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Life on the Farm

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 9

*-* Wednesday *-*

My father, screaming that I was a no good fuck, that I was my mother's child, that there was no way in hell I could be his, stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind him.

I didn't know he had that level of anger, or more correctly: rage. With him screaming, slamming doors, raging, I crawled under my bed and plastered myself against the wall. I took stock of my being: I was shaking, violently screaming inwardly, my head hurt, my eye was rapidly swelling shut, my jaw felt like it was killing me, my hip was killing me... and other various and sundry -shit-.

I needed to pee, but I wasn't about to leave my room, my safe place under the bed, so, I relieved those needs. A violent thunderstorm during the night relieved the other needs, as I dared not get up for fear that the storm would have awakened 'him'. Never before had I felt so humiliated, hopeless and helpless as I did that night. With each crash-bang of thunder, I tried to cry as each exertion passed, but, my face hurt too badly.

At some point during the night, I must have fallen asleep, though I had tried to stay awake, not knowing what dad was going to do next or how bad the next storm would be.

Morning brought light into my room; I could tell that it was light, however, my eye would not open no matter how hard I tried... even my right one was swollen, but I could clearly see out of it. The house was quiet. I had no idea of what time it might have been, so, I lay under that bed for several hours, until I stole enough courage to crawl out from beneath my safe place and stand up on my feet. At first, I was dizzy as hell, but it passed fairly rapidly. The time on my clock read 8:25. Dad would be at work, so, I relaxed a bit.

Carefully, slowly, quietly I walked to the door, opened it ever so slightly, and then peered up and down the hallway and into the kitchen. I didn't see 'him'. The bathroom door was open, though not completely, just like dad left the bathroom after all those years... I don't know why he did it like that... but it was my opportunity, perhaps, my only opportunity. Quick as a mouse, I scurried across the hall, entered, then closed and locked the door. He was a fucking pig... in the sink was a glob of toothpaste; on the sink was a shaving cream turd. A wet towel was lying on the floor.

The first order of business was to use that towel to take care of my ultimate humiliation. Once that was accomplished, a shower made me feel clean. Mind you, I not once looked into the mirror. I didn't want to see 'me'.

I felt almost human again while rinsing my hair. I do my best thinking while my head is under spraying water. I made the decision to leave home, and to never ever return, for any reason. I then sent my hand down south, and despite horrendous pain in my face, a moment of unbridled pleasure replaced, if but only a second, any dread that I had about my decision to leave.

But, that was not to happen. No sooner had I turned off the spigot than the shower door opened – to a madman who grabbed my wet hair, jerked me out of the enclosure, and slammed me against the wall of the small linen closet. He then put his hand around my neck and lifted me at least 2 inches off the ground. With his eyes blazing terror and hell he said evenly, "Things are changing around here, James. You will not run away. You won't be able to. Now get your ass dried. You have 30 seconds. Go."

He jerked his hand away, causing me to drop to the floor on my bad leg. That sent shards of pain through my being. I crumpled to the floor in total and complete agony. He waited expectantly. There would be no time grace periods, I knew it. With a great deal of effort, thanks to no help from him, I stood, reached into the closet, retrieved a towel and quickly dried as much as I possibly could before he jerked the towel out of my hands, "Time's up."

My dad hated to see me naked, he always had... and I hated being naked in front of him. I'd always had that feeling that I disgusted him.

With his other hand, he grabbed hold of my hair, led me into the kitchen where he slammed me into a chair at the kitchen table.

"Uhm, dad, can I get, you know, uhm, dressed?" I asked softly.

My request was ignored. He continued retrieving bowls, spoons, shredded wheat from the pantry, and finally the milk from the refrigerator, "Eat."

I hated shredded wheat, but, I wasn't about to argue with him.

"Dad, why are you doing this?" I asked between bites of the nasty shit called cereal.

"You run away. You get me into trouble with the law. Things are changing, James. You will learn to mend your ways. You never had it so good, now have you?"

The kitchen door to the outside was open. Something was in his words that terrorized me. Something told me that I had to get out of that house. I was naked. I cared not. I decided that when he went to put stuff up, after we'd eaten, I would make my break for it, once and for all... I'd take my chances with whatever was going to happen – out there. Could my leg carry me? Would it hold up? Would it run? The answer was debatable, however, I had to try with everything I had.

But, what if I failed? What would he do next? Would he kill me? Would he hit me like a man, again? Mac would help me. He offered to help me before. He saved my life, not only once, but, twice. I was positive that he'd help me... if only I could get to him.

As planned, dad got up, walked to the sink.

That was my moment.

Somehow I was able to get up from the chair without having to scoot the chair back.

Barefoot and naked I tore out as fast as I could possibly go. I took the steps down two at a time. Klutz as I am, I did a barrel roll ass over tea kettle, but, thankfully, somehow, I landed on my feet and was able to keep going. I had no idea where I was going, but, I kept on anyway.

The street was clear of cars... not that I stopped and looked both directions. I only know there was no traffic because I didn't get hit – by a car, but, I got hit worse than any car could have been worse than being body slammed to the grass of the neighbor's yard across the street.

I fought hard to get loose... I gave it everything. Finally, with all strength and adrenalin expended, I simply collapsed to the grass. The grass felt good. It was cool and still damp with dew. Funny how you draw a moment of peace from a horrific nightmare, only it wasn't a nightmare.

"Dad, just let me go... I'll leave. You'll never have to worry about me again. Ugh..."

"No, by God, you will go nowhere. You will wish you were never born!"


"Shut your goddamned mouth." He growled, then as if I was going to disobey him he wrapped his arm around my neck, grabbed my mouth with his fingers and squeezed incredibly hard. He then bodily picked me up, held me into his chest, and when I resisted he managed to grab my legs, too. I thought he was going to break me in half.

Half running, half walking, he took me back to the house, ascended the stairs, and then the fight was back on when he released his hold on me so that he could open the screen door. Kicking and screaming and wailing my arms all around I dropped the cement steps, and didn't care. I felt nothing. I was in survival mode. I knew I was dead meat if we made it into that house.

I didn't quit.

He was stronger, though. Within seconds, or so it seemed, I was slammed down face first on my bed, he got on top of me, put his knee into my back, and then began grabbing my arms, one at a time, wrapping my wrists with duct tape. He then attached a bungee cord to each arm and tied the cord around the bedpost, fastened it securely, then he went onto the next wrist.

I continued fighting for my life. I knew I was dead meat... I could not see stopping every attempt at surviving... so I didn't stop... until I could fight no longer because he secured my ankles in the same exact fashion.

"I should have thought about this before..." He said victoriously.

But, he wasn't finished. He left my room then came back a few minutes later with several trash bags that he used to stuff all my clothes into. "Trash day is today."

I screamed, "You never worried about me. You guys fucking hated me. Why didn't she just have a fucking abortion... well, I hate you guys too. Why don't you just let me go? Hell, I'll move fucking out of state! I'll fucking get out of here if I have to bite my fucking arms off, you son of a fucking bitch."

He walked out of my room, laughing.

For the next 13 weeks, I was tied to the bed in the same manner as that first morning. I was forced to stay that way until he arrived home from work.

Largely, I stopped eating because I couldn't stand lying in that bed of filth. All he would say, "Suit yourself. You'll eventually get hungry enough to eat."

I was let out for 3 hours in the evening, but, the time was spent washing and waxing the floors in the kitchen, bathroom, and entry way. I was permitted to use the toilet facilities twice per day, once in the morning, and once before bed, before I was tied up again.

Most nights, he'd tease me. He'd hold open the door of the kitchen. Freedom was but only a few short steps away. Sometimes, naked, after dark, he would even sit me on the porch step, and dare me to make a run for it, that he wouldn't stop me.

I knew better. I knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he WOULD stop me, and that, well, I couldn't even imagine what he would do next, if I were to take my freedom and run with it.

One morning two or three weeks later, after I'd been tied back up after my morning shower and facility use, the phone rang. Dad tried to stall whoever it was that was calling... but it didn't work out for him. Angrily, he released me from the prison of my bed, but then he got into my face, "You are sick in bed. Don't you dare do or say anything... do you understand me?"

"I don't dare do or say anything." I said seriously, but, I giggled from the sheer irony of his request.

Dad got back into my face, "He won't be here forever. You make one wrong move, or say one wrong thing... so help me James..." He then drew his fist back, and then slammed it forward to within one inch of my nose. I nodded then drew the blanket up and over my body, rested my hands on my chest inside the covers, and waited.

I could make a break for it. My window was wide open. The only obstacle was the screen, but, that was no obstacle. But, before I could do anything dad and a caseworker, who I did not recognize, entered.

"The doctor said he's contagious, so, I'd advise you to stay away from him as much as possible, ya just never know what he could give you." The sperm donor said to the portly man, writing fast and furious in a notebook like thing, occasionally looking up. While the man was looking down, dad gave his most wicked of tightly clenched teeth smile. I swear to god he looked like the fucking devil reincarnated. No, the devil didn't reincarnate squat... the devil resided in that man whose sperms created me. I had no doubt.

Maybe during when dad saw the man out... I could make my break for it.

My thinking about making the break took too long. I think he half expected me to be gone when he returned to my room. Something passed through his eyes, I cannot identify what I saw, when he saw that I was still lying still under the covers. He gave me an 'extra' bathroom break before he took off for the office. He actually closed the door for me, something he'd not let me do since the ordeal began.

That night he did something to the basement door that permitted it to be opened only from the kitchen, not inside the basement. After that, two or three days a week he'd put me in the basement, and he started taking care of the skin on my wrists and ankles, which had begun to show signs of breaking down. It was cold and damp down there, and almost totally pitch black dark unless he remembered to turn on a light... I didn't ask.

He also didn't put as much duct tape when I was confined to bed. He broke me. I told him that I wasn't going anywhere... and I believe that he believed me. I'm serious, I wasn't going to go anywhere. Hell, I even started moving the tape wraps so that my skin wouldn't break down.

(James here, my mind was fucking sick. Yeah, he broke me. After a while, the fight left me. Fighting him simply wasn't worth it. One day I asked him how long he was going to keep me inside the house tied up like a common criminal. He told me that mom would be the deciding factor when she got home. I asked when that was going to be... she'd been sentenced to two years).

The beginning of the end began on the Friday of the Memorial Day weekend.

Friday had always been laundry day. He'd lock me in the basement, but, I called it the dungeon as it was scary, dark, damp, dreary. I'd eyed that window high up on the wall, trying to figure out how I could get up there, but, there was no way. The window was small, and besides the ladder was out in the garage. I could not move the washing machine or the dryer... they were just too heavy and awkward for my thinning body, and my slow mind.

Nevertheless, while I was waiting for the wash to be done or the dryer to dry I'd look at that window, and all around, hoping against all hope that I'd figure out a way to escape.

He didn't return home. Not that day. Not Saturday. Not Sunday. Not Monday.

All strength, and most of my mind, was gone by Tuesday afternoon. I no longer cared. Lying on that cold hard concrete floor felt good in a way. I would alternate between chills and heat flashes. I wasn't even hungry. My soul source of water was the sump pump. I'd make the water palatable by running the washer on a rinse cycle... as it pumped water in the sump pump I'd drink from the hose.

By Thursday, I did not have the strength to take in water... that had happened Wednesday night when I'd gotten so sick to my stomach.

By Friday morning, I was praying to a God I did not believe in, "God, let me die quicker. I can't take this anymore. Please, just let me die."

Feeling assured that that God would let me die, I stopped caring, I stopped trying to stay awake, I stopped being afraid, I stopped wondering when dad would return home, I stopped my plan of getting to Mac, I stopped those fleeting thoughts that perhaps Tony or even Seth might be able to help me.

From somewhere, at some time, I could not tell you when, I heard knocks on the kitchen screen door. They were insistent. I opened my eyes just a little bit. My right eye... I could only make out light. Objects appeared only fuzzy and nondescript. But I opened them anyway. The knocks were unlike I'd ever heard before... were they real? I'd read about mirages in the desert... could a mirage happen in a basement? Was it all a delirious dream?

Just as soon as those knocks stopped, I once again lost all hope that I'd ever be found alive. Even dad hadn't left me that long before... I'd lost all track of time and day. From the absence of light coming through that little window I knew it was night time once again. Hopefully, I'd be dead by the arrival time of the next morning.

But that was not to be.

The next thing I was aware of was that I was being picked up. The room was filled with people. They were all in uniform. They carried badges and guns. Some were in white uniforms. I looked around. They were talking urgently and constantly, telling me to hang in there just a little bit longer, that I was going to be okay, that I just needed to keep fighting just a little longer.

(James here. I was later told that I was in a coma for nearly 4 days. The doctor told me that my wish to die was very close to coming true. On the day I awoke from the coma, things started changing and changing very quickly. I was assigned another case worker. Her name was Carrie. She came to visit every day).

Eventually, my mind began clearing just enough to be able to talk semi-coherently, to make sense of what was being told to me. After that I started feeling somewhat better, though the improvement was definite, it couldn't be measured. The most monumental milestone was when I could pick up a fork and eat real solid food. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Though the food tasted bland, the doctor and nutritionist were hopeful that I would, once again, be able to taste. So, I just ate because I 'had to'. They said real food was very, very important to compliment the tube feedings they were giving me... those tube feedings consisted of highly concentrated, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and a whole host of other things, that I don't recall.

One morning, Dr. Weir, my ophthalmologist, an eye doctor, visited. He was pleased to see my progress, even though it was slow. He said that I needed a major eye surgery. He went on to say that my orbit, the eye socket, had been broken... he wanted to know what had happened, "Uhm, my dad hit me like a man." was all that I would tell him about that day, long ago. He emphasized how severe the fracture had been, and was even more concerned about how it was healing up, out of place. He said that the operation could not be performed in Wichita because of the extensive damage. They were going go to send me to the university in Kansas City. He also said that the orthopedic surgeons would be in later that morning.

I liked him. He was being honest with me. He didn't promise anything, but he was hopeful that my vision would return to normal once the structural defect was repaired.

As he told me, Dr. Downs, an orthopedic surgeon, visited with his entourage of residents, interns, physical therapists, and occupational therapists... most of them I knew, some I didn't. I'd liked Dr. Downs from the onset... he was young, he straight talked me, and I believed what he told me.

That morning, he told me that I'd had a hip fracture that was not healing right, or at all. That didn't surprise me, actually. I'd remembered the incident with getting hit by the car, being slammed around by dad, and how he'd pinned me in that yard across the street, and how I'd not eaten or anything else to create healing powers... anyway, he told me that the operation could only be performed at the university hospital in Kansas City, and that I would be transferred up there the next day.

My pediatrician arrived later that afternoon. He approved the transfer, wrote some orders, authorized an ambulance to take me to Kansas City, told me that I could neither eat or drink anything after midnight because the surgery would be performed as soon as I got there, so that my recovery could get on its way.

When he was talking, I heard voices out in the hallway, voices that I vaguely recalled hearing before, though I didn't know where, or when.

Dr. Peterburg, my pediatrician, saw that I was distracted. He said, "It seems that you made some friends when you were down in Oklahoma. It seems that they had a big-ass boat that you liked to drive... if you don't remember them, that's okay, they remember you. I'm going to stay here for a while until I know that you feel safe with them.

My heartbeat quickened, I felt myself tighten up... in anticipation. Could it be Tony and Seth? Surely not. I nodded to Dr. Peterburg. I actually felt myself smile from the inside out, not from the outside in as I'd done all too often to make people think I was making progress.

My doctor stood then walked toward the door. I flicked off the TV. At the same time I pushed the button so that I could sit up all the way. At the same time, Tony peeked his head around the corner. I choked back a sob from deep in my chest. I reached out my arms, trying against all trying to hold my tears in... but my efforts utterly failed when he walked into the room, to my bed, grabbed me up in a hug, and then sat on the bed never letting go, not even once, as all sense of composure evaporated and fell onto his suit jacket.

He would continue to rub my back, run his hand very delicately through my stringy straw hair, as he told me to not hold anything back.

All the pain, all the uncertainty, everything, everything that I'd been holding inside came flooding out in great racking sobs. I'd sworn that nobody would ever see those things that I had inside, things that I held in until I laid down to sleep at night, and even then they were muffled and suppressed.

While I was buried in Tony's strong arms, I felt another pair hugging me from the other side. I turned, just enough, to see who those hands belonged to. Seeing Seth tipped the scales once again. I couldn't talk, though I tried so hard. Tony said, "James, just give yourself some time. Don't try to talk right now."

A few minutes later, with the onslaught of emotions slowly settling down, I released Tony, then turned my attention to Seth, who was looking mighty fine with his toothy smile. In front of my doctor, two nurses, Tony, and my physical therapist, Seth and my lips touched for but a brief moment, but the contact once again sent me into an emotional upheaval, pleasant and warm, through and through.

When the staff saw that my visitors were welcome, and that I was really, really happy that they were there, they left us alone and went on about their business of caring for patients.

We were alone, just the three of us. Tony said, "James, if I would have known what you were in for, I would have fought longer and harder to keep you in Oklahoma, at least until a thorough family study could have been performed."

"Tony, I didn't know either. My dad had always been detached from me, like I didn't really exist. It was my mom who raised the hell. I had no idea. I guess that's all over now. Tony, please tell me it's over. Tell me that I'll never have to return there ever again."

"James, this is the way it is going to be. Listen to me very carefully..." Tony said professionally.

Seth sat on my bed then put his arm around my shoulders, "Listen to my dad, James. He wouldn't tell me what's up either... so this is news to me, too."

I nodded my understanding then turned to Tony. I stole in a deep breath. Still, I was afraid, though I wouldn't admit it. My plan was to get the operations, get over them, and then hit the road. I didn't know where, probably I was going to track down Tony to see where Adam was. I hadn't really gotten that far in my plans. But Tony was there. I didn't have to search for him.

Tony said, "Your father is fighting the petitions to have his parental rights terminated. He had a change of heart. Right now, he's in counseling, has retained a high faluting attorney from Kansas City, and has, somehow, come into money that he is using to pay his counsel."

My stomach began turning flip flops. Bile arose in the back of my throat... I thought I was going to puke. I said, ice coldly, "I am not going back there. Nobody can make me. He will kill me, if I don't kill him first."

"James, I've been admitted to the Kansas Bar, meaning that I can practice law in Kansas, now. You hired me as your attorney. Since you are in states' custody, and because we've had a professional relationship in the past, they could hardly turn your request down for me to represent you. What they don't know is that I am doing this case gratis, which means I am not charging you a penny. All monies that they pay for my fees, which is a flat rate set by the state, I will put in a savings account with your name on it."

"Okay... but... but... do I have to go with him, you know, until the hearing or whatever... what's going to happen to me, Tony?"

"First things' first, James. No, you will not be living with your father... he's in jail for multiple felony charges of crimes against children, kidnapping, which is a Federal Offense, and an attempted murder in the first degree. If he's convicted on all charges, then you'll likely be in your 50's before he's eligible to be released from prison. As to your other question, about where you are going... I'm looking into some of my clients to determine suitability for adoption. What this means is that any family will be subject to my approval. Before you ask, I cannot, because of my professional relationship, adopt you, nor can I bring you back to Oklahoma with me, other than for a visit, a professional visit." Tony grinned, "But that doesn't mean that consultation with your attorney can't take a week or two. We've got a lot to discuss."

"Kewl. Okay. Uhm, what about Adam? He's kewl. He's the first guy that treated me like I'm a somebody... can't he... I mean... he lives in Kansas..."

Tony turned serious, "I'm afraid that's not possible. Because of attorney-client privilege, I cannot go into details. All I can really say is that he cannot officially have any contact with you."

"Is he out of jail?" I asked seriously.

"Yes, he's out of jail."

"Does he live in Wichita? Is he living at his home, here?"

"I cannot tell you that, James. I'm afraid I can't give you any more information. I'm sorry. Tony's a great guy. He's not only my friend, but he's my client as well. Just like you are my client... I cannot say anything to him about you."

I'd watched enough cop and lawyer shows to say, "I give you my permission to give him any and all information about me."

Tony chuckled, "I knew you'd say that." Tony looked at Seth. Seth got up, kissed my cheek, then left my room, only to return a few moments later with a frown on his face. He looked to his dad, and shrugged his shoulders.

Tony said to me, "I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere... but then again, on second thought... Seth, would you commandeer a wheelchair for James." To me he said, "We're going for a little ride."

"Can I get dressed?" I asked, remembering that I'd tossed the hospital gown. I kept getting tangled up in them so staff knew to not force the issue, instead, they had given me small scrub pants and shirts to wear. A set was lying on the shelf over the heating and air conditioning systems.

Tony nodded curiously. Without another thought, remembering that he'd seen me at my best, I got out of bed and then walked to the shelf where my clothes were located.Tony took in a deep breath and then slowly exhaled. I retrieved my clothes, turned around, and saw that Tony had tears leaking from his eyes. He said, "I'm so sorry, James. I... I... I don't know what to say... you're so thin..."

Without thinking I said, "I've gained 14 pounds, Tony."

Tony put his head down for a moment. When he looked up, I saw the saddest expression I'd ever seen on a person. He said, slowly, carefully, emotionally, "I'm sorry, James. I'll help you get dressed, if you'll let me."

I had been extremely independent, pushing away people trying to help me do certain things, including getting myself dressed. But... I nodded and sat down on the bed, and permitted him to dress me.

Seth soon returned with a wheelchair being driven by a nurses' aid. The staff member said, "Okay, sweet pea, are you ready to go see a visitor?"

I looked to Tony. He smiled. I stood to walk to the wheelchair but my pants fell down to the floor, I'd forgotten to tie the strings to hold them up. Seth chuckled, but when I bent over to pull them up, he too gave a serious breath in... and then held it. "Yeah, I'm skin and bones, but I'm gaining on getting them back." I said reassuringly. He breathed out. He then looked to his dad, then back to me. My skin and bones stature took some getting used to.

I sat in the wheelchair. From everything Tony and Seth had said, I kind of thought that maybe, somehow, they'd smuggled Adam into the hospital to see me. If they did... If they had...

The nurse efficiently wheeled me around to the other side of the ward and then entered the waiting room. My eyes blasted open. Forgetting all about my hip, and the pain that shot through me, I jumped out of the wheelchair and into his arms. Thankfully he caught me because my next step would have been to the floor. He lifted me up and into his strong arms and held me close. My pants fell completely off. Keeping those things tied, because I was so small in them, had been a real issue. The nurses' aid, standing aside while Adam and I wordlessly reacquainted ourselves, quickly put them back on and worked them up over my naked butt. I didn't really care, although Tony and Adam did care, a lot.

Adam's tears were freely flowing down his cheeks. He squeezed me hard one more time then sat me in the wheelchair, arranged the blanket across my lap, and said, "James, I had no idea... I'm so sorry... I hope you'll forgive me." Before I could say anything, he continued, "James, I'm not supposed to be here. I could go to prison, but I had to see you."


"No, wait, I'm not finished." He said then flinched. "I'm sorry, James. I didn't mean it to come out so gruff... I'd go to prison a hundred million times... if it would permit me to see you... Tony, can we go to a conference room, or somewhere out of the way... I need to talk to James, and I can't do it here." Adam said, seriously.

Tony nodded then looked to the nurses' aid. She smiled then took us to a conference room off the main hallway. Tony said to her, when she walked in with us and stood at attention, "I am James' attorney. I need to speak to my client in private. Could you give us a few minutes, alone?"

"Sure. Just call me when you're finished." She said then took her leave and closed the door behind her.

I turned to Adam, "Why did they take you away? I tried to tell them that you didn't fucking kidnap me. And they asked me all sorts of shit questions about our photo shoots, and if you'd touched me, and if we'd had sex – like that would ever happen... NOT."

Adam looked to Tony. I looked to Tony. Seth looked to his dad. We were all waiting for an approval to speak. Tony said, "It's up to you, Adam. Seth, let's go get something to drink... I'm sure they are VERY busy, so it might take us an hour or so..."

With that said, Tony and Seth left the conference but not before Seth kissed my cheek, and I kissed his lips, quickly, but still...

I turned to Adam. I was getting ready to say something, but he spoke up first, "James, I'm so sorry that your dad did what he did... Tony told me all about what happened." I started to say that it wasn't his fault, but he put his finger to my lips, "Let me say what I need to say. I need to tell you... you need to know, okay?"

I nodded, "Adam, I love you. You would never do anything to hurt me. You didn't have sex with me. We didn't have sex, period. Those pictures, well, hell..."

"It's not that simple. I should not have taken ANY pictures of you without clothing. Those pictures of you in the lake, the pictures at your home, the pictures at my home in Oklahoma... well those should not have been taken..."

"Well, it's not like I was jacking off or anything, you know. I didn't even have a boner. You weren't intentionally taking naked pictures of me, right? I know what child pornography is... I've seen it."

"James, still, naked pictures of kids is not legal. Tony has been able to get the charges knocked down to 3 rd degree possession... but I'm still not to have contact with kids under 16, and they specifically said that I cannot make ANY contact with you... it's in the paperwork. I'm sorry."

My mind got to spinning ninety to nothing, "You can't make any contact with me, right?"

"Yes, that's what the order says."

"Then I'll contact you."

Adam coughed then snorted then nearly choked. He said, "Clever, very clever. It doesn't work that way.... but I suppose a phone call... or perhaps we could meet at a public restaurant... I'll run it by Tony. James, don't get your hopes up... I am 99.99 percent sure no contact means no contact."

"Adam, I'm going to run away again. I can't take any chances of going back to that motherfucker dad of mine, I just can't. He just about killed me. The doctors said if I would have been in that basement two more days..."

"I'm so sorry, James. I never would ever hurt you. Can I tell you something? Promise you will keep it just between us?" Adam asked, the tears began flowing again. My own eyes began leaking. I got up and out of the wheelchair, swiveled on my good leg, then sat in the seat next to him, drew his arm around mine, squeezed firmly then looked into his eyes.

"James, oh James, this is so complicated. Did I tell you that I had a son once upon a time?"

I shook my head no, "No..."

"Yes, I had a son. He'd be about 17 right now. His name was... his name was... uhm... okay... his name was James Matthew. He was... him and his mother... they were... killed in a car accident on Christmas eve 4 years ago... they were coming to see me from Dallas where they lived." Adam, with tears freely flowing out of his eyes and down his cheeks reached back into his pants pocket, retrieved his wallet, fumbled through the first pages of the picture album thing, opened it up, and showed me a picture of a boy. The boy looked like a spitting image of Adam. The similarities between him and his son were striking.

"He looks just like you... I'm sorry, Adam... I didn't know..." As much as it hurt, I got up, leaned over, and kissed his cheek.

"I know you didn't know. I don't tell too many people about him. It's just too painful... anyway, James, I love you. I wish things were different than they are... but we have to deal with life as it is, whether or not it's right. And that, young man, is all we can talk about about yesterdays and sadness... since nobody is coming to get you, how about I escort you back to your room... will you let me do that?" Adam said, smiling.

"Yeah, let's do it, I guess. Adam, I love you, too. God, how I wish you were my dad. We'd do okay, you know. We really would."

Adam started to stand up, but then he looked at me and sat back down, "I have one more thing to say... listen to me very, very carefully..."

"Sure, I'm listening... just say it... you don't have to ask permission to talk to me, okay? Okay, do it." I said seriously. Adam did not have to ask me permission for anything, ever.

Adam smiled, "Tony told you all about the adoption contingencies, right?"

"Yeah... he's got to approve them."

"That's right. The other thing he didn't tell you is that I have to approve of them, too. Like you, I know things about people..."

I laughed hard... without thinking another thing about it I stood on my good leg, swiveled around, and then planted myself into Adam's lap. He put his arms around me, squeezed firmly, and kissed the top of my head.

I felt safe in his arms, on his lap. I knew that he would never, ever do anything bad to me, or let anything more bad happen to me. That's saying a lot. I had trusted nobody.

Janelle, the nurses' aid, met us in the hallway. She took the driving duties over. But we didn't head back to my room, not by a long shot, in fact we got on the elevator and went up two floors, turned right, and then headed down a long hallway.She wheeled me into a dark conference room. There didn't appear to be anyone in there, but then Tony stepped out of the shadows, as did Seth. Seth leaned into my ear, "Happy birthday." He kissed my cheek, and then the lights came up, Tony leaned over the table and lit 12 candles on a huge sheet cake. At the same time, many of my doctors, nurses, therapists, occupational people, and physical therapists gathered around.

I had no idea what they were talking about, or doing. Tony, seeing my confusion, said, "James, according to your birth certificate, today, May 17 th is your birthday anniversary, and well, we couldn't let it go by without being celebrated. You see those 12 candles... well, blow them all out with one breath... but before you do, make a wish, and if you blow them all out, at one time, then lore has it that your wish will come true. Go ahead."

Seth leaned down so that his face was even with mine. He said, "Birthdays are to be celebrated. I had to learn, too. Go ahead... I'll help you if you want me to."

I grinned, took in a deep breath, and then blew hard from side to side... blowing them all out. But, I'd forgotten to make a wish... quickly, before anybody realized that I'd slipped up, I thought, "Everything is going to be okay, isn't it?"

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