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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. 

Andre and Chris - 23. Chapter 23

Friday was the last day of term. At school it was a mufti day with fun activities for the students which meant that there was no problem getting Ollie off to school.

We received a phone call from Harold and Marjorie. They were of a generation that still liked to use their smart phones to make phone calls rather than send text messages. They asked about William and said how gorgeous he looked on the quilt and insisted the quilt had to be for him.

They also said we could keep the other two as well. I mentioned that we would give one to Ollie. They asked and we confirmed that it was the Ollie they knew. Marjorie said we had to give Ollie the Log Cabin design quilt. It was made with toning shades of blue. “When I was making that quilt, Ollie saw it and liked it. I was planning to give it to him but by the time it was quilted and finished they had moved.”

We told Marjorie that it was Ollie’s birthday next week and we would wrap up the quilt as a present to him from both of them. Ollie didn’t know that we’d found the quilts. They loved the idea. That was one birthday present. What were we going to give him?

We then talked about their trip. They had their motor home so they were taking their time so they wouldn’t miss the things they wanted to see. They were calling from the Queensland Sunshine Coast hinterland and were planning to drive to Maryborough and from there visit K’gari Island, which is the world’s largest sand island. They were totally enjoying their grey nomad retirement.


We visited Bunnings and bought all the paint and equipment needed to paint the shops. Next was carpet for the floors. We ended up ordering the same carpet. It was a standard carpet and available. Mine could be delivered and laid on Tuesday and Andre’s on Thursday. That gave us ample time to finish the painting. Because of the size of our order we received a welcome discount.

Michael called to tell me they would bring Jackson on Saturday and stay to help. This all meant we had plenty of potential helpers.

Carol phoned to tell me that Lachlan couldn’t resist helping with the painting so she and Skye would help with the food. The workers would be happy.


Saturday morning we were woken by Ollie.

I half opened my eyes. “What time is it?”

“Dunno. Just thought we should be ready for when everyone gets here.”

Andre was looking at his phone, “It’s 6.17 and it’s Saturday.”

“Ollie, are you keen to catch up with the Awesome Foursome?”

“Sort of, and I’ve only met Jackson online.”

“Well, you’ll meet him when he arrives. Go and have a shower while we get ready and prepare breakfast.” We were naked in bed and I was trying to politely get Ollie out of the room so we could get out of bed.

“I don’t need a shower. I’m going to be working and I can shower after we finish.”

“Fine. Then just go and get dressed, and we’ll get dressed and see you in the kitchen.”

We had a quick shower and dressed and headed for the kitchen. Ollie couldn’t wait and had already started on a bowl of cereal and milk.

I started the coffee, collected more breakfast ingredients from the fridge and put them on the bench. There was a knock at the door and when Andre opened it Jackson rushed through into the kitchen. He suddenly stopped.

“Ollie! How are you here already. I thought you were coming with Bradley and his dad.”

“I don’t have to. I live here now.”

No one had told Jackson, so I quickly explained, “We’re Ollie’s foster parents now. He’s living with us.”

Jackson beamed, “Awesome. That makes us like family.” He fist bumped with Ollie and then looked around and saw I was preparing breakfast. “Morning Uncle Chris and Uncle Andre. Can I have some breakfast too?”

“Sure.” I started getting more eggs and bacon out of the fridge. I was about to close the fridge when Jamie and Michael entered.

“Thank god you’re still doing breakfast. Jackson was so frantic to get here that we barely had time to get dressed, certainly not enough time to have breakfast.” I collected more from the fridge.

“We met Beau downstairs. He’s gone back to have breakfast with Skye and then wait for the rest to turn up.” I glanced at Jamie. Yes, he’d had his Beau hug.

Andre and I made breakfast for everyone. Ollie helped by setting the table and having the plates and cutlery ready. It wasn’t long before we were all sitting down eating. Jackson and Ollie ignored the four “adults” as they were engrossed in their own conversation.

Breakfast finished and with everything cleared away, we headed downstairs. Beau was already back and assessing what had to be done. Riley arrived with his brother, Cooper. It seemed Cooper was serious about wanting to help. Tyron walked up and was enthusiastically greeted by Jackson, Ollie, Riley, and Cooper. When Tyron reached us, I introduced Michael and Jamie.

Lachlan joined us in work gear and ready to help. I kept forgetting that Lachlan was a very hands on owner of his construction business. David arrived with Bradley at the same time. He was introduced around.

This was the first time I’d seen Beau in his work environment. He thanked everyone for helping, asked what experience each of us had and then grouped us into teams and allocated work.

Beau then explained to each team where they would be working and what they would be doing. He had arranged for equipment such as ladders to be here to use. We had the paint, brushes and rollers and stuff organized. After checking that everyone knew what they were doing he turned to Lachlan, “Dad, get your work belt, we’re going to do some more work with the Gyprock on the walls in Andre’s shop. With luck we should be able to get it finished today, if not then tomorrow. Lachlan beamed and responded, “Yes boss”.

Beau then announced. “We’ll break at 10 for a drink and snack and have lunch at 12. He turned to us adults, “If there are any problem call me. I gave Michael and Jamie my number earlier.” Interesting. He had given his number to Jamie. Beau and Lachlan walked next door.

Everyone started getting busy and I was about to check if anyone needed my help when David took my arm and gently pulled me away from everyone. “I need to tell you something I don’t want the others to hear.”

I nodded to show I understood.

“It’s about Oliver’s mother. She’s been charged with possession. She was picked up on mid-range DUI and she had a quantity of drugs in the car. More than for personal use but not enough to be considered a commercial supply.”

“What does that mean? For her? For Ollie?”

“I’m not involved in the case but I’ve been given some information because of my involvement with Oliver. She’s in custody and her apartment is being searched today. The drug guys are more interested in further up the line and they’re hoping they might find something to identify her supplier. She’ll probably be released on Monday with an order to go into a drug rehabilitation program. I’m just keeping you in the loop but, please don’t say anything and particularly not to Oliver.”

“I understand David and thanks for telling me. I will do all I can to protect Ollie. I’ll start following the local news more closely.”

“The drug guys are trying to keep it out of the media while they’re trying to track the big boys but I’ll try to keep you informed. When will you be finished for me to pick Bradley up?”

“That’s up to Beau. You heard him. He’s running this.”

“Yeah I did. He knows how to get things done. Give me a call when Bradley’s ready to be picked up.”

“No problem. Maybe we can enjoy a scotch.”

“I’d enjoy that.”

He headed for his car and I went back inside to help with the painting.

Ten o’clock break seemed to arrive quickly and everyone headed outside where Carol and Skye had a selection of drinks, including much needed coffee for some of us, and fresh scones with jam and cream. There were no complaints when Beau called everyone back to work at 10.20.

I was amazed at how much was being achieved. We were painting the ceilings and by lunch time they had all received a first coat and the reception area was ready for a second coat.

Lunch was ‘make your own burgers and as many as you want’. Logan had joined to help with the BBQ and Sophie had come with him. She asked if she could have a burger and being told ‘yes’ went off to make one for herself.

Eventually the eating stopped with just enough left over to indicate that Carol had previous experience feeding a bunch of workers. The ‘adults’ settled down to relax with a coffee.

Andre nudged me and pointed. “Look out there.”

I followed where he was pointing and saw what he meant. The teenagers were in the park. Riley and Cooper had brought out some of their “toys” for everyone to share. They all were having fun and moved easily from an impromptu football activity to having fun showing off their tricks on Cooper and Riley’s bikes and skateboards.

I looked at Andre. We knew what we were buying Ollie for his birthday.

At the end of our lunch break, Beau gathered everyone together again. After praising everyone for what had been achieved along with some individual praise, he outlined what we were to achieve that afternoon. Everyone agreed. Just before he finished Sophie asked if she could help. Beau agreed happily, “We’d love you to help. You girls can do this work just as well as us blokes.”

He was about to allocate tasks to the groups when Sophie quickly added, “In a group without my brothers.”

Jackson quickly said, “You can join Ollie and me. It’ll be cool to have you with us.”

Ollie added, “Yes, work with us Sophie, we can use your help.”

Cooper and Riley were looking dubious.

Everyone started heading back into the shop to continue painting. Tyron stopped Andre and me. “Everything’s organized for Ollie’s surprise birthday party. Everyone’s arriving in the morning. You have to keep Ollie out of the way until 11.30 so we can get everything set up. We’re using the empty apartment upstairs. Riley suggested it. It sounds perfect for our party. You just need to slip me a key this afternoon.”

“If we’re keeping Ollie out of the way who’s organizing food for you lot?”

“Carol and Ashley have said they’ll do it. Actually said they’d be happy to do it. You should give them some money.”

I was surprised. “Yes I will, and how much do we owe you?”

“Dunno. I’m using my credit card so I can let you know after the party. But not a lot. It’ll be epic, not expensive.”

“Fine. So how are we going to keep Ollie busy for a whole morning?”

“Easy,” remarked Andre, “Shopping.”

I groaned. Andre smirked.


Eventually Beau called a halt to the day’s painting and briefed everyone on cleaning up for the day. When that was done, he praised everyone for their work. He surprised me by walking around and handing each of the teenagers an envelope with money. Their amazed looks indicated that they did not expect it. Carol stopped any further discussion by arriving with a large tray of fresh from the oven brownies along with drinks. While she was being greeted enthusiastically by the young tribe, and playing affectionate grandmother to them all, I slipped Tyron a key to the apartment. I called David so he could pick up Bradley.

Everyone was tired after working hard. I went to the apartment and returned with an Eski containing beer, wine and soft drinks. I offered the adults, including Jackson and Tyron, beer or wine to finish the day. Tyron declined adding that he was meeting his girlfriend, Emma. The others all accepted.

Logan hadn’t been working but accepted a beer. He said to me, “I came over to collect my lot. I should be paying you. It’s been years since Ashley and I have had a Saturday afternoon all to ourselves.”

Carol laughed and added, “Helping here has been wonderful. I’ve always enjoyed helping feed the workers and this lot have been the best fun ever. I’ll be here tomorrow.”

Michael said, “We should finish our drink and head back to our place. Jackson are you ready?”

“Uncle Michael can I stay with Ollie tonight? We can be ready to start work in the morning.

Before I could say anything, Ollie added, “Yes Uncle Chris, can Jackson stay tonight?”

“Can I stay as well,” added Riley and then Bradley, “Me too.”

I addressed Bradley first, “Your dad’s on his way to collect you.”

“If you tell him I’m staying the night he’ll be OK.”

Andre and I looked at Ollie who was pleadingly nodding “yes”.

Andre picked up my phone, “I’ll contact David.”

I looked at Michael who responded, “Hey I’m supporting anything that means we’re not woken before sunrise tomorrow.” Jamie agreed.

I was not winning. The only card I had left was, “We don’t have enough beds for all of you.” It wasn’t a winning play.

Riley piped up, “We’ve got sleeping bags and pump up mattresses for when my cousins visit. We could use those in the living room.”

“And play games on the TV,” added Ollie.

Logan was still with us and enjoying the interplay. “Sure you can use our sleeping bags and pump up mattresses. Ollie and Bradley, how would you like to eat with us and then you and Riley can bring the mattresses and sleeping bags when you come back.” Logan took the teenagers over to his place.

I looked at Jackson. He was happy with the arrangement. Andre said that David was OK with Bradley staying. Beau, Michael and Jamie said they would go to their homes and be back in the morning.

That left Jackson, Andre and me to have dinner. It was a simple satay chicken stir fry with steamed rice. We shared a bottle of Barossa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

After dinner the mob arrived back and set themselves up in the living room. Andre and I made sure the fridge had a supply of drinks and made a couple of batches of Choc Chip Muffins for them.

They were all interacting well as they played games and talked amongst themselves. I pointed out that there were some DVDs they could watch and there was also the streaming service. At one point they were all talking about making a video.

Eventually Andre and I left Jackson “in charge”, said goodnight to them and went to bed.


Sunday morning we showered, dressed and stepped over the bodies in the living room on our way to the kitchen. We started getting everything ready for breakfast. Fortunately, we had stocked up on Friday and had plenty. Coffee was a priority for us.

Jackson was first to emerge. “I smell coffee. I’d love one but can I have a shower first?”

“Sure. Some of our clothes might fit you. Have a look after the shower. Towels are in the hall cupboard.”

“Thanks, but I’m working again so I’ll just grab some fresh underwear.”

The other three started to wake up and emerged from their sleeping bags like moths from chrysalises. Jackson returned, “Morning guys. Shower’s free.” Riley grabbed a change of clothes he had brought over with the sleeping bags and he and Ollie headed for Ollie’s bedroom.

Bradley stayed and started helping Jackson pack up the sleeping bags, deflate the mattresses and generally tidy up the living room. They were joined by Riley fresh from a shower. The shower started again as they finished packing up the things that needed to be returned to Riley’s home.

I heard the shower stop. “You going to have a shower, Bradley?”

“Ahrr, I don’t have a change of clothes.”

“I see, and you’re sort of in between the other sizes here. None of our clothes would fit you.”

Riley heard part of the conversation. “Whose clothes don’t fit?”

I briefly explained the situation. Riley smiled, “You’re about the same size as Cooper.”

“No I couldn’t . . .” Riley stopped him and texted Cooper and after a brief exchange Riley said, “Cooper will lend you some clean clothes. Just go over and shower and change there. Cooper will meet you at the back door. It’s near his bedroom.”

I added, “Cooper is welcome to come back here for breakfast.”

Bradley was a mixture of concern about imposing on people and relief that he would have a shower and clean clothes. Also, Bradly had met Cooper yesterday while painting the shops. Bradley walked over to meet Cooper.

Everyone pitched in helping with breakfast. It was a genuine joint effort and soon the table was set with plates, bowls and glasses. The juice was on the table along with cereal and milk. Jackson, Ollie and Riley started while I finished the eggs, bacon, tomato and toast.

Bradley hadn’t returned. I was about to ask Riley to check with Cooper when I saw Bradley, in a change of clothes, with Cooper walking towards the stairs. Cooper had accepted the invitation to breakfast.


Downstairs, Sunday was very much a repeat of Saturday. The same volunteers had returned and were still ready to work. Beau fell into role and made everyone feel welcome and appreciated. He subtly reallocated where he had noticed problems with teams on Saturday and told each team what they would be doing. Everyone was happy as they started working.

Because of the experience everyone had from painting the day before, today’s painting was a lot faster and, most agreed, better. By lunchtime there wasn’t a lot left to finish on both shops.

At twelve, Beau pulled everyone together and raved about how fantastic everyone was for getting through the today’s painting. He estimated that it would take less than an hour to finish. “OK guys, and that includes you Sophie, we have a choice. We can stop for lunch now and work after lunch or we can work for maybe another hour and then have lunch and be finished. What do you want?”

Everyone shouted, “keep working”. Beau asked if anyone disagreed. Nobody did so everyone went back to painting. Beau knew how to manage a team of workers.

Everything was finished and cleaned up by 12:50. Beau went around and gave each of the adolescents another envelope with money. I noticed Jackson handed his over to Ollie and Tyron gave his to Bradley. Nice gestures. He then told them to go and wash up and be back in ten minutes.

Skye and Carol brought out trays of party pies, mini sausage rolls, curry puffs and chicken nuggets. Squeeze bottles of sauces were on the table. There was also pizza. Never underestimate the hunger of adolescents. Skye spoke to Beau, Michael, Jamie, Andre and me, “We’ve got a tray of food for you over at the house if you prefer.” That gave us a chance to go and wash our hands.

While we were eating, I commented to Beau, “Giving the young guys money was a great gesture. How much did you give out? I’ll reimburse you.”

“Forget it Chris. I’ll just invoice the business and Andre will sort it out.” He was serious and Andre nodded.

The adolescent group did all they could to burn off the lunch calories by playing in the park and showing off their bike riding and skateboarding skills. Sophie impressed the boys with her skateboarding skills. They were all having fun.

Eventually things wound down. David collected Bradley, Tyron excused himself, again saying he had to go to meet his girlfriend. Logan rounded up his offspring and, saying goodbye, herded them home.

When Ollie was not around, we talked briefly with Jamie, Michael, Beau and Skye about Ollie’s birthday and ideas for presents as they were preparing to go home.

Jackson bounced up. “Uncle Michael, would it be OK if I stayed here, rather than go back to your place?”

“Have you asked Chris and Andre?”

“Not yet. I thought I should ask you. Ollie said Uncles Chris and Andre would agree.”

I looked for Ollie but he’d made himself invisible.

“What do you mean by stay here?” I cautiously inquired.

“For the time I’m up here.” Came the confident reply.

“And where will you sleep? Last night it was all sleeping bags and blow up mattresses.”

“I’ll sleep with Ollie.”

There was silence.

“Fuck! You know that’s not what I meant. I’ll sleep on the other bed in Ollie’s room.”

I said, “I’ll have to check if we have bedding for that bed.”

Michael came to Jackson’s rescue rather than mine. “We have plenty of sheets and stuff for single beds. We can bring some back when we return with Jackson’s luggage.”

I looked to Andre for support but he and Jamie were enjoying watching me squirm. I relented, “Yes you can stay. We’ll set up the other bed.”

“I can do that when Uncles Michael and Jamie get back.”

Ollie reappeared. “I told you they’d agree.”

I ruffled his hair before he had a chance to duck away. “You set this up, didn’t you, you little ragamuffin?”

“Jackson and me talk a lot online. It’s like having a big brother. It’ll be so cool having him stay with us.”

“You don’t mind sharing your bedroom?”

“Nooo. It’ll be like we’re brothers.”

Inside I was smiling happily. I liked Jackson and if Ollie was seeing him as a brother figure that could only be good for Ollie.

I looked at a smiling Michael. “On your way back could you pick up something we could all enjoy for dinner?”

Still smiling, “It’s the least I can do for you. I might be Jackson’s uncle but he’s here to see you, not me.”

“But you know I love you Uncle Michael?”

“Yeah, I do, and I love you too and so does Jamie, but we are very happy to share you with our best friends Chris and Andre and Ollie.”


Michael and Jamie returned with Jackson’s bags, bedding and containers of Thai food. We spread the food out on the table. Jackson and Ollie had Coke while the four of us shared a bottle of Margaret River Chardonnay.

After we had all eaten Michael and Jamie left and Jackson started making up the second bed in Ollie’s room. We pulled up a movie on streaming and started watching. It wasn’t long before we all realized that it had been a busy weekend, and we were all tired.

While Jackson finished making up the bed, Ollie had a shower. Jackson was showering and Ollie came out to us. “I really like it when you tuck me in and say good night to me like my dad did. Do you think Jackson would think I’m a baby if you do that again tonight?”

“I doubt it but let’s find out.”

Jackson joined us wearing just his boxer briefs, just the same as Ollie. I said, “Jackson you should know that Ollie misses his dad and since he’s been here, we’ve given him a dad tuck in as a sort of goodnight. What would you think if we did it tonight?”

“Mmm I have to admit I really enjoyed my dad doing that to me so I love that you do it for Ollie.” He then turned to Ollie. “Ollie, can I give you a big brother goodnight as well?”

Ollie was so happy. “Sure, I’d like that too.”

Copyright © 2023 Paladin; All Rights Reserved.
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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. 
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Damn, that hay fever, it blurred my vision again as read how everyone accepted and treated Ollie, those dad and big brother goodnights bring it on even worse. I'm not sure how my hayfever will react to the surprise birthday party. I guess I'll just have to struggle through. :D

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