Nick's Story

by Nick Brady

Chapter 24

It was Thanksgiving week and school was out on Thursday and Friday. Joseph and his parents were going to Oklahoma City to spend the holiday with his mother's sister. His mother was still not drinking and they were looking forward to a nice little family reunion of sorts. On Monday we were talking at the flagpole after school.

"My sisters are coming," Joseph told me.

"You don't see them much do you? I have never met them," I observed.

"No, they both are in college on the east coast and very seldom come home except for holidays," he agreed. "It will be nice to see them although we are not close."

"Do you not get along?" I asked.

"Its not like we don't get along well, we just don't know each other. We are 10 and 12 years apart. When they were in high school they were involved in things that did not include a little brother and they went off to college as soon as they could get away," he explained.

"Was that because of your mother's drinking?" I asked.

"That, and because the family was rather dysfunctional as a result. Perhaps it will be different now. We shall see," he said hopefully.

"Well, have a nice reunion and don't eat too much turkey," I smiled.

"It should be nice to be together. What is your family doing?"

"I don't know. Mom usually fixes a nice dinner but we don't do anything special," I said. "Good luck. I'll keep thinking about you guys."

"Thank you Nicky. I guess we will see you after the long weekend. Don't eat too much turkey," he laughed.

On Wednesday evening Dad announced that he and Mom had decided that Thanksgiving should be a holiday for everybody and for that reason Mom would not cook the usual dinner. Instead we would go to Tally's over at 11th and Yale for dinner.

"Hey, they aren't fancy but they sure have good food," Kevin said.

"And plenty of it," I agreed. "You deserve a holiday too Mom. It isn't fair that you have to do all the work."

Mom smiled. "I certainly agree. It will be nice not to have to do all the cooking, not to mention washing up," she smiled.

Dad explained. "Tally's has been in business for a long time. On Thanksgiving they feed anybody who shows up, including the homeless or anyone who can't afford to pay. You just pay what you can, even if that is nothing."

"So we will eat for nothing?" Kevin asked.

"No, we can afford to pay and I will leave a nice tip. I just like what they do, and as Kevin pointed out, they have good food. I think it will be fun," he said.

So that is what we did. The place was packed with people and we had to wait almost 30 minutes to get a table. The waitresses were flying around with big plates of food serving everybody as quickly as they could. We ordered the 'Thanksgiving Special' and were brought big plates of turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans and a slice of pumpkin pie. It was great. I was wondering if we could get seconds but after I cleaned my plate I was too full to even think about more. It was great, and no dishes to wash. Dad payed the regular price and left a 10 dollar tip. We didn't linger after our pie so those who were waiting could have a seat. Everybody was talking and laughing like it was a big party. I guess it was.

We came home and turned on the TV to find a football game. I barely got into the game when Kevin, Dad and myself all fell asleep on the sofa, lined up with our feet stretched out like a row of corpses. The family that naps together, stays together.

The weather had turned cold and with Joseph out of town I just hung around the house. The four of us sat around the kitchen table and played a long game of Monopoly until Kevin won all the money. He chortled and grinned. There was no choir practice so I kind of vegged out with the family gorging on football and eating snacks for the rest of the day. I had to realize that I had lots to be thankful for.

The rest of the weekend went much the same way. It was relaxing but a little boring. We all went to the big Walmart on Saturday and snooped around while Mom did her shopping. Everything was already decorated for Christmas and Kevin and I sized up what we wanted Santa to bring us.

On Sunday I bundled up and biked to church and sang with the choir. It was strange for Joseph not to be there. I would be glad when he came back.

On Monday I found Joseph waiting at the flagpole. "Hey!" we greeted each other.

"How was your reunion?" I wanted to know.

"It was good." Joseph replied. "Can you come over? I will tell you about it."

"Sure," I said and noticed that it was his mother waiting in the Lincoln.

I followed them over to his house and stuck my bike in the garage while the door was open.

His mother smiled at me and said, "Hello Nick. How was your Thanksgiving?"

"It was nice, thank you. We went to Tally's," she smiled but looked a little puzzled. I don't think she had ever been to Tally's.

Joseph and I strolled through the kitchen, grabbed some of Alice's cookies from a plate and went up the stairs to his room. "So how did it go?" I asked.

Joseph sat down on his sofa and I sat next to him. "It went pretty well," he said.

"Were there any, uh, problems?"

"My aunt served cocktails and had wine with dinner which was a strain for Mother but she held out without drinking."

"That's great. Was she OK with that?"

"I think it made her rather uncomfortable. She would have liked to drink with them but it helped that my father also abstained and sat with her," Joseph laughed. "He kept patting her arm."

"Does your father usually drink?" I wondered.

"Yes, but he doesn't seem to have the problem with it that Mother does."

"So that's good, right?"

"Yes, I was very proud of her. But you could see that it was difficult for her. I think she is going to need some help if she is to continue."

"When does she have to go to court?"

"Next week, Friday I think. Our family attorney will go with her of course." He explained.

"You have a family attorney?" I asked.

"Yes, he does legal things for the family concerning money and legal considerations mostly. But he will also represent Mother at her court date. I suppose she could be sentenced to some sort of custody but we are hoping that it won't come to that."

That was a sobering thought. "I will think good thoughts about that too," I offered.

"Yes, please do," Joseph smiled. "You seem to be good at that."

"I missed you," I said.

Joseph took my hand. "I missed you too," he stood up and went over and stretched out on his bed. He patted the bed next to him and grinned. "Come lie down with me, Nicky."

Without a word I joined him. He said, "This is not as interesting as our 'special place' but perhaps more comfortable."

"Anyplace with you is interesting," I rolled over on top of him and we began the lovely ritual of love making. There was not a lot of time so Joseph was direct.

"I like it best when you are on top," he said and began to undress. I moved away just long enough for our clothes to be deposited in a pile by the bed. He stretched out on his back and raised his knees. The little jar of Vaseline appeared as if by magic.

"First, could you get me wet like the other time?" he requested.

I smiled and began to nuzzle around his crack, licking my way down to his hole. He put his hands on his butt cheeks and spread them as far apart as he could. My tongue began to lick up and down and I tickled his hole with the tip of my tongue. He shivered.

He was rather loose, intentionally I guessed, so I tried to stick my tongue up in his hole. He had not just showered this time so there was a musky smell, but not so much as to be objectionable. My tongue was able to slip up into his hole more than I would have expected and I realized that he was helping all he could.

I slipped my tongue in and out and in the process slobbered a lot of saliva in and around his ass, making it quite slippery. He was obviously enjoying this so it went on for awhile. It was my turn to play him like a musical instrument and I began to hum in an evil way.

"Oh Nicky!" he murmured.

I kept this up while running my hands over his cock and balls, not masturbating him but fondling him and rolling him under the palms of my hands until I could feel him start to leak.

"I think you are ready," I said.

"Yes, yes I'm ready Nicky. Please do me," he whimpered.

The inside of my foreskin was very wet and dripping with precum. "I don't think we will need the Vaseline," I suggested.

"Do it please. I am so ready."

I skinned myself back and put the slippery head of my dick against his well slobbered ass hole and began to push. It slid in easily and felt better than with the Vaseline. "Are you OK, Joseph?"

"Oh yes, oh yes please do me,"hHe cried. He raised his hips and I pushed in deep, feeling him shiver as I went in as far as I could go in a single plunge. I held still with my cock fully inserted and let him adjust. He did not hold still, but moved his hips from side to side, moaning as he moved.

Clearly he was ready and I began to pump myself in and out of his ass, withdrawing as far as I could then pushing myself in as far as I could go, increasing my pace slowly. Several times I pulled back so far that I fell out and immediately plunged back inside.

"Oh God Nick, that is wonderful!" he moaned, so I began to pull myself out then go back in, guiding myself with my hand so I hit the mark every time.

It was wonderful for me too as it worked my foreskin back and forth very forcefully, the ring of his anus gripping me tight on each pass. Finally I held my skin back all the way and plunged in and out with my glans naked, realizing that being uncircumcised could have some advantages. We were both in sheer ecstasy.

I felt myself approaching the brink of orgasm and pumped faster and faster, remaining inside now and pushing as deep as I could. When my semen began to pulse Joseph had not quite reached climax so I held still while my cum spurted deep in his ass.

He started to stroke himself but I stopped his hand. "Wait," I gasped. "I want it."

I paused for a minute then withdrew, leaned over, and sucked his cock deeply into my mouth, sucking and rolling him around with my tongue until he cried out and began to cum in my mouth. I tasted him, found it sweet and sucked him dry.

Joseph held my face in his hands and began to chant "Oh, oh, oh, oh." as he emptied himself in my throat.

We both fell limp, exhausted, panting to catch our breath. Holding on, listening to our heartbeats. We lay still for several minutes, slowly recovering from the exertions of love.

Finally I sat up and looked at Joseph. "I missed you," I said with a leer.

"Yes, me too," he said, opening his eyes wide and taking a deep breath.

"We should do this more often," I suggested slyly.

"Do you think so?" he sighed.

"Definitely," and I goosed him in both ribs.

"Ahhh!" he rolled over and put his feet on the floor.

"I need to pee," he said with uncharacteristic directness.

"Me too," I agreed. "We could piss off the balcony."

"Are you serious?" he looked surprised. "Why?"

"Why not?" I grinned. "I dare you."

"Someone might see us."


"I don't know, someone."

"I double dog dare you," I grinned and bumped him with my elbow.

"Oh Nicky," then a strange look came into his eyes. "You first?"

Without a word I opened the door to his balcony and stepped out, naked as a jay bird. I looked back at him. "You coming?"

With a look of surrender he stepped next to me and we both pissed over the low balcony wall, our twin yellow streams splashing on the pavement below. When our bladders were empty we raised up on our toes and shook our flaccid penises at the world and laughed with abandon. I had finally corrupted him completely.

The rest of the week rolled by, me riding over to see Joseph after school, doing school work while Joseph practiced the piano. It was nice to listen to the music while I studied. We spent time together talking, enjoying some sex play sometimes, but that was not the main focus of our relationship.

Thursday night was choir practice and I was making improvement. The service music I now knew by heart and the anthems were getting easier. Joseph coached me with the written scores and the little black dots were beginning to make some sense. I was enjoying it and feeling like I finally fit in with the choir group.

On Friday I met Joseph at the flagpole as was our custom. Alice was at the curb in the Lincoln and Joseph looked upset. "Nicky!" he called to me.

"What's up?" I asked, looking at Alice. "Are you in a hurry today?"

"No, it's not that. She came early to give me some news."

"What's the news?" then I remembered that his mother had her court date on Friday. "How is your mother?"

"It didn't go well," he said as tears came to his eyes. "I guess she was upset about the court hearing so she drank all morning and showed up at court rather drunk."

"Oh, that's terrible. Where is she?"

"They kept her," he was having trouble speaking. "Can you come over? We can put your bike in the car."

"Of course!" I rushed over to the car where Joseph helped me load up my bike. We sat wordless in the front seat as Alice drove us to Joseph's home. We put the bicycle in the garage and went straight up to his room.

The usual composed Joseph was a mess, his eyes red and his nose running.

"So tell me," I held his hands as we sat on his sofa.

"I'm sorry Nicky. I knew this was going to happen but now that it is here I am having trouble with it," he sobbed.

"What happened? Spit it out."

He took a deep breath and tried to compose himself. "Alice talked to my father and she told me what he said. What happened was that the judge was very angry because she was drunk. He scolded her terribly and she was rather spiteful I understand. The judge told her that she had blown any chance at leniency, and that he had half a mind to sentence her to 5 years in prison for her multiple DUIs. Our attorney asked him for a private conference and they went into his chambers. When they came out the judge was looking a bit less angry and called her forward.

"He told her that he would give her one last chance. He said he was recommending that she spend 60 days at a treatment center, the Valley Of Hope in Cushing. If she could successfully complete that program without incident he would give her 5 years probation. If not, then she would go to prison for 5 years."

He put his face in his hands. "Oh Nicky, I am so afraid for her. I can't imagine her in prison. It would kill her."

I held him close. "But if she does OK in the treatment center she will get to come home. You said that would be the best thing for her."

Joseph leaned back and sighed. "But if she doesn't complete it? Or if she comes home and gets drunk again? She has been struggling with this for years. I don't know if she can do it."

I pressed his hand in mine. "But what if she does? What if she completes the program and goes to AA meetings like Jack said, and she really gets sober? That would be the best thing in the world for everybody."

Joseph looked very sad, and just shook his head. "I don't know Nicky. I just don't know."

It was hard to know what to say. I told him, "My dad says not to worry about the things you can't control. What part of this do you control? What part is up to you?"

"None of it," he said. "I can't do anything."

"Who can? Who has to do this?"

"Well, Mother of course. It is all up to her."

"That's right. So what can you do?"

"Nothing, I can't do anything."

"What do you keep telling me to do?"

He gave me a blank look, then nodded. "Pray about it?"

"That's what you said to do. What else can you do?"

Joseph looked down. "Nicky, I don't know if I really believe in that."

"Me either, but my best friend in the whole world keeps telling me I should do that. Maybe that's all we can do."

A trace of a smile came over Joseph's face. "Maybe you're right. That's all we can do. It is desperation that drives us to our knees."

"Who said that?" I asked.

"I don't remember exactly. It is something I heard at church."

"Sounds like a reliable source."

Joseph sat back. "I told you before, I really don't know how to do that. All I know about praying is in our prayer book at church."

"Well look up a good one. I will think good thoughts or whatever it is that I do and let's let God handle this."

"That sounds awfully religious coming from you Nicky. I can't believe you said that."

"I'm not religious, or I don't think I am," I said. "But that same good friend of mine just said that it is desperation that drives us to our knees. Got any better ideas?"

"No," he said. "But I don't know the right words Nicky."

I took his hands in mine. "Maybe we don't need words," and I closed my eyes and bowed my head. So did Joseph, and we sat quietly for a long time without speaking.

Joseph was very upset that his mother had been remanded to a 60 day stay at an alcohol treatment center after her fifth DUI. I was with him at his house trying to console him.

"If she completes the program successfully then she will get to come home and maybe things can get back to normal." I said hopefully. "Or better than normal if she isn't drinking any more."

Joseph sighed. "But even so, she will be away for 2 months and father is gone a lot too. I guess I will be leaning on Alice more than ever. I truly don't know what I would do without her. She is much more than housekeeper, that is for sure."

"Sure, and I will be here for you too," I assured him. "And you are welcome to stay at my house anytime you want."

He looked at me. "Do your parents know anything about this?"

I shook my head. "No. I figured this was sort of confidential. I haven't told them anything about your mom's problems."

"Maybe you should. It looks like they might need to know."

"Maybe we both should. This is really your story to tell," I reminded him.

He looked distressed. "That will be hard to talk about."

"You might be surprised how easy they are to talk to," I suggested. "They are very fond of you. We all are."

Joseph looked a little misty. "To be honest, this will be difficult for all of us, Father, and of course Mother for sure. It will all depend on her."

"She can do it Joseph. I just know she can."

"I hope so," he looked at me. "I might need some help getting through this."

"You know you can depend on me don't you? I'm going to be with you on this. Don't you believe me?"

"Oh Nicky. If there is one person in the world that I know I can trust, it is you."

I stood up and said. "Come on, we need to do something."

"What?" he asked.

"I don't know, something besides sit here and stew. How about you come over and stay with me tonight? It's not that late, I can call home and tell Mom you are coming. Where is your Dad?"

"I really don't know. He might be at his office, or at the hospital. He might be with Mother or somewhere. I don't know."

I took his hand. "Come on, let's go downstairs and use the phone. I will call home and tell Mom you are coming, and you can tell Alice that you will be at my place. You can leave our phone number so your dad can call if he needs to talk to you."

Joseph raised his hands in a hopeless gesture. "I suppose that will be OK. I really don't know what else to do."

"Sure, this will be good. It is Friday, you can stay all weekend if you like. I know Kevin won't mind. For sure you don't want to stay here by yourself,"wWe went downstairs and found Alice in the kitchen.

"Joseph is going to come stay with me tonight, maybe tomorrow night too. We will enjoy having him. Can you tell Dr. Anderson?" I asked Alice.

"Yes, of course," she said. "I am so glad he will be with you Nick. This is a hard time for all of us," she looked at Joseph. "I will tell your father. Please don't worry about anything, it will be all right."

"May I use your telephone please? I need to call home," Alice quickly handed me the kitchen telephone.

I dialed my number and my mother answered. "Mom. This is Nick. Joseph needs to stay the night with us, is that OK? Yes, I know it is short notice but I will explain when we get there, OK? Yes, of course he knows he is welcome. I'll tell him. OK, we will see you in a few minutes. Bye," I gave the phone back to Alice.

"It's fine Joseph. She said to tell you that you are welcome any time."

Joseph looked at both of us. "Thank you dear ones. I think I need someone to tell me what to do right now, because I don't seem to know," Then he hugged us both. "I don't know what I would do without you two."

Alice looked a little weepy. "Don't worry Joseph. Nick will take care of you. I will talk to your father. I have Nick's telephone and we will call if there is anything to tell you."

My bicycle was still in the back of the Lincoln so we got in with Alice and she drove us to my apartment. Joseph helped me put it in the shed and we went inside. Dad and Kevin were on the sofa and Mom was in the kitchen putting supper together. When we walked in she came in to us with a concerned look on her face. "Is everything alright?" she asked. I looked at Joseph.

He sighed and said. "I'm afraid not. Could I sit down please?"

"Of course," she said. "Sit down in the big chair and I will get you something to drink," Joseph sat heavily in the easy chair and Mother brought him a glass of iced tea.

Joseph thanked her and took a long drink before he addressed the family. "Oh, where do I begin? You see Mother has a problem with alcohol. I suppose she has struggled with this longer than I can remember. A few weeks ago she was arrested for driving under the influence and it turns out that this was not the first time. She had a court date today," he paused and sipped some tea.

"The judge told her that as an alternative to a 5 year prison sentence she was to attend a 2 month stay at an alcohol and drug treatment facility. He said that if she completed that successfully he would give her 5 years of probation, and recommend she attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings," he paused, and drank some more tea, trying to compose himself.

"If she can not do that then she will have to go to prison," he lost his composure and began to cry. "I am so afraid for her. I'm afraid she will go to prison."

We all looked at him with great concern. Mom said, "Oh Joseph, we are so sorry to hear that. Is there anything we can do?"

Dad leaned forward and added. "You are most welcome here. Please stay with us as long as you need to until things sort themselves out. You are like Nick's brother and we love you. We are a little crowded here but we will do whatever is helpful for you," Kevin nodded vigorously.

He looked around at all of us and shook his head in disbelief. "I think you are doing it already, all of you. I don't know what to say, except thank you."

I wanted to lighten the mood somehow so I said, "Hey, maybe we can be your backup family for awhile," and I smiled.

Joseph leaned back in the chair and tried to smile. "Yes, that might be nice. I can't stay here indefinitely, but if it is not too much trouble, I think I would like to stay for the weekend. I think maybe I need that right now."

We all smiled at the prospect of being able to help in some way. I exclaimed, "Great, then you are here at least for the weekend. That's great!"

Mom turned back to the kitchen as if everything were settled. "This dinner won't cook itself. Make yourselves comfortable, it will be ready in about 20 minutes."

I motioned for Joseph to get to his feet. "Come sit on the sofa so you can see the TV better," Dad and Kevin scooted over to let him sit between them. I sat on the floor between his knees and leaned back. "What's on?"

"I think there is a high school football game on channel 6 in a little while," Kevin said, always the knowing one.

We sat and pretended to watch the news until Mom called us for dinner. There were 5 places set around the kitchen table. Joseph sat between Kevin and me, and we all began to eat.

After supper Kevin and I cleared the table and loaded the little dishwasher then retired with Dad to the sofa, resuming our places with me on the floor. Sure enough, there was a football game on TV at 7:00 and we watched and enjoyed it. I think Joseph was relieved not to have to talk about anything. From the few comments he made during the game I took it that he knew something about the game. It never ceased to amaze me what Joseph knew.

When the game was over Kevin took the blanket and spare pillow out of the hall closet and tossed them on the floor by the sofa, got a change of clothes out of his dresser, then went into the bathroom, brushed his teeth and got ready for bed.

"Are you sacking out already?" I asked.

"No, I'm just getting ready so I won't bug you guys later," he answered quietly.

"I do feel bad about taking your bed," Joseph said.

Kevin chuckled. "Actually, the sofa is more comfortable."

Mom sat in the easy chair sewing something while we watched the 10:00 news, sports and weather. Dad got up, stretched and said goodnight, then he and Mom went into the bedroom.

We waited until they had cleared the bathroom then I said to Joseph, "You ready for bed? I imagine you are tired."

He nodded and stood, we said goodnight to Kevin and went into my bedroom. "You forgot to bring your pajamas," I grinned.

"I don't suppose I would wear them if I had."

"You will need something else to wear unless you go home for a change of clothes."

I think I would just as soon not go home until Sunday. Do you suppose you might have something?" he asked.

"Sure, I have some sweats that are too big for me. Want to try them?" I dug into the bottom drawer of my dresser. "Here they are."

He held them up to himself. "They will do Nicky. I think I will just go to bed if you don't mind. I am very tired."

I sat down on my bed. "No doubt. But I'm glad you are here."

He sat down next to me. "So am I. I do appreciate you, all of you. What your father said was exceptional."

"I feel so bad for you, and for your mom. She must be scared right now. I know she really is a good person."

"Yes, I suppose. I don't know anything right now. All I know for sure is that it was a rotten day. That, and I need to pee."

"You could piss out the window," I suggested.

He looked at me and laughed. The first time he had laughed all day. "Oh Nicky. You are terrible," then he got up and went into the bathroom.

In a moment he came back and asked. "Do you possibly have an extra toothbrush?"

"In the top of the cabinet behind the mirror," I told him.

I could hear him empty his bladder into the toilet, then the sound of water running in the sink. In a few minutes he came back in the room, sat down on Kevin's bed and began to get undressed. I went in the bathroom to take care of myself and when I returned he was in bed and sound asleep.

I woke up about 9:00 in the morning and saw that Joseph was still asleep. I dressed quietly and slipped out without waking him. Dad had gone somewhere and taken Kevin with him. Mom was in the easy chair reading the paper.

"How is Joseph?" she asked.

"He is still asleep. We talked for a little and then he just passed out. He was exhausted."

She shook her head. "Poor kid. He had a terrible day. I am so glad you brought him home. He is a nice boy."

"Yeah, he is. I like him a lot. He is the best friend I have ever had."

"You love him Nicky, and he loves you," she looked at me. "Mothers know these things. It's OK. He is a nice boy, and so are you," she went back to her paper.

I wasn't quite sure what to say, so I said nothing. I went into the kitchen, fixed myself a bowl of cereal and sat down at the table to eat it.

"There are some doughnuts on the counter," she called to me.

In a little while Joseph came out of the bedroom looking rumpled and wearing a pair of sweats that were a tittle short for him but otherwise alright. "Hey, you're alive," I said.

He stumbled into the bathroom without comment. In a few minutes he walked into the kitchen with his hair wet but combed.

"You want a bowl of cereal?"

"Yes," he said. "I like cereal actually. I never eat cereal at home."

I fetched him a bowl and a spoon and pushed it next to the box of Cheerios. "Help yourself."

He poured some into his bowl, added a little milk and sugar and began to eat. "Thanks."

He finished in silence then looked around. "Doughnut?" I pointed to the box on the counter.

He nodded his head so I handed the box to him. He took one and took a big bite. "Good," he mumbled. Then he took another. "I'm hungry," he explained.

"Good," I said. "That means you're gonna live," he nodded.

He finished then looked around again as if a little unsure of his surroundings.

"You want to see if Jack is home?" I asked.

"I haven't seen Jack in ages," he said. "I would like to see Jack."

"Let's check on him," I stood to leave. "We'll be back in a little while Mom," Joseph followed me out and we trooped up the stairs.

I knocked on Jack's door and after a minute he looked out and smiled. "Well look who's here! Come in guys. I just made some coffee, want some?"

"You know how I like it," I said.

"I'll have what he's having," Joseph smiled.

Jack poured two cups and added milk and sugar to both. "What brings you two to my door?"

Joseph replied, "I guess I happened to be in the neighborhood."

"Well it's nice to see both of you. It has been awhile Joseph."

We all sat on Jack's old sofa, sipped the hot coffee and exchanged pleasantries for several minutes.

"So what is new with you guys? Did you have a slumber party?"

"Well, not quite. Joseph might have something to tell you," I suggested.

Joseph sighed. "I might as well tell you Jack. You will hear soon enough."

Joseph summarized for Jack. "Mother's drinking problem has finally gotten the best of her. A few weeks ago she was arrested for her fifth DUI and yesterday was sentenced to 5 years of probation and a 2 month rehab facility. If she fails, she gets a 5 year prison sentence. It's not good news."

Jack listened intently and nodded with understanding. "Not good, but it could be worse. She didn't wreck the car, she didn't hurt anybody, she is still alive. It could be much worse."

"Of course that's true," Joseph agreed. "But the fact remains that this is going to be difficult for all of us."

Jack sipped his coffee. "So that leaves you and your father alone in the house for at least the next 2 months."

"Yes, and Alice," Joseph reminded him.

Jack smiled. "Alice of course. The absolutely indispensable member of the household. How could I forget? But still, that leaves you on your own more. Your father is not home a lot."

I injected, "Joseph will visit us more, I think, or I should say I hope."

Joseph gave me a grateful look. "Nicky's family has been very gracious and supportive. At this point I'm not sure what will happen."

"What does your father have to say?" Jack wondered.

Joseph looked resigned. "I have not spoken to him directly. He seems to prefer to communicate through Alice."

Jack nodded to indicate he understood. "This has been going on for a long time and has finally come to a head. More coffee?" Jack stood and took our cups, emptied the pot into them evenly and started another.

He handed us the coffee and sat back down. "You know that this could be the best thing to happen. If she does this right and gets sober, everybody benefits."

"Yes I know," Joseph agreed, "But there is a real risk that she might fail which would be disastrous. I suspect she might choose suicide rather than prison."

I shuddered. "I didn't even think about that."

Jack looked concerned. "I'm afraid that is always a possibility. Suicide among alcoholics is very high. I hate to say it Joseph, but you are being realistic."

We sipped our coffee. "What can I do?" Jack asked.

"Just be here. We need you."

"I'm here for both you guys," Jack assured us. "I am really sorry it has come to this Joseph, but it has been headed this way for a long time. There will be times when you can visit her after she has been in rehab for awhile. Give her support and encouragement. That's about all you can do."

Joseph nodded in agreement. My friend suddenly looked much older than his 15 years.

We asked Jack about school, he asked us about ours.

Jack complimented Joseph on his music and the review in the Tulsa World. "You are making a name for yourself. You have a lot of good things ahead of you."

Joseph smiled shyly. "Thank you for your support and encouragement."

Jack stood up. "I have to go over to the college so I will have to run you guys off. Come back when you have some good news."

We all hugged, we thanked him for the coffee and went back downstairs. It was lunch time and we found grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup when we got back to the apartment. Good old Mom.

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