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    Mark Arbour
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Paternity - 32. Chapter 32

October 15, 2000

Escorial, CA

Wade

I sat in the kitchen, eating lunch with Matt. We kept grinning at each other, reliving the awesome day we’d experienced yesterday. Stef came breezing into the room, looking distracted and upset. He saw us and that look vanished beneath his façade. “You two look happy this morning.”

“We won our game last night, and then brought Sean back here for one amazing ménage-à-trois,” Matt said. “I’m totally drained.”

Stef smiled, but it faded quickly, his façade cracking. He was only able to shield his feelings around people he didn’t like. “What’s bothering you?” I asked.

“I am fine,” he lied. I just stared at him, denouncing that for the lie it was with only my eyes. He sighed. “I am worried about Will.”

“What did he do this time?” Matt asked in frustration, then shrank under the withering looks he got from both Stef and me.

“Why are you worried?” I asked. Stef knew that Will and I were tight, and that my interest was sincere.

“They have hired a new guard for him, a man who purports to take unruly youths and teach them structure, discipline, and respect,” Stef said.

I stared at him, horrified. “You mean he breaks their will?” We didn’t laugh at the pun in my question.

“That is not what his website says, but that is what it implies,” Stef said.

“That’s not good,” I said. “That’s going to go really badly.” Someone like Will, a smart but strong-willed teenager, put in that position, would fight like hell.

“Apparently Robbie and Brad do not agree, and it has caused yet another heated exchange between us, another reason I am not at my best today.”

“You look great,” Matt said, winking at him, trying to cajole him out of his bad mood, but unusually, it didn’t work.

“You are kind to say so,” Stef said dismissively, then got back on topic. “They think that this man can teach Will some boundaries and parameters, and teach him respect.”

I laughed at that. “Would that have worked for Brad?”

“It would not, and that is why I find this so galling. He has become so stubborn about this, so single-minded. I have not seen him like this since we took down Omega. He thinks he must win this power struggle for Will’s own good, to save him from becoming a juvenile delinquent.”

“Will’s hardly a juvenile delinquent,” I observed. “He’s smart, responsible for the most part, and does well in school.”

“Yeah, but he’s a total smart ass and a major shit-disturber,” Matt noted, getting yet another round of dirty looks from us.

“Sometimes shit needs to be disturbed,” Stef replied acidly.

“So Brad views it as a battle?” I asked sadly. Stef nodded. “And what about Will?”

“He told Brad that this was a declaration of war, and that he would scorch the earth.” Stef shook his head sadly. Matt rolled his eyes at Will’s apocalyptic language. “Brad seemed to think that Will was posturing and that some time with this Mr. Martin will adjust his views.”

“Wait a minute, when did this guy start working for them?” Matt asked.

“Yesterday,” Stef said. “And Brad and Robbie have gone out of town for a few days, starting this morning.”

“They left him alone with this guy after only a day?” Matt asked, amazed.

“Brad said that Will seemed to be doing very well with him, and that Mr. Martin told them he was one of his easier teens to deal with. He was very optimistic, and encouraged them to go ahead and leave. He claims that he likes to start out relationships like this, and that he encourages parents to absent themselves in the beginning. He said it would give him and Will a chance to adapt to each other without other influences. He emphasized that this a normal approach when he starts working with new clients.”

“And you are nervous about this?” I asked. I was. Alarm bells were going off in my brain like crazy, especially if this guy thought Will was easy to deal with.

“I am. I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Maybe the guy is right. Maybe he can help Will out,” Matt said. “I mean, if it’s just the two of them, they’ll be able to get into a routine.” I didn’t buy that for a minute.

“Besides,” I said, “Rosa is there, along with Cody, JJ, and the rest of the staff.”

“Not today,” Stef said. “Sunday is Rosa’s day off. It is the Sabbath.” We nodded to acknowledge her devout Catholicism. “Cody is out of town, and JJ is skating.”

“There’s no other staff there?” I asked.

“Not today. Sundays are usually quiet days, much as they are here.” Stef looked at me carefully. “You are worried about him too?”

“I’m worried about this Mr. Martin,” I said honestly. “What do you have on your schedule tomorrow?”

He pulled out his calendar and looked at it. “I think there is nothing that cannot be changed around. Why?”

“I’m off tomorrow,” I told him, even though I had a ton of stuff to do. “I think we should go down today and check on them.”

“I do not think that Brad and Robbie would appreciate that,” Stef said.

“I’m not worried about them, I’m thinking of Will. The worst thing is that we find everything is great, we take Will out to dinner and find out about his retreat, and we come back tonight.” That wasn’t really the worst thing, but we didn’t talk about the real worst case.

“His retreat did not go well. He and Ryan are apparently not speaking to each other.” There was so much to digest in that statement, that I sort of sidelined it, but the end impression was that that would make Will even more despondent, and desperate.

“I heard about the whiskey bottle,” Matt said.

“It was not his,” Stef said.

“He said it was, didn’t he?” Matt asked.

“He said it was his to protect a friend,” Stef said. “He said that the friend would have been kicked out of school, whereas he was confident that he would be able to explain it to his parents.”

“They didn’t believe him,” I said, leaping to the conclusion.

“They did not, a fact that he is most upset about.” I knew Will, knew how his mind worked, and that would be almost more insulting than them hiring this Martin guy.

“How soon can you be ready to leave?” I asked. I looked at the clock. It was already 1:00pm.

“Give me an hour to get ready,” Stef said. “And to talk to JP.”

“That should get us there in plenty of time for dinner. I’ll call Will.” I speed-dialed his number and just got voicemail, but I left him a pleasant message anyway.

Matt and I went back to our room so I could pack up a few things. “You really think he’s in danger?” Matt asked.

“I think he’s really upset, and really hurt,” I said. “He’s a very smart kid, with a very strong will. He sees this as a war. He’s not going to surrender, he’s going to fight.”

“What’s he gonna do?” Matt asked, thinking I was making too much of this. “Trash the house? Kill the guard?”

“Those are possibilities, but I think he’ll do something worse than that. I think he’ll leave.”

“You think he’ll run away?”

“Yes.” I was sure of it.

“He’ll come back,” Matt said.

“If he can,” I observed. “I’m not sure he’s equipped to deal with the world as a runaway teen.” I’d listened to Father Tim enough that I knew the trials and tribulations that waited out there for homeless teens. Matt nodded, finally getting it. He gave me a nice kiss.

“Go save your adopted little brother.”

“I’ll try,” I told him. Stef was waiting for me in the foyer, with Jeff frantically getting his things loaded into the car. When Stef travelled, it was only slightly less onerous than when the Queen did.

Jeff took my bag, and then looked at Stef, slightly breathless. “We’re ready.”

“Good job,” Stef said, smiling at his hunky secretary. We got into the limo and sat there, the anxiety so thick we could cut it with a knife. “What do you think he will do?” Stef asked me.

“I think he will run away,” I said simply. Stef looked at me, really upset, and nodded. A tear fell from his eye and he wiped it away. He tried to call Will, and got no response.

“Leave a message,” I told him.

“Why?”

“I bet he picks them up. It’s a link to home. It reminds him that he can come back.”

“You are assuming a lot. You are assuming that he has out-foxed Mr. Martin, and that he has managed to acquire enough money and resources to actually run away.” I looked at him, telepathically challenging all those alternate hypotheses, and he called Will back and left him a nice message.

“Should we call Brad?” I asked.

“Perhaps it would be best if you did it,” Stef suggested. I nodded and dialed Brad’s phone. I was kind of surprised that he answered.

“Hello,” he said, and sounded angry.

“Hey there. What’s wrong?”

“Robbie is sick. We got all the way to St. Bart’s, and he was like a zombie. He’s really dizzy, and I can’t wake him up.”

“That’s too bad,” I said sympathetically. “What are you going to do?”

“We’re on our way back to LA,” he said, really pissed off. “It seems like I’m never going to be able to have a nice vacation to St. Bart’s.”

I chuckled. “You’ll have to pull that off your travel itinerary. That’s a shame, too, since it’s such a nice island.”

“It is,” he said. “So what do you want?” he asked, being more playful this time.

“I’ve been trying to get in touch with Will all day today, and he hasn’t responded,” I said. “There’s no answer at the house.”

“He’s probably out with Mr. Martin. They seemed to be getting along pretty well. Martin said he might take Will to a different surfing beach to check out the waves. Will would like that.” Will would, but that didn’t sound like Martin’s modus operandi, at least not according to his website.

“I’m a little worried about him,” I said gently.

“He’s fine,” Brad said. “He just needs to stop being such a spoiled-rotten little brat, and he needs to control that smart mouth of his.”

“I don’t think he’s fine,” I said, reluctantly plunging in.

“What do you mean?” Brad demanded forcefully.

“I don’t think he’s fine at all. I think there’s something wrong.”

“Come on, Wade. You’re more logical than that. He’s just a 14-year-old kid pissed off that he can’t control the world.”

“I think he’s a smart, 14-year-old kid who is really messed up, and has been biding his time before lashing out. I think that time is now.”

“You’re saying I messed him up?” he demanded defensively.

“I’m not throwing blame at you, I’m just worried about him,” I said calmly. “I was planning to go check on him.”

“He needs some time to bond with Mr. Martin,” Brad said.

“Are you telling me that I can’t stop in and have dinner with him?” I asked, throwing down the gauntlet.

“No,” he said hastily. “Of course not. I just wanted you to understand the situation.”

“I’ll let you know how things are,” I said. “I hope Robbie feels better.”

“Thanks,” he said, and we hung up.

“You did not tell him I was with you,” Stef said, with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s not always about you,” I teased, making him giggle.

It was almost 4:00 by the time we landed and got into the car. We’d just left the airport when my phone rang again. It was Brad.

“Where are you?” Brad asked, clearly agitated.

“We just landed at Van Nuys. We’re in the car now,” I said.

“We?”

“Stef is with me.”

“Figures,” he grumbled. “Robbie seems to be doing a little better now, but we decided to just continue home anyway.”

“He’s better already?” I asked.

“Yeah. When we got on the plane, he was really tired, which isn’t unusual with the hours he works. He just passed out for a couple of hours, and then woke up long enough to puke all over the plane and pass out again. When we got to St. Bart’s, he couldn’t even function, so that’s when I decided to come home. Now he’s finally waking up and it just seems like he has a massive hangover.”

“That’s weird,” I said.

“No shit. We should be there in a couple of hours.”

“We’ll see you then,” I said, and hung up. “Robbie’s condition has improved.” I described his symptoms for them.

“That was a pretty severe, yet temporary malady,” Stef said.

And then all the evidence, all the symptoms, began to click into place. “He was roofied,” I said, amazed. We had a speaker come in to the GLBT club to talk about roofies and other date-rape drugs twice each year. The first speaker we’d had was dry as dust, but we finally found a woman who was informative and hilarious at the same time. Her presentation had helped me internalize the symptoms and effects.

“The date rape drug?” Stef asked.

Jeff, who’d been quiet as usual, nodded. “Sounds like it.”

“I wonder how he was roofied.” I asked, and then looked at Stef, even more worried now. We were stuck in some sort of traffic jam, which was maddening, so I called Brad back.

“What now?” he asked, but in a humorous way.

“What did Robbie drink this morning?”

“You want details?” he flirted. “What did you drink this morning?” he asked Robbie. I heard Robbie mumbling. “He had coffee on the way to the plane, and some orange juice once we got on board.”

“Where did he get the coffee?”

“From home,” Brad said.

“Did you drink any?”

“I don’t like coffee.” Before I could say anything else, he started talking again. “JJ’s on the other line. I’ll call you back.”

“So Will put roofies in the coffee,” Stef mused.

“That is our current hypothesis.”

“Smart kid,” Jeff said. “You knew this was gonna turn out bad,” he said to Stef. “You did everything you could to try and stop it.”

“If I had done everything I could, we would not have this problem.”

“First of all, we don’t know what kind of problem we have,” I told him. “And second, the fact that you and Brad aren’t currently speaking to each other would suggest that you’ve done all you could. Have you ever been that mad at him before?”

“No,” Stef said.

My phone rang again, and I answered it to find a really different Brad on the phone. “You guys need to get to the house as fast as you can.”

“Why?”

“Will left JJ a message saying that Martin was tied up in the, uh, room Stef designed for us.”

“The kinky sex room?”

“Yes, that one,” he said. “You’ll need the combo.” He gave it to me and I jotted it down. “Whatever you do, you keep Will there until I get home.”

“I think it is unlikely we’ll find him there,” I said honestly. Brad said nothing for a while.

“He wouldn’t run away,” he finally said, so insincerely that he knew it was bullshit.

“Would you?”

“We’ll be there in a couple of hours, maybe sooner,” he said, and hung up the phone.

“Mr. Martin is tied up in the kinky sex room,” I said to Stef. We were all trying not to laugh, but couldn’t pull that off.

“It really is not funny,” Stef finally said.

“Yeah, it really is,” Jeff chimed in. We laughed again.

We pulled up to Brad and Robbie’s house and walked up to the front door. “Let me enter the code,” Stef said. The door didn’t have any handles on the outside, you just entered a code and it unlocked, then you pushed it open. I opted to try it, so I pushed it, and the door opened up smoothly.

“You won’t need it,” I said. The house seemed to be just as it normally was. Everything was as it was supposed to be, yet there was an eerie feeling about it. We walked in and looked around, as if expecting a ghost to appear, or a bandit to jump out of the corner.

We stood there, looking for something out of place, until Stef broke the mood. “Come on,” he said. The three of us went up to Will’s room, and of course we didn’t find him. I scanned quickly for a note or something, but found nothing. We left his room and went up to Brad and Robbie’s room, where a smell was overpowering, despite the open windows. Stef went over and closed them, shivering as he did. I scanned the room, with some of the drawers open, and a miter saw set up on the dresser.

I saw an empty bucket of acid in the corner. “This explains the smell,” I observed. Stef had his nose crinkled up at the offensive odor.

“What is that saw doing here?” Stef asked.

I walked into the closet and found shoes everywhere, some of them sliced in half. I handed one to Stef who said, “He certainly is thorough in his war plans.”

“He certainly is,” I agreed. I went back into the closet and smelled the acid, even in here. Then I looked at Brad’s clothes, and shook my head. “Stef!”

“Yes?” he asked.

“I think that if you feel like shopping, they’re going to need your help.” There was acid burning through every one of their suits, and splattered all over their ties. Stef looked at the scene of devastation with cold fury. “He was just striking back at them,” I said soothingly.

“I am not mad at him, even though this Hermes tie was a work of art,” he said. “Let us go release Mr. Martin.”

I punched in the code and walked through the door to see a large picture of Brad and Robbie disfigured. Will had evidently taken the time to write “Assholes” across it in big, black letters. “He certainly isn’t shy about telling us how he feels,” I joked. We wandered through the rooms, and I tried to take in the scene as best I could. I’d heard about this place, but only Stef had seen it. It was pretty wild. “That looks like fun,” I said, pointing to the sling.

“In calmer times, I think you have earned the right to a tour,” Stef said, keeping me focused. We got to the big bed, and I giggled, a rare utterance for me, at the sight of what could only be a bondage room. There on the bed was an agitated and struggling Dennis Martin. He smelled horrible; he had vomit all over him. Stef nodded to Jeff, who went and removed the ball gag.

“Let me go!” he yelled.

Stef eyed him carefully. “Where is my grandson?”

“How should I know? He lured me up here, hit me over the head and tied me up! That kid is a menace!”

“And why would he do that?” Stef asked, making no move to release him.

“It’s what these kids do, they get all rebellious,” he said calmly. It was interesting to see the two sides to his personality, the asshole we’d first encountered, and now the smooth talker who made the parents feel comfortable. “It requires a concerted effort to instill discipline and respect in them.”

“Release him,” Stef said to Jeff. “Then escort him downstairs. Keep him in the kitchen.”

“I’m not a prisoner,” Martin objected loudly.

Stef raised his hand to tell Jeff to pause. “Do not raise your voice to me.”

Martin seemed to suddenly absorb the aura of power that surrounded Stef. “I’m sorry. I’m a little upset.”

“That is understandable. But there are a lot of questions to be answered,” Stef said calmly.

“I’m going to go check out Will’s room,” I said. I went back to the beautiful digs they’d built for Will. They didn’t get that money alone wasn’t enough for him, and this was their ultimate expression of that. I rummaged around his papers and found nothing, then proceeded to do a much more methodical search. Then a light bulb went off in my mind. This was a technologically savvy generation. I went to his computer and booted it up, and there, as his wallpaper, were two pictures of Will. The first one was a shot of him, completely naked, from the knees up. Even with the resolution of his camera, his ass was clearly a bright red. And if that weren’t enough, there was another picture of his ass, a close up. There were big welts on it. That asshole must have used a belt or a strap. Below was text box with a message. “Robbie promised me that Mr. Martin wouldn’t use force on me. This is what his promises are worth. This is after Martin backhanded me across the face, smacked my ass a bunch of times with his hand, and whipped me with his belt 7 times. Dad and Robbie: I hate you both. You did this to me.”

“Stef!” I called loudly. “Stef!” I yelled again, the panic and anger in my voice so out of character that Stef actually ran up the stairs.

“What is it?”

“I think I found out why he lost it,” I said. I showed him the picture and he shook his head sadly. I watched his emotions build, the sadness, the rage, and decided that all of these men who had made decisions that led to this were in for a shitload of trouble.

“Can you print that out for me?” he asked.

“I think so,” I said. It only took me a few seconds to spin it out on Will’s color laser printer. I handed it to Stef, and made two more copies.

“I am going to keep this in reserve for a bit, if you will humor me.”

“Of course,” I said.

“I am not going to be able to be civil to this Martin. Perhaps you will alert Jeff to keep him secluded? I must call JP.”

I did that, then checked the other rooms for damage, and found nothing. Evidently his attack was a precision strike, aimed at those he was pissed off at. I thought I’d gotten the whole house when I remembered the garage. I went out there and stared in horror at Brad and Robbie’s cars. I tracked down Stef and dragged him back down there.

“He is most descriptive about his feelings,” Stef observed. “For Robbie, he has chosen the epithets of ‘bitch’ and ‘pussy’. For his father, he has picked ‘asshole’ and ‘douche’.” His voice was even and devoid of all emotion, as if he’d been so traumatized he couldn’t get excited about anything.

“He said it was a war,” I observed sadly.

“Complete with scorched Ferrari,” Stef observed.

“Hello!” I heard Brad shout from the great room.

“It appears that they are home,” Stef said as we headed in that direction.

“Where is Will?” Brad demanded as soon as he saw us.

“He appears to be gone,” Stef said coolly. Everyone seemed to get how incredibly angry Stef was.

“Where’s Martin?” Robbie asked.

“He is in the kitchen with Jeff,” I said.

“Everything looks pretty normal,” Brad observed cautiously.

“Before you reach that conclusion, I would recommend that you visit your room, and the garage.”

Robbie’s eyes flew open at that and he ran into the garage. “Holy shit!” he screamed. Brad followed along. “Holy shit! Look at my car!” He kicked the tire, an ironic gesture. “What the fuck is wrong with people? Why do they have to fuck up my car when they get mad?”

“Like father, like son,” Stef said, smirking.

“You act like you condone this!” Brad shouted.

“Do not raise your voice to me,” Stef said with a steely glare. That shut Brad up. “I do not condone this, but I think that the damage he has done is much less than the damage you have done to him.”

“He all but destroyed our cars.” Brad ranted. “This is what happens when you coddle a kid like that,” he continued on self-righteously. “This is what happens when he knows that he doesn’t have to listen to his parents.”

Robbie and I stared at Brad and Stef, both of us freaking out, with Brad basically blaming Stef for this, for undermining him with Will. I was waiting for an explosion from Stef, but he just wiped away a tear. “No Bradley, this is what happens when your child thinks you do not love him.”

Robbie went to touch the spot on his car where Will had written ‘pussy’ but I stopped him. “Don’t touch that,” I said. “That acid is pretty corrosive.”

“No shit. It destroyed my car,” Robbie said morosely.

“I think that you will find that damage trifling after you go up to your room,” Stef said. He was pissed at them now, and I got the feeling that he was almost enjoying this.

“Fuck,” Robbie said, and rushed out of the garage and ran up the stairs, with Brad close on his heels. Stef and I followed along at a more deliberate pace. Robbie was looking through the open door into the sex room, at the letters Will had written on the wall. “Cute, real cute.”

“My shoes!” Brad said. “They’re cut in half!”

“What?!” Robbie asked, and found his own to be the same.

“My suits are ruined,” Brad said, shaking his head. “All my clothes are destroyed.” He stared at his once-amazing wardrobe, now worthless.

Robbie looked into his own closet and freaked out. “Holy shit! Holy shit! Everything is ruined! Everything!” He was breathing heavily, and his nostrils were flared. “Where is he? Where is he? I’m gonna smack the crap out of that kid.”

And then Stef, who had been manfully restraining himself, finally lost it. “You will do nothing of the sort!” he said to Robbie. His voice was cold and unrelenting, more intimidating than even the loudest yell. “He is gone, he has run away, and if we are lucky enough to get him home, you two will be lucky if he deigns to give you the time of day. You do not deserve it, neither one of you. You are egotistical, selfish, testosterone-driven oafs. I have no use for either one of you!”

They stared at him, stunned. “So you think what he did was alright?” Brad challenged. I thought that was pretty brave of him.

“I think he did what he felt he had to do.”

“Trashing our house and our clothes and our cars?” Robbie demanded. He withered under Stef’s angry gaze.

“Let me ask you hypocrites a question,” Stef said. “It seems to me that not too long ago, you were having some issues with each other, largely revolving around your tendency to dominate and control everyone,” he said to Brad, “a problem which you have not yet corrected.” He turned to Robbie. “And your tendency to be a doormat and not stand up against what you know to be wrong.” They both glared at Stef, but he didn’t give a shit. “I am recalling an evening where I was summoned from my home to fly down here and visit you in the hospital,” he said to Brad. “If I recall correctly, you had just beaten the shit out of Robbie’s Ferrari. Do you remember that?”

“Yes,” they both chimed. They were a little more subdued as they remembered that event.

“I would like you,” he said to Brad, “to remember how you felt when that happened. When you were kicking the Ferrari, when you lodged the sledgehammer in its windshield, what were you thinking and feeling?”

“I was upset,” Brad said off-handedly, but only because his mind was too busy processing Stef’s implication.

“Upset,” Stef commented derisively. “Upset? You had endured so much pain, and you were hurting so badly, that the only way you felt you could get back at the asshole who did that to you,” he said, looking at Robbie, “was to attack something important to him. Or did you just hate the car?”

“No,” Brad said.

“Do you remember how hurt you were? Do you?”

“I remember,” Brad said dismissively.

“I do not think that you do!” Stef actually yelled. “I do not think you remember how messed up you were. The person who loved you, whom you relied on as your foundation, had completely let you down and betrayed you.” Robbie was almost taking these blows harder than Brad, a fact Stef seemed happy about. “Do you remember how alone and adrift you felt? Do you?”

“I remember,” Brad said, getting it.

“I would like you to ask yourself what kind of pain and anguish Will must have been in to do this. How badly must he be hurting to cause this much chaos? He felt alone and unloved. And as I stand here and watch the two of you rant about the damage, I think that he has a point.”

“We love him,” Robbie said.

“I see,” Stef said. “Your love is toxic, then. What kind of parent inflicts this kind of pain on their own child? What kind of parent is that oblivious to his needs? What kind of parent thinks that hiring a goon to beat him up is a substitute for spending a few minutes with him every day? What kind of parent runs off on a tropical getaway and leaves a disturbed child like this behind?” Their mouths dropped, and they both just stared at him. “You two disgust me.”

“Where is he?” Brad asked. He was still really angry.

“We do not know. He has run away. He has run away from you two idiots, and God willing, we will be able to find him and bring him back safely.” He gave them a really cold look. “And when we find him, he is going to come stay with us up in Palo Alto, where we will pay attention to him, make sure he knows he is loved, and nurture him along.”

“No,” Brad said.

“No?” Stef challenged.

“No,” Brad re-affirmed. “When we find him, he gets to choose where he lives.” Personally, I thought that was a major breakthrough for Brad.

“I have warned you in the past about the way you approach conflict,” Stef said, zeroing in on Brad. “You have to win at all costs, and you must vanquish your foes. You do not appreciate the art of a win-win situation. And you are so stubborn, and such an ass, that you have used this strategy with your own son.” He shook his head. “With your own son!” he yelled. “And here is the irony. Your strategy, your actions have brought you to a lose-lose conclusion. You and Will have both been vanquished. I am looking at both of you, and seriously questioning both your intelligence and your judgment.”

“We have to find him,” Brad said with determination, although I wasn’t sure he said that out of concern or for a desire for retribution.

Stef eyed him carefully, his look steely and unforgiving. “Yes, we do. But first we must go deal with this quack you have hired.”

“Mr. Martin came highly recommended,” Robbie said. “He’s got a lot of top quality references. We checked him out thoroughly.”

“You think so?” Stef asked. He pulled out the picture we’d printed and handed it to Robbie. His face went ashen as he handed it to Brad, who had an entirely different reaction. His face turned red with rage. “As I look at the devastation caused by you, not Will, I wonder how he handled this, especially after the events in Paris.” They stared at him, totally defeated now. They’d been defiant, sticking to their guns, up until that point, but Will’s last message to them laid it all out there. Stef just shook his head at them and walked out of the room, with me tagging after him.

“You explained that very effectively,” I said to him with a smile.

“Some people require a sledgehammer through their windshield before they can see what is happening around them,” Stef groused.

“What do we do with Martin?”

“JP is working on that,” Stef said. The doorbell rang. “His timing is quite good.”

“So I’ve heard,” I teased.

I answered the door and ushered in two cops and an attorney. Stef handed them the printout from Will’s computer. “Where is this young man now?” the senior cop asked.

“We do not know,” Stef said. “He has not answered his cell phone.”

“Why don’t you go start talking to this guy, Martin,” the cop said to his partner, “and I’ll see if we can’t find out where this kid is.”

Copyright © 2013 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Reading that message on the computer screen was awful...just awful. I hope he chooses Palo Alto and leaves Brad and Robbie to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives. That's all I have to say about that.

 

Thanks for the quick chapter, Mark! I'll look forward to the next chapter as usual.

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WOW! I knew Stef & Wade would get it and somehow begin to make Robbie & Brad get it as well!

Well written chapter! It just sort of left me with baited breath wondering how Will is doing. Evidently Mr. Martin will have some 'splaining to do' to the police.

Somehow, I think J.P. will have something to say to the paternal units as well....

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On 04/26/2012 02:07 PM, samjones1 said:
Reading that message on the computer screen was awful...just awful. I hope he chooses Palo Alto and leaves Brad and Robbie to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives. That's all I have to say about that.

 

Thanks for the quick chapter, Mark! I'll look forward to the next chapter as usual.

You're welcome for the quick chapter. I wouldn't give up on Brad and Robbie yet. They're smart guys. They can learn from their mistakes.
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On 04/26/2012 02:09 PM, Daddydavek said:
WOW! I knew Stef & Wade would get it and somehow begin to make Robbie & Brad get it as well!

Well written chapter! It just sort of left me with baited breath wondering how Will is doing. Evidently Mr. Martin will have some 'splaining to do' to the police.

Somehow, I think J.P. will have something to say to the paternal units as well....

JP doesn't have to say anything. I think Stef has things pretty much covered. ;-)
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I 2nd the thanks for the quick chapter Mark, much appreciated! I hope that we see frequent, even if shorter chapters, as everyone begins to deal with the situation that erupted...

 

I can't decide if I want to hear next about Will or see Martin begin to get his...Robbie and Brad deserve to twist a bit more in the wind for what they've done, but I do want to know that Will makes contact with Stef or Wade and hears from them that he is not alone...

 

As usual, Stef shows his true steel which few get to see while JP takes back the mantle of family leadership.

 

Great chapter - thanks Mark!

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On 04/26/2012 02:22 PM, mmike1969 said:
"My car!"...

 

Yeah I can see where Robbie's priority is.

 

Thanks Mark for the quick post!

I know, but it has to be a little frustrating. People get pissed off and trash his car. The guy may end up getting just a little paranoid. I visualize JJ throwing one of his hissy fits, and Robbie spending the night sleeping in his car, just to make sure it's safe. ;-)
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On 04/26/2012 02:24 PM, KevinD said:
I 2nd the thanks for the quick chapter Mark, much appreciated! I hope that we see frequent, even if shorter chapters, as everyone begins to deal with the situation that erupted...

 

I can't decide if I want to hear next about Will or see Martin begin to get his...Robbie and Brad deserve to twist a bit more in the wind for what they've done, but I do want to know that Will makes contact with Stef or Wade and hears from them that he is not alone...

 

As usual, Stef shows his true steel which few get to see while JP takes back the mantle of family leadership.

 

Great chapter - thanks Mark!

Chapter 33 is still with Wade; we don't get back to Will until Chapter 34. Then there are a few chapters where I break my pattern and combine narration, similar to "Poor Man's Son." Then things go back to normal, to how they are now.
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Mark, another masterfully prepared chapter. Thanks for releasing it so quickly. I must have reread chapter 31 4 or 5 times just absorbing the significance and potential impact of each paragraph. Stef did a masterful job in having presence of mind enough to remind Brad of his very similar actions as a distraught adult when he and Robbie had their split. The ground work has been well prepared for a return of Will to the abode of his choice and the possibility of minimal retribution on the part of Brad and Robbie. Another outstanding literary work that is suspenseful, strategic and clever.

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Mark, this was everything it needed to be and more! I could visualize Stef going through the rage and Brad and Robbie coming down to realize they are up to a lot Sh*t to deal with when Will geets back. Wonder if they will get in trouble with the law for abling an abuser to be in charged of a minor...

I would not be so fast to think Will decides to go to Escorail just yet. Teenagers moods swings 180 when they see the chance to get what they need or want. Although this implies Brad really changes his approach??? So if Will moves to escorial who could blame him, right?

Your promptness and dedication are much appreciated! sorcerer.gif

It was simply Masterful and Wonderful! Thanks Mark! thumbsupsmileyanim.gif

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Mark, Thank you for the quick post of this chapter. We all are so deeply into these characters you create and the anticpation for the next chapter is building.

Thanks again for the quick chapter.

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The last two chapters have been awesome Mark! Thanks for making this chapter available so fast, I logged on to read Chapter 31 again and was happy to see Chapter 32 available!

 

You made me feel Will's pain as Brad and Robbie seemed overly involved in themselves. As parents, they needed a wake up call. Brad's idea of getting the upper hand with the likes of Mr. Martin was NOT good parenting. Will knew which buttons to push with both Brad and Robbie.

 

I hope that Stef and Wade can get to Will before anything more happens to him, after all he is just a kid...

 

Thanks again for your great stories.

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Well, that was predictable.

 

I'm going to preface this with the statement that other than Will's stories, I have loved everything you have written. They always came across as well paced and thought out (not sold on the dual narrators, though. It really seems to dilute both stories being told). Will's stories, on the other hand, just seem so forced. Okay, maybe not everything; the John and Ryan plots felt natural, and in my opinion show your exemplary writing skills. Will as globetrotting pederasts' wet-dream, however, and this whole "war" between the generations doesn't.

 

The first was just awkward. Yeah, yeah, yeah, "mature for his age" and all that jazz. Sorry, it just felt like a weird focus for a 13 year old character. As for the "war," I'm just having a hard time believing that after everything that happened in M and PMS that Brad would react this way. Had this plot happened before, I could have easily bought in to it, but Brad was walking on glass whenever it was even hinted that he was being a controlling douche. But magically, when Will is involved, that gets retconned. You say that Brad and Robbie are "pretty intelligent," but this backslide in behavior really shows nothing of the sort. For me, it just makes Will's stories feel contrived.

 

I am seriously hoping that after this chapter Brad and Robbie learn their lesson. . . for a second time . . .in a year. You've planted far more interesting and natural plotlines for Will than this one; it would be interesting to get back to them at some point.

 

Not to leave on an entirely negative note, I did like Robbie's lament about the car. That was probably one of the more quotable lines in the series.

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On 04/26/2012 11:06 PM, Hermetically Sealed said:
Well, that was predictable.

 

I'm going to preface this with the statement that other than Will's stories, I have loved everything you have written. They always came across as well paced and thought out (not sold on the dual narrators, though. It really seems to dilute both stories being told). Will's stories, on the other hand, just seem so forced. Okay, maybe not everything; the John and Ryan plots felt natural, and in my opinion show your exemplary writing skills. Will as globetrotting pederasts' wet-dream, however, and this whole "war" between the generations doesn't.

 

The first was just awkward. Yeah, yeah, yeah, "mature for his age" and all that jazz. Sorry, it just felt like a weird focus for a 13 year old character. As for the "war," I'm just having a hard time believing that after everything that happened in M and PMS that Brad would react this way. Had this plot happened before, I could have easily bought in to it, but Brad was walking on glass whenever it was even hinted that he was being a controlling douche. But magically, when Will is involved, that gets retconned. You say that Brad and Robbie are "pretty intelligent," but this backslide in behavior really shows nothing of the sort. For me, it just makes Will's stories feel contrived.

 

I am seriously hoping that after this chapter Brad and Robbie learn their lesson. . . for a second time . . .in a year. You've planted far more interesting and natural plotlines for Will than this one; it would be interesting to get back to them at some point.

 

Not to leave on an entirely negative note, I did like Robbie's lament about the car. That was probably one of the more quotable lines in the series.

"Had this plot happened before, I could have easily bought in to it, but Brad was walking on glass whenever it was even hinted that he was being a controlling douche. But magically, when Will is involved, that gets retconned."

 

That's exactly right. Because when it's his own son, things are different, and the decisions are tougher. Maybe this is one of those things that you have to experience first-hand to truly understand, I don't know, but it makes complete sense to me (having gone through this myself) that someone who normally makes rational, calm decisions finds himself completely unable to do so when it comes to his son. Unless you get that, you won't get this story. That's OK. As you've noted, I wrote others. :-)

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On 04/26/2012 11:12 PM, Laz_9 said:
This was a great start of the day. But it too leaves the need for more - soon.
Soon? I'm doing my best. ;-)
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On 04/26/2012 10:23 PM, Six.Gauge said:
The last two chapters have been awesome Mark! Thanks for making this chapter available so fast, I logged on to read Chapter 31 again and was happy to see Chapter 32 available!

 

You made me feel Will's pain as Brad and Robbie seemed overly involved in themselves. As parents, they needed a wake up call. Brad's idea of getting the upper hand with the likes of Mr. Martin was NOT good parenting. Will knew which buttons to push with both Brad and Robbie.

 

I hope that Stef and Wade can get to Will before anything more happens to him, after all he is just a kid...

 

Thanks again for your great stories.

That's the problem with this kind of conflict. Everyone knows which buttons to push.
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On 04/26/2012 09:00 PM, davewri said:
Mark, Thank you for the quick post of this chapter. We all are so deeply into these characters you create and the anticpation for the next chapter is building.

Thanks again for the quick chapter.

I'm so glad you enjoy this world I've created, with the help of my amazing team and great feedback from readers.
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On 04/26/2012 05:38 PM, DannySilz said:
Mark, this was everything it needed to be and more! I could visualize Stef going through the rage and Brad and Robbie coming down to realize they are up to a lot Sh*t to deal with when Will geets back. Wonder if they will get in trouble with the law for abling an abuser to be in charged of a minor...

I would not be so fast to think Will decides to go to Escorail just yet. Teenagers moods swings 180 when they see the chance to get what they need or want. Although this implies Brad really changes his approach??? So if Will moves to escorial who could blame him, right?

Your promptness and dedication are much appreciated! sorcerer.gif

It was simply Masterful and Wonderful! Thanks Mark! thumbsupsmileyanim.gif

Teenaged mood swings? True that. Brad and Robbie won't get into any trouble for hiring Martin because they didn't know he was an abusive guy. They just thought he was rigid and strict.
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On 04/26/2012 03:57 PM, Napaguy said:
Mark, another masterfully prepared chapter. Thanks for releasing it so quickly. I must have reread chapter 31 4 or 5 times just absorbing the significance and potential impact of each paragraph. Stef did a masterful job in having presence of mind enough to remind Brad of his very similar actions as a distraught adult when he and Robbie had their split. The ground work has been well prepared for a return of Will to the abode of his choice and the possibility of minimal retribution on the part of Brad and Robbie. Another outstanding literary work that is suspenseful, strategic and clever.
Thanks LEN. I'm not always big into symbolism, but I thought the Ferrari was a nice touch. ;-)
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Thanks for the quick turn on the chapters! Housekeeping matters..... I DO like the dual narration, maybe because it is technique I have used myself, but when you are not writing in the third voice, it is a good tool to expose alternative viewpoints. And why do runaways run away instead of runaway?

 

I did like the chapter a lot, far better than the last and I agree in part and dissent in part with my colleague Hermetically Sealed. I agree with the part about Brad, which was part of what I have been trying to articulate and doing successfully. I agree that Brad, because of his therapy would have been less controlling when it came to Will and might have tried some of the same questioning process on Will that his therapist used on him. Most people I know who have been/are in therapy become junior psychologists. And while Stef is right, Brad was single minded in his handing of Omega, he did it using a team and he led the team through good management techniques, not "my way or the highway". So yeah, I think Brad is a bit out of character, but I also understand the need for poetic license to move the story to the end point you have in mind.

 

As to Will, the only part that feels forced/rushed/contrived is the conflict with Brad and the "they don't love - they hate me" attitude. It wasn't too long ago that Brad and Will had a serious conversation and seemed to have come to a good place. They had fixed up his room extra special, they took a surf trip to HI and had been pretty lenient in dealing with his college party. The only thing that changed, and it is still somewhat a mystery as to how and why it happened, was the removal of Pat and why Brad and Robbie never talk to Will about it and why the police or sheriffs never interviewed Will, which would have been pretty standard procedure. So I am still wondering how this happened so quickly and I am hoping we get some insight down the road.

 

Overall I did like the chapter a lot. I actually feel sorry for poor Robbie. I think I'd get a Chevy Nova so people would stop fucking with my car, but I guess it shows what happens when you start to let possessions posses you.

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Wow Mark, I'm not sure if I'm more shocked by the content of the past few chapters or the pace of your postings. Bravo on both accounts. I understand everyone's concerns about Brad's behavior and everything, but I get it. He thinks (the Martin situation) he is doing what is best for his son, as misguided as he is. Besides, this is fiction. Anything can happen. Mark, you do a wonderful job and I appreciate that you share your talents with us. Now perform a miracle and post another chapter soon. ;) Thank you.

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I don't think I have ever loved Stef more. Both him and Wade were wonderful! The sense of problems, that something was wrong first by Wade and then by Stef was right on. They make a good team. No DA or lawyer could have presented the case better. It takes one's breath away. Stef was beyond great. Mark, you have again brought this story to new heights. Words can not express how good this is! Again you have brought these characters to life with their passion and your skill.

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Fantastic chapter Mark! Between this and the last one, this might be your best work in the CAP saga yet. [And, on a personal note, extra thanks for the fast turnaround.] Stef is just fantastic in this chapter. I love this exchange in particular:

“Smart kid,” Jeff said. “You knew this was gonna turn out bad,” he said to Stef. “You did everything you could to try and stop it.”

“If I had done everything I could, we would not have this problem.”

It’s funny how life can turn things around on you, especially the way a big problem can make you see how small the problems you thought you had in your life really are. And there are not many problems in the CAP saga bigger (and thus better at inducing a little perspective) than to have invoked the wrath of Stef, our own Out-and-Proud Don Corleone!-“…what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you'd come to me in friendship, this scum who ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by some chance an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies. And then, they would fear you.” I am glad that someone was finally able to break through and show Brad and Robbie the real problem.

Thank you, Mark, for the gift of this story. It is an incredible gift to have given to the world. Art for the sake of Art. As long as you keep writing you can count on me as one, of the no doubt many, readers who take the greatest pleasure in your work (whether they bother to post comments or not).

All the Best,

StoriReder

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Thanks for the fantasic chapter. I couldn't wait to see what Brad and Robbie would think of what Will did. Served them right. Stef was fantasic and I loved how he was able to relate Will's outburst to their whole debacle.

 

Hopefully, we see the next chapter just as fast.

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