Protecting David-Finding Christopher 16
The twins looked dazed and Chris looked nervous, like he figured there was no way we were gonna go for this.
The twins had kinda gotten used to me over the last few hours but Larry was something new and therefore maybe just a bit frightening. Their eyes were glued to him as he and I walked into the family room.
Larry went right to them hunkered down and put his arms around them. “Did you guys have dinner yet?” They both looked at Chris but then Andy answered.
“Yes, Sir. But we could eat again.”
“Well, Mrs. Colby’s gonna be puttin dinner out in half an hour or so, so’s maybe you fellas could get washed up.”
Chris said, “Where you gonna put em?”
I said, “Mrs. Colby put their clothes in the room next to you, Chris.”
Then to the boys, “You fellas wanna take a look at it? You’re already clean but then if you need to use the bathroom or anything…..”
Larry took the twins to their room with Chris and I following. I stopped Chris for a moment and said, “Chris, I know you kind of feel responsible for the twins but I don’t want you to feel that it’s your job to do everything. You’re entitled to be a kid.”
He looked up at me. “But what if they ask me stuff?”’
“Well, Chris, you can talk to them and play with them, I just don’t want you to feel totally responsible for them. Think of them as your brothers.”
“I never had a brother. Just a sister. My sister isn’t very nice.”
I ruffled his hair and he made a face. “Yeah, I know your sister but these guys seem really nice.” I had forgotten about Charlene.
He looked worried. “The thing is that I know they’re afraid. They don’t show it much but it’s scary for em.”
“Well you can help them with that and so will Larry and I but it’s not your job to make everything okay for them. If there’s a problem then you need to call me or Larry. The point is that I don’t want you worrying about every little thing. You know, for a ten year old boy you haven’t had very much time to be just a little boy.”
He looked up at me. “I don’t mind. I mean…I guess there’s a lotta stuff I minded at the time but now….with you guys…it just feels okay.”
He looked outside and said, “They’re gonna be getting worried. The later it gets…they’ll start to get nervous bein around you guys, well, any adults. Their dad used to wallup em. He’d get drunk. They said it took him most of the day to get really drunk but by the time it got dark he was and they learned you hadda stay away from him. So anyway, they might start to get nervous.”
“Did you tell em that wouldn’t happen, Chris?”
“Yeah, I told em but it’s one thing to know something and another thing to really believe it. They’ll learn but tonight they might act a little strange. Don’t be mad at em okay?”
“We won’t get mad at em, Chris.”
The twins ate like teamsters but then around eight o’clock they were getting to look nervous so Larry made a suggestion.
“If you guys wanted to get into your pajamas I’d be willing to read ya a story before you went to bed.”
The twins looked at each other and then Aiden said, “What kinda story?”
Andy said, “Nobody read us a story before.”
Larry said, “This is a great story. It’s about a horse.”
The twin’s eyes got big and they said together, “A horse?”
Larry nodded seriously, “A black stallion.”
Andy said, “Is he a nice horse?”
Aiden looked reprovingly at his brother and said, “All horses are nice!”
Larry jumped in, “He saves a boy’s life.”
Then they had about ten million questions but they also couldn’t wait to get into their pajamas and they seemed to forget all about it being the time of day when their dad usually beat them.
Fifteen minutes later Larry was lying on their bed with a twin plastered to each side of his chest while he began to dramatically read, The Black Stallion. To tell you the truth I probably enjoyed it as much as they did. Larry’s voice is on the deep side and there has always been something about it that vibrated my entire body. Chris was lying against me and was as engrossed as the twins.
After a half and hour Larry closed the book but had to promise to continue it tomorrow.
Andy said, “We like horses. Our dad was gonna teach us to ride fore he got hisself killed.”
I said, “Well, tomorrow, you can ride a horse. They’re gonna blow up Thornton’s driveway tomorrow and I thought we could go see em do it.”
I turned to Larry. “You’re not going in until late, right?”
Larry nodded. “I’ll go in around noon. We can ride over to Thornton’s in the morning. We can each take a twin and Chris can have his own horse.”
Aiden looked at Chris. “You got your own horse?”
Both twins looked at me. “Do we get a horse?”
I laughed. “Well, I thought we’d see how you guys got along with the horses tomorrow but if that works out I think we could find a couple of ponies that’d be right for guys your age.”
Larry was propped up against the headboard of our bed, well actually it’s what passes for a headboard. It’s really built into the wall and then there’s a shelf recessed into the wall right above our heads. It’s a great place to put morning coffee. I could smell the cup of coffee in his hand and it smelled great.
I was lying on my stomach with my left hand just touching his left hip. I muttered, “Can I have a sip?”
He reached down and touched my hair. “You can have a whole cup. It’s right up here.”
I mumbled. “But then I gotta wake up.”
“You might want to anyway. I’m beginning to hear the sound of little boys trying to be quiet.”
I cleared my throat. “You think they’re gonna attack?”
He laughed. “Something like that. They made it as far as our door about three times but they haven’t knocked or tried to come in. They do seem to be getting bolder each time though.”
About ten seconds later our bedroom door opened about an inch. Two seconds later we could hear two little boys running back down the hall. A minute later Chris poked his head in.
He looked at both of us. “They’re driving me crazy. You mind if they come in?”
Larry said, “Nope. All you guys can come in.”
Chris disappeared for a second and we could hear him talking to the twins.
Chris said, “They said you could go in. Now go in!”
The twins said, “You go first.”
Then Chris saying, “Oh fer cryin out loud! Just come!”
Chris came into our bedroom with the twins following behind, three pajama clad boys. He climbed up into our bed with us and seeing that the twins climbed up in a flash.
Aiden said softly, “Can we lay down?”
It was becoming more and more obvious that they were starved for affection. I had sat up and was leaning against the headboard. I patted the pillow. “Make yourself comfortable.”
Both boys laid down with their heads on the pillow and grinned up at us waiting to see if it was okay or if they were gonna get in trouble.
I ruffled Aiden’s hair. “You fellas sleep okay?”
Both boys grinned and nodded.
“You guys ready for some horseback riding?”
Andy said, “You’re gonna be with us, right?”
Larry said, “Yep. You guys are gonna ride with me and Alex. That way we can make sure everything’s okay and you don’t get carried away or nothin.”
Aiden said, “What if Chris gets carried away?”
I said, “Chris’s horse Dixie is really gentle. He’ll be okay.”
Andy said, “If we’s ridin horses it’d prolly be best if we had cowboy hats.”
I laughed. “Well, I think maybe after Larry goes to work we could head on over to the ranch supply store.” I ruffled the boy’s hair again. “They just might have a couple a spare hats layin around.”
Larry was slouched down in the office chair with his head resting against the back cushion the phone was cradled in the crook of his neck and he was obviously listening. When he saw me he waved me over and pulled me down so that I was straddling his lap.
He looked up into my eyes and winked. He spoke into the phone. “I’ll be in about twelve thirty, Tif.”
He laughed and said into the phone. “You got a dirty mind and he’s sitting right here on my lap.”
He turned the phone towards me and said to me, “Say hello to Tiffany.” She was Larry’s secretary.
He said into the phone, “We’re taking the boys horseback riding this morning. Gonna see em blow up that driveway.”
They talked for another thirty seconds and then Larry clicked off. He grinned up at me and then pulled my head down and kissed me. He tasted like coffee.
He hooked his index fingers into my belt and said, “So what’re we doin with Thornton’s house? Give it any thought?”
“Well, I just think if we used it as a guest house we’d probably never really use it for that and if we did it’d be too far away anyway. But it would be okay for the security guys.” At any given moment there were five security guys on duty and since there were three shifts of them we often needed a place for them to sleep. We had fixed up the second floor of the stable and had been using it but it wasn’t really ideal.
Larry said, “Sounds good. You’ll have Mei see what needs to be done?”
“I’ll talk to her later. She’ll be going with us to get the boys hats and stuff. They need jeans too. The girls at work forgot that stuff.”
That morning we found out that while six year old boys can dress themselves just fine you never know what you’re gonna get. After breakfast when we went to check on them we found the twins in their briefs and tee shirts and clothes scattered all over the room.
The boys looked up at us. “We don’t know what to wear. Them ladies at your office took our jeans.” The jeans were terminal and got tossed.
Larry was shaking his head. “Fellas, I think we need to simplify this. The briefs and tee shirts are good but lets add them tan pants and since it beginning to be cool out how bout these sweat shirts.” He was holding up one blue and one green sweatshirt. I grabbed a pair of the pants shook them open and held them out to Aiden. Larry was doing basically the same with Andy.
He looked at the pants and then at me and then moving like the pants might explode put one hand on my shoulder to steady himself as he put a foot into the pants. For some reason halfway through he looked into my eyes and said, “This okay?”
I smiled at him. “You doin just fine.”
Then as he was adding the other leg he looked at me again and said, “Are we really gonna live here now?” Andy looked over instantly and it was obviously something that they had talked about.
I said softly, “Would you like to do that?”
“Sure we would! We wanna be with Chris.”
Well, Aiden, you’re sure gonna be here for at least a while. Then I’m gonna go to the judge and ask him if he’d let us keep you guys. I’m pretty sure he’ll say yes but until he actually does say yes I guess we can’t be a hundred percent positive. Know what I mean?”
Aiden said, “So we could end up back to the bridge?”
Larry was looking at me and I said, “Nope. You won’t ever have to go back to the bridge and for that matter I’m like ninety percent sure that you’ll stay here but I promise you that you won’t ever go back to that no matter what happens. I guarantee it.”
I held out a sweatshirt and he ducked his head into it. “One of the things we gotta check on is to see whether or not you’ve got any relatives still alive. Like maybe your mom or dad had parents living. Did you ever have a grandma or grandpa?”
Aiden looked at Andy and then said, “There was only Granny Thorson but they came an got her. Dad said she was a crazy old bat but she was pretty nice to us. She used to make Andy and me pancakes and she yelled at pa when she saw that he beat us with his belt.” He pointed at his brother. “Andy had big ole marks on his arm and Granny saw it and gave pa all kinds a hell. Told him he shouldn’t be hittin on us cause we was too little. She was nice that way and she always smelled good too.”
Larry said, “We’ll need to see if Granny Thorson is still alive. But even if she is that doesn’t mean that you can’t live here but we gotta check it out.”
I said, “I’ve already got people doing that but I’ll email Connie and fill her in on Granny Thorson.”
The sun was bright as we drove down to the stable but there was also a slight chill that let you know that this weather couldn’t be counted on lasting. Larry and I saddled our horses then Larry saddled Chris’s. Larry got Chris to stand in front of him and watch closely as he saddled Dixie so that he’d learn to do it. At first the twins stood way back with a “What did we get ourselves into” look but slowly they got closer to the horses and now they were everywhere at once. Finally with Chris already saddled up we swung the wide-eyed twins up and then Larry and I sat right behind them.
We rode slowly over to the Thornton property giving the boys plenty of chance to look over the land and then stood there watching the workmen prepare the drive for dynamiting. The actual explosion was a let down, more of a deep rumbling than anything else. The rock the drive was carved out of just seemed to slip away down the side. Now there was only one way on and off of our plateau. It probably also made our hundred and twenty acres the most secure on earth.
On the ride back to the house Connie called me back about Granny Thorson.
“She’s in a nursing home in San Antonio, Alex. I’m trying to get more info but the home refuses to release any information. I’m still working on it.”
“I want to go see her, Connie. Maybe tomorrow.”
“Not a problem, I’ll have the plane waiting. What time are you thinking?”
“It’s gotta be a two hour flight, have it ready for eight. Just me and Mei.”
“You’re not taking the twins?”
“Not this time. Not till I know it’s safe.” Larry was watching me but somehow I knew that he knew what I was talking about and I was pretty sure that Chris did too. I don’t think the twins had a clue. “I am gonna take the guys shopping this afternoon and we’ll probably stop in the office.”
She laughed. “Well you’re being brave. But as long as you’re coming in I’ll have that stuff ready for Chris. Also, I’ve located a pediatrician and I’m setting up appointments.”
“My God, you’re right! I never thought of that. Although they all seem to be pretty healthy.” Chris looked at me when I said that and I winked at him and he grinned. Aiden was leaning back against me and I was pretty sure he was more into just being held than looking at the scenery and not at all interested in the phone call.
There’s a ranch supply store about ten miles from our house and I love it. I’ve even thought about trying to buy the chain of them but I figured if I did that it’d take the fun out of going there.
Larry had left for work and I herded the boys into the store and worked like crazy to get them past the tools, toys and firearms to the clothing department.
“What kinda jeans you fellas want, Levi’s, Wrangler or Lee?”
The twins immediately yelled, “Wrangler!” Chris looked at me and shrugged.
I said, “How come, Wrangler?”
“It’s what cowboys wear.” I knew better than try to fight that.
The boys each got a couple of pairs of jeans, a pair each of boots and a hat. I got a Carhartt jacket and a cool wrench. It took all my will power not to buy a riding mower, which were on sale because it was now fall. Mei looked at us like we were crazy.