Backdoor Slider - A Love Story

by Joe L

Chapter 46

"There will be no talking, Connor," Mr. Wilks says over his shoulder as he fastens his seatbelt. "When you arrive, there will be someone to check you in and they will answer any questions you may have."

I want to tell him, "Don't flatter yourself. I didn't want to talk to you anyway." He doesn't look like much of a conversationalist, and neither does the driver, Mr. Hart. I just stare out the window as if he didn't say anything.

"We will need to stop for gas in about four hours. You may use the facilities and get something to eat at that time."

I continue to stare out the window, wondering if I had made the wrong move. I could've made a run for it, but it may have turned out much worse.... cops, then more goons, then I'd end up there anyway, but as a known problem case. At least this way, I have a chance at fooling them.

I try to look at the scenery as we head up the interstate, but all I can see is Dad's stupid, unyielding face. I was always hoping that I'd have a good relationship with my parents once I was out, but I guess that was just a pipe dream. It's not like I have anything in common with them or enjoy being around them, anyway. I'll have to make a family of Luke, Denise and my friends to warm my life. It won't be so bad. Actually, it will be perfect. I won't need my parents or David at all.

I've got to figure out my strategy. If it's awful and dangerous, I'll just have to escape. I'll do what it takes, and I'll call Denise. She'll know what to do to rescue me. If it's harmless, I'll just stick with my original plan and do whatever I can to get out as fast as possible. I'll lie and manipulate and charm and sabotage. Sabotage! Maybe I can bring the place down from the inside. Maybe my balls are too big for my britches. Maybe, at the very least, I can help some of the other kids. I can try to undo the shit they'll be teaching if I can talk to some of the other kids in private. Yes, that's what I'll do. I can make the best out of this awful situation by helping others. There's bound to be some lost kids there who may actually listen to the bullshit.

I notice the van is exiting the freeway. I can't believe it's been four hours already! Time sure speeds up when you don't want to go to your destination. I see there's a Subway inside of the gas station we're stopping at. Perfect. I could really go for one of my turkey breast and jalapeno sandwiches. The goons unlock my door, exit the car and head inside without acknowledging me. I step out of the car and follow them inside.

"Uhh, how much do I get to spend on lunch?" I ask.

"How much money is in your pocket?" Mr. Wilks asks, trying unsuccessfully to hold back an evil smile.

"Nothing, remember? You wouldn't let me bring my wallet or any personal items."

"Well, you should've brought some money. We're not responsible for your meals."

"I think you are. My dad must've paid you money to take me in. That means you have to feed me."

"Get back in the van, and I'll bring you a sandwich." I start to wonder if running away might be a good idea at this point. It looks like there is no town for miles and miles in either direction, and there's only this gas station and another one on the other side of the freeway. There doesn't appear to be anything on the road that we turned onto. I'd better take my chances and stay with the goons.

I sit in the van while Mr. Hart gets gas. Soon, Mr. Wilks returns with three sandwiches, and I breathe a sigh of relief. He gets in the van and we're back on the highway. I watch them start on their sandwiches, and there's no indication that the third sandwich is for me. After a few attempts at finding out, Mr. Wilks finally shoots an evil look back at me.

"I said, we're not responsible for your meals. We'll be to NF soon, and then you can have something to eat when we get there."

"How soon?" I try to control my rising anger, but I get no response. I decide it might be best to shut up. I can just seeing these two pulling over on a deserted stretch of road and beating the shit out of some kid who kept pestering them. This isn't a good start for this place. I'd better really pay attention when we drive up and make sure I check any possibilities for an escape.

Sooner than expected, the van exits the freeway and starts driving down a one-lane road to nowhere. We drive and drive, passing nothing.... no towns, no houses, no other cars. I'm starting to get a little freaked out. He makes turns on roads, often unmarked, each one in worse shape than the last, and finally a dirt road. I see the center as we drive over a small hill. It looks like a crazy Mormon compound. There is a fence around the place, but it's tattered and broken in places. Escaping the compound doesn't seem like too difficult of a job. However, reaching civilization from here will be the big problem.

The van pulls up to what looks like the main building and a smiling woman comes bounding out. Mr. Wilks and Mr. Hart leave me to her and walk towards a smaller house without looking back. The woman embraces me with a warm hug. She looks like she's straight out of "Little House on the Prairie".

"You must be Garrett! It's very nice to meet you," she says. I look at her in the eyes after the hug and try to read her. She seems completely genuine. She's obviously convinced that what they do here is God's work. "My name is Dana, but most of the children here call me Mom. What's wrong dear?" I must look terrified.

"I haven't eaten anything all day. I'm starving." I'm shocked to hear how shaky and weak my voice is.

"Oh, you poor dear! I have some beef stew on the stove right now. It will fix you right up!"

She leads me through a couple of rooms. I see a few kids, but they don't look up at me. We finally reach a kitchen, and she directs me to sit at a counter. She ladles me a large bowl of stew. It smells amazing. I'm so hungry that I don't even care if it's poisoned. I devour it, even though it's full of squash, okra, and other vegetables I hate. I scrape the sides of the bowl with my spoon, and don't even notice that she has another ladle full of stew ready to pour into my bowl. I continue to devour it.

"There's no better compliment you can pay to a woman than to love her food," she says, smiling at me as I eat.

"It's very good. Do you do all of the cooking here?" I ask. My voice seems steady again. I start to think cozying up to Dana might be a good idea.

"Yes, I cook for the children and my family. It's a big job."

"Do you need help? I'm not much of a cook, but I can peel potatoes and chop vegetables. I do that a lot for my mom."

"What a kind offer!" From her expression, I know I've got her in my back pocket. "You can help me with breakfast in the mornings. I'll wake you up at 6am sharp!" She pats me on the shoulders. Maybe I just shot myself in the foot. She obviously doesn't know how teenagers love to sleep.

"All right," I smile, trying not to sound too disappointed.

"Let me show you around, Garrett," she says happily. She leads me from room to room, never taking her hand off of my shoulder. I see some sort of chapel, a meeting room for group counseling, a library, and a dormitory. I nod politely and ask appropriate questions. She leads me to the bathroom. "Why don't you have a nice shower, Garrett? I'll leave you a change of clothes outside the door. Please put them on when you are finished."

I get in the shower and let the hot water cascade down my face. How did things go so wrong? I miss Luke so much. I imagine his smiling face and his warm embrace, and I start to sob. This is going to be much harder than I had imagined. I'm a strong person, but my strength comes from him now. I don't think I can do this without him. I need to push myself. I need to motivate myself to do whatever it takes to see him again. I won't be broken.

I look down to see that I've gotten a massive boner, just thinking about Luke, even though I'm in such despair. It's probably a good idea to jerk one out every time I'm in the shower. Walking around here with an erection in my pants probably will not be well received, and that happens a lot to me when Luke enters my thoughts. I quickly rub one out and exit the shower. I grab my new clothes from outside the door, as someone had come in the bathroom during my shower and taken away the clothes I arrived in. I put on a gray t-shirt and khaki pants, just like I noticed the other kids here were wearing. I peer out into the hall, and I see Dana waiting for me.

"I know it's hard, Garrett," she says. She must've heard me crying in the shower. I hope she didn't hear me masturbating. "You get a good night's sleep and you'll feel much better in the morning. I'm counting on you as my little helper!" She leads me down the hallway of a dormitory and lets herself in one of the rooms without knocking. I peer around the doorway to see a boy lying on a single bed across the room reading a book. "Miles, this is your new roommate, Garrett. Garrett, this is Miles. I'm sure you boys will become fast friends. I'll see you bright and early, Garrett!" She pats me on the shoulder again.

"Good night," I turn around to smile at her, but she's already gone. I head into my bedroom and shut the door. "Miles, is it? So how bad is this place?"

He looks up at me for the first time since I've come in, and starts laughing. It sends chills up my spine.

"What?" I almost yell.

"So which one are you?" he asks, still chuckling. Miles reminds me in a strange way of my brother. They don't look much alike, but they have the same body type: thin and bony. The big difference between them is that Miles seems pretty effeminate, while my brother just seems clumsy and awkward.

"What do you mean?" I ask once I finish sizing him up.

"Are you Abercrombie, or are you Fitch?" he asks with a wry smile.

"You can call me Fitch. So how bad is this place?" I ask again.

"Not too bad," he sighs. He starts tossing the book up into the air, which I now recognize as the Book of Mormon. "Have you ever read this thing? It's fucking HILARIOUS!" I relax a little. Miles seems pretty cool, and he's clearly not brainwashed.

"Answer my question, you doof," I say, hoping to sound friendly.

"It's all right as long as you do what they want. If it seems like you're buying into their bullshit, they'll treat you right. The one big no-no is that you can't get caught messing around with any of the other guys here. No one's been caught while I've been here, but that's what I was told on my first day. It's not really a problem for me, but you'd better watch out. Some of the guys here might wanna take that chance with you."

"No way. I just want to get out of here as soon as possible."

"Don't count on that being any time soon. They know when you're a little too eager. They know all the tricks. You gotta really convince them that you've driven the devil out."

"How do you do that? I mean convince them... not really drive the devil out."

"To start out, I'd try an emotional breakdown in group tomorrow. Tears would be perfect, and you should say something about how you want to change... or something like that."

"I feel like I should be taking notes."

"The big test is that you have to convince your parents to take you back. When the people here feel you're ready, your parents will come and you'll have to put on a show for them. Sometimes parents come and leave their kids behind again if they're not satisfied."

"Fuckers." My blood starts to boil. I can't believe how cruel some people can be.

"Totally." He drops the book on the floor, and he quickly scrambles to get it, inspecting it for damage.

"Thanks for the tips." Miles might be a pretty good roommate. "So what's your story? How did you end up here?"

"I don't wanna talk about it." He turns from me and clams up quickly. I cross the room and sit down on his bed.

"C'mon, man. You can talk to me. We got nothin' but time–"

"Get back over there!" he erupts with anger. "You should already know they don't knock when they come in. If they see you sitting on my bed with me, they might freak out, and I don't know what they'd do!"

"Okay, okay," I backtrack to my bed and sit down. I'm not giving up on him, though. I'm really hoping I can help a few people while I'm here. "Just tell me about your life. I'm sure I can relate."

"Trust me, you have no idea what I've gone through," he says, getting under the covers. "Turn out the light, will you?" I do as he asks.

"Uhh... I think maybe I have an idea. We both ended up here, so that's something we have in common." I get under my covers, too, and we lay in silence for a few minutes.

"I asked to come here," he whispers eventually.

"WHAT?" I sit up in bed.

"I did the research online and convinced my clueless parents to send me here."

"I'm totally confused. You wanted to come here, but you don't believe in the stuff they're saying?"

"Fuck, no. It's just that my home life is much worse than anything they could throw at me here."

"I see," I finally start to understand.

"You don't SEE," he hisses. "You have no fucking idea what my life is like. You're probably able to drift through high school with the popular crowd. You'd have no problem fitting in. You're probably here because you were sloppy and let your dad catch you jerking off to porn, right?"

"Actually, I –"

"No wait, you're too good-looking. I know… you have a boyfriend, right? A boyfriend in high school! And he's probably the quarterback of the football team. You walk around all day at school holding his hand, and he makes slow, tender love to you every night, right?" I'm glad the lights are off, because I can feel my face turning bright red. He notices my silence and gasps, "OMG! Am I RIGHT?"

"Not exactly. He's the star pitcher on our baseball team, and we're NOT out at school. At least we weren't. My fuck-up of a brother was spying on us and took pictures of us... together... on his phone and sent them to my parents."

"Wow. I don't suppose you have any copies with you?"

"Not right now. Dana is making some wallet-size ones for everyone tomorrow." I finally make him laugh a little. "So tell me what's so bad that you'd choose this place over your own life."

"Well, I get bullied EVERY DAY. I just started high school this August, and it's a fucking nightmare. I get rocks thrown at me at the bus stop. I get my head slammed against my locker when I have to go get my books between classes. I'm afraid to go to the bathroom because they're watching me, and they'll run in and dunk my head in the toilet."

"Holy shit," I can't believe what I'm hearing.

"I had to have six stitches from one of the more brutal locker attacks, and that was the last straw." I did notice a Band-Aid on his forehead when I came in. "I couldn't take it another day. I came here because I thought I could take the mental torture easier than the physical torture for a while... the worst part at home is the terror and the anticipation. I can take a little pain... I'm no sissy-fag. It's just the nightmares and the anxiety and having to watch my every move. It's exhausting."

"Doesn't your school have a zero-tolerance policy or at least something against bullying?"

"Yeah, but it's actually more of a 100%-tolerance policy. They never do shit. I don't know if I'd even want them to. It's a small town. If I get some asshole expelled, then I'd have to deal with his entire family trying to kill me outside of school."

"Can your family move? Maybe to a bigger city?"

"My dad doesn't want to leave his job in this economy. I don't blame him, either. Plus, I don't want to be the reason for the downfall of my family."

"Well, you wanna know my secret?"

"I'm DYING to know," he says sarcastically.

"I'd probably look like you if I didn't exercise, but I'd be short and skinny. Actually, you look a lot like my little brother. He's skinny and lanky, and he gets picked on, too."

"Oh great, you're a personal trainer, too, then?"

"No, it just works for me and I think it might work for you, too. I'm sure I have mannerisms that I get away with because of my frame. If I was as skinny as you, they'd be a lot more apparent."

"Trust me, even if I had big bulging muscles, people would still instantly know that I'm a fag."

"Maybe so, but they'd probably also leave you alone... at least more often than they were." He doesn't have an answer for that one, so I know I'm making some progress.

"My family can't afford a gym membership, and I couldn't get a ride there even if I wanted to go."

"You don't need a gym. I'll show you." I climb out of bed and lay on the floor. "You said you weren't a sissy-fag and you aren't afraid of a little pain, right? Get on the floor and just do as many push-ups as you can."

"Dream on," he sighs.

"Get on the floor now, or I'll come get you out of bed, probably just as someone comes in to check on us," I say, and I hear him drop to the floor.

"All right, Fitch."

"Just do as many as you can," I whisper as I start my push-ups. I hear him grunt, so I can tell he's doing them. "And when you can't do any more, do another one, and another one. Don't stop until your arms fall off or you're about to barf." After only a minute has passed, I can hear him silently writhing in agony on the floor, trying not to draw any attention to our room.

"You... asshole…," he manages to whisper as I keep doing push-ups. I'm nowhere near my breaking point, but I don't want to show him up too bad on his first time, so I collapse on the floor with a thud loud enough for him to hear.

"Okay, good start," I whisper, faking breathlessness. "Now let yourself recover for a few minutes. Take as long as you need." I lay on the floor in silence for a few minutes until I hear him finally start to catch his breath. "You okay?"

"I can't feel my arms," he whispers.

"Perfect! Now, start doing sit-ups. You don't need your arms for that." I start mine, and I can hear him trying, too. "It's going to be hard because we're on hardwood floors, but the exhaustion is what counts. Keep going until you're about to black out."

"I'm about to black out," he grunts.

"Good. Do one more." My eyes are adjusted to the darkness now, so I can see his silhouette. He does manage to do one more sit-up and plops back down on his back. "Great. Now just one more."

"I'm going to... fuckingKILL… you," he whispers as I see him pick his head up one more time. He doesn't make it to the top this time and collapses back to the floor, gasping for air.

"You did so great! Now get back in bed." He manages to hoist himself back onto his bed, and he lies there, body stiff, trying to catch his breath.

"I... fucking... hate you," he whispers after a while.

"That's all right... but when you do this, you're not thinking about getting slammed into a locker or getting your head dunked in a toilet. You're only thinking about how much it hurts and how much you hate doing it. Then, you'll sleep through the night, sometimes without dreaming. After a week or two, you'll notice you're able to do more and more before getting sick. Then, in a few more weeks, you'll actually start to notice changes in your body. Then, that day will come when you can beat the shit out of some asshole, and it will all be worth it."

"If this doesn't work, my massive biceps and I will track you and your loverboy down and beat the shit out of you both."

"Bring it on, skinny," I say, and we both chuckle. I hear his breathing pattern quickly turn from exercise exhaustion to sleep. I bet he'll sleep like a baby tonight. I have to start over with the push-ups or I'd never be able to sleep at all. I get back down on the floor and try to quickly exhaust myself without waking up Miles. It must've worked because the next thing I know, Dana is shaking me awake. I don't even remember climbing back in the bed.

"Good morning, Garrett! It's time to make breakfast," she whispers with inhuman early-morning cheeriness.

"Morning," I grunt and sit up in bed. It's all part of the final goal, I remind myself. We head to the kitchen.

"It's so nice to have such a thoughtful, young gentleman with us." She pats me on the shoulder. She sure is a touchy-feely kind of person. I bet a hug would go a long way with her. "So, how are you and Miles getting along?"

"He's a great kid. He's just had a really tough life," I say, forgetting I'm talking to the enemy.

"I'm sure you both have, dear. All right, your job is going to be to scramble the eggs and fry the bacon. I'll be making the biscuits." Wow, this is going to be quite a breakfast. Maybe it's their way of gaining our trust. They starve you on the ride over here, then you have to be grateful for the food once you get here. Still, I'll take advantage of it. I begin to scramble some eggs.

"This is going to taste wonderful," I say.

"Oh Garrett, I'm sorry, this is not for you. This is the family breakfast. You'll be well-fed, but we only have so much money… and the men love their big breakfasts."

"What do we get to eat?"

"You'll have oatmeal and a banana for a little something sweet." I instantly think about escaping again. I fucking hate oatmeal. She notices the disappointment on my face.

"I suppose it would be a little cruel to make you cook and smell the breakfast we're making for the family. I don't think anyone would notice if you snuck a little now and then."

"Thanks, but I don't want any special treatment," I say. If I'm going to help out the kids here, I don't want to look like I'm in cahoots with the crazies. However, if no one's looking....

"You certainly are an impressive young man, Garrett. I'm sure you'll do just fine here."

"Thanks... ummm... what exactly am I going to do today?"

"Well, you'll have your morning chores to do," she says.

I stop myself from saying, "What the fuck do you call this?"

"You'll clean your room, then make sure the rest of the dormitory is clean, including the kitchen, bathroom and library. After that, the men will round up you stronger boys for other chores that need to be done around our little community here. You might be tending to the animals, mowing the grass, picking weeds or just helping the men with anything they need. You'll be a very welcome addition with your can-do attitude!"

Oh great, a forced labor camp... and I get the brunt of it because I'm strong and in good shape.

"Can't I just stay around here and help you in the kitchen?"

"I'll see what I can do, but you might be needed elsewhere."

"What comes after the chores?"

"We'll have lunch at noon sharp. Today, we have peanut butter and jelly as a treat! Then, after lunch, we have our group meetings where my husband, Timothy, will talk to you about the righteous path." She walks over to me and grabs me by the shoulders. Her smile disappears. "Timothy is a fair and just man. You may express what you're feeling, but please pay attention to what he says, and PLEASE, do not cross him."

"I understand," I realize I'm looking into the eyes of a battered wife. This poor woman... what a terrible life she must have, as well.

"After group, there will be individual counseling sessions for those that seem to need it. There will be some free time if there are no more chores to do. Then, we'll have supper, and finally, our evening services in the chapel. After that, you'll be able to read in the library until it's time for bed."

What a difference there is between this and my old life. After all my work was done, my evenings used to be filled with video games and hot sex…. Mmmm.

We finish the family breakfast, and then make a giant pot of oatmeal for "the children". I don't see Miles at breakfast, which worries me, and I don't find him back at the room. I stick close to Dana for the rest of the morning, but I'm summoned by Mr. Hart to wash cars for my daily chores.

"Since you made us go all the way to Arizon-ee, you gotta get all that desert dirt off the van," he says. Yeah, it's my fault. Sometimes, I wish there was a hell for people who really deserve it. These goons that picked me up... they really seem to get a kick out of making our lives miserable. At least there's Dana. Maybe she can protect me.

I take my time washing all four cars on the compound. I don't want to finish before it's time for group. Who knows what they'd have me doing. I wish I could key the shit out of all these cars. It's a good thing I don't have any keys on me. I finish a few minutes early, but continue to dry and buff each car so I can appear busy. Finally, a man who I suppose is Timothy comes to get me.

"You must be Garrett. You did a fine job on these cars, son. Please join us in the meeting hall." He shakes my hand, and I follow him in. I breathe a sigh of relief as I see Miles, and I sit down next to him.

"Where were you?"

"I'm so fucking sore that I couldn't do my morning chores. I made myself throw up, so I've been in the sick house."

"Sorry," I whisper.

"But it feels kinda good... in a weird way. I slept better last night than I have in years."

"Just keep doing it. The key is the exhaustion." I nod with a smile as Timothy gets up in front of the group to begin. Maybe I've gotten Miles pointed in the right direction.

He begins with a scripture reading, and I immediately tune out. I start daydreaming, just like at the church services at home. My daydreams always involve Luke, and I can't help from thinking about him. I'm going to have to take a shower and jerk off to relieve some pressure. I don't think a boner would be appropriate at group counseling. It might get me a private session. I can't keep doing this to myself or I'll lose my mind in this place. As I stare out the window, I can just imagine Denise's car driving over the hilltop leading a cavalry to rescue me. Luke would be beating off crazy people left and right with his crutches, and as he finally reaches me, I jump into his arms. I shake myself out of the daydream and rub my eyes a few times. I have to pretend like I'm paying attention. However, I look outside again. I rub my eyes one more time because I can't believe what I'm seeing. That really is Denise's car! My heart leaps up to my throat as I see it pull up to the front gate. I can see Luke! Well, I can see someone in the backseat with a red baseball cap turned backwards and sexy hair poking out from under it. That's Luke, all right. There's a third person with them. I can't tell who it is. He or she is sitting in the passenger seat. As the car stops before the front gate, the mystery passenger jumps out and runs up to press the buzzer. It's Mom! I can't believe this is happening. I see her talking into the speaker for a minute, and the front gate starts to slowly open!

"Garrett! Eyes up front," Timothy snaps.

"I have a TESTIMONY!" I rise to my feet as if I'm full of the Holy Spirit. Timothy looks at me strangely for a second.

"Go ahead son," he says, nervously. I don't even know what I'm about to say, but the words come out of my mouth as if I've planned them for years.

"I would like to thank the Lord, JESUS CHRIST for sending my incredibly hot, GAY boyfriend to rescue me from this FOUL, WRETCHED PLACE." I start to move towards the window, which I'm sure I can climb out. "AND... I'd like to thank the PROPHET, JOSEPH SMITH for the HOT, SLOPPY, CREAMY, GAY TEENAGE SEX that I'm going to have with him TONIGHT!"

"Fuck yeah, dude!" a boy with many piercing holes on his face says to me, and the shocked room erupts in a cheer. Several of the other kids block Timothy as he tries to run over and stop me from climbing out the window. I easily hoist myself down and stand outside the building, looking back in at the kids, most of whom have gathered around the window.

"Remember, guys, being gay is nothing to be ashamed of. It's just something that you are... like your height or how many fingers you have. You can't change it, no matter what anyone tells you. The choice comes into play in how you deal with it. You can either decide to make the best of it and try to be happy or listen to these assholes and live a miserable life."

"DON'T listen to him, my children! He's possessed by the devil!" I hear Timothy call from behind the crowd.

"Please be safe, and just do what it takes to get out of here. Take care, you guys!" I say as I turn away. I immediately see Luke galloping towards the front door on his crutches. I'm sure that no one in the history of the world has ever moved as fast on crutches as he is right now. I run around the building towards him, and he finally catches sight of me. I see tears start to run down his face as the distance between us quickly gets shorter. As I run up to him, at the last second, he reaches out his arms to embrace me and his crutches fall to the ground. The second I feel his touch, I crumble and begin to sob. The feeling of his arms wrapped around me, combined with his warm body almost makes me faint. He pulls his head back to look me in the eyes and starts wiping tears from my face.

"Are you all right, G?" he sniffles.

"Yeah," I wipe some off of his cheeks, too. "How in fuck did you find me?"

"My mom has a GPS, remember? Garrett Positioning System."

"Of course," I smile, filled with love and gratitude. I hear chanting coming from the window for the first time, and I turn towards them to try to understand what they're saying.

"Kiss him! Kiss him! Kiss him!" they all keep yelling. I turn back towards Luke, who has a huge smile on his face, ready to oblige the crowd. I lean in and give the people what they want, hugging Luke as hard as I can as I press my open mouth onto his as hard as I can. What a feeling! I hear the chanting turn to cheering, and I finally break the kiss, looking back at the window of onlookers.

I see Miles standing there for the first time, his arms folded in disappointment. When he sees me look at him, he turns away from the window and walks out of sight. I suddenly feel a pang of guilt for leaving him behind. I don't even know his last name or where he lives. I can only hope I've helped him out in some way. He surely saw me as a friend, but now I'm gone the day after I arrived.

I decide right there in my mind, someday, I will devote myself to helping out kids who were sent to places like these. Maybe I can help turn them around. Maybe I can shut down these kinds of places. As for right now, I'd feel a lot better if I'm on the other side of that fence. I pick up Luke's crutches and help put them under his arm, but suddenly, I see Mr. Hart and Mr. Wilks running straight for us. There's no way we can both get past the front gate before they get to us.

As Luke makes a break for it, I stay behind him, running backwards at the same speed that he can sprint on his crutches. Just as the goons come within a few feet of me, they stop in their tracks, their eyes wide with shock. I turn around to see Denise with a gun pointed right at them.

"Garrett, Luke, get in the car," she says in a low, steady voice. "You two, not another move."

Just then, Timothy approaches and also stops in his tracks as he sees the gun.

"Please, ma'am," his voice trembles. "We'd just like Garrett to leave. He's already done irreparable damage to the children here –"

"Way to go, G!" Luke whispers to me and pinches me on the butt. He knows what that means.

"So, please leave and never come back."

"That's fine with us," she says, backing away. I make eye contact with Mom for the first time, and she starts sobbing.

"I'm so sorry!" she mouths to me as we all safely make it back to the car. I help Luke into the backseat, and we all pile in. I lean over the front seat and hug Denise from behind, kissing her cheek and thanking her. I do the same to Mom, who begins sobbing again, this time from relief.

"We're so happy you're safe, Garrett," Denise pats my head as she tries to disguise her shaky voice.

"I'm so sorry, Garrett," Mom starts again after she's composed herself. "Please don't hate your father. I promise, he'll eventually come around.... and if he doesn't, I'll LEAVE him!" I look at her with shock. I've never heard her sound like this. "And what's worse, I'll leave him with DAVID!" We all erupt with laughter.

"Mom, you made a joke!" I lean forward and give her another hug.

"It's the new me," she says, taking a cleansing breath. "I owe it all to Luke. He talked to me for a long time yesterday about you two and explained how much he loved you. It's not wrong at all what you two have. It's lovely, and no one should stand in the way of it."

I look back at Luke, and he gives me a goofy, cross-eyed smile. I can't believe he poured his soul out to my mom. That must've made him so uncomfortable, but he did it for me... and it worked. I take his hand in mine and we interlock our fingers.

"C'mere," he motions for me to lean up against him. I do so and he wraps his arms around me. "You'd better get comfortable cuz I'm never letting you go again."

"Good." I truly believe him, and I smile back at him with love.

I begin to tell them about what I went through, trying not to be overly dramatic. To my great surprise, Denise takes a different road which leads to a fairly big town, just a couple of hills away from New Foundations. The goons must've really driven a crazy route to convince me we were hundreds of miles away from civilization.

"I just don't think I can make the drive home tonight, troops," Denise says. "How about we find a place to get a little food and a little WINE, and then check into a hotel for the night? I think we could all use a little decompression." We all echo our approval.

I see a Target and ask if I can get some different clothes. I left my clothes behind, but that's no big deal. I just want to get out of this ugly uniform and these ugly memories. Mom and I head in and quickly buy some exercise pants, a t-shirt and some flip-flops.

We find a Chili's and a fairly nice motel by the interstate, and we unwind and have a big dinner. I catch Luke looking at me with that sexy smile of his, over and over. I want him so bad, and I know he wants me... but I don't see how we'll be able to be together tonight. Either all four of us will be in the same room, or I'll be in a room with my mom and Luke will be in a room with Denise.

I glance over and can clearly see Luke's boner in his pants. He smiles at me as he notices me looking. I try to come up with a plan for at least a quick blow job, but it will be hard to sneak out. Mom and Denise will know exactly what we're up to, and I don't want to make my mom angry now, as much progress as she's made.

After dinner, we drive across the street to the motel office. We all walk in, Luke and I trailing behind. He grabs my hand again and gives it a tight squeeze.

"I want to be with you soooooo bad, G," he whispers and exhales a hot breath right into my ear. I feel like I could melt right onto the lobby floor.

"I know, me too… but shhhhh," I whisper. "Maybe we can both sneak out for a few minutes later and meet in the car."

"I'd like two rooms," I hear Mom say to the clerk. "And could you please give me two as FAR APART from each other as possible?" Luke and I look at each other, wide-eyed and hopeful. She walks over to us, handing me a keycard. "You boys probably have a lot to talk about," she winks at me. "Now, be good, and be ready to go tomorrow morning at 8am sharp!"

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