The Wheeler

Chapter Four

I won't say I made a ton of new friends, but as I told Josh, at least I hadn't made any enemies. He told me that the students in his school weren't like that at all. He said that some new kid wanted to start a Gay/Straight Alliance some years ago and had to be told that about half the kids in the school, in fact in all three town schools; grade school, middle school, and the high school, all had same-sex parents.  Since the diversity started in the kindergarten it was there any little trouble might have started, but there hadn't been an incident in any of the schools in some time. In fact, the co-principals of the school we would be attending, the middle school, 7th and 8th grades, were a married male couple and they had boys in our school, and the local bus driver, who serviced all three schools, was gay and married to the grade school principal and they had a son in the high school now.

He explained it had all started some years ago when Dr. Chris had married Noah and they had about 10 or so adopted boys and they even donated to the town the whole municipal complex where the new town hall was and even the library, in fact, everything from the town hall to the police and fire department buildings had been donated by them. That reminded me to get Ian and Wayne to commit to a date in August for their wedding.  Over lunch I asked them about that, and they told me that just this morning they had spoken to Noah and he had agreed to them using the gazebo for their wedding in two weeks, the first weekend in August on that Saturday evening, which would co-inside with my adoption hearing which Rich had finally gotten a date for, just three days after the wedding. They told me, even before I could ask, that they hoped to be able to adopt Bill at that time too. They told us Wayne was going to take our last name when they married, so we'd be able to say we were 4 Wheelers.  Josh almost had a milk fountain coming out of his nose at that, but Wayne and I just groaned, it was always best not to encourage Ian's sense of humor, or the lack of it.

Wayne said he'd take us shopping for new suits, Josh included. Ian told us that Bill would be their ring bearer, and Wayne and he wanted Josh and me to be their best men and ushers. Ben and Tom were going to be ushers too, so it was going to be all five of us involved in their big day. Both Josh and I told them how proud we'd be to participate in their day, and Bill wanted to know why he had to be bare. We all laughed at that and Wayne had to explain that he'd have a suit on too, but he'd be carrying the rings and people called that person the ring bearer. Once that had been cleared up we left for the big mall in Holyoke to do some suit shopping that afternoon and once everyone but Ron and Tom were outfitted (they were still working and would go by themselves after they got cleaned up after work) we returned home and we all took the horses and a pony and we rode out into the corral for two hours.

We were actually able to go into the pasture adjoining the corral since Ron had been able to fix the fence around that big space, It was an acre and a half pasture and we wouldn't have to worry about the pony roaming off with Bill because of the repaired fence, but Bill showed us he really did have control of his pony and that made us all feel better. Josh stayed over again that night since his father and Tom were out shopping anyway, and Bill wanted to sleep with us. Once in my bedroom we put in an age-appropriate movie and he soon was conked out, which enabled us to carry him to his own bed where he had a peaceful night's sleep and so did, we after another rubbing against each other session before we slept. When my alarm went off in the morning, we went to Bill's room and moved his sleeping body back to our bed, so he could wake up with us.

The very next day Ron, Tom, Wayne and Ian had a meeting in the home office that lasted until noon and after a light lunch Theresa came for our therapy session and she got to formally meet Bill since he had missed our last two sessions with her. They got along great and she and he did a lot of jumping jacks while Josh and I did our workouts to build up our weakened limbs. She did some testing after our workouts and declared us equal to where we should be in strength for our age, if not a bit better than originally expected. She asked if we were willing to continue on our own from now on and we assured her we would continue and she told us she would turn in her report to Dr. Chris today, letting him know she was releasing both of us from official therapy as of today, but if we had any questions to just call her and she'd be glad to help us if she could. That was our good news of the day, we thought.

Just after we had our dinner the front doorbell rang and there were Josh and his dad Rob with Tom. Ian and Wayne must have been expecting them because Wayne had put out two more coffee cups and another cup of milk to go with our dessert, a fresh blueberry pie, warm, with vanilla ice cream to go on top. During dessert, Ian asked me if I wouldn't like to have Josh move closer and I told him that across the street was pretty close, but yeah, I'd like to see him all day every day. Wayne said that the ranch house they lived in was fine for them, but that Ron had been offered a lot of money for the two acres it sat on and they thought about moving their house onto our property, maybe right next door, about a quarter of an acre to our left so their house could share our well and septic system. They had been told that the move, in total, could take about three or four weeks, so our new neighbors would be moving in with us until their house got moved and was re-issued an occupancy permit from the town. That was great news, and everyone liked the idea, even Bill, who really didn't grasp what was going on, but he was happy.

There was more news though, Ron and Tom were getting married, right after Ian and Wayne's wedding, and they wanted Josh and me to be their best men too! I jumped up and congratulated the two men and Josh had happy tears running down his cheeks as he cheek kissed both men. They had been friends all through school, but when Ron went away to college, he conformed to the norm back then and dated a girl and married her. He had a great fondness for her, but she felt after Josh's birth that she didn't have the kind of future she had envisioned with Ron, so she gave him an uncontested divorce and took herself to another state to start over. She had kept in touch with Ron for a few years and then all communication had stopped.

As Ron continued to live and work in town he kept running into Tom, his old school chum and they soon realized that they both were missing the fooling around they did as boys, and then teens, so they tried again and found out those feelings had only intensified over time and now that Josh was older and could totally understand their love, they didn't want to waste any more time living apart. Ian and Wayne would exchange vows and then Ron and Tom would. There wouldn't be a lot of spectators because Ian and Wayne hadn't lived here long, and Tom and Ron would have the most, having lived in the town all their lives, but tended to keep to themselves, but between them all, they had about fifty people to invite.

There was a flurry of activity before the weddings were to take place. Ron by now had a crew of fifteen, most of the summer students from the forestry programs at the University and there were several from the equine studies department also. The two groups worked well together to clear the riding trails and also the site for the home that would be moved onto our property for Ron and Josh, and now Tom, to share. There was an old caretakers' cottage on the property, but that hadn't been maintained at all and was actually not usable for anything other than a source of planks to use in the upkeep of the barn or the workshops. Ron had been able to use some of the siding planks to repair the paddock fence sections.

Ron, Tom and Josh officially moved into our house the week before the weddings. Their belongings, except for their summer clothing, were stored in huge walk-in containers in the big workshops. Ron and Tom shared a bedroom on the first floor that had originally been the housekeeper's room. It not only had a sitting area and walk-in closet, but its own bathroom and a private entrance. With the approval of all the adults, Josh elected to stay in my room with me.

We got to see the foundation being prepared for the house and Bill enjoyed the big earth movers that dug the hole for the basement and then the framing and the whole day of the cement poured into the forms for the walls and floor of the new basement, we all three then got to put our handprints into one of the sections of the newly poured driveway. A week later the ranch house was moved onto its new foundation. We all walked across the street to watch it being loaded onto a huge trailer truck and then about two hours later it was unloaded onto the new foundation. Ian and Wayne served everyone a lunch of grilled burgers and they even had enough for the 30 workers on site to deal with the house move and the trail cutters. It would take another week for everything to be completed.

The next weekend was the wedding ceremonies. On Friday the town building inspector came a final time, to issue the small ranch an occupancy permit. Two of the trail cutters had been deployed to landscape the house with some of the wild rhododendron from the cleared trails and a few saplings of white birch clustered in one corner of the lot and a few sugar maple saplings to help eventually shade the house in the summer months, once they had a chance to grow taller than the roofline.

By now it was rare that I had to return to the wheelchair, I was a lot stronger and the most recent x-rays showed that the metal implant had done its job and my broken pelvis was now healed. It was only after a particularly rough day of too much exertion that I used it until I gave myself a chance to rest. Josh was recovering nicely and boy, was I going to miss sleeping with him once the next week was over. He was going to be staying with me in my room for another seven days as Ron and Tom had a brief honeymoon after spending their first two days of married life setting up their home and then going to see Tom's elderly grandmother in her nursing home in New Hampshire and spending a few days by themselves at Perkins Cove.  Ian and Wayne were going away to Cape Cod when they returned for a brief honeymoon of their own. This way a set of adults was with us three younger guys at all times.

The weddings went off without a hitch (well, the two couples got hitched!) and Bill performed his ring bearer duty well for both couples, and Josh and I were told we were the best honorary best men for the two couples wed that evening, just as the sun was setting behind the mountains in the distance behind the gazebo. Dr. Chris and Noah had encouraged their family to attend in addition to the crews cutting trails on our property. They surprised us with a cookout attended by dozens of people at their house after the two ceremonies. We got to meet a lot of the Major/Sargent family and Josh, Bill and I met many other kids our own ages. Some who we met were ones we had met while we had helped out with our firewood sales and we all felt that we had a whole bunch of kids we'd all be going to school with, and some of their parents were even teachers at the schools we'd be attending.

The weekend was spent re-furnishing the ranch house from what had been stored in our workshops and we all had a hand in helping, even Bill, who was small enough to get into the lower kitchen cupboards and wipe them out before they were restocked. It was kind of sad to see Ron and Ton drive off late Sunday afternoon, but they had a couple of hours drive before they reached the coast of New Hampshire and we all knew they'd have a great time once they got there.

Bill didn't really understand what a honeymoon was, only that Ron and Tom were going on a vacation, and leaving Josh to stay for another week with us, and that he thought was alright. Josh and I tried to keep him occupied and one of the ways we did that was to have him help us in the big patch I was given to create my own garden on the side of the house. I liked this area as it wasn't totally flat and putting in a fish pond wouldn't be hard to do, we just needed to dig out where the pond liner was going and remove most of the vegetation from the area. When Josh and I went over my plans with Ian and Wayne and a few modifications were made, Josh and I together researched what we would need to buy online and worked up an estimate of the costs and again we sat with Ian and Wayne to go over what I could spend on the supplies we wanted.

All the pond components, the liner, the water treatment needed to make the water safe for fish, the filter and the fountain pump that would keep the water in the pond aerated and moving so mosquitoes wouldn't breed in a still pond, pond fish food, and a couple of long-handled nets to help us clean the pond. Once they had been ordered we three guys started clearing any of the growth from the fifty by fifty plot we were going to landscape into a Japanese/New England fusion garden, using pebbled walks between each plant bedding area and around the pond. Now the pond wasn't going to be huge, just big enough to hold about 400 gallons of water, with one end deep enough to go beneath the frost line so any fish could winter there but the rest of it was only about a foot to a foot and a half deep. Using a black liner would help to give the illusion of more depth in the shallow areas.

We had actually gotten a lot done as far as removing the stuff we didn't want there by the time we received notification that our order for the pond supplies was only a week away from being delivered, and Ian and Wayne came out to help us dig out the areas we wanted to be cleared for the pond itself. Josh had explained that no soil was to be wasted, and he and I used the wheelbarrow to create hilly areas while saving a lot to put down on the sections of the liner that overlapped the actual hole after creating a berm, or a bump, all around the dugout pond area to keep the water in the pond and so no runoff water from the new hills could run dirt into the pond itself. Once the liner was in, the adults could really see what we had tried to describe to them and they praised us for doing all our research before the actual work was done. That same week we had a thunderstorm and half of our pure water was supplied by Mother Nature, no, not a whole bunch of rain came down, but we had placed a lot of trash barrels lined in big plastic trash bags about the yard and we were able to add to what had fallen in the pond liner.

Once the filter and fountain pump were hooked up we were able to test the water and make the chemical correction to bring it to the proper PH levels to support living things in the water and Wayne and one of the trail cutters helped Josh and me by unbolting the wheelchair ramp from the house and they helped us turn it into a sort of walking bridge over the middle of the pond. The handrails were still in place and it really did look good once a few vines were planted to crawl over the sides of the railings.

Ron and Tom arrived home the day after the bridge was completed. Ron actually checked out our work on it and declared it very well thought out and built just as he would have done.  High praise indeed. Now that the water had aged, and the PH tests came out right it was time for introducing the fish to the landscaped pond. The gravel on the bottom of the pond had several native water plants embedded in it and roots were beginning to grow into the gravel bed. The filter was functioning, the fountain worked well, and Ian and Wayne had bought us a set of underwater lights for night time viewing. Wayne drove Josh and me to a big pet store in Springfield where Josh and I, with Bill's help, picked out about six koi, a couple spotted and a couple solid gold and two with big blotches which Bill thought were stripes, kind of. The clerk also suggested a few catfish, but that brought Josh and me real close to our budgeted amount, but little Bill pulled out a five-dollar bill and said we could use that too. I told him I'd pay him back, but he told me he wouldn't need it back and I should just keep it, he'd have fun at the pond just like Josh and I would.

By the next weekend, Ian and Wayne were off for their trip to Cape Cod which included two days in Provincetown.  They reported they had a fantastic time and even got to see Steve Grand perform a live show there. Tom and Ron stayed the nights at the big house, so we had adult supervision and someone to help us prepare meals. Quite a few of the riding trails had been completed by this time and Ron was busy creating the dual outhouses for the longest trails and picnic tables for the eating areas, and once everything else was done all they had to do was put the completed outhouse on a cart and tow it to the site it was to be installed at, on the concrete pads already in place. Then the chemical toilets could be installed and the little sinks for washing up and the changing station secured to a wall, with a sealable trash bin under it. The water tanks were attached on the outside wall above the sink on the inside wall and the connections were all made. The water was run through a solar panel on the roof, so the water was heated but still comfortable to the touch and antibacterial soap dispensers were on the wall above the sink inside. By the time Wayne and Ian returned every loo had been inspected and the new additional horses and the rest of the ponies had been delivered.

We were ready to open with three weeks left before school started. Again, Wayne made up a roadside sign, this one announcing the grand opening weekend of the riding trails and the cloth covering the lower half of the front entry sign was removed, announcing to the world "Wheeler Estate and Riding Trails". Our first customers were locals, some who had bought fire wood from us. Many of the kids from the local area rode over on the farm lanes to spend some of their allowance money, sometimes riding a long trail for a few hours and then riding a shorter one with other friends who had shown up. On Sunday after church the Sargent/Major clan arrived on horseback and they all split up into groups and each group rode a different trail and then they would compare notes and switch trails. Everyone raved about the outhouses and the picnic areas that were set up and told us they had a great time and would be back often.

Of course, Josh and I led some of the trail rides and we answered many of the questions about the old estate, sometimes referring to the data sheets Ian had printed off the computer. The following week our ad would start appearing in the newspapers and flyers were going into local B&Bs and hotels and motels in the area to attract the Fall leaf peepers. Several of the guys who had worked on creating the trails had stayed on to help lead the riders, but the trails were very well marked and many rode behind the groups for some of the ways just to make sure the groups stayed together. It really was a great start to the Fall season and even Bill was almost sad to have to go back to school. We three kids rode the bus together to school since our middle school and Bill's grade school were right next to each other.

Josh had moved back into his own bedroom in their house just before the grand opening, but we did find time for ourselves, every day just after school. We had limited ourselves to kissing and rubbing, on each other, and together, and just before school started, we both were able to achieve a cum-laden orgasm, we had achieved full-on puberty, and all the hormones that went with it. We both had plenty of pubic hair and some even under our arms now. My official adoption was slated for the 23rd of September and I was really looking forward to that, especially as Wayne had taken Ian, Bill and my last name when he and Ian had married. I should point out that Bill was going to be adopted at the same time, but it really didn't mean much to him, he was already calling Ian and Wayne, Dad and Daddy, so I started to as well, it just felt right at that point.

School turned out to be a place Josh and I could thrive this year. He no longer had the stigma of the kid with the limp arm and he had, at last, a really close friend. I also had finally found a best friend, one I'd longed for and now had, one I hoped I'd have for the rest of my life. Josh would stop by and pick me up and we'd make our way to the school bus stop, usually with Bill holding our hands as we went to the end of our drive where the bus picked us up. We also had on our bus several of the kids from the Sargent/Major neighborhood so it was a really nice way to start our school day, and end it too.

One night at dinner, just three weeks into our school year, Ian mentioned that we were expected at the county courthouse the next day, right after we got home from school. The bus usually dropped us off about 3:30 in the afternoon, our good clothes would be laid out for us and Bill and I would have to change really quick so we could be at the courthouse for four o'clock, then Wayne asked if it wouldn't save us all a lot of running around if he just drove to the school to pick us up and he drove us home to change, that would give us a half hour extra to change and use the bathrooms before we left for the courthouse and we'd all arrive with some breathing room and not feel so rushed. Once that was agreed upon Bill and I went to our rooms to see if our wedding suits were in good order and we both had clean shirts to wear with them. Of course, I knew all was in good order, but Bill wanted to make sure so up we went to see that not only were our clean shirts hanging in our closets already ironed, but someone had already even polished our good shoes also.

Of course, that would have been Wayne, so we went back downstairs to thank him. Our adoptions both went well, and the judge even noted that we all had the same last names already and there really wasn't any objection to either adoption so within an hour we were finally a family of four. There were a lot of hugs and kisses when the final paperwork was completed, and we couldn't wait to get home to begin our celebration with Josh and his fathers, Ron and Tom.

Ron had started the barbecue pit and ribs had been cooking since we had left and after we had a chance to change into more comfortable clothes, we joined them for a very fun evening meal out on the back patio. Josh told me that he had fed the fish for me and I found a way to thank him after dinner when we were alone for 20 minutes up in my room when we went up there to get our "homework" done. The only real change, after the adoptions, was that Ian became Dad and Wayne became Daddy officially. It just felt so right. I guess the adults had been talking about more than business while Josh and I were upstairs because when we came back down, after really doing our few homework assignments together, Ron asked Josh what he thought about Tom adopting him. They would be doing this so that Tom could legally be one of his parents, along with Ron, and have all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent. Josh told them that that would be awesome, so they told him they'd get that process started.

We were on our way to school one morning and at one of the bus stops we were passed by an old farm wagon, loaded with baled hay and pulled by those big old draft horses, you know those ones with the furry hooves and the really long body fur and they look kind of like a football player kind of horse, all hairy and beefy and very muscular. Some of the kids on the bus were saying they wished they could get off the bus and ask the farmer if they could have a hayride, and I admit I had to ask Josh what they were talking about. I'd never heard of such a thing.

Josh explained a hayride to me and now I knew what the other kids had been talking about. During a study period that day, Josh and I went to the school's library where we did a bit of research on hay rides.

 It turned out that some of the farms in the surrounding towns had them in the fall and it wasn't necessarily on farm wagons filled with bales of hay. Usually the wagon had bench seats along the sides of the interior of the wagon and hay or straw was spread on the floor and people actually paid to be ridden through the fields of a farm usually with a supporting cast dressed as ghouls, witches, bogeymen, and ghosts jumping out of the woods or fields to scare the riders as they passed by in the wagon. It all sounded like a lot of fun, especially as Halloween was soon approaching.

The next day at school there was talk about what to do as fundraisers for the senior citizen Thanksgiving dinner the school usually participated in, and also the Secret Santa that provided gifts to those less fortunate, all done anonymously through the local churches. There was a buzz about this among the students all morning and during lunch. They talked about all the lame schemes from years past and how they couldn't see the small sums of money made could really support these worthy ventures. I asked Josh why we couldn't do a couple of nights of "haunted hayrides", if we timed it right and it got advertised right we could make enough for both endeavors, all we would need is a bunch of the kids to volunteer to dress as ghouls and ghosts and monsters and maybe extra rigging for our farm wagon so that we could use four of our horses instead of two big draft horses. Maybe some spooky music to play on our boom boxes as the wagon was driven through our fields, and maybe some increased insurance for the couple of nights, and of course our parents' permission, and help.

Josh and I were excited about this idea and we talked about it even on the bus on the way home, but not loud enough for anyone else to hear, we wouldn't do that until we had talked to our dads, which we decided to do right after dinner. All four dads liked the idea and Ron even came up with the idea of a "live scarecrow" that in the dusk would jump off a black box and appear to be jumping off a, cross to attack the riders on the wagon, which he told us he could easily rig, along with bench seats on the inside of the wagon bed. Ian asked if our horses could do a couple of rides a night and Ron thought so, but it might be wiser to rent two draft horses from a farmer he knew that still sometimes used his to plow a field for demonstration purposes.

Wayne wanted to help with the costumes, he and Tom agreed to work on snacks, maybe cider and big decorated cookies, and of course candy treats. And Ian wanted to be in charge of the music and he'd help Wayne make the signs. They told us it would make a great fundraiser and they thought, after we showed them the websites we had looked up before, that a charge of five dollars a ride would be fair, as long as we got our classmates to volunteer as the spooks in the fields. Ian even typed up a proposal for us to present at school the next day, with a few weekends, before and including Halloween as haunted hayride days.

He suggested these as days we would volunteer our resources and the property to do this. Tomorrow, if we did get permission from the school, we, Josh and I, would have to ask about 15 to 20 students to volunteer to help. We thought that the kids from our middle school on our bus just might be enough, and they lived closest to us. The kids in the grade school we thought were too young, including Bill who we had left out of our discussions, he could stay at the house with Wayne and Tom to help with the trick or treaters or helping at the snack table, he didn't like to be scared, and I wouldn't knowingly subject him to anything that would upset him.

Josh asked me if I didn't think I was being overly protective of Bill, and at first I didn't know how to take that, but Josh thought that if Bill got involved, maybe if he saw the set up and how it was created, and watched the evolution of the spook's costumes, maybe he wouldn't be afraid of being scared. I thought about that for a minute or two and then had to agree with Josh. We would start off with showing him the sites online for the hayrides and then some of the YouTube videos of the haunted ones.

He took to it like a charm. He wanted to go right then and there on a hayride and we laughed and told him he'd have to wait a while, things were still in the planning stages, but we assured him he'd be the first one to get a ride. He asked if he could bring his class to a ride and we assured him we'd do test runs with him and his friends.

We went to the principal's office in the morning, loaded with the proposal Ian had written, screen captures of the haunted hayrides, and sketches of the costumes Wayne had worked on. Josh and I had written all the things we were prepared to create for the hayrides, and that we all would be donating all the ticket sales of the rides from customers for the weekend rides we would put on, just as Ian had indicated in his written proposal. The principal was very pleased with all we had shown him and Josh even pulled up the website for a haunted hayride on the principal's computer. He also liked the idea of us including the students on our bus, that way most of the students wouldn't be involved and be possible paying customers. We got the go-ahead from him and he asked Josh and me to please thank my parents and Josh's for all the hard work they were going to be putting into this.

We were finally able to talk about this to the students that shared our bus rides with us and we saw a few of them at lunchtime and also during some of our classes. By the time we were released that afternoon and boarded our bus, after getting Bill from his school and walking him up to our bus, we were being peppered with questions as we three made our way to our seats. We told them the basics as we were driven to our neighborhood, the dates of the fundraiser weekends and the weekend before those so we might recoup some of the expenses we were likely to encounter. We explained we would need about twenty or thirty volunteers to be the spooks and scary characters out in the fields to scare the hayride customers, and if they needed outfits, we had arranged for some to be made for them. By the time we got to our bus stop, we had all thirty of our middle school classmates on the bus signed up, with promises from them not to divulge our planned scary bits to any others not in our group so others would have to pay to see us all in action.

The dads were all excited when they were told, they all seemed even more excited than Josh and I were! Ron had even contacted his friend who owned two draft horses and he had agreed to let us use them. Ron had worked out with his friend that the two big draft horses would be dropped off here a few days before and then they would be here, staying overnight in our barn, and they would then be on hand for the practice runs, thus getting them used to the activities and noises involved during the haunted rides.

Within a week we had our first meeting with everyone to be involved with the haunted hayrides. There was quite a group of us, with our principal and three of our teachers joining us. They had volunteered to help, and Ian thought that having four more adults couldn't hurt, in fact, he thought that with these four there was a better chance of any disruptions not occurring, seeing as they had a first-hand knowledge of past and current students.

We went over the proposed schedule first, with Josh and I handing out our timetable for the few nights leading up to Halloween and for Halloween day and evening. We did this as Ian and Ron explained that the daytime rides would be family times, with mostly young kids and seniors, so no scary antics, with the exceptions of the wagon passing by vignettes of ghouls plotting their antics for the evening, witches stirring a cauldron and cackling, and maybe a group of ghoulish doctors or zombies assembling a scarecrow out of manikin parts painted to look like severed human limbs. No outright attacking the wagon or its occupants, that can happen during the night time rides which would be primarily older couples and high school kids and couples out looking for a scare, and expecting one.

After the generalities we broke into groups, ghouls, zombies, witches, scarecrows, the wagon drivers and the folks that would act as security, primarily keeping the riders on the wagon, and the "actors" from getting carried away, or accosted, during their "attacks" on the patrons in the wagon. There was also a group that was working out how to get the spooky music out in the fields, and a softer selection of music to play at the refreshment stand and at the ticket table. A tape of the real spooky music would be created to play in the stalls of the draft horses several times, so it would become "normal" to them and wouldn't really spook them out in the fields with a chance of flipping a wagon full of fun seekers.

I have to say that the "meeting" was a lot of fun and the input from all the participants was noted and added to the "script" for their performances, if it was something we could incorporate. Everyone was to be in some sort of costume, even the security crew, they were going to all dress as the Keystone Cops with real costumes Ian and Wayne were ordering online. Bill was passing out packages of Goldfish crackers and Josh and I were coming around with cold cans of ginger ale and Sprite as the groups were still hashing out ideas and once, we had passed through the groups once we each attached ourselves to a group and participated, adding our own ideas, Bill sticking to the group discussing the daytime wagon rides.

That first week was spent on ideas and costume planning, the second week was rehearsals, and the third was full dress rehearsals and two afternoon hay rides for the students in Bill's class, for us to try out the "tame" stuff on and then there were two-night time tests for the real spooky stuff to be tested out on. Those two rides were done with adults, mostly from school, but with some of the Sargent/Major clan mixed in. That second run was so successful that the passengers asked to go around again, so signals and texts went out to the costumed performers in the fields and everything was just as much fun as the first time. At the end of that ride, Noah and Dr. Chris presented a check for a thousand dollars to the charity fund, and a check for five hundred to Ian and Wayne to help defray the expenses incurred to bring this all off. My Dads, in turn, deposited both checks into the charity's account, I was so proud of them.

The hayrides the following week had to be doubled up starting the weekend before Halloween and the evening haunted ones were so popular that instead of two a night, we had to squeeze in a third each night. All the paying visitors also made contributions to the charities we were supporting as well and by the night after Halloween when the funds were finally all accounted for and deposited and recorded, the school principal announced, to our post Halloween celebration for all involved, that enough funds had been collected to totally support the two worthy causes, and then some. There was much cheering and then he announced how proud he was of Josh and me for coming up with the idea originally, and that our haunted hayrides might be something we could continue to do in the future as a yearly class project. We were all for that.


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