his home and cell phone numbers.

There was no answer at his house, so I called the cell number. I was about to hang up when he picked up and said, "Joe Turner."

"Joe, this is Tom, Tom McCarter. Sorry to bother you again, but I have a situation on my hands and think you might be able to help." I then told Joe everything I knew about Keith's situation..

"Keith's last name?" Joe asked.

"Anderson, but so far as I know he wasn't directly involved in whatever happened. He was, I am pretty sure, in Albany at the time."

"LaTasha's last name?"


"Oh, yeah, a real mess and there was little we could do because no one is talking. LaTasha is Keith's girlfriend?"


"Ok, this is talk out of school and should be kept to yourself for the most part. Several weeks ago there was a 911 call from a cell phone out near the airport. A driver had seen what he thought was a person in the median of I-85. He was traveling well over the speed limit, of course, and given all the things people lose on I-85, a bundle of clothes in the median is not unusual. He decided that was what he saw, just some clothing someone lost while moving. By the time he reached the Old National exit, he was still thinking about what he had seen and decided he wasn't in too big a hurry to check it out. He took the exit and headed back."

"He found a young black girl, unconscious, and called 911. The EMS crew took her to the hospital where it was discovered she had been raped-repeatedly--and physically abused. It was LaTasha. She had a gang symbol-a Chicago-based one--branded on her chest and 'ho' and 'slut' carved into her butt cheeks. The police aren't revealing the gang connection, hoping it may lead to some arrests."

"As things stand, all we have are 'John Doe' warrants and no one is talking. In spite of the fact we got a tip her stepbrothers are somehow involved, we got nothing from her family. When she was released from the hospital, LaTasha was suffering from shock and remembered nothing about what had happened. In fact, a nurse friend told me she had regressed until she was like a five year old. Unfortunately, she may never come out of the state she's in. She is, with good reason and consciously or unconsciously, a very frightened girl."

I was, literally, speechless and afraid I was going to lose my lunch. I was finally able to speak and said, "Keith is her boyfriend, but I don't see the connection with a gang and I sure don't see his or LaTasha's being involved with a gang. If anything they'd be fighting them. Her stepbrothers? That's something all together different. Everyone knows they are trouble looking for a place to happen and gang wannabes."

"I don't know if it is a connection to Keith or just what it's about, but she did have the words 'ho' and 'slut' cut into her ass cheeks. Since you know her and are a good friend of Keith's, maybe you can talk to her and find out something. We sure haven't been able to get any information out of her or her family."

"I doubt it," I responded. "I tried to see her this afternoon. I saw and heard movement inside the apartment, but no one answered the door."

"That has been the response every time an officer has tried to talk with the family. LaTasha's mother has threatened to get a restraining order against the police. If they didn't let you in this afternoon, I would advise you not to go back. I don't know what any member of that family might do."

"Maybe Keith can tell me something when he gets to North Carolina. Hey!! You and Trey need to come up one weekend. Know Mom and Dad would be delighted to have you two, and it's heaven during a College Park summer."

"You think College Park is bad, let Trey tell you about middle Georgia!"

"Got a taste of that at baseball camp."

"I guess you did at that," Joe said.

Mom was walking through the kitchen and I motioned for her and she came to where I was standing.

"Can you hold a second?" I asked.

"Only if you have rotten music to play in my ear," Joe laughed.

I covered the mouthpiece and said "Mom, I invited Joe and Trey to come to Carolina for a weekend. Make it official?"

"Of course," Mom replied.

"Joe, turning you over to Mom. Thanks for talking to me. Laters."

"Take care."

I went to see if everything was ready for the trip. Even though it was pushing 9:00, I hoped we'd head for Pea Ridge, North Carolina tonight. I don't want to be around College Park right now.

I went into the den where Dad was sitting, feet up in his recliner and half-asleep. "Joe have any information?"

"Yeah, he did. It makes me sick to think about it." After I told Dad what Joe was able to add to the mystery, I said, "Dad, changing the subject, is everything ready to go? To North Carolina, I mean."

"I suppose so. You in a rush?"

"Yeah, I'd really like to go on tonight. We could be there by midnight or 1:00."

"Talked with your Mom about leaving now?"

"No, she's on the phone with Joe. I invited him and Trey to come up for a weekend and Mom is making it official."

"Swell idea, Son. Well, if she's up to the trip, we'll leave tonight. We do need to wire Keith money. Have any idea how much he needs?"

"Not really."

"Fire up your computer again and check Greyhound fares."

Twenty minutes later I had fares, schedules and told Dad.

"Looks like he'll need at least three hundred dollars," I said. "Bus fare, food, a bit for an emergency."

"I don't have that much cash, but we'll hit an ATM on the way out of town."

Mom came into the den and said, "Joe and Trey will be coming to North Carolina for a long weekend as soon as they can arrange some time off.

"Mom, you up to leaving now?"

"You in a rush?"

"Yeah, I am, kinda."

"Well, I guess I'm up to it."

Our bank was in East Point, on the way to I-85. Dad stopped and got the money to send to Keith. We stopped by a Western Union desk and sent the money before joining the early evening traffic, leaving behind College Park and baseball camp and all that and I was glad.

Dad is usually a calm, cool fellow. I guess after almost thirty years dealing with teenagers you'd have to be, that is, he is usually, but he is NOT cool in traffic. There had been a ball game at Turner Field and we ran into the after the game traffic as soon as we hit downtown. I hadn't thought about that before asking him if we could leave rather than waiting. When he agreed and we hit the traffic, Mom and I knew to keep it cool. No chit-chat.

Once we reached the turn off to Gainsville, traffic had thinned somewhat and after Flowery Branch there was practically none. Dad relaxed and asked what I had learned from Joe. I told him and said I didn't understand what was going on. Dad and Mom were stunned, but had no idea what was going on either.

We stopped at a late night cafe and had a very late dinner. By the time we finished, there was no traffic to speak of. I had gotten my learner's permit the day after my fifteenth birthday, so Dad asked if I wanted to drive until we got to the mountains. I did, of course.

It was 12:30 when we reached the mountain place. Mom made some herbal tea while Dad and I unloaded the things we needed right away.

After we had tea, I went to my loft, showered and went to bed. As I lay in bed I watched the moon as it gradually moved across the large skylight directly over my bed. I thought about how casually Shawn and Harold had used sex and wondered if I'd come to look at sex as nothing more than a "grab it when you can get it" thing. I remember how much I enjoyed--liked--what Shawn did to me. That it involved something cheap didn't change how good it felt while, at the same time, it made me sick--still.

I was thinking about Keith when I drifted off to sleep. I had been in bed for a couple hours before Mom woke me. "Tom, Tom, wake up," she was calling my name and shaking me. When I stirred, she said, "Tom, you were having a nightmare. You woke your dad and me screaming."

I sat up in bed and said, "I was dreaming about Keith and LaTasha. Some one was torturing them, trying to get Keith to do something. I wanted to help, but I couldn't move. It was terrible."

Mom assured me I was ok, just as if I was still five or six, and I lay back and was soon asleep.

I woke up at 7:00, thinking about Keith. I wondered if he had gotten away. If he had, I wondered how long his trip would be, when he'd arrive, all that sort of thing. Mom and Dad were still sleeping in, so I got the coffee maker ready and set it to start at 8:00. That done, I put the kettle on as well.

Leaving the cabin, I walked down to the river and found a place in the morning sun where I sat and listened to the river, just enjoying the morning, myself and this beautiful place.

I thought it must be about 8:00 when I got up and walked back to the house. Obviously it was after 8:00 because when I opened the door I could smell the coffee. I set the table, put out fruit, milk and cold cereal, a fairly common breakfast at our place, especially during the school year when we were all rushing around getting ready for school. It was also fairly common when we were at the place in North Carolina since no one was very much interested in spending time cooking breakfast.

I made a cup of tea-Mom and Dad had coffee for breakfast, but I still stuck to tea--and sat down at the table. I had just sat down with my tea when Mom and Dad came out of their bedroom.

After breakfast Dad and I looked the house over, checking to see if there were repairs which needed to be done. Since we were at the place less than two months a year and when we were, not interested in spending the time doing repairs, things could get in pretty bad shape unless we were careful.

We had just sat down to dinner when Dad's cell phone rang. "I'll get it," I said, hopping up from the table. "Might be Keith."

It was. "Tom, I'm in Cincinnati. I have only forty-five minutes here. In fact aside from here and Knoxville, I have only ten minute stops."

"How long in Knoxville?" I interrupted.

"An hour and ten minutes. I have to transfer there, so I'm not sure how much time I actually have."

"Hang on a minute." I covered the mouthpiece and called to Dad, "Dad, Keith is in Cincinnati and doesn't have any real layovers until Knoxville where he transfers. Is it much further to Knoxville than Asheville?"

"It's not quite half again as far, maybe a matter of forty-fifty miles, but we can pick him up there if you like."

"Keith, when do you get to Knoxville?"

"Five after six this evening."

"And Asheville?"

"Nine thirty five."

"We could pick you up in Knoxville and be back home before you got to Asheville. Just hang out at the station where you arrive, don't make a transfer and we will pick you up."

"Thanks, Tom. Thanks a million."

Dad and I left home at quarter after four to drive to Knoxville. As soon as we had a good signal, I called Greyhound and got directions to the station where Keith would be arriving.

Keith's bus was thirty minutes late and when he stepped off, he looked half-dead. As tired and worn as he was, he still gave us a Keith "all over my face" smile. I ran to him and grabbed him in a bear hug. He hugged me tight. As he continued to hold me tight, I felt his body tremble as he started crying softly. I held Keith and said, quietly, "It's all right Keith. It's all right. I got you. You're safe. Let's go home, Keith. Let's go home."

"Let's go, Tom. Yes, let's go.'

Had Keith gone on to Asheville, he wouldn't have arrived until after 9:35 and we got back to our place and were sitting down to supper before that time.

As soon as Keith hugged Mom she said, "Phew, Keith you do need a shower and as soon as you get those clothes off, have Tom bring them down and wash them. We'll have to get in to Clarksville tomorrow and get you something to wear." It was true, Keith had only the clothes on his back when he arrived.

While Keith was in the shower, I put his things in the washer and got my robe for him. Keith's football player's build would not fit in my swimmer's build clothes. When he had showered, I gave him my robe and he wore that all evening.

After supper, all four of us sat on the front porch, watching night fall over the mountains and listening to the river and insects. We all fell silent for a moment, then Keith said, "This is so peaceful. I haven't had a moment's peace since I last saw you, Tom. And no one will tell me what's going on."

"What happened to get you to Detroit, Keith?" Dad asked.

"I'm not sure, Mr. McCarter. After I got back from the North Georgia camp, I had a week at home and then got on a bus and headed for Albany as planned. Sometime before I was due to come back to College Park, Mom called and said I should stay in Albany. I asked why and she said it need not concern me."

"The next thing I know, my grandmama woke me up one morning before daylight and told me to get packed. "'You're going to your Auntie Octavia's.' When I asked her why, she told me she didn't know, but Mom and Dad were both very upset and said it would be dangerous for me to be in College Park. That's all I know. Well, except that I haven't been allowed to make or receive phone calls; I guess you know that."

"I've had no answer to letters I have written LaTasha. I guess Auntie Octavia mailed them. She said she would. I haven't been allowed out of the apartment, not that I'd want to be out and about the complex where Auntie lives. I think it is a battlefield. You can hear gun fire often--drug dealers on every corner--you can't imagine how terrible it is."

"Auntie had some sort of meeting the night I called you and her two sons-Fat Boy and Ace-had left for the night. I got to a public phone-scared shi...stiff--and called you."

"I knew Auntie was going out last night and the cousins said they were going downtown to a ball game. As soon as they were gone, I kept an eye on the clock to be sure I got to the public phone for your call."

"I knew I had to get out and away without anyone knowing where I was going. I was afraid to leave for the bus station before I knew where Fat Boy and Ace were, until they came in. They came in about 2:30. I had gone to bed fully dressed so I could just get up and go, but I had little money. I think Mom was sending money, but I saw none of it. I had to have enough to get downtown. After the two boys-men--they are 19 and 20-were asleep and snoring, I risked getting caught by going through their pockets. I found twenty dollars in Fat Boy's pocket and took it."

"As I said, I was scared anytime I went outside except early in the morning when there's very little activity and I seldom heard shots. I left the apartment and ran down the stairs since the elevator hadn't worked in ages-you wouldn't believe the trash on the stairs: needles and other drug paraphernalia, used condoms, garbage, broken furniture and the smell of urine and feces-but the stairs were my escape route."

"I walked the five blocks to where I knew there was a bus stop. I didn't know the bus I needed, but thought any would get me out of the projects and I could take the right one later. When I reached the stop there was an elderly woman standing there, weighed down with two large tote bags. 'Morning, Ma'am,'" I said 'you are out awfully early.' She looked at me like I was from another planet and did not speak. 'Ma'am, I really need some help. I need to get to the bus station. I need to go home.'"

"She looked at me again, then asked, 'Goin' south?'"

"I told her I was and she asked where I was headed. When I told her North Carolina, she got a distant look in her eyes and chuckled, and sang 'Nothin' could be finer than to be in Carolina in the mornin'. You know that's right.' I agreed with her and she said, 'You help me on the bus with these bags and I'll make sure you get the right bus.' I helped her and she told me she hoped I'd get south and stay. Anyway, before she got off the bus, she told me the buses to get to Greyhound station and here I am."

"I still don't know why I had to be hidden. I know it has something to do with the gang LaTasha's brothers joined or tried to join. It's one of the Chicago ones and while Auntie Octavia won't admit it, her boys are members of a gang. Apparently they told Auntie and she called Dad and told him to get me out of College Park and to keep where I was a secret."

I didn't know the connection, but I suddenly suspected LaTasha's rape and torture was connected to Keith's being on a hit list. Maybe Joe could find out something.

We all slept in Tuesday, but Keith was still asleep when the rest of us had been up, had our coffee and tea. Dad was preparing breakfast and asked, "Tom, think Keith would like to get up for breakfast?"

"I bet so. I'll call him and let him decide.

When I called his name, Keith woke up, looked around and when he saw me got a huge smile on his face. "Mornin' Glory, breakfast shortly," I said.

"I'll be ready," Keith said as he threw the sheet back and hopped out of bed, sporting morning wood and started racing to the bathroom. He stopped at the door, turned and said, "See what you do to me!" laughed and closed the bathroom door.

"Tom, I have Keith's clothes ready if you'll come get them," Mom called from downstairs.

After breakfast, we all went into Clarksville and bought some clothes for Keith and had lunch.

The rest of the week was relaxed and wonderful. The weather was perfect and Keith and I spent a lot of time just roaming through the woods, playing in the river and talking.

I didn't tell him about the baseball camp episode right away as I thought I would. Then, Thursday afternoon we had gone skinny dipping in a pool of deep water in the river. The mountain river is never warm even in mid-summer. It was cold, but we swam for maybe half an hour and then crawled out on a rock which was now only half in the sun. Keith sat in the sun, but I knew better-fifteen minutes in the sun and this white boy is red, half an hour and he is cooked. I sat in the shade where the rock was still warm from having been in the sun.

"Keith, I need to talk to you. I really wanted to talk to you when I got back from the baseball camp. Something happened there and I still have mixed feelings about it." I then told Keith what had happened and the results. "Keith, I won't lie, I LIKED the sex! I just wish it had happened differently, been different."

Keith was silent for several minutes and then he said, "Tom, I wish it had been different too. I know you loved the sex. Tom, my brother, there was never any doubt in my mind about that! But take it from someone who knows, sex is just sex unless you are sharing it with someone you love, unless it is a way of expressing your love to someone. Sex shared in love is heaven on earth."

"You mean...."

"Yeah, the week after we got back from that north Georgia camp. LaTasha and I were at my place. Mom and Dad were at work. We had the house to ourselves. We were in my room, listening to CDs, making out. I was aroused...." Keith laughed. "Aroused? I was more than aroused. Anyway, I unbuttoned LaTasha's blouse, took off her bra and, Man, I started working on those beautiful breasts. Her nipples were driving me wild. First thing I know, she's got my shirt off and her hand in my pants. Anyway, we made love until we both were exhausted, fell asleep, woke up and made love again. We were just lying on my bed, naked, when I heard the garage door opening. Talk about fast dressing!! Later Dad said, 'Guess you got dressed in the dark, Keith. Your T shirt's on backwards.'"

"Not that it took rocket science, but I guess Dad had things figured out because the next morning when I got up long after they had gone to work, there was a box of condoms on my night stand. That's the first time I thought about LaTasha getting pregnant."

"Anyway, we had a whole week of making love and loving each other. It was great! Then I had to go to Albany and I haven't seen or heard from LaTasha since. Man, I about go crazy every time I think about her. I wish I knew what was going on. I knew I had to get out of Detroit and find out what all the mystery's about."

"And Tom, you wouldn't believe what it was like in the projects where Auntie lives. I stayed scared stiff all the time I was there. Most of the young people I saw are like animals. Drugs are easier to get than decent food. Violence. You have to step over couples fucking in the halls. I just wanted out and I didn't even know why I was there."

I wasn't sure I knew what had been going on either, but I did know what had happened to LaTasha and was in a real bind trying to decide whether or not to tell Keith. What could he do about the situation? It was pretty clear that no one was being allowed to see her and, I guess, she was so out of it, she didn't know anybody. I decided to keep what I knew to myself until I could talk with Dad.

When we got back to the house, Mom said Joe had called. "He has been working a lot of overtime, pulling double shifts since Trey was staying in Macon. The rail crew was working between Macon and Juilette and the two had decided the drive to and from College Park was too much. Trey has also racked up a lot of overtime so they were leaving for North Carolina about noon," Mom said.

"Noon tomorrow?"

"No, noon like three hours ago. They should be here shortly."

"Anything Keith or I need to do to help get ready?"

"No. Since we're having two more guys here for most of a week, your dad went into Clarksville for more food--and beer. I've about got their room ready."

"Who's Joe and Trey?" Keith asked since I had not told him the details of our Sunday session with the camp folks.

"Joe and Trey are a gay couple I met recently. Joe's a College Park policeman and Trey is the supervisor of a Southern Railroad track maintenance crew. I haven't met Trey, but Joe is one swell guy. Mom and Dad knew them from high school." I told Keith more about the two and especially about Joe's part in handling the camp situation. I suddenly remembered Queen Joyce and told him about her.

The two arrived about 3:30. When Keith saw the two very manly men, climb out of a fancy pickup, he burst out, "You two sure don't look queer!" and immediately turned red and started apologizing, but his tongue kept getting in the way.

"You're so cute to say that," Trey said and went into a great drag queen sans drag routine which outdid any stereotype I had seen in the movies. He ended up by grabbing Keith, bending him backward and kissing him on the cheek. We were all laughing like we were nuts. I was glad to see Keith laughing since I was afraid he'd be offended. Of course, he could have offended Trey and Joe.

When everyone was under control again, Trey still had an arm around Keith's shoulders as he said, "Keith, I know how our community pretends there are no gay blacks and then tries to beat us to death to prove it. I'm not surprised that you think all gays, and especially gay blacks, are effeminate with a limp wrist and lisp. But look at the three of us-Tom, Joe, myself. We are just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, no different from anyone else, except we love men. We love, we hurt, we care just like decent human beings do because we are decent human beings."

"You can step off the soapbox now, Trey," Joe grinned.

Keith looked at Trey and said, "Thanks, I needed that."

"Well, Keith, Brother, let's leave Tom and my better half to unload our stuff whilst us two brothers go have a look at this river." Trey then turned and looked at Joe and said, "The cute one's going to show old Trey the river." He turned to Keith and said, "Come along." Keith laughed and he and Trey went walking to the river.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Joe said, "Tom, your mom told me about Keith. Well, she told me all she knew. You know anything more?"

"No, not really."

"Have you told him about LaTasha?"

"No, I thought about it and was going to talk with Dad about it, but then Mom said you had called. I thought you might know something more."

"I do and I have some really bad news. LaTasha is in intensive care if she is still alive. She was on life support and her mom had to make a decision about keeping her there. That's all that's keeping her alive. She is, I was told, essentially brain dead."

"She was rushed to the hospital Sunday night and was not expected to live. She was still alive Monday, only technically. As I said, she's on life support. Apparently she was in such great pain her mother called the hospital and she was given a prescription for more and stronger pain medicine. Her mother told the doctor LaTasha had a few moments of lucidity when she first got home, but they came further and further apart. Most of the time she said LaTasha just lay all curled up, unconscious. I guess Sunday she had a moment of lucidity and didn't want to be in pain any longer so she took all of her pain meds. When her mother found her, she had stopped breathing. Her mother called a neighbor who have her CPR until the EMS arrived."

"When they arrived they found little or no pulse and she was not breathing, but they were able to resuscitate her. A bad mistake, I think, because her brain had been without oxygen for so long she is, as I said, essentially brain dead."

"What do we tell Keith? He needs to know."

"He does, but there's nothing he can do. He can't see her. I don't know, but I suspect they'll not let him attend the funeral when and if there is one. And if he did? I'm not sure but what he would be in extreme danger. The gang problem in East Point and College Park is, obviously, much more severe than anyone has been willing to admit, at least officially." I couldn't quite follow Joe when he suddenly asked, "Question, do you know if Keith and LaTasha were having sex?"

"What? Oh. As a matter fact I do. I told him about baseball camp and he told me the first week I was there he and LaTasha had sex for the first time. For a whole week. He thinks his dad--it would be funny if it was his mother-knew because after the first time, there were condoms on his night stand."

"That explains a lot. The Andersons have been threatened--they've had gang symbols spray painted on their house. Dead animals have been left in their mailbox, that sort of thing. The information I picked up from an officer in East Point working the gang desk was that LaTasha's stepbrothers offered her as a virgin for gangbanging so they wouldn't have be beat in."

"Gangbanging I can figure out, but beat in?"

"To get in some gangs you have to submit to running between two lines of members who repeatedly beat and kick you. So LaTasha's brothers were offered an alternative plan. Bring a virgin to the gang for a gangbang. They took LaTasha."

"Who was not a virgin."

"Right. I guess the gang leader took her first while her stepbrothers held her. As soon as he entered her, he let it be known she wasn't a virgin. She was gangraped anyway. Her stepbrothers took her last. They were then responsible for beating and torturing her. East Point knows that and are ready to pick up everyone who participated. The hospital did a rape kit and there will be some surprised young hoodlums when the DNA tests results are made known. Thanks to a gang informant, the round up started this afternoon and if LaTasha dies, and pray that she does, they will all be charged with murder in the commission of a felony, rape. That can carry the death penalty. Should we tell Keith? I don't know. Damn! Why do the good guys get screwed over by trash? That's what I hate about my job, dealing with animals."

Joe and I sat in silence for a long time, each with our own thoughts. "Joe, I really don't know what to say. You are sure he would not be able to see LaTasha?"

"Tom, you have to know that my information is second hand, but I trust the fellow who told me. Obviously it's so LaTasha's mother can place the blame elsewhere, but he said he was afraid she would kill Keith if she could. I do know she has a record which makes that reasonable. The stepbrothers are ready to do damage to Keith because they blame him for their beating-they had to run the beat in line as soon as they had finished with LaTasha. Besides, Keith has made the whole bunch look like fools since they have not been able to catch him. And, I suspect, LaTasha is dead by now and I know he doesn't need to show up at the funeral."

As we were talking, Dad drove up and after the greetings were over, Joe and I talked with Dad. He said, "What better place for Keith to find out? I doubt that anything could be added if he went to College Park. The girl he loved is dead already; she died when she was violated. Here he's surrounded by people who will care for him. He was in hiding for good reason and that hasn't changed unless there has been a major roundup. And what's to keep new troops from being imported from Chicago, LA, wherever the gang filth is?"

We decided we would hold everything until after supper and then we would sit down with Keith and tell him the news. Dad suggested Joe and I talk with Keith. Joe suggested Trey be included since he has to deal with the personal problems his crew has, "And" Joe said, "frankly is more sensitive to emotions and all than I am."

"Why don't the four of you go up to the moon watching rock after supper?" Dad asked.

When Trey and Keith came back from the river they were both excited. Trey was like a man of many personalities anyway. He was definitely the more outgoing of the two guys. Good hearted with a great sense of humor. I saw that right away.

As supper time drew near, Joe and I became quieter and quieter, and Keith and Trey were having a rollicking good time. When we had finished supper, Keith and I cleaned up. Dad went into the bedroom with Mom and told her what was up and Joe did the same with Trey. Later Mom said she was glad she could be mama later without having heard all the gory details.

When we had cleaned up, Keith and I went out to the front porch and sat down on the floor, leaning against the porch posts on either side of the step. Joe and Trey came out carrying blankets. "Your Dad told us there's a great place for watching the moon and the lights in the valley. We thought we'd have a look. You guys want to come along?"

"Try and leave me," Keith said as Trey threw him a blanket. Joe handed me one and we four started walking toward a hill behind the cabin.