The Man from Swift Current
© 2011 Russ Nielsen
All Rights Reserved




Chapter 141: Who Am I?

Rick drove his red Corvette down the highway from his weekend drill, wondering if Glenn would be waiting for him when he got home.  Glenn had answered his text messages, which was more than he had done earlier in the week.  He was glad to get those, because it meant Glenn had calmed down enough to communicate with him. 

Glenn tended to get angry very quickly; but, fortunately, he never stayed angry for long.  Rick often teased him about being temperamental.  However, this time had been different.  Glenn hadn’t gone ballistic, and then calmed down, like he normally did.  Instead, he had walked out on Rick, and hadn’t returned.  It worried Rick – a lot! 

He didn’t want their relationship to end this way.  Glenn’s complete silence had upset him much more than any of his angry tirades.  Rick had expected him to pull a major temper tantrum (that’s what he liked to call them when teasing Glenn); but not this total radio silence. 

He was relieved to be back in communication with his lover.  Now, he just needed to decide what he was going to do about their relationship.  He really had no idea what he really wanted, anymore.  Before talking to his commanding officer, he thought he knew; and had taken the first step in the process, by telling Glenn he wanted to stay in the military, even if it meant losing him.  Glenn had rightly accused him of valuing his military career over their relationship, and it was the last conversation he had had with him.

Rick had told himself the only thing bothering him about marrying Glenn was the loss of his military career.  But, deep down, Rick knew there was more to it than just staying in the military.  For months, now, he had been looking at every woman who passed him, wondering if he could still bed a different one each weekend, like he had before meeting Glenn.  Just thinking about it made his body hard.  His blood burned with desire every time he saw a beautiful woman.  He couldn’t help remembering how much fun he’d had fucking one woman after another.    

At first, he tried to banish such thoughts from his mind; but, it had gotten to the point where he couldn’t control his physical reaction to the gorgeous women who caught his attention.  He felt guilty about it, especially when Glenn was with him when it happened.  Thankfully, Glenn usually didn’t comment on his wandering eyes, but he knew Glenn wasn’t happy about it.

Since Peyton and Jonathan had left for Minneapolis, there seemed to be a wall between them, growing thicker every day, pushing them further and further apart.  Their relationship had deteriorated to the point where Rick felt he needed to escape from it.  He loved Glenn; but, he wasn’t sure, anymore, if it was the kind of love that would last a lifetime.

A while later, he pulled into the parking lot of their condo, hoping to see their Land Rover in its usual parking spot.  A feeling of disappointment swept through him, when he saw it wasn’t there.  He missed Glenn, despite his misgivings about continuing their relationship.  He parked the Corvette and turned off the ignition.  He slipped his phone out of his pocket and sent a text to Glenn, “Where r u?”

He waited, not sure Glenn would respond.  He breathed a sigh of relief, when Glenn’s response appeared on the screen, “In Orlando.”

Rick was surprised Glenn was in Florida.  When Glenn told him he was with Duane and Mason, he had assumed they were in Atlanta.  He tapped out, “When r u coming home?”

“Don’t know, maybe tomorrow.”

Rick stared at the words on the screen, wondering how to interpret Glenn’s response to his question.  He wasn’t sure if Glenn meant he was going to return to their condo, or if he meant returning to Atlanta and planned to continue to stay with Duane and Mason.  The thought made him realize their condo wasn’t home without Glenn.  He responded with, “I love you.”

I sat on the couch trying not to cry.  Seeing my distress, Peyton asked, “What’s wrong, Glenn.”  I responded to his question, by handing him my phone.  He read the message and said, “I think he truly loves you, Glenn.”

I asked, “Does he really?  How can I be sure, Peyton?  He says the words; but, doesn’t show it.  How can I reconcile his desire to stay in the Marine Corps with those three words?”

Jonathan said, “Glenn, I think you’re being too hard on him.  Rick loves you.  I’ve seen it in his eyes, when he looks at you.  I think you need to give him a second chance.”

Peyton, seeing my expression harden, said, “Glenn, I believe in second chances.  Please give my cousin the opportunity to explain himself.   You said yourself you didn’t give him the time to tell you what he was thinking, before you left him.”

I scowled, and said, “I’ll think about it; but, it’s not just about the military, Peyton.  Rick’s been ogling the girls a lot, lately; so, I think he’s having second thoughts about being with a guy.  If he wants to be with a woman, he’s welcome to find one; but, I’m not waiting around for him to dump me.”  I stood up and walked toward the door.  “I’m going next door.”

Peyton sighed and looked at Jonathan, who shrugged.  “We’ll join you.  I like Joey and Tyler.  They’re great guys.”

I opened the door and walked over to Joey and Tyler’s door, and tapped on the door.  It was opened by Sra. Nájera.  She smiled up at me.  She hugged me, and said, “Come inside, mi hijo.  I’m missing your Rick.”

I blinked back tears, as I replied, “I’m missing him, too.”

She looked behind me, and smiled at Peyton and Jonathan.  “Please come inside.”  She took me by the hand, and led me to the front room.

Joey and Tyler were seated on the couch, each holding one of the twins.  Joey smiled up at me, and said, “Please sit down next to me.”  He handed me Martin.

Martin seemed to smile up at me.  I said, “He likes me.”

Joey laughed, and said, “Of course, he likes you.  You’re his uncle.”

Sra. Nájera said, “I’m happy you’re smiling, Glenn.  We’ve seen too much sadness on your face, since you arrived.”

“I love children, Mamá,” I said.

“You’ll make a great father, Glenn,” she said, smiling at me.  She sat down next to Sr. Nájera.

Sr. Nájera looked at Peyton and Jonathan, as they sat down in the loveseat.  “I would love to get to know you better.  We’ve met many of Joey and Tyler’s friends, and we think they are the most wonderful people in the world.  I expect you two are just as wonderful.  However, all I know is you’re Rick’s cousins.”  He smiled at them.  “My wife and I love taking care of Joey and Tyler and their lovely family.”

Peyton said, “Rick and Glenn have told us a lot of great things about you.  I wish all of us had parents like you.”

Sra. Nájera said, “You still can.  We’ve already adopted all of Joey and Tyler’s friends.  We are quite willing to adopt you two, as well.  We’ve always wanted a large family, and the boys helped us realize our fondest dreams.”

Sr. Nájera said, “When we lost our only son, we were devastated.” 

Sra. Nájera nodded her agreement and said, “I was so sad, I didn’t want to continue to live.  It was during that time when Tyler knocked on our door, asking to rent a room.”

Sr. Nájera said, “Tyler looks so much like our son, they could’ve been twins.  When we saw him, we thought he was a ghost.”

“I knew God had answered my prayers by sending Tyler to take the place of the son I lost,” Sra. Nájera said, her eyes full of tears.  “Of course, we took him in, and he has become our son.”

Sr. Nájera agreed, “Yes, Tyler has been God’s blessing to our family.  He took away our sadness and replaced it with happiness.”

Sra. Nájera said, “When we met Tyler’s parents, we became the best of friends.”

Louise said, “Yes, and we’re very happy you’ve adopted our son, as your own.”

Hank said, “The Nájeras have made the transition to our new lives in Spain very easy.  I’ve even managed to learn a little Spanish!”

Tyler laughed.  “Yes, Dad you’ve learned to speak Spanish – after a fashion!”

Sr. Nájera grinned at his friend.  “Well, we’re still working on his accent.”

Hank said, “That’s too true!”  Turning to Peyton, he said, “I’m sorry, we didn’t intend to cut you off.  We, too, want to know you better.”

Peyton smiled, and said, “That’s okay.  There’s not much to tell, really.”

Jonathan said, “Peyton is being way too modest.  Glenn’s Grandpa adopted Peyton as his son.”

Hank looked at Peyton, and asked, “Why did he do that?  Are your parents deceased?”

“No, but they don’t approve of gays,” Peyton said.

“That’s an understatement, if I’ve ever heard one,” Jonathan said.

Peyton laughed.  “Don’t be giving me a hard time, Babe.  You’re mother’s just as anti-gay as my parents.”

Jonathan said, “That’s true.  My father is the sheriff and he helped me get a job with the security company Mr. Scarborough hired to protect his family.  That’s how I met Peyton.”

Peyton turned his head to meet Jonathan’s gaze.  “Should I share with them how I ended up living with the Scarboroughs?”

Jonathan took Peyton’s hand in his and said, “It’s up to you, Babe.”

Peyton thought for a moment, unsure whether to tell them he had been in jail.  He stared searchingly into his husband’s eyes, knowing he wanted to feel comfortable around these people.  He didn’t want to have to watch his every word, afraid he would say something, leading them to question him, or make them think he wasn’t being truthful with them.

Seeing Peyton’s hesitation, I smiled at him, and said, “UNCLE Peyton, we love you and it is the most important thing everyone needs to know; so, only share what you’re comfortable sharing

Peyton grinned at me, and said, “Just remember to respect your elders, Glenn.”  Making his decision, he turned back to the Nájeras and the Damasiewicz’.  “I hope you won’t be offended by what I have to tell you.”

Hank said, “We won’t be offended, Peyton.  We’re honored you trust us enough to share your life with us.  Since Mr. Scarborough adopted you as his son, there is no doubt you’re an exceptional person.  From what I know of him, he’s a very good judge of character.”

Peyton nodded his head, and continued, “I need to start at the beginning, so you will know what led up to my adoption.  When Rick first met Glenn, my parents and his wanted them both dead.  We belonged to a church where we were taught homosexuality is an abomination before God.  Our minister insisted parents were responsible for killing their children if they were caught sinning to prevent them from becoming completely lost to God.” 

He paused, drawing a deep breath.  “Our church twisted the Bible to condone murder, basing their teachings on the Old Testament story where Eli was struck dead on the temple step, because he didn’t stop his sons from sinning before God.  My parents and Rick’s felt they would be condemned in God’s eyes, if they didn’t put an end to Rick’s homosexual acts with Glenn.”  He stopped, again, clearing his throat.  He hadn’t expected to feel so emotional, as he recounted his story.  “My dad convinced me and my girlfriend, Angie, to work with him and Rick’s father to destroy them.”

“Obviously, you weren’t successful,” Hank said.

“Fortunately,” Peyton said, acknowledging the truth of Hank’s statement.  “But, I was blinded by the teachings of our church.  I was full of hatred and jealousy toward Rick.  So, the four of us destroyed Rick and Glenn’s apartment.  We would have murdered them, had they been there at the time.”

Louise looked at him, with a shocked expression.  “How could you consider taking another human being’s life?”

Peyton said, “It’s easy, when you’ve been brainwashed into thinking it is God’s will to do so.  They weren’t home when we broke into their apartment, or I’m afraid I would have been in jail for life.  We weren’t exactly thinking about the consequences of our actions, when we demolished their place.  We were picked up by the police and ended up in jail.  After spending time in prison, I was released on probation.  I had a difficult time finding a job, since no one wanted to hire an ex-con.  I expected my family to help me; but, they rejected me, because I had failed them, by not carrying out God’s justice.”

Sr. Nájera asked, “What did you do?”

“I fell in with a bad crowd,” Peyton said, ducking his head in shame.

Jonathan said, “His former cellmate, John, managed to find him, when he got out of prison.”

Peyton looked up, and continued, “John raped me on my first night in prison, and continued to use me every night until I got out.  He said he would protect me, as long as I let him have sex with me.  When he found me, I told him I wanted nothing to do with him; but, he threatened to tell my family I was gay, if I didn’t do as he said.  As a result, I did some things I’m not proud of.  I don’t want to make excuses for my behavior…but I didn’t have any money and no way to make the restitution payments mandated by the court.  So, I did what I needed to do to get enough cash to make those payments.   I was destitute and homeless, with nowhere to go, and John offered me a place to stay, if I became his lover.”  He stopped speaking, and looked up to see their reaction to what he’d said.

Hank said, “So, what happened after you hooked up with this guy, John?”

“I blamed Rick and Glenn for my problems, and I thought my family would take me back, if I finished the job they had sent me to do.  So, I tracked them to the Scarborough home.  That’s when Sheriff Smith caught me, and I ended up back in jail.  But, before Sheriff Smith took me to jail, Mr. Scarborough promised to help me get back on my feet, after I paid my debt to society.”

“A promise he kept,” Jonathan interjected, putting his arm around his husband’s shoulders.

Peyton put his hand on Jonathan’s leg.  “I’m getting there, Babe.  I thought things were bad the first time I was in prison.  But I was wrong.  Things were much worse the second time.  Marty, my cell mate, was part of a prison gang and pimped me out to the other gang members.   When I refused to cooperate, he had me beaten.  Then, he got the prison guards to repeatedly rape me.  Between the prison guards and the prison gang I was beaten if I protested, or complained about having sex with them.  I tried to get transferred to another prison facility; but, it only made things worse.  I told Mr. Scarborough about what was happening, and he hired lawyers to represent me.  In retaliation, the guards nearly killed me.”

“That’s when the parole board agreed to let Peyton out on probation,” Jonathan said.  “Peyton was in pretty bad shape when he came to the Scarboroughs.”

“My arms and legs were in casts and I was black and blue all over my body,” Peyton said.  “I was so depressed and ashamed of what had happened to me.  I wanted to die.”

I said, “We worked hard to bring Peyton back from the edge of self-destruction.  Our entire family made sure Peyton knew he was loved and wanted.”

Peyton grinned at me.  “Yes, they did do that.  I’m very thankful to the Scarborough family.”

Jonathan said, “And so am I.  They gave me a wonderful gift in Peyton.”

Sr. Nájera said, “You’ve had quite the life, Peyton.  What are your plans for the future?”

He replied, “I’m planning to get a law degree.  I want to help protect the rights of the millions of inmates in our prisons.  I want to prevent the same things that happened to me from happening to others.  The Scarboroughs rescued me from certain self-destruction, by providing me with a job, a place to be, and a loving family and strong support network.  Most of all, they showed me they loved and respected me.  They made me feel special and that I mattered to them.”  He stopped, his eyes full of tears, unable to continue speaking. 

Jonathan hugged him, giving him a gentle kiss on the lips.  He whispered, “It’s okay, Babe.” 

Peyton rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands, as he regained control of his emotions.  “Now, I want to rescue as many people as I can.  Our justice system treats inmates and former inmates like pieces of garbage.  They say pretty words; but, they are just that - WORDS!  Most former inmates live in poverty, because they can’t find work.  No one wants to take a chance on them.  On every job application, we’re forced to put down the fact we’ve been in jail.  That fact alone eliminates us from holding most jobs.  It’s like I’m wearing a scarlet letter around my neck, advertising the fact I’m a former inmate.”

Jonathan said, “We’ve done some research and found there are a limited number of organizations who attempt to help former inmates.  They are underfunded and can only do so much to remove the roadblocks to reintegrate former inmates into society after leaving prison.  We plan to work with the one based in Minnesota.”

Peyton said, “There is such a huge need it’s almost overwhelming.  The more I learn about the lack of services for former inmates, the more I realize just how fortunate I was to meet Mr. Scarborough.  I wish every inmate in our prisons had such a staunch advocate on the outside.”

Joey said, “Greg and Cory have shared with us some of things you went through, Peyton; but, we didn’t know the extent of what happened to you in prison.”

Tyler said, “I’m glad you’re part of our family.”

Peyton looked at Tyler in surprise.  “What do you mean?”

Tyler smiled and asked, “Well, Greg is your adopted brother, right?”

“Yes, he is,” Peyton said.

Joey said, “And Greg is my brother-in-law; so, that makes you part of our family.”

Tyler said, “You’re stuck with us, Peyton.”  He grinned at the two guys sitting across from him.

Jonathan said, “Thank you for welcoming us into your family, Tyler and Joey.”

Joey said, “You’re welcome.  You know you have to pull UNCLE duty, now, don’t you?”

Jonathan laughed.  “I think we already knew that.  The girls have already laid claim to my husband as their favorite uncle.”

I protested, “I thought I was their favorite uncle!”

Peyton smirked.  “You’ve been replaced, Glenn.  You just can’t compete with my charming personality and quick wit.”

Just then, the girls in question, ran into the room, each of them carrying their favorite stories in their arms.  Rachel made a beeline for Peyton, climbing onto his lap.  She looked up at him, and asked, “Uncle Peyton, will you read me a story.”

Sarah followed Rachel’s example and climbed up on Jonathan’s lap.  Jonathan smiled down at her.  “Let me guess, you want to hear a story, too.”

She nodded her head.  “Yes, Uncle Jonathan.”

I shook my head, and said, under my breath, “Traitors.”

Hearing me, Peyton laughed, and said, “Now, don’t be a bad sport about it, Glenn.  The girls still love you.  Don’t you, girls?”

Rachel nodded her head, and said, “I love Uncle Glenn, too.”

Sarah echoed her sister’s words, “Me, too.”

Only slightly mollified, I smiled at the two little girls, and said, “Okay, I’ll forgive you.  This time.”

Rick showered and dressed in blue running shorts and a tight-fitting white t-shirt.  He glanced in the mirror, making sure he looked good, before pulling on his cross trainers.  He grabbed his keys from his dresser, and headed for the door.  He pulled the door closed behind him.  He took the stairs down to the floor below their condo.  He knocked on the first door he came to and waited.

Keith opened the door and took one look at Rick’s face, and said, “He’s still not home.”

Rick nodded his head.  “He’s in Orlando with Duane and Mason.”  Seeing Keith made him miss his lover even more.  Keith and Glenn looked so much alike, they could have been twins.  The only way to tell them apart was the color of their eyes, unless you heard them talking.  Then, Keith’s southern drawl gave him away.

Keith, seeing the tears in Rick’s eyes, pulled him into his arms, hugging him tight.  “He’ll come back, Rick.  Have faith in him, my friend.  You know he loves you and won’t leave you.”

Rick hugged his friend back, then pulled away.  He wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand.  “I know he loves me; but, does he love me enough to let me have a career in the military?”

Keith put a hand on Rick’s chest, stopping him from entering the condo.  “Hold it right there, Rick.  Do you mean your litmus test for Glenn to prove his love for you is to allow you to have your military career?”  Rick met Keith’s gaze, not wanting to answer Keith’s question.  “Really? Is that the standard you should use to measure the depth of Glenn’s love for you?”  Rick looked away from Keith, unable to respond.  Keith continued, “Rick, you’re better than that.”

Rick protested, “Glenn is doing the same thing to me, Keith, by demanding I leave the military to prove I love him.”

Keith shook his head in disbelief.  “Rick, you told Glenn you would marry him after you got out of the military.  If you never intended to leave the Marine Corps, why did you tell him you’d marry him?”

“I’m not sure I can marry him, Keith, because I seem to be attracted to every woman I see.   I get so horny for a woman, sometimes, I can’t stand it.  I don’t want to hurt Glenn by cheating on him with a woman,” Rick said.  “I don’t know if I can remain faithful to him, Keith.”

Keith asked, “You’ve always been attracted to women, Rick.  It’s been that way from the first day you met Glenn.  What’s changed to make it so unbearable?”

Rick asked, “Can we talk about this inside?”

Keith stepped aside, letting Rick enter.  “I still want an answer to my question, Rick.”

“Honestly, I’m afraid of making a permanent commitment.  As long as we’re just living together, I can pretend I’m not really gay.  I can say I’m straight, except for Glenn.”

Keith said, “I think you’re hung up on labels, Rick.  You know as well as I do I’m not totally ‘straight’ and you know you’re not totally ‘gay.’   We’re both somewhere in the middle.   I lean a little more to the one side and you to the other.  You need to let go of your fears, and give yourself a chance to just be who you are – without the labels tripping you up.  Maybe, then, you can come to terms with your feelings for Glenn.”

Rick said, “I’ll definitely give it some thought.” 

Keith nodded his head, approvingly.  He took Rick by the arm and steered him into the kitchen.  Kerry looked up and said, “Hello, Rick.  I’m glad you’re back.  Egan missed his Uncle Rick.”

He smiled, and said, “I’m sure he did.”

She said, “He made me promise to send you in to tell him a bedtime story.”

Rick loved his little nephew.  Egan had worked his way into his heart almost from the first moment Rick had laid eyes on the little guy.  “I’ll go see if he’s awake.”

Rick left the kitchen and walked down the hallway to Egan’s room.  He opened the door, looking into the darkened room.  Egan lay in his bed, hugging his Teddy bear.  Rick crossed to his bed and sat down.  Egan opened his eyes and smiled up at Rick.

“I knew you would come, Uncle Rick,” Egan said, starting to sit up.

Rick placed a gentle hand on the boy’s chest, holding him still.   “Don’t get up.  I’ll tell you a bedtime story to help you go to sleep.”

Egan settled back against his pillow, putting his hand over Rick’s.  “I missed you Uncle Rick and I miss Uncle Glenn.” 

“I miss him, too, Egan,” Rick replied.

“When is Uncle Glenn coming home?” Egan said.

His question hit him hard, as he pondered how to respond.  He didn’t know the answer to Egan’s question.  Finally, he decided to tell him the truth, and said, “I don’t know, Egan.  Sometimes, people have arguments and they hurt each other’s feelings.  Uncle Glenn left, because he’s mad at me.”

Egan frowned, and said, “But Mommy says I have to talk things out, when I get angry, instead of throwing things, or hitting someone.  Why didn’t Uncle Glenn talk things out, when he got mad?”

Rick laughed, and said, “Don’t you sometimes forget to talk things out and throw things or kick something because you’re angry?”

Egan nodded his head.  “Yes.  But then Mommy always tells me to stop and think about doing something positive when I get angry, like talking about my feelings.  She says I’ll get better with practice.”

Egan sounded so wise for his years.  Rick ruffled his hair.  “Sometimes, big people forget the rules about talking things out when they’re angry, just like you do.  Uncle Glenn and I need more practice at doing that.”

Egan said, “That’s what Daddy said.”

Rick raised his eyebrows in surprise.  “He said that did he?”

“Yes, Mommy said so, too,” Egan said.  “When are you and Uncle Glenn going to talk things out?”

“I don’t know, Egan.  Uncle Glenn is still angry with me and hasn’t come home, yet,” Rick said.

Egan looked worried.  “But he’s been gone for a long time, Uncle Rick.  Daddy said he might not come back.”

“He might not; but I love Uncle Glenn very much, Egan, and I will do what I can to convince him to come back,” Rick said, realizing, as he said the words, he really did love him and wanted him back in his life.  The thought of Glenn leaving him, left him feeling sick inside.

Egan smiled, and said, “Daddy said all you have to do is kiss him, and he’ll do everything you say; just like Mommy does when he kisses her.”

Rick laughed.  “I’m sure your Daddy’s right.  Now, let’s see…shall I tell you a story about an alligator?”

Egan nodded his head, excitedly.  “Yes, I love that story.”

By the time Rick finished narrating his story, Egan was fast asleep.  Rick smiled down at the little cherub, and stood up to tiptoe out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him.  He made his way back to the kitchen.

Keith and Kerry were sitting at the table.  Kerry was eating a peanut butter and pickle sandwich.  Rick sat down across from them and grinned.  “That’s a rather odd sandwich.”

Kerry said, “It’s what I’m craving right now.”

Keith said, “Kerry’s finally feeling good enough to eat.”

Kerry agreed.  “I’m glad I’m past the nausea stage.  I hate not being able to keep anything down.”

Rick asked, “What did the doctor say when you saw him on Friday?”

“The baby is doing fine,” Kerry said, smiling.  “It’s a girl.”

Rick smiled.  “Congratulations!”

Keith said, “Now, we’ll have one of each.  Egan will have a baby sister to keep him company.”

Rick said, “Speaking of Egan, he told me I needed to talk things out with Glenn.”

Kerry laughed.  “Did he now?”

“Yes, and that’s not all.  He said all I had to do was give him a kiss and Glenn will do anything I tell him to do,” Rick added.

Keith glanced over at Kerry and laughed.  “I told him that’s how I got Kerry to do what I want her to do.”

Kerry blushed, and said, “That’s only true half of the time.”

Keith leaned over to give her a kiss.  “It’s true most of the time, because I’m so hot and sexy!”

Rick said, “I hope Glenn will give me a chance to do that.  He wouldn’t let me touch him, he was so angry with me.”

Kerry said, “He’ll let you, Rick.  He’s just as addicted to you, as I am to Keith.”

“I hope you’re right, because it sure didn’t seem to be the case when he left me,” Rick said.

“When is he coming back?” Kerry asked.

Rick shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know.  Maybe tomorrow.”

Keith met Rick’s gaze across the table.  “Don’t give up, Rick.  He’ll come around, soon enough.”

Rick said, “I certainly hope so.”

Kerry asked, “Are you hungry?  There’s some left over pasta in the fridge.”

Rick’s stomach growled, causing Keith and Kerry to laugh.  “I guess that’s a yes.”

Keith got up and walked over to the fridge and pulled out the left over pasta primavera.  He placed the pasta in the microwave and punched a couple buttons to start it.  A few minutes later, he pulled it out and handed it to Rick.  “Be careful!  The dish is hot.”

Rick smiled and said, “Thanks.”

Keith handed him a fork, and returned to his seat next to his wife.  He nearly laughed, as Rick downed the pasta.  “You’ll never change, Rick.  I’ve always been amazed at how quickly you can eat your dinner.”

Rick grinned.  “I’ve never been able to eat slowly.  My mother always told me to slow down and chew my food, instead of inhaling it.”

Kerry said, “She’s right, you know.  You need to slow down and enjoy your food.”

Rick continued to grin, unrepentant.  “I can always do that on the second, or third helping; but, never on the first.”

Kerry shook her head.  “You’re just like a big kid, sometimes.”

Rick laughed.  “That’s because I am a big kid.  I never want to grow up!”

Keith looked at his wife, and said, “Now you know I’m not the only one, Kerry.”

Kerry shook her head again.  “You two are going to be the death of me.”

Keith kissed her, and said, “But you love us, anyway.”

“That I do,” she replied, taking his hand in hers.

They talked of their plans for the week and their hope things would work themselves out between Rick and Glenn.  Rick left their home, feeling comforted and able to face another long, lonely night, without Glenn.  He really did love the man and missed him terribly!

Greg and Cory sat across from Robbie and Adam, as they played cards.  Greg asked, “Do you think Glenn will go back to Rick?  He still seems pretty upset with him.”

Robbie’s voice was full of concern, as he replied, “I don’t know, Greg.  I’ve never seen Glenn this way.  He’s always gotten over being angry pretty quickly.”

Cory said, “He’s at least answering Rick’s text messages.”

“But, he asked Duane and Mason to help him find an apartment last night,” Adam said.

Greg said, “That’s not good.”

Robbie nodded his head in agreement.  “I don’t think Glenn knows we overheard him talking to them about it.”

“It sounds like Glenn has made up his mind to leave Rick,” Cory said.

Adam said, “I’m afraid so.”

Robbie looked around the table and asked, “What can we do to help them get past this?”

Greg said, “I think we need to call Rick and get him here.  If Glenn goes back to Atlanta this way, I’m afraid they’re history.”

Cory said, “Agreed.   I’m calling Rick.”  He pulled his phone from his pocket and speed dialed Rick’s number. 

After two rings, Rick answered, “Hello, Cory.”

Cory said, “Hey.  I’m putting you on speaker.  Robbie, Adam and Greg are here with me.”

“What’s up, guys?” he asked.

“You know what’s up, Rick,” Greg said.  “You need to fix things with Glenn and you can’t wait until he gets back to Atlanta.”

Rick said, “What do you mean I need to fix things before he gets back here?”

“You need to get your sorry ass down here as soon as you can,” Greg responded.  “You fucked up big time, Rick.  We’ve tried to help you out the best we can; but, it’s not enough.  You’re the only one who can change the outcome of what you started.”

Rick sat, stunned, on the couch.  He reached over to turn off the television.  He asked, “What makes you think I can change things?”

Robbie said, “I think you need to know Glenn asked Duane and Mason to help him find an apartment last night.  We think he’s made up his mind to leave you, Rick.”

Robbie’s words felt like a sucker punch to his gut.  He let out a strangled, unintelligible sound.  Robbie asked, “Are you okay?”

Rick didn’t respond, as the tears coursed down his cheeks.  He felt as if his heart had been ripped out of his chest.  He thought he was ready to move on, to leave Glenn and find a woman; but, when he was faced with the reality of losing Glenn, he was forced to acknowledge he loved Glenn and didn’t want to lose him.

“What do you need me to do?” Rick asked. 

“Get in your car and get here as fast as you can.  If you leave first thing in the morning, you can be here by noon tomorrow,” Robbie said.

“Won’t Glenn be heading home, tomorrow?” Rick asked.

“No,” Adam said.  “Duane and Mason want to stay a couple of more days.”

Rick said, “I don’t know if Glenn will see me.”

“He won’t have a choice, since you’ll be staying with us,” Greg said.

Rick said, “That doesn’t mean he’ll talk to me.”

Robbie said, “Well, sport, we’ll leave that problem to you to solve.”

Cory said, “I’m sure you’ll find a way, Rick.”

Rick said, “Okay, I’ll see you guys, tomorrow.”

Robbie said, “Here’s where we’re staying.”  Robbie gave him the information.

Rick said, “Thanks, guys.”

Cory ended the call, and looked around the room.  “Did we do the right thing?”

Robbie nodded his head.  “Yes, we did.”

Rick sat, staring straight ahead, wondering what he would say to Glenn.  He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep; so, he decided to pack up a few things and start his journey south to Orlando.  He figured he could stop at a hotel on the way, when he got too tired to drive, anymore.  He sent Keith a text message, letting him know he was leaving for Orlando and not to worry about him.  Keith responded “Drive safely, my friend.   Go with our thoughts and prayers for you both.”

Rick smiled, grateful for his friend.  He quickly packed his things, and left the condo, locking the door behind him.  He practically ran down the stairs to his car.  He threw his bag in the passenger’s seat and climbed in.  He started the engine and pulled it out of its parking spot.  He passed the guard shack, turned onto the highway in front of their complex, and headed toward the freeway. 

Prev To be continued . . .

A Note from Russ:

This chapter previously published as Our Band of Brothers Chapter Six

Inmates forced to pay the cost of their incarceration -

Cost of Incarceration Fee for 2011 was $28,893.40 –

Financial Responsibility Program -

Florida Prisons Kill Inmates -

Sex Offenders Killed in California Prisons -

Minnesota Program Aids Ex-convicts out of Poverty -

Better Futures -

Keeping Families in Touch with Inmates -