Chances for Changes
by Ruwen Rouhs
Mother's Last Gift or Adam's New Identity
Holiday life and everyday life is different. So it was for Broder and Adam. Broder enjoyed his status as father, a status he had dreamed of for a long time, and Adam enjoyed having a grown up around who called him with his name and not just "Boy", or talked of him as "this Boy" or as a "Stupid Brat". Broder had even given him a new first name when he collected him unconscious following the accident. He had called him Adam, not "Boy".
Broder enjoyed being "father". Now both did everything together, at least nearly everything, because both respected their privacy. They had come to know each other, and both did it eagerly. Broder liked fishing for example, a stupid hobby of lonely men. Therefore he bought Adam a full set of fishing gear. Adam thanked him, but neglected the present because he didn't like to keep still for hours. But he was extremely fond of the pocket knife that came with the present, a Swiss pocket knife with about twelve different tools, and he was so proud of the hiking boots as well that he even wore them to town for dinner.
On holidays Broder liked to sleep late. During the first two days of their living together he couldn't grasp why Adam rose so early in the morning, but by the third day he realized that Adam rose early to be the one to prepare breakfast and then knock at the bedroom door, announcing with pride "Breakfast is ready! Hurry up, Broder, or do you like cold coffee?"
Broder was the first to realize that their holidays would be over soon and the problems of everyday life would slam at the door of their just emerging family. He wanted to adopt Adam and Adam wanted to get adopted by Broder! But there was one problem. Adam did not exist for the administration; to them, Adam was something like a phantom. Adam had no documents at all, neither a passport nor a student card, not to mention such a valuable document as a birth certificate. Adam was a living phantom, without realizing it. Would fortune solve these problems?
Events remembered by Adam, have the heading
Those remembered by Broder, are headed
"You know Broder, I'm not a block-head, but I am not going back to TJ's house to get those stupid documents. I was never anything more than a puff of wind for TJ, besides his new girlfriend despises me. They will not miss me! Why do we need all these documents anyway? I am grown up now! I am your son!"
Broder was worried. To him, he and Adam had their first serious quarrel. Not one of those hanky-panky about silly stuff like "Go and get your sweat-shirt Adam, the night breeze coming up from the lake is cold and I don't want a baby with a running nose!" or "Broder, you don't have to prove that you are a father now by drinking beer! You told me yourself, you despise this bitter tasting stuff!"
No, this was a serious quarrel! Broder had tried for days now to persuade Adam to agree to a trip back to his former hometown. "I had a long talk with my lawyer on the phone, Adam. He made it absolutely clear that every administration will insist on documents if I want to become your legal guardian, and even more so if I want to adopt you. I have to have these documents when I file an application for your adoption."
"Why can't I just stay with you like now? Why do you need official permission in order to be my father?"
"We have discussed this before, Adam. The youth welfare office will be sceptical about a middle-aged bachelor applying for a chance to adopt a teenager! Tomorrow morning we leave to get the documents from TJ."
Like the evenings before, Adam left the small holiday cabin angry and disappointed. Broder noticed the tears of frustration in the teen's eyes. Adam left without a word, playing the mute silence again as he did on those first evenings. Broder saw him walk down to the lake and start to skim pebbles over the surface of the water. Later Adam vanished in the beginning twilight, probably for a walk in the woods.
"Why can't it stay like it was before, Broder?" Adam's mind repeated this question over and over. He couldn't remember a time he was so happy. The two weeks after his crash with the post of the bridge had gone by like in a dream. During his time on the run Adam had developed from a naïve, dewy-eyed and friendly teen into a wary youngster who trusted nobody, especially friendly strangers. He had developed the attitudes of the classic runaway. After the accident he had tested Broder for three days, by refusing to talk and playing the mute. He had looked upon him with suspicion, especially as he had referred to him as his son at the doctor. But Broder's patience, his unfailing care combined with proper respect for an adolescent won Adam over.
After the song in the wood, they began to enjoy the company of each other more and more. Adam had finally found someone he could trust and look upon like a father. Broder in turn had found a person he could be responsible for. As an engineer, Broder had been responsible for dozens of projects, and he had liked his responsibility. But it was a very different experience to be responsible for a living subject, for a boy.
For nearly two weeks now they had lived together as father and son. But now Broder had urged Adam to drive back with him to his former home, to get documents they both needed, such as his birth certificate.
Adam had told Broder again and again, "That's nonsense! Everybody can convince oneself of my existence, just by looking at me! …… You didn't want a birth certificate, when you found me under the bridge unconscious! You just took me to the doctor, without one single question, and even told him I was your son. And he accepted this statement without any question, right?"
Adam had tried the mute trick on Broder again. Broder didn't become impatient or upset. He just became sad and tried to explain the situation over and again.
Adam had to rethink the situation again as he left the cabin and walked down to the lake. Staring over the smooth surface of the water in the twilight, he imagined monsters rising from the deep or a water sprite popping up nearby. He closed his eyes waiting. Neither the dreadful monsters showed up trying to devour him, nor a friendly water sprite appeared, foretelling him of a great future or offering him a bucket of gold. Frustrated he picked up the pebbles and to began to skim the surface as if punishing the lake.
Adam retreated into the nearby woods. He chose a game path he had never taken before. It was dark already and he wasn't able to avoid the twigs of the bushes. Leaves were brushing his skin; small twigs were hitting his face and the thorns of blackberries scratched his bare legs. His ears caught voices he had never heard before, the rustling of small animals in the litter, the chirping of mice, hooting of owls, along with the sudden meowing of a hawk. The noises were everywhere in the dark and made his flesh creep. A small twig bouncing back hit him in his right eye and tears began to flow. Terribly frightened and blinded by the tears he stumbled upon a crossing and ran into horde of shoats making their way down to the lake. The sow leading the pack of shoats turned around and made a charge towards him. Adam absconded and dashed along the path up to the hill top. Luckily the fierce mother remained behind with her charges and continued to take off to the lake.
Out of breath he reached the top of the hill overlooking the lake. The light shining from Border's cabin painted a golden circle onto the dark bank. Adam closed his eyes but he still could see the golden light shining through the night. Suddenly Adam was certain about his future life, where Broder was, and that it would be his home. His big friend was right, they had to stay together and they had to recover the documents if it was ever going to be so.
Sitting down on a moss-grown log, Adam began to sing away the tension of the last days. At first just in a low, quiet voice, but then he let it swell as his voice began to announce to Broder his decision, singing a tune by Zaccy Toxiiic:
I'm not a perfect guy
I do make mistakes
I make them every day
And you are just the same
But I won't say your name.
Out of the dark his cranky voice drifted down to the cottage at the lake. Adam was sure Broder could read the sign.
He came back late. Sneaking to Border's bed without switching on the lights, Adam whispered to him, "Tomorrow I'll come with you Broder to get the documents! But Broder Ryder, you have to promise to take me with you even if we do not find them, because I am your son now, I am Adam Chas Ryder!"
In the clear morning light, the old battered pick-up was on his way to Elmridge City in the north - Adam's native town. Its cargo box was crammed with bags, billets of wood for Broder's fireplace and Adam's bike. The engine was running smooth as long they didn't surpass the speed limit, but it screeched in protest as soon Broder tried to accelerate to more than 70 mph.
For the first several miles along the bumpy dirt roads Adam had cloistered himself away with the earplugs of Border's MP3 player. Later, when the truck began to run along smoother on the interstate highway he fell asleep, leaning his head on Border's shoulder.
Broder had been nervous all morning, maybe even more than a father in front of the delivery room waiting for the birth of his first baby. Would the authorities accept his request to become the legal guardian of Adam? He really was worried because of the questions the lawyer had asked when he consulted him just days before by phone. "Mister Ryder, you and Adam, are you related?" When Broder answered "No, not at all!" the lawyer got serious. He got even more serious, when Broder confessed, "I picked Adam up. He is kind of a street kid. He is on the run!"
Broder was happy that Adam was not present at the inquisitive questioning of the counsellor, which culminated in the prognosis, "Your main problem could be your marital status. You are a bachelor and bachelors adopting a teen are suspected to have wicked intentions!" When Broder didn't answer straightaway, he probed deeper, "Mister Ryder, the authorities may suspect you may be gay and all you want is a pussy boy! Are you gay? Tell me the truth! Do you a have a record on being gay?" Broder nearly chocked and then stammered, "No! I am not! I never had..! You know me!"
Just when the worries kicked in badly and Broder started looking for a side road to leave the expressway and turn back he felt Adam's head against his shoulder. He decided to drive on and convince the authorities of his declared intention to become Adam's father. He just couldn't let the boy down!
When Adam awoke, he hugged Broder and told him excitedly, "Broder, Broder, I remember where my birth certificate is. It just has to be there! My mother left me a green folder when she abandoned me unannounced and alone with TJ. The folder contains many pictures of me as a baby and as a toddler. She also was putting in my health and school records . I myself put my school reports into it when she had gone, even the last one. It must contain my birth certificate! The folder is stashed away in TJ's book-shelf between the volumes of an encyclopaedia. I bet it's still there. His new girlfriend never looks up anything in the encyclopaedia. She just uses it to impress her guests."
Arriving at TJ's single family house in the outskirts of Elmridge City after six hours of driving, Adam nearly had a fit. On the sidewalk was a pile of broken furniture waiting for the scavengery. From the passenger seat Adam recognized the furniture he had used as long as he could remember. His desk, his bed, and his shelves - every single part crushed to pieces and soaked from rain. In shock Adam cried out, "Drive on, Broder! That's not my home anymore! Don't stop!"
"Calm down, Adam! A new home is waiting for you in Dartsborough. Calm down, we have to get the green folder. This is important, nothing else!"
While Broder was ringing the doorbell, Adam browsed through the shambles of his former furniture, especially looking for the folder in case they had thrown it away also. He found neither the folder nor any documents, but from a drawer in the broken writing desk, he recovered a red box car with only one wheel left, the car he got as a toddler - his talisman, his mojo. Adam began to cry out of disappointment and frustration. With tears in his eyes he started to curse.
At the entrance of the house TJ's girlfriend snorted at Broder, "I don't buy any articles at the door! Don't you see the sign NO PEDDLERS! Isn't it big enough?"
"I don't want to sell anything, lady!" then he added with explicit authority, "I am here with Chas! Remember Chas Myers? The boy you drove away from his home! I want the folder with his documents. It's green and it is concealed between the volumes of the encyclopaedia! Chas needs it, we need it, I am responsible for him now!"
Suddenly a small girl, eying the strange pick up from out of the neighboring garden, began to shout happily, "Mother, Anthony, look Chas is back! Come quick Tony, your big friend Chas is back!" and then she came running across the street towards Adam, dragging her younger brother along.
Chas forgot his frustration. He embraced the girl and then lifted up the laughing boy, swirled him around and calling out, "Tony and Vicky! I am so glad to see you again. I love you both! You have grown Tony, while I was away, you really have and you Vicky look as beautiful as ever!"
"We love you too Chas, everyone loves you, and the whole street loves you!" the boy called out happily and the girl hugged him.
Realizing Chas presence, TJ's girlfriend screamed at the top of her voice. "Bastard, you unthankful bastard, leave my property or I will call the police! Get lost!"
"Calm down, Lady! We just want Chas's property, his documents! … Look Lady, the neighbours are watching us already. Aren't you ashamed? Let's go inside and you can hand me over Chas´ green folder, then we'll be gone."
Minutes later Broder left the house with the green folder and Adam kissed his former neighbours goodbye, "Visit me in my new home in Dartsborough!" turning to their mother, "I'll write you a letter, soon, and send greetings to my friend Max, please! I miss him!
"Let's head for the centre, the administration must be there." Broder's voice was drowned by the rev of the pick-up's engine speeding through the small suburban streets towards the centre of town. The sudden acceleration pressed Adam's small body back into the passenger seat. He was clutching the folder tightly and trying to keep his eyes shut tightly as well, but he couldn't prevent the tears from flowing down his cheeks.
At the next red light Broder tried to take Adam's mind from the parting of his old home, the home of his childhood. "You have to help me find the centre, Adam, I am a stranger here! We need to go to the administration centre." Hugging the boy tightly, he missed the moment when the lights went green and the cars behind him started honking their horns.
The traffic became heavier the closer to the centre they came and at the very next intersection they were held up in a traffic jam. Finally they turned into the round-about that encircled the mall in the centre of the town. It was surrounded by multi-storey buildings, one of them being the town hall, while the other was the court-house. Circling the park several times, Broder was finally able to back into a parking space in front of a high building with a blue, shining glass facade.
Adam was still lethargic. Leaning back in the passenger seat with closed eyes, he didn't move. Broder nudged him, "Go ahead Adam open the folder. We need to know its contents. Look for the birth certificate." Adam shook his head vigorously but accepted as Broder took the folder and sifted through its contents. Immediately Border's attention was attracted by an unopened envelope.
"This letter is addressed to Miss Mia Myers, Elmridge, East Hunter Circle 8. Isn't that your mother? It's from an attorney's office here in town."
"The letter arrived when my mother had deserted me. But it's hers so I was not supposed to open it! When I showed it to TJ he also refused to open it!"
Broder did not pay attention to Adam's protest as he opened the envelope with a pocket knife. The first sheet Broder recovered was addressed to Miss M. Myers and read: Enclosed is the application for the legal guardianship of your son Charles as arranged with us. Your friend has just to sign the document in my presence. Our office will carry out all steps necessary to arrange the custodianship as asked for your son Charles Myers. The other document was a declaration of consent without a name, a date or a signature. It was the document to be filled out and signed by the prospective custodian.
Broder needed a few moments to realize the importance of the letter, but when he did he nearly jumped to the sky. "Do you get the importance of these letters, Adam!" he started shaking, speaking to Adam excitedly, "Your mother has taken a precaution before she left. She decided to organize a custodianship for you."
However Border's delight lasted only a second, and then disillusion set forth. He realized it sure wasn't him she had in mind! "Your Mom surely wanted TJ to be your guardian! You lived in his house!"
Adam began to object fiercely, "I do not want TJ as a guardian!" he shouted with all his might and tried to yank the papers out of Broder hands, "I'll tear it up! Broder, I want you! You have to be my father! Throw the letter away! Burn it!"
Suddenly however Adam started to beam, "Does the letter give the name of the guardian? Does my mother name him? Does my mother name TJ? Hey Broder, Broder, the letter doesn't name the guardian! He doesn't name TJ! You only have to sign the declaration of consent and become my father! The letter is for you Broder! My mother had designated you to be my guardian!"
Adam sprinted up the ten flights of stairs to the attorney's office. Without waiting for the "Come in" he stormed to the desk; "Here I am! Here is the letter!" looking back searching for Broder, "Broder will be here in a second, he will sign the document!" presenting the clerk the declaration of consent.
The fat, sulky looking lady sized up the teen, "Slowly kid, keep your tongue young man! You are not at home! I am not your doormat! Don't boss me around!"
Just this moment Broder entered, "Good evening Miss! Please forgive us lady, I think he is just so excited, forgive Adam his stormy approach!"
"But Broder, it's so important! You must sign the document immediately! You must be named my guardian this very day!" giving the clerk his best smiles. "Please Miss, I didn't want to insult you, but you have to know, Broder will be my guardian from now on, he just has to sign that paper!" looking back over his shoulder to Broder, "Show the lady the document, Broder! Hurry!"
"Miss Smithers, have you prepared the papers? I have to appear before court in half an hour." The questioning voice of a young man, dressed in a grey suit, interrupted Adam's begging. "Oh, a new client and a quite young one, with an urgent request, I suppose. Hey young man, what's up? Don't upset my most valuable helper!"
"Sir!" Adam looked at the lawyer sheepishly like an innocent country boy, "Sir, we need your help! I and Broder!" noticing that the young layer wasn't able to suppress a smile, Adam continued, "Sir, you just have to authenticate Border's signature and he will become my guardian and father!"
"Now stop it Adam! We don't even know if the young man is Attorney Redcliff, who is familiar with your case." holding Adam back, Broder smiled, "This is Charles Myers." Pointing at Adam, "Up to now he has been a citizen of Elmridge, living in East Hunter Circle 8 and I am Broder Ryder from Dartsborough. He wants me to become his legal guardian and move with me to Dartsborough, my hometown.
"Yes Mr. Redcliff, my mother has appointed Broder to be my legal guardian before she left town. Show him the letters Broder which Mr. Redcliff addressed to her."
The young lawyer carefully checked both letters, "I didn't write out these documents Mr. Br… Mr. Broder, my late uncle did it. I am Robin Redcliff, his successor." smiling, he ruffled Adams hair, "You are barking up the right tree, young man! However you'll have to wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile my right-hand, Miss Smithers, will look up the records and we can meet tomorrow and figure all this out then!"
Broder turned in his bed, straightened up and listened to the light snoring coming through the open door of the adjacent room where they stayed for the night. After the visit to the attorney, Adam and he had checked into a small boarding house where they rented a two room apartment.
Adam had been excited by being back in his town of birth. Like crazy he filled in Broder with the entire incidents he had experienced in his short life in Elmridge City. He dragged Broder from one place to the other; from his former school to the sports arena, which fortunately was closed; from the public swimming pool down to the river, where he had spent the summer and later on back to the centre. It seemed that he wanted to show Broder his entire life in one afternoon and at the same time to bring down the curtain on his life as a kid. Every single step of this cutting of the cord ended with the question, "Broder, do you think everything will turn out alright tomorrow? Will we be able to leave as father and son?"
Broder had his doubts. So far the whole venture had proceeded more than smoothly. But didn't always something go wrong in the end?
Broder listened again to the peaceful breathing of the sleeping boy, his sleeping son, he affirmed to himself. But was he right to adopt Adam, to press Adam into a relationship? They hardly knew each other. Was he crazy? People would say so! They should! He shook his head, wondering about himself. A lot had changed during the last weeks. Listening to his heart, Broder was sure he had come to the right decision to make Adam his son. And now he prayed, "Lord, let our mutual dream come true!"
The room in the small boarding house was dark except for the gray square of the window to the street. Adam was sleeping on his back on a hard, uncomfortable mattress. He could feel every bone in his body. His body was hot. He was sweating. A voice strange ordered: "Check the documents in the folder! Make sure everything needed is present!"
Was that Border's voice? He was not sure. The voice seemed to come out of the nowhere. Obediently Adam opened the folder on his knees. While he undid it, the light went grey.
Inside of the folder was a thick stack of paper. On the topmost sheet a cut-out from a newspaper was pasted. The cut-out seemed to be crumbled-up and smoothed down again. The big headline reading across a black and white photo read "Corpse Found in Derelict Sandpit!"
The photo put on view a barren landscape without any vegetation, a sandy plain with shallow pits and low mounds. The view was obscured like during a sandstorm. Neither a living person nor a corpse was visible on the plain. Adam turned the page. The back side of the sheet showed the same cut-out as the front. He took the second sheet from the batch. On both sides it displayed exactly the same photo as the first one. Then he took the third and fourth and fifth sheet of paper from the stack. Always the same print. He flipped through dozens pages. He counted 45, 46, 47, 48….. After a while he stopped counting. He just took one sheet after the other, turned it, examined it carefully and took the next one. On the first sheets the print was clear, but with every new sheet the print got more obscured. The outlines on the photo disappeared and raster of the print got coarser and coarser. With every new sheet Adam got more frantic. Probing questions were running through his brain: Whose corpse had been found in the derelict sandpit? Was it the corpse of his mother? Where was the corpse? Had they recovered the corpse and brought it to the morgue?
At the beginning Adam had collected the sheets with his left hand, but soon the stack became too big to be held. The sheets got out of his hand and tumbled to the ground like dead leaves from the trees in fall.
Finally Adam came to the last one of the sheets. Its front side was dark grey and looked coarse like a weathered tombstone. Adam turned the sheet. The back side was even darker, nearly black. Big white letters were running across, reading "Miss V. Myer, Elmridge, East Hunter Circle 8."
Adam woke up freezing and his body was covered with cold sweat, he was shaking. His mother was dead. Of this he was sure! She hadn't only abandoned him. She had died.
In despair he grabbed for the little red car, his mojo, the charm his mother gave to him when he was a small kid. The only thing left. The evening before, he had tucked the car away under the pillow. It wasn't there. In the dim light he checked at the floor in front of the bed. There it was! He took and put it back under the pillow, curled up in the warm sheets in a fetal position.
His eyes searched the dim room. Adam was back to reality now. This had been a dream! It had been a bad dream, a nightmare. But now he knew for sure, his mother was dead and it was she who had guided him to Broder. Closing his eyes he screamed out loud, "Broder! Broder!"
The scream startled Broder out of his sleep. Half awake he walked over to Adam, sat down on the edge of the bed. However Adam had drifted back into sleep already. Broder caressed his future sons face and tucked him in.
The young lawyer, Robin Redcliff, sized first Broder then Adam from head to tow, "Are you related in some way? You do not look like father and son. But…."
Adam didn't let him finish, "No we are not related, the police don't have to take our DNA to prove this. But Mister Robin, my mother has guided me to Broder Ryder from above," Adam searched the clear sky in front of the widow as if waiting for sign out of the blue, "From up in heaven," Adam continued, "my mother decided for Broder to be my father."
When Broder nodded his consent, the young lawyer handed him the declaration of consent, "Sign here and congratulations to both of you, Adam Chas Ryder and Broder Ryder. The papers will be forwarded to your lawyer in Dartsborough, Mr. Ryder. I consulted him this morning and he gave me his word for your integrity and virtuousness."
About 24 hours later in his small house in Dartsborough, Broder slipped out of his warm bed, tiptoed to Adam's room and checked for his boy, his son. He could hardly spot him under the covers. There was just a shock of brown hair on the pillow and some skinny bones curled up under the duvet. Broder smiled from within, he was proud of himself, he finally had overcome his apprehension to commit himself to another person.
He was fully aware of the new situation. Having suddenly a son would provoke inquisitive questions from his neighbours, from his few acquaintances and especially in his office. They all knew him as a loner.
At the beginning of his career in the company as an engineer, his colleagues had tried to hook him up with sweet trainees or with one of the secretaries or one of the female engineers in the office. But soon they had refrained from their efforts. Once a newcomer in the company had asked him out, because he suspected Broder was gay but in the closet. However Broder had put down the approaches of the young man and disappointed him as well as other young and old men who tried to befriend him on his frequent travels to foreign countries.
Now the situation has changed fundamentally and Broder was curious and nervous and proud at the same time. Today he had to present Adam to his neighbors and tomorrow to announce the new family situation to the company. For a start he decided for a breakfast in the garden, to have the possibility to make Adam known to his neighbors.
His property, a simple one story house, was situated in the second of four small side roads of a ribbon development, called Sparrow Lane. The houses to the left and right were occupied by older couples without children, while the family in the house to the back of his garden had two sons. Vic, a shy and lanky blond, was in Adams age; the other one, Zach, was much younger and just the opposite of his brother.
Still in his pyjama pants Broder set the table, dished up coffee, toast, butter, jam and OJ. He did this as quietly as possible, because he wanted it to be a surprise breakfast on Adam's first morning in his new home. After a while Broder got impatient. He couldn't keep quiet anymore and he didn't want to. He decided to get a shower and turn on the water in the bathroom as strong as possible to arouse his son.
It was already late in the morning. Adam was awakened by the sun the blue curtains couldn't keep out anymore. Water was cascading in the shower next door. The noise indicated to Adam that Broder was up already. Adam turned around in his new bed several times. He liked it. The mattress was a little too hard, but the pillow cozy and the duvet warm.
It was the first night in his new home and he had slept like a log. He even couldn't remember his dreams. The bed was actually Border's former bed and the room was Border's former room, where he had lived in as a boy, a teen and a student at the university. Adam had inherited not only Border's former room and his former bed and former desk, but also posters on the walls and lots of books in the shelves. On two of the posters he could recognize the musicians, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, both still young and with creaseless faces. But he couldn't remember the name of others, despite that they looked familiar.
"Coffee is ready, sleepy head! It's after ten and I promised to show you the town! Hurry up, Sonny! We are having breakfast in the garden! I just have to prepare the eggs and ham." Broder called from the kitchen. As Adam didn't show up immediately he teased him, "Is my little boy able to walk to the toilet all by himself, or do I have to change his pampers? Hurry up big boy, you can dress later!"
Taking his second helping of ham and eggs, Adam was hit by a football in the back. Startled he turned around looking for the culprit. Broder laughed aloud, "That's your new neighbour, Adam! That's Zach!" rising up he called, "Come over Zach and meet my son Adam!" Calling Adam my son in front of neighbours made Broder blush, and he nearly was about to revoke this statement. But then he decided to affirm his statement and put his arm around Adam's shoulders, "Come on Zach, that's my son Adam, he doesn't bite!"
Zach scrambled over the fence, run up to the two and high fived with Adam. "I am Zach! …. Do you like soccer? Vic is sick and I need an opposing player for practice!"
"Sit down first, Zach and help yourself. I know you like my orange jam!"
Zach wedged himself beside Broder on the small seat and began to munch down one jelly sandwich after the other, interrogating Adam.
"Where do you come from?!" munch, munch, "Where is your mother?" munch, munch, "I didn't know Broder had a son? He never told me! …. I like Broder! He is my best friend beside my father!" and taking a big sip of OJ, "Are you going to my school also? What grade are you attending?" munch, munch "You surely are in the same grade Vic is in. He is a freshman. You will become classmates as soon as he has recovered!"
Adam couldn't get a word in between, and neither could Broder. They only got to nod or shake their heads as Zach talked and talked. He wasn't shy at all. And while he was bubbling out one question after the other, he finished up four sandwiches.
Broder grinned sheepishly, "I can enjoy his company every Sunday morning. He just likes his second breakfast at my place. You have to get used to Zach!"
Zach's mother showed up at the fence, "Hey Broder, don't you agree Zach is an impossible kid? Chase him away, if he bothers you!" looking curiously at Adam, "Is this nice boy your guest? I saw you arriving yesterday." Then reluctantly, because she didn't want to offend Broder, "Did you gather him up during your holidays? You usually bring back less nice souvenirs!" Zach's mother seemed not to be shy either. Addressing Adam "Are you still on holidays? School has started everywhere!"
Now Broder had to declare himself, "We met each other by chance. Call it fate, call it fortune. Adam is my under my ward now. I am Adam's legal guardian and hope to be his father soon!" This answer had nearly exhausted him and he leant back.
Zach's mother opened her eyes in surprise and was even more amazed when Adam walked over and shook her hand, "I am Adam and soon I will be Adam Chas Ryder. I am glad, because I will have nice neighbors and I like Zach already!"
Broder woke up with a bad headache. Half the preceding night he had twisted between the sheets. He still questioned his ability to be a responsible father to Adam. During the holidays he had all the time to be a fine father, a father out of a picture book, with time for his son all day long. But today he had to take up his work at the company and this was an eight to five day. Sometimes he even worked till ten in the night. Reluctantly he had to leave Adam all to himself at least half the day in a new environment and a new town.
His first task of today would be to go to the staff manager and ask him for an additional half day off, because he had to arrange Adam's school attendance. How in heaven should he explain to him his sudden fatherhood?
Arriving at the company, he chickened out however and suspended his talk with the personnel office till around noon. But getting the additional day off was easier than expected at the end. Around noon Broder attended a joint meeting of the staff to discuss a new and very promising new project. The discussion dragged on and on and Broder forgot about Adam.
Around two o clock the new secretary stormed into the room, "Who is Mr. Ryder? His son is calling, it seems to be urgent!" There was only one Ryder in the round and everyone at the meeting did know he was single. The whole team stared at Broder in surprise and he blushed like a virgin getting her first kiss! One of the female engineers was the first to react, "Hi Broder, still waters run deep! So, you have a son, a big son already, able to call you up? You led us by the nose long enough! Get on the phone, don't let him wait!"
This relaxed the situation. Broder took the receiver, but inexperience as he was, he didn't switch off the loudspeaker. So everyone witnessed the following dialogue: "Hey dad, I called you already five times, but your secretary didn't want to interrupt the meeting! I finally fooled her, by telling her I would faint of hunger, if you didn't show up immediately!"
"Oh, the secretary was right! Business first!" Then Broder hesitated, "Well no! …… Now you have to be first, Adam! I am still not used to caring for a son!"
"Did you call the school, Dad?"
"I forgot about it, I was busy all morning Adam, believe me, we have to postpone your enrolment until tomorrow!"
"I did, Dad! I called up Oakville High and arranged an appointment at three!"
The surprise in the faces of the attendees changed into a smirk and the CEO began to laugh, "Hey Broder, your son is matching you! Why didn't you let us in on your secret earlier? Everyone thought you …..!" He wanted to say queer, but then he stopped. "Just five minutes more and you can leave the meeting!"
Having overheard the dialog, Adam's voice rang through the phone again, "Hurry up Dad. It's you or the fire department! The hamburgers are done and the mashed potatoes are getting cold, or do you like charcoal?"
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