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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 - 44. Chapter 44 Family

Family

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/

February 12 – (Sunday) – continued….

Mr. Stevenson hustled me into my coat and into the car.

“We’re going to see Judge Harrison,” he explained as he pulled out of the driveway, “I called him, and he’s agreed to see us this morning, at his home. It’s a huge favor, but hell, he owes me one or two.”

A judge? Would there be police? Was I going to be arrested? I glanced at the locks on the door. Could I escape from a moving car without killing myself?

He continued speaking as he drove. “The thing is, if we report the abuse done to you, the county takes over and will probably want to place you in a foster home back in Carlsberg. The resources here aren’t very great, and it’s almost always hard for them to find a foster placement in this county. Sometimes, they put kids in an unlocked cell in the county jail until they can find a spot. Not good.”

He turned at a stop sign and paused.

“We’re going to ask the judge to let us take a different path. He has some discretion in these matters, a lot of it. If I’m right, and we’re a little lucky, you’ll be able to stay with us instead.”

A wave of relief flooded through me. I admit it – I thought that maybe Mr. Stevenson might be looking for a quick way to get rid of me. So I have difficulty trusting people. I think that’s going to be a problem for a while. But I really, really want to stay with Zander.

In a short while, we pulled into a driveway between two snowbanks. The house was an older home, white with black shutters, smaller than the Kasimierski’s, but imposing nonetheless. Mr. Stevenson parked at the back, and we were beckoned inside by a pleasant older woman, who smiled at Zander’s father.

“Goodness, Garrett, out here on a Sunday?” she asked.

“I’m afraid so, Molly,” he replied with the hint of a smile. “Sorry to be a bother.”

“Not a bit of it,” she laughed, “it’s good to see you. When are you and Monica coming to see us again?”

“Perhaps someday soon.”

I shifted a little awkwardly as they chatted.

“Well, Garrett, you’d better go through to Thomas’s office. You know the way, don’t you?” she said at length.

“Yes, I do, Molly. Thank you.”

I followed Mr. Stevenson down a little passage, and then into a cozy, book lined room, where a thin, white haired gentleman in a bright green sweater sat behind an antique looking desk, examining a folder of documents through a pair of odd half-moon glasses. He motioned us to a pair of old straight-backed chairs off to one side.

“So, Garrett, what’s this difficulty that’s got you begging to see me on my holy Sunday at home?” he asked in a gravelly voice.

“Judge, I’m sorry to bother you about this on a Sunday, but I didn’t think it wise to wait. I’d like to introduce you to a young man we found trying to spend the night in our barn last night. He calls himself Andrew. Andrew Stevenson.”

The judge’s eyebrows went up. He looked over at me, taking in my slept-in shirt and messy hair.

Zander’s dad went on, “I’ve had a little time to talk with Andrew, and I think he qualifies as a foundling under the statute. As such, I’m going to ask you to name me as guardian ad litem to Andrew.”

“That hardly seems necessary, does it? Why not just contact the county and let family and child services handle matters?”

“We could, but I think maybe you’d want to question Andrew and get the full story from him.”

Now the judge focused his full attention on me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, but the old man tried to smile and put me at ease.

“Andrew, I hate mysteries. I’m going to ask you some questions, and I’m going to need to know what has you sleeping in people’s barns uninvited. You are not under oath, and you are not in any kind of trouble. I just need you to answer my questions as truthfully as you can. Is that clear?”

I nodded.

“Now, Andrew, suppose you tell me about your story, and why it has Counselor Stevenson here all in a lather.”

And so, for the second time that morning, I told my story. At least I’d had a little practice, so this time it went a little more smoothly. As before, I gave the basic outline, sticking to the truth. I didn’t put in every detail. If the judge wanted details, I was pretty sure he would ask for them. He did. Mr. Stevenson had me pull my journal out of my pack, and with my heart in my throat, I handed it over to the judge. He took his time reading it. Again, he asked for clarification on several points. I finished by explaining how Mrs. Stevenson had found me last night.

When I was done, the judge handed me my journal and turned back to Zander’s father.

“Garrett, Andrew’s tale is certainly harrowing and heartbreaking, but how does it bear on your request?”

“Well, judge, the foundling statute is plain about the definition of a foundling. There isn’t an age limit or a competency test. That may be a shortcoming in the law, but there it is. As far as I can tell, Andrew has no living father, and the mother abandoned the family years ago. There may be living relatives, but that would take further investigation.”

The judge nodded, so Mr. Stevenson continued.

“The statute gives you quite a lot of discretion in arranging for the best interests of a foundling; I’m asking you to use that discretion to have Andrew placed under my direct supervision and care, at my home. Frankly, I can look out for Andrew’s best interests far better than the county system can, or is likely to. Our home is much closer to Andrew’s high school and to his after school work than any available county facility. Moreover, placement here under my supervision and care is likely to be both more effective and at the same time less restrictive than what’s available through the system. Currently, family and child services is in an overflow situation. We both know that they’d either place Andrew temporarily in the county jail, or in another county, quite possibly back in Carlsberg. Given what Andrew tells us about his experiences in Carlsberg, placement there could be entirely prejudicial to his interests. For one thing, he appears to be doing well in school here in Blackburn. As an educational decision-maker, I can ensure his progress continues seamlessly.”

He paused in his speech for a moment.

“Second, and related to this, is that our family can and will provide essential care and follow-up more effectively than family and child services. I don’t think Andrew has had any medical or dental care in years, and there may be other issues yet uncovered. I challenge you to find anyone who will be more dedicated to the care of a young man than Monica and myself.”

I looked at Mr. Stevenson in surprise. Doctors? Dentists? I didn’t need any of that. I’m not sick. But he was still speaking, and the judge still listened, attentively.

“Third, there are important unresolved issues in relation to Andrew's past. As guardian, I can hire appropriate counsel and representation to investigate and verify his history and the circumstances of his father's death. If Andrew is a person of interest in an investigation, he should have a lawyer present under questioning, if and when that happens. Then there's the issue of property that might properly belong to Andrew. If his father is indeed deceased, and if his mother can’t be traced, the residuary estate would pass to Andrew. These funds should be used entirely for his future support, and I’m sufficiently expert in these matters to make sure they wouldn’t get siphoned off to other purposes, as we both know can happen.”

Mr. Stevenson looked very dark and serious about this. He went on.

“Fourth, and most important, is that if you name me as guardian and Andrew is placed with us, you can be sure that he’ll be with a nuclear family that wants him and cares for him. Monica, my son Zander, and I have all formed an attachment to Andrew. Fifth…”

“All right, counselor, you can stop now,” the judge abruptly said, holding up his hand, “I don’t need any more convincing. I assume you have the paperwork drawn up?”

Mr. Stevenson nodded and pulled a sheaf of papers out of the folder he held on his lap. Judge Harrison took them and looked them over, nodding here and there. As he read, I thought about what Zander’s dad had said. It was one thing to tell Zander I would stay, but that was a pretty hazy idea. This was a family that said they wanted me. How could they want me? I wondered uncertainly, how anybody, even Zander, could want anything to do with me, once they got to know me well enough. Once I started screwing things up. Somehow, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the whole idea.

“Now, Andrew,” said the judge, and I snapped back to the moment, “I need to ask you some questions.” He looked at me seriously, but not without kindness. “First, I need you to affirm that everything you have told me about yourself this morning is true. Can you do this?”

“Yes sir, it’s true, all of it.” I said quietly.

“Good. Second, do you understand that if the police want you in Carlsberg, there won't be anything I can do to interfere? If Counselor Stevenson has anything to do with it, you'll have a fine lawyer to represent you, but if your presence is required, you'll have to go."

I looked over at Mr. Stevenson, who nodded slowly. If I had to go back to Carlsberg, he'd see that I had a fighting chance to stay out of jail.

'Yes, sir."

Judge Harrison was speaking again. "Third, I need to know that there are no other facts or details which affect your story or your circumstances significantly.”

I puzzled over that one for a moment.

“Sir, I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I mean, are there any resources or family you didn’t tell me about? Apart from the issue of your father’s death, which will be investigated, is there another reason for the police to be looking for you?” he explained carefully.

“Oh. Then, no.” Ambrose Whitley was just plain wrong about me last summer. By now, he'd probably forgotten all about me. Glad to be rid of Eric Anderson.

He nodded and looked at me sharply. “Fourth: Andrew, do you understand that if I name Mr. Stevenson to be your guardian ad litem, and grant permission for you to be placed under his care and supervision, you become subject to him as an agent of this county, and of this court, as if you were his child and he were your parent in every respect, and that he will be bound by me, by this court and by his oath to act on your behalf in your best interests?”

I took a moment to digest that. “I think I understand, sir. Mr. Stevenson becomes my substitute parent and has to answer to you. I have to do what he says.”

“That’s right,” said the judge, with a small smile, “and you must both follow all the laws concerning your schooling, work, health and so on.”

“All right,” I said.

“Finally, do you understand, Andrew, that this is a temporary measure until this court and an appropriate agency of the state shall make a permanent determination of your status, based on the resolution of issues that may arise from your father’s death?”

Temporary? I could only stay with Zander temporarily? For how long? But then I figured that any time I could spend with Zander would be worth it.

“Yes. I understand.”

“Is all this your stated wish, Andrew?”

I didn’t hesitate. “Yes, sir.”

“All right then.” The judge turned to Zander’s dad again. He spoke formally: “The petition of Garrett Alexander Stevenson, esquire, to have the minor currently called Andrew Stevenson placed by this court as a foundling under the temporary care and supervision of the same Garrett Alexander Stevenson, esquire, is hereby granted, to be reviewed in ninety days.”

He set one of the documents down on his desk and signed it. Judge Harrison then picked up another set of papers and spoke again.

“The petition of Garrett Alexander Stevenson, esquire, to be named as guardian ad litem for the minor currently named Andrew Stevenson, and residing at the same address, is granted for the period of ninety days, to be reviewed at the end of that period.” He signed his name on the last page.

Judge Harrison wasn’t done, though. He turned to me. "Andrew, this matter of your father's death is disturbing. Your journal is compelling testimony, but it's not conclusive."

I must have looked confused.

The Judge went on, "You say you weren't arrested in the journal, but there may be a warrant outstanding. As you are essentially a ward of this court, I'm going to take it upon my office to make a few discreet inquiries about your father's death with the authorities in Carlsberg. It may take a little while, because my office is shorthanded, but you or your guardian here will hear from me when I know something."

I nodded.

"And as I said, if the police in Carlsberg want you, then you'll have to go and face the music."

That wasn't very good news, but what else could I say? "Yes sir."

The judge spoke to Mr. Stevenson. “Garrett, I expect you to hold Andrew available to me for examination at any time, either in your presence or alone, with reasonable notice given. Is that clear?”

“Of course, judge,” Mr. Stevenson, grinned. “Maybe you can come to dinner some night for that. Monica would be happy to see you and Molly.”

The judge smiled and said, “We’d like that. Now, Andrew, is there anything else you need from me?”

I hesitated. There was something that had occurred to me earlier in our talk, and now that the opportunity had arisen, I wanted to ask about it. Still, I wasn’t used to asking for things.

“Well, sir…I was wondering…what would I have to do to change my name? Legally, I mean?” I finally got it out.

Judge Harrison considered that for a moment. “I think we can do that. You’ll need to talk with your guardian about some of the details,” he added, nodding over at Mr. Stevenson, “but unless there are any insuperable difficulties, we should be able to change your name in a couple of weeks, once your identity and birth records have been completely established. It’s a matter of paperwork and a few questions before the judge. That’d be me,” he finished with a smile.

I was disappointed that it couldn’t be done right away, but I understood. Legal stuff takes time, I guess. I nodded. “Thank you.”

“Just out of curiosity, to what would you change your name?”

“Andrew Stevenson,” I replied, surprised he needed to ask.

And that was that.

Mr. Stevenson and I loaded ourselves into the car, and we headed back. He took a different route, though. In a few minutes, I discovered why, when he turned the car into the parking lot for the Blackburn City Police Department. I stared at Mr. Stevenson in horror. Had all this been a huge trick to get me into jail?

He glanced over at me and smiled a warm, reassuring smile. “Relax, Andy. Don’t worry. Nobody is going to turn you in. We’re just here to get your fingerprints and foot prints. They’ll be used to confirm your identity from your birth records.”

“Oh,” I managed. I still fidgeted nervously as Mr. Stevenson guided me through the doors. Mr. Stevenson showed the young desk officer a paper from Judge Harrison and asked for some help with the fingerprints. He must have been bored on a quiet Sunday morning, because the officer did everything he could to be pleasant and conversational as my fingerprints and footprints were taken.

I felt funny putting my now inky feet into my socks again. I wondered how I would get them clean at the Laundromat. Then I realized I wouldn't have to do laundry there as long I got to live with Zander.

Then we were in the car again, but we weren’t there long. Mr. Stevenson pulled into the gas station on Main Street.

“You can pump gas, Andrew, right?” he asked.

“Yes. I know how,” I acknowledged. I’d gassed up Eustace Whitley’s old pickup several times on our trips near the farm.

“Good. If you can fill the tank, there’s a phone call I need to make,” he said, handing me a credit card.

I nodded and got out. Funny how I really hadn’t noticed how chilly it was until that moment. The cold air bit at my skin as I stood there waiting for the pump to do its work. I watched Mr. Stevenson through the rear window. His conversation seemed really animated, but I couldn’t hear anything. Suddenly, I felt ashamed and confused. Listening to and watching other people is a survival tactic. If I hadn’t listened in on Ambrose and Eustace Whitley, I’d be in a jail someplace right now. But the Stevensons had been nothing but kind to me. I felt guilty for trying to eavesdrop, ashamed of my suspicion.

The pump handle clunked; the tank was full. I grabbed the little paper receipt the machine spat out into the frigid morning.

I got back in.


“I had to call home,” Mr. Stevenson said conversationally as he pulled back out onto the street, “there were three messages on my phone. Monica told Zander where we were. Apparently, Zander was having kittens.”

I smiled. In his place, I would have been pretty restless and apprehensive, too.

"I'm sorry I've put you to all this trouble," I began.

"Now stop that, Andrew," Mr. Stevenson interrupted. "I enjoyed that. Judge Harrison is a good man to work with, and a little bit of legal sparring is kind of fun for me, all right?"

He paused. "Besides, you knew there were going to be questions this morning. Had to be."

I nodded again, feeling terrible. Before I'd fallen asleep, I'd been planning on cooking up some lie that might satisfy Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson. And these wonderful people were planning on taking me in.

Mr. Stevenson went on, speaking comfortably. "This morning, I tried to call your father's number on my phone. That number is still there from before Christmas, did you know that? Just wanted to tell him you were safe and sound with us. Well, that number's out of service. Disconnected." He stopped to let that sink in. "If you hadn't come clean this morning, I'd have started asking questions. You’d have had to tell your story sooner or later."

He and Mrs. Stevenson had known this morning when Zander and I came downstairs. They'd known something was fishy, and they didn't throw me out immediately. I didn't get it. Why not?

“Sir? Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, anything.”

“How come you told the judge you wanted me? I mean, that’s something you would have discussed with Mrs. Stevenson, right? And it’s not like you had a lot of time for that kind of discussion this morning, so…was that something you just made up…or what?”

Mr. Stevenson looked straight ahead at the road.

“Andrew, Monica and I didn’t have to talk about that part this morning. We’d talked about it last Christmas; how lucky your family must have been to have you; how, if we’d been given the chance to have a son like you, we’d have jumped at it. You're a great kid."

He took a breath, and went on. "Both of us have noticed just how much more like himself Zander has been since he met you – since Christmas, for certain. We both noticed how much more…alive…he’s become. I think that’s all down to you. And really, once you told us the truth, it was obvious what we wanted to do. So, no, what I said to the judge wasn’t made up. Every word was completely sincere. We want you in our family, period. Don’t ever doubt that, all right?”

I nodded. I couldn’t say anything, because my eyes appeared to have blurred with tears, and something seemed to have caught in my throat, suddenly.

(***)

How could Dad have taken off with you like that, without telling me? When Mom explained where you and Dad were, my gut churned. The only thing on my mind was that someone – the police or social services – could take you away from me, just like that. I tried calling Dad, but it went right to voicemail. Three times. My anxiety must have driven Mom crazy, because she sent me back out to the barn to neaten up the hay pile, or find something vaguely useful to do while we waited.

It was easy to tell when the car pulled in; the sound of the Toyota’s engine wasn’t difficult to recognize. I was out the door so fast, I almost broke the handle. And then we were in each other’s arms again, and you were crying. So was I.

The cold finally made us come indoors, hands joined.

That afternoon Mom and Dad insisted on taking us to the mall – not the Wal-Mart plaza, but a real mall almost an hour away. Dad parted from us right away, so it was up to Mom and me to lead you into the department store. It was too funny watching Mom trying to buy clothes for you. She’d pick out something, and you’d say it was too nice, or too fancy, or too new. You weren’t comfortable with new clothes – really new clothes – were you? You took the plainest, simplest underwear and socks. You picked out some soft button down shirts – you liked roomy, flannel shirts, and I finally understood why – but you let me get you some tighter fitting tees that you could wear underneath. You would look so, so good in those. Finally, I found a pair of jeans you liked, so I made you get four or five of that style in different colors. Mom forced you to get another pair of sneakers, and some other stuff. And I snuck in something else – something a little bit extra – that I would give you later.

Dad met us outside the store, the small shopping bag swinging from his left hand in contrast to the bulging ones we carried. He kind of smirked like he had a secret, and winked at Mom. On the drive home, you had this guilty look on your face, like you had done something wrong.

“Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson?” you called out. Mom turned in her seat in an instant.

“I need to tell you something. I’m supposed to meet Kaz for running in the morning, early, before school. Is that still OK for me to do? I promised, and I just remembered it and…” For some reason, you couldn’t seem to finish the sentence.

Mom looked over at Dad. He nodded. “It’s all right if you go. You made a commitment. Let me guess: your running gear is still locked up at the school, isn’t it? Maybe you can borrow something for tomorrow from Zander?”

I nodded at that. No problem there. Mom was talking.

“I’m very happy you asked, Andy. Thank you for doing that. And I think I’d like you to take Zander along too, please.”

Ugh. That meant getting up early. Meanwhile, Mom was using the opportunity to start in on what she and Dad would expect from you, living with us – some of the serious stuff, like the importance of being honest and talking things through, plus more day-to-day things like letting them know where you would be, doing laundry, having chores to do, keeping up with homework, and so on.

Mom kept waiting for you to ask questions, or object, or try to talk something through. Instead, all you could say was “Yes, ma’am, yes ma’am,” until she got a little tired of it. Your face looked so guarded, it was hard to tell if you were taking it seriously.

“Andrew! Are you listening to me?” She nearly snapped.

This was something that happened to me once in a while when I spaced out, so it wasn’t unusual. Not to me. But you just seemed to retreat into yourself. You nodded, hung your head, and wrapped your arms around yourself as if you expected to be whipped.

At least Mom had the good sense to realize what she’d done; she shut up.

I reached over, pulled you into a hug, and kissed you. Awkward to do in the back seat. You relaxed in a few seconds, but you flinched when I first touched you; it nearly broke my heart. The rest of the ride home was silent, except for the road slipping by under our wheels.

Once home, Mom shooed us upstairs with your shopping bags. We were supposed to clear out dresser drawers in your bedroom and then start homework, while she and Dad started making supper. Instead, we left the bags strewn across the floor, and I just held you close. You shook. You cried, silently.

“It’s okay, Andy. It’s gonna be okay, Mom just does that sometimes,” I murmured into your hair.

You shook your head. “That’s not it. It’s just…I don’t…I don’t deserve this. Any of this…you’ve all been so good to me. Your parents are taking me in, they bought me a ton of new clothes – do you know, I haven’t worn actual new clothes since my mom left? – and you’re being, like, this impossible dream of a boyfriend, and I’m just a screwup who can’t listen…can’t do anything…can’t…I don’t deserve you, or them, or any of this.”

This wasn’t the moment to argue. It was better just to hold you, to kiss you gently, trying to pass hope and comfort to you in those easy, simple kisses. Because you didn’t deserve the misery you felt; you deserved better than a few bags of clothes and a roof and a bed.

In a few minutes, you stopped crying and wiped your nose. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

“Stop it,” I cut you off gently. “Stop being sorry. It’s fine. I love you, so it’s okay if you leave tears and snot all over my shoulder.” You smiled at that, so I went on. “And stop saying you don’t deserve this, because, in my opinion, you deserve way better. And loving you is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

The clothes got put away somehow. They didn’t look like such a big pile in the dresser drawers as they did in the shopping bags. We didn’t get our homework started, because we spent the time cuddled together and exchanging kisses. Mom called us down to supper, and you seemed a lot better.

Mom didn’t let you get more than two steps into the kitchen before she got you into a bear hug. She was trying to tell you she was sorry, and it looked as if you got that message. She had made something fairly quick – spaghetti, meat sauce from the freezer, bread, a big salad – it looked great to me, but I watched you when we were told to serve ourselves from the stove.

You took a plate, and put a little pasta on it, with a tablespoon of sauce, and sat down. Mom and Dad exchanged a look, wondering what was up, too. Dad and Mom held out their hands – we usually held hands for grace before meals – it felt so good to take your hand and give it a squeeze.

“Dear God, thank you for this food, and for the blessings of this day,” Dad started, “and thank you especially for sending Andy to us. We thank you for the chance to welcome him and for the blessing he will be. Bless this meal to our use and our lives to your service, amen.”

As he usually did, Dad got it just right. Mom tried to be incredibly careful with you at supper, but she persisted until she convinced you to take seconds on pasta. You needed it: when you took off your shirt that morning, not only did you show us your scars – we could count your ribs, too. Your second helping was bigger than your first, which made me smile. Me, I didn’t need any convincing to take seconds.

After supper we really did have to get some homework done. You didn’t have all your books with you, but we shared what we could. You even typed some of your work on my laptop. Curled up next to you, doing my English reading while you wrote in your journal, was the perfect way to do my homework. My eyes got sleepy before yours did.

It had been an exhausting, emotional and exhilarating day, and we were both tired. We shared the bathroom for brushing teeth and stuff like that. “I’m sorry,” you said, suddenly, “you shouldn’t have to get up early to go running with Kaz in the morning.”

I couldn’t help trying to put the best face on it possible. “It’s okay. I haven’t gone running with Kaz for a while, and this way Mom won’t freak when she finds you’re gone in the morning. We’ll leave her a note. You can wear your new sneakers, ‘cause I bet yours are locked in the school, aren’t they?”

You nodded and kissed me on the cheek, then closed the bathroom door behind you to give me some privacy. But I missed you; and you hadn’t even said ‘good night.’ That rankled me as I tried to settle down in bed. There was a knock on the door, and I could see your shadowy form looming in the darkness.

“Zander? Can I…can I get in bed with you? Please?” your voice pleaded in the dimness.

“Mom’s gonna look for you.” I didn’t want Andy to get in trouble in the morning.

“Don’t worry,” and I could have sworn your voice smiled, “I left a note with a big arrow on it. She can’t miss it.”

“Get in,” I whispered, pleased, sliding over to make room for you. I felt the bed dip as you slid into bed and snuggled up next to me. You kissed me, softly, caressing my lips with yours. Nothing else mattered in the world right then.

“I love you, Zander.”

“I love you, too, Andy.” We could sleep now.

I am deeply grateful to Craftingmom for her patient and persistent editing of this chapter.

Please leave a review. Any comment or reflection is welcome. Thank you for reading this story.

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



It was a great plan Mr Stevenson had. I'm glad the judge could be pragmatic and allow Andy to stay. It's a bit of suspense what's going to happen when they contact the police. It will be fun to see Kaz and Terry find out the latest developments. And how are they going to act in school?

 

Great chapter!

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Very nicely done, Parker. One of the things I admire about your writing is your attention to detail. The scene with the judge is so realistic because you have taken the time to describe the legal details and write the courtroom-style dialogue between the judge and Mr Stevenson. You have obviously done your research, and it really helps set the scene for the reader.

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I definitely loved this chapter, and it's great to see that someone can finally show Andy the love and compassion that he deserves. Also, the plot is sure moving in an interesting direction, I'm fairly certain that Andy will be dealing with whatever he left behind in Carlsburg in the not too distant future. If he's seriously wanted for murder I'm going to question the wisdom of the entire Carlsburg police department.

 

Beyond that, Monica is bugging me. She's got good intentions to be sure, but she needs to step off a bit. That's the second time in like a day that she's gotten all snappy at Andy, and the second time he didn't deserve anything like that. The kid already thinks he deserves abuse, he doesn't need anyone beating him down anymore than he's already been. I guess either the full details haven't been explained or she just didn't get it, but that kid has been maintaining loads of responsibility beyond his years and maintaining straight As while living out of a closet. He doesn't know how to goof off and have fun. He doesn't need that kind of parenting. What he does need is nurturing, self esteem, and how to communicate his wants and needs to others. Also to take better care of himself physically. I hope she figures that out pretty quick.

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As spikey implied, this is only the beginning.
Andy's new life will have layers of complexity which will be challenging.
On the other hand, it will be interesting to watch him blossom at school, once the shadow Andy starts to dissipate.
I look forward to all this Parker, unless you're going to be a prick and end the story with the next chapter!

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This was probably the best path for Andy and this story. He managed to stay under the radar but that couldn't continue forever. This way, he has people supporting him who will fight with and for him. I am curious now about what happened back in Carlsburg because I think that's where the story needs to head next. I'm curious too about the reaction when his story comes out.

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Oh, please say that we'll get a dozen more chapters at least to resolve all of the mysteries. I don't think I could take a quick wrap up now... somehow I don't think we've seen the last of Ambrose Whitley. Great chapter. Got me all teary-eyed.

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Finally, what everyone has been waiting for. A new beginning. I am of the opinion of some of the other commenters, it would be a shame to end this story with a quick chapter or two! There is a lot left to happen for that. Great writing! Great story. Please do not let it end.

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Awesome chapter!
And, considering the care and attention given to all the previous chapters, there is no way this story is going to end soon. Parker has too much respect for Andy, his story, and us readers to do that.

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Thank you for another feat chapter. As usual, it was a joy to read.

 

I echo the thoughts and sentiment from "diogenes"'s review.

 

I enjoyed seeing Andy through Zander's eyes in this chapter. I can't help but think, if Zander were not so emotionally knotted from "having kittens", he would have found tremendous comedy in trying to buy new clothes for Andy.

 

Best aspect of this chapter in my opinion:

 

In spite of the BIG REVEAL, none of the Stevensons fully grasp the extent of Andy's brokenness. Mr. S seems best equipped. Mrs. S is great; she is trying to treat Andy no differently than she treats Zander ... and Oooof .... not getting the same results. Much to her own consternation, she damn near scarred him to death ... ... All four must learn how to live well with one another. Thankfully, Mrs. S does not lack self awareness. On some level she has fully embraced and decided to love Andy as her own. With Andy, she will learn how to safely express that love. And Zander ... well he is just a little too love struck at the moment to even begin to grasp full ramifications ... and good for him and Andy!

 

Finally, the note with the big arrow. Too funny and too cute. While Mrs. S evokes conditioned fear responses in him, he seems to understand her.

 

Awesome Mr. Owens ... awesome!

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Great chapter... AGAIN!
I have this nagging question that keeps popping up... Who set off the flash/smoke bomb in Andy's last school that allowed him to slip out of the window? It's like someone, even back then, was looking out for him.
I hope that they handle Andy's story carefully at school and don't just blurt it all out, leaving Andy with an endless stream of questions that would be really rough on Andy.

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I'm glad that Mr. Stevenson was able to get the guardian ad litem for Andrew. I have a feeling that things aren't going to go so easily with the Carlsberg PD. Does Mr. Stevenson and the judge know about Uncle Ray? Andy didn't mention anything when the judge asked about family. I know the judge read his journal, so he must know about him...I just hope the bastard doesn't apply for custody. Another great chapter, Parker.

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Loved the scene between the judge and Mr S. Very realistic. I hope that things in Carlsberg aren't too complicated and can be easily resolved. At the same time I want to know what went there with the investigation.
This is an amazing new beginning for Andy, and I am excited for him to start off with all of that not weighing him down. When things calm down I wonder if Zander or the gang will remember to ask who Green Hat was, since Andy did claim him as his father. Then there's the unknown of Uncle Ray..
I'm looking forward to where we're headed next Parker.. Thank you for another great chapter.

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On 12/30/2015 02:38 AM, Puppilull said:

It was a great plan Mr Stevenson had. I'm glad the judge could be pragmatic and allow Andy to stay. It's a bit of suspense what's going to happen when they contact the police. It will be fun to see Kaz and Terry find out the latest developments. And how are they going to act in school?

 

Great chapter!

I am not a lawyer, still less a legal expert. My research (such as it was) told me that our US states have many, many laws still in force which are somewhat antiquated. In this story, I fabricated such an outdated law - the 'foundling statute' Garrett Stevenson referred to. I do know that such antiques of the legal code existed, products of a pioneer age when children were found abandoned, wandering on their own, or left on doorsteps in the night. That Mr. Stevenson knew where to look in the code for that statute, and what it could be bent into meaning, is a testament to his legal prowess and flexibility. I am glad you found all this plausible. As long as judge Harrison bought it, that's what matters to Andy right now. Thanks for reading and reviewing - and for your patience as I catch up!

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On 12/30/2015 02:59 AM, Diogenes said:

Very nicely done, Parker. One of the things I admire about your writing is your attention to detail. The scene with the judge is so realistic because you have taken the time to describe the legal details and write the courtroom-style dialogue between the judge and Mr Stevenson. You have obviously done your research, and it really helps set the scene for the reader.

Thank you for your kindness in reading and reviewing this chapter. There are many antiques in the various state legal codes- laws long out of date, based on a pioneer era set of rules and expectations. I confess to having fabricated such a statue - the 'foundling statute' Garrett Stevenson referred to. I do know such anachronisms exist in our system, so I am glad it was plausible.

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On 12/30/2015 03:10 AM, spikey582 said:

I definitely loved this chapter, and it's great to see that someone can finally show Andy the love and compassion that he deserves. Also, the plot is sure moving in an interesting direction, I'm fairly certain that Andy will be dealing with whatever he left behind in Carlsburg in the not too distant future. If he's seriously wanted for murder I'm going to question the wisdom of the entire Carlsburg police department.

 

Beyond that, Monica is bugging me. She's got good intentions to be sure, but she needs to step off a bit. That's the second time in like a day that she's gotten all snappy at Andy, and the second time he didn't deserve anything like that. The kid already thinks he deserves abuse, he doesn't need anyone beating him down anymore than he's already been. I guess either the full details haven't been explained or she just didn't get it, but that kid has been maintaining loads of responsibility beyond his years and maintaining straight As while living out of a closet. He doesn't know how to goof off and have fun. He doesn't need that kind of parenting. What he does need is nurturing, self esteem, and how to communicate his wants and needs to others. Also to take better care of himself physically. I hope she figures that out pretty quick.

Boy, do I love reading your reviews. So Monica needs to step off? I'll bet she knows it, too. She's raised four kids, but never an Andy, and she's in completely new territory, now. Part of this is the abrupt change in the relationship - parent of friend to actual guardian/stepparent in a single day. She will probably lose a lot of sleep over just the issues you raise. But Andy probably doesn't doubt that Zander will still love and care for him, and maybe that will help him trust Monica, too. And maybe he'll find the nurturing he needs. Thanks for your review, and for your patience as I catch up.

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On 12/30/2015 04:27 AM, skinnydragon said:

As spikey implied, this is only the beginning.

Andy's new life will have layers of complexity which will be challenging.

On the other hand, it will be interesting to watch him blossom at school, once the shadow Andy starts to dissipate.

I look forward to all this Parker, unless you're going to be a prick and end the story with the next chapter!

This is indeed just a beginning of a whole different kind of life for Andy. Much of it will be wholly alien to his experience. I am glad you are looking me forward to this, because, no, the story does not end in the next chapter, or even the one after that. There are lots of layers to peel back. Many thanks for your reading, still more for your patience.

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On 12/30/2015 04:35 AM, avidreadr said:

This was probably the best path for Andy and this story. He managed to stay under the radar but that couldn't continue forever. This way, he has people supporting him who will fight with and for him. I am curious now about what happened back in Carlsburg because I think that's where the story needs to head next. I'm curious too about the reaction when his story comes out.

Someone finally got to hear Andy's story, and Andy didn't have to run. Though he got the urge to go, Zander stood and held him fast - and nobody disagreed. The story will continue its path as Andy learns to live very differently to his previous experience. The good news is that you'll have to contain your curiosity for a little longer. :). Thank you for reading this story, and for your patience as I attempt to get caught up!

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On 12/30/2015 05:00 AM, xleroc said:

Oh, please say that we'll get a dozen more chapters at least to resolve all of the mysteries. I don't think I could take a quick wrap up now... somehow I don't think we've seen the last of Ambrose Whitley. Great chapter. Got me all teary-eyed.

Thank you for your review and for reading so far. The story has more to unfold; Andy has more that must be resolved, and more pages left in his journal. For now, Andy will have to get used to something entirely alien to his experience - a whole and loving family. No quick wrap up on that. Thanks also for your patience as I continue trying to get caught up.

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On 12/30/2015 06:24 AM, slapshot said:

Finally, what everyone has been waiting for. A new beginning. I am of the opinion of some of the other commenters, it would be a shame to end this story with a quick chapter or two! There is a lot left to happen for that. Great writing! Great story. Please do not let it end.

You are in luck. No quick ending here. Right now, Andy will have to get used to living with a real family, one that seems to have love at its center. That's a big, big change. Thanks for continuing to read Andy's journal, and for your reviews.

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On 12/30/2015 06:44 AM, Bart said:

Awesome chapter!

And, considering the care and attention given to all the previous chapters, there is no way this story is going to end soon. Parker has too much respect for Andy, his story, and us readers to do that.

Thanks for your vote of confidence. As it happens, Andy must now begin doing something he's never had to do - live together with people who want to care for him. This is not necessarily going to be easy for anyone in the Stevenson household, Andy included. Many thanks for your review, and for your continued reading.

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On 12/30/2015 08:01 AM, said:

Thank you for another feat chapter. As usual, it was a joy to read.

 

I echo the thoughts and sentiment from "diogenes"'s review.

 

I enjoyed seeing Andy through Zander's eyes in this chapter. I can't help but think, if Zander were not so emotionally knotted from "having kittens", he would have found tremendous comedy in trying to buy new clothes for Andy.

 

Best aspect of this chapter in my opinion:

 

In spite of the BIG REVEAL, none of the Stevensons fully grasp the extent of Andy's brokenness. Mr. S seems best equipped. Mrs. S is great; she is trying to treat Andy no differently than she treats Zander ... and Oooof .... not getting the same results. Much to her own consternation, she damn near scarred him to death ... ... All four must learn how to live well with one another. Thankfully, Mrs. S does not lack self awareness. On some level she has fully embraced and decided to love Andy as her own. With Andy, she will learn how to safely express that love. And Zander ... well he is just a little too love struck at the moment to even begin to grasp full ramifications ... and good for him and Andy!

 

Finally, the note with the big arrow. Too funny and too cute. While Mrs. S evokes conditioned fear responses in him, he seems to understand her.

 

Awesome Mr. Owens ... awesome!

You pick up the same thing Spikey did below...Monica is parenting Zander or his older sibs again, and Andy is far too different a boy to get the same results. Monica is clearly going to lose a lot of sleep over what happened, wondering how she could have missed the obvious: Andy is not Zander. Andy fooled her - he can hold it together, and seem like a mature, self contained young man, but he hides his fear and insecurity so well. Of course they all need to give each other time, but the question is, do they have it? But at least Zander loves Andy, which may be the most important thing right now. Thanks for your kind words and for your reviews.

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On 12/30/2015 09:08 AM, Nahrung said:

Great chapter... AGAIN!

I have this nagging question that keeps popping up... Who set off the flash/smoke bomb in Andy's last school that allowed him to slip out of the window? It's like someone, even back then, was looking out for him.

I hope that they handle Andy's story carefully at school and don't just blurt it all out, leaving Andy with an endless stream of questions that would be really rough on Andy.

Thank you for your reviews, and for bringing up those nagging questions. I suspect you will have to contain your curiosity a while longer. Sorry about that. Andy's got Zander for now, and that makes all the difference.

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On 12/30/2015 09:49 AM, Valkyrie said:

I'm glad that Mr. Stevenson was able to get the guardian ad litem for Andrew. I have a feeling that things aren't going to go so easily with the Carlsberg PD. Does Mr. Stevenson and the judge know about Uncle Ray? Andy didn't mention anything when the judge asked about family. I know the judge read his journal, so he must know about him...I just hope the bastard doesn't apply for custody. Another great chapter, Parker.

So many unanswered questions, and I can't answer them! Yes, the best news is that Mr Stevenson convinced the judge to let their family keep Andy as a 'foundling' under the law. Thanks for the vote of confidence, and for continuing to read A to Z.

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It's so so hard to become normal, so hard. Part of you never is, part of ou is always that street kid ....

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On 01/03/2016 03:27 AM, Mikiesboy said:

It's so so hard to become normal, so hard. Part of you never is, part of ou is always that street kid ....

Thank you for this comment. This is the part of Andy's story that I tried not to rush, but inevitably, I felt I failed at that. What he has going for him is Zander's love, and the support of Monica and Garrett. But being normal? He doesn't eve know what that is, yet. Thank you for reading and for your reviews, which mean a very great deal to me,

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