Aiden At 12

Part Two

Rated: PG

My grandparents were totally, absolutely, and completely awesome!

As soon as Chuckie had pulled out of the driveway, they smiled down at me and we walked into the house with their arms on my shoulders. They didn't make fun of me for crying and told me that I could call Chuckie every week, but that it would be expensive, so I had to not waste time and tell him most things in letters. They asked if I had any clothes other than what was in the shopping bag. I told them it was all I brought with me. They asked if there was anything back at home I wanted. There sure wasn't.

"Well, the first thing we need to do is get you some clothes. You're going to need some to do chores in, and some for school, and some to run around in. And you're about to start growing like a weed, so we'd better get them a little big and not too many for now."

We went into town and grampa took me into Wal-Mart. I tried on a pair of jeans, and came out of the fitting room holding them up, he laughed and said, "Well, we'll get the next size down. You want them kind for school?"

I nodded.

"I'll go get 'em, you get out of those and I'll be right back."

The ones he brought were the exact same style, and fit way better. He also brought the next size smaller, but I just barely squeezed into them, and when I showed him, he laughed and shook his head and said, "Yeah, not unless you want the girls seeing your goods in school."

Oh, fuck, did I get so embarrassed!

"Not yet, huh?" he laughed.

"No!"

"Fine. The other size then. Four more pair for school should do it for now. Get some different kinds, though. And we'll get used ones at the Salvation Army for you to do chores and mess around in. And a dress shirt and pants for the lawyer tomorrow."

He had gotten a pack of t-shirts and two of the same kind of socks I was already wearing, and a pack of black socks.

"Can I get decent socks? I don't like these."

"Sure. I just figured since they were like what were wearing that you wanted them."

We went to the aisle and he let me get decent socks, not the stupid ones with stripes at the top. 

He coughed, "Ahem," and nodded at the underwear area. "You know what size?"

"Um..."

"Check when you try the dress clothes on."

"Okay."

We got tan slacks and blue dress shirts in different sizes. We went to the changing room again. I tried on the pants and shirts until I found the ones that fit. I checked the label on my underwear. I went out to show him the pants and shirt.

"You look almost civilized," he said, nodding. "A belt and decent shoes, and you'll be presentable enough."

I changed back into my old clothes, then we went back to the underwear aisle.

"Put these back where they belong and get the kind you want. At least ten pair, I'd say. But don't go getting those expensive ones. Check the prices, we're not made of money," then turned the cart the other way and went around the corner.

I was really glad that he left me alone to get underwear. I'd always wanted colored ones, especially blue, so I got the less expensive ones. He didn't even look as I dropped them in the cart. Why is it so embarrassing to have people see your underwear? Even when you've never worn them or anything and were new in a package? Weird. But it was so cool that he seemed to understand that.

I tried on dress shoes, and got the nice brown ones that didn't have old-man style or laces. We got shirts for school and for home and to work in. He pointed out what he'd seen guys my age wearing around. Nothing special or weird, just regular colored t-shirts and such. I liked that he let me decide what to get.

He picked up some things he wanted, then we walked past the electronics area. I'd played video games at my friends' houses, of course, but I'd never owned one. Or a computer. Or anything like that.

"We can look," he said.

"Nah. Just a tease," I said with a shrug.

"You need something to do around the house. What do you do for fun?"

"Read, I guess. Watch tee-vee."

"We've got that television in the guest room... I mean, your room. It's small and black and white. We really could use a new one in the living room, though. Been thinking about it a while. We can put the one there in your room. It's color and much larger."

"Can you afford it, though? The clothes are gonna be expensive."

"Like I said, your grandmother and I've been talking about it."

He bought a new one, almost four-hundred dollars. The clerk put it on a trolley and said it would be waiting up front.

We got a few things in the grocery aisles, mostly stuff they didn't have that I said I liked. Cereal and snacks and such. He said soda was awful for you, but got some anyway. He got a lot of fruit juices with low sugar or no sugar added to it.

The cart was really full. I felt so... I don't know. Like a king? I guess.

We went to the check-out.

"Hello there, Candace," he said to the cashier.

"Hello, Joe. How's stuff with you?"

She was about his age, kinda fat, and wore too much make-up.

"This," grandpa said, grabbing my shoulder, "is my grandson, Aiden. He's come to live with us."

"Oh! Hello there, Aiden! Nice to meet you! Your grandpa and I go way back."

"Too far back," he said, laughing.

"I almost stole him away from his girl back in high school, you know."

"Almost?" he laughed.

"Well, you did keep going out with her, now didn't you?"

"I told you I would'a dumped her if you wanted. You were better in the back seat."

"Oh! You dirty old man! You were such a scamp!"

She kept ringing things up as they talked. She asked my age, told me about her grandson who was fourteen and in high school, and her nephew who was eleven and would be in my grade.

"Kevin Walker. You look him up and I bet you two will get along fine. He's a good boy."

"Okay, I will."

I didn't think I would. I wasn't good at meeting people. I didn't approach any of the few friends I had back in Chicago, they'd talked to me first. But I figured I could give it a try, if this Kevin guy seemed okay when I found out who he was.

"You're a good looking boy. Like your grandpa was. You'll have no problem getting the girls."

I felt my face go bright red and get hot. Why do you smile when you're embarrassed? Damn, we're weird creatures.

"Oh, you're such a cutie!" she said, nearly laughing. "Yeah, those girls better watch out!"

I almost wanted to step behind my grandpa and hide. Especially when she rang up the underwear. Oh, geeze! But she didn't bat an eye or even look at me. Thank God!

We found grandma at the Subway in front of the store. She'd gotten pencils, pens, a calculator, a little assorted package of paper clips and rubber bands and such things, notebooks, and a backpack. Thankfully, the backpack was a nice one, black with little silver tubes on the edges. I wouldn't mind it at all. We put the bags in the back of the pickup then pulled up in front of the store where the clerks loaded the television.

Now, I don't know why, but I found myself checking out the one guy who was probably in high school. He had on tan slacks, like all the workers did, and his butt sort of pushed them out, all round and inviting. I'd never noticed a guy's butt before. And I got a quick glance at the front of his pants, too. It was really interesting. He had a cute face, too. But too much acne. Still... I felt kind of... interested? It was just weird.

I wondered what he looked like naked. How big his dick was, his balls, what color his pubes were, and I got an erection. So embarrassing! Geeze.

They drove around town, showing me where the school was, the places where they'd seen kids my age hang out, and the mini-mall where the book store was.

"Can we go in?"

"Do you want a book or two?" grandma asked.

"Yeah. I didn't bring but one. And I've read it a few times."

"Fine. Joe."

He pulled in and we went inside. I loved bookstores. And books. I walked right to the science-fiction and fantasy aisle and found the next book in the series I was reading. I'd almost bought it last week when it came out, but I'd spent the money on food instead.

"Just the one?" grandma asked.

"I could buy the whole store!"

"Well, get another. Nothing expensive, but something large enough to take a bit to read. And something more meaningful, if you know what I mean."

I did know what she meant, but I didn't know what to get. I went into the classics section, and one stood out like it was lit up. It had a fake green-leather cover and gold lettering. I'd read a couple of Poe's short works, like The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart, and liked them. It was on special, so I got it.

"That's a good choice," she said.

They finished the tour of town and went home.

Home. Not the shitty little apartment that smelled like cigarettes and burning coke, that needed flushed out with a fire hose, and where I had to keep absolutely quiet and stay in my room unless I was cooking or cleaning. And there was no one to yell at me for nearly nothing. And I wasn't afraid of being hit for even less.

Home. The big, white house on a huge yard, with trees, bushes, grass, even flowers, that smelled like good food and cleaners and fresh air, and where I had a room with a color television in it soon, and a big, soft, warm bed, and where I could talk and walk around and didn't have to do all the cleaning up or the cooking. And I wasn't worried that I would have to be quiet or get yelled at or hit.

Ever have tears when you were smiling? So weird. I felt great, really happy, so why the tears? Damn, we're weird creatures.

My grands didn't notice, or didn't say anything. We took in the clothes and I put them away. Then I helped put the little tee-vee in the basement, and move the big one into my room. Then we brought in the new one and set it up. The old one in my room now had a remote control too. They didn't have cable, and they only got eight channels. Two were pretty snowy. The tee-vee in my room now didn't pick up anything. We had to hook up the antenna wire that grandpa had bought at the store. I had to, that is.

But first, I had to get ready for that lawyer. I got the fancy clothes out, opened the new underwear, and went into the bathroom down the hall. It was nice to be able to take a shower and not worry that Mom or her boyfriend would come pounding on the door, demanding that I get out so they could use the bathroom. I took my time. Fucking nice!

Then I got dressed. Well, first, I put on those blue briefs and checked myself out in the long mirror on the back of the door. I liked them. I wondered if I looked hot in them. I wondered if Chuck would like me in them. I hoped that I got to show him. I really wanted to be with him again. I wanted to do those things with him again. Thinking about all that, I got a boner. So, I pulled the briefs down and played with it, watching in the mirror. Really fun! It felt great. I loved doing that. It was just so much fun! I wondered if other guys my age knew about jerking off. I wondered if I would do something with anyone there. How I could find out if anyone wanted to. But mostly, I played with myself and had a great time with it. Then I got dressed.

When I went back to my room, I put on the socks and the shoes. I needed a comb. I went downstairs to ask if they had one.

"Well, don't you look adorable!" Grandma said as soon as she saw me.

Oh, geeze!

"Do you have a comb I could use?"

"Sure. Come with me."

We went back upstairs and she handed me a brush from the medicine cabinet.

"You can have this. Brand new. We kept it around for guests."

I got to work in the mirror. She watched from the door, grinning at me.

"What?" I asked, trying not to laugh.

"You're a good looking boy, Aiden."

"Geeze."

"Well, you are. Such nice blond hair. And beautiful blue eyes."

"Geeze."

There was that stupid grin when I was embarrassed again. Why?

"I did always think that your mother had a pretty mouth and lips. You inherited those."

"Girl's lips."

"Big, red lips. I think the girls will like them."

"Geeze."

I rolled my eyes. A full-on eye roll, complete with head roll too.

"You might not want the girls' attention yet, but when you do, you'll be getting it."

"Grandma! Will you just let me do my hair in peace! Geeze!"

"Fine."

She laughed and left. I finished getting my hair down straight. I might not like my lips, but I had to admit that my hair and eyes were nice. My hair wasn't bright blond, but it was sure blond. Dark yellow. Almost like gold. And I did have big, blue eyes. Deep blue. Not weak blue.

"Your not such a complete dork after all, are you? Really."

"No, you're sure not," gramps said, watching me.

"Geeze. No privacy here at all!"

"Try closing the door."

"Good idea."

"And Aiden?"

"Yeah?"

I was done with my hair, so I turned to look at him, waiting.

"You are a good looking young man."

"Oh, geeze."

He grinned and walked away. I looked back in the mirror. I had to smile at the guy looking back at me. He was kinda cute.

I went to my room and put the dirty clothes on my bed. They weren't really dirty, so I figured I'd put them back on later. After the lawyer.

She arrived right on time. Tall and skinny and not nearly as old as I expected. And was she ever nice. We sat at the kitchen table. My grandparents told them how I had been found walking the streets of Chicago late at night, alone. With a bag that had a few clothes and a book in it.

"Why didn't you use a suitcase and pack more clothes? And a few other things?" she asked.

"They were the only good clothes. And I didn't have anything else to pack."

"What about a few toys or things?"

"Like what?"

"A game. Or more books. Or any toys?"

"I don't have any games. Or toys. And my books keep coming up missing."

"Missing?"

"I think he takes them."

"The man that lives with your mom?"

"Yeah."

"Did they get married?"

"No."

"Are you sure?"

"Pretty sure."

"Did he adopt you?"

I laughed out loud.

"Sure?"

"Sure."

"Do you know his name?"

"I saw papers with it. Daniel Walters."

"Know how old he is?"

"No. About the same as Mom."

She looked at grandma, who said, "She's thirty, or thirty-one."

"What's her full name?"

Grandma told her, and her birthday, and where she was born, and the address of the apartment.

"It will take a few days to get the information on her and her boyfriend. So, Aiden, did you go to school?"

"Yes."

"What one?"

I told her. And answered her other questions. She didn't believe me about how mean Daniel was to me, or my mom. But I showed her the marks on my leg where he had hit me with his belt hard enough to make it bleed and left scars. And I told her about all the times they'd hit me. Especially him. And how Mom said she wished she'd never had me, except that I was worth money from the city and state and Washington. I told her how I had to get my own groceries, and had to hide them, and make my own food. And do all the dishes and cleaning. And be quiet or get beaten. And had no bed. No clothes. Nothing but a floor and the blankets I'd bought with the money my grandparents had sent to me.

"No bed? At all?"

"I got a mattress someone threw out once."

She sighed and shook her head. She wrote down everything.

"Did they do any drugs?"

"Sure."

"Do you know what ones?"

"Pot, coke, acid, mushrooms, pills, and they drank every day. Smoked pot every day, too

"Do you know what pills they took?"

"Sure. Fennies made them really weird and sleepy and they left me alone when they took them. Reds made them quiet and they'd just sit there. I hated when they took amps. They'd be all loud and jumping around, and I had to stay in my room or I'd get knocked around."

She nodded and looked around at my grandparents. She made some notes, then looked at my grandparents again. It was kind of weird. Then she looked at me real serious.

"Aiden, I'm going to ask some embarrassing questions next. And I need you to tell me the truth to them. Is that okay?"

"Sure. I have so far, honest."

"Okay. I want to know, if you were, touched, in any way."

"I got slapped a lot. And when he took me to my room, he'd leave marks on my arm from holding it so tight. And he'd whip the he-... uh, heck outta me."

"He's spank you on your behind?"

"Yeah."

"With what?"

"His hand, usually. Sometimes his belt. A wire from the old coffee maker, once. Man, that hurt."

"An electric cord?"

"Yeah."

Grandpa mumbled more, but I didn't catch any of it.

"Okay. Now, tell me honestly, did anyone ever touch you in certain places? Where they shouldn't? If you know what I mean. Do you?'

"You mean did he shove his hands down my pants?"

"Yes."

I wanted to claim so, to cause him as much trouble as I could, but I didn't want a lie mixed in with the truth.

"No. He didn't do that kind of stuff. He never tried to molest me or something. Only spanked me on my a-... butt. Usually with my pants on. But a couple times he made me take them down."

"Did he use his hand when he had you take your pants down?"

"Sure. And his belt."

"He didn't touch you in front?"

There was that one time. But it wasn't like that, but he had.

"Well..."

"Aiden, you have to tell me the truth. Don't make anything up, or it will only cause trouble for you, not him. But if he did touch you there, on your privates, you should tell us."

"Well..." It was so fucking embarrassing! "One time, he, they were really messed up. I got up to use the bathroom. I was doing that, um, you know, standing up at the toilet, and he came in. Really drunk and messed up. He sort of laughed." It really bothered me to talk about it, but if it got him into any trouble, it was worth it. "He laughed. And he... he came up and... he sort of... grabbed it."

"He touched your penis?"

"Yeah. He... he said it was the smallest thing he'd ever seen. And..."

"Go ahead."

"He... it was... he sort of... tried to..."

"Did you try to stop him?"

"No!"

"Why not?"

"He would have... it would have meant a beating, for sure. So I... I just let him..."

"What?"

"He played with it."

"How?"

"With his fingers. He sort of just... moved it. He laughed and said it was pathetic."

I sort of sniffled. I'd forgotten about that, and wished I had kept forgetting about it.

"He grabbed my, um... you know... testes, and said they were like peas. Then he pulled his out and told me how that was what a real man looked like. Then he laughed and told me to get out of his way or he'd pee on me."

I wiped at my eyes and sort of sniffled again. Grandma put her arm around my shoulders and said, "It's okay, Aiden. It's over. It was wrong, and it'll never happen again. I promise."

I nodded and sniffed.

"Did he ever do anything like that again?" the lawyer asked.

"No. Just that once."

"When was this?"

"A few months ago. Just after school started."

"If you had to prove he exposed himself to you, could you prove it?"

"How?"

"Was there anything you remember about his penis that was, well, that would prove you saw it?"

"The stud in it?"

"Stud?"

"He has a gold stud in it. Under it. At the end. A kind of barbell thing, with two little balls, one on each end of it."

She wrote that down and asked, "Anything else?"

"Ummm...."

"Yes? What?"

"He's ummm..."

She waited. Man this was embarrassing. I probably shouldn't have noticed. But I did. I wondered if that meant I was gay.

"He's, well... it's really big."

"When you're twelve, a man's penis probably looks very large," she said.

"No, he is. I don't think every grownup's is that long."

"How long?"

"I had a ruler. Until he broke it using it to whip me. But, he was almost that long."

"Twelve inches?"

"Yeah. I think his was ten, at least."

"You remember that from his showing it to you in the bathroom?"

"No. I've seen it a hundred times, at least."

"How?"

"They didn't wear clothes a lot. And they had a lot of sex. In the living room on the couch, mostly."

"So, you've had to see him naked quite often."

"Almost every day."

"And you've seen him... with your mother."

"Yeah."

Grandpa mumbled again and grandma whispered under her breath.

"Did they ever make you watch them, you know, be together?"

"No! Gross!"

"So you secretly watched them?"

"No way!"

"Then how did you see them together?"

"When I'd go to the bathroom. The door is next to the living room. Or go to the kitchen. Or be leaving."

"I see."

It was over two hours before she said she'd heard enough.

"I'm pretty sure, so long as this all pans out, that he's going to be staying here," she said. "You've every right, as his grandparents and only other relatives, especially as they haven't filed him as missing yet. I checked twice this morning. No missing boy by his name or even age or description. Amazing."

She shook her head again.

"They won't even realize I'm gone for a few days. Unless they want me to go get them something when they're too tired or drunk or stoned to go get it themselves."

"Well, Aiden, I'd say you're lucky you have your grandparents here. And that the right fellow found you."

"I am," I said. And I knew it, too.

She left, telling us not to worry, that she would take care of the paperwork that would allow me to stay there for now, and that I would almost certainly be staying there for a long time.

I was more than happy about that!

"Well, Aiden, you should go get changed into some work clothes. We've got some chores to do," Gramps said as soon as the lawyer left.

I went upstairs and got changed, putting on the clothes I'd worn earlier. Except that I kept on the new underwear and threw away the old ones. You could almost see through them anyway.

We put up the antenna wire for my tee-vee. The roof was so high! I'd never been on a roof before! It was... yeah, I'll admit it. I was fucking scared! Our apartment was on the fourth floor, so I'd looked out the window and over the balcony a lot, and that was fine, but being on that roof, with no railing and no window between me and that fall to the ground! Fuck! I was shaking like mad as I connected the wires to the antenna! And being on that ladder to stick the wire to the side of the house and then over to the bedroom window was really scary! But once I was down the ladder and on the ground again, and looked up, I felt really kind of proud that I'd done that. And really glad I was standing on the fucking ground!

"Well, that's your first chore done," Gramps said, his arm over my shoulder as we looked up at my handiwork.

Yeah, I was really proud. And happy. And... just... it was neat.

"Come on, want to show you the rest of the place."

The barn was neat. It smelled funny, pleasant though. There was a tractor, almost like a farm tractor, with a huge mowing deck behind it. All red, with little rusty spots here and there, and black accents and seat and control panel. He pointed to the seat. I grinned, then climbed up into it. It was like sitting on a throne.

"Put your foot on the clutch and push it all the way in."

He showed me how to adjust the seat so that I could, then I was able to.

"Now, pull the choke all the way out. Good. Now, turn that key until it starts up. Good." He had to talk a lot louder now and lean down close to my ear. "Keep your foot on that clutch, and don't let it go for a second. If your foot gets tired and you need to move it, make sure this gear lever is where it is right now. In neutral. Got it?"

I nodded.

"Now, put the lever up and to the left. Further. It'll feel like a kind of click when it's... there you go. Now, push the choke in just an inch. Woah, out again a little." The engine smoothed out again after nearly sputtering and dying. "Now, push up on the gas lever, just an inch until the motor speeds up a bit. Good. Now, just ease off the clutch. Just a tad, until it starts to move." Boy, did it start to move! "Keep it straight, right through the doors. That's it." We moved out into the sunlight. It was amazing! "Head over to the tall grass over there." I steered it that way and as soon as I was aimed toward the tall grass at the far end of the huge yard, he said, "Stop it here. Push the clutch all the way down and push on the brake next to it real gentle." It came to a slow stop.

He showed me how to use the brake and clutch by moving a few feet then stopping. Over and over. When he had me push in the choke the rest of the way, he said, "Now that it's warmed up, push that lever upward until it clicks and locks." The blades on the deck behind us whirred into loud life and the seat vibrated like crazy. He had to shout now. "Okay, aim so the left side of the mowing deck is just over the short grass and make a pass!"

It was fantastic! The smell of the exhaust and the cut grass was making me high! I'd been stoned from the smoke when Mom and her lovers got high quite a few times, until I learned to put a fan in my window blowing inward. I felt a little like that, but better. No sick feeling or weird worries. Just fun and joy.

He stood next to me, his arm over my shoulder as I steered the tractor around the tall grass, turning it into mulch and a fragrant aroma. I grinned the entire time. I'd never done anything like that. Not even close!

When we were done, he had me make a pass over the mounds of cut grass, making them almost disappear, then we headed back to the barn. He opened the double doors on the other side and watched as I pulled the tractor into the barn and shut it off.

My ears were ringing and my body still felt the vibrations. And I couldn't stop smiling.

"That, was the coolest thing, ever!"

"Good. Glad you liked it. You'll be doing that a couple times a week."

"Really?"

"Yup."

"Awesome!"

"Not unless I'm with you, though, understand me?"

"Sure!"

We cleaned the grass out of the underside of the mowing deck, which was a mess. Then we swept off the top of it, cleaned off the grass on the rest of the tractor, then we headed toward the house. He kept his arm on my shoulder every step of the way, which I was really getting to like.

We washed off at the water pump by the back door. We took turns pumping the long handle while the other washed off his hands, face, and hair. Damn, did that feel great. I was really thirsty, and when I drank some of the water after washing off, he said, "I wouldn't drink much of that."

"Why?"

"A lot of limestone and minerals in that water. Best to drink bottled water. This stuff is fine to wash in, and cook with a little, but drinking it tends to make your bowels a little loose. You'll end up sitting on the commode most of the night."

I didn't drink any more of it. We went inside and I smelled heaven. The cut grass, the flowers by the house, and fresh biscuits and cooking meat. Oh, man.

"Hope my men are hungry," Grandma said, stirring something on the stove.

"Starved," Gramps said.

"Me, too!"

My stomach even growled loud enough for them to hear. We'd eaten off plates that morning, which had been the first time for me. I usually ate from the fast food package or the container the chips or whatever were in that I had hidden in my room. This time I really noticed the plates. And the real glasses, not plastic. I don't know if that made the food so incredible or not. I doubted it, but it sure didn't hurt any!

After dinner, Gramps and I did more chores. We filled the tractor with fuel, raked out the barn, fed chickens, trimmed around the driveway, and swept the porches.

I really liked being outside. In Chicago, outside was loud and smelled bad. And you had to watch your back. Here, it was quiet, peaceful, it smelled great, and there wasn't anyone to bother me. Just me and Gramps.

We talked about what we were doing, and why, and how it was when he was my age, and what I liked to do, and my friends in Chicago, and how he and Grandma met, and their past. It was getting dark when we were done. I was fucking wore out! But I didn't care. It was a fair trade for what I'd gotten away from. And I really liked being outside. And being with him.

We cleaned up at the water pump again, and I didn't drink any of it. Then we went inside. I went upstairs and showered and changed. I wished I had thought of getting sweatpants or something. I watched a terrible love story with Grandma for a bit, but I really didn't like it. I wanted to spend time with her, but the show was just so... sappy.

Gramps was reading the Bible in the den, so I went upstairs and read the new science-fiction book, which continued the story of some really interesting characters as they tried to save the world from dragons and evil sorcerers.

"A real reader, huh?" Gramps asked from the doorway.

"Yeah, guess so."

I sat up. He leaned against the door frame.

"I wasn't much of a reader myself. Spent most of my time doing chores and such. If I wasn't, I was out with my friends, playing ball or raising hell."

"Long walk back to Chicago to play with my friends."

"True. I expect you'll make a few here. The Clark boys live down the road a piece. They're around your age. One a bit younger, the other a bit older. The younger one might be in your class. You'll probably ride the bus to school with 'em."

"Okay."

He sat down the bed next to me and put his arm over my shoulder.

"Aiden, I just want you to know that you're more than welcome here. Understand?"

I nodded, feeling a churning in my guts.

"It's not all fun and games. You'll have to do chores, and help out."

"I like doing the grass."

"Good. And the other things we did today. And there's more to be done, too. There's a lot of work on a small farm. I don't grow much, and there's not a lot to do right now, but come harvest time, you'll be busting your ass."

"I think I'll handle it."

"I think so, too. It's going to be a lot of work. I've always hired out help, and I still will, of course, but I expect you to pull your own weight."

"I had to cook, and do laundry, and do all the cleaning. And my homework."

"Yup. Just different chores now. You can help with those things here if you want, your grandma would appreciate it."

"Okay."

"I expect I'll have to hand out a punishment now and again. Boys will be boys. I want you to know I won't be sparing the rod, so to speak. But I won't be hitting you for nothing. I'd only whip your ass if you did something you're not supposed to and you know it. Like playing around with the tractor on your own. Or stealing something. Or something of that sort."

"Okay. I promise I won't do anything that'd be like that."

"Oh, you will. No doubts. And when you do, don't doubt I'll have your pants down and your ass red for a week."

I wondered just how bad a whipping would be from him. He seemed really nice, but I knew adults could hide things about themselves pretty well. I wondered if he had a hidden side that was like my mom's boyfriends'. I really kind of doubted it, but I thought it was possible.

"I really will try not to do anything to be whipped for."

"Good. Try. And remember that I won't have any reservations about punishing you. Not like spanking your ass is the only thing I'd do for punishment, either. Take away that television, for one thing. Or ground you to the house or do all the chores on your own. Maybe take away your books. But I won't unless you deserve it. Do something you know was wrong. Understand?"

I nodded again.

"And, when you do your chores, and do what your supposed to, like your homework, you get free rein and freedom. You can come and go, so long as we know where you are and when you'll be back and who you're with. We'll get you a bike tomorrow, so you can get down the road and around a bit."

"Thanks. But I've never ridden a bike."

"What? You have to be joking!"

"No. Never had a bike."

"Now, that's just wrong. Every boy should have a bike."

"I never did."

"Well, we'll change that tomorrow."

"You'll have to teach me to ride it."

"Not hard. I think you'll catch on well enough."

He sort of hugged me a bit closer to him. Like Chuck did. It was still weird to have someone seeming to care about me. Even if he was my granddad. I wondered why. I was such a putz. Dork, nerd, geek, goofus. But I was glad he did. Chuck too.

And I began missing Chuck, like right out of nowhere. I sniffled and my eyes got wet.

"Oh, now, it's no big deal you haven't learned to ride a bike yet. You'll see how easy it is tomorrow."

"Okay."

I wasn't about to tell him it wasn't that.

"Get back to your book. And get some sleep. We've got to sign you up at school tomorrow, bright and early." I nodded. He ruffled my hair and stood up. "Good night, Aiden."

"Night, gramps."

"Your grandmother will be in shortly, and I suspect that's gonna be a bit awkward. She's a real softie, so expect all kinds of mushiness."

"Oh, great," I groaned.

"Night."

"Night."

I went back to my book, but I couldn't pay any attention to it. I wondered what Chuck was doing. I wanted to call him and talk to him. I got up and started writing a letter to him. I told him about everything we did today. I was almost done when Grandma knocked on the door frame.

"Aiden, honey. Got a minute?"

"Sure."

I sat up and my stomach rolled over.

She came in and sat down on the bed and faced me.

"Well, I just wanted to let you know I'm really very glad that you've come to stay with us. And I'm sure the lawyer will make it all legal in time."

I nodded. She reached out and smoothed down my hair, then rested her hand on the side of my face.

"You do look so much like your father. Same nose and smile."

I tried not to roll my eyes.

"Your grandfather told me that he set down the rules, and I agree with them. And I really hope you can live with them."

"Yeah. I think so."

"Good. We want you to have a good life. Any rules or such we put down are meant to help you live a good life. When you're grown, there's still rules you'll have to live by. All kinds of rules. That just never ends."

I nodded again. I knew rules were part of life. I wasn't stupid.

"It's amazing how you've grown since I last saw you. I think you were seven. Maybe eight. I wish your mother had let us come see you."

"Why didn't you anyway?"

"You weren't there the last time we went up there. She said you'd gone to stay at your friend's house for the weekend. I was just so angry that she'd let you go. She knew we were coming up to see you."

"When was that?"

"New Years Eve when you were ten. That weekend."

"I was in the hospital that weekend!"

"You were what?"

"That was the weekend I got pneumonia."

"Pneumonia?" she asked, appalled.

"The heat was turned off for a while at the apartment. She didn't pay the bill."

She shook her head and jerked me into a hug.

"She said you'd gone to stay at a friend's. How long were you in the hospital for?"

"Almost two weeks. They almost took me away from her. I wished they had. They didn't listen to me."

Remembering that made me cry hard. I'd been so close to getting away from her. But she'd convinced them that I had a 'vivid imagination' and the medications had me confused. She said I just needed to get home and finish healing up.

"It's okay, Aiden, honey. You're away from her now."

I didn't know what to say, so I just cried and held onto her until I stopped crying.

"You best get to bed. Big day tomorrow, again. You won't start school, I don't think, but you'll get to see the inside and such."

"Yeah."

"Do you like school any?"

"Yeah."

When I wasn't being teased or pushed around, anyway.

"Good. Well, get some sleep. You had a big day today. Sweet dreams, dear."

"Thanks. Goodnight."

She kissed the top of my head and then left.

I finished the letter to Chuck, then laid down on my bed. I thought about the sex stuff we'd done. It'd been really fun. Even if it was faggy. That meant that he was gay. A real fag. I didn't want to care. I liked him. He'd been nicer to me than any adult before. And, really, that sex stuff had been awesome. He was a good guy, and I liked him. Gay or not. Pedo or not.

I wondered if I was gay. Or going to be. I'd really liked what I did with him. All the stuff. Even sucking on his dick. I figured I was gay, too. I didn't care. I sort of did, but if he was, and was such a great guy, then it couldn't be so bad to be one, too. He was sure a better guy than my mom's boyfriends. And they were all straight. And total assholes. Chuck was totally cool. And nice. And gay.

"I'd rather be like Chuck than like Mom's guys."

I rolled over and read. In my own room, with a big, soft bed, and a dresser, and tons of clothes, and school supplies, and a tee-vee that I had wired up to the antenna on the roof myself, and books I didn't have to worry would come up missing, and it was so quiet and peaceful and comfortable. And clean. And it smelled like cut grass and flowers and laundry detergent. And it was safe. And I felt loved.

Home.

The only downer the rest of the night was that I spent a lot of time on the commode. I wasn't going to be drinking out of the well again. Having the shits really sucks.

 

 

Aiden 2