Micah's Precious Christmas Gift

by Hunter Woods

Chapter 2

Christmas Eve

During my drive home my stomach was doing flip-flops. It was all I could do not to pull over and throw up. I couldn't even recall most of the forty minutes it took to drive home as my thoughts kept playing over and over in my mind with what happened when I took Micah inside the police station. Nothing really went as planned, but in the end I was confident the boy at least was being well cared for as I played the events over in my head.

When I arrived at the front desk I hoped I'd recognize someone because over the years I've worked with many police officers from this particular station. Before I was promoted I dealt regularly with this department getting to know most of them very well. Of course it's been a while now, I'm only at the store a few times a year, but I still thought there'd be someone here at the station I recognized. Then again, it was late so the ones I knew probably didn't work this shift.

The place was quiet and tranquil when we entered the building with a sergeant I didn't recognize working behind the counter. He kept us waiting while he finished up some paperwork before even looking up to acknowledge us. He was a large man with a stomach threatening to burst through his uniform at any moment. It was a wonder the man could even be a cop because for the life of me I'd bet dollars to donuts the guy couldn't run ten feet if his life depended on it. I should have known from the start when I entered the building and saw the fat slob of an excuse for a man with thick jowls flopping around this would be a big mess.

It was written all over the man's face and demeanor, so much so it was all I could do to keep Micah from bolting. After explaining the situation I could tell the man had utter contempt for the boy and seemed to suggest the boy belonged to the group of kids who have been stealing from people in the neighborhood for weeks now. Evidently they've been having very little luck apprehending the little street urchins who seemed to disappear into thin air after their pilfering sprees.

The more I explained the more condescending he became, almost as if he was trying to let us know we were more of a hassle and not worth his time and effort. I was so upset it took all of my control not to reach across the counter and smack the guy.

The fat slob grumbled and harrumphed several times his thick flabby jowls jiggling around obscenely beneath his flat chin muttering under his breathe the entire time. When I inquired as to the procedure of what was to become of Micah now, he simply glared at me saying it was too late in the evening to do anything so the boy would simply have to spend the night in one of the holding cells until the following day. Even then, he announced in a booming voice, making Micah recoil, that since it would be Christmas Eve the next day he wasn't sure what would happen. He didn't seem to have any real answers for us, nor did he seem to care one way or the other.

Of course this managed to upset Micah whose lips began to tremble as he leaned in closer to me frightened about his diminishing prospects. I began to wonder if it would've been better to have left the boy alone, but I shook away the feeling knowing it most definitely would have been worse for the kid in the long run. So looking down at the kid and trying to be positive my heart sank at the sight of the frightened boy. I could tell he was trying to be brave, but a few teardrops still managed to escape from his eyes trickling down his cheeks leaving streak marks on his cute little dirty smudged face.

Giving the boy an encouraging pat on the back I turned my focus back towards the sergeant. My calm voice barely concealed my roiling anger as I began laying into the sergeant making sure he totally got the gist of where I was coming from. I let him know if he didn't resolve the situation then come morning when the shift changed I'd be sure to inform some of the other officers on duty who I knew just how much I wasn't happy with his attitude. I reminded him our store brought a lot of money into the community along with contributing to the local fire and police department. I also informed him as the district manager for one of the largest retail stores in the region I was the one in charge of dictating exactly where and how much we donated to certain community programs including the local police departments. I let him know how I was sure the brass and administrators of this particular police branch would be interested to find out why their next donation from our company had diminished.

This seemed to get the man's attention, even though a bit begrudgingly, as he directed us to take a seat while he made some phone calls. I hated using those sorts of tactics, but I had it with this man and needed to make sure Micah was well cared for and safe. So we took a seat on one of the cushioned benches leaning our backs up against the wall. Micah scooted closer and leaned into me hanging on to my arm looking a bit nervous while I chatted with him trying to assure the boy it would all work out. He tried to be brave about it as he sat there next to me in complete silence while we watched people and other uniformed officers come and go. It was actually busier around here than I imagined possible at this late hour, not to mention the nasty weather stirring up once more outside as flurries of snow swirled around just outside the building.

Fifteen minutes later the sergeant came up to us announcing he had made managed to get in touch with someone from Family and Child Services who had in turn made some phone calls securing a bed for Micah at one of the foster care facilities. It was a home that had been converted for situations like this housing many kids, and there was an empty bed for Micah. He had also made arrangements for transportation which arrived in the form of a young officer showing up as he brushed the snow off his uniform. It had begun snowing once more and it looked like it was coming down really hard.

The young officer was a pleasant sort of man with a ready smile and gentle demeanor. He stood by offering encouragement while I talked with Micah. The boy was definitely frightened, but he seemed to like the young officer. The man got down on one knee assuring the boy he would be perfectly fine at this new place since it was a nice warm comfortable building with plenty of other kids his age. He explained each room had a couple of bunk beds inside of them and he would be sharing a room with three other kids like him so wouldn't be alone.

Of course Micah still didn't want to go, but I assured him I wasn't abandoning him and would check up on him tomorrow. I promised him that from here on out I would always be checking in on him to make sure he was doing fine and I would help make sure he found a good home. I explained how there were people who wanted to be parents to kids and look after them, and I would be sure to help him find the right ones who would look after and love him. Once I promised not to abandon him and that he would be seeing me sometime tomorrow again he seemed resigned to the reality there was no getting around this. He at least seemed comforted by the fact I wasn't going to dump him on someone else leaving him all alone.

I could still feel the hug around my waist I had received from Micah at the last moment before he left with the young officer as I parked the car in front of my two story country style house. Arriving sort of caught me off guard because I had been so preoccupied with my thoughts I hadn't even realized I was home until I pulled into the driveway. There was a good five or six inches of snow in the driveway so I was surprised I managed to make it home in this weather.

Getting out of the car my thoughts wandered back to the boy. He had hardly said a single word to me at the police station, but then again he hadn't really spoken all that much from the moment I had sat down with him outside that cardboard box in the alleyway. He was a quiet and solemn kind of kid, very gentle and kind, who only seemed to say something when it was necessary. Now as I thought back on it I began to realize I was fortunate to get the amount of information from him I had.

It was nice and warm when I stepped into the foyer closing the front door behind me and hanging up my jacket. Walking into the open style common area of the country style house I set my bag on the counter in the kitchen. A small weary smile crept over my features as I leaned back against the counter looking around at the decorations and into the family room where the Christmas tree was set up. We had set it up right after Thanksgiving like we always did because I thought it important to do that sort of thing as a family. I always got busy during this time of year, so putting up our Christmas tree together made things more family oriented. Afterwards my wife and boys would continue to decorate while I helped out when I could; especially, with the outdoor house lights.

It was absolutely gorgeous in the house with the Christmas decorations up and the tree all lit up with white little lights. Grunting, I pushed myself away from the counter running my fingers through my hair. It had been a very long night and I was exhausted as I walked over to the thermostat lowering the temperature by a few degrees. My wife always kept it set higher during the day because she didn't much care for the cold weather. She knew I'd turn it down when I went to bed because I couldn't sleep if it was too hot at night. I really didn't lower the temperature a lot, just a few degrees because by the time I crawled into bed with my wife our two bodies would keep the bed nice and toasty warm. She didn't really mind that I did this at night because she'd already be all snuggled up and warm by the time I got home. She also knew when I woke up in the morning I would turn it back up for her so it would be warmer by the time she and the kids crawled out of bed.

It was well after one in the morning as I climbed the stairs leading upwards to the second floor where the bedrooms were located. As I crested the top, I paused at my bedroom door immediately to the left on the landing taking a look inside noticing my wife sleeping comfortably. Our bedroom was the largest with a walk in closet and our very own bathroom complete with a Jacuzzi and everything.

The events of this evening left a knot in my stomach and I just had to look in on my own boys now. Turning I made my way down the hallway in the opposite direction with the main wall on my left side. Just on the other side of it would be our Master bathroom separating Tim's room from ours. In a way it sort of provided a buffer area so my wife and I could have some privacy and not be heard when we were, well, intimate. I came to the end of the hallway and decided to check in my youngest first. To the left was a little alcove and doorway leading into his room and to the right was the same thing and Chase's room. I veered to the left and snuck a peek inside Tim's doorway.

Hesitating a moment I slowly opened up the door and silently crept inside. Being the youngest he had the smallest room, but he didn't seem to care because it was big enough for him even if he had friends sleeping over. As usual my little ten year old boy was sleeping on his back completely naked in bed with the covers tossed off to the side and his tiny little boy boner sticking straight up in the air. Sighing, I shook my head and smiled at my little nudist boy. It had sort of become a game between the two of us with me teasing him about it and referring to him as my little nudist boy since he tended to run around the house pretty much butt naked all the time, not to mention because of his little boy bits.

Tim really didn't have all that much down there between his legs and was really puny all things considered for a boy his age. He wasn't even two inches down there and it wasn't much bigger when he popped a little boy stiffie, which he tended to do all the time. Right now in his hardened state it was barely over two inches so not much bigger than when it was soft. Basically all that was really there was just his little nub of a button and a small tight rounded pouch no bigger than the size of a ping pong ball.

He didn't seem to mind or even appear to take any notice of his small little package when he walked around the house naked. Of course it flustered my wife a bit because she grew up as the only child in her house and raised by her parents in a bit of a more conservative atmosphere regarding nudity. I on the other hand had three other brothers and was raised out in the country so us boys running around naked wasn't anything unusual. We didn't have much money in those days so it wasn't like we had any bathing suits and stuff. During the summer months me and my brothers would head down to the pond or little creek, took off our clothes, and carried on butt naked. So the whole nudity thing around the house really didn't faze me all that much, and even though my wife rolled her eyes at Tim, over the years she had gotten used to it as well. She figured Tim at least had enough sense and decency to put on a pair of shorts or pajama bottoms when he had friends sleeping over or when adults came around.

Even Chase used to do the same thing, but when he got to be around nine or ten years old he slowly stopped that sort of thing on his own. I suppose it was probably because he began to become a bit more self conscious about his own body and what was swinging around between his legs. At an early age he began to realize he was a bit different down there than most of his other friends the same age. Unlike Tim, my oldest boy was kind of big down there. It wasn't really in the sense of length, but rather more in regards to thickness. He was also a bit longer down there than many kids his age, but it was the thickness of his penis which made him look really huge for a boy his age. Even his boy pouch had always been a bit baggy and on the large side. Of course it's been a while since I've actually seen him, but there simply wasn't any hiding something like that even when wearing clothes.

Chuckling at myself for these silly thoughts I crept silently into the room pulling the blanket over Tim's slumbering naked form. He was a cute little kid, kind of small in height and weight for his age, but not much smaller than most of his friends. For that matter both of my boys were a tad on the small size in regards to height and weight. Tim was definitely bigger than Micah though, but I had a feeling the nine year old boy would be having a couple of growth spurts in the next year or so like most boys his age.

My wife always kept me up to date on both of our boys' growth and weight progress just in case we had to do any clothes shopping. Tim just had a birthday a couple of months ago and Maria had measured him at that time so she could get him some new clothes. She informed me he had grown a couple of inches in height and had filled out a bit more. He was now four feet and three inches tall weighing about seventy pounds putting him in a boy's size of eight or ten depending on how they were made. She had measured Chase at the same time marking his height along with Tim's on the wall downstairs by the utility room with us finding out he hadn't grown or gained any weight since we last measured him. He still weighed a buck ten, or rather one hundred and ten pounds, with a height of only five feet three inches usually fitting into a size fourteen boy's clothing.

Focusing back on Tim I smiled fondly at his serene slumbering face. He had a smooth complexion with a healthy dusting of small little freckles over the bridge of his nose spreading slightly outwards to the inner edges of his prominent cheeks. Suddenly I felt the need to hold him in my arms. My time with Micah reminded me of how lucky I was to have my boys and wife in my life. Tim only had a full size bed making things a bit cramped, but it didn't stop me from settling in next to him as I peered into his adorably cute ten year old face.

I couldn't help but study his soft features taking note of the small round boyish face. It was a kind of full looking face with a round chin, very few clearly defined angles, and cheeks that showed prominently when he smiled, which was practically all the time. My eyes took it all in, even his small button like nose with that dusting of freckles over the bridge spreading outwards to the inner creases of his cheek bones. Despite the freckles on his slightly brown tinged features, his complexion was almost spotless. The coloration of his skin was almost like a contradiction because it looked as if he were just now beginning to tan at the beginning of summertime even though we were currently in the middle of winter.

Without a doubt my little kid really was adorably cute. Unable to resist I reached out gently moving some of the stray hairs that had settled over his features and were lying there in a tangled kind of fashion. He had dark natural blonde hair like the color of almond crème with a medium long beachy style look that he usually kept parted on the side. Tim's shaggy style haircut incorporate long bangs, lots of texture, and a razored like feel all around his ears and neck.

I was far from an expert in haircuts, but this one seemed to suit my little man. It was a cross between being short and long not to mention a great choice combining style and low maintenance for someone like Tim who didn't want to be bothered with how his hair looked. The layers and texture in the tips kept the weight on his head light, and styling this side parted look with the deep fringe was a breeze for a boy his age.

Brushing aside his hair revealed some more of his face and sparse eyebrows which were the same shade as his hair. They arched lazily over his big round closed eyes like snow drifts created from the slight breezes on a wintry cold night. My light touch on his brow made him stir slightly in his sleep as his eyes fluttered open momentarily revealing his glowing hazel colored eyes. They reminded me of crystallized copper, images I had seen in a book one time, and they seemed to dance around lively even in his slumbering state, but more so when he smiled.

"Hey dad," I heard him whisper softly in his half asleep state as I cuddled up closer and gave him a firm hug holding him tightly in my arms.

Remaining quiet in bed next to him I watched as he drifted back to sleep his eyes slowly closing. He inhaled deeply his lips quivering slightly not in the least bit bothered by my presence. He had a small mouth, but a big smile with pinkish brown lips that would creep into a slow upward slope creating two small dimples at the corners of his lips and large crescent moon like furrow lines along the edges of his prominent cheek bones. Everything about his features seemed to fit him as a little person, and I couldn't help but feel proud of what my wife and I had created. Leaning my face down closer to him I gave him a gentle kiss on his cheek.

"I love you son." I whispered softly hearing him murmur in his sleep as I eased myself off his bed.

I stepped towards the door inside Tim's room which led into the bathroom he shared with his older brother. Once inside I made my way to the door on the far side which led into Chase's room. I hesitated wondering if I should actually enter. Chase was fourteen years old and ever since the incident between him and Tim about eight or nine months ago I made sure to give my oldest son even more privacy when he was in his room; especially, at night.

For the last couple of years my wife and I continued to allow him to have more independence and freedom, not to mention more privacy, but when there was a huge blowup between Chase and Tim nine months ago I had made sure to give him complete privacy when he had his door closed.

Evidently Tim had walked in on his older brother through the bathroom door while he was right in the middle of doing what most pubescent boys tend to take care of when they have needs. It wasn't unusual for the smaller boy to hop in bed with his older brother at night when he wanted to cuddle, but on this night he had stumbled on the teen in a very private moment. Naturally, all hell broke loose. I didn't have the full story and of course Chase had been mortified by it, but I had enough information where I had a good talking to with Tim about what happened. Of course Tim knew some things about sex and what goes on with boys. Both my wife and I talk to our boys about such things with me getting into more details in private with them during appropriate times. The incident several months back had me discussing in more details with Tim about boys, puberty, and changes that tend to happen. At ten years old he was mature enough to understand some things, but still too young for other things.

After chatting with Tim I also had a talk with Chase. Some of it was about what had happened with his little brother walking in on him, but there was also more I needed to talk about and this incident managed to open the door. My oldest boy was at the point where he was taking a big interest in girls. It started right around age twelve, but about a year ago he got his first real girlfriend. I've talked to him over the years about girls, sex, and the consequences, but now with him having girlfriends I had to lay down some firm rules regarding him being alone with them unsupervised among other intimate things.

Naturally, as a parent I wanted him to wait for certain things, but Chase was a very handsome boy and there were many girls out there who really liked him. He's extremely popular in school and well liked by both boys and girls, but it was also obvious there were girls out there who wouldn't mind getting into my son's pants. I wanted him to be careful about such things, not to rush in until he was ready for this big step, but I also knew as a teenage boy with raging hormones he wouldn't avoid it for long if he got the chance.

Then about a month ago I noticed a big change in him when I came home from work one day. Even Tim seemed a bit off for some reason, but my focus had been on my oldest son. He had a cute girlfriend and they were spending a lot of time together. Of course I had a firm rule he wasn't allowed to have girls in his room when his mother or myself were gone, but on that particular day I suspected he had ignored the rule. Just the way he was all puffed up and giddy like made me suspect my oldest son no longer was a virgin.

On the one hand I was proud of him, but at the same time a little sad too. My boy was growing up, too fast in my opinion, but that's simply life. I only hoped he had at least taken precautions. When I had talked to him about having sex with girls I had also given him his own supply of condoms letting him know if the day ever came I expected him to use them. Now with my suspicions I would need to talk to him soon. I didn't want to know any specifics, but did need to know if he was now sexually active. If he was I preferred he be cautious about it. I wouldn't condone him having sex outright at the drop of a hat whenever he wanted, but I needed to make sure he did go about it in a safe and appropriate manner.

It would also mean I would need to have another conversation with Tim to make sure he didn't walk in on that type of situation. In a few years I will probably be in another discussion situation with my youngest boy, but I got the feeling it would be a bit different. My youngest boy was the sweetest kid ever, but deep down I had the feeling he was probably gay. It wasn't anything specific, just little things with the way he acted, behaved, and the types of feelings he tended to have. Of course right now I don't think Tim was really thinking in those sexual kinds of terms, but the signs were there and if it happened to be true I would need to be prepared so I could help him on a very bumpy ride. Right now though it wasn't anything major I needed to worry about.

Pushing on the bathroom door I stuck my head inside my oldest son's room which was way bigger than Tim's with an almost "L" like shape to it created by a small walk in closet on one side of his room. The closet created the unique shape since a natural alcove area was formed in the corner.

For a teenager he kept his room pretty clean, unlike his little brother whose room always looked messy. The distinct odor of teenage sexual activity though couldn't be masked as I tried not to laugh. Why teenaged boys thought their parents didn't know what they did at night while in bed was just ludicrous. Although, to be fair I suppose it was probably convenient for boys to be in denial about such things. Let's face it, what teen wants to think about how their mom and dad know they are doing the five finger knuckle chuckle to their hard stiff bloated Popsicle.

The scent of teenage sex assaulted my senses making me reel with the intensity of it and compelling me think it was time to talk to him about keeping his room aired out. Like Tim, my oldest boy was sleeping on his back with the covers completely thrown off to the side. At least he was wearing boxers, but at the moment they did very little to hide his extremely hard and thick tubular five and a half inch long fourteen year old boy erection which drooped heavily in a sideway direction pulsing and twitching from time to time with each heart beat. I've rarely seen Chase with an erection, not in a few years now, so actually seeing just how thick he had gotten down there made me take pause for a moment. I was a bit amazed how a fourteen year old boy's erection could swell up so fat.

His penis wasn't the only thing which had wriggle out of his boxers. With his left leg bent under the right one, his large tennis ball sized heavy satchel surrounding two Medjool Date shaped testicles were completely out in the open having slipped free from his leg opening. Even his tight patch of dark brown curly pubes, which seemed to have the same shade coloration as his eyebrows, were clearly visible making me roll my eyes and shake my head at why he even bothered wearing anything at all.

A few months ago Chase had insisted on changing his underwear style because many of his friends were wearing boxers. I suppose it gave them a sense of freedom between their legs, but it was obvious to me with my oldest son's, well, rather large endowment, this choice in undergarments may not be working so well for him. Maybe a pair of boxer briefs would be better holding things in place instead of them flopping around a bit unruly.

It was something I would need to talk to him about as well in the near future. He may not walk around the house naked anymore like his little brother, but he did have a tendency to walk around in nothing but his underwear. I was fairly certain those large teen bits of his would basically flop out when he was lounging on the sofa or maybe even while standing and walking around.

It could make things a bit awkward if his manly teen parts were plopping out with a mind of their own; especially, if it happened in front of my wife. Being exposed in an uncompromising position in front of one's mother was the one thing which would embarrass a teenaged boy to no end. Not to mention I was sure my wife Maria would probably be a bit shocked to see just how much her first born son had developed and matured down there. Of course she probably had a general idea since something like that was difficult to hide, but I'm pretty sure she hasn't actually seen him completely nude for a few years now, not since he's stopped walking around the house naked when he was nine or ten years old.

Silently easing myself over to his bed so I wouldn't wake him up and embarrass the poor guy, I leaned over covering him up with the blanket taking note of his fit and trim body. He was turning into a very handsome young man and seeing him like this did more to convince me he was probably sexually active now with girls. He was a very good looking kid for his age with a great personality, active in sports and other school activities, and well liked by most of the kids in his school.

I let the blanket settle over his body scrunching up my face in thought and watching him sleeping on his full sized mattress. Lately I've been thinking it might be time to upgrade him into a queen sized bed giving him a bit more room. I wasn't sure anymore if his little brother still snuggled up with him in bed at times; especially, since the embarrassing incident several months back, but even if not I could tell it was time for Chase to have a bigger one.

Like I did with my youngest boy, I snuggled up next to Chase because I needed to be close to him. He stirred a little shifting to make room without waking up in the process. Dealing with Micah's situation made me well up inside with the urge and need to be close to my boys. I loved my sons very much and shuddered to think of how fragile life could be. In a heartbeat something could happen to change the course of my boys' life forever. Of course I knew our family would take care of them, but I began to think maybe my wife and I needed to actually sit down taking a more active role in what would happen to the boys in case of a tragedy.

Looking down into my oldest boy's features I noticed how in some ways both him and his brother looked alike, while in many ways they were different too. Like his younger brother he had a smooth complexion with his dusting of freckles having faded slightly over the years. At this time of year Chase had an ivory kind of skin tone, but like with Tim there was a hint of light brown tinting as if he was just starting to get a sun tan.

Also like his little brother, Chase had a round boyish shaped face with a round chin, but unlike Tim, his chin had a slight dimple barely noticeable right in the middle. From there things became a bit different between the two boys. My oldest son had a red Knapp style nose. I suppose some would say it was a big nose, but not in a way that attracted unwanted attention, and on Chase it seemed to fit perfectly on his slowly maturing features.

Now as I thought about it I began to realize it was like the small boy in him was still trying to cling on for as long as possible while other aspects were vying for him to grow up into the man he would some day become. His complexion was mostly clear and smooth with only a few small red specks of acne on his slightly brown tinged face, nothing to be really worried about and they usually disappeared quickly. The coloration of his skin was a contradiction because it looked as if he were just now beginning to tan at the beginning of summertime even though we were currently in the middle of winter.

Without realizing it I was running my fingers through his thick medium long light ash brown hair the color of Mochaccino. He had a long and silky smooth Sandy Sleek style cut. He tended to keep it side swept with an almost early Bieber kind of looking hair style. The teen stirred in his sleep exhaling as his eyes slowly opened up. Like his hair he had thick lush eyebrows, but they were slightly darker, almost like the color of burnt chestnuts helping to accentuate his beautiful Blue Yonder colored sparkling eyes which now looked at me intently and was a cross somewhere between the hues of Azure and Cyan. They were almond shaped and slightly hooded which didn't detract in the least from his intense gaze as he stared at me questioningly.

"Is it morning already?" He asked drowsily not wanting to stir fully awake.

"No…it's really late and I just got home from work." I whispered back with him letting out a deep sigh and actually shifting so he could cuddle up to me.

"Oh…," he paused closing his eyes and taking a deep breath as if he were breathing in my scent. "Is something wrong?" He asked not alarmed or anything, but more like he was curious.

"No…nothing's wrong. It's just…I…uh…I've been missing my two boys and needed a bit of a hug is all. I know you are getting older and all…but it's…I…I just needed to be close to you and Tim is all." I replied feeling him giving me a firm hug and hanging on to me for several minutes.

"I'll never be too old for a hug from you and mom." He whispered softly sort of catching me by surprise at his admission, but then again not really since we were a close family.

I've never been ashamed to convey my tenderness and love towards my boys. Some fathers shied away from such things, but I never wanted my boys to feel ashamed about showing affection. I grew up on a farm and was raised in a manly kind of way, but the one thing my father never fudged on us boys was his love. He was tough on us, but he never skimped on giving us plenty of hugs and kisses. He always said, 'a true test of a man's manliness is if he isn't ashamed to show his affection towards his wife and kids.'

Now as a husband and father I began to realize the truth of what he meant as I responded back to my oldest son. "Thanks Chase…that really means a lot to me. Now go back to sleep. I love you son."

"Love you too dad," came Chase's reply as he released me rolling over on to his other side while I stood back up wiping away the wetness from the corners of my eyes.

I truly was blessed to have such wonderful boys who loved and cared about me. Many kids Chase's age were already becoming disrespectful to their parents getting into all sorts of trouble. Of course my son had a mind of his own and at times tried to push at the boundaries his mother and I set, but he was always respectful towards us showing nothing but kindness and love. I was proud of the fact he wasn't embarrassed by us openly showing him affection, and he was always quick to return it towards us.

At times I saw him getting teased over it by some of his friends, but he was secure enough with himself it didn't seem to bother him. Not all that long ago I caught one of his friends rolling his eyes at Chase when I gave him a hug and kiss after coming home. My son had slugged his friend in the shoulder to shut him up and then to prove a point leaned in and gave me another hug saying he loved me too. Afterwards I heard my son telling his friend he didn't care what the boy thought about it because it showed we cared about him. He went on to explain how he hoped when he had kids of his own he would be such a good father. Of course it made my heart swell with pride at how well adjusted my boy was and how he was growing up to be a fine young man. I could also tell it was something his friend had then mulled over in his own mind.

After closing the door behind me, leaving my eldest to his dreams, I stuck my head inside Tim's room again noticing he had snuggled up further under his blanket. It was already cooling down in the house now that I had set the thermostat. Leaving Tim's door open a crack I walked down the hallway entering my own room. There was a sense of relief when I crawled into bed next to my wife and was finally able to stretch out allowing some of the stresses from the day to dissipate.

After crawling into bed my wife stirred awake and snuggled up next to me. She could tell something was off so I told her all about Micah. She was glad I had gone back assuring me it had been the right thing to do. When I told her about that fat slob of a sergeant she got a bit upset about it wondering if maybe something else could have been done for the boy. We both talked about it some more and I told her about the promise I had made to Micah, which she thought was sweet and the right thing to do. She encouraged me to keep my promise of checking in on the boy to make sure he was doing fine reminding me how right now he needed someone to step up and show him when someone makes a promise they keep it. The little chat with her helped out tremendously and a short while later I had managed to fall asleep.

When morning arrived I was a bit haggard and worn out. The start of the day had managed to pounce on me in a rush waking us all up and forcing everyone to get busy with the day. I had a long one ahead of me because it was Christmas Eve. My wife and kids would also be busy getting ready for Tim's Choir performance at church later on that evening. He had a couple of solos reminding me of how he had such a beautiful voice. I wouldn't be able to see him tonight, but he was performing again tomorrow on Christmas day in the afternoon. I would get to see him perform then and I was really looking forward to it. Both of my boys made me so proud of them because they always put forth their very best at whatever they tried.

Now at work the time literally zipped by with me at wits end because it was Christmas Eve and a madhouse in the store. When I managed to get some time I made some phone calls trying to find out how Micah was doing. As the day went on I began to get frantic and downright upset. The phone number I had been given where Micah was supposed to go last night was constantly busy, then when I finally managed to get through the lady on the other end couldn't really give me any straight answers. Finally, I literally exploded on my end of the phone and forced her to get a supervisor. The next lady who came on was a very pleasant elderly sounding woman. She managed to calm me down and then began looking through her records and paperwork.

Right from the beginning of our conversation the older woman had warned me she didn't think Micah was with them. She hadn't taken the call last night and the person who did was off today so she wasn't exactly sure where the mix up occurred because according to her they haven't had a bed open for weeks now. When she said that my heart sank and I literally held my breath while I heard her tapping on a keyboard and scrounging around with some paperwork. After several moments she finally sighed and paused on the other end.

"Mr. Miner, I'm truly sorry but Micah isn't here. I found a notation of a boy coming over, but he must have been turned away because there isn't a bed here for him. The state is very strict about such things, and we wouldn't have even been able to put him on the couch. I'm sure when he got here with the officer they had been told about the misunderstanding. I'm really sorry and I feel awful about this. If it were up to me I wouldn't turn any kid away, but the way the state handles things they'd shut me down in a heartbeat and who knows what would happen to all these kids we have now." She apologized over and over to me and I could tell it simply broke her heart as well.

"No…no…I…I understand. It's not your fault and I'm sorry too." I had responded my heart having sunk to the pit of my stomach as we finished up our conversation and I hung up the phone.

For the rest of the day at every opportunity I was on the phone with the station up the street trying to find out what had happened to Micah. No one could tell me anything. It didn't help matters any that my phone calls were limited to short amounts of time because I couldn't stay on there long enough for the person on the other end to really sit down and look. They always promised to look into it taking my name and phone number, but no one ever called back. Then when I managed to get time I'd call back up getting a totally different person on the other end who didn't know anything of previous conversations. I was forced to go through the entire spiel which got frustrating.

By the time I arrived at the police station it was already late since the store stayed open until ten on Christmas Eve. Typically I was an easy going sort of guy, and it took all I had to remain upbeat at work, not only for my customers, but my employees as well. We always asked for volunteers to work on Christmas Eve so that those who had families could be with them. Usually this meant a smaller staff on such a busy day, but we always seemed to manage. Most of the people who chose to work on Christmas Eve were single or didn't have any big plans to begin with. Of course they got Holiday pay, so we also managed to get some volunteering from those who needed the extra pay.

Now, as I approached the glass doors of the police station I was literally fuming and ready for a confrontation. I was mad in a way I hadn't been for many years and needed to take out my frustrations on someone. I only hoped the fat slob of an idiot was at the front desk again this evening because I was ready to lay into him.

Approaching the front door I could feel my face getting red with anger, which rapidly dissipated when a different sergeant this evening immediately stopped what he was doing looking up ready to help me. It was someone I recognized and had worked with before. He was a really nice guy and always ready to help a lending hand at the store. We sponsored numerous community events such as building ramps for the handicap and helping out with the local youth groups. This sergeant was always around lending a helping hand. Sometimes it was while he was on duty in an official capacity while at other times being there as a volunteer.

"Oh…hi Mr. Miner. You're one of the last people I expected." He offered up with us hearing laughter in the background as he swiveled his head looking in the direction of a closed door a bit further back and chuckled.

Turning his head back around with a big grin he explained. "Oh…that's just Judge Bennett. She comes in every year on Christmas Eve to throw a little party for some of us poor schmucks who get stuck working. She used to be a beat cop years ago until she put herself through school, became a lawyer, and then a judge."

"Oh…I see." I offered up thinking it was really nice of a judge taking some time to come and spread a little joy to a group of officers stuck working on Christmas Eve. Most didn't have much of a choice in the matter even if they had family.

"It's been a while." Bill interrupted my thoughts. "I hope there's no problem at the store." He added looking at me inquiringly.

"What…oh…no…nothing like that…I mean…everything's fine at the store Bill, but I do have a problem…a big one…and no one's been able to help me out. I'm really worried too." I began a bit flustered and kind of bouncing around with what I was saying confusing the poor man.

After slowing me down and offering up a cup of hot coffee he managed to get me to talk in a more rational way listening intently. He let me talk and only interrupted when he needed some clarification. He's been at this for years now so knew what he was doing. Not only that, but he genuinely cared about people and appeared to love his job. I know he was well liked in the community and I for one was happy the man still worked here.

"Alright, so who was the sergeant on duty last night when you came in?" Bill asked after I finished my explanation trying to remember names.

"Um…some fat slob of an idiot." I began holding up my hand and shaking my head. "Sorry Bill…it's not right of me to be so judgmental. I think his name was Patterson." I offered up seeing my friend's expression change as he sighed waiving off my comment.

"No apologies necessary. You described him to a fault. He just transferred in and we are already trying to find a way to get rid of him. Alright, you mentioned a young officer?"

"Oh…yeah…now he seemed really nice. I think it was a guy by the name of Price." I offered up not sure but seeing Bill nod his head.

"Yeah…a young guy, really a kid, kind of tall and lanky with short blond hair?" He asked with me nodding my head. "Good kid, a keeper in my opinion." He stated motioning for me to take a seat while he checked into some things and made some calls.

A few minutes later Officer Price came walking through the front glass doors brushing the snow off his uniform. When he saw me his face turned a bit grim and he visibly exhaled before approaching.

"Hi Sergeant Bill." He greeted the older man and they shook hands. "You radioed me to come in?" He asked pretty sure what was up as he turned his attention towards me and we shook hands. "I think I already know what this is about." He stated with his face turning a bit sad, and not waiting for a response from me, launched into an explanation of what had happened.

When I had left he took Micah with him to the foster care facility only to be turned away because there had been some misunderstanding. When he brought the boy back to the station Sergeant Patterson had grumbled about how stuff was always dumped on his plate. It was getting late and the Sergeant's shift was coming to a close. Officer Price offered to stay until they could get the boy situated, but Patterson had rudely dismissed him telling the young officer to get lost. There wasn't much he could do about it since he was relatively new. When he came in today he tried to find out what had happened, but he got called away.

"Sorry Mr. Miner but I'm not sure what happened to the poor kid either. I'm a little worried about it because…," he began turning red because maybe he was talking out of turn, but Bill motioned him to continue. "Well truthfully I don't like Sergeant Patterson, and he didn't seem to care what happened to Micah. When I left the poor kid in the holding cell I saw the light go out of his eyes and it broke my heart. I almost wished the Sergeant hadn't thought of putting Micah in that holding cell because it would have given the kid a good chance to…," He coughed catching himself from saying more, but after seeing our expression seemed to think we all felt the same way. "Well…um…you know…escape. It wouldn't have taken much to get away from the big lug. I think the boy felt the same way I did about Sergeant Patterson."

Bill looked at the young officer and gave him a pat on the shoulder. "It's alright kid, it wasn't your fault, but next time contact me or someone else you can trust. We will have your back…alright?" He offered up with the young Officer nodding his head and sighing in relief because he really had felt awful about the way things had played out.

After Officer Price left Bill popped on to the computer trying to figure out what was going on. Just then the back door popped open and who should walk out, but that fat slob of an idiot. The man looked over towards us and when he saw me immediately turned trying to get back into the other room.

"Hold up Sergeant Patterson. I've got some question." I yelled out with the guy ignoring me reaching out for the doorknob when I heard Bill's booming voice echoing down the hallway in a tone of voice which meant business.

"Stop right there and get your ass back over here." He shouted in a commanding voice making us all jump.

"Just who the hell…," the other man began when Bill held up his hand and took control of the situation.

"Shut the fuck up and get your fat ass over here right now or I'll do something both of us will regret. Me because I'll probably end up in prison for murder and you, well, maybe no regrets for you because you won't be feeling a thing." Bill's voice thundered as he bore holes through the other man whose eyes bulged outwards and he swallowed hard knowing his counterpart meant business.

The fat slob ambled over with Bill immediately laying into him for information. Within moments he was just as furious as I had felt a few minutes earlier. I didn't understand half of what they were talking about because most of what was said were abbreviated with a lot of legal technical terms thrown about to boot, but it didn't really sound good to me at all.

"You goddamn fucking idiot. I ought to shoot you right here and now putting our department out of its misery from your future stupidity. Me shooting you would create a stink, but only for a minute compared to the headaches we are going to have in dealing with you for who knows how long. How the fuck you made it this far is beyond me, but I swear one way or the other you won't be around here in our department for long. Get me asshole?" Bill ranted all the while his large fingers banging on the computer keyboard.

The other Sergeant looked a bit indignant, but knew better than to say anything at the moment. He even tried to brush it off and slink away which caught Bill's attention.

"You aren't going anywhere until we resolve this situation." He ordered pointing to a chair behind the counter with Sergeant Patterson once more looking indignantly at Bill before resigning himself taking a seat in the chair where he was ordered to sit.

Picking up the phone Bill dialed a number from memory and a few seconds later spoke into the receiver. "Yeah, this is Bill down at the station. I'm really sorry to bother you but I need your help down here. It's urgent." He paused listening to what was being said on the other end not even being formal about it as if he knew the other person. "Yeah…good…see you in a few minutes…and thanks. You know I wouldn't call you if it wasn't important." He added before hanging up the phone and dialing another number.

"Torres…it's Bill from upstairs. I'm coming down. It's in regards to a boy named Micah." He stated getting ready to hang up the phone but paused for a moment listening to someone on the other end and not looking happy about what was being said. "Fuck…you've got to be kidding. Goddamn it…someone's going to pay." He began before pausing again listening with the phone pressed to his ear. "No…listen Torres I'm coming down now and I'll explain it when I get there." Bill stated and hung up the phone without waiting for a response.

"Jackson…," He bellowed with a door opening up off to the side and another officer stepping out. Watch the front desk for me." He ordered not waiting for a response glancing towards me.

"What's going on?" I asked as he motioned for me to follow.

"I'll explain on the way." He snapped a bit harshly ignoring my reaction when he made me wince as he glared at the fat slob sitting in the chair.

I could tell Bill was irritated and knew he didn't mean to snap at me. He probably didn't even realize he had done it. I've never seen him this upset before because like me it took a lot to get him this furious.

"Well…don't just sit there. Get your fat ass up and follow us." He ordered snapping at the other Sergeant who jerked in surprise.

"But…," the man began before getting cut off.

"Just shut the fuck up and do what you are told." Bill ordered with even Officer Jackson taking a step back because he had never seen the Sergeant this furious.

By the time the elevator dropped us off downstairs I was livid and could feel Bill discreetly reaching out patting the back of my hand trying to get me to calm down. I couldn't believe Sergeant Patterson actually locked the kid up down here in the prison section. I've never been down here before, and even though it wasn't all that big it truly was a prison with locked doors, bars, and everything. It was noisy and rowdy as hell too with a grim faced woman greeting us.

"I swear to god Bill, I'm going to strangle someone. I just got here an hour or so ago and found this…this kid in one of my cells. I've been scrambling to find out what the hell is going on. At least one of my people had the good sense to put the kid in the isolation ward instead of out here." She managed to get out motioning for us to follow.

"Isolation?" I squeaked out getting a glaring stare from the tiny woman, as if she had just noticed someone she didn't know, boring holes in me.

"Ease off Torres, he's here to help. It's this asshole over here that you can sink your teeth into when this is all over with." Bill jerked his thumb in Sergeant Patterson's direction.

The intense scrutiny of contempt the woman shot towards Patterson made me flinch while the fat slob began to sweat with his uniform now having several wet spots showing through the material. It served the asshole right, I thought to myself with Officer Torres explaining what she meant about isolation, taking us through another set of locked doors her keys rattling around noisily even in this clamorous section.

"Yeah…it's a lot quieter there not to mention safer, but we still have a big problem." She stated tugging on the door letting us through before closing it behind us and locking it back up.

Once the solid door clanged shut behind us it became totally silent in this part of the prison. "So what's the problem?" I asked in a hushed tone seeing her scrunch up her face pausing outside of an open door.

There were six solid doors in this section all of which were closed except for the one she stopped us at on the very far end as she tried to explain. Evidently when she reported for the start of her shift she found out about Micah and just about went through the roof. She came down here immediately to check up on him only to find he had totally withdrawn not allowing anyone near him. He was unresponsive; except, for when someone tried to get close to him, and then he went ballistic. From what she could gather when they put him in the cell he had crawled up on the bed scooting all the way to the back drawing up his knees to his chest and wrapping his arm around them.

It reminded me of when I had seen him when I sat in front of the box. Torres continued to tell me more. He hadn't eaten or drank anything since arriving, and as far as she could tell he hadn't moved from his curled up spot either. From all accounts he hadn't even slept unless he somehow had managed to do that in a sitting position and all curled up. When she tried to approach him about an hour ago he had only withdrawn further.

She motioned for us to enter the small cramped cell indicating we should keep some distance as I got my first glimpse of Micah which simply broke my heart. "Oh…and I'm sure he must have wet himself sometime last night because he's all dry, but…well…when I went to talk to him I could smell it." She whispered eliciting a snigger from Sergeant Patterson as he jeered nastily as if to say 'what did you expect from scum like this.'

That did it for me, my anger boiling over as I exploded and literally lunged at the fat slob grabbing the front of his uniform. "You fucking son of a bitch." I spat, my voice trembling with rage as I tried not to shout at the top of my lungs almost as if the hush-ness of the isolation ward forced me to be a bit more solemn.

There was a distinct thudding noise when I shoved Patterson angrily, slamming him up against the wall. It happened so fast I think it caught all of us by surprise, including me. I could feel Bill grabbing me from behind pulling me off of the Sergeant while Torres stepped in front of me separating us.

"Just who the hell do you think you are? You're under arrest." I heard Patterson sputtering.

"For what?" Bill replied quickly releasing me and motioning for me to calm down.

"For what!" The fat slob spat back incredulously. "You both just saw what he did. He's crazy and attacked me…that's for what." The man stated puffing up self righteously forcing me to use every ounce of self control I had from literally beating the man to a pulp.

"He did? I didn't see anything…how about you Torres?" Bill asked getting a vicious grin from his counterpart who simply shook her head.

"Nope, nothing." She insisted getting an indignant glare from Patterson who looked to have just about enough of being ordered about like he was some rookie.

"Well, I'm sure it's all caught on surveillance." He countered with Torres busting out laughing.

"Good luck with that because the only cameras are out in the main hallway." Torres countered with the Sergeant trying to straighten out his uniform before stepping out of the cramped space into the hallway and leaving.

In the recesses of his mind something seemed to catch Micah's attention, but he was in a very dark place and afraid to move. All he knew was things had gone horribly wrong after Mr. M had left him all alone. The man had promised him everything would be fine, but it was far from fine. He wanted to hate the man, but he couldn't do it knowing deep down he hadn't wanted this to happen. Still when the officer had brought him back to the station he figured he would be able to get away because there was no way the fat guy would be able to run after him. That all changed though when the big mean guy ordered Officer Price to put him in a holding cell before dismissing the man. He could tell the nice young man didn't like leaving him, but the guy had no choice.

Then his worst nightmare began to come true when he was literally hauled down here by the big fat ugly man. Of course Micah went kicking and screaming, but the man had slapped him and said if he didn't stop wriggling around he'd take a belt to his ass. The boy most definitely didn't want a beating so immediately caved in and from there everything happened fast. The boy was literally frightened out of his skin when the fat ugly man and another police officer took him down a noisy corridor before opening up a large thick door leading into a smaller area. It was quieter here, but it was very isolated too, and the boy never felt so alone in his life. They then placed him in the small room closing the door forcefully with him flinching at the loud clanging noise when the large metal panel banged shut.

It was a horrible feeling hearing that solid door closing locking him inside a small room as Micah climbed on top of the bed and hugged his knees. Then he saw the fat man peering through the small window in the door and run his finger across his fat throat, the skin of his jowls jiggling around obscenely. Micah knew what that meant and he panicked, so much so he immediately emptied out his bladder. It was one of the last things he remembered as he began to cry his mind retreating into himself as utter defeat and humiliation washed over him.

Never in his young life had he ever wet himself like this, not even at night when he went to sleep. He had heard of kids wetting the bed, but he never had that problem. This was completely mortifying as he saw the wetness between his legs spread outwards along his jeans and then on top of the small mattress unfolded along the metal bunk he was sitting on. After that everything seemed to fade away into darkness as his tears came down in an unending stream down the side of his cheeks. The only light of hope coming in the form of the small little blue glow stick Mr. M had given him as he fished it out of his coat pocket holding it tightly in his fist as his mind receded protectively.

From time to time he thought someone was talking to him, but he really couldn't be sure. Then he heard a soft voice, a woman's trying to speak to him. He wanted to listen, but he couldn't bring himself to do it his mind spiraling into a dark place. It was safe there and he didn't want to take the chance of getting hurt. His Uncle Jay and Aunt Dee had warned him about these kinds of places and how little boys disappeared. Micah was really frightened and didn't want to take the chance of coming back out of his nice safe dark place.

Then he heard a deeper voice, it sounded familiar. In the back of his mind he only knew it was a nice kind of voice, but then it got angry and mean forcing the boy to retreat even further rocking back and forth. It was safe in the dark place.

Torres looked over to Bill and shook her head as she tilted her head towards the microphone hooked on her shoulder pressing the button and instructing someone to let Sergeant Patterson out. "Thanks guys…I don't know what came over me." I whispered shaking my head.

"Yeah…well we do because if you hadn't noticed it was all I could do not to shoot the idiot with my gun." Bill sighed shaking his head. "But that wouldn't do Micah any good Harry. I mean from what Torres is saying maybe you are the only one who will be able to help this kid out of wherever his mind has gone. I'd hate to have a head doctor involved. If we do then there'll be other sets of legal issues to contend with in getting this kid out of here." He insisted with me nodding my head seeing his point.

"I hear you, but I'm not sure if I will be able to help. I'll try." I replied taking a deep breath to calm myself down letting it out slowly.

Studying the small boy for a moment I watched him rocking back and forth appearing to have become a bit agitated with the ruckus between me and the Sergeant. The small blond haired boy was still wearing his clothes from yesterday with his tiny fist wrapped around the now spent glow stick I had given him the previous evening. His thick wool jacket was sitting on the edge of the bed with his knit cap shoved inside the outside pocket. It was the first time I've seen him without that beanie crammed firmly on his head covering his long stringy blond hair. Now without the cap on I noticed it wasn't stringy at all, but rather looked naturally straight with a bit of wave to it. His hair looked typical of a surfer type of style with the long mostly straight fair golden strands like the light shadings of honey butter tumbling down around his shoulders. His blue eyes, which last night had been so lively, didn't have that same glint now looking a bit dull and tired.

Recalling how Officer Torres said Micah wasn't responding well to others and getting agitated, I approached the boy slowly trying to talk to him calmly. "Hey Micah…it's me…you know…Mr. M. I'm here now and everything will be alright." I began noticing the boy stop rocking as I knelt down next to him continuing to talk in that calming kind of voice, which always seemed to work well with my own boys.

As I got closer I could smell the unmistakable stench of old dried urine on him. I had to agree with Torres that at some point our poor little guy had wet himself. The stench of urine was powerful enough to make me think he must have completely lost control of his bowels emptying out the entire contents of his bladder. I couldn't really fault the little guy because this most definitely would be a very frightening situation for anyone, much less an abandoned and forlorn nine year old boy.

Reaching out slowly I placed my hand on the side of his leg on his calf feeling him flinch before he settled down while I continued to talk to him in a soothing and gentle voice. Slowly I ran my hand towards his knee wrapping my fingers around his two tightly clinched little hands and glow stick. He wasn't rocking back and forth anymore cocking his head as if listening.

"Please Micah…come back to us. I'm so sorry I let this happen to you and should have come by earlier. This is my fault, please don't hate me, but we need you to come back to us." I continued to talk softly hoping he could hear me.

I kept trying to talk to the small boy softly thankful that at least he hadn't retreated and recoiled like he had done with others. It meant somewhere deep down he must have recognized who I was so I kept at it trying to draw him out. Slowly he began to respond until I noticed something change in his eyes.

In the recesses of his mind the boy could hear that soft, kind, and gentle familiar voice again. It began to tug at the edges of Micah's mind trying to draw him out of that safe dark place. He desperately wanted to listen, but something deep down inside of him was warning him to not give in. Then he felt a light touch which made him flinch. He wanted to recoil, but the voice entered his thoughts saying everything was alright. He could feel a gentle warm hand over his own and it felt kind of nice so he began to focus first on the hand and then the gentle voice. Deep down he knew he had to leave the safe place behind …the darkness…but there was something still holding him back as he struggled with himself.

The voice continued to lull him out of the darkness and he found himself listening to that kind and gentle voice. It was somehow familiar and deep down he had the feeling he needed to trust it. It took a lot of willpower, but Micah finally tried to focus his eyes on something, anything. Slowly things began to take shape and he found himself staring into the same gentle face that had sat outside with him in the cold freezing snow. Somehow that seemed like ages ago, but the boy didn't care at the moment as he suddenly reached out holding on for dear life to the lifeboat which had been sent his way. The fog slowly cleared as he clung to the man refusing to let go.

"You came for me like you promised." Micah whispered feeling strong arms wrapping around his body returning his firm embrace.

When Micah suddenly reached out and wrapped his arms around me it had caught me by complete surprise for a second. One moment he was a million miles away, the next I detected some life in his eyes when the boy suddenly came to life literally lunging his body up against me wrapping his arms around my neck squeezing tightly.

Hearing the boy's voice got me all choked up as I sniveled and couldn't resist giving the little guy a gently kiss on his soft cheek. "Oh Micah, please forgive me. I'm so sorry this happened to you." I whispered softly ignoring the stale awful stench of urine as the boy clung to me refusing to let go.

The small boy heard the man's apology and couldn't understand why a virtual stranger could care so much about someone like him. Something deep down inside of him began to bubble to the surface. When the boy had began to cave into the bowels of despair he had protected himself by retreating to the depths and recesses of his mind, blocking everything else out. Now though there was this immense feeling of relief and thankfulness in the core of his being beginning to force itself to the surface, but with it came something else as suddenly an overwhelming powerful force took over his emotions which he could no longer hold back. When he felt the gentle loving kiss on his cheek he could no longer hold in the potent wave of emotion breaking him down in a way he's never felt before until today as huge sobs escaped his throat and he began to cry like a little baby.

Suddenly I felt the boy quivering in my arms as a loud wailing sound pierced the small confining space and huge sobs began to wrack Micah's tiny body. It broke my heart how this sweet little kid was hurting so much. I let him cry feeling his warm slight body quivering as I held him tighter. It felt no different from holding my own boys when they needed comfort as a huge feeling of love for the little boy swelled up inside of me.

While he still sobbed in my arms I stood up heading for the door. Torres started to block my way looking towards Bill who scrunched up his face. I could tell the two officers were conflicted about this, but I wasn't going to allow this boy to remain here and I let them know it too.

"There's no way I'm letting him spend another moment down here. No matter how this goes down, Micah is not staying down here all alone and frightened. Until we can get this resolved we are heading up to the lobby." I stated leaving no wriggle room for debate.

Torres arched her eyebrows at me while I stared back; Micah's little body heaving with huge sobs which I knew wasn't going away here any time soon. "Oh fuck it Torres…I'll take the responsibility on this." I heard Bill saying shocking me wondering what he meant. "I know you legally can't allow it Torres, but for Pete's sake we both know this was a major fuck up which that asshole Patterson created. So I'll take the heat, but I agree with Harry here. We aren't leaving the kid down here while we all try getting things sorted out." He insisted with Torres staring at him for a moment before caving in.

"I've never in my entire career broken any rules down here…but yeah…I agree with you except for one thing. It'll be on me. I can't in good conscience let this decision fall on you, not since the boy is my responsibility…no matter how it got to be that way. Come on…the sooner we get this squared away the better. If we are lucky none of us will get into any trouble." She stated nodding her head and reminding Bill to grab the boy's jacket before instructing us to follow her as she led us back up into the lobby area.

Once we got back upstairs Bill motioned me to take a seat while he disappeared. Micah was still crying but softly now as I sat down rocking him back and forth until he finally fell asleep while I explained to Officer Torres about the situation between me and the little boy. Just as I was finishing Bill showed up with a stately looking woman from the party that was taking place in the back room.

"Judge this is Harry Miner and Micah, the boy I was talking about." He announced with me beginning to stand up but the Judge waiving me to stay put because she could see Micah was now fast asleep. "Harry this is Judge Bennett from family court. I filled her in on what happened and she agreed to try getting things sorted out." The Sergeant offered up.

"Nice to meet you Harry," the Judge smiled warmly looking down fondly at the small boy and shaking her head. "This never should have happened, and I'll be sure to have the Precinct Captain investigate Sergeant Patterson's actions, but I'm not sure exactly how we are going to get this squared away. I have a lot of latitude in a lot of ways, but in other ways my hands are tied too. Now that Micah's been officially put into the system it might take some doing to get him situated. I most definitely can't do anything drastic without Social and Family Services perspective on some issues. The first thing we need to do will be to find a safe place for the boy that isn't here in some prison cell. I still can't believe this happened." The Judge began trying to put me at ease, but also pointing out in the legal sense there were now some serious issues.

"So what happens now? I'm not leaving until I'm sure he has a safe place to stay. If we have to I'll take the boy home with me. I'm sure my wife would agree. I told her last night about Micah and she felt bad for him too, so I'm sure it wouldn't be an issue." I pointed out with Judge Bennett looking at me intently screwing up her face trying to respond in a way that wouldn't upset me.

"That's all good and well, but these days we have to be really careful where a child is placed so unless you are registered with the state as a Foster parent, or there are other legal reasons for you to take the boy, we might have some problems. Even if you were a Foster parent there are still other issues, like where the child sleeps among them. In cases like this I also have to allow Family Services a say in the matter. They usually conduct a thorough interview process and background check. These days simply allowing someone to take a child is just not done." She tried to explain my heart sinking once more because this was going to be a bigger problem than I anticipated.

Just then the outside door opened up and a woman walked in as if she had just been at a party or celebration. I stared at her for a moment because she looked familiar, then it dawned on me why. It was one of my neighbors from when we still lived in the city. The woman also paused for a moment when she saw me.

"Harry…what on earth are you doing here?" The woman asked while I shook my head extending my hand without getting up so I wouldn't wake up Micah.

"I could ask the same thing of you Maddie." I responded.

"You two know one another?" Judge Bennett asked with Maddie nodding her head.

"Hello to you too Judge." Maddie chuckled shaking her head as if the two women were close friends. "But to answer your question, yes, I know Harry and his family. They used to live in the same neighborhood and belonged to the same church as my family before Harry got a promotion and moved. Through church activities I still see him and his family from time to time. As a side note, my son used to baby-sit his boys bragging how it was the easiest gig ever because those two were the best behaved kids he knew." She answered Judge Bennett before turning towards me trying to lighten the serious mood a bit.

"By the way how are your boys Harry…I miss them both, but especially little Tim because he always managed to give me the bestest of hugs." She chuckled glancing down at the boy taking in the scene absorbing what's been unsaid so far.

"Everyone is doing fine Maddie and I'm sure Tim will be tickled pink to hear I've seen you and how you've asked about him. He's in the church choir and actually had several solos tonight at the services. Of course I had to work, but he will be singing again tomorrow afternoon at the Christmas service and I'll hear him then." I explained quickly catching her up with some family news as she smiled nodding her head before looking over towards Bill.

"I take it this is the emergency?" She asked with the Sergeant spreading his hand apologetically opening his mouth to explain before the Judge interjected.

"Listen Maddie before we get into any details…in your capacity as the state representative for Family Services involving abandoned kids would you be willing to vouch for Mr. Miner and his wife to foster a child?" The judge asked getting a stern look from Maddie while a confused look from me.

"I…um…," Maddie began glancing down at the boy putting enough together to get the gist of things knowing before the night was over with she'd have all the information she needed. "Of course I would. I mean…I know what Harry and Maria's home life was before they moved away and can assure you they are very loving and doting parents. I know when he got a promotion he moved into an actual house. This probably means way more room now than he had before so I'm sure plenty of space to bring another child into the home." She finished cocking her head to the side gazing at the judge before giving me a quick wink.

"I see." The Judge nodded her head scrutinizing me intently deep in thought before looking down at the boy.

It was Maddie who finally broke the silence and the Judge's musings. "Listen…there's really nothing to think about. Just fill me in on the situation so I can get my report to my own superiors squared away, and let's get this done so we can all get home at some sort of decent hour and enjoy Christmas tomorrow with our families." Maddie stated getting down to business and winking at me while I smiled shaking my head wondering just how in the world I managed to get myself into becoming a Foster parent not to mention how I was going to explain it to my wife and kids.

The Judge looked towards Maddie and then Bill who nodded indicating he agreed before staring down at me. Micah's slumbering form was now stretched out on the bench as I gently ran my right hand along the side of the boy's legs which were draped over my lap. The gentle contact seemed to keep the smaller boy settled and calm. I noticed whenever I lifted my hand away he would begin to stir around moaning in his sleep so I continued to run my right hand along the outside of his left leg trying to sooth him. I also found myself fussing with his long blond locks twirling them in my fingers affectionately as I looked back up into Judge Bennett's studious gaze.

"Well then, I suppose we better get this done. I'll need your computer Bill so I can try pulling up the proper paperwork that has to get signed." She announced with a formal kind of tone and coming to a decision.

"Wait…," I spoke up with everyone stopping in mid-stride turning their attention back towards me with the Judge arching her eyebrows questioningly wondering if I had changed my mind. "Is this really going to happen…I mean for real?" I asked a bit hesitantly scrunching up my face because this was a very serious matter and big decision.

"Yes…," Judge Bennett responded looking at me intently. "I thought that's what you wanted, but if it isn't?" She added questioningly.

"What…no…I mean…it's just…well…what about Micah?" I added looking down at the boy and then back to the Judge who looked confused. "I mean…don't you think he should have a say in this too? Let's face it with what he's gone through I don't want him to feel forced into a situation when he wakes up tomorrow in a strange place wondering what happened." I tried to explain with the Judge looking at me as if to say it doesn't really matter what the kid thinks.

Maddie seemed to understand even though she was the only person who didn't know the full story. "He's right. Maybe letting the boy have a say in the matter will make the transition easier." She offered up indicating I should wake up Micah bringing him up to speed.

Looking down into his peaceful slumbering face I hated to wake him up. From what Torres said the boy hadn't slept all night long remaining awake all day today as well. He had to be completely wiped out, but I felt this was too important not to involve the boy.

"Hey little man…I need you to open up your eyes and wake up for me…just for a few minutes…I promise…then you can go back to sleep." I spoke softly leaning in so he would see my face when he woke up as I gently brushed his smudged cheek lightly with my fingers urging him to stir awake.

Brushing some of the boy's blond locks out of his eyes I saw them fluttering open, the penetrating blue orbs dancing around momentarily before they bulged out in panic. Micah literally bolted upright, latched his arms around my neck, and crawled into my lap wrapping his legs around my waist. His body pressed up tightly into my torso as a small little sob escaped his lips.

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