After the rest of the family left for church, Brandon and I fed the twins, Wyatt, and their friends breakfast, and then they went outside to play.We merely told them not to get dirty and suggested that they do something that would keep them fairly clean.One group chose to play with Dobby and Flash, while another group played bean bag toss, and the final group played lawn darts.They decided to rotate after the other two groups had finished their games, so they would get to do all three things before we called them in for lunch.
We prepared hot dogs, French fries, and buttered corn for them to eat, and then we gave them another piece of birthday cake and a scoop of ice cream for dessert.They’d just finished eating when the first of the parents showed up to collect their son.
“Make sure you take everything with you.Put all of the clothes you wore yesterday into your duffle bag or backpack, and don’t forget to pack your Star Wars tunic with the other things.Grab your sleeping bag and your lightsaber too, and just let us know if you need any help carrying everything out to the car.”
It turned out that one of us had to help each of the boys carry their belongings outside, and then we thanked their parents for allowing their son to attend.Before they drove off, we could already hear their son telling them about the party.
The churchgoers arrived home before the last of the boys had been picked up, and once all of the friends had gone, we had something else to do.Today was Ryan’s 18th birthday, so Brandon called him and put his phone on speaker so we could all join in.
“Happy Birthday!” we all screamed in response.
“Yes, Happy Birthday,” Brandon and Danny added.“We’ll have a belated party for you when you come home for Thanksgiving.”
“Ok, that sounds good.Are you gonna pick me up and bring me home?”
“No, Grandpa Josh is going to come get you.He’ll be able to leave as soon as Dion and Trey get home from school, which means he’ll be able to leave earlier than Danny or I can.”
“Does he know where my residence hall is?”
“Yes, we explained it to him when he offered to do this for us.”
“Ok, I can’t wait to see all of you again.”
After that, Danny and Brandon asked him how school was going and if he liked being in college.His response was mostly positive, even though there were a couple of things he didn’t care for.One of them was that he wasn’t happy that he had to carry his clothes down two flights of stairs to the communal laundry room and then hope no one else was using the machines.He also didn’t care for one of his professors, but other than that he was enjoying college life.
I had to leave the call early, because Benny and Joshie’s friends that were helping with the Haunted House showed up, and this time there were three new bodies in the group.Danny, Brandon, and Dion agreed to keep the other boys out of our hair while I was with them, and I started outside so I could explain everything that was going to happen to the new boys.
I took them all the way around the exterior of the house and told them what would be at each location.When we reached the backdoor, I led them into the rec room so I could explain the various items that would be set up there.At one point, I asked the boys to wait briefly while Benny, Joshie, and I went upstairs to get the animated devices that we’re going to use.We also brought down the various masks as well so the boys wouldn’t have to try visualizing these items in their minds.I’m sure they had seen some of these things when they came here the previous year, so this was just to refresh their memory.It’s possible they might have forgotten what they looked like or they had moved so quickly during that visit that they didn’t have a chance to look at the masks closely.
I also showed them the three new masks we’d purchased after they’d seen the others, along with the four new animated devices.Yes, I’d purchased three masks instead of two, but the third one was for me to wear during the Haunted House.
“Wow, these are all great!” enthused one of the new boys.
“Yes.We thought so as well,” the other boys concurred.
“I’ll hand each of you the mask you’ll be wearing so you can examine and try it on, and then I’ll tell you what you’ll be wearing with it.Some of the items you’ll have to supply for yourself, and this might include black sweats or other dark clothing, solid grey long johns, or another item, but we’ll supply the more elaborate costumes.Just make sure you wear something warm under them if you’re designated to be outside, because it will probably be pretty cold out by then.I also want you to let us know if you’re having trouble getting the things you need on your own, and maybe we can help you with that as well.”
Once we finished looking at those items, we put everything back into the boxes they’d been stored in so the younger boys wouldn’t see them.After that, I explained what would happen throughout the rest of the house, but we didn’t walk around those areas because the rest of the family was busy doing other things and I didn’t want to disturb them.After I’d explained everything to the boys, I took them outside again, but this time we went around to the front of the house.Once there, I explained what would be happening to our visitors as they departed through the front door.
After I finished doing this, I answered each of the boys’ questions and listened to their suggestions, and then I told them we’d have another work session the following Saturday so we could continue to prepare.I also explained that I would make sure Brandon and Dion were going to take the younger boys on some sort of a trip that afternoon so we could have the house to ourselves.Once I finished, I went inside to get Brandon so we could drive the boys home.I’d already asked the three new boys where they lived, so I told them who their driver would be and we hopped into the appropriate SUV.
After I’d dropped off the boys riding with me, I returned to the house and pulled Pop aside so I could tell him about the props we’d need his help with.Some of it was merely setting up the same outdoor items that we’d used the previous year, but there were a couple of new props that he’d have to design and build as well.After carefully describing the new items to him, he figured out what materials he’d need and said he’d stop to pick up the supplies on the way home from work the following evening.I thanked him for doing this for us.
When I sat down with the others for dinner, I made an announcement to the younger boys.“The rec room is now officially off limits to you until after Halloween.If you need anything from there, then ask one of us to get it for you.If you are caught back there or we see you peeking into the rec room, then your hopes of celebrating Halloween this year will come to an end.”
“Really?” Hayden gasped.
“Yes, really!So I’d heed this warning if I were you.” I didn’t think I’d have any problems with them now, since they all knew I was serious about the warning.
The rest of the evening was fairly quiet, and we all went to bed early, because we were all tired from the busy weekend.I’ll admit, I slept very soundly that evening.
At school the following day, nothing unusual happened until the end of the school day.That’s when the principal made an announcement, just before the final bell rang.
“May I have your attention please?Before you leave, I wanted to let you know what the school board has decided on as the punishment for the boys arrested for indecent sexual assault and simple assault.Even though the criminal justice system is still dealing with their cases, the boys who didn’t take responsibility for their actions are being expelled from school for unacceptable conduct and for breaking a number of rules outlined in the Student Handbook.The students who owned up to what they did will serve three months of in-house suspension and not be allowed to participate in after school activities for the remainder of the year, as I mentioned in a previous announcement.”
He then abruptly ended his announcement, so the students began chatting with each other until the bell rang.After they had left my classroom, I went to the faculty lounge to see if I could learn anything else about this situation.
“I overheard some of this earlier, when I was here during my lunch period,” one of the history teachers offered.“It seems there were two boys who grabbed Tamara’s genitals and two more who’d fondled her breasts, but only one member of each of group had confessed to what they’d done.They not only accepted responsibility for their actions, but they also admitted that they hadn’t acted alone and gave up the name of their co-conspirator.The board had also heard from Tamara and felt they had enough proof to expel the other two boys.As far as the boys who stripped her, the board not only had Tamara’s testimony, but they also had the video as well, so they felt they had enough to take action.”
“I was wondering why the school did this before their cases had been adjudicated by the legal system,” I countered, “but now it makes more sense.”
“I’m fairly certain the two boys who admitted to their crimes will be called to testify against the other two when their cases go to court.”
“Yes, I’m sure they will, along with Tamara.”
Later that evening, after the boys had gone to bed, I called the other adults together so I could share this information with them.
“That’s the harshest punishment the school has doled out so far,” stated Dad after hearing what I had to say.
“Yes, and I’m glad the administration is making sure the other students know what is happening to them,” added Pop.
“I agree,” said Dion.“Hopefully, it will prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”
I thought this might be the extent of the news about things happening at school, but the following afternoon we discovered this wasn’t the case.As soon as we arrived at the house, Wyatt said he wanted to speak with me and Dion alone, and although we had no idea what this was about, we agreed.As soon as we were alone, he explained.
“I saw Xander crying at school today.”
“Do you know why?” asked Dion.
“It was after I saw him with some of the other boys in his class when we was waiting for you guys to pick us up.I think they was picking on him.”
“I don’t know.He wouldn’t tell me.”
“Ok, we’ll mention this to Danny and Brandon when they get home so they can ask Xander about it.Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”
“I just wanna make sure nobody is pickin’ on him.”
“You’re a good friend and a great cousin.”
As soon as Danny and Brandon arrived, Dion and I pulled them aside and told them what Wyatt had said to us.They decided to wait until after dinner before confronting Xander about this and thanked us for bringing it to their attention.
Dinner was fairly quiet this evening, but I noticed that Wyatt was continually glancing at Xander to see how he was doing.Most of the limited conversation that happened this evening was when Dad told us about some of the things TJ had done during the day.The twins also told us that the boys who’d come to their party were being really nice to them, while at the same time not saying anything about the party at school.We’d asked them not to mention anything about the party in public, since we didn’t want to create any hard feelings with the other students who weren’t invited.
After we finished eating, the other boys either went up to their rooms to work on their homework or headed to the family room to watch TV.Danny and Brandon pulled Xander aside and took him to the living room so they could ask him about what they had heard.While Dion was taking care of TJ, I hung out in the foyer to keep the other boys from coming by and listening in on what was being said.
“Xander, did something happen at school today?” asked Brandon.
“How do you know about that?” Xander asked, completely shocked.
“You’ll learn that we have our ways since we know many people who work for the school system.So, will you tell us what happened today?”I appreciated that he’d said it this way so Wyatt wouldn’t be labeled as a snitch.
“My backpack tipped over in class before lunch and one of the other boys saw the extra pair of underwear you have me keep in there.”
“Did he know what they were for?”
“Yeah, he did cuz he started callin’ me names.He told the other kids about them too!”
“So, what did he call you?”
“He was callin’ me ‘Xander wets his pants’, and some of the other boys started sayin’ ‘Xander pees the bed’ and called me ‘baby Xander’.It was awful.”
“Did you tell anyone?”
“No, but after we came in from the playground the teacher heard what they was sayin’ and told them to stop.They did, but then they started in again after school while I was waited for you guys to pick me up.”
“I want you to give me the names of the boys who were doing this.”
“There was a couple of girls too.”
“Then give me all of their names and I’ll contact your teacher.”
After Xander told his dads the names of each of the kids involved, Danny and Brandon told him to go join the other boys and they would talk to his teacher and the principal in the morning.Xander didn’t look any happier when he came out of the living room than when he went in with his dads, so it seemed he wasn’t convinced this was going to help his situation.I decided to speak with Danny and Brandon again, once they were alone.
“Can Dion or I help with this?”
“Not yet.We’re going to stop at the school before heading to work, and Brandon is going to speak with Wyatt’s teacher while I chat with the principal.We’re hoping they will help take care of the problem.”
“Ok… but let us know if we can help.”
Those two then went to chat with Dad so they could pick his brain about the situation, since he used to be a principal.Hopefully, he’ll have some good advice to offer them as well. After that, they each called a member of their staff to let them know that they would be a little late the next morning, because they had to make a quick stop at the school about one of the boys.
Obviously, neither Xander nor Wyatt said anything to the other boys about what had happened at school, because no one said anything to us about it when we tucked them in.Maybe that was a good thing because we didn’t need anyone else involved in this before Danny and Brandon had a chance to talk to the teacher and principal about what had happened.
After dropping the boys off at their schools the following morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about Xander and wondering how he was making out.I was sure his dads’ conversations with his teacher and the principal would have some impact, although I wasn’t sure how much.Hopefully, I’d find out something about this later tonight.
Nothing was said during the ride home or at dinner, so I asked Danny and Brandon about it after we’d sent the boys upstairs to get ready for bed.“How did things go this morning?”
“We talked about it on the way into work and thought things had gone well.The teacher and principal both understood the situation, so we’ll just have to wait and see if it helped.”
We didn’t hear anything new about it on Thursday, but when we arrived at the house on Friday, Dad called Dion and me aside.“I want to talk to Danny, Brandon, and you two later, because the elementary principal called me earlier and asked me to relay a message for him.”
“Sounds interesting,” I mused.
“It is, but I don’t want to tell you before I tell Danny and Brandon.I’ll do that sometime after dinner.”
Dad told Danny and Brandon the same thing when they arrived home, but then we had to wait a little while longer.As soon as the meal ended, some of the boys went outside while others went up to their room or into the family room, so we met with Dad in the living room.
“The elementary principal called me just before Dion, Trey, and the boys arrived home this afternoon.I’m very familiar with him and he said he was calling me because he and his wife were going away this weekend.He thought I could pass along the message for him.”
“Ah, I was wondering why he didn’t contact either of us at work,” commented Danny.
“He didn’t want to bother you while you were with your patients.He told me that he called the students who were picking on Xander to his office after lunch, instead of letting them go out on the playground with the other kids, and he read them the riot act.After explaining that Xander had a medical problem and was sometimes unable to control his bladder, he told them what would happen if they continued to pick on him.He said he would call their parents to get their permission to allow him to make them wear a large, cloth diaper over their clothes for an entire school day.He said that way they would learn what it was like to be picked on by their classmates.”
“That’s definitely a unique approach to solving the problem,” mused Brandon.
“Yes, it is, and he admitted that some of the kids didn’t think he’d do it, so he offered to call their parents right then so he could explain the situation to them.This made the kids back down and he doesn’t think Xander will have any more problems with them.If he does, he wants Xander to tell his teacher or go to his office so they can take care of it.”
“We’ll have to call Xander’s teacher and the principal and thank them for their help on Monday,” offered Danny.
“Yes, that would be a wise and thoughtful move,” agreed Dad.
Since Xander seemed to be in a good mood tonight and didn’t say anything more about it, Danny and Brandon said they’d wait and see how this played out.They were hoping the problem was solved.
“Maybe we don’t need to have him carry the extra pair of absorbent briefs in his backpack any longer,” suggested Brandon.“He doesn’t seem to be having nearly as many accidents now that you’ve put him on the medication.”
“Let’s wait a little longer before we do that.The emotional impact of his classmates calling him names might cause him to experience a setback, but if this doesn’t happen then we may do that later.It’s also possible that we could ask his teacher to hold onto the briefs for him and keep them in her desk, in case of a major accident later.”
“Yes, that might be better for him,” agreed Brandon.
Saturday morning, we checked to see if the boys had any homework, and if they did, we asked them to do it after breakfast.That’s because after lunch, Brandon and Dion were going to take the younger boys to a nearby farm so they could each choose a pumpkin and then carve it when they got back.Of course, Brandon and Dion were going to help them carve the pumpkins, since the boys had never done this before, and we didn’t trust them with sharp objects without supervision.This kept the boys out of my hair for the time being, because the group helping with the Haunted House began showing up shortly after the SUV pulled out of the driveway.
While the others were gone, I had the other boys help me set up the rec room and the basement for the big night.We started in the rec room, and after making certain that the blinds were closed on each of the windows, I had the boys place a black cloth that we’d used the previous year over them.While they were doing that, Danny was helping me run the cable from one side of the room to the other and tightening it down so we could divide the room in half.Once that was up, I had the boys help me hang a large black cloth over it.
Once those things were completed, Danny screwed the ‘eyeball’ doorbell outside the backdoor.At the same time, I had the boys help me set up some of the animated devices and other props in the rec room, and this included placing a blanket over the pool table before setting the empty coffin on it.
When the rec room was essentially taken care of, the boys helped me carry the banquet table down to the basement so we could use it to hand out the treats.Danny and I then supervised the boys as they hung the dental floss spider webs along the stairway and placed the plastic spiders on them.At the same time, other boys were using double stick tape to hang plastic cockroaches on the walls of the hallway and stairway.When those things were completed, we hung cardboard skeletons, witches, and monsters at various locations on the basement walls to enhance the effect.
Brandon and Dion were busy helping the youngsters carve their pumpkins, so I gave each of my helpers a drink and we chatted.I didn’t want to bother Dion and Brandon while they were working with the younger boys, so I thought this would be a good time to tell my helpers what we were going to do the following week.
“I want you to arrive here around 2:00 next Saturday and bring everything you’re going to need for your costumes with you.Make sure to tell your parents that you’ll be eating dinner with us and we won’t be bringing you home until after dark, because next Saturday we’ll be doing the practice run.If you have younger siblings who would like to go through it with our younger sons, then tell your parents to show up with them as it is getting dark.”
“That is gonna be awesome, but what do we still have to do?” one of the boys asked.
“Next Saturday we’ll set up the different stations outside, and after dinner you’ll get into your costumes and we’ll set up the rest of the house.Brandon and Dion will take the younger boys on another trip while we’re doing these things, so they won’t get in the way.When they get back, we’ll all eat dinner together, and then they will wait with the younger boys outside until we are ready for them to go through the Haunted House.”
Before long, Wyatt came rushing into the house to get me.“Poppy, come outside and see the pumpkins we carved.They’re pretty scary.”
I followed him outside and each boy showed me the pumpkin he had carved, including Revin, because Brandon had picked him up to go with them.He’d also be dropping him off at his house when he took the other boys home.
Once I saw each of the pumpkins, I made a comment: “I’ve got just the place for them.I want each of you to carry your pumpkin over to the picnic table and we’ll put some of them on the table and the rest on the bench, and I’ll make sure they’re lit up on Halloween night.”
“Neat!” they all screamed.
“Revin, do you want to leave your pumpkin here or take it home?”
“Ummm, I’ll take it home and then my mom can find a place to put it where everybody can see it.”
“Ok, that’s fine with me.”
Once the pumpkins were all in place, Brandon and I loaded all of the other boys into our SUVs and took them home.We were another step closer to pulling off this year’s Haunted House.