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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Luke Hanson's Mind & Punishment: A Teen in Despair - 33. Chapter 33 - Coming Through The Otherside

LUKE


After spending so much time at the hospital, I had effectively put my life on hold. It was a terrifying feeling because I knew people and 'stuff,' would be waiting for me when I came out the other side of this. But what was this? Was this my new life now? A helpful hand for Leander, or still an obsession. Some might say the lines are still blurred. I loved him, simple. The love I had for him was something I would never be able to comprehend in one lifetime fully.

On my way home from Leander's hospital room, I knew two things would've happened. Dad would have had our locks changed, and, Elaine would know. Thoughts rushed through my mind at millions of miles an hour as I thought about what she would do and how she would react. I didn't worry for my dad because he could use his mouth to settle any argument. He had an answer for everything. I knew... I just knew, he would suck her in and spit her out instantly.

~

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~

As I pulled into my familiar spot, I noted that dad's van was also parked in the driveway. But the angle of this vehicle gave the impression it was a hasty bit of parking. Seeing this made me exit my car doubly fast.

I ran to the front door and placed my key in.

"Ahhh, shit," I said out loud. Of course, it didn't work.

Almost snapping the ill-fitting key in the lock, I managed to yank it out and hurried around to the back garden, unlatching the gate. I immediately and surprisingly saw dad sitting on one of our chairs, a bottle of beer in hand.

"What the fuck?"

Dad looked at me, a satisfying expression on his face. "Well, that's no way to greet your father."

"And?"

"And what?" he replied, shrugging.

"Have you killed her? where did you bury the body," I asked, deadpan.

"We talked." dad said, putting his feet on the table.

I was getting frustrated. I grabbed a chair and slumped into it. "You gotta stop talking to me in two-word sentences, dad. What happened?"

Dad laughed and briefly tipped his head back before locking a stare on me. "Oh, so you care, do you? I was beginning to think you were only now programmed for one thing, and that is Leander."

"Did you try calling me, messaging me?" I shot back, angry that he'd blamed me for not being there for him.

"If you check your phone, I tried calling five or six times."

I did as he asked and noticed the media slider on my phone was set to silent. For fuck sake, Luke, I cursed myself.

I put my phone down and lifted both hands, showing them to him. "Dad, I confess, I'm sorry."

"It don't matter anyway, son, she has gone. But we did talk."

"Can I ask what went on?"

"Well, I had the locks changed as I said I would. A nice guy called Gary came out, and we had a good old chat, actually. All about women, of course. He was done over by his woman about ten years ago. Nothing like..."

"DAD!"

"Yes?"

"I'm not fucking interested in Gary the Locksmith. Please, tell me about Elaine."

"Oh, well yeah, so she found the locks had been changed and called me. I was only about fifteen minutes away on a small job, so I left it and came home."

"What did you say?"

"It's not what I said; It's what she said."

"And that was?" I asked, waiting for the punchline to come soon. Jesus!

"We sat in the lounge, and she told me the truth. She said she had planned to do what Leander had said from the start. But..."

"But? C'mon, dad!"

"She said she got genuinely attached to me and had second thoughts about doing it. Apparently, Josh, who you hate so much was the one who was asking her not to con me, and she said she felt bad in herself that she had planned it. The guilt, I suppose." Dad seemed to ponder for a second.

I sat forward in my chair. "And then what happened?"

"I told her everything I knew about her. I told her I knew about the other men, the drugs, the lies, the affair with Scot Sheperd. I told her I knew absolutely everything."

"And what was her reaction?" I asked, almost excited.

"Well, she cried, and we hugged. I felt sorry for her."

"You WHAT?!"

"Hey, hey, before you start making an opinion, you weren't there, okay?"

"But dad, she's a con artist, and you're sitting there hugging her after what she did?"

"Well, it's over now; I can only hope she has learned her lesson, whatever she had planned or didn't."

I was pulling at my hair, stunned. Dad was so calm, so resigned. "Where is she now?" I asked, perplexed.

"I'd say halfway between here and Southampton. I think it was all a front, Luke. The woman that left this house today was a scared and regretful person. Not the person Leander reeled off. Now, don't get me wrong, Luke. I'm not saying Leander over egged it or lied...."

"Which he didn't!" I said with a sulky tone.

"But, I'm just saying she didn't appear to be that conniving. So, no, I believe her and I have forgiven her."

"You're fucking mad. Mad as a hatter you, dad. Really? She is the scum of the earth, and you let her get away. I bet you even paid for her fucking ticket the way you're sounding."

"No, I didn't. I told her that due to... well, past and present revelations, I thought all my trust in her had evaporated and that I didn't think it could return. She left on her own accord, son. She didn't steal anything, didn't threaten me... nor Josh. She just cried. We hugged and she said she would be going. I said it would be better if we didn't see each other again."

"You're too fucking soft you are," I snapped, disappointed he didn't take her to the cleaners. Which he could have done. He would have done it if I'd been there. I would have taken great delight in that."

"I'd have dragged her out by the fucking hair, locked her in her car and poured petrol inside. Bitch."

"Yes, well, you're eighteen and irrational. When you get more life experience, you'll realise that not everything, no matter how bad, has to end in some bonfire of rage and destruction."

"So that's it?" I asked, furious.

Dad nodded. "She didn't DO anything to me, Luke. Now listen up because I need you to understand this. I get you're angry. I know you wanted some explosive ending to this, but please think of me and not yourself for once. I have had to give up and send away a woman I loved. I've done this based on a version of Elaine that Leander gave me. Elaine has been brave enough to tell me the truth. She has not harmed me, stolen from me or done anything that has negatively affected my life. Nevertheless, she is gone from my life. So tell me, son. What more do you want me to do?"

I'd listened to his statement, his reasoning. I tried to take a step back from my 'young age and irrationality.' I gathered my thoughts.

"Okay," I said, nodding. "Okay, dad, you're right. I'm wrong. You did this your way."

"I can feel the sarcasm in your tone, Luke! But, it's not necessary."

"No, dad. I'm just saying you chose to handle it like this, and I don't have much more to say. I would have done it differently, but as you say - what do I know? I'm an irrational young idiot."

Dad shook his head. "Well, your words, not mine. If you want to sulk and think like that, go ahead. But getting back to the point, I have done what I needed to and what you and Leander said I should do. What does it matter which way it ends? No one from our family got hurt. Can we just drop it so I can... grieve for a bit? I am alone again after all."

I suddenly felt sorry for my dad. He was right. He was alone again. Better off for it, but still.

I sighed and got up. Stepping forward, I cuddled my dad and kissed the side of his head. "I'm sorry it didn't work out. And I'm sorry if I was a dick again. I don't mean it. You are the victim here, and I should remember that."

"You're a good kid. You have a strong sense of justice, and I'm proud I instilled it into you. But my advice... which I know you love hearing? Always try to deal with things in a peaceful and calm manner, even if you end up losing."

"I'll bear that in mind, dad."

~

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~

"So nothing happened?" Taz asked as I threw myself onto his bed.

"Nope! they even fucking hugged. That bitch even cried like she regretted everything. Grrrr, makes my blood boil, Taz!"

"You think they were real tears?"

I blew air from my lips. "Who knows," I shrugged. "Jesus knows what was going through her mind when he was confronted. My dad? Well, you know how he is. He probably sat her down and kept everything calm if I know him."

"Well, he's got a lot of patience, hasn't he?"

"He ain't fucking right, Taz, he ain't!"

"In what way?"

"Dunno, I just think he was too calm about it."

"Well, your dad has always said he wants a peaceful life... you know after your mum passed? So perhaps the less drama route suited him."

"I'm just glad she's gone. By the way, I've decided. Lee can fuck off out of my life. I've called him over 20 times and messaged him. He never returns my calls, and the messages back are just excuses and fluffy shit about getting together soon. He's taken no interest in anything happening in my life. I don't need friends like that."

Taz watched with an open mouth at my ranting. "Are you sure you wanna blow him out? He's been your friend almost as long as I have."

I sniggered. "Pffft, yeah, Taz. And look at the difference. You're here. You're always here. Nah, he can fuck off now. I don't have the patience for people like that in my life."

"I need a pee, and I'm not getting involved with this. It's between you two."

Taz headed out of his room, and I pulled out my phone.

[10:12] Me: Hey handsome, how is ur morning? x
[10:14] Leander: Well, I got some news. No I still can't walk... that's not the news! But Duke has been talking to Clyde. We will be left alone.

My eyes went wide as I read his message. A sigh of relief escaped my mouth.

[10:14] Me: WTF really?
[10:15] Leander: The fair has already started leaving, apparently. Sad really. My own mother has not come to see me.
[10:16] Me: After what she did? Are you bothered?
[10: 16] Leander: It's my mum, Luke. You must understand?
[10:17] Me: I'm staying quiet, Bear. I know what I would be thinking, but we're different I know. I'll come by and see you and you can tell me all about it.
[10: 18] Leander. There is one catch... around the living arrangements.
[10:18] Me: Don't tell me now. I'll come over soon.

I put my phone on the bed and rubbed my face with my hands. "Aww, god!"

"You okay?" Taz asked, swinging from side to side in his computer chair.

"It's over. The Sheperds' are packing off as we speak. The fair is leaving Freeman's Farm."

"You look depressed about that?"

I looked up at Taz. "Nah, it's not that. I just feel a bit sorry for Leander. I think he wanted his mum to at least show her face and say goodbye. But reading between the lines, I think he wanted her to explain why?"

"Why?"

"Yeah, like, why she let what happen, happen! His own family almost killed him, and she was part of that. He was her favourite for fuck sake, and she does that?" I shook my head. "It is, and probably will always be, the most fucked up family I have ever come across."

"What are you going to do? You know, about Ben Flowers? I think you should go to the police."

I shrugged. "You are gonna think I'm an evil shit with no morals, Taz. But I'd rather stay out of it if I can. I don't want anything more to do with that fair."

"Luke, they dissolved a person in acid. That's got to be one of the most..." Taz shook his head. "I don't even have the words for you, Luke. Its... it's just evil; that's all I can say. And you knowing and not doing anything about it? Well, that might stay with you. What about Ben's mother? How would you feel?"

"Funny how nothing has been in the newspaper. I have been checking. No one has reported him lost as far as I can see."

"I don't know what to say to you, Luke. If you want my opinion? I know you love this guy, but I'm not convinced you won't be looking over your shoulder every day. Either from that bunch of thugs or the police."

Taz had a point, and it started making me feel unwell the more I thought about it. I began to overthink. I began to imagine the scenarios of me in handcuffs or being tortured in a room with Yeltsin and Seth.

"Taz," I said. "I don't know what to do!" I suddenly uncontrollably burst into tears. Taz jumped off his bed, put his arms around me, and squeezed tight.

"Luke, when are you going to see that Doctor?" He asked, his face close to my ear. His voice was calming, and I squeezed him tighter as I thought about that question.

"Soon," I replied. Knowing the time had now come to do it. I just had a few more issues to resolve with Leander, and then I was going to think about myself for a bit.

~

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~

I knocked on the door to Leander's room and walked in. His slow rhythmic breathing told me he was asleep, so I crept towards a chair and gently sat down. I watched his lip twitch, along with his eyelids. He looked cute asleep, and even better looking. I wished for a moment I was in bed with him, naked and warm - our skin touching and the feeling of being wanted and wanting someone. Through all this, Leander and I had done things the right way. We hadn't jumped under sheets... primarily because of my petrification of sex. But maybe that helped. It helped getting to know a person before having sex with them. I think the way we did it made us closer, quicker.

I gently placed my hand in his, and he gripped it lightly. It was then that his eyes began to open as a grin formed on his face. Then, in a groggy state, he yawned as he stared at me.

"Hmmmmm, sorry, I must have dozed off. Just had a new shot of Morphine. You okay?"

"I was watching you sleep. Fuck, you're sexy!" I said, then laughed out loud, slightly embarrassed I had told him that.

"Well, thank you." He replied, his cheeks going a little rosy.

"So, Duke? Tell me?"

"Yeah, erm... he's currently staying at a hostel. And erm..."

I pushed back in my chair and pulled my chin in. "He's not going with them, is he?"

"Do you blame him?" Bear asked, a teeny bit of irritation with my reaction.

I shook my head. "I know what this is. You've said he can come live with you, haven't ya?"

Leander was still but then nodded slowly. "Is that okay?"

"Why you asking me? You've already made the decision."

"He'll get a job... he can help out with the bills and stuff. He's a good person... the best one out of all my family. I trust him."

I rubbed my hands down my knees. "Well, we do need him on our side I guess, as a buffer to your family."

Leander nodded. "Exactly"

I held my hands up. "Okay, okay, whatever you want. So when? Have they said? Has the Doc said when you can look at going home?"

Leander tutted. "Home? What is that? But I have found a few places while you have been away."

I let my eyes go wide and smiled. "Really? Wow, that's good."

"Grab my tablet there," Leander requested, pointing to his small table beside the bed.

"My tablet, you mean!"

"Whatever, just look at it. I've saved the page. It's on Rightmove."

I picked up the device and turned it on. I typed in the password, and a Google page appeared showing a property Bear had been looking at. I flicked through the pictures and saw a well-kept garden in the first instance. Then I started to smile as I saw the rooms and reception area.

"Bear, this is... this is perfect!"

Leander smiled and winked. What he had chosen was already fitted out for a wheelchair user. I could see widened doorways. Grab handles, pull cords and a wheelchair-accessible toilet... it had everything by the looks of things.

"What do you think?" He asked.

I looked up and laughed. "I just told you, it's perfect. And it's cheap."

"Really? I don't have a clue about this stuff."

"Well, me neither, but our neighbour three doors down has hers on the market for a lot more than this, and it looks about the same size... well, maybe slightly smaller."

"So I gather you like your new home?"

My grin got more prominent, but then a horribly negative thought entered my mind, and I placed the tablet on his bed.

"Bear, I can't go in with you on this, I literally have about £3500 in savings, and that's it."

"Oh, be quiet. Look, as long as you help with the bills, we can work something out. Luke, I've been thinking. I erm... I want to try this, yeah?."

"Me too! fuck, me too." I replied passionately.

"A fresh start?" Leander asked. I took it as a question.

"A fresh start." I repeated, nodding.

~

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~

Epilogue
Three months later

You could say that meeting Leander and his family was one of the worst things I could have ever gotten involved with. There had been so much grief, sadness, horror and violence. But it proves that if something is worth fighting for, you HAVE to go for it. Leander as a package does not come without its issues. We are not a conventional couple, but we both worked hard to plough through all the pitfalls and heartache we had so we could be together. Three months on? Yeah, we're doing sort of okay. Leander's mood has been an issue because he is learning to live without his legs working, but he has good days where he's really upbeat. I think I have learned to be a more patient person in these last three months.

Besides working at Saunders and taking care of Leander, I see Calvin, my therapist, which dad has agreed to pay for. So much has come out of that. So many emotions I had locked inside. It's been brutal, but after each session, I feel a little more complete, a little more confident. I'm also working through my healing process, which is draining, but necessary. I'd become aware, thanks to the therapy, that I had not grieved enough for my mother. Unfortunately, I had been in the middle of some exams at the time, which interrupted the normal process, and Calvin reckons that it could take a long time to fix. But I'm working through it with the support of Taz, dad and Bear.

Taz's mum has met a new man, which seems to be working. Taz says he is kind and, most importantly, straight, which I found funny.

I sent Lee a last message which was around 500 words long, and explained that I didn't want to continue our friendship. I wished him luck with Donna but said the next friend he meets; he should consider the impact his decisions make on them. I left that message on a good note and said he had been a great friend, but the hurt of ignoring me had pushed me to cut him off. Thankfully Derek, his dad, said it was a matter for him and me and that it would not affect my job at Saunders.

A week ago, I plucked up the courage and drove to Freemans' Farm to see that the fair had indeed gone. It was late getting underway after the fire, but looking at the site, which was blackened in places, it seemed the Shepherds had taken everything they could to Wales and dumped what was destroyed. But I can't be sure that's how it went. All that was left was a vast area of dead straw where the rides had sat, and the people walked. The trip, I kept a secret from Leander. This journey was for me to find closure.

With the Shepherd's gone for at least a year, it gave Leander and me some time to form a pact where we were on the same page for any issues, questions and implications that might come up. Duke stayed in regular contact with Mary and Clyde, and the relationship seemed to be okay, considering Duke was the second member of the family to defect. The Shepherds were unaware of where we now lived, and Duke was sworn to secrecy if his life was worth anything. I was grateful for Duke's work behind the scenes to make his family see that some people don't want to live the traveller life. Duke was pretty scant on information to Leander and me, but as long as what he was doing was working, we stayed out of it.

My Dad? We met regularly, and I asked him if he was lonely. He laughed in my face and said he was pleased with the peace and quiet for once. As you know, my dad hates drama, and I knew he would be okay on his own at home. He said he was dating again too, although had not met anyone. But he had learned from the lessons of Elaine and was being a lot more cautious.

Overall, life was starting to get back to what I remembered. I felt more tired, obviously, as I was doing much more now, but being with Leander, wheelchair or not, was the best decision of my life. I loved him so much. So, you're probably wanting to know the gritty details of our first time. Has it happened? Yeah, it has. We had to get some advice from Leander's doctor, but thankfully Leander is able to function down there, and he can achieve an orgasm. Our first time was a long slow, and complex affair. I had spoken to Calvin three times before anything happened with Bear and me. But it did happen, and it was a beautiful experience. I could finally get over this fear... or phobia of sex. It was scary going through it, but Bear was great and very patient with me. We decided early on that I would have to be bottom due to Leander's limited movement. But, on a positive note, I was able to watch for the first time Leander expressing his sexual side as I let him cum inside me while we kissed deeply. Everything... all of it was a completely new experience for both of us, but we will be forever chasing that duel climatic orgasm that made us feel as one, as we were locked together in sweaty orgasmic bliss.

Having lived through a traumatic six months, it would probably be natural for me to think it wasn't worth it, right? But it was - every horrible, awful, vile and upsetting moment. So my advice to anyone, if I'm allowed to give it at my young age, is this: If you really want something? Go for it! There will be people who might try to stop you: issues that come up, hurdles you'll have to jump and possible evil you'll have to move past. But no matter what, if there is fate in your gut... If you really feel like something is meant to be, then go for it and hang on for dear life because it might well be a fairground roller coaster for a while, but you will get off and leave that fair safely.

The end

You have been reading

Luke Hanson's Mind & Punishment: A Teen in Despair.

~

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~ A Book by James Matthews ~

A huge heartfelt and personal thank you to @Markb, who has edited this little project for me. His attention to detail has been epic, and this book owes its clean structure to Mark - who has tidied up my little errors in each chapter along the way.

Of course, thank you so much to all my loyal readers, old and new. I have to say - the comments, opinions, detective work and GIFS have been so rewarding, funny and sweet. I have enjoyed having your company while we explored the world of Luke and Leander. I have especially enjoyed reading all your comments at the end of the chapters. You have all given great input, said some lovely things to me and both humbled and encouraged me - Thank you again.

Finally, I would very much appreciate anyone who has the time to please give this an honest and fact-based review. Feedback for writers is so appreciated . I have learned so much from the people who read my stuff because of the private messages they send and of course the feedback they leave in the chapter comments. If you did like the book, please do smash the recommend button.

Thanks for the support :)

James Matthews

Copyright © 2022 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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Trying a different style and a couple of new things in this book and my only benchmark on how that is going is you, my loyal readers. So I have a small favour. Please do click a like if you're enjoying the story and please do recommend the book. If you have a thought or comment I'd be made up to hear what you think. All feedback is relished and of course I do love hearing your ideas, opinions and banter. Many thanks, folks! Now, let go forth on to the next chapter :) 

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

14 hours ago, AlexLittel said:

Quite a ride you"ve taken the reader on in this tale.  Enjoyed it.  Take care.  Hugs

Thanks, appreciate it :) 

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On 8/1/2022 at 12:28 PM, Summerabbacat said:

A very astute observation @VBlew. I commented similarly on an earlier chapter that I thought @James Matthews was handling Luke's mental health challenges authentically and with empathy. I particularly liked how he (James that is) did not reduce Luke to a one-dimensional character, defining him by his mental health challenges alone. He may always face these challenges, but he also proved to be a smart, decisive and caring person, particularly "when the chips were down". 

Hear hear @weinerdog. Of the unresolved matters, the murder of Ben Flowers to be confirmed, was the one I found the most upsetting, moreso because if he was murdered and he was not reported missing, it meant not a soul cared for him. Undoubtedly he was not a likeable character, however, I cannot help but think he deserved a chance (unlike Medea, Elaine, Clyde, Yeltsin and Seth, who if they had been "processed" in acid, I would have cared not).

Your words are too kind. Thank you. I have enjoyed writing this from start to finish and to have you and all the other guys who had something to say along? Well, what more could I ask for. I'm so grateful that people actually like what I write, and to get nice words at the end of each chapter has been humbling. 

You've made the characters more alive than I could ever have done alone. ❤️

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On 7/31/2022 at 5:36 PM, mansexlover said:

Great story thank you. Really fantastic characters, still can't believe how Bear's family especially his mum treated him.

Thank you, appreciate the comments Man :) Thanks for being along for the ride.

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On 7/30/2022 at 8:11 PM, drsawzall said:

Thank you James for taking the time to entertain us with the amazing stuff that lives inside your head...it was wonderful to follow and react to!

I don't know what it was but...something in the way you used characters and imagery, drew mental pictures in my head and I could only express for the most part with my comments. 

As a stand alone, I have to consider this your best to date...thank you!!!

And as for our dear Padawan Luke and his new found confidence..all I can say is...keep your eyes open to the possibilities!

curiousity kill the cat i guess..: Demotivational Poster Part 1

Your gifs have always been dry and perfectly placed. I owe you and all my readers more thanks than I deserve. I'm flattered by your comments and so glad you came along for the ride. 

 

You mention things inside my head? Believe me some days it's a mess and writing brings me such calm and clarity. It's my little island in my head to escape for a while and to have all of you enjoying my output is tremendous. <<<< I rarely use that word. Always makes me think of Trump! I've used it with genuine affection 😁

Edited by James Matthews
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On 7/30/2022 at 5:43 AM, weinerdog said:

One last thought after reading the chapter again I found it interesting Luke could find nothing about Ben Flowers being reported missing.Is it possible the Shepards wanted Duke and Leander and even Luke to think they put him in acid? Another reason for a sequel (hint, hint😄)

I'm thinking alcoholic Mother. Father dead. Mother doesn't even know where she is let alone her Son. With Ben's unruly behaviour, bit psychotic, perhaps not a stable upbringing. Mind you, at 18, he could have gone out and lived his life a loner and no one has any reason to think he's missing.

These are all guesses. I'm the last person who would speculate correctly.

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On 8/1/2022 at 7:28 AM, Summerabbacat said:

A very astute observation @VBlew. I commented similarly on an earlier chapter that I thought @James Matthews was handling Luke's mental health challenges authentically and with empathy. I particularly liked how he (James that is) did not reduce Luke to a one-dimensional character, defining him by his mental health challenges alone. He may always face these challenges, but he also proved to be a smart, decisive and caring person, particularly "when the chips were down". 

Hear hear @weinerdog. Of the unresolved matters, the murder of Ben Flowers to be confirmed, was the one I found the most upsetting, moreso because if he was murdered and he was not reported missing, it meant not a soul cared for him. Undoubtedly he was not a likeable character, however, I cannot help but think he deserved a chance (unlike Medea, Elaine, Clyde, Yeltsin and Seth, who if they had been "processed" in acid, I would have cared not).

@VBlew, can't help but agree!!! 

@weinerdog, et al...So many loose ends left dangling and we know how some folks hate 'em!!!

Hillary Clinton tying up loose ends with Jeff Epstein - Imgflip

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I discovered this story only a few days ago and I have so enjoyed reading it!  My one complaint is that I feel that the ending wrapped up the story much too quickly and that there was still much left unexplained and unfinished between the characters.  Do you have plans for a followup/sequel story?

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