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    sojourn
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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. 

Change of Heart - 45. Chapter 45

I will never grasp the notion that I cannot say anything in less than 500 characters. And no. I don't "twitter".

 

Thanks to Nathan and Ranger the Wonder Dawg.

 

See chapter dedication in "Chapter End Note".

Daniel was making the rounds shaking hands and thanking anyone he could get to. He was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic support these people offered.

Raymond joined the family and watched as his lover glad-handed everyone he could reach. The conversation around the table, of course, centered around Daniel’s coming out. Raymond was goaded into sharing details, even the most embarrassing moments of the ‘accidental outing’. Much to Raymond’s chagrin, everyone laughed uproariously. Everyone was surprised to learn only two Deputies chose to walk out. The overall response had been expected to be quite nasty. Raymond insisted it was Daniel’s command presence that kept the lid on the potentially volatile situation. He emphatically stated, “No one should ever have to apologize for being gay. And Daniel, damn sure didn’t.”

Mellie took up the thread by nodding sagely, and said, “I first heard about it while the meeting was still going on. I swanny! Those ladies spread it through the grapevine like Daniel was some romance novel hero, being all strong, confident and unwavering. I can tell you, it’s hard for me to reconcile the cute little Danny that used to be the lookout, while Jeff stole my fresh-baked cookies, with the strong, handsome, lawman, Daniel is today. If the ladies of this county have a voice in this election Daniel will win over that runty, ugly and constantly angry, hate spouting, Jones fellow by a landslide. He’s trying to attack Daniel instead of addressing his own integrity, crime prevention, drugs, violence and police procedural transparency. Why it’s like painting the living room when your house is on fire.” It was evident that some of those remarks had likely been said before in some civic events where she had a chance to show her support for Daniel while campaigning for her husband.

It occurred to more than a couple of people sitting at that table, that while Mellie couldn’t be faulted for her less than flattering assessment of Jones, the fact was that Daniel’s being gay was a big detractor from Jones own shortcomings, real or perceived. While Jones refused to debate Daniel, his airbrushed image and carefully selected sound bites were permeating billboards, the airwaves, and the internet. As far as campaign improprieties went, Jones would pretty much have to kill someone or be recorded accepting large cash donations from a known drug lord before the conservative individuals overseeing such irregularities would even deign to investigate. Apparently, anyone not registered with their party was considered the opposition. Membership in that brotherhood didn’t require any particular level of morality. One just had to vocally identify and political support was all but guaranteed. That had not deterred Ilya and Tink in their own investigation on behalf of the newest member of the Adams family. Tink was working on creating a program to use the “Blind Carbon Copy” element of email to bypass some of the self-destruct features of the email program Jones had recently been using. The fairly sophisticated email system was one more reason to believe that Jones had some nefarious backers. Daniel had recalled that Jones was barely able to view porn without assistance. The Adams family men each hid a grin when Mellie had taken exception at the notion, “A man running for the number one law enforcement office in the county who would use an email program that appeals to those who deal in sex trafficking, drug dealing, and child pornography could never be trusted.” No one wanted to point out that the email program family members used, including Miss Mellie, was more secure and even sent alerts when someone other than the addressees attempted to open one of their personal emails. Mellie had thought that all emails, tweets, texts and even faxes were originated for everybody using the same software. Mellie’s understanding of computers was like most people when faced with new technology, she understood the very basics and learned just enough to use technology and had no burning desire to learn more. Mellie was intelligent, well educated, and sophisticated, but in the computer world she gets by but is not “Savvy”. She understood her computers and cell phone no better than she did the inner workings of an automobile or a microwave oven.

Once Daniel joined them and dinner actually got underway, he found himself still the target of questions. Raymond felt real pride as his mate patiently addressed each question with complete aplomb.

In an attempt to change the subject, Daniel asked Joe how his campaign was moving along?

Joe took a deep breathe, “Well, pretty good according to our pollsters. Seems I hardly get a chance to sit down here lately. Sarah and Mellie have been keeping me busy giving speeches and shaking hands. It’s gotten so I’m not sure if I’m coming or just breathing hard for no reason.”

Mellie smacked Joe’s shoulder. Although it wasn’t a painful blow, it echoed around the diner. Silence descended like a final curtain. Everyone was staring to determine what had happened and in order not to miss whatever might happen next. Mellie was unphased. In a firm, clear voice she proclaimed, “That was me. I slapped Joe’s shoulder. It wasn’t meant to hurt and it didn’t. It was intended to convey my disapproval of his language at the dinner table. If anyone of you ladies had heard what he said, you’d have hit him too. I swanny, some men shouldn’t be allowed out in public unless they’re on a choke chain or have been neutered. My Joe’s a good man. Y’all vote for him. He’ll make us a fine Mayor. Just know that even as Mayor he won’t get away with much while I’m around.” The laughter was immediate, loud, and warm. To Mellie, it communicated understanding and even approval. She smiled. There were more than a few catcalls of encouragement from understanding wives. Joe had the decency to look away and blush.

With all the dignity of the matron of society she was, in a volume intended for only the family to hear, Mellie scolded her husband. “Joseph Grant Adams, you know very well that sort of off-color, cowhand, roughneck, humor is never to be used in mixed company. It might be perfectly acceptable for an all-male gathering, but what if our Maria had been here? You know she’s at that age where she questions everything. I shiver to even imagine how you would address the questions that comment would have inspired.”

Once Joe was sufficiently chastised, Mellie, to show that the incident was totally forgotten, ordered her husband a big slice of apple pie, ala mode after he had already declined the waitresses offer of any dessert. Mellie knew that a rich dessert followed by some quality alone time could mend her man’s wounded pride faster than a band-aid can fix a little boy’s pretend booboo. Mellie smiled at the notion that this analogy was more than apt.

Daniel’s coming out and the baby’s impending arrival had been thoroughly examined, complete with the admission that Raymond had failed to ask the baby’s due date. Mellie had simply pulled out her phone, asked Raymond the date of his trip to Arkansas and then blithely announced Raymond Cargill Adams was due to arrive, 20 September 2018. This bit of news added another major reason to celebrate.

Conversation settled into exchanges between two or three individuals at the table without engaging everyone or even the majority on any single topic. At one point, Jeff nudged Paul, “Did you see the look on Daniel’s face? He couldn’t believe people would show up in support of a gay candidate for Sheriff. It must have been hard as hell for him to come in here this evening, with him anticipating an almost universally negative reaction.”

Paul responded, “Well, most of my clients seem to be okay with having a gay Vet so I can’t say that I’m surprised. It was almost annoying in a way. I had primed myself to argue and convince them I was still a competent professional and the most common reaction was, ‘Okay, now how is my horse, my cow, my hogs?’ I was caught completely off guard. Most people just don’t care if you’re gay. I can better understand Daniel’s disbelief, his only two jobs have been in what are possibly the most staunchly anti-gay environments to exist in modern times. I think he has a right to be surprised.”

Jeff responded with, “You may be right about the Marines and Cops. But, the small minds that used to permeate less urban areas have been expanded by television and the internet. I agree with those who say that there are no ‘small towns’ anymore. They site cite drug use, gangs, violent crime and the overall mobility of modern day society. People can work in different states, provinces, or nations easily within the span of a decade and still have a very viable, even enviable career path.”

Joe joined in, “Today, anything that disagrees with or challenges someone’s beliefs or anything they find less than flattering can be earmarked as ‘fake news’ with a simple ‘tweet’. I agree that the internet has been very good for society overall but what you see is not always as simple and direct as what it first appears.

“The appeal of living in a small town, at least as reflected in the population density is a major factor in being able to entice new businesses. We can lure industry here because it’s cost-effective now. Whereas, in the past urban industrial centers were almost ‘de rigueur’ for manufacturing success. The fact that people choose to live near an urban area and yet prefer not to live, work there or raise children there, definitely plays to our advantage. Raymond’s team is doing a great job of bringing in new jobs. Local people are beginning to see a real opportunity here for a change. Thankfully the public schools here are already highly rated. This town may literally be just a dot on the map but it’s getting some much-needed attention.

Joe realized this type of conversation was best shared at home, after too much to eat and a few too many drinks. He looked for a more practical topic. “Speaking of attention, how are plans for the ‘Gay Us Carnival in Texas’ coming? I know the date is set for the second full weekend in April but we haven’t discussed much beyond that. Last I heard y’all had made a list of people and organizations to contact, so how’s that going?”

Jeff glanced at Paul, then began, “Most everybody that we asked to participate has responded with great enthusiasm. I wanted to talk to you about something that has maybe become a stumbling block. We’ve gotten approval from the county but the city council has yet to approve the actual permit that would open the town up to the carnival. We know they have the rodeo fairgrounds available, we verified that before we submitted the application. It’s not that they emphatically said no. We considered the idea that they may try to block that weekend by giving it to some other group. We’ve already officially verified that we are the only ones interested in using the fairgrounds that weekend. If they try something stupid like that we can and will challenge that in court. I really think your Mayoral opponent, Georgia Mathis, is responsible for this stalling effort.”

Joe nodded in understanding, “Since she managed to get herself designated as the acting Mayor, she’s begun to exercise some political muscle behind the scenes. I think she got word about the carnival and is stalling the approval in hopes y’all, I mean ‘we’, just give up.” Joe paused a moment, then chuckled, “It just occurred to me, the name alone was probably enough to give her a conniption fit. I hope seeing the actual application was the first she heard of this festival. If it was I bet she damn near pooped her panties.” Joe quickly glanced to see if he was in trouble with Mellie again. Luckily she was otherwise engaged.

Paul offered, “I don’t think she realizes how determined we are or how patient we can be. The ‘Gay Us Carnival in Texas’ is going to happen and it’s going to happen on schedule if we have to hold it in our own backyard and serve free beer and hot dogs and use sparklers instead of a professional fireworks display.”

Jeff smiled with love and pride at his soulmate. Paul was defending Jeff’s idea as if it were his own. Jeff considered a bible verse, “whither thou goest I will go… and thy people will become my people.” To Jeff, it warmed his soul to think that Paul loved him like that and the thought made his smile turn into a shit eatin’ grin.

Jeff, dismissing his grin, added, “We’d discussed hosting the carnival on the ranch. We could buy or rent the needed facilities, that wouldn’t be a problem. First time visitors might have a hard time locating the ranch whereas the city and the rodeo fairgrounds are just off the interstate. Even that could be overcome with advanced advertising, GPS and Google Maps. Springtime rains could make parking and even walking a challenge. The biggest drawback is vendors whose livelihood requires advanced scheduling and the same applies to gay organizations, they need to give their volunteers advance notice also. I have an event staff out of Dallas that has everything set up and laid out so that gay-friendly information booths will be interspersed with fun, food, beverages, carnival rides, and amusements. No one is likely to eat, drink or go on a ride and avoid hearing at least something positive regarding gays. If we don’t hear something soon we’ll have to plan on setting everything up at the ranch and pray for nice weather. If we don’t have one of the pavilions for the band, we’ll have to hire a dance floor. As to the fireworks, we’ll have to have a tanker truck standing by in case of an accidental brush fire. I happen to know a local fire department that just this week received a very large and only slightly used, donated, tanker truck.”

Joe thought for a moment. “Boys, you know I’d like nothing better than to get in there and straighten this out in a hurry. I know most of the City Council members and those guys are reasonable fellows. They just let Georgia bully and intimidate them by bringing the Lord into every issue, whether she supports it or opposes it. I already got speeches set up for pert near every day and evening pretty much until election day. I’ll have Sharon draft a statement of support for the carnival and get that out tomorrow. I’ll also put it into my speeches as an example of increased City revenue that could lead to lower taxes. That should appease the conservatives that have no problem with gay folks.

“Jeff you and Paul are going to have to hunt down each council member and put their feet to the fire. Make sure they understand these are the same folks that provide rides, sideshows, and the same team that do fireworks for our county fair every year. Mellie tells me the garden club is onboard big time and that quilting club Daniel’s Momma heads up is putting out the word and local crafts will be on sale. Mellie has the Ladies Auxiliary at the Church onboard. Hell, even the Boy Scouts want a recruiting booth. If those fellows don’t get behind this fast and fully, I’ll make sure every citizen knows how much potential city revenue they turned away because of their bigotry. I’ll find some decent candidates, conservative or liberal, that will oppose them and make sure that in the future they serve this city only as volunteers.

“Just use some smarts when you go to meet them. I suspect one or two might be anti-gay. The rest are just going along with the crowd. You don’t need all five to agree, just a simple majority. Be prepared to scratch the back of anyone who asks. Ervie owns the feed store and he may look to be our sole source in return for his support. Just do some research before you meet each one and know what to expect. Save Georgia for last. Make sure you see her even if you get all four other members onboard. You don’t want to ignore or antagonize anyone unnecessarily. One last thing, just know that whatever you two come up with, I’ll back you 100%.”

Jeff was again reassured of his family’s love and support. He tried to remember when an adult family member had actually opposed anything he wanted to do. He scanned his memories and came up with examples that were intended only to ensure his safety, not to limit him. Talking with Paul had brought home the fact that not all families were supportive and encouraging in raising their children. He mentally committed to making sure he and Paul’s goals for raising their children included integrity, individual responsibility, and respect for themselves and for others. Jeff had learned early and often, by the example his parents and family had set. Those lessons had taught him that loving parents established limits but encouraged creativity and exploration within those limits.

Since neither Jeff nor Paul was the center of attention, they were able to leave shortly after those who had partaken had finished their desserts. It was dark already but Maria would still be up and about and eager to share the news of her day. It seems that she and DJ were viewed as leaders by some of the other children and they had explained what they considered were the advantages of having two Daddies. For example, when it came to outside activities, one or the other, if not both, were always eager to join in. At least one Daddy was almost always ready for a snack, even after dinner and before bedtime ice cream. And dinner, always, always, always had dessert. Even, if her Daddies and Mr. Fred insisted she eats most of her ‘real’ dinner first.

Upon arrival, they were greeted with the usual enthusiasm that the Princess bestowed upon her returning Daddies. Once they assured Fred they wouldn’t need him for anything else, they settled in the family room to finish watching a Disney animated adventure. Maria sat on Jeff’s lap and draped her legs across Daddy Paul’s legs. They had only watched a short while when Paul caught his little girl staring at him. He ran his hand across his face and felt nothing out of the ordinary. When he looked back a few moments later Maria was still gazing at him with a look of concentration. Paul reached for the remote and paused the video. “Maria, is something wrong? Do I have something on my face?”

Maria, without changing her expression shook her head. Paul tried again, “Then, Honey, why have you been staring at me for the last several minutes?”

Maria looked down into her lap as her fingers began to entwine themselves. “I dunno.”

Jeff joined in, “Princess if you have a problem you need to let us know. Is something wrong at school? Did you have a problem with Mr. Fred? You know you can talk to your Daddy and me about anything. It worries us when we think something is wrong and you don’t feel you can talk to us about it. We can’t fix it if we don’t know what’s wrong.”

Maria was still studying her fingers when Paul added, “Honey, I know something is bothering you. Now tell us what it is. If you think you’re in trouble it would be better to tell us now than wait until we find out on our own.”

Maria’s head snapped up and she met her father’s doubtful gaze. “I didn’t do nothing wrong. And if Melissa says I called her a bad name she’s just lying. And besides I ‘pologized right after. She just makes me so mad sometimes. She’s all time saying bad things to Alex and Carla Gomez. They’re twins in our class that don’t talk very good English. She never says anything in front of Miss Stafford and I’m not sure she even knows what some of the things she says means. Besides she has her cousin, Randy Hill, lie for her if we tell on her. Me and DJ just make sure that the twins eat lunch with us and we sometimes make a game out of them teaching us Spanish and us teaching them English words for things.”

“Well, Princess, we’re proud of you for including and looking out for your friends. And it’s wrong for Melissa to call anyone bad names. But, don’t you see, it’s just as wrong for you to call her bad names. I’m glad that you ‘apologized’, not ‘pologized to her. But, I am disappointed in you for calling her a bad name. What exactly did you call her”?

Maria, again, became fascinated by her own fingers. “I didn’t really call her a bad name. It was just after lunch and she had just eat a baloney sandwich and I could smell it on her breath. She called Alex and Carla ‘welfare wetbacks’. I stepped in front of her and asked her how she would like being called bad names like, ‘baloney breath’?

Maria’s angelic face and body language showed each emotion so clearly it was like a well defined, constantly updated, roadmap to her innermost thoughts. He watched as her expressions illustrated each emotion. She was at first fearful of punishment. Then she became righteous in her anger toward Melissa. That shifted into a heroically determined defense of the twins… Then an obviously challenging expression, shifting into vengeful. Finally, her face showed awareness that she had failed to properly handle the situation. Idly, Paul wondered at what age a kid masters deceptive facial expressions? He answered his own question when he remembered a toddler loudly expressing her innocence with, "Nuh uh!" while maintaining a totally supportive expression of innocence. The proclamation and expression were total bald-faced lies. Oh well, so much for the illusion of 'childhood innocence'.

Maria’s closing argument the defense began, “It was all I could think of at the time. Later, DJ told me some better ones. But, by then it was too late. The bell had ringed and on the way back to class I ‘a’-pologised to Melissa.”

Paul looked at Jeff, who shrugged slightly so as not to alert Maria, sitting in his lap, to his uncertainty.

Paul took Maria’s hands in his and solemnly said, “Honey, what you did, you did because someone did a bad thing. But, what you did was a bad thing also. Why don’t you go get ready for bed and Daddy Jeff and I can talk together and decide what should be done. We’ll let you know what we decide just as soon as we come up to read to you.”

Paul leaned in and kissed his Princess. “Just know that we are proud of you for defending your friends. We’re just concerned about you calling other people names. That is definitely not nice.”

When it came time for Jeff to get his kiss, he noticed Maria’s eyes were glistening with unshed tears. He hugged her especially close and extra tight, saying, “Princess we love you very much and you need to know that we may not approve of some things you do, we will always love more than words can say. You’ll forget this whole episode in a week’s time. But, you should always remember how much we love you.” He then lifted her onto her feet and lightly swatted her butt and said, “Now scoot. We’ll be up in a few minutes.”

While Maria didn’t drag her feet in leaving the room, she definitely didn’t ‘scoot’. Paul could tell she was mentally reviewing the discussion to make sure she had laid out a complete defense. Before she reached the door she released a heavy sigh and picked up her pace.

Jeff sighed and began, “You know, I knew it would be a challenge stepping into a full-fledged family. But, I hate the thought that we are going to punish our Princess for doing the same thing either of us would have probably done in her place.”

Paul nodded in agreement. "Sometimes it gets hard. Like not correcting every instance of poor wood usage. There's a time to educate but before I do that, I try to make sure I listened to what she was saying. It seems that for every educational opportunity there are a half-dozen times I should just listen. I also try never to say, ‘because I said so.’ I know I have on occasion, but I try to remember to give her my reasons later on. I think I’ve gotten pretty good about doing that. I always try to convey the fact that discipline and correction never mean she is loved any less. I really liked the way you reminded her of that just now. What do you think we should do?”

Jeff thought for a moment, “We have to look at the name calling as the offense and the reason as some mitigating evidence. We would have to punish her, realizing that if she calls anyone else a bad name, especially for no reason, she gets a worse punishment. What do you normally do in a case like this? I remember time-outs and a denial of privileges for foul language. I think this falls into that category.”

Paul, again, nodded in agreement. “I think a week of thirty-minute silent, timeouts, sitting in a chair in the corner. She could do it in the kitchen so Fred could supervise her while he fixes dinner.”

Jeff scrunched up his face in disapproval. In an exaggerated Texas drawl he argued, “Your honor, may I remind the court of the fact that my client readily admitted committing the crime before any accusations had been levied. I also point out the mitigating circumstances under which my client in defense of those who were being so callously attacked.”

Jeff grinned at Paul’s look of incredulity. He shifted into his normal voice, and added, “Paul, I really do think you’re being a little too harsh here. How about three days of fifteen-minute timeouts. That leaves lots of room for stronger punishment in the future without it seeming like all we considered was her name calling without factoring in her reason. What do you think”?

Paul reached for his partner’s hand. “I think you’re making a great first impression in your new job as Daddy. I can totally support three, fifteen-minute timeouts.” Paul then gave his lover a kiss of affirmation. “Shall we go tell her”?

Hand in hand they walked into the hallway. Suddenly Paul pulled his partner to a halt and turned him so they face each other. With a serious look, Paul asked, “Just tell me one thing. Have you ever...? I know you’ve tried actual court cases but have you ever talked to a real live judge like that in a real courtroom, you didn’t did you?”

Jeff laughed uproariously. Once he had straightened up and regained control, he explained, “Ah hell nah! I’d’ve been jailed for contempt of court for insulting the judge's intelligence. Judges want to hear the facts presented in a clear, concise, and hopefully convincing manner. You watched too many ‘Matlock’ reruns as a kid. That kind of talk in a courtroom hasn’t been used effectively since the Scopes Monkey trial. Which by the way, had among their team of prosecutors a boy named ‘Sue’. By that time, of course, he was a full-grown man but the point is still valid. Absurdities happen in a trial all the time. Intentional absurdities are reprimanded and sometimes punished with jail time.”

Within her room and under the covers, Maria decided that hearing Daddy Jeff laugh outside her door meant the punishment might not be too bad. She had thought about pretending to already be asleep but that would only prolong her dread. Just like losing teeth, better to get it over with. Nobody wanted to swallow a tooth in their sleep. That’s just gross! And besides, she certainly didn’t want to wake up and face her punishment over breakfast. Mister Fred… always made a really good breakfast and she didn’t want to spoil it by fretting bout whatever dreadful punishment might come her way.

But, Daddy Jeff was laughing that was a good sign. So good in fact, she decided to launch what she was sure was her toughest campaign since hinting for Anna, Elsa, or anything ‘Frozen’ for Christmas. She had been thrilled on Christmas morning. That bolstered her confidence in this new campaign. She didn’t expect to win the battle tonight. She just intended to shorten the war. She knew it took time to wear her Daddy down. It was like waiting for puppies to be born, it just took some patience.

Daddy Jeff was still new in their family and probably should be the focus of her attention. If she could swing him to her side, her Daddy would be more likely to agree to her request. Just like solving her puzzles, she would start with the easiest pieces. That might have meant that her Grandma Mellie and Uncle Joe should have been her first targets. But, if her Daddy could convince them to agree with him he would stand a better chance of persuading her Daddy Jeff to agree to deny her request and all would be lost.

At the sound of the knock, Maria forgot all about what she was planning only moments before. She now focused on what she was sure to be some major punishment. She wanted to rule out spanking. But, she knew some kids got spanked and she 'had' called Melissa a bad name. Of course, she left out the part where the other kids also called her, “baloney breath”. She figured Melissa would be known as “baloney breath” on the playground for some time to come. But, that was not her fault. Okay, technically it was but she didn’t have to volunteer that to her Daddies. If it came out later, well that was later. The idea that Melissa would be known as "baloney breath", actually seemed to make getting punished, not so bad.

Maria, very meekly said, “Come in.” Her Daddies came in and took a seat on either side of her, on the bed. No one remarked on the laughter in the hall.

Jeff looked at Paul and got a ‘go ahead’ nod in return. He cleared his throat and solemnly began, “Princess, your Daddy and I have talked this over and we both agree that you were very brave in sticking up for the twins and we are proud of you for that. But, you called Melissa a bad name and that we both agree has to be punished. You can’t go around calling people bad names and expect there to be no consequences. So, we have decided that for the next three days, for fifteen minutes, you will sit in a chair in the corner of the kitchen and remain silent. You will be empty-handed. That means nothing to read, write, or play with. Do you understand”?

Maria in that same meek voice answered, “Yes, Daddy Jeff. I unnerstan. But, what’s crunchy… inches”?

Paul gave Jeff a warning glance as he subdued his own grin. He explained the complicated word and for the umpteenth time reminded himself to encourage Jeff to help expand her vocabulary but to limit one's on when having one of their more serious discussions.

Maria almost rolled her eyes at Daddy’s too long explanation for a word she had no use for in the first place. Daddy Jeff could have just said, ‘payback’. There was a pause in which her Daddies seem to have a silent conversation, so she waited. After a couple of moments, she saw it as a perfect opportunity to launch her mission. Her Daddy would take it as a good sign that she was even talking to him after being punished. She usually pouted, at least for a little bit.

Setting up a little straighter to impress them both that she was a big girl now, she began, “Daddy.” Then turning to her other parent smoothly addressed him, “Daddy Jeff.” She glanced down momentarily and folded then smoothed her “Frozen” coverlet. She then raised her eyes to meet her Daddy Jeff’s. “Daddy Jeff, I been thinkin. Almost everybody at school has a cell phone.” She snapped her head to cast a warning glance at her Daddy to silently say, ‘let me finish’, before turning back to Daddy Jeff. “Almost everybody in my school has their own phone. I been asking and a lot of them got their phones free cause their Mommies and Daddies already got phones.” Maria had cast her eyes down when she softly uttered the “M” word. In the last couple of months, she realized that her Daddy felt guilty because Maria had no Mommy. Maria couldn’t understand his concern but knew it softened him up every time someone mentioned “Mommies”. And she needed to soften her Daddy up, big time. She continued, “Their phones got an App so their parents could know exactly where they are all the time, in case they hang around where they shouldn’t or if they get lost. They all have them set so they can only go online just at certain times and no longer. Their parents also have control over any social vidia they got. The biggest reason is so if anyone ever tried to grab me I could run away and then call 911 or I could just press one button and talk to one of my Daddies since I don’t got a Mommy.” Even as the words left her mouth she knew she had made a mistake. Without really needing to verify she looked at her Daddy. Yep. He knew she had mentioned “Mommy” on purpose to soften him up. It was at this moment Maria mentally repeated some of the “not nice” words she and DJ had recently taught each other. Looking back at her Daddy Jeff, she saw exactly what she had hoped for, an expression of serious consideration. All in all, she felt it had turned out as she pretty much expected. Her Daddy was not swayed but she had offered some reasons that were not “hopes, wishes, and dreams”, which her Daddy had explained were for fun but most often hard work was the best and rightest answer.

With a look and tone of voice that was intentionally ‘not encouraging’, Paul tucked his daughter in and kissed her forehead. “We’ll talk more about this later. Right now you need to get to sleep.”

Daddy Jeff leaned in and followed suit with his own kiss. “Goodnight Princess. Sweet dreams.”

The two men made their way to her door and just like a dedicated preacher or politician, she just had to get in one last shot, “Daddy, Daddy Jeff. This isn’t like when I asked for a baby sister. You don’t gotta have sex to get me a iPhone plus.” She wasn’t sure how much the comparison helped her case but it sure had an impact on both her Daddies. Both men’s eyes bugged out and their faces flushed.


 

This was intended to be the opening Note to this chapter. It seems very trite here in the afterglow.

This chapter is dedicated to Maria's fans, both new and those who have been prodding me occasionally since chapter two to feature more of their "favorite character". It is also dedicated to those who may or may not have thought I had left the original two main characters by the wayside. Writing for Jeff and Paul is as comfortable to me as... well writing about anything.

 

 

Please note: If you think to challenge my views I welcome emails or comments. But, I have noticed a pattern, most start out angry and pretty much stay that way. I reply with logic and challenge their statements, using cut and pastes of their own words. If I get a response to that, the person then addresses some other related but, heretofore unaddressed, issue, over which they again express anger, albeit at a lower intensity. I enjoy debate, but there is a difference between debating an issue or issues and simply stating one's beliefs in anger. What is worse is when one insists I respect their views (I.e. not challenge them) and they, very blatantly, refuse to consider my views are just as valid. Diversity is essential to growth and progress. Inbreeding whether in plants, animals or ideas can only limit your potential and possible progress.

Express your anger in your comments, please. I don't think you will see me respond in kind. I only anger when folks get evasive and avoid the original topics being discussed.

Just know this, "I can be led into Hell. But, I won't be pushed or bullied into Heaven." (We all should agree that is an intentionally, imaginary, metaphor, yes?)

Please remember to "like" and "comment". Oh, and don't forget to tip your servers.

Jim

Copyright © 2017 sojourn; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

What's so bad about Bologna breath? I thought it was a good name to call the little bigot. Of course she probably heard it from her mother or father.

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1 hour ago, Wesley8890 said:

What's so bad about Bologna breath? I thought it was a good name to call the little bigot. Of course she probably heard it from her mother or father.

Bologna?  Nathan sent me a link thinking I was confused or just plain ignorant.  Most parents are shocked and concurrently embarrassed when they learn the lesson first hand, "little pitchers have big ears".  

Thanks for posting your comments.

Jim

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I am enjoying this story and have started over a couple of times it is so good. I like your 'discussions' at the end of each chapter and find that they echo my own as well. I frequently would like to see those that denigrate others put half of that negative energy and thought into making their community, the less fortunate and the world into a much better place.  Maybe then more of those people from the future who come back in time to give us new technology and tools would give us more of the knowledge to prevent the coming ecological and environmental disasters.

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Kudos to your postscript to this chapter.  That is all I feel I can say without being censored by the PTB. 😶

As to the chapter itself: it gladdened and resonated within my Mother heart.

I have an almost six year old who still tells on themselves when major transgressions occur, too.  I marveled at this when it first happened and then developed a bittersweet feeling with subsequent episodes-touched my young one feels they can tell me when they've done something wrong and sad because I know the older they get, this will happen less and less (tho I remain hopeful it won't).  

It was sweet to view the machinations of Maria's mind as she awaited her punishment AND still slipped in the bid for a cellphone!!  HA!!!! You perfectly captured the mind of a little one.

Thanks for giving us a slice of this branch of the Adams family.  Please continue to prune their branches as you see fit.  I know you take readership into consideration, I hope that does not override your muse.

Good chapter, sojourn. 

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1 hour ago, skyacer said:

I am enjoying this story and have started over a couple of times it is so good. I like your 'discussions' at the end of each chapter and find that they echo my own as well. I frequently would like to see those that denigrate others put half of that negative energy and thought into making their community, the less fortunate and the world into a much better place.  Maybe then more of those people from the future who come back in time to give us new technology and tools would give us more of the knowledge to prevent the coming ecological and environmental disasters.

I'm pretty sure that if time travel were possible and one more divergent universe was the only result, one of two things have occurred in the future.  The first possibility is that time travel (To implement changes for the betterment of mankind.) is not, er, was not, er, will not, be possible.  The second possible scenario is that time travel will be possible and that they did come back in time and make it better... Just that the universe that got better is not the one you and I are stuck in.  Look on the bright side, in the multiverse, there are countless universes in which we exist in a utopian society where all have enough.  Where prejudice and bigotry exist on in their mildest forms of personal likes and dislikes.  Where all are equal and man's individual potential is the only limiting factor.  Worlds where no one is held back or denied the opportunity if they have the potential to succeed.

The difference between me and many "believers" is that I believe if we survive,  my scenario is a distinct and very likely future.  Whereas most want to leave the future in the hands of some imaginary friend while they take advantage of and treat their fellow man with disdain, disregard, and outright hatred.  They ignore the "greatest commandment" and insist "heaven holds a place for those who pray."

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1 hour ago, FanLit said:

Kudos to your postscript to this chapter.  That is all I feel I can say without being censored by the PTB. 😶

As to the chapter itself: it gladdened and resonated within my Mother heart.

I have an almost six year old who still tells on themselves when major transgressions occur, too.  I marveled at this when it first happened and then developed a bittersweet feeling with subsequent episodes-touched my young one feels they can tell me when they've done something wrong and sad because I know the older they get, this will happen less and less (tho I remain hopeful it won't).  

It was sweet to view the machinations of Maria's mind as she awaited her punishment AND still slipped in the bid for a cellphone!!  HA!!!! You perfectly captured the mind of a little one.

Thanks for giving us a slice of this branch of the Adams family.  Please continue to prune their branches as you see fit.  I know you take readership into consideration, I hope that does not override your muse.

Good chapter, sojourn. 

Believe me, I have passed the point of seeking favor from readers.  I only did that once and it happened in this story.  I do enjoy getting comments and emails from readers and they do serve to motivate me.  I always try to respond to readers comments and emails, if I fail, it is forgetfulness or they present themselves as being "too weird".

 

My oldest probably was the one who communicated most honestly for the longest time.  Scientists have discovered something my Mother learned first hand, having raised ten children, and that is that babies lie. It seems that babies learn at about three months that crying can initiate interaction which stimulates their brain.  My mother used to say, "let 'em cry.  They're just doing it to get attention."  I never followed my Mother's advice, I always suspected she developed that attitude as a defense mechanism.  I felt that even if they didn't need a clean diaper or food or weren't' too cold or too hot, they should be reassured that they were not alone.  I might just rub their belly and talk to them, but they always got attention.  No one knows which way is better.

 

I really appreciate hearing from readers but I think I most appreciate feedback on Maria's "growing up".  I think some children are precocious beyond their years.  I am convinced I was.  It is not always a good thing for a child to be.

 

Thanks for posting and bringing back memories.

Jim

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I may not always agree with some of the things you write, BUT, I will not get in here and rudely slap you for your opinions or thoughts. I do want to let you know I really love the story here and really enjoy and look forward to reading more. I think more of Maria is just as important as more Miss Julie. Continue the great work!!!!! 

 

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10 minutes ago, sojourn said:

 

I really appreciate hearing from readers but I think I most appreciate feedback on Maria's "growing up".  I think some children are precocious beyond their years.  I am convinced I was.  It is not always a good thing for a child to be.

 

Thanks for posting and bringing back memories.

Jim

From one precocious child to another, I agree, ☺️.  I wouldn't change it, tho. 😉

And, I'm getting it back now, 😄.

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1 hour ago, Miles White said:

I may not always agree with some of the things you write, BUT, I will not get in here and rudely slap you for your opinions or thoughts. I do want to let you know I really love the story here and really enjoy and look forward to reading more. I think more of Maria is just as important as more Miss Julie. Continue the great work!!!!! 

 

LOL!  I knew it.  I just knew the moment I brought Maria in, someone would yell for Miss Julie.  Don't worry, she hasn't gone anywhere and will be around soon enough, I am sure.

As to not agreeing with some of the things I write, please do.  Just do it in an email or right here on GA with a private message.  I private message author's rather than comment if I have anything less than flattering to say.  I believe in "Praise in public but condemn in Private."  At any rate, I like to think that of myself.

Thanks for posting your comments.

Jim

sojourn1950@yahoo.com

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1 hour ago, FanLit said:

From one precocious child to another, I agree, ☺️.  I wouldn't change it, tho. 😉

And, I'm getting it back now, 😄.

Thanks,  I actually laughed out loud at the "I'm getting it back now".

Thanks again for that.

Jim

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I just love Maria; and it is never too early to start putting a bully in his or her place, so I think Maria did just fine. 

 

Keep up the great work, can't wait for the serious campaigning, this should be so down and dirty but oh so fun...

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51 minutes ago, centexhairysub said:

I just love Maria; and it is never too early to start putting a bully in his or her place, so I think Maria did just fine. 

 

Keep up the great work, can't wait for the serious campaigning, this should be so down and dirty but oh so fun...

I think Paul and Jeff learned a big lesson on partnering in parenting.  Maria is a tough kid. She understands a lot more than she lets on. 

Let's hope the good people of small town, Texas do their part.   But, there may be some skirmishes between now and election day.

Thanks as always for posting your comments.

Jim

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The y way you describe Maria's calculation of her response was pure magic. Haveing raised two sons, sometimes their coordinated responses were so bizarre that as a parent you first had to stop yourself laughing, and secondly marvel at their ingenuity! 

 

As for your postscript... I am left confused and concerned; If people are expressing anger  at you as author I am dismayed and annoyed at their rudeness. If someone disagrees with what you write, then they should stop bloody reading it! Or have I missed the point and there is some weighty piece of social policy you are advancing that I should be paying more attention to?

 

All i can say, is I enjoy the writing, I enjoy the story. Thank you. 

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14 hours ago, Canuk said:

The y way you describe Maria's calculation of her response was pure magic. Haveing raised two sons, sometimes their coordinated responses were so bizarre that as a parent you first had to stop yourself laughing, and secondly marvel at their ingenuity! 

 

As for your postscript... I am left confused and concerned; If people are expressing anger  at you as author I am dismayed and annoyed at their rudeness. If someone disagrees with what you write, then they should stop bloody reading it! Or have I missed the point and there is some weighty piece of social policy you are advancing that I should be paying more attention to?

 

All i can say, is I enjoy the writing, I enjoy the story. Thank you. 

Thank you, I feel the biggest challenge is in phrasing Maria's thoughts in terms that "adults" will believe are in keeping with an almost six-year-olds vocabulary.  I can tell, with you and other parents, I don't need to defend Maria's somewhat self-serving attitude nor her ability to think, plan and execute said plans.  Nor do I need to underplay her ability to embarrass her parents beyond the pale. (Nice pun, if I do say so.)  I have raised three sons,  they have, individually and collectively, embarrassed me concerning, honesty, tyrannical attitudes, sex, bodily functions, politics, religion and Santa Claus.  Maria is a precocious sponge soaking up everything and constantly trying to evaluate whatever information she has just learned in order to properly align and adjust her "own world" view. 

 

Heavy sigh... As to your confusion and concern...

The emails began after chapter 38, in which four characters sat around and discussed religion.  If you recall, it was not your typical "come to Jesus" discussion.  Somewhere along the way, I may have linked a certain national political party to generations old "institutionalized" anti-gay rhetoric, action, and legislative efforts.  I may have suggested, implied, or emphatically stated, that anyone who supported or identified with this party and was of a particular "persuasion" should seek professional counseling.  I may have implied, encouraged readers to infer,  maybe ever quoted my now deceased Uncle Winston, who opined, "politics runs contrary to reason, logic and the workings of the brain."  Those may have been my views at the time "but, I'm feeling much better now."  The editor is acting up again.  Each time I press enter to space down and type my usual valediction, it cuts out a part of my first paragraph instead.  So, I'll say, "Thank you for you, as usual, thought-provoking comments.  Jim

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@sojourn

I now understand. I probably didnt react to your coments re politics and religion as i agreed....😆 its always so much easier when your reading reflects your own prejudices😇😆

Edited by Canuk
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I have got to say Maria is one of my favorite characters. I Love all the characters. Now just a little more on Sam & Dave, and Runt & Larry. Definately like to see a little more of Jeremy & Nathaniel. Keep up the great work with this story. I'm gonna hate to see it end.

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😂😂😂you know children they are priceless. They can with there innocence whrap you on there little fingers. I love it💕

Great chapter great story thanks .👍👍

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Maria is one of the most interesting child characters I have ever read.  She is so well written that I am reminded of things I did at an early age, but had forgotten by the time I was in my teens.  I had to laugh at her iPhone request.  Maria did make me laugh by setting her sites on an iPhone.

As a teacher, I still wouldn't recommend a smart phone for anyone under the age of 12.  I won't get into all the reasons, but give one example.  During a student election a few students and teachers volunteered to verify and count the ballots.  When it came to the count one high school junior got frustrated because her phone battery died, and she could not use the calculator. I casually told her not to worry about how fast she needed to do the work, just add the numbers using a paper and pencil.  I was extremely surprised to find out that she could not manually add even the easiest numbers at all. I have taught 4th grade students algebra with no problem and no calculator, but this young woman could not even do addition.  It was a very sad time for me. 

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Thank you for you kind words and for sharing your experiences. Education was stressed by my father as, "something those son of a bitches can't take away from you."

I have long said that public education started to dumb down in the 70s. I graduated in 1968. I did not and was not encouraged and in some cases not allowed to access it to the fullest but I do believe that it was the best and if compared to other nations would still be the best overall.

I am not surprised at your example. Today, I feel the children are no more than numbers and education is a refined and repeated process. Much like a meat packing plant. With clinical precision,  pride in the process, and focus on quantity rather than quality. The end product is proudly dressed in a cap and gown an presented with a label some graduates cannot even read.

I am not sure of the answer but I can damn sure see a problem.

 

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This was just perfect. The little princes pust all the right buttons.  This is so great.

love it.😂😂😂😂

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