Picture Perfect

Chapter Three

Billy was one of those kids you just felt for. He was always dressed neatly, but the clothing didn't always fit right, it was obviously hand me downs or from a used clothing store. The sneakers on his feet were tattered and worn, not exactly the way you'd expect to see a young man just starting high school to be dressed. The other freshmen boys were usually dressed quite nicely, fresh haircuts, new shoes, spiffy teen clothing. Billy had a mop of unruly brown curls, the odd clothing, the tattered sneakers, and glasses that looked too small for his otherwise handsome face.

We were alone with Ken in the teacher's lounge one late afternoon when we heard a scuffle out in the hall and there were three upperclassmen taunting Billy and he was just trying to get away from them. When Jeff, Ken and I stepped out in the hall the three bozos took off running and Billy took off in the other direction, out the front doors of the school and hopped onto a waiting school bus. When we went back in the lounge we talked about the incident and we hoped it wasn't something personal against Billy. Ken told us what he knew about the lad and it wasn't a happy story. Billy and his older brother were left with their father, the town drunk and dump manager, but really, he was the only dump employee. The mother ran off with a truck driver about ten years ago and the boys had virtually raised themselves.

Both were good students but when the older brother graduated he got his girlfriend pregnant. They both lived with Billy and his father until they crashed one night on the way back from a keg party in Amherst and their car hit the stone embankment on the side of the mountain road and were killed instantly. Their baby was being cared for that night by Billy. Billy was ten and his nephew was a year old. It was now almost five years later, and the child was being raised by Billy for all intents and purposes. It really wasn't a good situation, but no one who had tried to make things better had had any luck in removing the two boys from the home, and Billy was just as stubborn as his old man and wouldn't accept any help from anyone. The father's family had been an old one in town and he was a decorated Vietnam war vet. Money came into the home, but it sure didn't appear to be spent on the kids.

From then on whenever we took our trash to the dump we made note of Mr. Berger's condition and tried to get to know him a bit. We didn't make huge inroads, but when we dropped off stuff that was in good condition(sometimes it was clothing or household items we found at tag sales) we asked him to see if he could find someone who could make use of the items, rather than confine the stuff to the dump. He always said he'd try and that we were good boys. Billy was there one Saturday when we were dropping off recyclables and he introduced us to his dad as his History and English Teachers. He seemed impressed by that and from then on, he always asked how we thought his boy was doing in our classes.

About a month later, just before Easter, just when we thought things were going really smoothly, two things occurred to throw us for a loop. The first was when a visiting professor at the University asked Jeff and me to stay after class one night when we had our lab, he was there with our regular instructor. He, the visiting professor from Berlin, told us he recognized us from our movie and he wanted us to have sex with him before he turned in our grades. I thought this day might come and had always avoided a lot of the foreign students and visiting male professors. I had my phone switched to record and I played back his demand then asked if he remembered any distinguishing marks or tattoos on our bodies. He described a tattoo he had seen on the blond's shoulder and he pointed to Jeff. Jeff then unbuttoned his shirt and showed the guy that there were no tattoos on his shoulders, and I showed him there were none on my torso either. We told him that we each had a twin, but we had been estranged from them for many years and didn't know where they were, nor did we care. We informed him that should he make an issue of this then we had no recourse but to play the recording of him demanding sex for grades and our lawyer would be the one to play it for the dean of the department.

The second thing to happen was Billy asked to see the two of us at lunch time one day. We three sat on a bench out in front of the school and he asked if we might be going to the dump on Saturday, as it was a recycling day for the town, and if we were, could we please ask his dad to go see the VA doctor again. He had a terrible cough and he had a nasty infection on his leg and he refused to get treatment for either. He said that his dad respected us, that he always said we were really smart and Billy should listen to what we had to say, and he was hoping his dad would also. We assured Billy that we would do all we could, and he broke school policy as he hugged us and thanked us for trying.

We did go to drop off our re-recyclables and a few tag sale finds as well, and when we saw Mr. Berger we knew he was seriously ill. He could hardly breathe for coughing and the limp was extremely noticeable and appeared to be very painful. We had timed our visit to be at closing time and when we confronted him about his health he said he had had worse in Vietnam and he'd get a bottle of scotch and he'd be better by Monday. I gave him my sternest look and he backed up a bit and I forcefully told him he was going to lock up the gate to the dump, get in the car and we would drive him to the VA hospital in Holyoke and wait for him to be seen by the emergency room doctor, no ifs ands or buts, get moving mister.

Jeff said he bet that was the quickest the dump had ever been closed up and we placed Mr. Berger in the back seat and drove the 15 miles to the VA hospital where after an hour and a half of waiting, Mr. Berger was called in to see the doctor. It wasn't good news when the nurse came out to get us a half hour later. Mr. Berger had an advanced case of pneumonia and unfortunately his leg had turned septic with gangrene and would have to be removed at the hip. They wanted to get the pneumonia under control first, so they were going to clean him up as good as they could and admit him into the hospital for a few days. Mr. Berger looked so defeated, but I told him we'd stop by his house and let Billy know what was going on and we'd bring Billy and his grandson to visit the next day and every day if he wanted. He was sobbing at this point and we saw that they were going to take him upstairs, so we left him and told him we'd see him the next day.

We did stop and got some take-out food and then drove to the mobile home the Bergers lived in on the outskirts of town. It was tucked in under some trees, there wasn't any flat lawn at all, and the yard was full of old appliances and such. Billy answered the door to us, seeming to be embarrassed we were seeing where he lived. He introduced us to the toddler, Bobby, and the lad was in awe of us when Billy told him we were two of his teachers. We told Billy that we should talk in private and he sent Bobby off to his room to pick out a good book to read or a movie to watch. We told him about his father's condition and he was like a balloon without air, totally deflated. He asked how his dad would cope without his leg and we told him that the VA would put him through therapy and after that he just might be able to keep his job. We gave him the food we had brought, and he promptly called Bobby out of his room to eat while the food was hot. We told Billy that we'd pick him and Bobby up just after noon the next day (Sunday) to take them to see his father and again we got hugs. We asked if they were going to be alright at home alone and he told us that they were usually alone while his dad was out drinking, so he thought they'd be alright.

Jeff had heard enough and nudged me and when I nodded he told Billy to go pack for a week or more, enough clothes and supplies for both him and Bobby, they were coming to stay with us while his father was in the hospital or longer if need be. Billy just stared at Jeff, but when Jeff said to get a move on, he skedaddled and returned with two grocery bags of clothing and a small valise. I reminded him that if Bobby needed any DVDs we didn't have any kid stuff at our house so he better grab some of those and some toys too.

He was off again and returned with another grocery bag with DVDs and toys for the youngster. I noticed something missing, and this time I asked Billy what was missing. He pondered that question, but after looking at us he dashed off again and came back with a grocery bag filled with his school books and papers we guessed were homework assignments he had been working on. We started by taking all the bags out to the car and then we went back in and saw that Billy was washing Bobby who thought that this was all so much fun, and he was getting to go somewhere with his big uncle and these two teachers in their car.

We closed up the house and then with Billy and Bobby seat belted in we took off across town for home. We knew we had another trip to make, we needed a car seat for Bobby, and as we drove home we spotted, about a quarter mile from home, a family packing up their tag sale. What caught Jeff's eye was a child's car seat on the lawn near their sale items. I pulled over to the curb and Jeff hopped out and asked if he could purchase the car seat. The woman looked at him, then at the car and she recognized Billy and asked what was going on. By now her husband and 2 teenage daughters were back to collect more unsold items. The girls too recognized Billy and they began talking to him as he got out of the car also. He explained how ill his father was and that his favorite teachers were taking him and Bobby home with them, so they were not left alone in their house. The mother told Jeff what a great thing we were doing and gave him the car seat.

The father came over to the car and he showed me how to install the car seat and we got Bobby installed in it. He loved the higher seat. Billy and the girls were talking about a class they shared, and I realized I had one of the girls in my English Class, so I moved over to the threesome and the girls were all giddy and such, you'd think Jeff and I were rock stars or something. The parents were pleased to have met us and wished Billy's dad, Mr. Berger, a speedy recovery. We thanked them for their generosity and they shrugged it off, saying the seat wasn't meant to be sold, but passed on to someone who could use it. It was then that a boy, about 10, came out of the house and said that he had some stuff for Billy too. He had a bag of some clothing and a few games he handed over to Billy. Again, thanks were made, and we drove off home.

Billy was in awe of our house and I heard him telling Bobby not to touch anything. The little one seemed scared to even breathe, until Jeff started a tickle fight with him and the two of them started to chase each other through the whole downstairs, laughing and tickling each other, Jeff getting down low, so Bobby could reach him. Billy looked on like an all-knowing parent and told me they were going to break something. I just shrugged my shoulders and said that was OK, Jeff had a good job and he could afford to replace whatever got broke, besides, it looked like fun, as I started in on Billy and soon had him laughing until tears started. I stopped until he caught his breath and then he tried to get to me.

I could have done many things at that point, but I decided that Billy was too emotionally charged up right then and I didn't want him embarrassed, so I suggested we get both boys settled in their rooms and that started a stampede for the stairs and we all ended up with bags and bags of stuff in the upstairs hall. We let the boys wander and soon they had each picked out a room. Billy thought it was wonderful that he'd have his own room, and wouldn't have to share with Bobby, but he told Bobby they could have sleepovers sometimes. It didn't take them long to settle in, and soon we were having burgers out on the back patio as it slowly got darker out.

It turned out to be an early night for us all and in the morning,  we just doubled what we would normally have cooked for breakfast on the weekend and it proved to be just enough for the youngsters. The boys reported they had slept well and Bobby said he didn't know where he was when he woke up, but he was having a good time. Billy admitted he too didn't remember where he was when he woke, but it sunk in soon and he loved having his own bathroom to use. He had dressed and then went and got Bobby cleaned and dressed before they came downstairs, I think following the odor of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon we had going on in the kitchen. After eating and getting cleaned up ourselves, we got the boys into the car and we took off for the VA hospital to see how Mr. Berger was doing.

It didn't look too good. Although he seemed glad to see Billy and Bobby he showed signs of fatigue pretty quickly and I sent Billy to the cafeteria to get us all something to drink and I told him to please take Bobby with him. The duty nurse told Jeff and me that the antibiotics they were using didn't appear to be working and that he was getting weaker by the hour.

      He called us over to his bedside, but it was more a feeble hoarse whisper, accompanied by heavy coughing. He said the boys seemed happy and asked if they had settled in alright. We assured them they were settled in and asked if there was anything we could do for him. He clasped a hand of each of us and asked if we'd take in the boys permanently and raise them to be good, smart men like we were. He said he knew we were married and that our love showed for all to see, but he felt that we would make fine fathers for his boys. He told us he had had a visit with his VA appointed lawyer this morning and he had named us guardians for his son and his grandson, and if we didn't want to, or couldn't take in the two then they would become wards of the state as there wasn't anyone else he would trust and there were no living relatives he could rely on.

We told him we would do what we could for the boys, but we were not sure we were ready for fatherhood. He coughed up a chuckle and said not many men were ready to become fathers, but that both boys were potty trained and out of diapers, so the hard stuff was done. He seemed to fade out at that and Jeff and I went to the corner and discussed what had been asked of us. Jeff told me, "Tom I love you dearly but those two boys need people around them to love and protect them, to nurture them and guide them. I feel we're as ready as we could be, I mean not exactly that we're prepared for this, but I think we're at, or near, a place where we have the resources to provide for them, the wisdom to know right from wrong, and the training to be able to pass that on to another generation. Yes, it is probably going to take us some getting used to, but think of the boys and what they need and besides, I think this could be good for us too. We-". It was at that point that I placed my lips on his, not to shut him up, but to express my happiness that he felt the same as I did.

We had kissed, and I assured him that I totally agreed with everything he had said, and we turned to the bed and Mr. Berger was laying there, eyes closed but smiling and nodding his head. We went to the bed and we both sat side by side at his bedside and when the boys came back to the room, Billy was carrying a Styrofoam carrier with five drinks in it. There was a small juice for Bobby and Iced teas for the rest of us. We placed a straw into them all and when Mr. Berger came around a short time later he was able to take a few sips of his. When the two boys had finished telling us all about their trip to get the drinks Mr. Berger asked if he could have a few minutes with "his boys" and he asked us to stay close outside in the hall. We figured he was going to tell the lads about them staying with us, so we gave them some privacy and we stepped out in the hall.

The nurse from the desk there told us she had witnessed the custody agreement that morning and she handed us a business card that the lawyer had left for us. We were thanking her when Billy came out of his father's room and told us we were needed back in there.

Little Bobby was crying in his grandfather's arms and Billy was very teary himself, but trying to be a man about the situation. I hugged him to me as Jeff took Bobby off his now sleeping grandfather and we went down the hall to the small visitor's room and let both boys cry in our arms for what was inevitable at that point.

After they had shed buckets and were once again in control of themselves we left the hospital and we drove them home, to our house. We had a late lunch and settled in to watch one of the DVDs that Billy had packed. It wasn't exactly a little child's movie, but it wasn't anything gross or profane either. It was something we were going to have to get somewhat used to, the name was "Pete's Dragon". It had the boys entertained and actually after a bowl or two of popcorn Jeff and I had settled in to watch it too.

We took the boys for a walk on the property when the movie finished. We hit all he high spots, the barns and the pump house, the pond and the cabin. We told them that we'd bring them both out here swimming soon, but they were not to come out here on their own. We made Bobby promise not to come here without someone else bigger with him. He solemnly promised, and we decided to have either a fence or some sort of alarm installed. The boys both loved the little cabin and we agreed that at times, in the summer, it would make a great camp out place.

We strolled back to the house and Jeff reminded me we hadn't checked the mail for a few days, so Billy and I walked over to the pillar with the mailbox in it and took the several contents out and closed the hinged door shut again. As we walked back up to the house I flipped through the mail, not expecting much, but there were updated account balances from the investment firm Jeff and I used and some statements from our bank and I realized it was the end, or near the end, of the month of April.

That meant that there was a month and a week until  our summer vacation. As we walked back to the house Billy spoke about his father, the life he had to endure with him, and how when his older brother and his wife had died in the car crash and he, Billy, had become the primary caretaker of both his father and his nephew, and how he coped with that at only just 10 years old. My heart went out to him and as we walked my arm gravitated around his shoulders and I tried to explain that Jeff and I would help him from now on. I told him that he could relax now and turn over the care of Bobby to us, we'd still listen to his opinions, but the burden was going to be carried by us now and hopefully he would be responsible for some of the joy we could bring to both boys' lives.

We all pitched in and prepared dinner, which would be a big meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans, all preceded by a big tossed salad we all had a hand in creating. Once the meatloaf was in the oven we showed the boys the laundry room and the basement. Of course, the basement was the highlight of this tour. Neither boy had had any exposure to weights before and we explained to Bobby that these were not toys and definitely not anything to be playing around with, at least until he was much nearer Billy's age. He must have felt left out again, I mean there in the space of a few hours we had told him "NO", first the pond and now the weights. Jeff picked up on this as he saw the tyke's lower lip being stuck out. He scooped Bobby up and started to do curls with him, raising and lowering him as if he was a barbell. That got Bobby laughing, and the rest of us too.

When he was again on his feet Jeff told him that we liked him a whole lot and it was our job to keep him safe. The pond was a big safety issue until he learned to swim, and we were going to help him do just that this summer, but he handed the lad a dumbbell that was marked 10 (for 10 pounds) and told him to hold that. Well poor Bobby couldn't and then Jeff tapped it lightly on his little sneaker, making Bobby wince. I asked Bobby if that hurt and he said in all his wisdom that no it hadn't, but it was going to, he could tell. We convinced him that this was another area he was not to come to without someone much older.

Billy, on the other hand, was intrigued by the weights and wanted to know if that was how we got so big and we told him it was how we started and was how we maintained our strength. We had started out with small weights and we told him we would help him start working on a strength regimen with him if he wanted. He smiled and said he would like that.

My cell rang while we were still down there, and it was Ken, asking if I had time to talk for a few moments so Jeff took the boys to show them how to set the table for dinner, as he said to all of us that it was getting close to having the meatloaf come out of the oven. Ken said he wouldn't keep me, but he had heard through the town's grapevine that Jeff and I had taken in the Berger children and he wanted to know if we needed anything they could help us with, and if we wanted we were all invited to their place for a cookout the next afternoon. I told him we really appreciated that and that we were taking the boys shopping, after our dinner, for a few outfits and new shoes and sneakers, and we'd like to come over tomorrow, but we really should take the boys to see Mr. Berger at the hospital, it might be the last time they got to see hm. Ken expressed his surprise that things had taken such a serious turn with his health and he asked who would be taking custody of the boys if he did die. I told him arrangements had been made for the boys, as of Monday they would be Jeff's and my wards, they'd be staying here with us, per Mr. Berger's wishes.

He told us to call if we needed anything, and I assured him that he and Phil  would probably be the first ones we called if we needed to call anyone. I told him we'd take a raincheck on the cookout and we'd talk again soon. I then went upstairs to join in getting our dinner on the table.

Dinner was a success and the boys really dug in and made a dent in the meatloaf. We all pitched in after dinner and we showed the boys how to load the dishwasher. Once that was done we watched the evening news and  weather and then we headed out to the mall in Hadley for some shopping. I don't think either boy could remember having new clothing before and the new sneakers and shoes were definitely a first for them both. We had fun doing the shopping with them both and they really appreciated us getting the new items for them. After they were tucked in their beds for the night Jeff and I sat up for a while in front of the TV.

 We discussed how we thought they were both doing here and also how we were doing with them here. The general consensus was that everything was going as well or better than could be expected. We then went over the financial statements we had just gotten in the mail and we were certainly doing a lot better in that regard than we had originally expected. We also talked about whether to fence off the pond or put in one of those floating alarms they use in swimming pools to alert if someone or something falls or goes in the pool unattended. We made a note to call around on Monday and see what Ken and Phil thought, but I was voting for a chicken wire, high fence with a locking gate and a pool sensor as well because it was a pond and there was wildlife out there. It wasn't like having a swimming pool, wildlife still needed to access the pond so…..Jeff jumped in and said, "Why don't we just add a pool? There are some really big above ground pools and if we don't find one we like we can always get an in-ground one installed with a child proof fence around it."

Monday found us again at the hospital where the boys spent some private time with a visibly weaker Mr. Berger. While we were letting the three of them have some private time, the lawyer Mr. Berger had consulted met with Jeff and me in the small waiting room. He was ready to head to the county courthouse to file the change of guardianship and just needed some background on us and to determine if our financial status would let us afford to raise the boys. With his information gathered he assured us he'd be in touch soon and he took our cell numbers, so he could notify us how the family court judge had ruled.

After he had left the doctor assigned to Mr. Berger came to talk with us and he explained that the progression of the infection was not at all good. It was  progressing at an alarming rate and the pneumonia was not responding to the medications he was being given, he was giving us a heads up, they didn't expect Mr. Berger to last the rest of the day. We went to be with the boys then and they were snuggled with Mr. Berger on the hospital bed. Billy told us that his father had told them goodbye and that he wanted the boys to be good boys for us and to listen to us and do what they were told to do.

A short while later we were able to say our goodbyes to him also, but the man was so weak by then all he could do was weakly hold our hands. A nurse came in and suggested to us that we take the boys out now, and she would notify us when he had passed.

The first call came as we were driving home and it was the lawyer, assuring us the family court judge had signed the guardianship of the two boys over to us and we would be receiving copies of his decision by the end of the day. The second call came about 3 PM and it was the nurse from the hospital, Mr. Berger had passed away.

We dealt with it, coming so soon after the deaths of our grandmothers it was hard, but we let the boys grieve. We decided that they should get as much of it out as they could now, but we also knew it wasn't good for them to let it absorb them, so since it was a scorcher out we decided that a little diversion was needed. We took the boys in their new swimsuits out to the pond and Jeff and I coaxed them into the pond with us. In a few minutes little Bobby was being tossed around in the water and he was laughing again, it only took a few minutes longer for Billy to begin to enjoy himself, too.

It had certainly proved to be a cathartic experience and we all had so much fun after a while that we decided to make it a family activity daily. When we arrived back to the house we decided to clean up and make a trip to a few shops. We wanted to go to a big pool company and see what the options were for a pool on our property and also to see about the alarm devices that we might use for the pond that we knew were available at a big home store.

Our expedition proved to be a good choice for a couple of reasons, it kept the boys occupied and it allowed us to feel we were giving the boys a secure place to live. We chose a big in ground pool and contracted for an extensive patio area around it that could accommodate a large enclosure that would allow us use of the pool all year long. Work would take about a month to complete, but they could start work on it by the end of the week, at least as far as getting the ground prep work started. At the home improvement store we found the floating alarm we wanted and also picked out a natural looking fence to go around the pond. This was primarily to keep Bobby out of the pond when we were not around. It was purely a precautionary measure.

A few days later we were called and told the excavation for the new pool would begin that day and continue for a few days. We decided to get out of town until the excavation work was completed so we packed up the boys and we took off for Brooklyn and Sam and Joe were thrilled to put us up for a few days. We took the boys to the Brooklyn Zoo and had a great day there with Sam and Joe acting like proud grandpas the whole time. Another day we took the boys into the big city and we took a double decker bus tour of many areas of the city and then the next day we toured the Statue of Liberty. All in all it was a good visit and the boys really liked our older friends.

By the time we returned home the pool liner had been installed and a temporary fence had been set up around the work area. It took another week for the coping around the pool to be installed and the pavers set for the pool surround area. By the time the water was being hosed into the pool the work on the huge greenhouse like structure over it had been started and by the end of the month we had a functioning pool, fully enclosed and with a bank of new solar panels  installed nearby it was a self-contained year-round usable recreation area for our family.  We had been helping Bobby get used to being a water baby and his swimming skills were coming along.

Billy and Bobby both were much more comfortable in the pool than the pond and they both showed a lot of improvement with our tutelage over the next couple of weeks. We had thought about having them join the swim club in town, but we decided that could wait and become an after-school activity for both of them. Ken and Phil had suggested the boys might like to learn to ride also so their after-school activities would also include horseback riding and the second week in August we took them over to the riding and swimming centers to enroll them.

There were several kids at both places that Billy knew from school, but he was much more confident now with his new contacts and better clothing. When we took him for new glasses we realized he might find contacts better for swimming, combined with some swim goggles. Both boys went with Jeff and me when we went for haircuts before school started, and when the stylist was done with Billy he looked amazing. He was a changed young man and he looked it, no longer the geek with the mop of hair and ill-fitting glasses and clothes, he was a young stud now. His body was beginning to fill out as a result of a more balanced and filling diet and the exercise he was getting swimming, and he had started to use the lighter weights with us as we three worked out as Bobby watched videos on the new rec room TV or played with his toys.

The beginning of the school year was rapidly approaching, and we had enrolled Bobby in preschool at the elementary school just down the road from the high school. He would have one year of this before starting first grade the next school year. Billy was the most nervous about the new school year, but we told him he had nothing to fear. He was in a loving home and he looked great this year. We teased him about all the girls that would be swarming the new him, and he just shrugged at that, but when Jeff asked if that wasn't what he wanted he told us that what he wanted was what we had, a loving spouse that was male, not female, and he didn't have that as he had no close friends, male or female. We reminded him that he was going to the after school activities at the riding center and the swim center and he'd get to know those kids really well in a short amount of time, and there was plenty of time, he was only going to be a sophomore this year and that this could be the year he met someone special and that they would be the lucky one to have him as their friend. That earned us hugs.

Bobby was excited to be going to school. He'd see a few of the kids from the riding center and a few from when we had gone to Ken and Phil's for cookouts in the past month and they had in turn come to our home with their boys.

The first day of school was hectic for all of us, but once breakfast was cleared up we all checked we were ready to leave and the first to be dropped off was Billy, who looked fantastic, and then we drove down the street and dropped Bobby at the grade school. He had met his teacher and she knew who we were, and she told us that if he had any problems she'd call one of us on our cell and we were only right down the street at the high school.

Our day went well and the boys both survived their first day of the school year as did Jeff and I. Bobby had to tell us what he did each minute of his day and it was so cute to hear his rundown of his day at school. Billy reported that many of the kids he had met at the swim and riding centers had sat with him at lunch and they all were a really friendly bunch. He said he shared several classes with some of them and that they had agreed to study together after their lessons at the swim and riding center.

So, things were settling in to be a productive semester for all of us. There was going to be a long weekend for the Columbus Day weekend which was celebrated in our state on the Monday closest to October 12th. We were all excited in our house because after school on the Friday before the actual holiday we were going to be driving into Springfield to the train station to pick up Sam and Joe. They were coming to our house for the long weekend. It had been a couple of months since we had last seen them and although we spoke to them on the phone every week the boys were needing a "grandpa" fix.

You'd have thought that they were coming for months, the amount of luggage and bags they had brought with them, but it soon became apparent that they had brought along Christmas presents for the boys (and Jeff and me) rather than have to post them, or wait until we came down to visit them. They looked good for their ages, a little tired from their trip, but looking good to us. On the drive back to our house Bobby tried to tell them about every day he had spent in pre-school since his first day there as he sat wedged between them in his car seat. Billy sat between Jeff and me as we rode, trying not to snicker at his brother's tale of life in kindergarten.

After both boys were asleep that night, after we had each had a glass of wine, Sam and Joe asked if we would let them watch as we made love that night. They were both approaching 80 at that time and since we had been "performing" for them since we were teens we really didn't think much about it and assured them we would be happy to have them in the room with us. We knew of course that because of one medical issue or another they hadn't been able to have sex themselves for many, many years, but that didn't stop them from wanting to watch others do it. We also knew that their yard boys still performed on their lawn for them and they were the ones we had found for them years ago when we entered college.

Up in our master bedroom later we stripped off in front of them and proceeded to give them (and ourselves) a very satisfying show. If anything, we were even in better shape as we did work out regularly and both Jeff and I thought we looked better in our mature shapes, at the ripe old ages of 26 than we did in our teens. When I had filled Jeff's ass with my heavy load and was suctioning out his hole with my mouth I felt a hand caress my ass and looked up to see Sam and Joe standing alongside the bed, each of them with an envelope in their hands. Jeff chuckled and told them we didn't want any tips from them, they were our family and we had done this for them out of love.

Joe chuckled and held out an envelope to him and Sam handed me one. They told us that we were much more than just their surrogate sons, and they wanted us to have these gifts to remember them by. Inside my envelope was the deed to their property in Brooklyn, the deed reflecting the additions of Jeff Porter and Tom Morris as co-owners and Jeff's envelope contained copies of their brokerage accounts stating that we were co-signers on these accounts. We all went to the sitting area in front of the fireplace and they explained that they had both been diagnosed with cancer in the previous spring and had decided that with the exception of us they had little or no family left, and that neither one was expected to see the next year in, no matter how well they felt or looked right now. This would more than likely be the last time we would all get to see each other, and they had added our names to their deeds and accounts to spare us the heavy inheritance taxes.

Jeff and I were struck dumb. We sat there in disbelief and sorrow. Not only for them, our oldest friends, our confidants, and what was left of our past, but for us as well as they truly were like the grandfathers and fathers we had missed so badly, for all the years since we had lost them. Through our tears we asked if they should see another specialist and they told us that at first they had doctor shopped and had finally found one who had arranged for them to be pain free until the end and that they had had an incredible life and at their ages they couldn't think of anything to keep going on for, with the exception of us and watching our boys grow up into men, but their decisions had been made months before the boys came into our lives, and their decisions were now irreversible, so they had made sure they would never want for anything, as the papers they had given us would explain. They hugged us tightly and retired to their bedroom shortly after and Jeff and I held each other tightly and wept.

In the morning we sat with them after breakfast and we four went over the papers while the boys were playing a video game on Billy's computer in his room. Sam explained how he and Joe had set up all the properties they owned in partnership with us and the boys and how three office buildings were in their names and the boys' names. They owned three office buildings in Manhattan and seven houses in Brooklyn in partnership with Jeff and me. Joe showed us the printouts from their money investment portfolios and again there were accounts in both of the boys' names with theirs and some with Jeff's and mine on them. The total of the buildings and investments were well over 7 million. Joe reached into one of the bags he had with him and produced a videotape, one that had been played hundreds of times by the look of it, and it was one of the original tapes from the very x rated movie Jeff and I had done while in college. He showed us that also in the bag were 10 DVD discs of the same movie, explaining that they were the ones who had paid for the movie to be made and not a porn movie studio, but there had been a few copies made by the crew they had hired to make the movie.

We had invited Ken and Phil over to meet them and stay for dinner, so later in the afternoon, we had company as they and their sons came to spend a few hours with us. By seven thirty that evening our company was gone, full bellies and all. Sam and Joe thanked us for a very nice time with our friends and took themselves off to their room for a needed rest.

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