The Apprentice

by Sahypo

Chapter 43

It was late in the evening on a Friday night, and Timmy and Sean were in Sean's room kicking back and listening to music. Sean had a favorite blues radio program on broadcast from the local university radio station in town, and for three hours on Friday nights they played an extensive selection of rarely heard cuts.

After a round of appeals to support free radio with your generous contributions, the music began to play again, and Sean bolted upright, eyes wide, and stammered "My God, Timmy...It's him!"

"Wh- Who?" Timmy asked, bewildered.

"The old man...the old man in the pawnshop back in the's him! That's the song he taught me!"

"You mean you know this guy on the radio?"

"Yeah, he talked to me lots of times in the pawn shop, and he played this song for me on my guitar! It's him!"

"Who is he?"

"I don't know. He never told me his name, dude. What time is it?"

"Umm Eleven Oh Eight. Why?"

Sean was busy on his computer opening his internet connection and logging into the radio station website.

"Shit, where is it!!?"

Timmy was now standing behind Sean's chair watching over his shoulder as Sean surfed frantically for what he was trying to locate.

"A playlist, hopefully, of the songs in their rotation."

It so happened that the producers of the blues program did list the music selections for the night on the web, and soon Sean had what he was looking for.

"Moses...Greer" he whispered as he typed the name into the search bar.

A few websites were listed under that name, and Sean picked one. Sure enough, a photo of the man who had befriended him in New York City popped up with a brief biography. Both boys read through the bio, then stopped and looked at each other.

"Um, are you totally sure this is him?"

"Absolutely...Positive, Timmy."

"Dude...this says he died three years before you..." Timmy trailed off.

"Was born...yeah." Sean finished.

"Maybe that guy in the pawnshop was like his son or something?" Timmy offered.

"Not according to this...Moses had a wife, she died in her forties, um, children." Sean said as he scanned the article.

"So how old was this dude in the pawnshop?" Timmy asked

"Like, seventy something, at least" Sean answered.

"He was 74 when he died according to that website."

Sean sat quiet for a moment. Timmy began to be a little concerned about his friend and asked

"Hey, bud you all right?"

"Yeah, at least I know his name now...I mean, I think I do."

"You believe in ghosts and shit like that?"

"Nah, not really. Not the scary kind. I mean if he is a ghost, he never did anything to hurt me and stuff." Sean replied. He began to strip his tee shirt and socks off, and in a moment stood only in a pair of briefs.

"Wanna sleep over? I'm kinda bushed." Sean said as he turned the volume down super low on the radio, and turned the lights off.

"Yeah, I'm staying" Timmy answered, as he got undressed and slipped under the covers on Sean's bed.

The two friends wiggled and scooted around until they got comfortable and soon fell asleep. Sean's sleep was not without dreams tonight, as images of the old man came back to Sean from his visits to the pawn shop. How the man sat there in the other chair, his eyes closed as he tapped his foot in time to Sean's guitar playing, a smile on his lips. How the man captivated Sean when he had taught him the song played on the radio tonight, enjoying a private audience with a master bluesman he never knew.

Over the weekend, Timmy spent time with Isaac and the Kanes, and didn't see Sean again until Monday morning during their before school routine. Over the next week, Sean was quiet and somewhat withdrawn, but assured Timmy that he was okay, just had things on his mind. He tried to stay busy and engaged with his daily routines and classes, but would sometimes think back to Moses in his odd moments alone.

It all "came to a head" Thursday afternoon, when he was the last person after band practice to put his guitar away. Every other student had a 7th period class and participated in a stampede of bodies and instrument cases into the hallway.

Sean didn't immediately jump up to case his guitar and leave the music room. He had a free period after this class and didn't have to be anywhere, and often times he would stay and practice if the room wasn't busy. His music teacher studied Sean for a few minutes, and decided that maybe Sean would tell her what was on his mind. She walked over and pulled up a stool facing Sean and sat.

"Are you feeling okay, Mister Bennett? Are things at home all right? You're not my Sean this week and I miss him."

Sean looked up at his instructor directly in the eyes, and decided maybe this was the one person who would understand.

"Promise you won't think I'm crazy, okay?"

"You might be a lot of things, Sean, but not crazy. I promise...what's up?"

"Um, well, you remember I moved here from New York City last spring and..." Sean gave the background about the pawn shop, and how he had practically camped there saving the money to buy the blue hollow body arch top he treasured. He told his teacher about Moses Greer and the song he had learned, the time they had shared, and finally came to the events of last Friday night.

"This is where things get really weird for me..." Sean said, hesitating to go on. "I really shouldn't..."

"I promised to keep an open mind, Sean" his teacher reminded him.

"Well, when me and Timmy looked it up, it said he died 17 years ago...I'm 14, Ma'am. I don't understand how this can be. I played songs for him, and not just one time, too...It was him."

The teacher looked at Sean and smiled. "I think what happened is that you met your Muse."

"My...what?" Sean asked, confused.

"It's like a calling in life, when one follows his Muse. It's the thing that turned you onto music, made you stick with it. Your thing is the only makes sense that your muse would be a bluesman. Um, it's like an omen trying to tell you that you found your path, and you should stick with it."

"Did you have a muse, too?"

"We all do...Sure."

"Tell me about yours." Sean asked.

"Well, I played piano since I was grandfather moved in with my parents when I was 10. I was 13 when he died. But he was so supportive of me and always listened. Well I tried out for a youth orchestra, so I had to practice some pretty demanding stuff. He made me keep going when I wanted to quit, give up. I got the spot in the orchestra after all and he was so proud...After he died, I had no motivation to play. A couple of weeks after his death, I started playing again. It was a really hard day for me... That day, a cardinal landed on the windowsill, and sat there and watched me...for the longest time. Not like a natural bird, it seemed to really listen, you know?"

Sean nodded.

"Well, every day for the whole summer, the cardinal would sit for a short while and listen. Then one day, it just didn't come. I never saw it again."

"What do think it meant?" Sean asked.

"It was my grandfather telling me to keep playing, and not to grieve him, because he had things to do once he knew I was going to stick with it. That's what I choose to accept."

"I think I would have looked at it like that, too." Sean said quietly.

"I know what it is like, Sean. I've been there."

"What do you mean?"

"Your talent is unbelievable, Sean. You have only gotten started, but you have such a gift. I have been very into Julliard on a scholarship. Played with symphonies all over the world as a guest artist. Made records, all that stuff, Sean. But I followed another calling, the one that brought me here to teach, and over the years gave me the most fulfillment in life. I have had a few once in a lifetime students. You recognized that this means something for you, Sean. Ninety nine out of a hundred of these kids are just taking music class because its required. But this is your life's path, if you follow it. That's what I mean."

"Well, thanks for not thinking I'm nuts and stuff. I don't know if this is what I'm gonna do yet."

"I will always take you seriously, Sean. Promise. You know, there really isn't anything I can teach you about guitar. It's the life lessons and experience that you learn from those who went before that takes the time and effort. Are you glad we talked?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"I am too, Sean".

Eric Calloway came home from school to find Gloria, Don Wiedemer and Buddy sitting in the living room waiting for him.

"Eric, come sit with don't need to worry about chores today, honey." Gloria said. Don then spoke up and asked

"Eric, have you ever thought about living on the farm with Sammy and Scotty?" Eric was visibly affected by the question, and mumbled

"Erm, uh, yeah, I guess but it never...What about gramma?" Eric replied, looking at Gloria.

"Eric, this is just an idea, so let us lay it out, then we want you to think about it, okay?" Gloria began.

Eric nodded "Sure.." although he wasn't sure about anything at all.

"I am going to ask you to do something very important for both of us Eric. I have been doing some thinking about this for a long time now and it gets more important the older you get and I get. I want to sell this house, and get things in order. I'm not sure how much time I have left, and it would be better to arrange things before then, rather than leave everything to fall on your shoulders when my time comes."

"Grandma...I don't..."

"Eric. We need to talk about this honey, even though I know it's not comfortable and you don't want to think about these things."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Now this is mainly about you, Eric. You are still a boy and you have a right to enjoy your childhood, and I want you to have one with people your own age. You never had a chance to have a father and brothers, and I can't think of anything that would be better for you than to grow up with other boys and a dad in the house. I love you very much, and the last thing I would ever want you to think is that I don't want you, but making you my caretaker is isolating you and I cannot do that. You understand this, don't you?"

"Y-yes, Grandma...I know that you love worries."

"I do, baby. More than you know. Don has offered to have you come and live with him and the boys if you want to do that." Gloria said.

"What about you, what are you going to do?" Eric wondered.

"Buddy and I have talked about things for a long time now Eric. Neither of us wants to live alone, and I would rather sell this house, and put the money in trust for your future. Buddy and I plan to travel and see the country before we get too old to do that."

"But who will do things and...?" Eric wondered.

"Buddy has a cleaning service three times a week, and I will get a home care service for my therapy." Gloria replied. "I can get around as well as I need to, and the insurance has approved a scooter chair for me."

Eric digested this, and realized that this wasn't only Gloria's idea. They must have talked this over at length for some time before proposing this to Eric.

" Scotty and Sammy know?"

Don nodded.

"I would go to school with them..."

"Yes, of course" Don replied. "You are in the same school district, now you will be on our bus route."

"Oh, yeah...guess that's true." Eric admitted. "What about track? Can I still run track?"

"We'll have to figure that out...Sammy will be driving in a few months too, which will help."

Eric nodded, but it was obvious he was turning everything over in his mind.

"It's a lot to think about, Eric" Don replied. "Take your time with it."

Eric looked to Gloria, who saw the uncertainty on the boy's face. She smiled and said, "I'm okay with it Eric, and I am sure this will be the best thing for you. I'm going to be fine, and I want you to have all the things a boy your age should have and do the things that you should be doing."

"So you will move in with Buddy then?" Eric asked.

"Yes, Eric, but we plan to be pretty busy. Your gramma and me got some traveling planned and things to see. We aren't going to sit around and gather dust." Buddy and Gloria looked at each other and smiled.

"Finally! Wondered how long it would take" Eric teased. "Are you gonna get married, maybe?" Eric gave voice to his curiosity.

"Umm, probably not, Eric. Sometimes when people are living on pensions and Social Security, there can be consequences to doing things like that." Buddy replied.

"I think your grandfather's pension payout would stop if I married again, honey." Gloria added. Eric and Gloria had never really discussed finances, although Gloria had told Eric that his grandfather had left a nest egg as well as a pension, and that she still collected surviving spouse Social Security benefits. In other words, he didn't need to worry about money, especially if she were to sell the house which had been paid off long ago.

Buddy had been a shrewd investor and purchased land over the last fifty years that had provided a handsome return as the town grew and Buddy sold parcels in the path of development. No one knew the extent of Buddy's wealth except Buddy himself, but he was a millionaire several times over.

Eric liked Buddy's practical nature, and the way the retired sheriff's deputy looked at things. He had been Eric's primary male role model, living next door Eric's entire life. Buddy had never married or had any children, but he always been good to Eric and made time for the boy. Eric was always convinced that Buddy had a crush on his grandmother. He had only teased Gloria once or twice about it, as she was always very quick to dissuade his suspicions.

"Umm, I need some time to think and stuff. I'm going to start my homework" Eric said, as he got up and picked up his books.

"I'll knock on your door before I leave, okay?" Don asked.

"Uh, sure, thanks." Eric answered as he went to his room. He lay down on his bed and closed his eyes as all of his thoughts came rushing at him.

Living on the farm would be a dream come true...Granma wants to travel, I didn't know that....What do Scott and Sammy think? ...I have to tell Craig I'm moving... this is so cool of Don to offer ...

He must have drifted off, because the next thing he remembered was soft knocking at the door.

"Eric?" Don's voice came through the door.

"Come on in. I think I dozed off a bit" Eric muttered as Don let himself in.

"I really don't know how to thank you for this." Eric said.

"Have you decided, son?" Don said, sitting on the edge of the bed.

Eric nodded. "Yes, Sir. Did Scotty and Sammy put you guys up to this?"

"Let's just say they twisted the old man's arm pretty hard, yeah..." Don grinned. "But I thought it was a great idea too. We all think the world of you, Eric. You know that."

"Thank you...You guys mean a lot to me, too...It's not easy making friends and stuff. Scotty and Sammy never make me feel weird or anything."

"Eric, why do you think you feel weird and stuff? What does all that mean?" Don asked gently.

"Well, sometimes I think things and say things that people think are weird, and mostly I can't help it."

"The boys call that "being Eric." Did you know that?"

Eric smiled and giggled, "Yeah, I heard them say that sometimes." Scotty and Sammy never used this expression as a put-down, and when the boys did say it, they were usually giving Eric a bear hug; in any event, Eric felt that the brothers were being protective when they used it. He knew that no one else would be allowed to say this in his presence if they were around.

"Eric, someday you are going to do something that changes the world...the boys know that, and they are okay with you just as you are...I know you can't help but be what you were meant to be, but don't apologize for it. People that don't understand never will, but your friends will always be behind you and stand with you."

"Yes, Sir." Eric replied, then reached around Don and put him in a hug. Eric's eyes were closed as he gripped the man, and Don put an arm around Eric in turn, and waited until Eric relaxed his grip and sniffed.

"We need to talk a little now, Eric. If you move in with us, there are a couple of rules at our house."

"Yes, Sir."

"You'll be expected to pitch in and work with Sam and Scotty. We don't work ourselves to death, and we won't do that with you, but you are going to have to learn a lot of things and pay attention to what they tell you and show you, got it?"

"Yes, Sir."

"We don't smoke, and the boys have been told that they can drink as long as they don't hide it, or ride with people who have been drinking. If you or the boys ever find yourself in a situation you don't feel right about, I want you to call me and I will come and get you, anytime, anywhere no questions asked. Understood?"

"Yes, Sir...I share what's left of a can of beer with grandma when we make chili, but I don't smoke."

"Drugs?" Don asked.

"Never, ever." Eric responded. He looked Don in the eyes and said "I'd never do something that would hurt my grandma like that." Don nodded.

"The main rule of the house is we don't hide things from each other. We live together, we share things together including problems. The most valuable thing that I can give you is my trust. Once trust is gone, it never comes back...If you're having some problems, we can help you if you let us. No secrets."

", does that mean..."

"That I know about your surgery? Yes. Your grandmother gave me a copy of your medical history in case anything was to happen...It's nothing to be ashamed of, but if you want to me to keep that quiet, I'll respect your wishes and won't say anything."

"Oh, the boys already know, actually." Eric replied.

"Really?" Don said, somewhat surprised.

"Um, when I came out to visit you guys this summer, we all went skinny dipping at the pond." Eric admitted. "And they all wanted to know how it went when I had the surgery too."

Don frowned. "I hope they didn't make you do..."

Eric giggled. "They didn't force me or anything. I always wanted to go skinny dippin' and never had the chance to do it. It was fun."

"Well, I'm sure you will have plenty of chances to get sun on the farm with those two. You seem to be pretty open about all this. I was afraid I was going to embarrass you." Don said.

"Nah, it's cool...No secrets, right?" Eric grinned as he stood up and began to busy himself looking through his closet, and pulling shirts on hangers off the closet rod.

"I don't have much stuff, actually." Eric said. Don stood up and put his hand on Eric's shoulder.

"Eric, listen, take your time this week and get everything together. We will come back and get you Saturday morning. Your grandma wants to have a farewell barbecue for you and the boys will be here to help Buddy with all that."

"Um, that's awesome...Thanks!"

"Ok, I got to get home. We will see you again on Saturday." Don gave Eric a big squeeze and turned to leave. Eric had a lot of things to talk to Gloria and Buddy about, and this would be a busy week.

For Timmy, the day had started out mediocre and progressively got worse. He didn't feel very hungry that morning, and by lunch time the discomfort in his right flank began to concern him. By the time he boarded his bus after school, he was in considerable pain. He felt weak and pale by the time he got home, and Isaac found him curled up in a ball on the couch, pale, sweating and moaning.

"Timmy, what the flippin' hell?" Isaac exclaimed, dropping his books and keys and rushing over to Timmy.

He saw the sweat on Timmy's forehead drenching his hair, and the extreme pallor of his complexion.

"Jesus, Timmy. We're going to the emergency room, can you get up?"

"No way" Timmy croaked in a whisper. Isaac practically ignored him, punching in numbers on his phone.

"Melanie! It's Isaac...I need help...something's wrong with Timmy and we're coming in." Timmy could hear the phone quacking in Isaac's ear, then Isaac replied.

"Um, severe pain in his abdomen, white like a ghost and sweating." More quacking. "Yeah. One minute"

Isaac bent down and grabbed Timmy's hand but couldn't find anything that felt like a sensible pulse.

"I can't tell, Melanie, it seems way too fast. Yeah, I'm going to put him the car and fly...Bye".

Just at that moment, Sean came through the door.

"Thank God, you're just in time! Sean, help me get him in the car, fast!" Isaac barked.

"What happened?" Sean asked as he moved to the couch to help Isaac lift Timmy. He had a stricken look on his face, and tears began to well up in his eyes.

"Might be his appendix. Your mom is waiting for us at the hospital. Run out and fold the front seats, Sean." He returned seconds later, and together, they managed to get Timmy half carried, half dragged out of the house and into the back seat of the "Bentley". Isaac buckled Timmy in with both rear seat belts, and even though it wasn't legal to ride laying down in the seat, he was sure the cops wouldn't argue if he got stopped.

"He...he's not gonna he?" Sean muttered as tears began to roll down his face and his lips trembled.

"Oh God, can I please die?" Timmy groaned in the back seat.

"Nobody is even close to dying right now." Isaac stated.

"Well that really sucks..." Timmy complained.

"Sorry little brother, no bucket kicks allowed in the Bentley...Sean, just take it easy and calm down. There is no need to be scared, okay? We're gonna handle this, and I need your help. Are you with me?"

Sean nodded and wiped his eyes. "Yeah, I'm good...Sorry."

"Okay, let's get this road on the show, then. When we get there, you bolt inside and get help and I'll get his belts off." Isaac said as he sat down and wrapped the seat belt around himself in one motion.

Sean had barely sat down and pulled the door shut when Isaac gunned the car out of the driveway and double-timed it to the hospital. No cops, no tickets...

Melanie had briefed the ER on the incoming patient and two nurses were already running to the doors when Sean bolted into the building to get help.

A doctor pushed a gurney out to the car, and the three of them had Timmy laid out and the gurney moving to the doors in seconds.

The attending physician pushed on Timmy's belly and he screamed. "Run him to OR three, stat. Does he have any known drug allergies?" the doctor asked looking back at Isaac who was running to catch up.

"I don't think so. He has had surgery recently, no problem with anesthesia." Isaac offered. A nurse came over and took Timmy's name, date of birth and social security information from Isaac, and printed a wrist band and snapped it on Timmy's arm just before the gurney began to move.

"M'kay, have you eaten anything, son?"

Timmy shook his head, "No, wasn't hungry all day." He croaked as the staff rushed the gurney to the elevators.

"That's good...let Anika know the patient is fasted" the doctor said, referring to the attending anesthesiologist..."Are you his responsible party?" the doctor asked turning to Isaac.

"Yes, he's my brother, Timmy. I'm Isaac, and this is Sean, Melanie Bennett's son."

"Our Melanie Bennett?" Isaac nodded. "OK, Isaac, Sean. Well, we'll unzip him and see if the appendix has burst. It will pretty much depend on whether it has or not as far as how things go. The appendectomy is pretty straightforward and shouldn't be a problem. Any questions?"

"No Sir, thanks for everything."

"No problem. I will be talking to you soon." The doctor turned and sped off to surgery, and Isaac went out to get the car out of the emergency loop and park it. He returned to the ER admitting desk and the blizzard of forms and signatures began. Sean came over and stood next to Isaac and waited while the forms were filled in, then they sat down and began to wait. Sean leaned forward in the seat and put his head down. Isaac began to rub Sean's back, as tears hit the floor.

"You're a good friend, Sean. He's very lucky to have one like you in this life." Isaac said.

"He's probably thinking I'm a pussy for crying like this."

"He would never feel that way; that's not who he is and you know that, Sean. This is his hour of need, and he knows who is here for him. His best buddy. There's nothing wrong with being scared and showing it. You sucked it up and you did good. You look me in the eye and try to tell me you would have stayed at the house while all this went down."

"No way." Sean replied.

"I rest my case...Look, nobody's a pussy. He loves and needs you very much, don't ever doubt that, Sean."

"Thanks." Sean whispered

Isaac gave Sean a poke in the ribs making him squeak and got up to walk around a bit while they waited.

Up in surgery, it was quickly determined that the appendix had not yet burst, which meant that peritonitis was not likely to occur, and the surgery and closure was quick and routine. A little less than hour after surgery began, Timmy was in recovery and woke up with Isaac and Sean at his bedside. It took another 20 minutes before Timmy felt awake enough to carry on a conversation.

"What does it look like?" Timmy asked.

"Can't tell, it's under a dressing." Isaac replied, referring to Timmy's incision.

Timmy reached his hand out to Sean, who took it and held it. "I'm really sorry, dude."

"Um, about what?" Sean asked, clearly confused.

"For scaring you so bad like that."

", I probably looked stupid bawling like that." Sean replied, feeling embarrassed.

"I think you looked like the best friend anyone could ever have....never.....stupid....never..." Timmy said as his eyes closed and he drifted off again on the cocktail of pain relief and antibiotics. Sean continued to hold Timmy's hand for several minutes until the doctor came in and checked Timmy's temperature and vitals.

"Has he been awake for you all yet?" he asked.

"Yes, just briefly ...he drifted off again as you came in" Isaac replied.

"He's actually going to metabolize the anesthesia for a few hours more, and we do have him on a dosage of pain relief that will have him very sleepy even when he clears the anesthetics. We are going to watch his temps for a few hours...If there is no sign of infection and his blood comes back normal, we'll kick him loose, probably tonight. He can go back to school next week, no work or lifting of any kind for six weeks. If his incision feels hot, oozes or itches excessively, he probably has a wound infection and needs to be treated. So, the good news is the appendix did not rupture, and there was no pus in his belly. Everything looked really good once we snatched the bad guy. Any questions?"

" there any bad news?" Sean asked the doctor, who noticed the tear streaks on Sean's face.

"No bad news...This one was easy-peasy, you got him here in plenty of time. He's going to make a full recovery, so no worries." The doctor looked Sean in the eyes as he said "no worries", gave Sean a squeeze on the back of the neck and a smile.

Sean nodded and smiled.

"He wanted to know how many sutures or stitches he has." Isaac asked.

" I think we did eight sutures in each layer, and there were three layers that we closed separately, including the skin. Everything is self-dissolving, so he doesn't need to come back to have stitches removed. He can take showers, and when the dressing comes off it doesn't need to be replaced."

"Okay, thanks. I will tell him."

"He will get all this written down in his discharge instructions too."

"Thanks, Doctor"

. He then left the boys alone, and they roused Timmy again and kept him awake. Gradually, the fog wore off and Timmy was told what the doctor had said.

"So basically, it sounds like what I had to do after the other operation, so far."

"Yup. Doctor says you'll probably go home tonight if you don't have fever, and your blood looks good."

Sean ducked out to use the bathroom, and seconds later Melanie came in to see Timmy and say hello.

"Hi, Kiddo. Heard your surgery went really good and you'll probably go home later."

"Uh-huh. So sleepy right now, Melanie."

"Yup, we want you to lie still the first few hours after a surgery, so you are on a drip right now. Do you have any pain?"

"No, ma'am. I feel pretty good."

"All right, I can dial this back a tad then...Um, where's Sean? Is he with you?" Melanie asked as she adjusted the pump on Timmy's IV.

"Yes, I think he's in the john." Isaac replied.

"Is he okay? He tends to stress in intense situations." Melanie asked in a low voice, as if Sean could hear them through the bathroom door.

"He was pretty worked up, but he was a real trooper when I needed his help...he did good. We're really proud of him." Isaac replied.

"He really looks up to both of you. Thanks, guys."

Sean opened the bathroom door just in time to hear Timmy say

"I'm really glad he's here with us, too...Oh, look! There he is! Can't talk about him now!" Timmy joked.

"I thought you were all "Please let me die" two hours ago. Did you change your mind?" Sean asked.

Timmy began to laugh and said

"Oh you dick! That's probably supposed to hurt when I laugh."

"It might later on when you're off the meds, so take it easy, kid." Melanie said as she squeezed Timmy's hand. "Are you hungry?"

Timmy nodded. "I couldn't think about food all day. I'm starved."

"Well, it's going to be jello, soup, and ice cream for now. What do you want to drink?"

Timmy chose milk, and Melanie called the order in to Food Service.

"Do you have homework?" Melanie asked Sean.

"A few minutes worth, a science sheet and some stuff I have to read." Sean replied.

"See if you can get that sheet done before school tomorrow."

"I will, mom. No problem. Can I talk to you out here?" Sean asked cocking his head toward the hallway.

Melanie followed Sean into the hall and stopped when he turned to her.

"Mom, could Timmy have died today? For real?" Sean asked, as Melanie held his face in her hand.

"No, Honey. People don't die from this unless the appendix has burst for quite a while. It just hurts like hell. Timmy wasn't going to die, okay?"

"Isaac was right, then. He said Timmy wasn't dying too."

"Yes, he was. He's proud of you, by the way."

"He is?"

"Yes, baby, he told me that." She kissed Sean on the forehead and said. "I have to run. Are you going home with Timmy and Isaac?"

"Yes, Mom. I'm going to stay with Timmy tonight."

Melanie nodded. Sean would need to be close to Timmy to assure himself that all would be well, so Melanie was pretty sure Sean would not be home when she got off shift. For now, Sean's spirits were immediately lifted and he felt much better when he returned to Timmy's bedside.

"Sean, you need this." Isaac said, handing him a warm, wet washcloth. "Your face, you know."

"Oh." Sean wiped his face with the cloth and asked "Better?"

"You're stunning once again." Isaac teased.

"I'm always stunning, Isaac." Sean giggled.

Twenty-five minutes later, a petite girl in a hospital uniform stopped at Timmy's door and came in.

"Hello, food services.... I just need to get your table set up here." as she arranged the tray table over Timmy's bed and raised his upper half slightly to a better angle. She went back to the hallway and pulled a trolley over to Timmy's door and brought a food tray into the room. After checking the ticket on the tray, and Timmy's arm band she asked

"Beef Wellington, lobster tails, and spinach salad with vinaigrette dressing?" as she placed the tray of jello, soup and a small container of ice cream on the table. "Aw, looks like your order got messed up too!" She winked and grinned at Timmy, who smiled back as Sean and Isaac chuckled. "Can I get you anything else?"

"No, I'm fine, thanks." Timmy replied.

"Get well soon...and if you want anything else sent up, dial 6206 on the phone." The girl said as she left and rolled her cart to the next room.

Timmy polished off the food and Isaac stacked the tray on the countertop next to Timmy's bed. It was almost nine in the evening when the attending surgeon stopped in to talk to Timmy

"Hey Timmy, how are you doing"?

"Good, thanks."

"I see you had something to eat, that's good. Any pain or discomfort?"

"No, Sir. No pain right now."

"Good...that's what we like to hear. Well, your tests look really good, your temps are normal and you have been able to eat something. I'm going to send you home soon." The doctor then gave Timmy pretty much the same speech he had given Isaac while Timmy had been asleep.

"Do you have any questions for me, Timmy?"

"Can't think of one right now, Sir."

"Okay. Well, the nurse will bring you the discharge papers, and you can get dressed now if you want. Good luck to you, and a quick recovery." The doctor said as he shook hands all around.

"Thanks, doctor" the boys replied, practically in unison.

A few minutes later, a nurse came in and said

"I hear you're getting kicked out of here. Are you glad to be going home?"

"Yes, ma'am I am."

She smiled as she removed the blood pressure cuff and oxygen saturation clip from Timmy's finger. A few seconds later, the IV line was out, and Timmy was pressing a piece of gauze on it with his finger as the nurse prepared a couple of strips of tape.

"That's it, Mister Timmy. Let me give you these papers and we'll take you downstairs when you're dressed and ready."

"Yes, ma'am, thank you."

She left the room, and Timmy threw off the sheet. He was still gowned, and almost sat up before he realized that wasn't a good idea.

"Um, ...shit. How do I do this." He said, mostly to himself.

"Hang on...don't try to sit up, dude. Here." Sean said, putting Timmy's bag of clothes on the bed. He removed one of Timmy's socks from the bag, and held it open over Timmy's toes. He slipped the sock on, then the other, and grabbed Timmy's briefs out of the bag. Sean slipped the briefs over Timmy's left foot, then the right, and lifted his knees as he slid the briefs up Timmy's legs.

"You're really good at this sort of thing, dude." Timmy said as he finished pulling the briefs up. Isaac pulled the gown off Timmy and laid it in the chair

"Well, you're only getting the valet service once." Sean said and smiled. "Mom taught me this stuff."

"Once I get home, I'm not getting dressed until I have to go back to school!" Timmy stated. Sean was busy feeding Timmy's feet and legs into his pants, and pulled them up while Timmy raised himself off the bed with his arms. Sean then fitted Timmy's shoes and tied them.

Sean came around the side of the bed, and said. "Now don't try to sit up. Roll over towards me, and put your legs on the edge of the bed. I'm gonna pull you up and you put your feet out, ready?"

"Yeah, ready." Sean pulled Timmy up into a sitting position on the edge of the bed.

"Good? Not dizzy or anything?"

"No, I'm good dude, thanks."

"Cool. Here's your shirt. Tag's right here."

Isaac had gone to find a nurse to wheel Timmy out to the car, and returned to find Timmy dressed and waiting patiently sitting on the bed with Sean.

A male nurse came in the room with a chair, and there was a moment of instant recognition between him, Isaac and Timmy.

"Hey, didn't we do this not too long ago?" The nurse asked with a smile.

"Yup, we sure did. Appendectomy this time." Timmy replied.

"Happens to the best of us." the young man observed.

"How have you been between my visits?" Timmy joked.

"Oh, you know, eight hours of paid entertainment every 12-hour shift! Okay now, I'm going to lift you under the arms and we'll just pivot from the bed to the chair, okay? Use your legs, and not your abs."

"Okay, I'm ready." Timmy said.

In one easy motion, Timmy was standing, and the nurse pivoted him around like a dance partner, then supported him as he sat back in the wheel chair.

"Ready to make a break for it?" The nurse teased, releasing Timmy's brakes and making sure his feet were on the platforms.

"Born ready! Let's flee!" Timmy replied.

It was after ten o'clock when they made it back to the house. Sean helped Timmy undress and get into bed, then got his hastily dropped school bag and found his homework assignment. He had to fill out an exercise sheet for science class, and read a chapter in English Literature. He sat down at the table to do his work, and Timmy called out to Isaac.

"What's up, ya need anything?" Isaac replied from the doorway.

"Can you let school know I won't be there, and they'll have to save my homework for me?"

"I will call up there in the morning and let them know, no problem."

"Cool, Isaac. Thanks."

Isaac had been making calls at the hospital while waiting, letting everyone who needed to know what had happened, and that Timmy was home and would be resting a few days. He assured Peter that everything was fine and that he did not need to drop everything and come home. Dennis, Dwayne and Donny would be over in the morning. Pat and Lizabeth spoke to Timmy on the phone and were assured that the boy was fine and would recover in a few days.

After finishing his homework, Sean took a shower and let the heat unwind the stress and excitement of the day. He did not realize how intense this day had been for him emotionally, until he tried to dry off and step out of the shower. An overwhelming sense of fatigue came over him, and he realized that he was dead tired and made his way to Timmy's bed. He climbed in next to his best friend, not bothering with briefs or any other clothing. He snuggled into Timmy's back and began to fall asleep. Soon Timmy heard the light snores of a teenage boy against his back. He couldn't sleep. His rhythm had been wrecked by the anesthetic, and the "sleep" he got under the influence of the drugs wasn't the same thing as his natural sleep. He lay awake, feeling Sean against him, listening to the snores. He thought back to the fear, anguish and tears in Sean's eyes this afternoon. Back further to the many times Sean had shown how much he loved Timmy by his actions...Timmy began to tear up, fighting back the urge to cry.

Sean's arm twitched and moved to get more comfortable in his sleep, and wound up draped over Timmy's chest. Timmy took Sean's hand and pressed it to his lips as his tears fell on the pillow.

Timmy eventually fell asleep out of pure exhaustion, and was glad he did not have to be at school in the morning. Sean woke up very early with an erection that was laying against Timmy's back, and he rolled out of bed still nude and relieved himself in the bathroom, before coming back to check on his friend.

Timmy's eyes were red-rimmed and his face was tear streaked. The appearance shocked Sean, who asked.

"Jesus, Timmy, are you in pain? You look fuckin' awful, dude."

"I just need real sleep is all. I'll be fine once I'm on schedule again." Sean nodded, and turned to get his morning shower before putting on enough clothes to cross the yard to his house to get dressed for school.



"Yesterday I needed my best friend more than anything in the world, and you were there for me. You are always there for me, Sean. Thanks."

Sean stood in Timmy's doorway as he collected his thoughts.

"When I first got here...I didn't know how I was gonna handle the move, losing my dad, all the shit that was going down in my life. I'm pretty sure I wasn't handling anything at all actually. I thought about giving up...just giving up, but you said I could do it. I could handle what I had to do. You told me I could do things I had given up on before I even started. You made me feel like I wasn't a stupid freak, and I just needed to believe in myself. You helped me like who I am, Timmy. Nothing's the same as it was before I came here."

"Things did change a lot...I can definitely see that" Timmy said with a smile on his face as he looked at Sean's flaccid penis, no longer a boy's penis, but that of a young adult.

Sean looked down and caught on to Timmy's innuendo, smiled and gyrated his hips to swing his penis around and put on a little display for Timmy.

"You better get that shower while you have time, dude." Timmy reminded his friend.

"See you when I get home, then." Sean disappeared across the hall into the bathroom and took his morning shower. A few moments later, he popped back into Timmy's room and extracted a pair of Timmy's shorts from the debris on the floor.

"Can my stuff wash with yours?" Sean asked, as he slipped the shorts on and sped out the door.

"It always does, dude!" Timmy said with a chuckle before he laboriously pulled the covers back and sat himself up on the bed. He leaned forward as much as he could, and used his legs to get up.

"Well, that wasn't too horrible." He told himself as he padded down to Isaac's room. Peter and Isaac were still in bed, but it was only minutes before the alarm would go off, and Timmy's presence wakened Peter.

"Hey little buddy, are you okay, how are you feeling?" Peter said as he got out of bed.

"Pretty good. Need to catch up on my sleep, but that will come. Man, you need to pee!" Timmy giggled at the size of the tent in Peter's boxers.

Timmy stepped into the shower, as Peter stepped over to the bowl. Timmy turned on the hot water and peed down the shower drain, as Peter emptied his bladder in the toilet.

"Going to work right away?" Timmy asked.

"Not until noon. Keith is opening up and I'm going to close." Peter replied.

"I can't lift anything, but if you run the laundry for me, I can sort it." Timmy offered.

"Sounds like a plan, little buddy." Peter replied as he began brushing his teeth. "Once we all get showers, I'll start a load."

Isaac had woken up and came in the bathroom and kissed Peter. "Good Morning, Stud Muffin."

"Morning to you too, you hot creature." Peter replied.

Timmy giggled in the shower, and Isaac turned to him.

"How's the younger brother unit holding up this morning?" Isaac asked. He turned to Peter and said

"You notice that we can't call him "little" brother anymore."

"For one really big reason!" Peter joked

"You guys are such pervs!" Timmy giggled, rolling his eyes. "I'm doing okay, thanks, but I couldn't get any sleep last night. I'm still whacked and going back to bed until the laundry is done."

"I'll dump it on the couch before I leave, Timmy." Peter promised.

"Okay, who's next?" Timmy said, stepping out of the shower and grabbing a towel. Peter stepped into the hot spray and began soaking his hair.

Timmy went back to his room carrying his underwear, and dropping it in the washer. He scooted the ball of dirty clothes, a mixture of his and Sean's out into the hallway and slid it to the washer on the hardwood floor. He got back into his bed and covered himself, and was mostly asleep fifteen minutes later when Peter came in his door looking for more clothes. Peter had not bothered to dress, and Timmy figured Isaac would also be undressed in the kitchen rustling up breakfast.

Isaac came into Timmy's room, sat on the bed and gently woke Timmy up.

"Hey, you want something to eat?"

"Umm, orange juice and a small bowl of cereal? Thanks."

"I'm on it. Oh, I called school too. It's all good."

Unbeknownst to Isaac and Timmy, Mister Leonard had asked Cathy to find Wesley at lunchtime and give him an envelope with Timmy's assignments for the rest of the week. Wesley readily agreed to take the envelope to Timmy's house after school, and the 12-year-old looked forward to seeing his kind and patient tutor again. For the last three periods of the day, Wesley carried the envelope as if it were a diplomatic pouch that he would die to defend from the enemies of truth, justice, and the American way.

A small voice snapped Wesley out of his reverie at the beginning of sixth period.

"Whatcha got in there, Wesley?" a classmate named Megan asked, clearly more interested in Wesley than the envelope.

Wesley turned red and blushed and replied

"Um, ...It's um, just some um, homework for a kid who is uh, sick." This is the first time Wesley had talked to a girl since his hormones began to surge, and he was petrified. He could only hope the reaction between his legs was going unnoticed. He had just begun puberty and his erections were frequent, strong and insistent, but at least his voice wasn't changing at the moment. That would have been the end of western civilization.

"That's really very sweet of you, Wesley, helping someone who needs you."

"Umm...uh...thanks." God! Now she thinks I'm a complete dweeb! Why can't I talk right? Wesley thought to himself.

Quite to the contrary, Megan had been crushing on Wesley since her interest in the opposite sex began to stir inside. She had managed to get the desk next to Wesley assigned to her, claiming she could see the board without glare on his side of the classroom.

"Would you like to sit with me at lunch sometime?" Megan asked.

Oh my God! What do I do now???? He could hear those screechy violins from the shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho in his head.

"Umm, uh, yeah, okay." Wesley stumbled through his answer. Please God, just don't let me mess up!

"I'll look for you tomorrow then." Megan said

Less than 24 hours to live...I'm so totally dead...

Melanie was working a late shift, and would report to work today at 2:30 in the afternoon. She decided to check on Timmy and knocked on the door. Timmy had gotten up and put on shorts to sort the laundry dumped on the couch, and heard Melanie's knock on the door.

"It's open!"

"Hi, Timmy, I just came to see how you are doing." Melanie said as she came in, crossed the living room and put a hand on Timmy's forehead. She bent down to inspect Timmy's dressing for leakage.

"That looks pretty good..."

"Hi, Melanie...I'm doing okay, thanks."

"Have any pain?"

"Not really, no."

"Have you eaten?"

"Not since this morning."


"Maybe a little, but I'll wait til Isaac and Sean come in."

"Okay, well, Timmy, if you need anything, let me know. I'm glad to see you're looking better" Melanie turned to the door.

Melanie, wait a second." Timmy said, and Melanie stopped and faced him.

"Melanie...I scared Sean half to death yesterday. I couldn't sleep at all last night thinking about the look on his face. He really thought I was going to die, but I was making jokes about wanting to croak on the way to the hospital.... I didn't realize what that was doing to him...I felt so awful for putting him through that. I'm so sorry for being an asshole."

"Timmy...He knew you weren't going to die yesterday...Maybe not at the house and in the car, but he pulled me aside later on and asked me, and I told him that you were pretty sick, but not in mortal danger. Look, he loves you very much, and he's just glad you're okay. He's really emotional, but he doesn't hold grudges, and he doesn't think you're an asshole. Neither do I, okay? I know you better than that, and assholes don't care about other people's feelings. You talk to him about it, and you'll feel better."

Timmy nodded.

"Just one other thing you should probably know. Sean has a visit with his hormone doctor coming up. You know about those."

Timmy nodded. "Yes."

"He's going to put on a brave face and try to minimize, but he hates those appointments with a passion. Just be there for him. He doesn't talk to me about it, but if he's out of sorts and acting distracted, he might need to talk to you about things."

"We do talk about it when he needs to."

"It's been a lot easier for him going through these treatments having a friend by his side, Timmy. Well, I need to get some things done before I go to work, so I'll check on you again later, okay?"

"Thanks, Melanie."


Timmy decided to quit folding laundry for a while, and go back to his room to read in bed. He stepped out of his shorts and slipped between the sheets.

Finally, the last bell rang and Wesley boarded his bus and spent the 20-minute trip to his house with the envelope covering his crotch. Once at the house, Wesley decided to grab his bike without going inside, since it was less than a ten-minute trip to Timmy's house. He should be back when William got home.

Wesley rang the doorbell at Timmy's, and heard a slight scraping noise to his left. Timmy had cracked his bedroom window several inches and shouted

"Who's there?"

"Timmy, it's Wesley. I got your homework and stuff from school."

"Door's not locked, come on in. My room is the first left in the hallway."

Seconds later, Wesley came in the bedroom, and put the envelope on Timmy's desk. He sat on the bed next to Timmy.

"Hey, Wesley! How is your mom and William? How are you? Your hair looks good." Timmy said, remembering how the boy looked after the surgeries on his skull.

"Oh, Thanks...We're making it. I might need some more surgery but they want to wait a while. Mom's good, back at work. William is the same old William."

"I miss him."

"You should come over to see us. Oh, here's your stuff for this what happened to you?" Wesley asked. He pulled at himself.

"My appendix had to come out yesterday. I gotta take it easy for a few days."

"Wow, did it hurt?"

"It was pretty bad, yeah."

"Gotta big scar and stuff?" Wesley asked as he yanked and adjusted some more.

"No, not really. It's covered with a dressing if you want to see it."

Timmy forgot that he had nothing on, and flipped the bed cover back, exposing more than just the bandages.

"Whoa, that's huge." Wesley said, as he pulled and poked himself some more.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to flash ...what's with you, you got a rash or something?"

"I sort of got a boner I can't get rid of." Wesley admitted sheepishly. "And the flash reminds me I still owe you one if you're up to it."

"Probably should lock my door." Timmy said. Wesley smiled and got up to attend to it.

"Take off your pants and underwear."

Timmy scooted over to make room in the bed, as Wesley kicked his shoes off, and unbuckled his belt. He slipped his pants and briefs off, freeing a very stiff circumcised four-inch erection. A small tan scar encircled the shaft halfway down, and a small bush of light brown hair graced the base of Wesley's boyhood. It curved gently and smoothly upwards, and a hairless loose scrotum contained two pecan sized testicles.

"You been growing a bit since the last time I've seen it. Here lay down next to me with your feet up by my head. Here's a pillow." Timmy said as he gave Wesley a pillow to put down at the foot of the bed. Wesley slipped his shirt off, and lay down on the bed clad only in socks.

Laying together thigh to thigh, they found each other's organs with their right hands, and began to explore each other. Wesley's erection was as hard as it could get under Timmy's expert fingers, and Wesley wrapped his small hand around Timmy's thickness as it grew.

"William told me you had a big dick, but wow, this puppy is thick."

Timmy began to stroke Wesley's shaft with his thumb and two fingers, but moved up to the glans as Wesley began to moan a little and scoot his ass...

"Yeah, like that, keep doing it.....oh, don't stop. Faster now, yeah, like that....oh yeah....don't stop." Wesley panted in a whisper.

Wesley had ached for release most of the day, and the newly familiar sensations began to build in the boy's pelvic region.

"Faster please...Just like that, Timmy...Oh yeah, don't stop... Feels so good....Urh, AHH, Ahh! Oh yeah! Oh yeah...Aww."

Wesley passed the point of no return, and his orgasm hit strongly. His penis throbbed and pulsed as a small squirt of sticky clear fluid hit the inside of Timmy's hand. Timmy thought Wesley was done, but the 12-year-old urged Timmy to continue.

"Lower, lower please.....slower....slower...don't stop, Timmy. Keep going just like that..." Wesley lay there with his eyes closed, breathing hard as his erection hardened and reached full size again moments later.

"Okay, move up and go faster.... yeah. Up a little more. Right there.... yeah, faster, please.... oh, yeah. Don't stop, don't stop...." Wesley pleaded. "Ahhhh, yeah...."

Wesley's second orgasm hit just as hard, but there was no emission. Once again, Wesley bade Timmy keep going.

"You're kidding, right?"

"No...not kidding." Wesley panted. "Keep going, move down and keep going....Yeah, like that, Timmy."

All this time, Wesley had been gripping and stroking Timmy's manhood, and finally Timmy could hold back no more and his seed flooded out and covered Wesley's hand. Wesley did not seem aware of it, and kept masturbating Timmy until Timmy said.

"You can stop, Wesley, I came." Wesley stopped stroking Timmy's erection, but left his hand wrapped around the thick organ. Timmy was still busy working Wesley back up to full tumescence. Timmy knew where and how fast to rub Wesley now, and the younger boy only grunted when his third and final climax took place. The pattern of his breathing told Timmy that the younger boy was probably exhausted at this point. Timmy let Wesley's softening penis go, and rested his arm and wrist.

"Go for four?" Timmy asked.

"I think... it's done. At least's soft... again. Probably going to... be sore, but that's cool. This was fun, thanks." Wesley said, catching his breath. He got off the bed and looked around.

"Just wipe off on the sheets. They have to be changed anyway. How many times can you do it like that?"

"Six was the most...It was really sore for a day afterward. I usually just do two or three when know."

"Yeah, I know." Timmy replied. He thought it funny that a boy who just enjoyed three orgasms at the hand of a friend couldn't say "jerk off."

"You should try lotion or baby oil if it gets sore."

"The soap that time in my shower was pretty good too. Well, I better get home for William." Wesley said as he pulled his briefs on and stepped into his pants.

"Thanks for coming over, Wesley."

"No problem...I'm glad I did. Hey, can I ask you something?" Wesley said, sitting back down on the bed and putting his shirt back on. Timmy could see no hair yet in Wesley's armpits.

"Anything, sure."

"Well, this girl wants me to sit with her at lunch, and I don't know what to do or what to say..."

"Is she the cause of your little problem just now?"

"Kinda sorta...yeah." Wesley giggled.

"Okay, this one is easy...Wesley, just be yourself. Every other boy will play games and try to impress her and all that. What will really work is if you just be who you are and don't try to overdo things."

"But...what if I say something stupid?"

"And you've never said or done something stupid ever, right? We all do that, Wesley. It's part of life. Just admit "hey that was dumb of me" and move on. She'll respect that more than if you try to play it off or something."

"I guess so."

"Look...Wesley...she isn't stupid, so just talk to her like anyone else with a brain in their head. Unless she's a total wench she isn't going to chop you off at the ankles. If she is a bitch, you'll know to stay away from her."

"I don't think she's actually like that."

"Then just go to lunch and have a good time, Wesley. Don't make it anymore than what it is."

"Yeah, you're right...Thanks...I don't have anyone else I can talk to about this stuff."

"You can always come here. I hope that helped. You gonna let me know how it went?"

"Sure. Thanks for the talk and...well, you know. Bye for now." Wesley replied, tying his shoes and walking out of the house. Timmy grinned again at the thought of Wesley's innocence in combination with his budding sexual arousal.

Sean was the next person to come through the door, and found Timmy back on the couch in shorts, watching afternoon stupidity on TV, and sorting the rest of the laundry pile.

"Hey, Dude...You look a lot better." Sean said.

"Feel better too. Sean, sit down a minute. There's something I have to say."

Sean dropped his bookbag and walked over to the couch, and sat next to Timmy. "What's up?"

"Sean...I was a total jerk yesterday, making those jokes about croaking and all that shit, and I feel really bad about it. I wasn't thinking about how you would feel, and I'm really sorry. I'll never do anything like that again."

Sean sat there for a moment before speaking

"Um, is this why you were crying last night?" Sean asked quietly.

Timmy nodded. "Thought you were already asleep"

Sean leaned over and kissed Timmy on the cheek. "Just about... Timmy, don't feel bad. It don't matter now that you're okay, and I'm not mad at you, or anything. For real."

"Okay" Timmy replied. "Thanks, dude."

"Good. Now give me a blow job." Sean joked.

Timmy reached over and began tickling Sean's neck and ears, and Sean cringed in a ball. Timmy began blowing air into Sean's ear as the older boy began to screech and scream between giggles.

"Ahhhh, God, No! Not that.... not the ear!" Sean protested.

"Normally I don't give blow jobs before a shower." Timmy joked.

"That's gross!" Sean giggled. Just then, Isaac walked in the front door, and dropped his carryall. He took in the scene, Sean's screeching and giggling, Timmy tickling and huffing and blowing. Sean was trying his hardest to suck his head down into his chest, and Timmy pressed any opening to Sean's neck with gusto, blowing a puff of air into Sean's ear each time it was exposed, causing Sean to scream.

"Are you sure giving blow jobs is safe right now?" Isaac asked with a grin and both boys burst out laughing, which brought proceedings to a halt.

"We better stop before I rip a stitch out." Timmy said as he let Sean go.

Sean lay back on the couch panting, trying to catch his breath for a few minutes. His color slowly returned to normal from scarlet as his heart rate and blood pressure eased.

"Yeah...By the way, have you seen it yet?" Sean asked, pointing at Timmy's dressing.



Timmy began peeling tape back slowly, until one side of the dressing was loose, and he lifted it exposing the incision. There was slight redness at the edges of the cut, and eight sutures in all. A shiny clear substance was present on the edges of the wound site.

"What is that stuff?" Sean wondered.

"It looks like...some kind of glue, I guess." Timmy replied. He re-stuck the tape closing the dressing.

"I'll ask mom about it."

"It doesn't look infected, that's a really good sign." Isaac observed. "You two hungry?"

Both boys nodded. "Herb mashed potatoes and meat loaf?" Isaac asked.


"Sounds good"

"You guys have about an hour before it's ready." Isaac said.

"Let's get our homework going while we wait." Timmy suggested, as he got up to get the envelope from his desk, and Sean brought his bookbag over to the dining table. He kicked his shoes off and unbuckled his belt, took his jeans off and sat down in his briefs and socks. Timmy returned with his envelope, and sat down across the table from Sean. The two boys regarded each other for a moment, exchanged smiles, then turned to the tasks before them. All was well, once again.

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