Uniformed Response: Book Two

Chapter Six

Something kicked me in the brain and I checked the ownership of the stripper company that Seth had performed for and there it was, the President of the company was listed as Sylvio deNapoli Jr. and the treasurer was listed as his father. It was time to turn our evidence over to the feds.

Sam reported our wedding present was well in hand and all the arrangements were now handled, the private jet charter company would pick up our guests in Key West and drop them back there 5 days later. The hotel had been arranged and a guarantee for all their expenses was covered by our black American Express card.

John's mother called me one afternoon a week later and thanked us for the use of the private jet to England and back. I explained that we had use of it through a shared group and it wasn't going to cost us much more than a single round trip ticket on a commercial carrier, but we were happy to do it for them, if England was the way they wanted to go. She said it was and they had just last night made the decision to let John spend his school holidays with us. I thanked her and told her they would actually be piggybacking with us to Key West on the way out of town, and they would be picked up in England and flown to Key West to pick us all up on their way back home. It would mean an overnight for them each way, but we had the room, so they were more than welcome. It was a done deal and it would mean we all left up here together on the 21st of December and we'd all be flying home together on January 3rd in the new year.

About a week later, I was called into the Chief's office and introduced to two FBI agents who had received copies of all my case notes and copies of our evidence folder and had had a week or so to go through everything and perform their own investigations. They greeted me warmly and with a certain amount of respect. It felt great to be accepted by them. They did ask why Seth had not been arrested for fiddling his parent's books to try and cover up his embezzlement. I explained that he was a young man who had been placed in an awkward position by mistakes made in his college years and I felt that it was an isolated incident and restitution to his parents would most likely result in no charges by his parents being made against him. They seemed satisfied with that explanation, and then they went on to tell me that the deNapoli family was involved in organized crime and most likely doing what they had done to Seth to other former employees. They asked if Seth was prepared to come forward and testify against them and I told them that would force Seth to disclose publicly he was homosexual, and I didn't think that was fair to him. Was there a way for him to testify, even be cross-examined, anonymously?

They pondered that and told me that in a closed court setting it might be possible, but he and his identity would have to be revealed to the judge, the jury, and the lead prosecutor and the lead defense lawyer. That would be also true if Seth decided to sue in civil court, to receive reimbursement for damages he had suffered at the hands of this father and son. That got me thinking, and I told the agents that we should sit and talk directly to Seth about all this. I told them I'd set up a meeting with them and Seth, but that I'd like to be involved in that interview. They agreed, and I left to go talk to Seth.

Seth wasn't too sure about all the testifying, but he certainly brightened up when I told him that if a guilty conviction was reached, he was then entitled to sue them in court and receive actual and punitive damages, which could exceed the actual damages he suffered, like the 30 thousand he owed his parents and the five thousand he was out of his own money. Plus, a jury could award him monetary compensation for what he was made to do, for pain and suffering. I felt he should do it, if not to be recompensed for his financial loses, but for his self-esteem and for the other guys this could help, the ones still going through what he had gone through. He agreed, though he was still scared about disclosing all this to his parents. I asked why, and he said both Sean and he loved them, it wasn't their fault any of this had happened, that both their sons were gay.

I was slightly enraged at this and I told him that if his parents had been the accepting people, they pretended to be in public that none of this would have happened. He wouldn't have had to go away for college, he wouldn't have had to hide his true identity from them, he wouldn't have had to advertise for a boyfriend and have an unscrupulous guy get him hooked on drugs and get involved with the deNapoli family in the first place. Because of their parents' ideas neither son would have had to hide from each other what they really were, what they felt for each other. Screw his parents, do this for yourself and for Sean's sake, so he wouldn’t have to go through the same things he had, be an example for his younger brother!

Seth sat up straighter, a more determined look on his face and he thanked me for making him look at the situation differently. Now he needed a lawyer, one who could practice in a federal court and one to file the civil lawsuit for him and act as his lawyer in the suit. It was time to call Becca.

That night after dinner, when the twins were busy drawing in front of the TV, Julian came to Sam and me as we were loading the dishwasher. He asked how we knew we were in love. Sam chuckled and took him to the kitchen table and sat him down. He then told Julian about how he would see me almost every day, sitting the park with the twin's dad, drinking coffee and setting up my netbook for the day's shift. He said that when he thought the firemen had trapped thieves in the firehouse pantry, he thought at first it would be a good opportunity to meet me. I then sat on their bench, squeezing Julian between us and told him that the view of the fire station's gym from the common was great, but it was across the street. I could look up at the window and see Sam working out and it made me wonder what it would feel like to hold him and kiss him.

The day of the "robbers" at the fire station I ran across the street and there at the top of the stairs was the most handsome man I had ever seen, all pumped up from the exercises he had been doing, he just about took my breath away. When it turned out to be young raccoons trapped in the pantry, I had to remain cool, because I could now get to interview Sam and try to get to know him better. I knew that night I loved him. Sam said he knew right away too. We exchanged a kiss, right over Julian's head, and we both heard him sigh deeply.

He turned up to look at me and said, a little exasperated I think, "But Dad, how did you really know Daddy was the one for you, did you think about him all the time? Did you dream about him?" I was momentarily at a loss for words, Julian had just referred to Sam and me as "Dad and Daddy". It was a great feeling, and when I looked over at Sam, he had tears welling in his eyes. I looked down at our newest son and told him, "Son, I even wrote his name in the margins of a printed report and handed it into the chief. I just knew. I did all those things you asked about and then some more. All I know is that when I look at other nice-looking men, I am comparing them to Sam, and no one else makes me feel the way he does. By the way, does this have anything to do with John? Because if it does, I think you might want to ask him if he wants to spend Christmas and New Years with us in Key West, as we heard his parents will be out of the country, and besides, wouldn't you like someone your own age to be with you at Stu and Rico's wedding?"

You'd have thought we just handed him a million dollars! He was making that happy face and had his arms around me and he couldn't speak. Sam joined in our hug and now we were both being squished by a twelve-year-old. I told Julian that there was still time tonight to call John and ask him…. if he wanted to! Julian jumped up and just about ran to his room to make his call.

He came back about a half hour later, as I was filling in Sam about the development with Seth, telling us John had permission to go with us. He told us he loved us and that he couldn't wait until vacation, and ran off to finish his homework before bedtime.

The New York Lawyer Becca had found for Seth was just what the doctor ordered, for Seth that is. He was an up and comer in the federal court system who had gone out and opened his own law office just 2 years ago, just before his 28th birthday. Since opening his own practice, he had had 40 wins in 40 cases, and he was going to be helping to make sure this was another win. He had already consulted with the federal prosecutor and was assured the civil trial would begin no longer than a day after the federal charge judgment was heard. Witnesses for both trials were giving depositions and all the witnesses were being granted protection and being held, voluntarily, at a secure location. Under these circumstances the government wanted a speedy trial, so the federal charges of blackmail and extortion were being heard starting December 1st and the civil trial to start after the conclusion of that one.

I had been interviewed by an assistant to the prosecutor and I was assured that my family's vacation would not be affected, and that should the trial run that long it would be adjourned for the holidays anyway, so I wasn't to worry about that, in fact, they hoped to only have a week to ten days to complete the first trial.

Seth called and told us that he had told his parents everything and although they couldn't understand it, they also couldn't accept his being gay and had disowned him, as he had feared, but he said my "pep talk" with him had helped him see that it really could be all put down to his parents views on gays that had ultimately caused all his problems. At any rate, with his parents disowning him, his New York lawyer had suggested that Seth move into his apartment in the city so he'd be available for depositions and consulting on both cases, and it turns out the two had a mutual attraction and things were working toward them being a "couple" by Thanksgiving weekend when they would be spending that holiday with the lawyer's parents in the Hamptons.

We had a great Thanksgiving with our neighbors and friends, Carla and Jason and their boys, Billy and Bobby (B&B). At dessert time John and his parents joined us and we all had fun watching all the boys trying a sliver from all the different pies, I even had a couple of kinds myself. We all felt stuffed and lounged around for most of the afternoon and when we returned to our house it was to find that 18-year-old Seth had been kicked out of the family home for admitting he was gay at the family dinner that their older son wasn't invited to, which had irked Seth enough that he had confronted their parents right in the middle of their Thanksgiving dinner. He had anticipated this earlier and as a precaution, he had packed up several boxes and placed them in the back of his jeep and was ready to move into the guest house with Cal and Brian, if we would have him. I saw the looks on Brian and Cal's faces, and although it was six or seven months before the expected roommate arrangement was to start, everyone seemed eager for it to begin tonight.

On Friday I checked with Becca on the legal aspects of all this and she assured me that Sean was just over 18 and of legal age to make his own decisions, but she would get written confirmation of this from his parents to have on file, just in case. We had all three roommates over for dinner that Friday night and all seemed very well among them and Sam told me later, as we lay in bed at the end of the night, that all three seemed very interested in each other, which only got me aroused as I imagined what might be going on in the cottage right now, those two very fit young men introducing a very willing hunky student to the joys of man sex. It got me so riled up that Sam got another helping of stuffing before we cuddled and slept peacefully until morning.

The trial on the Federal charges started the Monday after Thanksgiving and the de Napolis, father and son, had started out looking quite smug, but by Tuesday, after Seth had testified and been clumsily cross-examined, they looked like they wanted to crawl under the table they were seated at. By Friday morning their goose was cooked, as the prosecutor had found five other young men to testify against the father and son duo, all 5 producing some form of actual evidence against the father and son, one even producing a video of them threatening him on his cell video camera, audio was very clear. As I was saying, Friday morning the final closing statements were heard, and the jury was sent to deliberate. Everyone had said they'd be out for days, but as Sam and I, with Seth and Sean came back to the courthouse after lunch to pick up Seth's lawyer, we were told to take our seats as the jury had notified the court that they had reached a unanimous verdict. The jury had reached a verdict of guilty and it was now up to the court to impose sentences on the father and son.

The civil suit began on Monday, with the 5 other victims who had stepped forward and testified joining in the "action" against the convicted blackmailers and although Sam and I were no longer involved, we were kept up to date by Seth every evening and by Wednesday of that same week the jury on that case was in deliberations, and by 10 AM had informed the court their deliberations were over and they had a verdict to report. They not only had a verdict, but they had also settled the sum of one million on each of the 6 young men, with Seth receiving an additional thirty-five thousand to compensate for what he had lost of his own, and his parents' money. An additional 3 million would be set aside in trust for any future victims who might surface because of the added publicity. It had been determined that the thieving duo had a combined net sum of worth of over 10 million and a fast payment was arranged and by the 21st of December Seth was able to have a check delivered to his parents for thirty thousand plus interest for a full reimbursement of the money he had taken from their company.

We had been doing some Christmas shopping before actually leaving for our holiday away from home. We intended to have a small Christmas celebration here at home before leaving, only so we didn't have a planeload of presents to cart back and forth. Sam and I were shopping for electronics for all our boys in Office Depot one night and we ran across Angel and Ray, who were carrying on a cell phone conversation with Helen Evans from DCFS in a corner of the store. We had noticed that there were several other male couples there also and most of them were also on their cells. 

If you've read The Miracle of Christmas 2017 you already know what happened, (that darned Art can't keep anything to himself), but the gist of it was that the boys' dormitory at DCFS burnt to the ground that night and Helen was trying to line up temporary housing for the twenty or so boys left homeless. These were the boys who were older, or not adoptable, or not compatible with most foster families. They might be boys who were ready to age out of the system and would be soon out on their own. But tonight, they were all homeless and a couple of dozen of the younger boys had already been placed on an emergency basis, but now Helen had to find shelter for the 20 remaining boys.  Temporary placements were for about a week, so we interrupted Angel to get his attention and indicated we could house two ourselves. He relayed that to Helen and she asked us all to come to the girl's dorm in Springfield to meet all the boys and see if any matches could be made. As we four were leaving the store, the other couples had abandoned their shopping too and we all seemed headed to the same place, and with introductions all around we decided we needed more couples to help the boys so I spoke up and said we knew of three other couples that could pass Helen's strict standards and we'd call them on the way into the city. Of course, our close friends stepped up to the plate and arrived not long after we had. Once our records were created, and some updated, by Helen's staff, we were ushered into a room to meet the boys.

Carla and Jason right away zeroed in on two of the oldest boys, I think because both boys had been reading books they had salvaged from their rooms as the alarms had gone off. They had tried to appear so blasé about the whole thing, and having two adults know about the books they were reading, seemed to bring some animation to the two boys. I looked around and Sam and I zeroed in on two lads, about 15, who were off by themselves holding hands. They were about as different as night and day. One was a freckled redhead with that white as snow skin that looked like it had never seen the sun, the other was quite obviously of mixed race, with very fine facial features including an aquiline shaped nose and skin the color of milk chocolate. His long straight hair was held back from his face in a loose braid. He looked every inch of a young Indian warrior.

Once they got over their shyness with us, we realized they were a couple, not just friends. We assured them that if they came to stay with us, they would not be split up, that we ourselves were married and that another gay couple lived in a cottage on the property and that they were not only our tenants, but they helped around the house and were college students too. We explained our household to them and said that having them with us for however long it took for the state to build or rehab a place for them would be good for everyone, not just them. Sam got a concerned look on his face and abruptly went to Helen and they had a very animated talk and he returned with a big grin on his face. He told me that he had just realized that Alo and Aidan could very well be with us through the holidays and he wanted to make sure it would be alright to take them with us. He explained it all to Helen and she told us not to worry about it, she knew many of the couples already had plans and they were going to be very lenient regarding the "no out of state travel" rule.

"Out of state?" Alo asked. He and Aidan looked at each other as we explained the arrangements made for all our family to attend a wedding in Key West Florida and that we'd be flying down there a few days before Christmas and returning on January 3rd or 4th. The two lads included. Skeptically Aidan asked if we really intended to take them with us, and Sam declared that if their stay with us was for a week or forever, they would always be a part of our family.  I think we had them at we wouldn't split them up, but the chance to go to Florida in the winter just had sealed the deal.

On our way home, after several documents had been filled out and signed, we learned more about the boys and in particular their names. Aidan said he got his name from his Irish mother when he was born, and she saw his red hair. His name means "little fiery one" in Irish and Alo related that his father had been a Hopi Indian and his name meant "he looks up" which he thought was appropriate as he wanted to be a reference librarian when he got out of college. He chuckled and told us he knew that wasn't the original meaning attached to the name, but he liked it.

Arriving at home we were greeted by the whole clan. We introduced both boys to their new "brothers" first, and then to the older three, Cal, Brian and Sean. We then let them shower and change into two sets of sweats scrounged up from Sean and Julian who were the closest in size to our visitors and then it was a mad dash to the shopping mall in Hadley to try and outfit them in more size appropriate clothing.

For a Friday night it really wasn't that crowded in the mall and with all the help from the twins and Julian we were out of there before the 11 PM closing time, Alo and Aidan outfitted with several outfits from the skin out and winter boots and sneakers along with a dress pair of shoes for our trip and the wedding. We would go out shopping with them before our trip to fine tune their wardrobes, but for now, they had a week's worth of new clothing and now I was so thankful for the dual washers and dryers down in the laundry room.

By the middle of December, we were notified of a hearing regarding our adoption of Julian and he couldn't have been happier. He told us that it was the one thing he had hoped for, for a Christmas present, other than a kiss from John. He blushed furiously when he let that slip, but Sam held him and told him he didn't think he had anything to worry about there, John had asked Sam if it was OK for him to kiss and hold hands with Julian, as he felt so much love for him it was getting hard for him not to show Julian how much he cared. Sam told him that it would be nice to show Julian how much he cared, but to make it special, something they would both remember for the rest of their lives the first time they kissed.

Just three days before the end of school for the semester we attended the hearing and Julian was escorted into the Judge's chambers for a talk with the judge and when they returned Sam and me were able to breathe again, as they had come back into the hearing room with the judge's arm over Julian's shoulders and Julian had a huge smile on his face. The adoption and name change were granted, and we walked out with our beaming new son. We, of course, had a neighborhood party that night and there were plenty of people there including the four boys from the neighborhood who used to live with Alo and Aidan in the dormitory. Two boys with Glenn and Eddie and two with Carla and Jason along with B&B. We were all talking during the gathering and we all realized how much we were gaining by having the older boys staying with us and Sam and I were the first to call Helen in the morning, asking her to start the adoption process with Becca. The other two couples called later that morning and we heard that all ten couples from our area had bonded to the point of starting adoptions by the 20th.

The afternoon of the 20th found us, and John and his parents, on the private jet to Key West. We were greeted by Stu and Rico who had each driven to the airport to pick us up. Stu had all the youngsters in the big SUV and Rico got stuck with the "older" crowd. We all arrived at our house at the end of the lane and there we had fun settling in with John sharing Julian's second-floor bedroom, Aidan and Alo using the sleeping porch for the night, and John's parents spending the night in the third upstairs bedroom. Stu and Rico had offered their bedroom to the new boys, but they refused their kind offer, and had offered to share the twin's room with them, but Stu showed them how the day beds on the sleeping porch worked and they agreed that until John's parents left in the morning, they would be fine on the sleeping porch. Before everyone went to sleep Sam and I went out to the porch and pushed the two-day beds together to make an almost king-sized bed on one end of the porch for them. They deserved it.

We got John's parents to the airport in time to meet the chartered jet and they were off for 2 weeks in England. On the way home, we stopped at the bakery on Eaton Street and John and Julian helped pick out cookies and treats for everyone and then a block later we pulled into Eaton Street Seafood and we picked out uncooked crab cakes to fry up at home for dinner that night and several pounds of cooked shrimp to use as starters. We swung home then and once the ones left at home were up and had breakfast Sam and I took all six of the boys for a walk, with Cal, Brian and Sean following just behind. We went right onto Duval Street and walked toward Ripley's where some of them got grossed out and then made our way after to the aquarium where they were then fascinated. We all had fun at the petting tank and then made our way to the fudge shop before returning to Fleming Street and stopping in at Fausto's to say hi to Sharon and her co-workers. We picked up a few more supplies and some of their Cole Slaw. Sharon came out from behind the counter and was introduced to our additions, and the twins told her we would see her a lot more since we were here for two weeks, which must seem a lifetime to them. We told her we'd see her soon, as she had been invited by Stu and Rico to their wedding, and we always needed food.

We made it home in time for lunch and then a swim in the pool, which was a little smaller than the one at home, but this one could be used just about every week of the year. We had a blast and now the twins had Alo and Aidan to toss them into the water and to act as lifeguards in the deep end. I was so pleased that everyone was getting along so great and so glad Sam and I had asked Helen and Becca to start the adoption process, Sam and I were going to tell them Christmas morning, when they looked in their stockings there would be a note from us telling them we wanted to make them official members of our family forever, and asking them if we could adopt them. I mean they were 15, they should have some say in all this.

To say the "rehearsal" dinner the next night was fantastic would be a total understatement. We had booked the entire dining area of the Old Town Mexican Restaurant and all the members of the wedding and friends of Stu and Rico were there and of course, us, with all the kids. The restaurant had set up the back room as a buffet and they kept the serving dishes filled until 10 PM. The next day the wedding went off without a hitch and while the couple exchanged vows, I saw Julian and John mouthing the words to each other and when it came time for the first kiss, they copied that too, I nudged Sam to look and he started crying. It really was so sweet, but I then saw Alo and Aidan doing the same thing, so I lifted up Sam's chin and I kissed him with as much love as I could muster in a "public" setting.

The chairs had been set up facing the end of the pool facing the yard and as the grooms walked toward the minister from their MCC church the best man, Joe, and his Police Chief boyfriend, Lee, released hundreds of butterflies from the sides and did it again during the first kiss. The butterflies were from the local botanical garden on Stock Island and had been provided in exchange for a sizable donation Sam and I had made. The caterer had set up on the large parking pad in front of the garage and the wedding cake had the two grooms on the top, but she had made them resemble Stu and Rico by adjusting the height of one of them to appear shorter, as Rico was. It made for a great Christmas Eve day and the grooms were surprised and thrilled we had sprung for a vacation/honeymoon in New York City for them that included a hotel room in Times Square for the New Year's Eve ball drop. They left for the airport to catch their private jet flight to New York about an hour after their vows were exchanged.

The twins were very happy Santa hadn't forgotten them and we had quite a time setting up a medium sized tree we had Cal and Brian go out to buy and set out all the presents that we had mailed down to Rico and Stu to hold for us. Aidan and Alo were both in tears after reading our requests in their stockings and both tearfully told us yes and that they had been so worried about when the DCFS would call and ask us to return them. We told them that we didn't think that any of the boys taken in after the fire had anything to worry about, all the couples we knew about had also asked to adopt their boys too. It was a wonderful Christmas morning and while Cal started breakfast Sam and I picked up all the wrappings, making sure nothing was hidden in them or stuck to the exposed tape. Julian and John had big smiles on their faces all morning and we knew it wasn't just the laptops they had received, and Brian and Sean were being very attentive while helping Cal prepare breakfast. If I didn't think too hard about it I would bet there might just be a bedroom in the two bedroom cottage we could rent out, since it appeared there would only be one used from now on.

The twins wanted to go for a walk after dinner that night and most everyone wanted to go with us to see the holiday lights some of the houses were sporting. It was perfect for a stroll to settle dinner and work up another appetite for the deserts waiting for us at the house. By the time we returned Cal and Brian and Sean were well worn out and were taking a nap on the couch in front of the TV. Sam pointed out to me that somehow Brian's shirt was now on Sean, and vice versa. Cal had a very contented look on his sleeping face, with one of his roommates on each side of him and a big hickey on each side of his neck. Sam took photos with his cell, telling me they could use it as a Christmas card next year.

Our entire vacation was a wonderful one with everyone getting to do what they wanted (within reason!) and by the time John's parents arrived in our return flight jet, we were all ready to go back home to the frozen North.             

Comments, suggestions, and even criticizms appreciated at Art West