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The Redemption, Book 2

by Joe Writer Man

Chapter 10

The sun had gone down. The bone chilling breeze was coming out of the North at probably 15-20 miles per hour. I pulled the hoodie jacket up and over my head to block out as much of the cold as possible. Don't get me wrong, Chicago is bone freezing cold in the winter time but we'd had quite a few days of springtime temperatures, like up in the mid to upper 60's.

In any event, enough about the weather, it was fuckin cold.

I had a rough idea where the goat pen was located so I headed off in that direction. Aside from running into a couple of corral fences because of the pitch black darkness, I soon heard the tell tale sounds of goats doing what goats do and say. Then I saw a lantern like light moving through the darkness. I assumed that to be Luke so I hollered, "HEY LUKE. WAIT UP."

The light stopped. Quickly, I headed for it and was soon standing at Luke's side. The lantern light illuminated the soft features of his young face (what am I saying… ha haa, he was the same age as me), his hair blowing in the breeze, and the wet contrail of liquid going between his nose and upper lip.

"Luke, show me how to feed the goats, I can help, you know."

He smiled, reached up with his gloved hand and smeared the mucous away from his mouth then put his free arm in mine and led us to the barn where we gathered pales of oats and took them out to the pen where we dumped them and then returned to the barn for more, and so on and so forth. We stayed close together, as I said before, it was totally pitch-black dark. The exercise warmed me up though. Other than for my face, which, by the way was also slobbering snot out of my nose, I was totally warm and comfortable.

We then carried 15 pales of water, each, to the watering trough. Those pales of water were at least ten times heavier than were the oats but we managed to get the job done without too much trouble.

When we were finished with that task, we went into the barn, picked up shovels and began shoveling shit from the pen where two pregnant female goats were kept until they delivered their babies. We then filled their food troughs with oats and grass like stuff to capacity then did the same with their water.

When we were through, I sat on a hay bale to rest and recover my breath. Luke shrugged his shoulders, turned away then started walking for the barn door. I said, "Luke, wait. I want to talk to you. Just listen please. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to."

"I'm going to close the barn door." Luke said exactly in a soft stiff monotone voice.

The barn door was huge so I got up and went to help him. Together, we closed that door with minimal effort then returned to sit side by side with our shoulders touching, on that hay bale.

After sitting silently for a few minutes, I said, "I used to do drugs and alcohol – a lot. It helped me to forget. My dad and brother were killed during a drug deal gone bad. After that I got pissed off because nothing was the same. It was all too much to take. You already know that I wear a thing on my pecker because sometimes I can't hold in my pee. When I was in the hospital and for a time after I got out... at first I was totally blind, then I started seeing a little bit, then my vision got to be just about normal. It's pretty much normal today."

I looked to Luke. He looked up. Our eyes met. He nodded.

I took a deep breath, exhaled, "Luke, I don't know what you know about me... I need to tell you something that sometimes pisses people off. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they get violent on you because you're different... I'm gay. I like to do sex with other guys."

Luke put his hand on my back, patted the between my shoulder blades, nodded and said very softly, almost whispered, "I don't hate you. I don't hate my brother." He shrugged his shoulders and returned his gaze to the floor.

"Thanks. I'm glad you don't hate me. Uhm, Luke, whenever you want to talk to me... I'll be here for you." I said. Luke shuddered. Our eyes met once again after he looked up. He was trying to formulate words but they wouldn't come out of his mouth. I put my arm around his shoulder, squeezed lightly, and continued, "I also got paralyzed. At first, when I first woke up from the coma I was completely paralyzed. My arms came back first but it took my legs a long time to work right. Sometimes they get all numb and shit. Sometimes they're just weak..."

"Are you weak now? I'm sorry. I should have known." Luke said apologetically.

"No, no, no, I'm okay now. I'm just tired. We have a reason to be tired though, don't we?" I snickered.

He smiled and nodded his understanding.

I found a place on the floor to gaze at. I took a deep breath, exhaled then repeated it. I said, "Luke, what I'm about to tell you is very difficult, but I want to tell you what happened to make my body become a wreck. The doctors told me that what happened caused my mind to overload. They told me that sometimes things happen that cause our minds to shut down. They said that sometimes the patient does not recover, or only recovers a little bit. I don't know if anybody has told you that though, have they?"

Luke looked up and said just barely above a whisper, "No. I'll always be like this." He then pointed to that area between his legs in front.

"I'm getting better. I'm able to hold it most of the time... except when I get really nervous or scared."

"Are you scared now?" Luke whispered.

"Yeah. I'm scared. I'm wearing a catheter though so I won't have an accident."

"Me too. I wear it all the time."

I whispered back into his ear, "It gets better with time. You'll see."

Luke shrugged his shoulders then nodded reservedly.

"Okay, this is really hard. My legs are feeling a little bit numb." I said truthfully as my toes were numb but then again they were cold, and I was resting all the weight of my legs on the balls of my feet. I rearranged myself so that I was sitting up straight.

I asked my higher power for strength. I took a deep breath and then exhaled. At the same time I said, "Luke my family got fucking crazy after dad and Jerrod were killed. As I said I got into drugs and drank a lot. I also went to work. Where I lived there were only a couple of things a kid could do to earn enough money to help out with groceries and necessities. Off and on I sold drugs. Off and on... I sold my sex to older men and women. Most of my customers were okay but then there were a few who were total assholes. One of the assholes was a cop."

"A cop?" Luke asked incredulously.

"Yeah, a cop."

"Is that what made you blind and paralyzed?" Luke asked cautiously.

"No. As I said, my family was crazy... and well, I was crazy too. Anyway, one night I came home. Let me back up a little bit. I had a brother. His name was Christopher. He was really crazy. He was doing some bad drugs... just like I had been doing. But they affected him kind of differently... anyway, that night I came home. He'd beaten my little brother Nathan all to shit. I went berserk, and well, I, uhm, Luke I killed him. He killed my Ma. He was trying to kill my little brother Nathan and my then boyfriend Wayne. And he was trying to kill me. I had no choice. It was him or the rest of us. Uhm... err... when his head exploded... I didn't know it... that's when I went into the coma... it was too much..."

Luke immediately leaned forward, made guttural sounds, choked back, choked forward, spread his legs and then lost all of his stomach contents onto that dirt floor. He violently shook with the exertions. He was unable to breathe. He would gasp... retch again and again and again, gasp, inhale, exhale, retch.

I supported him. I was very close to joining his exertions but maintained a modicum of reserve, composure. When the spasms subsided, when the spasms abated he collapsed into my arms until he got his breath back. His breathing over a short period of time returned to normal. He sat up, turned to me. His eyes, bloodshot, bore holes into and through my soul.

He moaned, "I'm sorry." He leaned forward, gasped and choked a couple of times then leaned way forward all the while trying and hoping to expel the demons resting in his stomach but the exertions were all to no avail. Once again his stomach settled down. He sat up and accepted the offer of my arms. I pulled him in and held him firmly. "I'm sorry Luke. That's what happened." I said apologetically. I meant my words. I felt bad for telling him... it was a second thought though. My first concern was that I'd hurt him, Skeeter's brother, Vera and Dan's son, Kevin's brother, and the brother to many others. Tears came to my eyes. Although they didn't fall, they threatened.

My mouth went dry. My legs were like leaden weights. The numbness that I knew all too well was traveling up through my ankles and the lower most regions of my calves... but I stole my composure back. I was aware of what was happening. I became resolved to maintain, to not slink down, and to be of support to Luke. Something had happened to him. I knew the worst thing that could happen would be to push him before he was ready, and even when he was ready, he could not be pushed because it wouldn't be right.

He began hiccupping violently. I said, "I'm going to get you a drink. Wait right here. Don't go anywhere."

He nodded and then said, "Dad uses a can to drink with over by the water faucet."

Carefully, deliberately, I ordered my feet and legs to work. They did. I walked to where Luke had pointed to. I found an aluminum metal cup but no cup, filled it with ice cold water, then returned to where we'd been sitting. I offered him the cup first. He took down a couple of swallows and then handed me the cup. I drank 2 or 3 swallows and then gave him the remaining swallows.

We were both freezing cold yet we weren't done talking. Quickly my mind began racing to find something to warm us. As I was looking around for a horse blanket or something, I noticed the stairs leading up to the loft. Thinking that Skeeter wouldn't mind us going to his sanctum, I urged Luke up then said, "We're going up to the loft. There are some blankets up there so we can get all warmed up and everything."

Although we got up there, it wasn't easy. Luke was very, very weak from his violent gastric upheavals and my legs were becoming weak and wobbly, but we made it. Quickly, I laid him down, pulled the heavy blankets up and over his body then got in with him per his signals for me to do so.

After several minutes, his shaking subsided to an occasional shudder. He said, "I'm okay as long as my eyes are shut and my head is down… so what happened, Joey, why did you go berserk?"

"I had to kill my brother, Luke. I guess I had to. According to my shrink, I saw and experienced way too much for my brain to handle all at one time. The doctor said that I 'disassociated from reality'… my mind shut down… so did various parts of my body. He said that was my body and mind's way of not dealing with what I needed to deal with. It was too much. Everything just hurt too badly."

"How are you getting better? What happened?"

My eyes completely filled with tears and they began running down my cheeks. My throat and chest got extremely tight… I was trying to hold my emotions in, I was trying to put a strangle hold on them – and I was only partially successful… I got to thinking of that night when I was on the floor looking for my dope, how mom sat down with me and talked, cared for and loved me even when I hated my fucking guts, and everyone around me – but how she loved me back to life itself… that's what I was thinking about, and why I became so emotional… can I love this guy next to me as much as she did to me? Could I give him that same hope? Could I help him out of that prison that was holding him hostage? What if I'd fail… those were the thoughts that kept going relentlessly through my head, through my mind.

Words eluded me. They wouldn't come out. I would start to speak then my vocal cords would go paralyzed. Not knowing what else to do or which way to turn or who to ask… my body answered, it followed my mind and gave a tangible meaning, an action to actually do rather than to just think…

I turned onto my side so that I was facing Luke then scooted to him drew his arms around my shoulders then urged his leg up so that it rested over my hip, pulled him into me, kissed his forehead, and just stayed silent so that if he chose to speak then he would but not a moment before, I wouldn't rush him. The only sounds being made were the light wispy sounds that escape from breathing. At first he was stiff and wooden though he made no effort to move away. As time went along he relaxed, and I relaxed too as I wasn't sure if what I was doing was the right thing to be doing.

I don't know how long we laid there silently in that ice cold barn, not saying a word, but yet at the same time warm and toasty underneath that heavy horse blanket with our body heat emanating into each other.

With a crescendo of effect, Luke began breathing really, really raggedly. When I tried to move to give him some space, his arms took hold of me like vice grips do around a piece of metal or some such thing.

"Luke, are you okay? You have me worried." I whispered as my concern levels soared to heights I'd never before experienced.

Then he began fighting me, violently. His breathing was even more violently ragged. He wasn't saying anything… I can't even say that he was even attempting to talk. When he started striking my face… that was more than I could take. Quickly, I rolled over onto his body and slammed his wrists to the floor as he kicked and struggled to get free. I tasted the taste of blood in my mouth. My nose felt like it was dripping. I then smelled the stench of human waste… it was very nearly overpowering but I held fast as he continued to struggle.

"Luke, it's me, Joey. I'm not trying to hurt you but I'm about ready to kick your fucking ass if you don't stop kicking me. Stop it goddamnit. Please stop! PLEASE STOP! I'm going to have to hurt you. Don't make me hurt you, please!"

His next kick connected directly to my genitals, sending me flying forward into the wall face first. I wrapped my legs around his torso then squeezed with everything I had. Then my legs went numb, totally and completely. I was screaming HELP at the top of my lungs. Finally, I took as much as I could take. Unable to feel my lower half, I sat up somehow then with all of my strength open hand slapped Luke with every intention of causing him grievous harm… just to make him stop fighting me. When he didn't stop, I went for the kill; I had no other choice left.

Just as I was getting ready to unleash, the barn lights came on, I screamed, "Help Luke, he's going berserk. STOP IT LUKE!"

A heavy pair of feet were rapidly taking those stairs up in the hayloft two at a time, it seemed. Within a flash, Dan was by my side pushing Luke off and away then he laid his body against Luke, squeezing him between the wall and his body.

"Go down Joey, I'll take care of Luke but you have to get down now."

"I can't. I'm totally numb. Besides, I'm not going to leave him. Too many people have already hurt him, I suspect. I don't think he knows what he's doing. Dan, he can talk. I think he's trying to come out of his shell but he's afraid to. Although I wasn't violent, I did the same thing he's doing only I turned mine inward through drugs, alcohol and my gun. I was going to blow my head off because my mind was exploding because of everything."

That said, there were then several voices coming up the stairs. When they arrived, Skeeter came to my side, took my head in his lap then began crying. Mark meanwhile went to his dad's side and together they got Luke under control… but by then, Luke was totally worn out and lay docile and limp as a ragdoll.

Just then another big guy entered the loft. Skeeter said, "Thomas, it's about time you got here."

"Sorry little brother."

Just then, Luke began crying out in a very little boy 'voice, "Don't hurt me. Go ahead and fuck me daddy, I'll be good for you. Please just fuck me… daddy please, I want you inside of me. Don't be mad."

"Oh for the love of Jesus Christ Almighty, God bless you child." Dan wailed with his booming voice, "Luke, baby, you never have to do that to please me. Just you being alive, you just being my son, and you being a brother to your brothers, and a son to your mother and me is good enough. You're a very good boy already. God Almighty, somebody go get your mother… she'll know how to handle this."

I spoke up, "No, you can handle this. Just love him regardless, no matter what. Hold him tightly in your arms. Don't let go. Keep telling him he's okay and that you love him."

Mark left go get Vera. But she must have already been in the barn because soon her much lighter footsteps were heard ascending the stairs. Breathless, she came to me, knelt down then pulled my head into her lap. Tears were springing from her eyes, I said, "Vera, go take care of your son Luke. He needs his mother. I'll be okay. Just go, please. You and Dan are the only ones who can fix him, go, please."

That said she joined her husband and son. Skeeter meanwhile regained his position. He was kissing my forehead. Mark brought some clean medicinal alcohol smelling wipes and began dabbing at my face. After he wiped my mouth off, Skeeter wasted no time and covered mine with his in a lip lock embrace. Mark, although he looked shocked from here to Sunday, kept dabbing my face with loving detailed attention.

Meanwhile, I'd had enough attention paid to me so I rolled over to where Dan and Vera had Luke in their arms holding him firmly and whispering father and motherly things to their son in his time of need.

Vera, I guess after she saw me, said, "Joey, you're going to be black and blue…"

"I'm okay. Help me up so I can talk to Luke. I think I can help him. I've been through the same thing. He's got to come back to us or else he's going to be lost forever."

"What's the matter with you Joey?" Vera asked sternly after seeing me drag my way over to where they were sitting.

I leaned over and kissed Luke's cheek then said, "Come back Luke. It's Joey. Your mom and dad and brothers are all here for you; don't go away, we need ya. Who else is going to feed and water the goats for crying out loud, dude?"

As if waking from a nap, Luke opened his eyes then looked all around. He was especially startled to see Dan and Thomas … at first he looked scared but then resolutely asked them once again in that little boy voice, "Was I good? Are you happy?"

"What's he talking about?" Thomas asked incredulously.

Dan hung his head low. His shoulders were heaving very nearly uncontrollably.

I spoke up, "Luke, sorry you guys, Luke, brother, nobody fucked you. Nobody here would ever in a million years ever do that to you. These people love you with all their hearts. I felt the same way you did, in a way, I was afraid, I was waiting for my parents to kick me out of their house… but they never did, they stuck by me every step of the way. You're parents will too, I just know it. I promise you!"

"What happened to you, Joey?" Luke asked looking directly in my eyes.

"Luke, I'm not going to lie to you… you went away to somewhere in your mind just like I did… and well, you about kicked my butt into next week. You're very strong. You had to be. Now you don't have to be that strong. Just let these people love you. We all love you."

Skeeter scooted around so that he could put his hand on Luke, then he softly said to his brother, "You're my bro. I need you. You've been there every step of the way for me, now it's my turn to be here for you."

When Luke got up and sat down between Skeeter and I, Vera said softly to Mark, "Mark, go get Luke a change of clothes, please."

"Sure mom. No problem."

That said, Mark went down the ladder then we heard him tearing out of the barn toward the house.

Dan, by then, had regained his composure. Very gently, he pulled Luke into his arms and onto his lap then held him very, very protectively, saying how much he loved him over and over again, and how he'd never ever hurt him, and how he'd never allow anyone to ever hurt him again.

Within 5 minutes, Mark returned. We heard him rapidly climbing up the stairs and then he was right beside us. After handing the clothes to his mother, without ever taking Luke from his father's arms, he, and us, removed Luke's soiled clothing and wiped him down with several of those foul alcohol smelling towels, or something. Then we got him into clean clothes. Mark then took the soiled clothing and put them somewhere in the barn away from us.

"We need to get these boys up to the house. They're freezing cold." Vera said then wrapped both Luke and I in the warm horse blanket we used to shake off the chills.

"Dad, you're going to take Luke, right? I'll take Joey…"

"That's correct. Joey, are you feeling anything?"

"No sir. Sorry."

"You have nothing to be sorry for, so stop apologizing for things you did not do, do you understand me?"

I looked deeply into Dan's eyes. He wasn't shitting. Something broke inside of me. Instead of sad, I felt more assured than I'd ever felt in my whole life. Nobody, not even mom and dad had ever told to stop apologizing for things I didn't do… I sat there totally gob smacked beyond any word comprehension known to man.

Just then, in the dead of silence, my cell phone began ringing. I reached into my pants pocket, retrieved it then answered… it was mom's cell phone.

"Hi mom."

"Hey honey. What's up?"

Our conversation was very brief… I gave her the very brief Readers' Digest of what Luke was going through but on-purpose left out the part where I was temporarily paralyzed again from the trauma of fighting Luke. Vera then took my phone and told mom that she'd call her later that evening.

Dan carried Luke to the house despite his mild protests. Thomas carried me to the house effortlessly. I didn't protest, not one little bit did I protest, my legs were virtually numb.

David, Mark, Thomas and James undressed us to the skin and then they got me and Luke into the bathtub full of borderline hot water.

Just as Ma had done for me I washed Luke despite the malodorous state of his body, his lower regions from when he'd lost control. Skeeter would change the water frequently. In the end he himself undressed and washed first my hair then Luke's. Skeeter was a trooper though I could tell he was hurting terribly. He didn't say anything; he didn't have to utter one single solitary word for me to know of his hurt and concern.

Vera entered and assessed our injuries. I had a split lip and a loose tooth but nothing permanent. My nuts were sore but I stole a look see when she was attending to Luke… nothing looked damaged, they felt normal in every way to my fingers. I didn't linger though as I didn't want to spring a bone because it wasn't entirely numb. When I looked up I saw red marks around Luke's neck. Did I cause those? Had I really been serious about inflicting grave injuries to him? Quickly, I pushed that thought aside as Vera then returned her attentions to me.

"How numb are your legs?"

"They're completely numb." She then, working her way up from my ankles, began squeezing muscles along the way. She then grabbed hold of the deep muscle that runs just to the side of the nuts. I winced as that hurt. Somewhat to my dismay she rolled my balls in her fingers. She said, "You're going to be sore down there for a few days… it's bruised."

The first sign of a smile on Skeeter's face appeared. He rolled his eyes up into his head. Then he made the 'fatal' mistake of wiggling his eyebrows. For just a brief second they took on the appearance that Wayne had provided when he was about to do very nice things to me… but then reality sat in.

At his mothers' instructions, Thomas then lifted me from the warm bath water. Skeeter got busy drying that which I could not reach with loving attention and care. Luke on his own got out of the bathtub, looked around for clothing then began screaming and cussing for someone to bring him some damn clothes. Vera took a towel that Thomas had retrieved from the bathroom linen closet and began drying him off as much as he would permit. Everybody was ready to pounce him if he made any inclination of becoming violent with her but he respected those limits.

James and Alex brought dry clothing to Luke. Luke roughly grabbed the underwear from their grasp, put them on then sauntered by Thomas and left the room.

Skeeter put his arm around my shoulders and finished drying my hair.

Just then Mark, James, David, followed by Thomas. The bathroom was filled to capacity.

Vera turned my care over to Skeeter's brothers. She went down the hall to see what Luke was screaming and cussing about. We overheard Luke screaming that dad was raping him. James said, "Dad's not doing any such thing… he'd never do that!"

I said, "Oh fuck. He's reliving his past. Get me out of here... I've got to talk to him."

Skeeter looked thoughtfully to Thomas. Thomas nodded. Skeeter turned to me, "Joey, I can help him more than anybody. Do you remember that night I was going to stay at your house but left to go back home?"

Thomas interrupted… "Okay, you guys out. Just wait for us… go see if you can help dad and mom."

The boys, all except for Thomas, Skeeter and I, walked from the bathroom. Thomas closed the door, sat down on the closed toilet lid, put his hand on Skeeter's shoulder then nodded to me to answer Skeeter's question.

"Yeah, I remember."

"That morning my dad fucked me. That was the night when I'd had enough..." Skeeter's eyes glazed over. He was reliving those moments.

I pulled him tightly into my arms as tears burst from his eyes, and freely flowed down his cheeks.

Thomas said, "Stephen, that's all over now. They can't hurt you anymore."

Skeeter turned his head into Thomas. Thomas slid to the floor where he could better hold his younger brother. I wormed my way off the bathtub edge and joined them. I said to Skeeter, "I'm here babe. Thomas is here for you too. We're both here for you."

Skeeter said, "I killed my dad that night. I couldn't stop myself... maybe I can help Luke... I kind of know what he's going through. Joey, the only good thing that came from that foster home was that they sent me to a really good head banger. I didn't go where Luke's gone. Thomas, can you take Joey to my room? I've got to talk with Luke... I didn't know..."

"Sure thing. Come on Joey."

With that said Thomas effortlessly carried me into Skeeter's room, sat me on the bed and then stood back as I pulled Skeeter into my side, held him protectively as he returned to us. Within seconds, he got up, retrieved underwear from his drawer. He tossed me a pair which with David's assistance I put on. Skeeter then put on a pair.

Just then Dan arrived. Immediately I asked how Luke was.

"Luke's a diabetic. His blood sugar was 40. Mom called his doctor. We were able to get his sugar back up rapidly, he's okay now, he's much more calm and in control of himself. We're getting ready to put him to bed. He wants to talk to you Joey. He wants to apologize. He owes you an apology."

"Okay, yeah he does. Do you think his blood sugar had anything to do with his behavior, I mean… I'm not making any excuses for what he did… I'm just trying to understand better."

"It could be… though I don't know what you two were talking about… whatever it was his behavior was totally inappropriate. Do you guys want to go to bed now? Stephen, I'm taking you off of chores until either Joey goes home or he gets better… you boys need to spend some time together anyway."

"Dan, uhm... out in the barn... I told Luke most of my story... you know... how I got paralyzed and blind and stuff. Anyway, he got sick to his stomach, he started shaking and stuff... so we went into the loft to get warmed up... we were cold... I was holding him and stuff... trying to calm him down... and he started beating the crap out of me... I just about had to..."

"Stop it Joey... nobody's faulting you."

Skeeter said, "Dad... I think it's time that I talk to Luke..."

Just then James and Luke entered Skeeter's bedroom. Thomas positioned himself so that he was between me and Luke. Luke was calm though.

Luke took a step forward but Dan put his hand on Luke's shoulder that stopped any forward progress.

Luke said clearly and calmly and meaningfully, "I'm sorry Joey."

James, Thomas, David and Skeeter looked at Luke... like they'd seen a ghost. James, clearly shocked, said, "Luke... you talked... I knew you could... we don't hate you... maybe this will turn out okay..."

Luke turned to his dad, "I'm sorry... I didn't mean... I hurt Joey..." He then fumbled with his pajama bottoms, lowered them to the floor and bent over. His intent wasn't anything sexual... he was waiting for Dan to punish him with the strap.

Dan reached down, took hold of the pajama bottoms and then lifted them up so that they rode appropriately on Luke's hips. Dan looked at Skeeter and then to me then he honed in on Skeeter. He then gathered up the little ones. Thomas said, "I'm going to stay here dad. I know what happened to Skeeter."

Dan nodded then took the younger boys from the room leaving Luke, Skeeter and I alone with Thomas.

After they were gone and the door was shut Skeeter said to Luke, "Would you sit with Joey and me? I need to tell you something."

At first I was very afraid yet when I looked into Luke's eyes I saw no malevolence in them. Gone was the rage. I said softly, "Luke, come sit with us okay. I'm not mad at you. Skeeter and I talked for a little while. I think he can relate to you. Just give him a chance, okay?"

Luke reached down into his pajamas where, clearly you could see what his intentions were, and began slowly rubbing his penis, balls and everything, with definite purpose. His cock severely strained the confines of that thin cloth. Skeeter got up and started to bat his hand away but I said, "Don't Skeeter. He's stressing out. Mom explained that sometimes when we get stressed out... that's the first thing we reach for because it feels good, because it puts our minds to rest... Luke come sit with us... Skeeter sit down next to me."

Skeeter looked at me like I'd lost my last marbles. He nevertheless pulled Luke's hand away and lead his little brother to us. The boy voluntarily sat down on the mattress next to me. I put my arm around his shoulders, "It's okay... I jack off... it feels good... it makes the pain go away if only for a little while." I then led Luke's hand back to his privates, lifted the front of his pajamas out and then urged his hand down into them. He complied but didn't masturbate though his penis was still very hard.

I said, "Just listen to Skeeter... I mean Stephen. He can probably help you more than I can."

Skeeter stole a deep breath. He looked to me then he looked to Thomas. Thomas nodded. I leaned in, kissed Skeeter's cheek and then softly said, "It's okay now. Go ahead. We might not ever get this opportunity again. I'm right here."

He said to Luke, "Look here." Luke looked.

Quickly, Skeeter disrobed to his underwear, then just like Luke put his hand inside and grasped hold of his cock and coaxed it into a full erection, which he did stop, then said, "I understand, it feels good. Uhm... Luke... my dad, he uhm... he raped me. Joey's been my friend for a bunch of years. But I didn't tell him. And I didn't tell our friends. I kept it inside... but I only kept it to myself for 1 day."

Luke tensed up. I began rubbing his back using little circular motions. He began kneading his penis with purpose.

"I knew my dad was bad but I never ever expected him to fuck me like he did..." Skeeter lamented.

I looked at Luke, so did Skeeter. Luke was spacing out again. He began shaking violently. Thomas got up off the floor, walked to us, knelt before Luke and said, "Nobody's going to hurt you. Not now. Not ever if I have anything to say or do about it. You're going to get through this, okay. We're here with you all the way."

Luke by then was vigorously masturbating. His breathing was shallow. His muscles were tensing up... I knew what was about to happen... I put my arm around his shoulders to give him support and approval to do whatever he needed to do... then he stopped rubbing that which designates him as male. He pulled his hand out, looked down to the floor and then violently puked... though there was nothing left in his stomach because of his earlier exertions Thomas scooted back for fear that he'd get ralfed on. Luke began gasping... then he screamed: "J j j j j jjj…oe…..yyyyyy… I I I I I I IIII II I II I k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k….il-l-l-l-l-l-e-e—e-e-e-e-e-ee-e-d-d-d-d-d h-i-imm. I I I I I I IIII II I II I k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k….il-l-l-l-l-l-e-e—e-e-e-e-e-ee-e-d-d-d-d-d h-i-imm. IIII I kkkkkkkkkkk….illlllleeeeeeeeeeddddd mmmmyyyyyyy ddddddaaaaaaaaaaddddddyyyyy. He fucked me... he fucked me... he fucked me... he fucked me... he fucked me... he fucked me... he...." He then broke down entirely… he lost it… he started fighting me again but that time was different… he wasn't really fighting me at all… he was fighting his demons. "DAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I screamed from the top of my lungs.

Thomas quickly took Luke into his arms, sat him down on the floor, and rocked the boy gently but decisively. Skeeter joined them on the floor. I dropped myself to the floor too. I took Luke on one side while Skeeter took the other.

Skeeter started to say something but Dan and Vera hurriedly entered the room. Luke was crying incoherently. Skeeter said, "Dad, Luke was raped by his dad. And like me... he killed his dad."

Dan took Luke from Thomas' arms, cradled him protectively, and then sat down on the bed. Vera joined him. Together they soothingly massaged Luke's arms and legs. Vera gently removed Luke's hand from his wet stained underwear and placed it on his stomach.

Skeeter joined his mom and dad. Each put their free arm around Skeeter and pulled him in close to them.

Skeeter said to Luke, "It gets better. We can't change what happened to us but we can do better just for today. Something else I learned... are you listening to me?"

Luke looked into Skeeter's eyes. He nodded.

"What our dads did... it's not our fault. Dad <Skeeter patted Dan's forearm> would never ever in a million jillion years EVER do that to us. NEVER! Dad taught me that men can be trusted. I love him. I love him more than I did my own real dad... sorry dad... I didn't mean to say it like that..."

"I know son. Like I told you... I can't replace your dad and what I mean is that I didn't give you my sperm but I am trying to give you my love, and a man who you can depend on."

When Luke didn't say anything Vera said, "Dan, do you think we should take him to the hospital in Wichita? I'm afraid for him. He's scaring the younger children, and look at Joey…"

"Ma'am, may I say something, please?" I said to Vera then to Dan.

Dan looked at me skeptically then he looked at Luke lying more peacefully in his arms. He nodded reluctantly.

"Ma'am, sir, what he really needs right now is love. If he goes to the hospital, they don't really care about him as a person. They'll just treat his symptoms and fill him full of junk."

Skeeter added, "I had to look at it square on. As you know I really didn't deal with ALL of it until I came here. You guys brought me up and out of it."

Skeeter put my hand in his. I squeezed it with assurance. Dan said to Luke, "That's all I want from you... I'm your dad... and I will never ever do something like that to you... it's wrong for a man to do that to a little boy or girl." To Vera he said, "No... Luke needs to be here. Luke, we'll take you to the hospital if you get violent again... do you understand me?"

I saw that Luke relaxed. His eyes became crystal clear.

Skeeter said emphatically, "Luke, it's time for you to man up. Dealing with your problems with violence is not the answer. Joey and I can and do absolutely say so… we've been there done that, and believe me when I say it's not the answer."

Dan winced.

Several times, Luke was almost there, he was almost able to say something… but he couldn't quite get what he wanted to say from out of his mouth.

After a few moments of silence, as if Dan and Vera weren't even present, Luke finally found words to say. They were, "I'm sorry Joey. You don't know how much I regret what happened tonight. If you hate me, I understand. I would hate me too. I hate myself already. I'm a piece of fucking shit. I do shitty things to people."

Vera winced. A look of disgust passed across Dan's face.

Vera repositioned Luke's face so that it was looking directly into hers. She said, "You are no such thing. Those are just lies you're telling yourself. Don't believe them. I don't believe them. I see a really good boy inside of you. You just need to let that boy come out so he can play. Tell you what... why don't you go downstairs and make up a bag of ice for Joey's lip. Can you do that for me?"

When silence took over, I said, "Yeah, well, I'm not too proud of things I did either… but that doesn't make me a shitty person, not deep down inside. I accept your apology. I apologize to you too… I wanted to hurt you really, really bad, Luke. If my legs hadn't gone numb… I hate to think what might have happened. I'm just telling you straight up. Can we just move on from here and let the cards lie where they fall?"

"You mean you're willing to do that for me?" Luke quietly asked incredulously.

"Well yeah, you damn straight I am. You're Skeeter's brother after all. As far as you being a piece of shit, don't believe it. Like me, you had to do what you didn't want to do, stuff you didn't give permission to happen. But, we've got to move on and make the best of what we do have at any one given time. Can you do it? Can you at least try?"

"I can try with everything I have. But I don't have much, Joey. Not really."

"The hell you say!" I said hotly then added, "Look around you. You have two parents who love you to pieces. They only want what's best for you. Look at your brothers… what the hell more can you ever ask for? Luke, what matters is that we are loved… the rest falls into place. Keep your nose clean… and love. These are the key ingredients to life. Get used to it. Participate in it. Be an active person. Don't let those fuckers get you down. Grow some balls." Oh my God, I was so intent on talking with Luke that I forgot where I was, and who I was in front of...

Skeeter snickered, but not too much, and it was quickly stifled when Dan looked at him then to me.

I said, "Sorry about that. When I hear that kind of talk... well..."

Dan said, "Apology accepted. Do try to use words that are appropriate with women in the house."

Vera patted Luke's stomach but didn't travel any further south. Skeeter, seeing the wet splotch in Luke's pajamas, got up, went to his dresser, retrieved a pair of underwear, handed them to me. I looked to him then to Vera then to Dan. Dan nodded reservedly.

Deftly, gently, Skeeter removed Luke's pajamas, tossed them aside to the floor. I repositioned myself and assisted him with putting the clean pair on his brother. Vera repeated, "Luke, go fix Joey an ice bag. His lip is getting pretty fat. It'll help with the swelling."

Obediently, Luke got up and headed from his room and was soon gone and out of sight.

Dan said, "Thanks boys. I think you got to him better than we or any psychologist could have. Skeeter, come here to me."

Obediently, Skeeter stiffly went to his dad. Dan grasped hold of his son, pulled him onto his lap, put his massive arm around the boy and then hugged him firmly. Skeeter wrapped himself up into a ball and then promptly fell into an exhausted sleep.

Slowly, one by one, David then James then Eric then Alex entered the room. They were carrying pillows and blankets and soon plopped them onto the floor, nestled in together and waited expectantly. Then Mark entered carrying one sleepy Kevin. Stacy followed them. She was carrying bedding for the little ones who couldn't or didn't carry their own. She stood expectantly until the rest of them got settled in then she put that bedding down.

She said to me, "The guys all wanted to be in here... that's how we are. Get used to it." She then went to Skeeter, kissed his cheek then added, "You take care of him. Don't hurt him or you'll have us to deal with."

"I'm not going to hurt him. Stacy I love him. Thanks though."

Just then Luke returned. He was surprised with everybody lying on the floor. He went to Skeeter and said to his dad, "Is he okay. I'm sorry that I hurt him."

Dan said, "Sometimes we have to hurt a little so that we can grow up."

Eric stood up, went to Luke, and cautiously said clearly yet gently, "Luke, I'm sorry for making fun of you and stuff. I know I've treated you badly sometimes and that we never really got close to each other. I hope you'll forgive me because I do love you. I just didn't know how to react."

Luke replied haltingly, as unshed tears grew in his eyes, "I just didn't know how to talk to you. I thought you hated me. I guess I thought all of you hated me. I know different now."

Eric nodded then assumed his place on the floor between Kevin and Alex. Both of the little ones cuddled into Eric's arms and were soon asleep. Eric nodded although he tried to stay awake he soon fell into the clutches of la la land.

Luke meanwhile sat on the floor and then gently applied the ice bag to my mouth where he'd waylaid it when he'd gone bonkers.

James, the quiet one, approached Luke. He said, "I treated you real bad. I'm sorry. You're a kewl kid. Maybe you'd like to ride my horse, if dad says it's okay."

Dan would later tell me that James and Luke used to get in some knock down drag out fights, like they were mortal enemies, or something. He's had to separate them a few times because he was afraid they would really, really hurt each other… you know… they were throwing closed fist punches to hurt, serious shit.

Luke said, "Okay. We got off on the wrong feet. But yeah, I accept your apology. I owe you an apology too... I'm sorry."

Luke put his hand on mine then guided it to my mouth. He then got up, faced off to James and then reached out his arms toward his brother. James, reluctantly, cautiously extended his arms and then they embraced. Luke then kissed James' cheek then they parted. James looked to Vera. He said, "I think everything's okay now. I didn't mean what I said earlier."

Dan was clueless. He looked to Vera. Vera said, "It doesn't matter now. I was going to talk to you later. I'll talk to you when we're alone."

To James she said, "Go get your bedding. Get Luke's' too, please."

With that James left the room to follow his mothers' directions.

He returned quickly carrying his blankets, sheets and pillow. He tossed them to the floor and then with only a brief hesitation removed his shirt, jeans, socks and shoes then made his place in the nest. I thought to myself that that dude was built... immediately I boned up. He did a second thought... he got up from his nest and then spread out covers and blankets and placed a pillow on the floor. He looked to Luke. James' silhouette showed clearly that he was definitely in need. James caught me appreciating his beauty. I looked away to see Dan laying Skeeter out on his bed. Skeeter barely flinched during the repositioning.

Dan looked at me, "Do you need to use the restroom?"

"Uhm, yes sir.

Vera asked, "How are your legs? Do you think they'll carry you?"

"Uhm, I don't know. They're pretty numb. I'll try."

With that said James reached down his hand. I took it and then Dan and Thomas lifted me while James pulled.

Although wobbly as all hell, with their assistance I made it into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet. Once they left the room for my privacy, I worked the underwear to the floor, pulled off the catheter, pointed it into the toilet and let loose. At the same time the other end did its thing. My sensory nerves were returning as I felt all the torpedoes drop. I also got a very persistent and pesky erection. I reached my hand down, squeezed a number of times. Sensing that its return was imminent I continued to titillate and coax into a successful conclusion.

I cleaned up that which needed cleaning up, hoisted myself to a standing position, took two steps to the sink, washed and dried my hands, opened the door only to find James, Luke and Thomas waiting to take me to Skeeter's room. We navigated around and thru the nest. I got into bed and pulled the covers up and over Skeeter and I. His skin was cold so I cuddled him into my chest, wrapped my arms around his torso, kissed his ear, and said, "Good night. I love you." To them I said, "Thanks you guys. Good night."

They turned off the lights that sent the room into total blackness. Just as I closed my eyes I remembered that I hadn't called mom. "Good night mom. I love you."

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