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Local Falcon Health Technology Entertainment Queen releases "Face It Alone", a rediscovered song with Freddie Mercury Packers fall to Giants

Finding My Way Home

Chapter 7

Ephraim's first days of school went remarkably smoothly compared to Brendan and Derek's. Of course, Ephraim had gone to rural schools before, and knew what to expect to a point. He knew it would be hard to keep his feelings for Peter a secret, but he also understood why it was necessary after the older boys told him of their first day at school.

Even though Brendan was almost a year older than Derek, the pre-registration tests that the boys had taken for school showed they were both working at a tenth grade level. Due to their ages, however, I was able to convince the school to place them in the eleventh. I should have gone with them to register, but I didn't want to embarrass them.

The first question out of Derek's mouth in the office that morning had been about the school's gay straight alliance. He was quickly told that there was no such organization at that school. Derek and Brendan promptly announced that they would like to start one. The principal hemmed and hawed, avoiding the subject. He finally told the boys that they would need a petition signed by 100 students before he would even consider the proposal.

By the third period of the day both Brendan and Derek had noticed a coldness in the way that the teachers responded to them. The other students were acting distant as well. The boys were discussing it at lunch when they learned their first lesson of rural school life; the rednecks rule.

"Well, well, well, look what we have here; two sweet little fags eating their lunch." Brendan looked up to see several members of the school's football team surrounding them. Brendan had been outnumbered before and still won, but that was when he wasn't injured. He and Derek knew instantly that they were in trouble.

"We don't want to cause any trouble, guys," Brendan said slowly.

"Then you shouldn't have come to our school, queer," the spokesman for the group started to say. "We don't want your kind around here, you pervert."

"Why are you afraid of us?" Derek asked. It was the wrong choice of words.

"You calling me chicken, chicken shit?" the bully demanded. He grabbed Derek by the collar and jerked him up out of the chair. That set Brendan off.

He jabbed Derek's assailant with his crutch, then caught him on the side of the head with the return stroke. Two more guys were about to join the fight, but the principal showed up finally. He released the football jocks to class, but said that Brendan and Derek had to go to the office with him.

Marc caught me just as I was going into my afternoon class to tell me what was going on. I suspected the root of the problem and called Beth on my cell phone. She met me at the boy's school. We walked into the office and were immediately bombarded by the principal.

"These boys started trouble the minute they arrived, and then started a fight in the cafeteria at lunch," the man bellowed. "Now you get them out of here pronto. They have three days suspension to get straightened out before they will be allowed back." Beth and I both bristled at the extra emphasis he put on the word 'straightened'.

"Good afternoon to you, too," I said sarcastically.

"What?" the principal asked.

"I said good afternoon," I repeated. "That is the polite way to begin a conversation with a person you haven't met before. I am Cameron Ragland."

"Well, I can sure see where these two get their bad attitude from," the man sneered.

"I suggest you apologize immediately," Beth told him.

"Who are you, the pansy liberal mother?" the rude man responded.

"No, I'm the pansy liberal lawyer," Beth snapped.

"This is a simple suspension, there is no need for an attorney," the principal replied haughtily.

"I beg to differ, sir," she told him coldly. "As it stands right now, you have violated at least two school board policies, not to mention the criminal and civil charges I could file against both you and this school."

"That's preposterous," the principal huffed. "I have done nothing out of line with my duty to protect the innocent children of this school from the corruption of the influence of Satan."

"You are duty bound to protect the rights of free and safe education to all of the students of this school," Beth pointed out. "What you have done to these boys is to deny them that on both accounts. You broke board policy by suspending them for three days without first having a hearing before the disciplinary committee of the school. You broke the law when you prejudiced the faculty and student body against them by telling personal information to unauthorized personnel. You could be charged with child endangerment for this."

"What do you want from me?" the man sighed in resignation.

"First, the apology that we all deserve," Beth stipulated. "Secondly, you will allow them to follow school guidelines for setting up the gay straight student alliance."

"They will need a tenured sponsor for the… organization," the principal choked out. He was doing remarkably well at keeping his distaste just far enough below the surface that we couldn't complain, but could still see it nonetheless.

"I believe I can help there." We turned to see a woman walking into the office. "I'm Sandra Wetzel, school dietician. I may not be a teacher, but I'll be happy to sponsor the group. I have been tenured for fifteen years now."

"Well, I guess there is nothing more you need from me," the principal announced happily.

"Wrong," I told him quickly. "My boys need a pass to get back into the classes for which you have made them late."

"But they're…." He saw the looks on the faces of the three adults in front of him and intelligently decided to withdraw his comments. "They may pick them up from the secretary. Run along, boys. See that we don't have any more trouble."

"That would be your job," I told him. I stepped closer to him and whispered, "You have very nearly caused harm to my family. I will not allow that to happen again."

"Are you threatening me?" he asked failing to sound as he brave as he obviously thought he did.

"Cameron would never threaten anyone," Beth answered for me. "That's what he pays me for. One more incident of any kind and I will see to it that you are not only removed from this school, but that you never have a position of authority over children again."

As Beth and I followed Brendan and Derek into the outer office, we heard Mrs. Wetzel tell the principal, "Harold, I have known you since you and I went to kindergarten together. This is the first time I have ever been ashamed to admit that."

"I'm not sure if I know exactly what I'm getting into here, but I have a feeling this old school is about to get shaken up a bit," she told us as she joined Beth and I in the hallway.

"Don't worry," Beth assured her. "We'll be here to help you. The main focus, as I see it, will be to teach the students that gays and straights aren't all that different."

"That will be a hard sell around here," Sandra warned us.

"The immediate priority will just be getting kids to show up for the meetings," I pointed out.

"We'll need a gimmick," Sandra mused aloud. "We've got to come up with something that will grab everyone's attention, no matter which side of the porch they swing on." I laughed to myself at the wording, but there was no denying the validity of her point.

"I have an idea for that," Beth said as she stared at me. She had learned that look from Janice.

Brendan and Derek spent hours making signs to put up all over the school advertising the first meeting. They insisted on having one meeting without any lures to get people's attention. They went in early one morning and hung all their signs. By the end of the day, only one had escaped vandalism. Sandra had made it clear that if anything happened to the sign in the cafeteria, the entire school would be eating cabbage rolls for a week.

The boys were undaunted. They replaced every sign the following morning. Once again, all but one was destroyed. They were redone a second time. That time three survived. Brendan announced success and chose not to replace the damaged ones a third time.

The first meeting was held after school on a Thursday afternoon. Brendan, Derek, and Sandra waited eagerly for someone to show up. Just as they were about to give up, two girls walked in. After making sure the newcomers weren't lost, Sandra brought out a tray of snacks.

"Welcome to the first meeting of our school's gay straight student alliance," Derek began. "I'm Derek Elliot, and I'm acting president. I am also gay. No one at this meeting is allowed to condemn anyone else because of their orientation. The purpose of this organization is to teach our fellow students how we are all the same despite our sexual orientation differences." He stopped and looked at Brendan, who stood up.

"The first thing I would like to say is that being gay is not a choice. No one wakes up one morning and decides to be gay that day." He stopped suddenly and blushed a little as he said, "By the way, I'm Brendan Ragland." Everyone giggled a little bit and then Derek addressed the girls.

"You don't have to tell us your orientation, unless you are comfortable doing it," he assured them. "Everyone already knows about Bren and me, so it's not a big deal for us."

"I'm Jennifer and this is my sister, Carrie," the older of the two girls shared. "I'm straight, but I have an uncle who just told the family that he is gay. I came today because I wanted to know more about what his life is like."

"Does he know you were coming to the meeting?" Sandra asked. Both girls shook their heads. "He should. It's important to let your gay loved ones know that you support them. When they first come out, it's very common to feel very alone and unloved."

"My friends told me not to come here because you would try to brainwash me and make me gay," Carrie blurted suddenly.

"As I said before, no one can choose to be gay, so no one can be forced to be either," Brendan told her. "People can be forced to perform acts against their will, but that doesn't change their genetic structure."

"So you're saying that being gay is a genetic thing?" Jennifer asked.

"Exactly," Derek answered. "Your sexual orientation is set before you are born, just like your hair and eye color."

"I can change my hair color, though," Carrie pointed out.

"Do you change your hair color, or do you just hide your real color under a false one that will eventually wear out?" Derek countered. "A gay person can choose to live a straight life for whatever reason, but inside they will be miserable and unfulfilled. That is one of the major contributing factors to the high numbers of suicides in gay young people across the country and around the world. So many are afraid to come out, and that fear and the unhappiness bottle up inside them, building up to the inevitable breaking point."

"I have a confession to make," Jennifer told the boys. "I don't have a gay uncle. I'm the editor of the school newspaper. I was planning to do an article ridiculing you guys for what I knew would be a lousy turnout."

"You said was," Brendan pointed out.

"Let's just say that my new idea is much more informative," she said with a smile. "Could you guys help me out with the details?"

"We'd be happy to," Derek assured her.

The meeting was interrupted just then by sound of glass breaking. The window shattered under an onslaught of rocks and bricks. Carrie being nearest the window caught the worst of it. A rock hit the side of her head near her left eye. Falling glass sliced her sleeves and her arms as she shielded her face. Derek threw himself over her as they dove to the floor.

Jennifer snatched her camera out and caught the scene on film. She even managed to get a few shots of the truck pulling out of the parking lot at high speed. Brendan helped Sandra to her feet, before turning to check on the others.

Edan and I arrived just as the sheriff's department and ambulance did. Brendan had called us while Sandra called the school office and they in turn notified the authorities. When we walked into the room, the principal was in a standoff with the kids.

"You will hand over that camera, young lady," he was demanding.

"What's on the film?" I asked.

"She got it all, Dad," Derek told me. "She even got some pictures of the guys that did it."

"That makes it school evidence," the principal snapped.

"Wrong," the deputy corrected him. "That makes it my evidence. The girl and the camera will be taken to the substation and the film will be developed there by our technician. The school will get prints of the pictures I think you need."

He escorted Jennifer out of the room while the other deputies took statements from Sandra and the boys. Carrie was checked over by the paramedics who said she might need stitches in her arm and would have a black eye, but other than that would be fine. The principal left in a huff. That man was going to continue to be trouble. I could feel it, and I didn't like it.

I awoke one morning a week or so after Ephraim came to stay with us with one thought in my mind. Okay, maybe there was more than that since I was lying next to Edan. Anyway, my first real thought for what I would do that day involved calling Janice. I eased out of bed trying not to wake Edan as he liked to sleep in on the weekends. I went out to the living room and dialed Janice's number.

"Somebody better be dead," she growled.

"Good morning to you, too Miss Sunshine," I teased. "I need to go to church."

"Ok, I realize I am still asleep, but did you just say you need to go to church?" she asked, the confusion evident in her voice. I confirmed my words and she asked, "This has what to do with waking me up at this hour of the morning?"

"It's almost seven. Morning is almost over," I informed her cheerily. "The church I want to go to is Ephraim's father's pastorate."

"I'm awake now," she told me. "Are you going to do anything while you're there? Don't bother telling me you don't know what I mean, either. I didn't get this job by being stupid, and I know how you feel about Ephraim."

"As a matter of fact, I am going for a particular reason," I confessed. "I'm looking for a woman."

"You really need to wait until later in the day to have these conversations with me, you know," Janice said with a yawn. "I would swear you just said you wanted to go to church to meet a woman. That sounds like the Cameron I knew in high school, not the real one that I know now."

"You heard right," I assured her. "There is an older lady in that church that Ephraim refers to as his grandmother. He says she used to baby-sit him when his parents went out. He really misses her and would like to see her. I want to find out if it would be possible."

"Well, technically the restraining order that Reverend Idiot had drawn up wouldn't stop you from going to the church, just Ephraim," Janice informed me. "It also wouldn't apply to the grandmother unless she actually is blood related. It looks like it would then be up to her if she wants to see him or not. Do you know her name?"

"Grandma Sarah," I said simply. "She doesn't sound like the type that would be hard to find. Every kid in the church probably calls her that."

"I don't see anything wrong with you going for that reason," Janice told me. She gave me the name of the church and the directions since the Batts' lived in the parsonage next door to the church. "Cameron, don't make me regret telling you this," she warned.

"When have I ever done anything to disappoint you?" I queried.

"I could answer that, but it would mean dragging up distant past that is best left where it is, in the past," Janice observed. "Just don't get either of us in trouble."

"I promise to be a good boy," I vowed.

"While I've got you on the phone, Beth and I would like to take you and Edan out to dinner tonight," she told me. "We have something we would like to ask you two about that is very important."

"That shouldn't be a problem," I said. "What time and where?"

"I'll get back to you this afternoon, if that's ok," she answered. "I want to wait until Beth wakes up and discuss it with her."

"No problem," I assured her. "Now, I should get going so I can get breakfast ready for these boys you have saddled me with."

"Don't even go there with me," she exclaimed. "You came to me with Derek if you recall. I also didn't ever twist your arm with Ephraim, either."

"Relax, Janice. I was just joking."

"You'd better be," she growled. "Besides, if I wanted to unload kids on you like that, I would have about fourteen of them out there by now. You've certainly got the room for them."

"I have plenty at the moment, thank you," I assured her quickly.

"I do have a couple of girls that need a placement," she began.

"Are you insane? You want to put girls in this house?" I laughed.

"I don't suppose it would be very fair to the girls, would it?" she agreed.

"I will expect a call from you later about dinner," I told her.

After I had hung up, I went to the kitchen and started breakfast. My house full of boys gradually showed up and the rest of our day went very well. Peter arrived at the house shortly after we had finished eating. Ephraim was halfway up the stairs with him before I stopped them. I reminded them that there was to be no fraternization until the homework was done. Of course then I had to explain what fraternization meant. Two red-faced boys promised to behave themselves as they retreated to the computer room.

As promised, Janice called that afternoon and let me know where to meet her and Beth for dinner. It was the most expensive restaurant in town. I kidded her about buttering us up so we would take the girls after all, but she assured me that was not their motivation.

Once we arrived at the restaurant, Edan and I were shown to a very secluded table near the back of the room. Janice and Beth were already there and both of them appeared happy to see us, but they seemed nervous about something as well. It wasn't until we had all been served our meat course that they finally got around to telling us of their ulterior motive for the evening.

"Cameron, do you remember when we were in high school and my mother made that comment about what cute kids you and I would make together?" Janice asked.

"Yeah, of course I do," I assured her. "She was convinced that we were dating."

"Did you ever give that any thought?" Janice continued.

"Well, no not really," I answered. I looked at her closely. "That's what this is about, isn't it?"

"We have been talking about it for a couple of years now," Beth answered.

"How exactly do you plan to do this?" I asked Janice. "I thought that the doctors' said…."

"No, I can't carry a child," Janice confirmed. "I can still produce the egg, which Beth would carry. We've already had a doctor confirm that our genetic structure is compatible enough to do that."

"Why are you asking me to do this? Why not get an anonymous donor?" I asked them.

"With an anonymous donor you get a mystery," Beth explained. "The family medical history would be completely unknown. Who knows what problems the child might face down the road?"

"Besides that, there is the fact that I know what kind of man you are," Janice said quietly. I knew she was being completely serious when her voice was that low. "You are an intelligent, brave, caring man. If I were straight and so were you, you would still be my first choice to father a child with me."

"I'm… I don't really know what to say," I stammered.

"You don't have to let us know right away," Beth assured me. "We understand if you need time to think it over."

"What would be Cameron's role in the baby's life, or would he even have one?" Edan asked.

"You would be listed as the father on the birth certificate," Janice answered. "That way, if something were to happen to us, you would be able to automatically get custody as the biological parent. As far as day to day, the baby would live with us, but we know better than to think that Cameron would have nothing to do with the child."

"You didn't exactly answer the question, Janice," Edan pointed out.

"No, you didn't," I agreed. "Am I going to be a father, or an uncle, or just some gay guy Mom and Mom hang around?"

"You would be called Dad, just like you are by your other kids," Beth stated. "You will even have visitation privileges."

"In other words, I'm the babysitter?" I asked, but I said it with a grin so that they would know I was only joking. I got serious then and told them, "Janice, I told you once that if there was anything I could ever do for you to make up for being late that day I would do it gladly."

"I would never use that to try to make you do this," she insisted quickly.

"I know that," I assured her. "That's one of the reasons I am agreeing to it. The other reasons are that you have already taken into account any stipulations I would have had for doing this. I couldn't create a life and not let that child know that I did it."

"We would never ask you to," they both said.

"He doesn't have to… umm… well, what I mean is…." Edan struggled.

"EEEWWWW!!! NO!" Janice exclaimed. "He just has to jerk off into a cup at the doctor's office. The egg will be artificially inseminated in the lab before being placed in Beth's….."

"Don't say the word!" Edan ordered quickly. "Gay man trying to eat here, if you don't mind." We all laughed and the conversation turned to less delicate subject matter.

"When do you need me to do this?" I asked.

"Does this mean that you will do it?" Janice asked nervously. When I nodded, she and Beth both yelled loudly and Janice jumped up and hugged me. She even sat in Edan's lap and gave him a hug.

"Quick, somebody take a picture," Edan joked. "My friends will never believe I had a woman in my lap." Once again we all laughed and then sat back to enjoy our meal.

"You know you could have just asked me," I told Janice as we were leaving later. "You didn't have to bribe me with food."

"Now he tells us," she groaned. "I just blew a month's pay on that dinner."

"I guess it's a good thing you married a lawyer then," I teased. Beth just smiled and grabbed Janice by the arm pulling her to the car. As they left, I could hear Janice singing the old Desi Arnaz song, 'We're Having A Baby.'"

The next morning I got up extra early and headed for the Zion Hills Christian Church. Edan had opted to stay with the boys. I knew that actually translated to him working on some project or other in his workshop while the boys slumped around the house. That was fine with me, though. The boys deserved the happy home life they were enjoying now; for that matter we all did.

"Good morning, brother," a male voice called out to me as I entered the foyer of the church building. The heavy potpourri scent in the room was wreaking havoc on my sinuses already. I looked around and saw a pudgy man about my age squeezed into a suit that must have been older than Ephraim. It was obvious that the speaker was uncomfortable in his too tight clothing, and he was definitely no good at tying his necktie.

"Hello there," I responded. "I wonder if you could help me?"

"There is help here for all who seek it," the man answered happily. He was just a little too cheery about it.

"I am looking for a woman who attends this church," I explained. "I only know her as Grandma Sarah. A mutual friend has asked me to look her up for him."

"That would have to be Sister Plumb," the man answered. "She is in Bible class right now, but they should be letting out in just a minute. If you'd like to follow me, I will take you the hall just outside the room. You can wait there for her."

"That would be very nice, thank you," I told him. I walked along a corridor with him for a little way and suddenly stopped. There in front of me was a large bulletin board with Ephraim's picture on it. The caption stated that the church was praying for his safe return.

"That is our pastor's son," the man with me commented. "He disappeared a few weeks ago. We are praying for a miracle, but our hopes, I must admit, are beginning to fade."

"The boy just disappeared?" I wondered aloud. "Would you excuse me a moment?" I asked, and stepped away from him, taking out my cell phone. I quickly dialed Janice's number only to hear her answer me by walking up beside me.

"I thought it would be rather entertaining to watch you this morning," she confessed as she stepped up to me. That was when she saw the poster for Ephraim. She scanned it quickly and pulled out her own cell phone. She walked outside at that point, so I didn't find out until later who she had called and why.

"Sister Plumb, this gentleman was looking for you," I heard beside me. I turned to see a heavyset woman probably in her early sixties. "I'm sorry sir, but I didn't get your name."

"I'm Cameron Ragland, Mrs. Plumb," I introduced myself. "Is there somewhere private where we could talk? I'm a friend of someone who very much wants to see you. I would like to arrange that if I could."

Before we could get away, music started in the church auditorium. The man who had led me to Grandma Sarah told us that the morning service was about to start. Mrs. Plumb suggested that I sit with her, and we could talk immediately after the service.

The congregation did some singing and there were a few announcements of events before a harsh looking man in a fine suit approached the podium. I could tell before he spoke that he must be Rev. Batts. This was confirmed as soon as he spoke.

"I want to thank the church family for their prayers and support during this dreadful time in our family," he began. "I regret that there has been no indication that Ephraim will be returned to us anytime soon." Mrs. Plumb began wiping tears beside me. I was outraged that this man would lie so blatantly to all these people. Before I could say anything, however, Janice beat me to it.

"Excuse me, Rev. Batts, but I would like to speak to you in private immediately," she called from the back of the auditorium. There were gasps of surprise from around the room.

"Who are you?" Rev. Batts demanded.

"I would prefer to speak with you in private sir," she reiterated. "Cameron, would you care to join us?" she asked me. As I got up, Mrs. Plumb put her hand on my arm.

"You know something about little Ephraim, don't you?" Grandma Sarah asked me. Before I could respond, she said to Janice, "You work with Child Services in the next county, don't you?"

"I am the Regional Director of Child Protective Services," Janice confirmed.

"If this is about little Ephraim, please tell us," another woman begged. "We have been praying for his return for so many weeks. Is there anything you can tell us?"

"I think perhaps I should speak to Rev. Batts privately first," Janice said politely.

"Yes, I think that would be a good idea," the preacher said nervously. "I will inform the church as soon as I know what this about."

"Excuse me, Pastor, but don't you already know what this about?" I asked. "Ms. Wehrmann may be required to handle this a certain way because of her job, but I'm not."

"Who are you, sir?" the minister demanded.

"I'm Cameron Ragland," I answered. "I'm Ephraim's foster parent." There was another round of surprised gasps from all over the audience, this time much louder.

"What do you mean you're Ephraim's foster parent?" Grandma Sarah asked me.

"Exactly what I said; Ephraim has been placed by the state into my home for his welfare," I explained. "He's been with me for a couple of days now, and before that he stayed in a juvenile care center near my home under Ms. Wehrmann's jurisdiction."

"Praise be, the boy's been found!" Grandma Sarah exclaimed. "When can he come home?"

"He won't," Rev. Batts snapped. He realized too late that he had said that out loud. The entire congregation now focused on him. "That demon masquerading as a boy is no longer welcome in my house. He is an abomination before God."

"He's a child," I corrected. "He needs love and support as he learns who he is, not rejection, bigotry, and hatred."

"Somebody better start explaining," Grandma Sarah ordered fiercely.

Janice and I both looked at Rev. Batts. He seemed reluctant to speak, so Janice took the opportunity to call on her recently arrived companion. She turned to watch as the deputy sheriff stood up and introduced himself.

The deputy confirmed that Rev. Batts had been the man to abandon his son at the substation. He also related that the loving minister had demanded that his son strip and give back his clothes so that they could be given away. Janice then informed the church members that their pastor had also placed a restraining order against his son, preventing the boy from any contact with his family.

"That boy is an abomination before God," the preacher repeated. "I caught him manipulating his flesh while viewing sinful pictures of men. I won't allow his sins to corrupt my family or this church."

"He's just a boy," Grandma Sarah snorted angrily. "He ain't the first boy to discover his own pleasures, nor will he be the last. As for the pictures he was looking at, he could just be confused. Even if he isn't, he is your son. If you treat your own flesh and blood like this, what can we expect as a church?"

Within a few minutes, the church had erupted into a debate over the homosexual issue. Some members, led by Grandma Sarah, thought there was nothing bad enough to warrant abandoning your child. There were quite a few who simply said that the Sunday service wasn't the place to discuss it. They got up and left taking their young children with them. Unfortunately, most of the congregation seemed to side with Rev. Batts. Eventually it came down to a point where the sympathetic supporters were made so uncomfortable that they too left. I walked out with them, along with Janice and the deputy.

Mrs. Plumb caught me outside in the parking lot. "You said in there that little Ephraim is staying with you," she began. "You had said before that you had a friend of mine who wanted to see me. Would that someone be Ephraim?"

"Yes, ma'am," I agreed. "He doesn't know that I came here today. I didn't want to tell him just in case…." I let my voice trail off, hoping that she would understand what I was saying.

"You were afraid I would side with that sorry excuse for a sperm donor in there, weren't you?" My mouth must have fallen open at that statement, because she sort of explained herself with her next statement. "I call them the way I see them, Mr. Ragland. That man never was the sort of father he should have been to sweet little Ephraim. I am surprised by his mother though. I would have thought she loved her son at least."

"Please call me Cameron, Mrs. Plumb," I told her. I was warming up to this woman really quickly.

"Only if you call me Grandma Sarah, as I hope Ephraim still does," she replied with a warm smile.

"Grandma Sarah would you like to come to my home for lunch today and give a boy a wonderful surprise?" I asked. "From what Ephraim has told me, you and I have a lot in common." At her questioning look I added, "He says he can't tell who is the better baker, you, or me."

"That sounds like a challenge, Cameron," the old woman grinned mischievously. You haven't been exposed to all of the best things in life until you've seen a grandmother with an evil twinkle in her eye as she prepares to cook you under the stove.

Grandma Sarah followed me to my car and then asked if it would be too much trouble for her to ride with me. "My car is in the shop, you see," she continued to explain. "I'll understand of course if you don't want to drive all the way back out here."

"If it brings the smile that I saw in that picture inside back to Ephraim's eyes, I would drive across the country a thousand times," I replied.

"It sounds to me like Ephraim's finally found himself the father he should have had from the start," she observed.

"He's found two actually," I told her cautiously. "You should know before we leave that I am gay myself. My partner's name is Edan and he teaches at the university. He stayed home today with the boys."

"You have other foster children as well?" Grandma Sarah asked.

"Just one other foster child; a sixteen year old boy named Derek," I answered. "My younger brother also lives with us. He and Derek are a couple as well."

"Well, it sounds as if being the way you are runs in the family," Grandma Sarah observed. "It also seems as if Ephraim is in a place where he can learn about his lifestyle without the fear and pain his father would have put him through. Let's go see my boys." She must have seen the look of question on my face when she said that. "If Ephraim is my grandson, and the other boys are his family, then it stands to reason that they're my grandsons too."

"I think they'll like that," I smiled.