Tuesday night, I was caught in a bit of a quandary.Benny and Joshie had a game, but I wanted to go to Ryan's practice, in case those same boys showed up again.That's when Pop stepped in and solved my dilemma.
"I'll go with Ryan to his practice, because you should go to Benny's game.He needs your moral support, and I can handle things with the boys that gave Ryan crap.Besides, Noah and Adam have said they want to go to Ryan's practice too, so I'll have them to help out."
"Yes, I suppose the three of you can handle things, because we're not even sure those boys will show up again.Ok, I'll go to the game.Just don't let Noah get carried away or do something silly if those boys show up."
"Don't worry.I won't."
Pop used his car to drive Ryan, Noah, and Adam, so the rest of us went to the game.As I was watching the boys play, I couldn't help but wonder what was happening at the other field.I hoped I was wrong, but I had a feeling those boys were going to show up again.
Benny and Joshie played very well and their team won.We congratulated them when they came over to us after it ended, and then I was in a hurry to get home.I wanted to find out if anything had happened at Ryan's practice, but they weren't there when we reached the house.They arrived less than a minute later, though, and we went inside together.
"How did things go?Did you have any problems?" I asked, anxiously awaiting their reply.
"Don't worry.Those guys won't be bothering Ryan again," Noah answered, looking smug.
"What makes you say that?"
"Me and my friends confronted them."
"Yeah, Adam had called some of our other friends and asked them to meet us at Ryan's practice.When we saw those guys walking toward the field that Ryan's team was using, we went out and confronted them."
"Yeah, you should have seen Noah," Adam added."He scared the crap out of them."
"How did he do that?" I asked, wondering if he'd heeded my advice.
"When we walked up to them, I just told the assholes that I was Ryan's brother and we had the same Dads.I told them if they had any problem with our family then they should tell me face-to-face, or just shut the hell up," Noah explained.
"And none of them said a word," Adam followed.
"I also told them they were really brave with all of them picking on one boy who was smaller than they were.Then, I said if they pulled that shit again they'd answer to me and my friends," Noah replied."I said if we weren't there at the time, we'd hunt them down and pound their big mouths and thick skulls into the dirt.I also reminded them that they'd be going to the same school with us this year, so they wouldn't be hard to find if they tried pulling anything else."
"Yeah, they weren't so brave after that, cuz they all turned around and left in a hurry," Adam said before laughing.
"I only saw what was happening from a distance," Pop chimed in, "but seeing Noah had so many friends with him, I wasn't too worried."
"But I don't think that group will be bugging any of us again," Noah confirmed."Oh, and Adam's going to spend the night."
"I had a feeling he was, since he was here, so make yourself at home, Adam.And thanks for helping us with those guys."
"No problem.I had fun doing it.Noah can be a real badass when someone pisses him off, and he scared those boys real bad without even touching them."Adam laughed again.
"I'm just glad you two are friends.By the way, we want to have you and your parents over for a cookout before the summer's over."
"That sounds nice.I just hope my mom will come."
"You can tell her it will just be family, and possibly Ryan and Elliot will each ask a friend and his parents to come too, but they're all really nice and no one will say anything about her condition or make fun of her."
"So you know about her problem?"
"Yes, Noah explained it to me when I mentioned I wanted to do this.He only shared that information so we'd understand why she might be reluctant to accept."
"Yeah, it's ok, and I hope she agrees to come."
"And thanks for doin' that for me tonight, Noah," Ryan said.I just realized he'd been there the entire time, listening to what was being said.
"You're welcome, little bro.Don't worry, cuz me and my friends will take care of things for you."
"Yeah, I know."
I sent the ballplayers upstairs to get cleaned up, while Noah and Adam headed out to the rec room, and the rest of us grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to chat.When Noah came out to the kitchen to grab a drink for Adam and himself, I spoke with him briefly.
"Since Adam's here, we won't stop by to say goodnight later."
"He wouldn't mind, but you can do it either way."
"Are you sure he wouldn't mind?"
"Yeah, he likes how close our family is, so I think he'd like it if you stopped in later to say goodnight to both of us."
"Ok, but we'll knock first, so we don't see anything we're not supposed to."
"K, but you really don't have to.I'm sure Adam wouldn't mind.I have a feeling he'll be swimming naked with us at some point, so you'll see everything then.He's not shy at all and you should see him struttin' around the locker room."
"Interesting.He must be proud of what he's got then."
"He's not hung any better than me, and he's not afraid to show it either.He even whipped it out at a party after someone dared him, and there were both guys and girls there at the time."
"Then he should fit in quite well here," I said smiling, before walking away.
Shortly after Noah took the drinks back to share with Adam, Elliot arrived home."Hey, kiddo.How are things going?"
"Not so good.The detective stopped by Ian's house earlier to warn him that they haven't been able to arrest the guy who beat him up."
"They said when they went over to his parents house he wasn't there, and it looked liked he'd taken some of his belongings with him.The detective said they went over to arrest his friend next, the one matching the description the witnesses gave them for the other guy, but he wasn't there either.The detective said they've got arrest warrants out for both of them, but he wanted Ian to know just in case he ran into them or they showed up at his house."
"I'm sorry to hear that, but at least they know who they're looking for."
"Yeah, they told us the guy who beat up Ian is named Grant Ridley."
"I don't recognize that name.How about you, Dad?"
"I knew some Ridleys, but never one named Grant.Maybe he didn't grow up around here."
"That's possible, but then why the hell is he here now?Is it just to cause trouble?" I replied.
"The detective said his department has had run-ins with him and his buddy before, so that's why they were so quick to include their photos in the ones he showed Ian.Ian recognized this Grant guy, but not the other one."
"Do you know the other guy's name?" I followed.
"No, the detective wouldn't tell us that, because Ian hadn't been able to identify him."
"It would be interesting to see if I recognized his name," Dad added."I wonder if they're both from outside the area?"
"The detective said he went to their parents' houses to pick them up, but they just weren't there, so they must live around here."
"Maybe now, but that doesn't mean they grew up here.They still could have moved here recently," Dad responded."I'll call Uncle Steve and see if he can find out anything about them using his sources.Maybe he can help us clear this up."
"Good idea.Uncle Steve should be able to get that information," I agreed.
Brandon and I then went upstairs to tuck the boys in and say goodnight.Benny and Joshie were almost asleep when we got there."You took a long time tonight," Benny said through half-closed eyes when we entered the room.
"Yes, and we're sorry.We were talking to Elliot."
"Ok, but I'm glad you got here."
We then tucked them in, kissed them on the forehead, and bid them sweet dreams.Then, we headed up to the third floor to say goodnight to the other two.I knocked on Noah's door anyway, even though he told me I didn't have too, and they were both wearing underwear when we entered.
"We didn't mean to interrupt, but we just wanted to say goodnight and see if you needed anything."
"Nah, we're fine, but thanks, Dads."
"Yeah, thanks Dr. Currie and Dr. O'Hara," Adam added."I think it's neat that you do this every night with your sons, even Noah."
"Thank you, Adam, and it's been a very important ritual for us.One other thing, though.When you're at our house I want you to call us Danny and Brandon."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, we insist."
"Ok, but you'll have to tell my folks you told me to do that, cuz they won't like it if they think I did it on my own."
"Don't worry.We'll explain it all to them when they come for the cookout.I think we'll have it in early August, after baseball season ends and before school begins."
"Ok.That sounds good."
We said goodnight to them again and walked over to Ryan's room.After knocking on his door, we went in to tuck him in next.
"Man, I can't believe Noah did that for me earlier.You should have seen the looks on those guys' faces."
"Yes, I'm sure they were surprised to have a group of older boys stand up to them."
"Yeah, so I don't think they'll bother me again."
"We certainly hope not," I agreed as we tucked him in, kissed him on the forehead, and wished him sweet dreams.
Wednesday was pretty uneventful.The boys all had practice, but no one came around to bother Ryan this time.When we got home after work on Thursday, Dad asked if he could speak with Brandon and me alone.
"Sure, Dad, what's up?"
"Uncle Steve called earlier and gave me some disturbing information."
"About the guy who beat up Ian?"
"Yes, Uncle Steve discovered more about him.He's the son of one of the Ridleys I knew, but I didn't realize he'd married David Hubbard's sister.That means Grant Ridley is David Hubbard's nephew."
"Oh, shit," Brandon uttered."So we were partially right when we said what happened sounded like something David Hubbard would do."
"Or his surrogate," I added."So why haven't any of us heard of this Grant before?"
"After his parents married, they moved to Altoona, where Derek Ridley, Grant's father, had a job as an auto mechanic," Dad explained."It was also where Grant was born.If you remember correctly, after your trial the truth about what Hubbard had done came out.When that happened, nearly everyone he knew turned against him, so he moved in with his sister and brother-in-law in Altoona.Grant grew up with David living in their house and he spent years listening to his uncle's bigoted rants.I suspect that's why he's like he is today."
"That sure explains a lot.So when did they move back here?"
"After her father died, Grant's mother inherited her father's house.Seeing the state was paying for David's care, since he was totally disabled and had no income, she let him stay at their old house and she and her family moved here.She basically did it to get away from her brother, but it appears to have been too late for Grant.That was six years ago, just after Grant got out of school, and they've been living here ever since.Believe it or not, Grant's father works for your brother, Cole, now.Go figure."
"Yeah, that is strange," Brandon agreed.
"I talked to Cole, and he says Derek is a good mechanic and a hard worker, but he's never met Derek's son.I guess Grant took after his Uncle David, not his dad."
"That's a shame, because the world didn't need another David Hubbard," Brandon stated.
"So did you happen to find out about the other guy too?" I asked next.
"We think the other person is Grant's best friend," Dad replied. "They met shortly after Grant moved here and they've been best friends ever since.His name is Sam Abernathy.He grew up in Johnstown and only moved to this area shortly before Grant's family did.Some people have said Sam left Johnstown to avoid suspicion that he'd been involved in some burglaries that happened there around the same time.Since he has a history of running away from his problems, I have a feeling he's doing that again, but this time with Grant."
"That's as long as he's not still in the area and can't do more harm to Ian, but I hope the law locates them soon and they're made to pay for what they've done," I added, before we all decided it was time to turn in.
When we were at work on Friday, Brandon and I asked the various members of our staff if any of them were familiar with either Grant or Sam, but none of them knew or had heard of either one.That meant we didn't know any more than we did last night.
When we got home from work Friday night, we had to take the boys to their practices again.Ryan also reminded me that Owen would be staying over too, which had slipped my mind.It wasn't a problem, though, because Owen was a good kid and never caused any trouble.His only fault, if you want to call it that, was his propensity as an unabashed exhibitionist.That was more comical than a flaw, so we enjoyed it when he visited.We'd just have to take him to his game the following day, so I hoped none of the other boys had a practice then.
Once again, I took Ryan to his practice while Brandon took the younger pair.I went with Ryan to make sure those boys didn't show up again, but I never saw any of them.Maybe Noah was right and he and his friends had scared them off.
When the practice ended, we made our way home.During the last half mile of the trip, I noticed another car appeared to be following us.I didn't immediately recognize the vehicle, but I knew it couldn't be those boys, because they were too young to drive, unless they'd found someone to chauffeur them around. When I pulled into our driveway, though, the other car pulled in behind us, so I got out of the SUV quickly, in case there was going to be a problem.That's when I saw who was behind the wheel.It was Owen's mother.
"I hope I didn't scare you," she said as I walked up to the driver's side window."Owen told me about the boys who'd been bothering Ryan, so I hope you didn't think we were them."
"It had crossed my mind, since I didn't recognize the car."
"Oh, I can explain that too.I had to take my car to the garage for some repair work, and this is the loaner they gave me.I'm sorry if it all added up to give you a fright."
"No, it's not your fault.I guess my imagination was just working overtime."
"Are you sure you want Owen to stay over, since you have so much to worry about?"
"Yes, he's more than welcome.Besides, Ryan would never forgive me if I sent him home."
"Darn right," Ryan chipped in as he walked around from his side of the vehicle.
"How about letting us pick Owen up for his game then, so that's one less thing you'll have to do?"
"I would have taken you up on that if Ryan had a practice at the same time, but his coach called their practice for 9:00, because he has a wedding to attend in the afternoon.That means Ryan will be done in time and we can stop for a bite to eat before we take Owen to his game.Ryan told me during the ride that he wants to watch Owen play, so we'll be going there anyway."
"Ok, if you're sure.Then Brian and I will see you at the game."
Owen was already lugging his gear toward the house after giving his mother a hug and kiss, so I said goodbye to her too, and then I waved at her as she backed out of the driveway.
When I went in the house, I asked Owen a quick question."Did you just come from practice too?"
"Then you boys should run upstairs and shower.You can come back down afterward, but you can't stay up too late because we'll have to get up early tomorrow.I suppose you'll want to go with us to Ryan's practice before your game."
"Yeah, I do, and we'll just stay up in Ryan's room after we shower."
I merely looked at them knowingly."Ok, I won't ask the reason for that."
"That's cuz you already know," Ryan said with a grin, while also grabbing his crotch.
"Yeah, that's what I figured.Get going before I decide to keep one of you down here until the other one's finished."
"No way!" they both shouted as they turned and raced up the stairs.
Once they'd disappeared, I chatted with Dad until Brandon and the other boys arrived.Brandon looked flustered as he guided the younger boys toward the stairs and sent them up to shower too.
"Is there a problem?" I asked as he joined us in the other room.
"Not a problem, but I was just talking to another parent at the boys' practice and he said he knew the boy who was with Grant.You know, Sam Abernathy."
"So what did he tell you?"
"First, he told me that a couple of years ago Sam spent a year in jail for assault."
"That's scary, especially after what they did to Ian."
"But that's not the worst of it.The guy I was speaking with said Sam has a gun fetish and owns several.He said he's even seen Sam with an assault rifle."
"That's even scarier.I hope he doesn't try coming after Ian and Elliot with one of those."
"I know, and that's what worries me.It's also why we're a little late getting back, because I was still talking to this guy when their practice ended."
"I think you both need to relax and think for a second," Dad urged."Chances are Sam and Grant know that law enforcement is looking for them, so they've probably fled this area to avoid prosecution."
"I hope that's the case, but what if it's not?" Brandon offered.
"If they're the kind that runs from an assault charge, chances are they won't want to be implicated in a murder or attempted murder," he explained."They know that would move them even higher up on the wanted list, so I suspect they'll be trying very hard not to draw any attention to themselves.If they get stopped for any reason, then a routine check will show they have outstanding warrants.That's why they won't be doing anything to attract attention to themselves, which gunfire would certainly do."
"Maybe you're right, but I'd rather be safe than sorry," I confessed.
"As would I," Dad agreed."We'll just be on alert and keep our eyes open, just in case."
After we finished our discussion, Brandon and I headed upstairs to say goodnight to the boys.We stopped in to tuck Benny and Joshie in first, but we didn't have to worry about Noah.He was out with the friends who'd helped him with the boys bothering Ryan, and they were all going to spend the night at one of the other boys' home.Therefore, we went upstairs to say goodnight to Ryan next.
Even though we'd knocked and someone said 'come in' the boys were still scrambling around on the bed, both erect, so we felt we'd just interrupted them while the were performing a sixty-nine.
"Guys, you could have said 'just a minute', or 'hold on' so we didn't mess things up," I advised them.
"It's ok.We don't mind.Really," Owen told us."We can finish later, but we like having you tuck us in."
"Yeah, because then we know how much you love us," Ryan added, while Owen was nodding his head.
"Yep," he mumbled in agreement.
"Ok, but we feel a little guilty constantly catching you in this state," I explained.
"We're always like this when we're together, because we know what we're gonna do, so you'll always catch us like this," Owen offered with a giggle.
"Then let us tuck you in quickly, even though you probably won't stay that way for very long, and then we'll get out of your hair," I stated.
"I don't see them in your hair," Ryan joked as he looked at Owen's head and then his pubic patch."Do you see them in mine?"
"Nope," Owen agreed after he'd visually inspected the same areas on Ryan's body.
"You two know what he meant, so just let us do what we came up here for in the first place," Brandon ordered.
This caused the boys to hop off the bed and stand next to it, as they waited for us to pull back the bedding.They then crawled onto the mattress again, laid back, and allowed us to tuck them in.Then we kissed them on the forehead, switched sides, and did the same thing to the other one, before wishing them sweet dreams.We hadn't even left the room before they were pushing the covers back again and swinging around to perform a sixty-nine.
"They sure are horny little buggers," Brandon commented once we were out in the hallway.
"If you remember, we were too when we were their age.Well, maybe we were a little older before we were that bad," I conceded.
"Point taken, but did we do it in front of your dad?"
"Our first try at intercourse we did, but I think that was all we did in front of him."
"Then these two are sure a lot less inhibited than we were."
"Yes, and it's something I wouldn't have expected, especially after the way Ryan acted when he first arrived here."
"Yeah, go figure," Brandon added as we were walking down the stairs.