We started the weekend by taking the boys swimming again.One thing that mildly surprised us was that Ryan didn't seem to be quite as concerned in the locker room when others were in there with us.I was following him as he walked to the shower with his towel draped over his shoulder, when another man entered the locker room.Ryan hesitated momentarily, but then continued on and walked past the man without trying to cover up or making a scene.I wasn't sure if he did this because he knew I was behind him, but he was definitely making progress.It might have been a completely different situation if we hadn't been there too, but I was still proud of him and told him so later.
After lunch, Dad told the boys he wanted to take them down to the park so he could hit grounders and fly balls to them.The boys thought it was a great idea and eagerly grabbed the things they would need before going outside and hopping in Dad's car.Pop went with them, because he felt he could help out too, and I was glad he was also getting involved.
While they were gone, Brandon and I decided to run a few errands.Benny's birthday was a week from Thursday, but we'd be having his party the following Saturday.We ran out to pick up the things we would need, as well as buying his gifts.This would be his first birthday with us, and possibly the first one he'd ever actually celebrated, so we wanted to make it very special.
The boys were really excited when they returned, and eagerly told us about what they'd done.
"Grandpa Josh hit grounders and fly balls to us so we could practice," Ryan advised us, "and then we would throw the ball to Grandpa Jake.I didn't do very good at first, but I'm getting better."
"He is," Dad confirmed."In fact, he's improving much faster than I expected."Ryan beamed after Dad said this.
"Me and Joshie were doin' good too," Benny chimed in."It was a lot of fun."
"Yeah, Benny's gettin' better too," Joshie added.
"We're glad you're all enjoying this and improving at the same time," I offered.
"And did you thank Grandpa Josh and Grandpa Jake for helping you?" Brandon followed.
"Yeah, we did," they all chorused back, while Dad and Pop were nodding in confirmation.
Since we'd spent the morning and afternoon entertaining the boys, we left them to their own resources for the rest of the day.I saw they were playing video games when I went to call them to dinner, and after we ate they went to watch TV, so we joined them.Afterward, we sent them up to shower, and then tucked them in and said goodnight.
After church on Sunday, we went out for brunch again.When we got home, Dad told the boys to change so he could take them to the park to practice some more.They liked that idea and happily did as he asked.
As soon as they left, Noah wanted to know if he could call Adam and see if he wanted to hang out for awhile.We said that would be fine, and since Pop went with Dad and the boys, it allowed the rest of us to work on the chores we'd been doing while Dad had been in Georgia.We felt it was the least we could do to help out, since Dad was spending a great deal of his time working with the boys, instead of doing these things.
When they returned home later, the boys were eager to tell us about what they'd done again, especially Ryan."I think I'm gonna sign up for baseball.Grandpa Josh said I might not be the best player on the team, but I would do ok, and I'd get better by practicing with the team.And Owen says he's gonna sign up too."
"So you two are still friends?"
"Yeah, I like him a lot, so maybe we can be on a team together too."
"We're glad to hear you have a friend, but you may not end up on the same team.If not, it would allow you to make even more friends, and you should have fun playing baseball either way," I told him, as I noticed Dad grinning behind him.
After dinner, Brandon and I spent the rest of the night with the boys watching a movie.They were still up when we went to bed, since they were on vacation, but we had to work in the morning.
On Monday and Tuesday, the boys spent quite a bit of time with Dad and went to the park both before and after lunch.On Wednesday it rained, so they stayed home.When Brandon and I returned from work that evening, Dad met us at the door.
"I think you'd better go in and spend some time with Benny.There was an incident earlier and he's kind of shaken up about what happened."
"Did he get hurt?" Brandon immediately wanted to know.
"Not physically, but it was very emotional for him."
"Why?What happened?" I followed.
"Since it was raining out, the boys were doing things in the house.They got tired of playing video games after a while and decided to play Hide and Seek instead.This is a big place, so there are plenty of places to hide, so each game was lasting a pretty long time.Joshie was it at the time and counted to one hundred in the family room, while Benny and Ryan went to hide.That's when the problem arose."
"What do you mean?" Brandon interrupted.
"Joshie found Ryan first, but they were having trouble finding Benny.Even though Joshie had looked in the rec room at one point, he didn't find Benny there, although that's where he was hiding."
"Then why didn't he find him?"
"Because Benny had chosen a very unusual spot to hide.He'd crawled into the trunk where we keep the sports gear, and no one thought to look there, even after Joshie asked Ryan to help him find Benny."
"So what was the problem?"
"It happened when Benny couldn't get out of the trunk after he heard Joshie and Ryan calling for him.The latch accidentally fastened after Benny had crawled inside, so he couldn't get out again.He said he was yelling at them and banging on the inside of the trunk, but no one heard him."
"Why not?" Brandon wondered.
"It was because Dion was playing one of the music channels on the TV in the living room and had turned the volume up so he could hear it while he was doing other things.I guess that drowned out the noise Benny was making, since it was also muffled by the trunk."
"So how did they find him?"
"Joshie went into the rec room again later and finally heard him, but he couldn't open the trunk either, so he came to get me.I used a screwdriver to get Benny out, but he was pretty shaken up by the experience.I plan on doing something to the latch so that won't ever happen again."
"Where did you get that old trunk from?" Brandon wanted to know.
"It was something my wife picked up at a garage sale when our kids were little, and we used it as their toy box.Later, she stored other things in it, but after she died and the kids left home it sat empty for a very long time.When I started taking you boys in later, I decided to use it so we could keep all the sports gear in one place."
"So the latch has never done that before?"
"No, and I'm not sure why it happened this time, but it trapped Benny inside for quite awhile.He's in the family room at the moment, so maybe you should go in there and talk to him about what happened.He was really upset afterward and I've stayed with him until I saw you two pull in the driveway."
"So he's in there alone now?"
"No, Joshie and Ryan are with him.There was no way I was going to leave him alone."
"Ok.We'll go talk to him about it," I agreed, as Brandon and I went into the family room.
Benny was sitting on the sofa, with Joshie on one side and Ryan on the other, and he had the saddest expression on his face that I'd ever seen before.
"Joshie and Ryan, why don't you let us sit with Benny for awhile," I stated as we approached.
"You mean we can't stay?" Joshie groaned, looking slightly upset with us.
"We just want some time to talk to Benny alone first, and then you can come back when we're done.Please don't argue with us and do this for Benny, since I think it might help him."
Joshie didn't look happy, but he left with Ryan and went into the other room.As soon as they disappeared, I looked at Benny and spoke."I heard you had a problem today."
"Yeah, we was playin' Hide and Seek and I got locked in the trunk in the rec room."
"Did you get scared?" Brandon asked.
"Yeah, it was worse than when my mom used to lock me in the cage.It was really dark, cuz there weren't any holes in the side like there were in the cage, and it didn't have a wire door either."
"So you thought it was even worse than the cage?"
"Way worse, and nobody heard me when I hollered and banged on it either."
"So are you all right now?"
"I'm not sure.When I was in there all I could think of was when my mom used to lock me in the cage, but this was different.When I was in the cage I could always see other things, and when the cage was outside I could feel the air blowin' on me too, but I couldn't do none of that when I was in the trunk.It was really scary and I thought I was gonna die, cuz no one could hear me or knowed where I was."
"Yes, that must have been really scary," Brandon agreed."So how are you doing now?"
"Ok, I guess, but I still keep thinking about being in there.It was really awful."
"I'm sure it was, but it's over now and Grandpa Josh is going to fix the latch so that will never happen again."
"I know it won't, cuz I'm never goin' in there again," Benny added, as Brandon and I gave him a hug and then kissed him on the head.
Brandon stayed with Benny while I went to tell Joshie and Ryan that they could return to the family room.Brandon and I then stayed with all of them for awhile longer before we went to change.We asked Joshie and Ryan to stay with Benny while we were gone, but they were obviously going to do it even before we asked.
After dinner, Brandon and I spent the rest of the night with the boys, because we didn't want to leave Benny alone just yet.He seemed to be ok as he watched TV with us, and then we tucked Joshie in bed with him later, since we thought it would be best if he wasn't alone.That seemed to work until about 3:00 a.m., when Joshie came bursting into our bedroom.
"Benny had a bad dream and is crying now," he shouted, waking us up.Brandon and I jumped out of bed and raced over to Benny's room.He was sobbing when we got there.
"What's wrong?" I asked as I lifted him up and pulled his quivering body against my chest.
"I had a really bad dream," he sobbed.
"Would you tell us about it?" Brandon followed, as he hugged Benny and me at the same time.
"Yeah, it was awful.I dreamed I was in the trunk again, but sometimes I was in the cage too.No one else was around and I didn't have nuttin to eat or drink, so I was gettin' hungry, thirsty, and really weak.Then I think I musta died, cuz it all went really black.That's when I woke up."
"He was screamin' and scared me really bad," Joshie added."That's when I came to get you."
"I'm glad you did that," I told Joshie, before turning to Benny."Maybe you should come to our room and sleep with us then.It might help so you won't have another bad dream."
"I hope I don't have another dream like that, cuz it was just like when I was stuck in the trunk," Benny agreed as he started to get out of bed.
"Before we do that, though, we need to take care of something else."While I'd been holding Benny and trying to quiet him down, I realized the poor kid had been so scared that he'd wet the bed."Joshie, would you go grab a wash cloth from the bathroom and wet it for me.Benny appears to have had a little accident."
I don't think Benny even realized he'd had an accident before I mentioned it, since he was still shaking and more than a little out of it.Joshie did as I'd requested, though, and while he was gone I helped Benny take off his underwear as Brandon stripped the bed.When Joshie returned, I took the washcloth and cleaned off Benny's groin, belly, butt, and thighs.As I was finishing up, Joshie handed me a towel he'd retrieved as well, so I used it to dry Benny off, and then I helped him slip on a clean pair of briefs.
I'm not even sure Benny realized what I'd just done for him, since he appeared to be in a mild state of shock, so I picked him up and prepared to leave the room.As we turned toward the door, Joshie spoke.
"Can I sleep with you too?" It was obvious that he wanted to stay with Benny as well.
"Sure.We have a king-size bed, so there should be plenty of room for all of us.We'll leave everything else where it is and take care of it in the morning."
When we got to our room, Brandon and I changed too, since we'd held Benny against us.After we finished doing that, Benny got in bed next to Brandon, since he is slightly more nurturing than I am, and Joshie slept next to me.There were no further outbursts during the rest of the night, although I woke up when I heard Benny moaning in his sleep on a couple of different occasions.He didn't wake up, though, so I didn't wake him either, and he quieted down again after a couple of minutes.
Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of rest that evening, so I wasn't quite myself when I got to work.When my staff asked what was wrong, since I must have looked awful, I merely told them that Benny had a bad dream and I didn't sleep really well after we let him in bed with us.
"Awww, you guys are such great parents," my receptionist said, with the other two chiming in their agreement.
"We just thought it would be the only way he'd be able to get back to sleep, but it didn't work out quite as well as we'd hoped."
"But it was really good that you and Brandon were there for him," my nurse added.
By the time we got home, Benny appeared to be doing better and was excited to tell us about spending time at the park working with Grandpa Josh again.He also told us about something else he did.
"After lunch, Grandpa Josh, Uncle Dion, and Uncle Trey took us to play golf!"
"They did?" Brandon followed, looking skeptical.
"It was miniature golf," Ryan clarified, "but it was still fun."
"Yeah, I never did that before, but I really liked doin' it."
"It sounds like you all had a good time and I'm sorry I missed it."
"Maybe you can go with us next time.It was really great," Benny concluded.
We were heading to our room to change, but ran into Dad and stopped to chat with him."Sounds like you had a busy day, with the park and miniature golf."
"We did.Dion and Trey had suggested we take the boys to do that at some point, so I thought today would be a good time and it might help Benny forget about yesterday."
"I'm not sure if anyone told you, but Benny had a bad nightmare last night about that," Brandon added.
"Joshie mentioned it.That's why I talked the others into doing the miniature golf this afternoon.Hopefully, he won't have another bad dream tonight."
"I hope not, because it left me pretty tired and a little out of it all day.Even my staff commented about it, so I'm planning to make appointments for both Benny and Ryan to talk to a psychologist.They both have some underlying issues to deal with, so I'm hoping it will help."
"That's a good idea, and I hope our efforts prevent him from having more bad dreams tonight."
Brandon and I spent the rest of the evening with the boys, since we didn't want to be too far away from Benny.When it came time for them to get ready for bed, I asked him a question.
"Would you like one of us to go up with you when you take your shower?"
"Nah, but can I sleep with you again?"
"Sure, I don't have a problem with that."
"Me too?" Joshie followed.
"Of course.We wouldn't want to separate our Siamese Twins," I joked.
"What's that?" Benny asked.
"That's what they used to call twins that had been born with a part of their bodies connected to each other."
"But we're not connected like that."
"Maybe your bodies aren't, but it's sure hard to separate you two."
After I said this, Benny and Joshie both smiled."Yeah, we're bestest friends and brothers," Benny agreed.
"And that's why you'll both be sleeping with us again."
Everything was fine until around 2:00 a.m., because that's when Benny began to scream and woke us all up."Help!Let me out of here!The trunk's got me.The trunk's got me."
As I looked over at him, he was tossing about as if he was trying to break free of something."Help me!The trunk's got me and I can't get out!"
Rather than waking him abruptly, I chose to pull his trembling body against mine, as I wrapped my arms around his slender frame and softly whispered in his ear."Shhh, you're alright.The trunk hasn't got you and you're not alone.Dad B and I are both here with you, so nothing will hurt you."
Gradually, Benny opened his eyes and began to sob, so it took awhile before he was able to speak.Eventually, however, he found his tongue and began to fill us in about his nightmare."It was awful.The trunk had me and I couldn't get out."
"It was just a bad dream, but you're ok now."
Benny was still shaking like a leaf and sweating profusely, but at least he hadn't wet the bed again.I think that because I had held him so quickly and reassured him after it had happened that it might have prevented him from having another accident.It might have also prevented his dream from escalating into something much worse.
"Is Benny going to be ok?" Joshie asked as he looked at Benny with deep concern etched upon his face.
"Yes, he just had another bad dream, but he's all right now."
After Benny had sufficient time to calm down again, I cuddled with him and he eventually fell asleep.I'm not sure if I ever slipped into a deep and restful sleep again, because I was so worried about Benny.It seemed as if I'd just dozed off when the alarm sounded, but I was able to reach over and turn it off before it woke either of the boys.Fortunately, Brandon and I were able to get out of bed without waking them as well.
I had managed to get enough sleep before the incident that I felt I could still go to work, so I started to get ready.After we were dressed, Brandon and I made our way down the hall and woke Dion and Trey up next, so we could ask them to join us as we ate breakfast.We told them we would explain everything when we got downstairs, so they quickly put something on and followed us.Dad was busy in the kitchen and Pop was sitting at the table eating when we arrived, so we asked Dad to join us for a minute.Once we were all seated around the dining room table, Brandon and I explained what had happened during the night.After I finished, I looked at Dion and Trey and asked them a favor.
"If you don't mind, would one of you please get in our bed with the boys until they get up, in case Benny has another episode?"
"I'll do it," Dion agreed, and then Dad spoke.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to make a suggestion. I have an idea that I believe might help."
"Sure, go right ahead and share it with us.I'm willing to do anything if it will help our son," I responded.
"I think it would be best if I got rid of that old trunk today.Hopefully by removing it from the house, it will eliminate the source of his nightmares and make Benny feel better."
"That's a great idea," Brandon confirmed."If it's not here any longer then it might remove his continuing obsession with it."
"I agree," I chimed in."Out of sight, out of mind.At least that's the way I hope it works out."
"Then it will be gone by the time you get home later."
Brandon and I talked about the situation on the way to work, especially about how we were going to approach Benny again when we got home.We talked about it in a little more detail over lunch, and then again on the way home, until we knew exactly what we were going to say to him.After checking in with Dad first to make sure the trunk was indeed gone, we pulled Benny aside and explained everything to him.
"Grandpa Josh took that old trunk and got rid of it earlier, so it won't ever be able to 'get you' again."I intentionally used that phrase, because it was what Benny had kept repeating during the night.
"Yes.It's no longer in the house, so nothing like that can ever happen again."
Benny seemed to breathe a sigh of relief and a tiny smile crept across his lips.That let us know he was satisfied with the solution Dad had come up with.Brandon and I then hugged Benny to assure him that we were always going to do everything we could to make him feel safe, and that seemed to help as well.Later that evening we noticed Benny hugging and thanking Grandpa Josh for taking the trunk away, and that seemed to make Dad's night as well.
Benny didn't have any more bad dreams after that, at least not that any of us were aware of or that he mentioned, so we took it as a good sign.Hopefully, he can put this behind him now.
The following night after work, Brandon and I talked to Dad again, before going to check on Benny.Dad explained that Benny seemed to be fine and had apparently put the incident behind him for good, and we sincerely hoped that was the case.
That night, however, Brandon and I noticed something else, although it didn't concern either Benny or Joshie.While we were with them, we noticed that Ryan and Noah seemed to be avoiding one another and constantly giving each other dirty looks, but we had no idea why.When I was finally able to get Noah alone, I asked him what was going on.
"Ryan's mad because I told him I didn't want to mess around with him any longer.I told him I was straight and only did it to help him see what it was like, but I didn't want to do it forever."
"So he's mad because you want to stop?"
"Yeah, but I was already pissed off at him too."
"Cuz he always wanted me to blow him, but he didn't want to do that for me.He would only jack me off."
"And you didn't like that?"
"No, cuz I thought he should be willing to do the same thing to me.I'm not gay, but I did that for him, but he wouldn't return the favor.He only wanted me to suck him off, and then he started asking me to do it for him a couple times a day."
"Do you want me to talk to him about this?"
"Not yet, cuz he'll be even more pissed if he knows I told yuh."
"Ok, but let me know if it gets worse, because then I'll set him down for a one-on-one.I won't tell him that you said anything, and I'll just ask him what the problem is between you two, since I noticed how you were both acting."
"Yeah, that would be good, cuz then he won't blame me."
"Ok, just let me know if the situation doesn't improve or gets any worse."
I'd originally thought the boys would enjoy being home for the week, but it seems as if that wasn't the case.Although they'd been working with Dad on their baseball skills and had gone miniature golfing, Benny had a rough experience and now Ryan and Noah were mad at each other.I hope this wasn't a preview of what the summer was going to be like.
After dinner, Brandon and I went to spend time with the boys in the family room, and I noticed Noah didn't come in to join us.When I went to use the toilet later, I saw Noah was watching the TV in the living room instead.
"Are you watching something special?" I asked, to see how he reacted.
"Nah, I just didn't want to be around Ryan.He's been trying all day to get me to do something with him again and I didn't want him staring at me all night with that look he's been giving me."
"So he's been teasing you?"
"Only at first, but now he makes this pouty face, and his eyes let me know he wants me to give in.I just thought it would be better if we weren't together tonight."
"And you're sure that you don't want me to talk to him?"
"Not yet.If he's still doin' this by Sunday you can, cuz I don't want to put up with that crap when we go back to school.It's almost the end of the year and I'll be really busy, so I don't want to be distracted by him."
"Ok, and I'll check with you again on Sunday.If you want, I will talk to Ryan about it when I tuck him in Sunday night."
"Yeah, ok.That will work."
When we went to bed that evening, I filled Brandon in about what was going on too.We'd talked about it briefly the previous evening, because he'd noticed the looks Ryan and Noah had been giving each other too.Now, we were just curious about how it was going to work out.