A Storm Named Zach

by Flip McHooter

Chapter 13

The next morning Sally showed up around nine with a jumpy and super-excited Isaac. He had never been in this hotel, or any other Strip hotel for that matter. His mind was totally blown when he saw our room and the spectacular view of the hotels up and down Las Vegas Boulevard.

The kid ran across to the massive bank of windows so he could see down below to Lake Bellagio. Unfortunately, at this time of the morning, the fountains were shut off, and a couple of teams of maintenance people in wetsuits were cleaning and doing repairs on the fountain's infrastructure. Isaac was riveted watching them. I thought that would have to be one of the coolest jobs around, and I bet they got paid very well. A perfect situation for ex-Navy Seals.

After Sally cleared her throat, Isaac turned himself away from the window. The kid ran over to us and gave both Zach and myself rib-crushing hugs and thanked us profusely for allowing him to spend the day with us. Sally reminded him that he needed to be home by eight, "And not one minute later." Obviously, she ran a tight ship, and I liked her even more for that. It was good to know someone cared for Zach's kid brother.

Before she took off, she and I swapped cell numbers, and I promised to text her updates throughout the day. She seemed relieved and then made a quick exit. She had told me earlier that Natalie was at summer day camp, and that this was the first day in a long, long time she had to herself and was going to a lady's spa to make the most of it. It seemed to me that fostering kids is both stressful and rewarding for both the kids and the foster parents – something I'd never really thought much about.

I asked, "So, guys, what's the plan? Where do you want to start?"

"Food!" Zach yelled. "I'm starving. Did you eat breakfast, Isaac?"

"I had a bowl of Cheerio's about five this morning when I woke up. I couldn't sleep, I was so excited."

"Awesome. We woke up early, too," I said. "Zach and I both were stoked to spend the day with you. We're going to have so much fun, I promise."

"This is so great. I can't believe I met my older brother, and I get to spend the day with him. It's epic!"

"I know!" Zach said.

"Hey! What about me? I'm standing right here."

"Oh. Sorry. And his boyfriend," Isaac giggled. It still boggled my mind that this kid was a mini-me version of Zach.

"Okay, that's better. We can get room service, go to the buffet downstairs or do something else. I think Bob's Country Bunker is close by. They have family dining and live music. What do you guys think? It's up to you two since today is all about fun."

Isaac piped up first and said, "Room service! Please? That would be super-yay since I've never had room service. Plus, I heard the buffets have some weird stuff like octopus and snails and shit – oops, sorry."

"You can swear around us," Zach laughed. "You're not going to freak us out. Both Jeremy's best friend Fiona and his sister swear like those idiots on Springer. So no worries."

"Thanks. But they bring it right here! And you guys have a dining room in your hotel room. How cool is that? Can I get anything I want?"

"Of course you can. Zach and I want to make this the best day for you, so whatever you want, or want to do, go for it, dude. Sky's the limit today. It's all about having fun and getting to know each other."

"Awesome! You guys are so great."

"Isaac, you need to know something. Zach loves to cook and is going to culinary school soon. You better get used to 'octopus and snails and shit', okay?"

"You really eat that stuff, big brother?"

"I have. Mostly when I was on trips with our dad. I hope to learn how to cook those things someday because I want to own my own five-star restaurant."

"That's cool you got that figured out. I have no idea what I want to do."

"You will. You'll see."

"Last week, Fiona and I challenged Zach to make us breakfast like he was on an episode of Chopped. He made us the most amazing whiskey-glazed bacon. It was the best. So don't be afraid to try new things. You'll never know if you might like them," I said.

"Okay, I will. That's cool that you like to cook. Maybe you can teach me. I really don't know much about cooking since Mommy didn't like to cook and Mama Sally won't let us in her kitchen."

"Definitely. We'll have fun."

While we waited for room service to deliver our ridiculously massive order of food, we settled into our comfy living room staring at the Eiffel Tower across the strip. I asked Isaac, "Back to my original question. Is there anything in particular you'd like to do or see today? You know Vegas better than we do."

"Not really. I can't believe this is actually happening, and I can't thank you enough. I really can't."

"I feel the same way," Zach said, giving his brother another hug. "It's like I have a new best friend who turns out to be my brother, and the most awesomest boyfriend in the world. My life sure has taken a total one-eighty."

"Well, it's going to get even better. You both better get over it, because it's just starting. And since you both don't have anything specific you want to do, I've got some crazy-cool ideas we can do today. And a couple of surprises neither of you know about," I said.

"Like what?" Isaac asked. "I'm not big on surprises, just sayin'."

"Yeah, what do you have up your sleeve, hunka-hunka boyfriend?"

"Oh, nothing much," I laughed. I loved seeing Zach being silly and happy.

"Aw, c'mon. Tell us."

"Can't say right now. You'll both find out soon enough."

"Man, that's so not fair. I hate waiting. Zachary, is your boyfriend always like this?"

"Isaac, call me Zach, okay? And yeah, he's pretty much full of surprises. That's one of my top five list of things I love about him." Zach shot me his killer smile when he said that.

"Aw. You get a kiss for that, buddy."

"Wow! You guys got it bad for each other. I need to get me a boyfriend. Oh, shit! Did I just say that out loud?"

"You did. I thought you told me last night you were bi."

"I know I did. But last night, after you guys left, I really couldn't sleep because I was so excited. And I started thinking if my big brother can be out, why can't I? And then I realized saying I'm bi is really a cop-out for me because, well, you're the only one I ever told, and it's kinda scary to say you're totally gay, you know? And girls don't do much for me. So that's kinda where I am right now. But I'll tell you guys, it sure feels good to be talking honestly about it now."

"Dude," I said. "I'm glad you feel comfortable being open with us. You need to know that both Zach and myself will never, ever give you grief over this important side of you. But labels are overrated. And more importantly, there's no time limit on when you have to figure all this out. Some people's sexuality evolve and change over time and throughout their entire life. Just go at your own pace. There's no rush to figure out if you want a boyfriend, girlfriend, both, or something in between. And just so you know, both Zach and I have your back with all of this."

"We do, Isaac," Zach agreed. "Jeremy and I talked a lot about you last night. The most important thing for you to know is that we're always going to be here for you. That's a given."

"What does that mean, exactly? You guys are going back to California soon, and I'm stuck here in Vegas for the next few years. Will you be able to come here and see me sometimes?"

"Of course we will!"

"Now that we know you're Zach's brother, we'll be here all the time. And once we get this all figured out with Billy and Sally, we'll get you on a plane to spend some weekends with us, too. It's only like a forty-five-minute flight. You can jump on a plane Friday after school, and we'll get you back here on Sunday night. Easy-peasy."

"Seriously? You'd do that for me?"

"Yes!" Zach said. "Absolutely. I scored some expensive stuff from my house just before it went into foreclosure. I'll sell it to get you to Cali. I promise."

"Wow. How cool is that? I've never been on a plane before."

"Dude. Your Zach's brother. We'd do anything for you. You guys have a lot of catching up to do."

"That's unbelievable. I'm sorry I sound ungrateful. It's just that I've been promised a lot of things that never happened. This one seems too good to be true."

"It is true. I didn't want to do this yet, but I guess to prove we're serious, I'm going to have to blow one of my surprises so Isaac understands he's our brother now and Zach and I are going to do everything in our power to take care of you. And because Zach needs this too –"

"Jeremy, just spit it out. You're rambling. I want to know what it is, too."

"Getting all zesty on me, buddy. I love it when you get that way."

"Yeah, Jeremy. What is it? Tell us. You guys can do kissy face later on."

That made me laugh. "You two are totally brothers with that snappy attitude. Impatient much? Okay, here goes. First thing we're doing when we get out of the hotel is find a Verizon store and get you guys new phones. Isaac needs one, and Zach's old one is busted. The three of us need to be able to communicate."

"Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!" Isaac jumped in the air, pumping his fist, then practically tackled me. It felt good to make the kid so happy. "Thank you so much. You, too, Zach. Thanks. You guys are so great. Oh, my God! I've never had a phone. This is totally awesome."

"When did you figure this out, Dr. Sherlock Winchester Farnsworth?" Zach asked, giggling. "That mind of yours never stops, does it?"

"Not when it comes to my family. You're my family, and now Isaac is too. You should know that by now. Anyway, I'm putting both of you on my plan, so you don't have to worry about using too much data or whatever."

"That's so awesome, Jeremy. Thank you," Zach said, giving me a mammoth kiss.

"I agree. Thank you guys so much. This is the best present ever in the history of presents!"

Changing the subject and getting back on track, I asked the kid, "Do you think Billy and Sally would allow you to spend the weekend with us once in a while?"

"Probably. In the three years I've been in the system that's only happened to one girl who flew to see her granny every month. Sally had to go with her the first few times. But it worked, and the girl is living with her granny now."

"That's awesome for her. Zach? Add that to our list, with a bullet. We'll need to talk to Sally about this. Maybe we can have all of them come out next weekend while everyone's still in Spain. They can stay with us."

"Done and done."

Perfect timing. The doorbell rang, and our ginormous breakfast – loaded on three carts no less – had arrived. Our discussion was put on hold, for now.

"Oops, sorry." Isaac let out a deep-throaty burp as he pushed back his plate. He had scarfed down sixty-five percent of everything in sight.

That made me laugh. "Sounds just like home. My twin nephews do that all the time. Chaps my sister's anus she gets so pissed off. You'll like them when you meet them, Isaac. They're good friends with Zach since they all played soccer together when they were younger."

"You play soccer, big brother? That's cool."

"I did for a few years, but then Mother didn't want to be bothered with driving me to practice and meets, so I had to give it up."

"No offense, but she sounds like a total bitch."

"Trust me, she was. Bitch is a complete understatement, especially the last few years."

"Jeremy, are your nephews gay, too?"

"No. Totally into the ladies."

"But they're cool with you and Zach?"

"Oh, yeah. They're happy for us. They've known I was gay since I was maybe twelve and they were nine. That's when we told them. My sister and her husband had always known – it's not a big deal in our family. I've got a ton of lesbian and gay cousins, so I kinda figured it out early on. My bloodline seems to have a propensity for twins and queers. Anyway, it wasn't a big deal when I came out to them."

"Wow. You were lucky," Isaac said. "There were always LGBT kids in the system, but they didn't stay long for some reason. That kind of scared me at first."

"Why? Where'd they go?" Zach asked.

"I wasn't sure, but I learned later on Vegas has a dedicated shelter for LGBT kids. That's where they went. I guess it's better for them so they can be out and proud without any kind of worries. When did you come out, Zach?"

"Last week when I told my now dead fake mom I was gay. It was my eighteenth birthday, and I figured it was time. Then she beat the crap out of me."

"Seriously? Shit. Is that why she killed herself?"

"I don't know. Maybe partially. But I honestly think she was at the end of her rope and didn't have the coping skills to deal with one more overwhelming situation. She would have done it even if I hadn't come out to her. Jeremy walked me through it, and I realize now I didn't have anything to do with it and it wasn't my fault. She just couldn't go on any longer, after losing the money, the big mansion, the prestige of being a famous Hollywood producers' wife. Basically, she lost everything she had. The real blame is on our shithead dad."

"Isaac, thank you for being honest with us. We appreciate it. But we need to know something because both Zach and I want you to be safe. Question: If you came out to your foster family, how do you think they'd react? Billy and Sally seem cool, but you share a room with an older kid. What if he doesn't get it?" I asked. "That could be a real problem if he doesn't accept you or doesn't want to share a room with a gay guy."

"I know. I have no idea how Jabril would take it. He and his sister are super private and don't talk very much. I'm glad I told you guys, but I doubt I'd tell anyone other than Sally anytime soon. If Jabril has a problem with it, he could make my life hell since he's so much bigger than I am. Plus, he's kinda mean sometimes, too. But I get that. It's hard to lose your parents."

"It is, even if they are dumbshits. But I think that's a good idea, Isaac. Getting beaten up is no fun," Zach said.

"I agree with Zach. Like I said, there's no rush, Isaac. It's okay to keep it to yourself, but if you can't do that, then tell only the people you know you can trust. Now that we've met you, we want you to be safe. Right, Zach?"

"Absolutely. My mother – which she wasn't – would have probably killed me when I came out. For some reason, I got pissed, brave, I don't know what, but I stood up to her when she wouldn't stop wailing on me. That was the end of everything. But now, It's so much better. You'll see. But it might take some time."

"Wow. That's a lot to take in. I'm sorry you had to go through that, big brother. Thanks for sharing that. Looks like neither one of us had it easy, so it's kinda par for the course, I guess."

"With our dumbass dad, yeah, you're right."

"So, guys? What do you say we get moving? We've got lots of cool stuff to do today. Isaac, that bathroom has a whole bunch of new toothbrushes so you can get those nasty grit's out of your teeth. I can't believe you ate that shit. And you were dissin' seafood. Zach and I will use the other one."

"Are you going to have a quickie? Am I going to have to turn up the water to drown out your oooh's and aaah's?"

"Shit, Jeremy. Turns out my little brother is a mini-douche. He sounds just like Fiona. She's gonna adopt him the minute she sets eyes on him, that I guarantee," Zach said, laughing.

"That's a scary thought," I said, "but that might be better for him with some smart-ass bossy straight ho instead of his gay family. Fiona and Isaac would be so happy together – the kid's horny-ass dad's blood in him will make them instant friends. Before you know it, he'll be helping her pick out her next one-nighter on GrindMe!"

"NO! That's just so gross! I'll behave, I'll behave, I promise."

"Jeremy's just funnin' you. Fair warning. Fiona will suck the life out of you. But she's awesome, and her intentions are always good. It's the delivery that's problematic. You just have to overlook that part."

"You should also be prepared for Zach's housekeeper, Isabella. She's coming to work for us now that she's out of a job at Zach's old place. You know, now that I think about it, Isaac, you better be prepared for all kinds of crazy with my family and our friends. But it's all a good kind of crazy. You're going to fit right into the Farnsworth vortex. Better strap yourself in."

"I'll second that motion," Zach said, "and I haven't met half of them yet."

"Oh, God. What am I in for?"

"Love. Lots and lots of love. C'mon, guys, let's get cleaned up and get the hell out of here. We've got lots to do."

Waiting for the elevator, I told Isaac, "I thought we should head to the cemetery first so you and Zach can tell your mom you both hooked up. We can grab some flowers on our way if you guys want. What do you think?"

"She already knows. Mommy came to me last night in my dreams and said that she's watching over us. All of us."

"Really? That's cool. Before yesterday, I didn't even know what she looked like, so if she came into my dreams, I'm not sure I'd understand it since I thought Mother was my real mom. Boy, was I ever wrong."

"You couldn't have known that, buddy," I said.

"Well, I bet she'll come into your dreams now, big brother."

"Maybe. But she told you she's looking over our dad too?"


"How much do you know about him?" Zack asked.

"Bits and pieces. Mommy never talked much about Ziggy, but when I'd ask her who my father was and what he did, she'd sigh, and then launch into a fit and get all pissed off. In fact, my birth certificate has a blank for the father. How sucky is that? Anyway, after a while, I stopped asking because it would just piss her off. I know who he is, and what he did to all those women, but I've never met him. And I don't want to. I've seen the news."

"You're lucky," Zach said. "I had to live with him. He really is a smelly old dick. But today is all about fun, and this topic is too depressing. Let's deal with his shit later. He's in some nasty jail in some foreign country where he belongs, and that makes me happy because I'm sure that's out of his zone. Now, neither one of us has to deal with that shithead."


When we got to the main level, I told the guys we should head to the pool area first to see if Steven was working today. I figured he'd be happy to see Isaac and find out how all of this turned out. Unfortunately, it was the goofy dude's day off, so we went back inside and through the casino towards the front desk where the concierge was located.

"I need to talk to these guys for a second, then we'll get the SUV and head to a Verizon store. Chill for a bit, and I'll meet up with you guys in a minute or two." I had a surprise I needed to finalize with the help of the concierge folks, and I didn't want my boyfriend or his kid brother finding out about it. This was one I wasn't about to spill until the very last second because it was going to be epic. Super-epic.

It only took a couple of minutes when I finished up with a nice woman who took care of everything I needed to do. I looked around the lobby for Zach and Isaac. It was crowded just like every other time we'd walked through here, and it took a second to find my guys standing in the football-sized lobby taking everything in.

Zach was people watching, and Isaac was looking up at the crazy architecture and the two-thousand or so glass umbrellas (or flowers?) on the ceiling oblivious to everything going on around him. He was mesmerized, and I don't think the grin on his face had left since the minute he showed up this morning. The hotel/casino was actually a spectacular place, almost to the point of being over the top. Zach was shining his sexy smile at me when he spotted me looking at him, and when I walked up to them, I asked, "So, guys? You ready to –"

I was interrupted by three ear-splitting pops, one right after another. I knew what that sound was, and it chilled me to the bone. Besides target practice at the range, I had gone through plenty of active shooter drills at school, and at the venue I worked at, but in real-time, this was something way different. Very quickly, people started screaming and took off running out of the casino area towards us since we were in the middle of the big, grand entrance and lobby. Basically, the quickest and easiest way out.

It had barely registered that something was seriously wrong when four more pops in rapid succession were followed by three more from a different sounding gun coming from an opposite direction. This time it was much closer to us. Was it two shooters or was security firing back? I hoped it was security, and that they had a clean shot, but that didn't seem like protocol to me.

Zach and Isaac looked petrified and were screaming at me to tell them what to do or where to go. Even though I had trained for this type of thing, I was in a strange place and not quite sure which way to go to get my boys to safety. I grabbed their arms and shoved them both behind me to shield them while I scanned the chaotic scene. I was looking for a quick escape route or an area where we could safely ride this out. Mostly, I didn't want us to get caught up in some insane stampede since so many people were packed in here. And from what I've learned in my training, that's where most of the injuries happened.

People were really panicked and moving fast now, and starting to trip over one another because the big bank of emergency doors in the casino had failed to open for some reason. An old Asian guy was using a barstool to try to break the glass, but his repeated attempts failed miserably. The screaming and yelling ratcheted up another thirty decibels, and it made it hard to think. Then alarms started going off compounding the chaos, but surprisingly, that sound made me focus. I spotted a tall column next to the casino floor away from most of the running people, so I grabbed both Zach's and Isaac's wrists and pulled them behind me. It was tough going against the flow, but outside of Isaac losing a shoe, we made it unscathed.

I immediately realized I had made a huge mistake. The column wasn't wide enough to shield the three of us, and when another burst of gunfire rang out, I pulled the boys to the left quickly and shoved them down on the backside of the first bank of slot machines along the walkway. It wasn't as safe as I would have liked, but at least we weren't going to be trampled to death, and we couldn't be seen from the walkway. Of course, the speakers on the machines kept chanting, "Wheel! Of! Fortune! which just added to the madness.

I yelled at the boys, "Don't move. Stay right there and hold on to each other. I don't want you guys getting trampled or separated. This is going to get worse before it gets better, and a lot of people are going to get hurt. So stay put."

"Don't leave us," Isaac cried out.

"I'm not," I yelled over the chaotic noise surrounding us. "I promise you're not going to die today. I'm not going to let that happen, and I'm not going to let you go. Either of you. Just stay low, close to the machines. Get as tight and as low as you can. Ball yourselves up and wrap your arms over you to protect your head," I shouted. I covered my body over them as best I could, but an instant later, the gunfire started up again and seemed to be getting closer and closer. I was worried innocent people were going to get hit by stray bullets. My caregiver instinct took over, and I knew I had to do something. What exactly, I wasn't quite sure.

My hands still on the guys, I craned my neck around the tower of slot machines to see people running in all different directions. That was not a good thing. The gunfire was coming from the left, over by the poker cage. I looked to the right to see hundreds of people spilling from the casino, into the lobby and then outside to the main entrance. The valets had opened wide the ginormous bank of doors and were yelling and waving their arms frantically to get the folks out where they'd be safer behind the tons of cars and buses that were lined up in the courtyard. I could hear sirens off in the distance and hoped the first responders got here soon, but the courtyard was full of cars and people. That was going to be a huge problem and would slow them down. This was beginning to get ugly. Real ugly.

I shifted around to better cover Zach and his brother when across from me, I spotted a tall mirror recessed into the wall. It was placed perfectly for me to see the reflection of a guy who looked like he was dressed in head-to-toe motorcycle gear. The freaky part was the satin-finish black helmet with a GoPro camera attached to the top. I hoped that this wasn't being live-streamed on some social media platform. If he was doing that, he had to be the world's biggest asswipe.

The dude was running down the walkway from the central part of the casino, kind of hunched over. He was clutching a handgun, but luckily it was aimed at the floor. It looked like he had been shot, because blood was streaming down his shoulder and dripping off his hand onto the hotel's fancy marble floor. Since the dude was obviously injured, that gave me a brainwave.

"Guys, stay right there balled up. I'll be back in two seconds, I promise. I'm going to cover you up with these barstools. Please, trust me. And whatever you do, don't let go of each other."

I didn't give them any chance to respond as I stood up and pushed myself flat against the pod of slot machines opposite us. The mirror gave me a great, unobstructed view of what was going on behind me, and I could look to the right to see what else was happening. The gunman/robber/bad dude had seriously slowed down now and was barely at a jog, and the blood he was dripping seemed to go on for hundreds of feet behind him.

I didn't see any security or police near or behind him, and luckily most of the crowd had gotten out or were hunkered down behind banks of slot machines like we were. Unfortunately, there were a handful of people who had fallen and were trying desperately to crawl towards the exit. I wished I could help them, but I just couldn't do that right this second.

The shooter wasn't more than thirty or forty feet to the left of me, slowly making his way down the walkway towards the front doors. I watched his progress as I put my plan together. Stupid, I know. But sometimes you just have to make a stand. And that's what I was going to do.

Waiting for him seemed to take a lifetime, and I must have doubted myself a hundred times. But I knew deep down I had to do this. As I watched his progress coming towards us, I reached down and grabbed a barstool by the seat and held it up like a baseball bat, legs over my shoulder. Chewing gum, boogers, and God knows what was stuck to the underside. But I didn't care. If I was going to do this, I was going to put my all into it.

I knew I only had one chance at this, and if I fucked it up, I realized I would be in big, big trouble as well as a lot of people near me. But there was no going back now, so this had to work. It just had to. My only thought was for the well-being of my guys and the innocent people around us.

I was still tracking the progress of the gunman in the mirror and noticed the shooter had slowed down considerably. I started to count, and when I got to eighteen, he was finally perpendicular to me. That's when I let him have it. I stepped out into the walkaway and put everything into my swing, yelling at the top of my lungs like I was an extra in a fight scene on an episode a Game of Thrones. Amazingly, he didn't see or hear me until the last moment.

The legs of the stool connected with his mid-section – groin, hips, junk, whatever you want to call it – with a loud, crackly crunch. The force of the hit pushed him backward onto the floor like he was doing a flip. Even over all the noise going on around me, when his head hit the floor, it was a sound I never wanted to hear again. The good thing was the gun had sailed over him and skidded down the walkway out of his reach. The other good thing was the guy wasn't moving much, so I wouldn't have to whack him again. I really didn't want to do that.

The next instant, I was tackled by some incredibly heavy guy wearing far too much cologne who screamed he was hotel security. I wasn't sure if he was keeping me safe, or pissed off by what I just did. Either way, it didn't matter to me because the bad guy was neutralized and now my guys were safe.

"Don't move!" The guy on top of me shuffled around. He had a mic tucked in his sleeve, and he yelled into it, "Shooter down. I repeat, shooter down!" He trained his gun on the shooter in case the guy got up and grabbed for his weapon, but before any of that could happen, it seemed like a hundred security people were all over the place. They quickly and efficiently confiscated the bad guys gun and whatever he had stolen, then tucked everything efficiently into a black bag before they not so nicely flipped him over to access his injuries.

The security dude finally got off me and held out a hand to help me up. "That was by far the most stupidest, and best, thing I've ever seen. What if you missed?"

"But I didn't. I was protecting my family, pure and simple. And since no one was around, I felt I had to do something before more people got hurt."

"Well, you might get a lot of grief over your little stunt, but I for one am happy you did it. Good job."


Just then, Zach and Isaac grabbed me in tight hugs, making sure I was all right. They were both shaking, and Isaac was so scared he was crying, poor kid. I held them both tight and told them everything was under control now and that we were safe. They didn't let go of me, and I wasn't about to let go of them.

Zach asked, pointing to the guy flat on his back, "Is that guy dead? Is he the shooter?"

"Yeah, he's the shooter, but I don't think he's dead. It sounded like there were two shooters, but I'm not sure. The other shots could have come from security. It looks like the situation is contained now, so both you guys can try and relax."

Las Vegas police and the EMT's had just started running into the casino, accessing injuries and setting up a makeshift triage in front of the check-in desk in the lobby. It looked to me that outside of a few broken bones, nobody other than the shooter was seriously hurt.

"Zach, Isaac? You guys okay?" I asked as I picked up the stools that had fallen over.

"Yeah, just scared," Zach said. "I hope I never have to go through something like that again."


"I'm okay too. Just embarrassed. I pissed my pants. I'm sorry." Poor kid was still dripping tears. "And I lost both my shoes."

"Don't be embarrassed. I almost peed my pants too," Zach said, throwing his arm over the kid's neck.

"We'll go upstairs and find you something clean to wear in a minute when they let us out of here. But for now, Zach, take off your button-down so your brother can wrap it around his waist. You've got a t-shirt on underneath and this way no one will see what happened to him. But honestly, Isaac, I'll bet you a million bucks other people pissed themselves too. I'll tell you this, guys, this jack-hole isn't going to ruin our day together," I said as I wiped Isaac's face and nose with the hem of my t-shirt.

"Thanks for that. I'm glad you were here to keep us safe," the kid hiccupped. "I've never been so scared in my life."

"I'm just glad we're all okay. I suppose I should call Sally and let her know we're all right. It's probably all over the news by now. I bet she's freaking out. That's another reason we need to get you guys phones."

"I'm sure every station is reporting it. Look at all the press and reporters lined up in the courtyard trying to get in here. It's just like home," Zach said.


Just then, an LVPD detective came up to us, flashed his badge and asked, "Which one of you is the guy that took the shooter down?"

"That's me," I said. "Why?

"You need to come with me. We need your statement."

"Okay, no problem. Zach, take my phone and go back to our room. While you're waiting for me, call or text Sally and let her know we're all okay. You should probably call Fiona and my sister, too. I'll be there as soon as I can. Then we'll really get this day going."

"You going to be okay? Do I need to ask Fiona to get her dad involved? You don't think you need a lawyer, do you?"

"No. The cops just need to get my side so they can write up their reports. Don't worry. I'll meet you in the room as soon as I can. Get Isaac cleaned up and see if you can find something that fits him. Some of your new stuff might work if you roll up the pant legs. And give him your new Vans. We'll get you another pair."

"Okay, will do. Jeremy? What you did was awesome. I love you so much," he said, hugging me tightly.

"Back atcha, buddy. I love you too. Now go so we can get this over with and get on with our day."

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