Mountain Magic by Sequoyah

 

Chapter Nine

 

Sunday, Beth showed up at Grace a bit early, Hank in tow. He looked as if he

thought there would soon be a human sacrifice and he was it. "Relax, Hank,"

Jason said. "I felt like I was doomed when I first showed up too, but once

you get into it "

 

"That's what I am afraid of," Hank smiled weakly.

 

When it came time for communion, I leaned over to Hank and said, "You're

welcome to come with us if you like." Hank seemed hesitant but when Beth

got up, she held her hand out. Hank took it and followed her, obediently, up

the aisle. Jason and I followed and then stepped ahead of the two so we

could take our places at the altar rail before Hank and Beth. I was sure if

Hank saw us, he'd know how to receive the Elements. Sure enough, he was

smart enough to watch how we received and, when the time came, held his

hands up like a veteran communicant.

 

As we walked out of the church, Hank greeted Fr. Hanson with, "Liked your

sermon, Reve ... Father. It was short." Fr. Hanson broke into a laugh and we

joined him. Hank blushed and said, "That's not what I meant." We laughed

harder as Hank stammered and got redder and redder.

 

Fr. Hanson was finally able to stop laughing and say, "Thanks, Hank. Hope

you'll come again and I'll try to keep it short then as well."

 

The four of us walked toward our cars and were standing by the Jeep when

Granddad and Grandmom came up. "We told the boys to invite you two to

join us for Sunday dinner if you like," Granddad said. "Did they extend the

invitation?"

 

"Of course they did," Beth said, "and we'll be delighted to join you."

 

"We'll meet you at the Gourmet Uptown," Grandmom said.

 

As soon as they were out of earshot, Jason asked, "Doug, did you invite

these two to join us?"

 

"No, did you?"

 

"No. Beth, what's this 'Of course they did' bit?"

 

"I realized you had been told to invite us, hadn't done it, and your

grandparents would be disappointed in your having lost your manners so I

covered for you. You owe me."

 

"I suppose Sunday dinner for you and your boyfriend at the Gourmet

Uptown will cover our debt," Jason grinned.

 

"Just about," Beth said.

 

During dinner, Hank had a hundred questions. I was surprised because, even

though I had known Hank for a few months now and we had become fast

friends, I usually saw him as, well, a kind of happy-go-lucky guy who didn't

look at anything very deeply.

 

He and Granddad got into a pretty deep discussion of why Fr. Hanson didn't

spend his sermon telling parishioners how wicked and evil they were or how

wicked and evil everyone else was. "Guess we all sit kinda easy in the

saddle," Granddad said. "There certainly is evil in the world and there are

people who do unbelievably evil things, but they seldom show up at Grace.

Most of us there are trying to do the best we can with the hand we have

been dealt."

 

Later, Hank said he had really thought about that and realized that the guys

who had fought me were not likely to show up at church, and they would

have to find out about doing the best they could with what they had from

someone else. "Like you, Douglas," he said, "they have to see you could have

made the whole of their lives pretty miserable and didn't. I hope they see

they need to do the best they can--not for anyone else but for themselves."

 

After dinner, Hank suggested we go by the hospital to check on John Doe.

When he did, Beth said, "I haven't been involved with him at all, so I think it

would be best if I not go with you."

 

"We'll be happy to run you home, Beth, if you don't want to go with the

boys," Grandmom said.

 

"Thanks," she replied.

 

Hank looked a bit uneasy and asked, "Beth, are you sure? I mean I can take

you home ... I mean I am supposed to take you home...."

 

"Hank, you're going to see about someone who can't take care of himself, I

can. I'm happy you're going," Beth said, gave Hank a kiss on the cheek and

went with the grandparents.

 

The nurse on the floor knew us from our earlier visits. When we walked in

she said, "Good to see you three. Your John Doe, by the way, is Jonathan."

 

"Whoa," Hank said. "Jonathan? Is that his name?"

 

"Yes, he finally told the doctor he was Jonathan, not John Doe--Jonathan

Henderson and he does, by the way, go to Coldsprings High School. He's a

freshman."

 

When we asked how he was doing, the nurse said, "I guess I'm talking out of

school, but since you three seem like his brothers--if he has any they

haven't showed up, none of his family has. Anyway, Jonathan is definitely

out of the woods so far as his physical problems are concerned. Physically

he is making very good progress. He could probably be discharged soon so

far as that is concerned, but emotionally ... that is definitely another

question altogether. Emotionally I think he's getting worse all the time. He's

still on suicide watch. No-one can seem to get through to him."

 

"Children's Protective Services had an agent up here several times and he

refused to talk with them. Same with the sheriff's department. I don't know

where his parents are. You would think they would have reported him

missing long ago. Other than official visitors, you three are the only visitors

the poor kid has had. Anyway, he's definitely in an extremely fragile mental

state."

 

"Since you three are near his age, maybe you can get through to him. I hope

so. If there's no turn around emotionally, his being better physically will

make little difference. We've all tried pleading and begging but he just

dismisses us."

 

When we entered Jonathan's room, he was lying on his side, his back to the

door. Jason walked around his bed until he was facing Jonathan.

 

"What are you doing here?" Jonathan asked with a sneer.

 

"I came by to see if I could get in a pissed-off mood and hate the world,"

Jason responded quickly."

 

Hank and I were out of Jonathan's field of view, and both our mouths

dropped open at Jason's response.

 

"I got up this morning after not sleeping worth a fuck, the weather was

sunny and warm, but I have to be inside most of the day doing school work

for tomorrow. I'll have to go to school and learn shit I probably will never

use. All my family is either in jail, street walking or dead. Life sucks."

 

"I've been given a shitty deal, but then I am alive and I think that's pretty

great. Then I looked at all that again and decided life really is shitty. It sucks

and I shouldn't be glad I am alive, but I am. Then I realized that I could get a

sure cure for that by coming here where a snot-nose little shit thinks he has

a monopoly on being miserable and hating the world. I was sure he'd give

me help in feeling sorry for myself. How about it? You think my life is rotten

enough for you to help me hate being alive?"

 

Hank and I stayed out of sight, staring open-mouthed at each other as Jason

carried on.

 

"Well, are you going to let me in on your life-hating game or not?" Jason

continued. "I mean, what do you have to lose if I hate life too? Don't you

think I have reason to be pissed off at life? My old man is in prison. My old

lady is out whoring somewhere. The only family I had was a drunk grandma

and she burned to death when the only place I had to live burned. Don't you

think I have enough to get me into your life-hating club? Huh? Come on,

don't be such a jerk, thinking you're the only one who has reason to hate

the world. Hell, I bet half the people in this hospital are pissed off at how

life's treating them. Maybe we should organize a protest against life. You

and I could lead it. What about it?"

 

"Will you please just shut up!!" Jonathan shouted. "Just shut the fuck up!

Your family is in prison, off somewhere or dead, tough shit! Mine is very

much alive, but see this?" Jonathan reached behind himself and ripped the

dressing off his back. He had half turned, still facing Jason and had not seen

Hank or me. His whole body was shaking from his sobs as he threw the

dressing at Jason.

 

"Oh, shit," Jason said as he reached out toward the kid. He pulled Jonathan

to himself and stroked his hair. Jonathan's back was healing, but the cuts on

it told the story. From his neck to his buttocks his back was striped with

cuts and bruises, obviously made by a belt. Several large bruises surrounded

clear imprints of what must have been a large belt buckle.

 

"Oh, shit, Jonathan," Jason repeated. He continued stroking Jonathan's hair

as the young man buried his face in Jason's shoulder. "Tell me about it."

 

Jonathan had not yet seen Hank and me. Before he did, Jason caught my eye

and motioned to let us know Hank and I should go. We left, closing the door

behind us.

 

We went to the nurse's station where I told the charge nurse what Jason had

done.

 

"Jason took a big risk," she said. "As fragile as Jonathan is emotionally, he

might have pushed him over the edge."

 

"Well, he's on suicide watch, anyway," Hank said, "and nothing else seemed

to be getting to him. Maybe shock therapy will work."

 

"When we left he was clinging to Jason, crying his eyes out. I think he might

very well spill everything, but we may be here awhile."

 

"If he can get anything out of the kid it will be a help. Make yourselves

comfortable. Want a coke?" When we nodded, she took two cokes from a

fridge near the nurse's station and handed them to us.

 

"By the way," I said, "Jonathan ripped the dressing from his back."

 

She said it was ok since the air would do it good. That was about the sum

total of our conversation about Jonathan since none of us knew much about

him.

 

In response to her questions, we told the nurse what we were doing in

school, where we worked, how Hank and I were on a swim team, stuff like

that.

 

When Jason joined us half an hour later he said, "Jonathan didn't tell me

much, but I think maybe he's thinking in more positive terms. He had a

good cry, I think a healthy one, and promised he'd try to get better instead

of fighting you all every step of the way. We'll be back tomorrow after

school."

 

"Thanks for any help you can give in getting the kid to think life might be

worth living," the nurse said.

 

When we got in the Jeep, Jason said, "Guys, I didn't mean to push you out

back there, but Jonathan looked like he might trust me, and since he didn't

know you two were in the room, I thought it best to make sure it stayed that

way. Right now all I can tell you--all I know--is that his family has disowned

him and his father was the one who beat the shit out of him and left him to

die."

 

"The bastard ought to be hanged," Hank said. "I don't care what Jonathan

did, no-one has the right to treat another human being--or animal--like

that."

 

We agreed and wondered why he had not been locked up already.

 

After our visit to the hospital, we took Hank home. "I can hardly believe this

weather," Jason said as we turned into our drive. Even though it was the last

half of November, the day was bright, sunny and very warm, the snow

forgotten. "Let's take advantage of this great day and head for the woods,"

Jason suggested.

 

We didn't see our grandparents as we walked into the house and headed

upstairs. We went to our rooms and changed out of our Sunday-go-to-

meeting clothes and went downstairs. As we stepped out the kitchen door,

we met the grandparents who had been looking over Granddad's garden.

"Can you believe this weather?" he asked. "Snow Friday and today like

spring. You two off to the woods?" We told him we were.

 

When we reached our rock I decided, I guess, to prove how macho I was. I

reached up, grabbed a bush to swing myself up and around to get on the

rock. As I started my swing, the bush pulled out of the ground and I fell

backward, head first. Fortunately, my foot caught in a crevice, stopping my

fall.

 

I was hanging bottom side up, held only by my foot. I could see myself lying

several yards down the side of the mountain with heaven only knows what

broken if my foot pulled free. At the same time, my foot was not

appreciating being caught.

 

Jason grabbed me by my free leg. "Take it easy, Doug," he said. "See if you

can work yourself free." When I was free, Jason started lowering me until I

reached an outcrop. As soon as I was safe, he joined me. I was still shaking

as he looked into my eyes and said, "Doug, you're safe. I've got you." His

lips then touched mine gently, lovingly.

 

I guess it was a combination of my feelings of love for this man and my

fright which caused me to return his kiss passionately, crushing my lips

against his. His lips parted and my tongue invaded his mouth, exploring it,

tasting Jason. Our legs were intertwined, our hips pressed together. I felt his

hardness against mine as his hands moved down my body, cupping my ass

cheeks, pulling my hips into his. He broke our kiss, looked into my eyes and

I melted.

 

Jason and I climbed back up the mountainside, he still holding my hand

tightly. In spite of my foot having been caught, I was none the worse for

wear. My shoe had protected my foot from anything more serious than a

bruise.

 

When we were both safely on the rock shelf, Jason flopped down on a mossy

patch, rolled on his back, raised his arms and said, "Come to me, you sexy

man." I lay down in Jason's arms, got lost in his black, black eyes, then

leaned forward to kiss his lips, his neck, his eyes.

 

My fingers trembled as I unbuttoned his shirt and when it was open, I

started kissing his chest, paying particular attention to his dark, round

nipples. I couldn't resist licking one and, when I did, Jason started groaning.

"You're making me sooo hot," he said, placing his hands beside my face and

pulling my lips to his. Breaking the kiss, he said, "You are one hot man," and

kissed me again.

 

"How can I stay cool when a good-looking, black-eyed man says he loves

me?"

 

"I don't know about staying cool but you are right, well maybe not good-

looking, but this black-eyed man loves you. He loves you enough to eat

you." With those words, Jason sucked my lower lip into his mouth and bit it

very gently. As he did, he slid a hand under my shirt, down my back and

started under my belt.

 

I realized Jason's free hand was trying to reach my belt buckle so I raised up

and he opened my belt and unzipped my fly. His hands then slid down my

back again, inside my briefs, while all the time his mouth was against mine

and he was breathing through my mouth. I could feel the wetness growing in

my briefs, especially when I began grinding my hips against his.

 

Jason held my hips to his, his strong hands holding me to himself, as he

slowly rolled on his side, his lips not releasing mine for a second.

 

When we were lying side-by-side, Jason slowly moved a hand from my back

to my front where it took hold of my hardness. As Jason grasped, I gasped,

sucking his breath into my lungs. He removed his lips from mine, looking

into my eyes as he pushed my pants and briefs down, exposing my

manhood.

 

He continued looking into my eyes as he slowly stroked me. It was only

minutes before I exploded, covering his hand and myself with hot cum. I

blacked out momentarily, lost in the power of my climax and Jason's love.

 

When I regained consciousness, I was looking into the kindest, most loving

black eyes it is possible to imagine, eyes which were bright, lit by Jason's

smile--a smile which had melted me from the first time I saw it.

 

As he pulled my lips to his, I reached out and quickly freed his manhood

which was hard, hot and streaming precum. Our kiss continued and my

hand started moving up and down in long, slow strokes.

 

His tongue invaded my mouth then, as I continued to stroke him, his mouth

found the crook where my neck joined my shoulder. As I felt his cock surge,

shooting his man's seed over my hand and over himself, his teeth, which

had been teasing my shoulder, bit hard. As his eruption continued, he bit

and sucked that spot. Finally he relaxed as his climax, which had taken

control of his body, released him.

 

Satiated, we lay in the sun, wrapped in each other's arms, our legs entwined.

But it was November after all and, while the day had been sunny and warm,

it was not summer. Before long, what had been hot man's juice became a

clammy, cold mess. Jason laughed as he said, "You may be hot, lover, but

your cum is now cold!"

 

When I had gone to the rock by myself I always took tissues, but when Jason

and I started going I forgot. We both slipped off our pants and used our

briefs to wipe ourselves as clean as we could. Having done that, we stuffed

our briefs in our pockets. Then we lay in each other's arms, exchanging soft,

angel kisses until finally, in spite of our love and hormones, we grew

uncomfortably cold.

 

As we walked back to the house, holding hands, we kept exchanging kisses

until we were ready to leave the shelter of the trees. No more kisses after we

started walking along a cow path beside the pasture fence, but we still held

hands which we had done from the first time we had gone to our rock.

 

When we walked in the kitchen door, swinging our hands, Grandmom said

to Granddad, "Seems to me we have two happy boys on our hands," and

smiled at us.

 

"Two happy men you mean, don't you Grandmom?" Jason asked as he

walked over and, towering over her, put his arms around her and kissed her

on the cheek. "And what man wouldn't be happy to have a good-looking

woman like you looking after him? Right, Granddad?"

 

"You couldn't be righter, Son," Granddad replied. "You couldn't be righter."

 

I watched the interchange between Jason and my grandparents and felt

really good that he was accepted as a grandson and I knew it made him

happy to be a part of the family. But I did worry about the future when my

grandparents discovered their grandsons, natural and adopted, were lovers-

-and there was no doubt in my mind that we were and would be.

 

"Well, you may be looking after Jason, Grandmom, but it's time he looked

after a cow. Milking time, Jason," I said.

 

We put down new straw in the cows' stalls, fed them and milked. As we

walked back to the house, each carrying a milk bucket, we once again held

hands. I wondered how we got started doing that and why nothing had been

said about it, but I loved the feel of Jason's strong hand in mine.

 

We handed the milk to Grandmom and as we did, Jason said, "By the way, I

thought you'd have a banged-up grandson this afternoon." Then he told

them about my fall.

 

"You two need to be careful. I know you love the woods but they can be

dangerous if you are careless. I suspect the fall was enough to give you a

good scare. Bet you need to wash up and maybe change your drawers,"

Granddad laughed.

 

"Fall or no fall, you two need to get washed up and come on down to

supper," Grandmom said. "I'm heating some soup and there's stuff for

sandwiches when you're ready."

 

When we got upstairs I said, "Babe, I think we need a shower because of the

dangerous encounter I had with a snake this afternoon." When Jason looked

puzzled I smiled and said, "You know, the encounter I had with the snake

from the Garden of Eden--the snake between your legs."

 

"I hope we got cleaned up enough before we came home so we didn't smell

like rutting males. I thought about that after I hugged Grandmom," Jason

responded in a serious tone.

 

"Well, I guess we probably do smell like rutting males because that's what I

am," I said as I reached out and pinched Jason's nice butt. When I did, he

picked me up, tossed me over his shoulder and carried me to the bathroom.

 

He still had me over his shoulder as he turned on the shower and adjusted

the water temperature. When he had it right, he very unceremoniously

dumped me in the shower, fully dressed.

 

"Jason, I will get you, I promise," I said as I stood up in the shower, taking

off my now very wet clothes.

 

I was so busy getting undressed I didn't notice that Jason was undressing

until he hopped into the shower, grabbed me and pulled my body to his.

"Jason, I don't think you want to start something we can't finish," I said as I

pushed him away.

 

"Yeah, you had your way with me and now you push me away. Some

romance this turned out to be!" He stuck his lower lip out and I couldn't

resist. I quickly sucked it into my mouth and bit it gently. Releasing his lip, I

kissed him and then we soaped each other well, rinsed off and he started

drying me. "Babe, you need to be sure and wear a shirt that covers your

shoulder. Some wanton person has given you a hickey," he said as he dried

my body.

 

We finally managed to get our hormones under control enough to get

dressed and go downstairs to eat.

 

As soon as we were seated and had started eating, Granddad asked, "Learn

any more about the kid you picked up out of the ditch?"

 

"Grandmom, had you heard Jason talking to him this afternoon, you'd have

washed out his mouth with soap," I laughed.

 

"I didn't see any reason to beat about the bush with him," Jason said. "I

knew the nurses and doctors has begged and pleaded with him to get him

out of feeling sorry for himself, hating himself, hating the world, so what

did I have to lose with a new approach? I had felt sorry for myself long

enough to know it helps nothing and, at the same time, if he thought life

had mistreated him, I figured I could match him misery for misery."

 

"Well, we do know his name now and that he has been disowned by his

family and beaten by his father. I hope we can find out more next week and

that something can be done about his situation--whatever that turns out to

be."

 

We sat and talked with our grandparents a while longer. I liked that about

Sunday suppers: we always sat and talked, sometimes about serious stuff,

sometimes about nothing important, but it was a good time.

 

Granddad asked about my fall again, we talked about the old lady's "cat

house" that we were cleaning, just stuff. Finally I said, "I hate to bring a good

time to an end, but I have homework I need to do."

 

"Same here," Jason said.

 

We cleared our places and as we did, Grandmom said, "Go ahead and get on

the school work. Granddad and I will clean up from supper." Jason and I

both thanked her because cleaning up after meals was our job.

 

We had a pretty large table in our den and we usually studied together at it--

unless, as lately, we couldn't keep our minds on the books for having them

on each other. I think it helped both of us to study together because if one

got stuck on something the other could usually help him out.

 

I could usually help Jason with his algebra and I was surprised to find he was

excellent at reading my essays and not only finding mistakes but also

helping make them better. He had a real way with words.

 

He especially got on my butt when I wrote something he thought pompous

or pretentious. My English teacher at St. Stephen's was always crying, "More

details! More colorful words! More description."

 

Jason took a look at one of the first essays I had done and said, "This reads

like it was written for a middle school teacher who is a frustrated greeting

card writer. Writing should be clean and mean. Get rid of all the useless

words." Strangely enough, with his help I did, and discovered descriptions

and details came alive with fewer words.

 

We had gone upstairs about 9:00 and been working for over an hour when

Jason stood up, stretched and said, "Time for a break."

 

"You finished?" I asked.

 

"Yeah. You?"

 

"Need ten or fifteen more minutes. I need to finish this last calculus

problem."

 

"As always," Jason said. "See you downstairs."

 

When I finished, I went down and we had a snack with the grandparents.

Granddad told us he would like for us to keep next Saturday clear if we

could. "We need to cut some firewood to replace what we have been

burning in the den."

 

The fire in the den was more for looks than heat, but we all liked it when

the weather outside was nasty because it gave the room a cozy feeling.

 

"No problem if Jake needs you to work, just the first Saturday you are free

we need to get wood cut so it will be dry next year."

 

We watched the news at 11:00 and saw the weather was returning to the

usual cold, damp November routine. "Sure glad we took advantage of today,

even if I almost banged up my gorgeous self."

 

"But you were rescued at great peril to your brother," Granddad laughed.

 

"You'll have to forgive him, Granddad," Jason said, "Doug can be a little self-

centered if you don't watch him."

 

I picked up a cushion from the sofa and tossed it at Jason as Granddad said,

"I have noticed that now and again." When he did, Grandmom tossed at

pillow at him.

 

"Pillow fight," Jason shouted as he grabbed a pillow I was holding, pushed

me down on the sofa with it and started tickling me.

 

"No fair," I said when I could get my breath. "No fair, Granddad, Jason's not

ticklish."

 

"You are appealing to the wrong one," Grandmom said. "Your granddad's

not ticklish."

 

Jason stopped tickling me, reached down and helped me to my feet as I had

rolled off the sofa into the floor trying to get away from him.

 

"Guess that's enough foolishness for tonight," Jason said. "Time for me to

get to bed.

 

When we got upstairs, I gathered my books and papers and put them in my

backpack as Jason had done earlier with his. While I was doing that, Jason

walked up behind me, bent over and nibbled on my ear. I turned to face him

and when I did he kissed me and said, "Damn! I never knew what I was

missing. I like this kissing business!"

 

"Good thing because I expect to be doing a lot of it with you."

 

"You know when I had you down tickling you? I caught myself just before I

kissed you. Man, that would have torn it!"

 

"I don't know and that's what's so bad: we don't know how our

grandparents will react." I put my backpack on the table, stretched and said,

"I'm done for the night. How about you?" as I sat down on the couch.

 

Jason took a chair from the table, turned it around and sat, the chair back

between his legs, facing me. "With school work, yes, but I'm not finished for

the night. We gotta talk."

 

"Man, you are getting to be all talk and no action again," I grinned.

 

"Bet you didn't think that this afternoon. Seriously, Doug, we need to decide

who we are going to tell about us and when and how. I was thinking as I

came upstairs I really don't want to be down the hall in a big bed by myself.

Then as I walked out of the den just now, Granddad and Grandmom both

said, 'Goodnight, Jason, sleep well.' We can't just go our merry way doing as

we please, as much as I would like to. We, both of us, have an obligation to

our grandparents. I'd like to think they would love us, and accept us and

our love without question, but I don't know. And even if they do--

eventually--learning their grandsons are gay and lovers is going to be a

shock. You know it is."

 

I knew what Jason said was right. "As much as I wish we could do as we

please, you are right, Jason. I don't know what the answer is. Maybe time

will tell but, right now, I guess we need to be careful although Grandmom

and Granddad seldom come upstairs...."

 

"Except to get your lazy, but luscious, ass out of bed...."

 

"They seldom come upstairs," I said again, ignoring Jason's remark, "so I

think we can keep our secret and still get in some love-making--restrained,

maybe--if we are careful and if you can get hot and bothered without

groaning out loud."

 

"And if you can stop shouting when you cum," he laughed.

 

Jason had moved his chair closer to the couch and was playing with my

hand while we talked. Finally he raised my hand, opened it and kissed the

palm. Looking deep into my eyes he said, "It has been a great day, hasn't it?"

 

"Yeah," I replied as I turned my hand over so I could kiss the back of his. "It

has been a great day."

 

We stood, embraced, kissed each other goodnight and, as much as we

wished it were otherwise, went to our own beds.

 

Monday morning dawned dull, wet, rainy, messy. Granddad seldom had to

come upstairs to get us out of bed. Actually, if it had all depended on me he

probably would have, but Jason was generally awake before him and called

me. This morning was different. Jason didn't wake up and I guess didn't

hear Granddad call. Neither did I and was startled when there was a quiet

knock on my door and Granddad said, "Douglas, time to get up."

 

I crawled out of bed as I heard Granddad tap on Jason's door. As I opened

the door to my bedroom, Granddad was at the head of the stairs. "Thanks

for calling me, Granddad," I said. "I guess I'll need to start setting the clock

again." Until Jason moved in I had depended on the annoying alarm clock to

get me up, but after he moved in I depended on him.

 

I staggered out of my room and down the hall to the bathroom. Jason was

just coming out of his room, looking worse for the wear. "Bad night?" I

asked after I had kissed him good morning.

 

"Very bad night. I had some terrible dreams about Jonathan. He was being

chased by a man on horseback and as he ran, the man kept cutting his back

with a whip. I finally got myself awake from that nightmare and then

couldn't go back to sleep thinking about him."

 

"When I finally did get back to sleep, I had the same nightmare except this

time it was you being chased. I lay awake for ages and when I finally did

drop off to sleep, I guess I just died to the world."

 

We got ready for school and went down to breakfast. When Granddad saw

Jason he said, "No wonder you didn't wake up this morning. You look half-

dead from lack of sleep."

 

"You've got that right," Jason replied. "I had terrible nightmares last night."

 

Hank had called Sunday night and suggested we leave for school early and

check on Jonathan. Since we had kinda overslept, we were still getting

ourselves together when he arrived.

 

The new hospital, like the high school, had been built closer to Coldsprings

than Clarksville, I guess because the eastern end of the county tended to go

into Asheville for any medical problems. Nonetheless, it was about ten miles

from our place so we had at least a thirty-minute drive to get to the hospital

and back to the school.

 

We stopped at the nurse's station and asked about Jonathan.

 

"He's been upgraded to satisfactory status, with a caveat about his

mental/emotional status. He has at least stopped saying he should have

been left in the snow, but he's definitely depressed, crying a lot, won't talk

about what's bothering him. Seems you got through to him yesterday and

for that we're thankful. Maybe you can spend more time with him today.

 

"We're on a pretty tight schedule but we'll look in on him now and get by

after school on our way to our jobs in Clarksville," Hank said.

 

Jonathan was lying on his stomach, his back uncovered. It made me sick at

my stomach just to see it again. "How you doing, Bud?" Jason said as he

walked around the bed and took Jonathan's hand. When Jonathan didn't

answer, he continued. "Jonathan, do you remember my two best buds, my

brother Douglas and the blond Indian over there is Hank. So how's it

going?"

 

"Douglas, Hank, nice to meet you. But, Jason, you asked if I remembered

them and I don't."

 

"When we introduced ourselves you were floating on some major drugs,"

Hank said as he shook Jonathan's hand.

 

"Guess you got that right," Jonathan said as he shook my hand. "How am I

doing? Better. I don't hurt very much. But I'm worried. I was told I was doing

good physically, good enough to have some surgery. When that's over, I can

go home...." Large tears formed in the young man's eyes and started rolling

down his face.

 

Jason was holding his hand and when Jonathan started crying, he rubbed

the back of his hand and said, "What's wrong, Jonathan. What's really

wrong?"

 

"Jason, I have no place to go and I can't stay here much longer. I can't go

back...."

 

"No-one would expect you to go back!" Hank said with some force. "No-one

would let you go back wherever you were after what happened to you."

 

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Jonathan said as silent tears continued

to roll down his face.

 

"Jonathan, hang in there. Take care of getting ready to leave and don't

worry about where you're going. Let us worry about that."

 

"Thanks, but I guess you'll change your mind when you learn about me."

 

"Don't think so, but we gotta rush now. See you after school on our way to

work. Don't worry. You've got three buds who will look out for you."

 

Jason had been holding Jonathan's hand. When he turned it loose, Hank and

I shook hands with Jonathan again and we all took our leave.

 

When we reached the Jeep, Hank said, "I guess we have taken on a major

project."

 

"You up to it?" I asked.

 

"Damn right!" Hank replied. "Somebody's got to help that kid. I thought I

would puke every time I looked at his back. Yeah, we'd got ourselves a

project."

 

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