The Apprentice

by Sahypo

Chapter 39

Sharon and Kurt arrived at the hospital and checked in. After verifying Kurt's insurance, they were given directions to Cardiology and shown the elevators. Checking in to cardiology, Kurt was given an armband, and brought back to a changing room.

"Just undress and put your things in this is a robe. Open side to the back." the nurse instructed.

"I can step out if you feel more comfortable." Sharon said.

"No!, don't go...I don't want you to go." Kurt blurted as he pulled his shirt off, then kicked his shoes off.

"Okay, I'll stay right here, worries." Sharon reassured him. "Is this place scary?"

"Maybe a little. I never had to go to a hospital before." Kurt admitted, taking his jeans down. He was now in briefs and socks, and Sharon could see how slight he was. He took the gown and put it on, then turned his back to Sharon.

"Can you tie those for me, mom?" he asked.

"Sure" Sharon said, as she set about the task of tying the gown which enveloped the skinny boy like a tent. Kurt slipped his underwear off and put it in the bag with the other clothes. He pulled off his socks and put on the slippers with rubber dots printed on them, and waited for the nurse to come back.

After knocking lightly on the door, the nurse came back in and said

"Ma'am, we'll have you wait out front...his things will be safe in here. He will be in cath lab for about hour, okay?"

Sharon nodded.

"The room is a bit cold for the equipment, but we'll have plenty of blankets to keep you warm...Any questions?"

Kurt shook his head.

"Okay, mom, you go through there, and Kurt you come with me."

Kurt followed the nurse into a semi darkened large room that looked a set for a science fiction movie. A complicated looking table on a heavy base dominated half the room, and several booms supporting two high definition monitors sprouted out of the base, as well as a third boom attached to a scanner array. The screens were a neutral gray color at the moment.

Kurt was led over to the table, and the nurse and an assistant radiologist spread several blankets on the table, then helped Kurt lay down. They covered him with more blankets from the belly down. The nurse reached behind Kurt's head and helped him sit up.

"I'm going to undo the top of your gown, hon." She said, untying the top string and slipping the gown off Kurt's shoulders. She laid Kurt back down on the table just as Dr. Tran came in. He greeted the nurses and assistants, and took Kurt's hand as he looked down at him.

"Hello, my name is Doctor Tran. I am a radiologist, and today we do some pictures of your heart, okay? That's good, good." His eyes sparkled as he smiled, and Kurt was surprised that he looked so young. Tran's parents were born in Viet Nam and came to America in 1975, after the republic fell.

The nurse swabbed Kurt's arm with alcohol, then Betadine. This procedure would be slightly different than a standard angiogram. Because of Kurt's age and lack of heart disease, it was decided not to place a sheath in his vein because it was felt that there was no need to catheterize him, and correction of an aneurysm would have to be done with an open procedure anyway.

The nurse then place EKG leads on Kurt's chest, placed a blood pressure cuff on his arm and clipped a pulse oxygen monitor onto his finger.

"Okay, you will feel a bit of a pinch here, Kurt." The nurse said, as she inserted the needle into Kurt's arm. He drew in a sharp breath, but didn't flinch or scream.

"Sorry about that, but that should be the worst of this experience." Kurt just nodded.

"I'm okay." he said, giving a thumb's up.

Doctor Tran positioned the scanner unit over Kurt's chest and asked "Everyone ready to instill contrast?" Doctor Steiner had joined Doctor Tran and gave Kurt a thumbs up.

Several people murmured "Yes, Sir" simultaneously. The nurse looked at Kurt and said

"This is going to make you feel hot or flushed for a moment or two. It's normal."

Kurt nodded. "I'm ready."

Doctor Tran said "Start push, please."

The nurse gripped the syringe and began pushing the plunger.

Kurt felt a rush of warmth flood him as the contrast media entered his bloodstream, and he gasped a few times.

"Oh, wow...." he exclaimed. At the same time, he could see his arteries on the monitor screens fill in black. They looked like an infrared image of a river from space in extremely high detail. Doctor Tran's eyes were glued to the images as the nurse continued to push the plunger on the syringe. All the video was being recorded, of course for later analysis, but for the moment no defects or dissection of Kurt's aorta could be seen. Doctor Steiner seemed pleased, and even though Kurt had no clue what he was looking at, no one in the room seemed to see anything alarming in the images.

"Doing okay, Kurt?" the nurse asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks." he panted as the warming sensation subsided.

Doctor Tran closed the recording session, and sent the files to a viewing suite a few doors down the hall, and left with Doctor Steiner, who smiled down at Kurt and said "That's it for now, Kurt."

The nurse unclipped EKG leads, and once freed, helped Kurt up off the table and back out to the changing room.

"Doctor Steiner will contact you a few days from now with the results. You can eat or drink and do pretty much whatever you like today."

"Okay, thanks."

The nurse left him to get dressed, and Kurt went out to the waiting room to find Sharon when he finished.

"I'm hungry." he said simply.

"We haven't had anything to eat all day. What do you want?"

"Can we do Chinese?" Kurt wondered.

"Love it!" Sharon replied.

The next day, Kurt arrived home from school, and Sharon told him they were going out for dinner, and it would be just the two of them. Jerry and Nicky would fend for themselves, which usually meant Jerry and Nicky running out for flame-broiled burgers...

Sharon had told Jerry that she would be taking Kurt to meet James Aaron, and Jerry felt that the more private that meeting was, the better. Besides, it would give him some time with Nicky, who had adapted well to a sibling's demands on his parent's attention, but he still needed his time in the spotlight with dad.

Sharon and Kurt drove out to Jimmy's, and Kurt was very animated; he must have had a good day at school. His normal reserve and hesitance to speak was not present.

"So what has you in such an upbeat mood today?" Sharon asked.

"Well, I think that if there was anything wrong with me, they would have said something yesterday and made me stay at the hospital." Kurt replied.

"You may be right. Hopefully we won't have to wait very long to find out the results."

"Yeah, I hope so. Um...where are we going, anyway? And why isn't Nicky and Jerry coming too?"

"We are going to meet an old friend of yours, one you haven't met." Sharon replied.

Kurt was completely confused, and looked over at Sharon who kept driving. "Do you like catfish?"

Kurt instantly understood what Sharon meant and nodded. "Cool!"

Momentarily, they pulled into Jimmy's parking lot, and Sharon parked the car and shut it off.

They got out of the car and walked up to the door, and almost as soon as Sharon pulled it open, Jimmy saw her and Kurt and a big smile crossed his face. There were about eight customers in the place, which easily would seat fifty or sixty.

"Missus Jarvis? Hello again!"

"Hello. Jimmy, this is Kurt, Marie's boy."

"Oh, wow. I'm truly honored to meet you, Kurt… I'm Jimmy Aaron." Jimmy said, in a quiet and serious voice. Jimmy took Kurt's hand and shook it. He waved them over to a table, and motioned for Chloe. Kurt now understood what Brenda meant when she said Jimmy and Kurt bore no resemblance to each other.

"Whatcha folks drinkin'?" Chloe asked, winking at Kurt. He turned red and asked for Seven Up, Sharon ordered unsweetened tea.

"Bring two Captain's Specials for our guests, please, Chloe." This was Jimmy's signature dish, and Chloe understood that guests didn't get checks, customers did.

Chloe left with the order, and Kurt asked

"Are you the James Aaron on my birth certificate?" Jimmy nodded

"I am, yes."

Sensing the confusion on Kurt's face, Jimmy began to speak.

"I don't know why she did that either...I wish she hadn't because it caused me some trouble, but that's neither here nor there."

"So you knew my father?" Kurt asked.

"Yes, I sure did. We all...I mean Sketty, your mom and me and a few others kinda hung together in high school and..."

"Sketty?" Kurt asked.

"It's what we called your dad...short for spaghetti...he was so tall and skinny we were all surprised that the Air Force actually took him. Did they tell you what happened?"

"Yeah, they did."

"Okay...After your dad passed in boot camp, Marie and I tried it for a short time and that didn't really work, but we stayed friends. The last time I saw you, you were three days old coming home from the hospital. Marie didn't have a car and I was there, so I drove you home."

"So what was he like...what can you remember?"

"Oh, man...that boy was half nuts...he glued my shoes to the floor at the bowling alley one time...he would bring live scorpions to school and turn them loose on the table in the cafeteria to freak people out...he was always up to something, Kurt. A real live wire. We were all stunned when we heard he had passed."

"What did he look like?" Kurt wondered.

"Thought you might ask me that." Jimmy said, getting up from the table. He went behind the counter and came back out a minute later carrying a book with an embossed cover. A high school year book. It had yellow sticky notes on some of the pages, hanging out past the edge of the book.

"This was our high school year book the year we graduated. There's pictures of Sketty in there where I marked the pages." He passed the book to Kurt, who opened it and began to look for Robert Gentry in the photos.

"Jesus, I thought I was skinny..." Kurt exclaimed.

"Yeah, he could turn sideways and hide from ya." Jimmy quipped.

"Did people like him?" Kurt asked.

"Sketty never had a bad word to say about anybody that I ever heard...and no one ever spoke ill of him. I wouldn't say that any of us was wildly popular or nothing like that, but he was always up for a joke or a prank...and he would take them as well as he gave it out. I saw him get pranked a few times too, and he never got mad."

"What was my mom like back then?" Kurt asked, and Jimmy hesitated.

"You know about my mom, right?" Kurt probed, hoping that Jimmy would talk to him.

"I heard things weren't so good for her right now." Jimmy said cautiously. "I'm sorry that you...well, that you had to live though what you did...Yeah, I know a bit about what's going on." Jimmy reached across the table and patted Kurt on the forearm.

"Was she always like that?" Kurt continued.

"You mean when she got drunk...Yeah, I saw that in her right away, and that's why it didn't get off the ground for us..." Jimmy replied. "Besides that, my daddy got sick right around that time, and I had to step in, step up to run the business." Jimmy looked around to emphasize the establishment they were sitting in. "I was planning on joining the military so I could go to college on the GI bill, but that never happened. Daddy died later on that year, and I got real busy with this place. In time, I met someone else and went to school on my own, and kept building this business. There's four of them now."

"You have four locations?" Sharon asked.

Jimmy nodded. "God Bless America. Even a kid like me with no direction in life can work hard and make it."

"That is impressive."

"Thanks..I been blessed, too, don't get me wrong. ...So…Back to Marie. We stayed friends, and like I said, I helped her out from time to time."

Chloe brought out the small house salads and set them down in front of Kurt and Sharon, followed by the platters a few minutes later.

"Oh my God, this looks amazing!" Sharon exclaimed. Each plate had several shrimp, a fillet of cod, a catfish fillet in Jimmy's special batter, calamari, and scallops.

"Folks come for miles around to have the Captain's Special!" Jimmy crowed, as Chloe nodded and winked at Kurt, as Jimmy looked on, smiling.

Chloe left and came back with tartar and cocktail sauce, and set them down on the table. She brought refills for the drinks, and left to wait on the other customers.

"You'd best be careful, Kurt. I think Chloe has designs on you." Jimmy whispered, a big grin on his face.

"Uh...nah....She don't.." Kurt began to blubber and fumble, clearly embarrassed.

"You're a good looking kid, Kurt...Trust me, the ladies used to wink at me that way too. Enjoy it while it lasts, son!" Jimmy said with a huge grin on his face. "Besides that, I know Chloe all too well." Jimmy chuckled.

"How long has she worked here?"

"Since she was old enough to wipe tables...She's my daughter." Jimmy said, and chuckled again at Kurt's reaction. Chloe was as Irish as Jimmy was black, with red hair, green eyes and freckles.

"I married her mama when Chloe was four years old." Jimmy explained.

"So, um, her name is Aaron too?" Kurt wondered. Jimmy nodded

"Sure is."

"This is way too weird" Kurt grinned, as he shook his head. Jimmy called Chloe over.

"Baby Girl, come over here and meet somebody for a second." Jimmy said, as Chloe came over and slipped her arm around Jimmy's shoulders.

"Hey folks." Chloe said.

"Chloe, this here is Kurt Aaron, and Sharon Jarvis. This is my baby girl, Chloe." Jimmy said in introduction.

"Oh, yes, I remember when Mrs. Jarvis called the other day, Daddy." Chloe looked confused then. "You say his name is Aaron, too?"

"Sit down a minute and I'll tell you a story, Baby."

Chloe took a seat between Kurt and Jimmy, and gave Kurt some very approving looks...

"Back in the day" Jimmy began "In high school, Kurt's mom, his daddy and me used to hang together with some other kids, too. We were friends from grade school. Well, Kurt's mom and daddy dated a little bit before his daddy went in the military. She got pregnant, and his daddy passed away in basic training."

"Oh my God, that's terrible!" Chloe emoted, grabbing Kurt's hand.

"So when Kurt here was born, I wasn't busy at the time, and gave his momma a ride to the hospital. Then I find out later she put my name on Kurt's birth certificate."

"So we ain't related or nothing like that?" Chloe asked, instantly brightening.

"Nope." Jimmy said.

"Sweet!" Chloe replied as she gave Kurt a nudge with her elbow as she got up from the chair and Kurt turned scarlet. "I got to get back to my tables...nice to meet yas." Sharon was barely able to suppress her laughter at Kurt's embarrassment,

"She certainly lets you know what she thinks, doesn't she?" Sharon asked.

"You don't know the half of it. She definitely rules her little corner of God's green earth...just like her momma." Jimmy replied.

Jimmy, Kurt and Sharon talked for another hour and once it was settled that the meal was on the house, Chloe came back over as Kurt and Sharon got ready to leave. Chloe slipped a small piece of paper into Kurt's hand as she shook his hand, then Sharon's.

"It was really nice to meet you folks...I do hope y'all come back again."

"We'll bring my other son and husband next time, Chloe...And Kurt, of course." Sharon said, giving the teenage girl a wink.

Later in the car on the way home, Sharon asked Kurt if he had gotten what he thought he would out of his visit with Jimmy.

"I know what my dad looked like that was something. And I guess Jimmy tried to look out for my mom in spite of herself, too. I'm glad we went, mom."

"I'm sure Chloe is glad you did, too." Sharon said, breaking out in laughter as Kurt turned scarlet.

"Oh, come on..."

"Listen mister, I was a teenage girl not that terribly long ago, and that child is smitten with me on this, I are an expert."

"That's crazy...her all in a tizzy over me?" Kurt pondered.

"So what did she put in your hand back there? I saw that." Sharon prodded, clearly enjoying this.

"Ummm....uh" Kurt pulled the snippet out of his pocket. The jig was up and there was no point in hiding the small note any further. He looked at it and announced "Her phone number and email address."

"Yeah, you're right. She has no interest in you whatsoever, Kurt...Guess I got that all wrong."

Kurt gave Sharon a look that indicated he was aware that she was yanking his chain, and said.

"Okay, all right, she's interested.... So what do I do?"

"Are you interested in her, Kurt? That's what matters."

"I don't know, I um.... I just met her and stuff. I don't...." he trailed off, running out of words.

"It's okay to say that you're not ready yet, Kurt. There's no shame in that at all."

"It's not's not that sort of thing at all..." he said, looking down.

"Do you want to talk about it, honey?" Sharon asked. Kurt didn't speak at first, and he put his hand over his eyes as he felt tears coming on. His lower lip trembled and he began to speak in a squeaky, quavering falsetto as he fought back his emotions.

"I'm afraid..." He squeaked.

"Of what, honey? What are you afraid of?" Sharon asked.

"Um...that somehow, they would wind up like her..." Kurt croaked out.

"Like your mother...." Shit! There it is, Sharon thought.

Kurt nodded.

"Am I like your mother?" Sharon asked. Kurt shook his head. "So not all women are going to be like your mother, Kurt. Some of us are worth taking a chance on, aren't we?"

Kurt nodded.

"I understand, baby...I really do. But part of living and loving is taking a chance sometimes. You know that the vast majority of women in this world are nothing like your mother...if you go on the assumption that they are like her, you will miss out on so much in this life.

Maybe you aren't attracted to Chloe, or to girls at all..." Sharon continued, and Kurt looked over at her.

"Um, actually...I am... interested" Kurt stammered. Then again, Chloe was the first female that ever showed interest in Kurt...this experience and his feelings were confusing. He was safe and secure in the belief that he was probably gay...but now...

"Then be fair to her, Kurt....Give her a chance. Don't punish her for your mother's sins."

Kurt nodded, but didn't say anything.

"Look…I know this is probably an awkward situation, but it is for everyone…I'm here to give advice when you need it, and listen when you want that."

"She's just being nice" Kurt asked.

"And why wouldn't she be? You're kind, sensitive, one hell of an artist, and very cute!"

Sharon grinned as Kurt turned scarlet in embarrassment. Hell, this never got old, she thought.

"You know one thing that is very attractive about you?" Sharon asked.

"No…" Kurt mumbled.

"Your humility…and lack of vanity, Kurt. The fact that you don't see yourself as something you're not is part of your charm. Chloe is a girl that probably gets what she goes after, and she had to chase you a bit today. She was flirting with you the whole time we were there."

"Uh, I guess so."

"She put the ball in your court…next move is up to you."

"I don't know what I would say or nothing." Kurt replied.

"Tell her you had a great time and you are glad you met her and Jimmy…She will probably invite you back."

"Yeah, that makes sense."

The rest of the ride was spent in silence, as Kurt was deep in thought pondering these new feelings.

Two days later, Sharon kept Kurt home from school, and they left the house early in the morning after Sharon had confirmed the information Brenda had provided on Kurt's grandmother. Sharon called the nursing home and confirmed with the staff that Grace Gentry was able to receive visitors and would be there this morning. Three hours later, they pulled to a stop in front of the facility, which was immaculate and definitely not accepting Medicare or county reimbursement. This was obviously a last stop for the more well to do clientele.

They entered the lobby and approached a desk where a pleasant receptionist greeted them.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, Thanks…We called ahead to see Grace Gentry?" Sharon suggested.

"Oh, yes, she is in 139, just down the hall to the left…Um, have you been here before?"

"No…Kurt is actually her grandson…We only found out about Grace a couple weeks ago." Sharon explained.

"We weren't aware that Grace had any family other than her daughter." The lady replied.

"We learned about Grace through Child and Family Services…I'm Kurt's guardian and foster parent. Kurt never knew about any of this, either."

"I see. Well, I wish you all the best, then. If I can be of service, just holler." The lady said.

"Thank you" Sharon replied and began to walk down the hall way toward room 139. The

doors were spaced about 50 feet apart in sets of two, and it was a bit of a distance to cover before they stood in front of Grace's door. They rang the bell, and momentarily the door opened, and a plain looking heavyset woman in her fifties answered the door


"Good morning. I'm Sharon Jarvis, and this is Kurt Aaron…we drove up to see Grace Gentry…"

"She's inside…come on in." the woman replied. "I'm Roberta, Grace's daughter."

"It's good to meet you, thanks for seeing us." Sharon said, as they stepped into what turned out to be a nicely furnished single bedroom apartment, not just a room in an old folks home.

"Momma, some people to see you." Roberta said as she led Kurt and Sharon into the living room and dining area, where a small woman who appeared to be in her seventies was sitting at the table smoking a cigarette and reading the newspaper, drinking coffee in her bath robe. The window was open, although it was the first week of February.

She laid the paper down on the table and Sharon introduced herself and Kurt.

"Well, sit down and take a load off! I'm Gracie…what can I do for you folks?" the old woman's eyes sparkled as she spoke and she appeared to be sharp as a tack. "Coffee?" She offered Sharon, then turned to Kurt "A soft drink, young man?"

"Oh, coffee, black, thanks." Sharon said, as Roberta ducked into the kitchen to fill a cup for Sharon.

"Um, thanks ma'am, I'm good …Um…I'm your grandson…. Robert Gentry was my father." Kurt said.

Roberta looked at Kurt and stared as she took the fourth chair at the table, and Gracie didn't say anything for a minute.

"What's your momma's name, son?"

"Marie, ma'am…Marie Lester." Kurt said quietly.

"Well…. I'll be dipped in shit…" Gracie muttered in amazement. She took a long drag on her cigarette and stubbed it out in the ashtray on the table.

"You all sure about Bobby being your Daddy?" the old woman asked.

"Yes ma'am. The Air Force did a DNA test on Kurt…it's been verified." Sharon said.

"Momma, what's going on here?" Roberta wondered.

"Evidently Bobby got Marie in trouble before he went to the Air Force, honey. You remember he dated a girl named Marie right before he left and died." Gracie replied.

Roberta sat there processing, while Gracie's thought train went racing down the track.

"So what brings you two here after all this time?" Gracie said, as she lit a new cigarette.

"Oh, where are my manners? Does smoke bother y'alls?" Gracie asked.

Sharon shook her head, and Kurt replied "I'm used to it, ma'am."

"Uh, Gracie…I'm Kurt's guardian, and foster parent…Kurt's mother…Marie I mean…um, is not able to take care of Kurt any longer…And when the county removed him from that situation, it turned out to be permanent. They did an investigation to see if Kurt had any family. Family would of course have priorities over any other parties if Kurt is adopted. Marie doesn't have kin, but they were able to turn up Robert, and you and Roberta…. Kurt wanted to know who his people are, where he came from. So that's why we are here. We met Jimmy Aaron too, a few days ago so Kurt could talk to him."

"I see…this is a lot to take in." Gracie said, and Roberta nodded. "What situation are you talking about here?" Gracie demanded, sitting up forward in her chair.

Sharon looked at Kurt, who was looking to Sharon, and she nodded in approval.

"She would get really drunk a lot and beat me…I ran away…She went to prison…" Kurt whispered, looking down.

"You ran away?" Gracie asked. Kurt nodded. "Well, good for you!" she exclaimed. "No one should have to live like that."

"Maybe I shouldn't say nothing after all, but Bobby was glad to go to the service…He wouldn't have stayed with um… Marie." Roberta offered. "He said she was…pretty violent when she drank...Sorry." Roberta looked over at Kurt, who was looking down in his lap.

Kurt nodded in agreement.

"I think all she had left of the gang was Jimmy at the time, and he cut his romantic ties with her back pretty much just after she got pregnant." Sharon offered.

"How is Jimmy doing? His daddy passed and left him that seafood place. Is it still in business?" Gracie recalled.

"Oh, yes, he is doing very well…he has four restaurants now. Married, has a family."

"Bobby was probably closer to Jimmy than a lot of the other kids. He was bad about playing pranks on people, and Jimmy would prank Bobby back. Sometimes they would go in on one together." Gracie recalled.

"He didn't tell us all that stuff." Kurt said.

"Oh, let me tell you…Jimmy was a nice boy, a good polite boy, but don't think butter wouldn't melt in his mouth." Gracie explained.

"Roberta, what about you, were you part of things back then too?" Sharon asked.

"Uh, not really. I'm older than Bobby, and by the time he started high school, I was almost out of college. I knew who Marie and Jimmy and a few other of Bobby's friends were, but not closely at all."

"Do you have other children, Sharon?" Roberta asked.

"I have an eleven-year-old son, My husband and Kurt makes it four of us now."

Kurt spoke next. "Um, Is my grandfather still alive?" Gracie and Roberta sat in silence for a moment until Gracie spoke again.

"Roberta, could you show Kurt the pictures in the hallway?"

"Sure, mama." Kurt got up and followed Roberta into the hall, and held a framed picture Roberta took off the wall. "Let me get the lights" she said, flipping a switch. Kurt gazed at a picture of a tall man in a State Trooper uniform, posed next to a flag.

"Daddy was a State Trooper. He died one night when a tire blew on his cruiser and it rolled seven times."

"Oh my God" Kurt whispered as he clutched the photo. "I'm so sorry. How did it happen?"

"It was raining really hard and Daddy got a call to an emergency. They think he got pulled into a guard rail when the tire let go, and it flipped the car end to end."

"I'm sorry if I brought…" Kurt started.

"No, Kurt, it's all right. He was your family and you needed to know. It was tough, but that's how it goes sometimes. I guess you know a thing or two about that, don't you?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"You can call me Bertie if you like…I am your aunt, after all." Roberta said smiling, taking the picture back from Kurt and re-hanging it. Roberta had accepted the fact that Kurt was in fact her family, and she had warmed to the boy during his short visit.

Back in the living room, Gracie had told Sharon about her husband's passing, and Sharon offered her condolences. Kurt and Roberta returned to the table and sat down.

"There is one thing I want to ask, if it's okay." Kurt said.

"What's that, honey?" Gracie asked.

"Can I take you and Bertie's pictures?" Kurt asked.

"Well, I have to put something better on than this robe, to get my picture took!" Gracie cracked, which made Kurt and Sharon giggle.

"I'll be right back." Gracie got up and left to get dressed, and Roberta asked Kurt about his interests, and talked a little about his experiences in foster care. Roberta didn't press Kurt about his life with Marie after he told her about the physical and mental abuse, most of the details she could guess, like going to school hungry. He did tell her about the day he packed his bag and left for good. Bertie said that must have taken as much guts as immigrating to America in the steamship days. Kurt told her that it was desperation, and not guts that made him do it, but that he liked the analogy. The discussion turned to other topics, and Kurt learned that Bertie was a pediatrician in group practice, and Gracie had worked forty years for Southwestern Bell telephone.

Gracie reappeared in a pair of slacks, and a sequined blouse. She almost looked like a country western star. "How do you like my glare rags?" She cackled. She was holding an envelope, which she handed to Kurt.

"You could go on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, momma." Roberta replied. Kurt looked at the envelope and back to Gracie.

"There are some pictures of your grandfather in there, Kurt. You can take those with you if you promise to have them copied and send the originals back." Gracie said.

"Yes, ma'am. Thank you so much." Kurt replied.

"Here, honey" Sharon said, and Kurt handed the envelope to her, and she put it safely in her purse. "We'll take good care of them." She said to Gracie.

"Let's go out to the wall, shall we?" Gracie said as she stood up and drew the blinds aside on the sliding glass door. There was a very small strip of grass behind the unit, and an ivy covered wall protecting the complex. It would make a great backdrop for photos.

They stepped out into the sunshine and Sharon handed Kurt the camera.

"You should do this since you know how to work it." Kurt said.

"Everything is automatic. Just push this one." Sharon said, pointing to the button on the camera.

Kurt took several shots of mother and daughter together. Sharon offered to take a family photo of the three of them and Kurt had a huge grin on his face as he posed for pictures of himself with Bertie and Gracie.

After they went back into the house, Gracie sat down in her chair again, and Sharon suggested they should probably be heading home.

"Thanks for letting us come to see you. I'm just thrilled to find my family." Kurt said.

"Well, I'd a never believed someday a boy would come to my door and tell me he was my grandson, but now it happened, so I suppose anything's possible." Gracie replied.

"I'm just glad you found us while I'm still kickin', son." She reached out to take Kurt's hand.

"Got paws on you like your daddy and grand-dad too." She teased, and Kurt smiled. He leaned down and gave the old lady a gentle hug, which she wasn't quite expecting, but responded to by embracing Kurt tightly and patting him on the back. When he let her go, there were tears forming in both their eyes.

Kurt turned to Roberta, and hugged her too.

"You take care, sweetie. And you know where we are now, okay?" Roberta said. Kurt nodded and smiled as he blinked hard.

"We'll come back soon, honey." Sharon said to Kurt. He and Sharon started for the door, and said

"Thanks for everything, and we'll get the pictures to you as soon as I can download the camera…do you have email?" Sharon asked.

"I do; Mom won't be bothered with modern inconveniences." Roberta joked, and the two women exchanged phone numbers and email addresses.

"Great, I'll send back copies of Kurt's pictures with you and Gracie on photo paper with these pictures of Mr. Gentry. Thanks again for seeing us."

With that, Kurt and Sharon began the trip back home, and Kurt studied the pictures in the envelope. Gracie had put shots of Bobby in the envelope as well, which surprised and delighted Kurt.

He sat and rode in silence for a long time, until he finally spoke.

"I'm glad they are regular people, like you and Nicky and Jerry…" Kurt said.

Sharon thought about that for a minute and asked

"Were you afraid they would be something else, something bad?"

"I dunno…Maybe I was afraid they would be, you know…"

Sharon could figure out what Kurt was trying to say, and decided it was time to stop and get a bite to eat. They were halfway home, and in no rush to get there. Kurt had bonded with Sharon very strongly, and they enjoyed the time they spent together. Sharon was still getting to know her oldest adoptive son, and he had passed a lot of milestones since that night he cried in a ball on Isaac's porch. She could tell when he needed to talk and wanted advice, and this was one of those moments. They pulled off the highway at a diner and went inside.

They were shown to a booth by a waitress and given water. The waitress left and gave them time to peruse menus, and talk.

"Kurt…I'm not sure how much sense this will make, but you know that the…uh, the life you had with Marie wasn't like…well, how most people live."

Kurt nodded. "Roger said that to me too…said it would take time to um, get used to how it is now."

"Yeah…that's true, and you are doing so well. We are all very proud of you, Kurt. You came from something, Kurt. You're not just a kid that grew up in a trailer with a drunk. Your grandfather was a hero, a person to respect. Bobby was a good kid who wanted to serve his country. You came from good people, Kurt."

Kurt looked up at Sharon and nodded. His eyes were wet.

Kurt thought about his grandfather and wondered what he would be like if he were alive to know and talk to…And Bobby as well. But at least he had Jerry in his life now, and having a father later was better than never having had one at all.

"Kurt, I know Marie hurt you very badly in every way. I know that Timmy has talked to you about forgiveness and moving on. That's for you to decide to do, and none of our business. I will say that the more I think about Marie, the more I pity her than hate her."

"I can't forgive her, mom…Not yet." Kurt replied in a whisper.

"There's no deadline, or whatever…I just don't want to see this eat you up inside; I guess I just want to snap my fingers and you would be happy, you know." Sharon said. "But I can see that that is selfish of me, isn't it?"

"Not really…I don't think its selfish…thanks." Kurt replied. "I'm okay…I wish the finger snap thing worked like that, but things are good…really."

"Do you promise to tell me when things aren't good, too?" Sharon asked

Kurt nodded. "Promise" he said, sticking out his pinkie finger. Sharon hooked it with her pinkie, and that officially made it a done deal.

They ate in silence for a while, each alone in thought, and rode back home speaking of small things.

It was not quite four in the afternoon when they arrived back home. Nicky was on the computer in boxer shorts, and Kurt came in to find him with a huge grin on his face.

"Hey, what's up, what's with the grin and all?" Kurt asked. "Oh, by the way, I met my grandma and my aunt…got pictures of Dad and my grandpa too." He set the envelope on the bed and pulled out photos of the men to show Nicky. Nicky got up from the computer and sat on the bed, picking up a photo.

"You got a girlfriend, too!" Nicky teased, busting out laughing.

"What?" Kurt was confused.

"A Chloe? Is that her name? wrote you back, bro."

"Wh—How did…?"

"You forgot to close your messenger before you left…Thanks…She really likes you!" Nicky was obviously gobbling this up and enjoying Kurt's embarrassment immensely. He picked up the photos, and looked at the trooper in the picture.

"Wow, he's DPS?" Nicky asked, referring to Department of Public Safety, the organization that would otherwise be known as the Texas Highway Patrol.

"Was, yes." Kurt replied and briefed Nicky on his visit. Nicky looked at the other pictures and asked "Who is the skinny kid?"

"My father, Robert, or Bobby."

"Wow, he looks so young." Nicky said.

"Well, he was only eighteen when he died, probably sixteen when that was taken, maybe." Kurt said.

"That's so cool that you found them and met them…your real family." Nicky offered.

Kurt nodded. He sat down in the computer chair and logged into his profile. His messages were there, and he had sent


Thanks for a great dinner and wonderful visit. I had a great time and enjoyed meeting you and your dad. I would love to see you again sometime if you would like that


She wrote back


Your welcome and I definitely want to see you again and get to know you much better!


Nicky was hanging over Kurt's shoulder and he could feel the younger boy's breath on his neck. He was rubbing his crotch on the back of Kurt's elbow, and giggling.

"Jeez, Nicky, what's got you all wound up?"

"She wants to get to get to know you much better!"

Nicky said before busting out laughing, as he continued to hump Kurt's arm. Kurt spun around in the chair and grabbed Nicky and the boys began to wrestle. They were headed towards Nicky's bed when Kurt looked down.

"Stop, stop…Stop for a second!" Kurt said quietly, and Nicky froze instantly. "Let's put these away first." Kurt said as he gathered the photos and put them back in the envelope and took it to his room. He placed the envelope on his dresser with the sketch journals and went back to Nicky's room.

"Now where were we?" Kurt asked, as Nicky grabbed him and they began wrestling around and giggling. Soon, Kurt had been stripped to his briefs, and Nicky's erection was poking through the front of the boxers he was in. He never wore boxers when he was dressed, only as shorts around the house.

The boys continued to tussle, and Nicky kicked the boxers off, treating Kurt to his physique in all its natural beauty. Kurt laid Nicky back on the bed and sat on him, looking down into Nicky's blue eyes as he held the boys hands out to the sides.

He bent his head down and began to nuzzle Nicky on the neck, and Nicky went crazy, laughing and giggling at the tickling he was receiving. Kurt continued for several minutes before whispering

"Don't move…I'll be right back, okay?"

Nicky nodded, and Kurt got up and locked the door. Taking off his briefs, he climbed back astride the younger boy.

Kurt leaned down and licked Nicky's nipples, which surprised the boy. Nicky had never noticed that his nipples were sensitive, but was pleased to make this discovery. Kurt flattened himself against Nicky's body, trapping their members between them. Soon each boy was leaking precum as Kurt continued to suck and stimulate Nicky's nipples. Kurt spread the precum issuing from Nicky's penis until it was quite wet, as his own member lay hard against Nicky's belly.

Nicky reached out to grasp Kurt's ass, and lifted him towards his face. He opened his mouth and took Kurt inside, and Kurt gasped as the sensation of Nicky's tongue inside his foreskin became extremely important. Nicky gently pulled and caressed Kurt's scrotum and the small testicles it held.

"Oh, Jesus…shit that's so good, Nicky…Ahh! Oh my God….Aww!" Nicky continued to work slowly and passionately on his friend's member, as Kurt closed his eyes and began to rock his pelvis in time with Nicky's head bobs. Nicky soon learned how to take the entire length of Kurt's thin cock, and how to pull the older boy's foreskin when Kurt withdrew. Kurt was nearing climax when he stopped Nicky, and sat back astride Nicky's knees. Leaning down, Kurt studied Nicky's small glans for a moment before licking and tasting the precum issuing from Nicky's urethra. Nicky moaned and purred as his hard little penis received almost too much stimulation. Nicky gasped as Kurt took his entire organ into his mouth, and began to lick Nicky's ample testicles. Kurt could feel Nicky swell a bit bigger, and in a few minutes Nicky began to tense and moan as an orgasm built in his pelvic area, and ten strong spasms racked him as he felt his seed pass into his adoptive brother. When Nicky had finished, Kurt pulled off Nicky's still rigid member, and fed his uncut cock into Nicky's mouth again. Kurt held onto the headboard, panting and gasping as he came while Nicky was working his cock with the foreskin pulled back.

Kurt rolled off Nicky and lay beside him on the small bed, and neither of them said anything for several minutes. In the kitchen, the phone rang.

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