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    Parker Owens
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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.

A to Z - 36. Chapter 36: Zombie

Zombie

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

Holy shit. That was your father? No wonder you never talked about him. No wonder you never told anyone where you lived. But after he took you away, we all felt kind of sick. In school, we all looked for you, but you weren't there. When you reappeared, you were different. You looked like hell, and you didn't talk, not to anyone. You avoided me, us, everybody. You pushed us away. Terry, of all people, said we shouldn't talk about it, and she kept her promise. None of us heard any gossip about you or your father. I was the worst coward, because I just said to the others that you probably needed some time. Some space. Nobody said "bullshit," but it was just that. I was so afraid you'd hate me forever if I pushed too hard to get close again. All I could do was watch from a distance, and feel ashamed of myself.

(***)

November 24 Thanksgiving Day

So today is Thanksgiving. I'm supposed to be thankful. From what I understand, people are sitting down to giant turkey feasts and mounds of potatoes and gravy and all that stuff.

None of that here in the closet.

I can barely function. In the days before the break, I managed to get through school each day, but I was a zombie. I went to class. I bought lunch and hid. I got my work done. I crawled back into the closet as soon as I could.

I can’t sleep at night, because I wake up every hour with dreams of Dad, or Uncle Ray, or Roger Green Hat doing horrible things to me. Sometimes it’s only one, sometimes, they gang up on me in my head.

I haven’t bothered to eat today. There isn’t any food left in my stash. I have money in my pack, why don’t I take some and buy something to eat?

Because I’m scared. I scared shitless to leave my safe little closet; scared to leave the school building; scared that I’m going to run into Green Hat again. Scared of being a killer. I'd rather starve, honestly. I'm so scared, I can't even run away. How stupid is that?

And in school, I'm scared of Kaz and Terry. Scared of having to see Zander and the look on his face. I'm a chicken, and I know it.

I dodged them all for two days.

I guess I have that to be thankful for. They’ve avoided me, and pretty much let me alone. Except that one time.

The day before the break, I sat down in Art class, got out my sketchpad and just started drawing. I really didn't care what I was doing; my pencil just made savage slashes across the white space. I was a complete mess. Then there was someone standing there. I just knew it was Zander, right next to me, without having to raise my head.

"Hey," he said, really softly, like I was some wild creature he was trying to coax out into the open. "Are you okay?"

I didn't look up. I couldn't meet his eyes. Shame. Fear. Pain. Anger.

"What do you think?" I snapped. It came out a lot worse than I intended. "Just. Go. Away." I hissed. "I'm fine," I added, but that didn't really make it any better.

"All right," was all Zander said. He moved away.

I knew I'd hurt him.

Now I really feel guilty. Anyway, Zander and Terry and Kaz probably figured out by now that I'm avoiding them. I really can't deal with their happiness right now. I can't be anywhere near them. I don't deserve it.

Dad was right. I don't deserve anything good.

But today is the day I'm supposed to be thankful, so I can be grateful that I have a place to be miserable in. Fine.

I’m still alive, and I guess I can be thankful for that, too. The cops haven’t found me yet, and that’s a good thing. I can take all the hot showers I want today, and nobody will care – as long as I don’t get the shivers from being out of my closet for too long.

I don't deserve any of these things.

I have to face that I've had a really long run of good luck – too long for me, really. Life was bound to turn back to shit sooner or later. And somewhere in the back of my brain is Dad telling me that it's shit I deserve and shit is what I'll always get.

I need to go to the grocery store. I need to do laundry. I don’t think I can manage those things. Not right now. Maybe I can do my wash under the showers or something. Maybe there’s a vending machine somewhere in the building.

Maybe I can just sleep until Monday.

 

December 5

Deep breath. I’m still here. Less of a zombie now, I guess. I haven’t been writing because I’m so exhausted. Basically, I just want to drag myself through the day. At least I’m more conscious of stuff around me.

I know my emotions are pinging all over the place. Frequently, I’m afraid. Afraid that someone will come up to me and start asking if I was the kid who got attacked at the plaza, afraid that people will know me as a killer, as a fugitive, as a whore, a liar, and all the other shit. And gay.

Funny how that last one seems so small right now.

Sometimes, I’m just pissed off at everything and everyone. Life was good. I had friends. Three of them. Good people who seemed to like me. One of whom was the best looking boy on the planet. Now, I don’t want them to see me. To know me. And I’m sure they don’t want to be anywhere in the same county with me. I sometimes see one of them looking across the cafeteria in my direction, but I don’t look back. I’ve caught Zander glancing at me in class, but I can’t read what’s in his face. What is it I see there? Disgust? Revulsion? Pity? He'll never talk to me again, and maybe I don't want to talk to him either. At least, not right now.

Sometimes, I feel that I can get over this. Hell, I walked out of Carlsberg after getting hurt worse – a lot worse – by Dad. So how come this experience has me so rattled? I wonder if it isn’t because I had so much to lose this time. Then I tell myself that I’ve come through bad things before, and I can survive this, too. I just can’t seem to hang on to that feeling. I forget, and then it all seems hopeless again.

I haven’t gone out of the building since it happened. The Abbotts must be pissed off at me. I don’t blame them. I’m just not reliable. Add that to my list of faults. I’m eating two meals a day at school, and just plain going hungry on the weekend. That sucks. So does doing laundry in the shower room – there’s no good way to dry your clothes, and they don’t get very clean.

 

December 11

I finally did it. I just couldn’t stay holed up anymore. Yesterday, I got up, and with my fear pulling hard at my feet, I dragged myself over to the Abbott’s house. I’ve been feeling bad enough lately without feeling worse about leaving these kind, old people high and dry.

I watched the main street really carefully for any big trucks before crossing. I kept checking over my shoulder behind me all the time.

By the time I reached the Abbott’s, I felt a little better – just quiet streets, just a typical Saturday. But cold. This time the cold is no joke. The temperature must have dropped a lot since before Thanksgiving. I know I’m thankful not to be out walking the roads now. Apart from other obvious reasons.

Anyway, Mr. Abbott was very nice about it when he came to the door. He seemed very glad to see me and said he understood when I told him I had been sick. Another lie, but I didn’t think he’d understand if I told him I’ve spent the last two weekends cowering in a closet. Anyhow, he and his wife had some work for me to do, so I earned a little for the afternoon.

At least, I had enough to do my laundry this morning and buy a few groceries after.

I felt safer today. Sunday is a very quiet day in Blackburn. Though there are people headed to church, there isn’t a lot of traffic, and I could keep a good lookout for danger. While I sat in the warm, clean Laundromat, waiting for my clothes to dry, I happened to glance out the window. I could have sworn I saw Kaz and Zander jogging by. I just caught a glimpse, so I can’t be sure.

I’ll have to keep a lookout for them when I go out next time.

 

December 18

Another week of classes gone by. Another week of keeping low and out of sight. Hard to do, now, but the pain is going away, slowly. Zander, Terry, and Kaz clearly understand that I'm intentionally keeping out of their way as they haven't tried to approach me again. They probably hate me as much as I hate myself after what happened at the plaza.

I think I’m keeping my teachers from knowing anything. At least, I’m trying to get decent enough grades so that I don’t get pulled in for talks or sent to the counselor. The absolute last thing I want is for somebody to try calling home. That wouldn't go well at all.

Mr. Warfield keeps going on and on about the writing contest. I started drafting something, but I couldn’t keep going with it. I tried losing myself in a fantasy world of elves and trolls and stuff like that, but I couldn't make it work. Mrs. Landon keeps giving us reading assignments from old texts that she calls ‘original documents.’ Everyone groans at these, but I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s just reading and writing, and I can do that.

Mrs. Gersheimer has us working on exponents and logarithms. For at least this class, I can get lost in these kinds of problems. It’s just so interesting how they work out perfectly. And there aren't any grey areas, so no arguments over whether an answer is right or wrong. I don’t know why people complain about that kind of work, either.

Now Art, that’s another thing. I’m supposed to draw a picture using a photograph as a model. Mr. Karpus has had me at this for awhile. It’s a lot harder than I thought. I’ve been using up a lot of paper in my sketchbook on this, but I’m not sure I’m getting any better.

Mostly, people are talking about Christmas coming up. I can’t believe it’s almost time for Christmas vacation. Dave, my Physics lab partner, asked me what my family was doing for the holidays. In perfect honesty, I told him that my family was staying put. I’ll be right here, warm and toasty in my closet.

Yesterday, I helped the Abbotts put up their Christmas tree and decorations around their house. I’d never done that before, so I had no idea what I was doing I was absolutely clueless. Dad never got a tree, and we sure as hell never did presents or anything like that. I dimly remember having one before Mom left. When the Abbotts told me about special decorations that they’d had for over fifty years, I hardly believed it.

Anyhow, their neighbor had gotten them a tree from somewhere, so I got to trim off the end, get the tree in its stand, balance the tree, and then put up lights and decorations. That meant trips to the attic, and taking lots of direction from Mrs. Abbott, who sat and managed operations from her chair.

At the end of the afternoon, Mr. Abbott wrote me a check – I was astounded to find it had a substantial ‘holiday bonus’ added on – and then he clapped me on the shoulder and wished me a merry Christmas. He said he’d see me after the New Year, so I guess they won’t expect me next week. That’s Christmas Eve, I think.

There's talk about a big storm coming in this week. That'll mean shoveling work for Mrs. Marjorie and the Abbotts. Maybe we'll get a snow day. Maybe we'll have a white Christmas. Not that it matters much.

(***)

It was one of those days when you wake up, knowing there’s a storm howling outside, and you’re safe and warm inside. There’s some excitement in your gut, but you wrap yourself in the warm blankets and take satisfaction that the wailing wind and driving snow are all out there, and you’re in here. It’s vacation, so you don’t have to get up, go to practice, finish up homework, or anything else. You can just lie in bed and listen to the blizzard beat itself furiously against the house.

The day before, the weather people warned us that the storm would be bad. It was even worse than their predictions. When it hit, the day was blotted out, and the snow piled up. We went to bed with the thrill of excitement, wondering what the world would look like when dawn broke. Waking up now, you could think that maybe the whole day could be safely spent in bed. It’s too early to wake up, anyway. Plenty of time for more sleep.

The cell phone on the stand next to the bed sounded. Who could possibly be calling at this hour, when the light is still dim? The day doesn’t need to start yet. The little rectangle insisted on attention. It kept going on and on. It wouldn’t be ignored. It had to be answered.

“This is your mother calling.”

I knew that ringtone was familiar. My head cleared. Why was she calling? Didn't she just live down the hall? And why was she calling at this hour? Doesn’t she know that teenagers on vacation sleep?

“Are you awake yet?”

Grumbles did not really count as a reply. There was something about Mom’s urgent tone that cut through the fog in my brain.

“Get up. Now. I’m in the barn, and I need you. It’s an emergency.”

Suddenly, the adrenaline surged. What was wrong? She was still talking:

“Just throw on something warm, and get out here quick. And wake up your father, his phone is off.”

I scrambled to action: quick, leap out of bed. Pull on sweats left on the floor. Socks can wait. Pound on Dad’s bedroom door, yell out that there’s an emergency in the barn. Thunder down the stairs. Boots on, coat on. Bang out the door, but make sure it closes. The snow is over my knees, and still blowing horizontal outside, whipped along by a phenomenal wind. Mom’s tracks in the deep snow are already in the process of being totally obliterated.

The barn was quiet after the violent wind outside. The big space was dimly illuminated by a couple of light bulbs. It wasn't one of the animals that resides here in trouble. The animals stood huddled together in the pen for warmth. Instead, Mom knelt over something in the hay.

I saw a boot sticking out of the pile. A body was lying there. It wasn't moving.

Mom looked up, beckoned. She had brushed away all the hay to reveal someone who must have snuck inside to get out of the cold last night. My heart stopped, almost.

I froze, shocked. It was hard not to stare. Is this what death looks like?

“He’s alive, barely,” she whispered. “He’s still breathing, but his pulse is way too slow.”

I reached out a hand, brushed it across the smooth, pale cheek.

“He’s so cold.”

Mom nodded.

“Do you know him?”

Know him? This was the boy who changed my life. Who haunted my days, tortured my heart and entered my dreams.

It was you.

My heartfelt thanks go to Craftingmom for her patience and perseverance in editing this chapter.

Please leave a review. Your remarks or comments of any sort are most welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; 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.
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Chapter Comments



Wow - just wow.
you really surpassed all my expectations with this chapter and I can't wait for the next one. What an ending - plainly evil of you to keep us in suspense like this.

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No! Just no.. Everything I was going to say just got thrown aside by that ending.. Leaving us this way is cruel Parker....

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We have to wait until Tuesday for the next chapter??? You cruel, cruel man... :hug: All I have to say is wow... and that I had a feeling that Zander lived in the house with the barn. ;)

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On 12/06/2015 03:05 AM, ninecila said:

Wow - just wow.

you really surpassed all my expectations with this chapter and I can't wait for the next one. What an ending - plainly evil of you to keep us in suspense like this.

Oh dear. I didn't mean to be cruel. I'm glad this chapter was a 'wow' for you. The experience with Roger Green Hat really hurt Andy, and he's clearly trying to drag himself out of his hole, bit by bit. But winter finally arrived with a vengeance. Thank you for reading and for your review.

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On 12/06/2015 03:11 AM, Defiance19 said:

No! Just no.. Everything I was going to say just got thrown aside by that ending.. Leaving us this way is cruel Parker....

I'm sorry all you were going to write got tossed aside. I should like to see it, someday. Andy was at least dragging himself out of his hole and trying to make a recovery of sorts. Then winter happened.

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On 12/06/2015 03:20 AM, Valkyrie said:

We have to wait until Tuesday for the next chapter??? You cruel, cruel man... :hug: All I have to say is wow... and that I had a feeling that Zander lived in the house with the barn. ;)

Augh. You're the third to call be cruel. Now I shall have to beg your pardons, all. I'm glad you felt the 'wow;' it's exactly how I felt after putting in the last period. Also glad your suspicions were confirmed, though a bit chagrined that the story was that transparent. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing...I really appreciate it.

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What the heck just happened? Go figure Andy would wind up in his dream boys barn half dead from the freezing weather. Who saw that coming? I sure did not!! How on earth did he decide to leave the comfort of his hole to risk freezing in a snow storm to go to the barn? Too many unanswered questions. Just have to wait to see what the Author offers!! Great story after all!

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On 12/06/2015 05:02 AM, slapshot said:

What the heck just happened? Go figure Andy would wind up in his dream boys barn half dead from the freezing weather. Who saw that coming? I sure did not!! How on earth did he decide to leave the comfort of his hole to risk freezing in a snow storm to go to the barn? Too many unanswered questions. Just have to wait to see what the Author offers!! Great story after all!

So many, many unanswered questions. Andy dragged himself around for several weeks, trying to put himself back together. It didn't look too good, and he was still hurt and pretty miserable. For now, we'll have to wonder how Andy wound up in the hay. He's not an alpaca, that's certain. Thanks for you review, and for your continued reading of the story.

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Oh no! Or maybe yes, because even if the reason is horrible, at least now Andy can't hide anymore. I have a feeling Zander's parents are good people who will listen to Andy, when he's ready to tell them his story.

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On 12/06/2015 07:39 AM, Puppilull said:

Oh no! Or maybe yes, because even if the reason is horrible, at least now Andy can't hide anymore. I have a feeling Zander's parents are good people who will listen to Andy, when he's ready to tell them his story.

Or maybe just.plain 'oh.' Andy was slowly recovering from his horrible encounter with Green Hat. And now, what, exactly? Sorry to be vague. You pose some possibilities, but what we know for sure is that the winter can be deadly. Thank you for reading and sticking with the story to this point. I appreciate your comments!

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The nice thing about usually being first, is I get to say whatever i want without seeming to hitch onto everybody else. The terrible thing about reviewing so late, it everybody's said it all. Great day for me to be absent. OK enough ranting. :rolleyes:

 

I was surprised Andy attended classes, but was happy he did. No surprise he stayed away from the friends ...not at all.
I was worried he might try to shovel during the middle of the storm. No one with snow sense would bother until after it was over. But obviously Andy didn't have that. I hope he survives, but the way the story begins, it leaves this wish open to conjecture.

 

Well put together Parker. Nicely done!

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Thank you Parker for another awesome chapter, it was all I expected and more. I was glad to see that Andy was making the effort to overcome his fears. I was surprised that the barn belonged to Zander's family, I was thinking that it may have belonged to his math teacher. I can't wait to see where the story takes us.

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On 12/06/2015 10:07 AM, skinnydragon said:

The nice thing about usually being first, is I get to say whatever i want without seeming to hitch onto everybody else. The terrible thing about reviewing so late, it everybody's said it all. Great day for me to be absent. OK enough ranting. :rolleyes:

 

I was surprised Andy attended classes, but was happy he did. No surprise he stayed away from the friends ...not at all.

I was worried he might try to shovel during the middle of the storm. No one with snow sense would bother until after it was over. But obviously Andy didn't have that. I hope he survives, but the way the story begins, it leaves this wish open to conjecture.

 

Well put together Parker. Nicely done!

Thanks for your reviews. I look forward to them. Andy may not have snow sense much, and certainly no winter great to speak of. That stuff can be pretty bulky. Andy pulled himself through s days, probably much in the same way he did after a stretch of bad days with his own father back in Carlsberg. But this time, he has has to shut out people who might actively take an interest. The terrible thing is that if he tries to shut people out, he might actually be successful.Thanks for sticking with the story so far!

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On 12/06/2015 11:01 AM, Dodger said:

Brilliantly poised Parker. I can't wait to see how this pans out. Great chapter.

I'm glad you felt the chapter was a good one; it was hard to piece together, at first. Thank you very much for reviewing and for reading so far.

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On 12/06/2015 12:20 PM, lukester34 said:

Thank you Parker for another awesome chapter, it was all I expected and more. I was glad to see that Andy was making the effort to overcome his fears. I was surprised that the barn belonged to Zander's family, I was thinking that it may have belonged to his math teacher. I can't wait to see where the story takes us.

And thank you for being patient enough to read so far into the story. I am glad the final portion of the chapter was a bit of a surprise for you. It was a tough part of the story to piece together, and I'm glad it held. How will Zander react to this? It's not his journal, so it's hard to say...thank you so much for reviewing; reviews and comments mean a lot.

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Well, I had no clue the barn belonged to Zander's parents, so the story wasn't that transparent. ;) But I did worry about the school being shut down, including no heating, which might be a problem for Andy. I look forward to finding out, how he ended up in the barn, and what happens next.
Oh, and considering what happened with Green Hat I think Andy coped fairly well.

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On 12/06/2015 07:07 PM, Timothy M. said:

Well, I had no clue the barn belonged to Zander's parents, so the story wasn't that transparent. ;) But I did worry about the school being shut down, including no heating, which might be a problem for Andy. I look forward to finding out, how he ended up in the barn, and what happens next.

Oh, and considering what happened with Green Hat I think Andy coped fairly well.

Thank you for this review. Glad the story was translucent, not transparent. In my experience, most schools hereabouts will continue heating and so in a storm unless them power fails; even so, many have backup generators for minimal heat (cheaper .than repairing the damage later, and because schools serve as emergency shelters). The big worry for closed school is being able to get out and eat if everything is closed. Andy would get hungry very quickly. Ironically, another danger is the very irregularity of the situation; it's totally new to Andy. Thank you so very much for continuing to read and leave comments. I truly appreciate every one.

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I was pretty sure this chapter would start with Zander's narration to provide a counterpoint for Andy's telling in the last chapter, but I didn't expect Zander, Kaz and Terry to go 4 *weeks* without forcing the issue with him. I mean, from their perspective, Andy's drunk dad made a scene in public and then dragged him back home. That doesn't seem to justify 4 weeks of "letting him be"; it's embarrassing, to be sure, but Andy's reaction should seem pretty extreme.
I'm guessing when it started snowing that Andy figured he'd go shovel Mrs. Marjorie and the Abbott's out, but the wind forced the doors closed at school and he couldn't get back in. With no other options, Andy trudged out to the barn, barely making it before collapsing in the hay.
So here are my predictions for Chapter 37:
With the snow and wind so bad, there's no way to get Andy to a hospital or to get paramedics to Zander's place. Zander's Mom has to have some basic first aid knowledge from taking care of animals all that time. So I'm guessing that the chapter opens retrospectively with Andy describing his day up to when he passed out in the hay, then recounts waking up in the guest bed at Zander's place.
I'm guessing the SHTF moment is when Zander's Mom and Dad press Andy for his Dad's cell phone number so they can let him know Andy is okay.
Let's see if I'm anywhere close to right...

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On 12/07/2015 02:38 PM, xleroc said:

I was pretty sure this chapter would start with Zander's narration to provide a counterpoint for Andy's telling in the last chapter, but I didn't expect Zander, Kaz and Terry to go 4 *weeks* without forcing the issue with him. I mean, from their perspective, Andy's drunk dad made a scene in public and then dragged him back home. That doesn't seem to justify 4 weeks of "letting him be"; it's embarrassing, to be sure, but Andy's reaction should seem pretty extreme.

I'm guessing when it started snowing that Andy figured he'd go shovel Mrs. Marjorie and the Abbott's out, but the wind forced the doors closed at school and he couldn't get back in. With no other options, Andy trudged out to the barn, barely making it before collapsing in the hay.

So here are my predictions for Chapter 37:

With the snow and wind so bad, there's no way to get Andy to a hospital or to get paramedics to Zander's place. Zander's Mom has to have some basic first aid knowledge from taking care of animals all that time. So I'm guessing that the chapter opens retrospectively with Andy describing his day up to when he passed out in the hay, then recounts waking up in the guest bed at Zander's place.

I'm guessing the SHTF moment is when Zander's Mom and Dad press Andy for his Dad's cell phone number so they can let him know Andy is okay.

Let's see if I'm anywhere close to right...

Well. No way will I comment your predictions ;) but I appreciate your take on Andy's reticence around his friends. His so called dad didn't just make a scene, he dragged him off. And yes, his friends chose a lousy strategy afterwards waiting for Andy to come back. But Andy is used to being hurt, conditioned to it, and in a very bad emotional place. He was afraid to make that leap to bridge the gap, thinking he'd be rejected or ridiculed. That's his experience, and about a month plus of good can't outweigh the years of bad quite so easily. At least, that's how I saw it. But I fully appreciate the way you have experienced this story, too, and I thank you for your take on it. As for your predictions....thanks so much for this great post.

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So now we know who owns Andy's barn.
Anyway, I have to say I'm a little disappointed. Terry busybody keeps away for four weeks? I would understand a few days, but that long? And it's Christmas too.

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On 03/16/2016 05:23 AM, aditus said:

So now we know who owns Andy's barn.

Anyway, I have to say I'm a little disappointed. Terry busybody keeps away for four weeks? I would understand a few days, but that long? And it's Christmas too.

I don't blame you for your disappointment. Andy kept everyone at arm's length. Terry probably didn't want her head bitten off. You may want to break out the chocolate again.

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I just knew that barn belonged to Zander's family I just knew! XD I don't know how but I just did.
OMG, I know I can just go and read next chapter, but I just wanted to write a comment!

 

When will poor Stefan catch a break :(

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On 05/27/2016 05:25 PM, Manu said:

I just knew that barn belonged to Zander's family I just knew! XD I don't know how but I just did.

OMG, I know I can just go and read next chapter, but I just wanted to write a comment!

 

When will poor Stefan catch a break :(

Stefan -Eric-Andy has caught a few breaks since walking away from Carlsberg. He's alive at least. He has made some friends, who may even stay friends if he allows them to get close enough. And he's not in jail, either. Not yet. Soul there are blessings to count, I suppose. Thank Yiu so much for continuing to read this story.

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I was just thinking a few hours ago, that I am reading journal entries, so it would be a bit hard for a cliff hanger... I stand corrected, and I applaud thee. I had forgotten for some reason, that we also get Zander talking here and there. Now on the the next chapter, I can't wait to see how all this plays out 😁

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