Josiah's Boys

Chapter Four: Gaining Custody

by Freespirit

Previous Chapters

“The six boys have come along way since July. Founder’s Day was two weeks ago, and the St. Claire’s have befriended the boys. Chris loves the Camaro Nash gave him, he drives it to school and work everyday, most of the time, Buck rides with him. Chris is dating the Gains girl, I don’t like it, but he is seventeen. Nash and Cheyenne both have told him, she is not anything but trouble. Buck has stopped trying to talk some since into him, like the rest of us. Vin will not even stick around when she comes here to see Chris. Ezra is civil to her, but that is it. JD just plain ignores her, which infuriates Chris. Nathan, well, he is not fond of the girl, but figures it is Chris’s life; he can live it any way he wants to. As for me, I know the girl is bad news, I can feel it.

JD’s knee is doing just fine now. I am so glad Nash was there to catch the falling scaffolding. Nash proved to be an asset to the team. He and Cheyenne are coming for the weekend, and Buck has been counting the days off the calendar until their arrival. He has been keeping in contact with Cheyenne since the Founder’s Day dance; I think there may be something between them. Time will tell.

Ezra’s acting more like a teenager these days, which is a good thing, He needs to be a lot less adult like. He still enjoys locking horns with Chris. Ezra has his way of doing things and that is what ticks off Chris.

Vin has opened up a little more about his life in the foster homes. I am going to ask Orin about investigating some of them, and maybe even having their licenses revoked.

Josiah finished his report and sent it off to Nettie. Leaning back in his chair, Josiah took a deep breath and sighed, letting out his breath as he did so. It was quite and peaceful, Josiah thought to himself, closing his eyes. Josiah popped his eyes open as the thought popped into his head that it was too quite. He got up and left his office to find the boys. Granted, they weren’t little boys that needed to be watched all the time, but still, they were his boys and they were never this quite unless they were doing something they were not suppose to do. Josiah checked all through the house, not a teen to be seen, not even Hobo was around. He went outside to look around. He found them at the barn. Chris and Vin were at each other’s throats with Buck standing between them with a hand on each of their chests.

“What’s going on here,” Josiah demanded.

“The cowboy here thinks he’s bringing his girl friend with us on our ride," Vin said.

“How many times do I have to tell you, don’t call me cowboy," Chris said.

“What ever, if she comes, I won’t go," Vin snapped.

“That’s fine with me,” Chris yelled back.

“Fine, if that’s the way you want it,” Vin said as he stormed off.

Ezra and JD look at Chris as they follow Vin to the house, with out saying a word, they let everyone know, that they are with Vin.

“Come on, guys, don’t let this jackass stop you from having a good time,” Buck pleaded, but the three youth’s kept walking. Buck turned toward Chris, “Are you satisfied?”

Buck kept pleading with the three as he followed them to the house. He heard the back door slam shut, and cursed, at that time, he watched as Nettie pulled up in the driveway, “Nettie’s here!” Buck yelled.

Buck did not know Josiah had followed him, “Yell a little louder, I don’t think they heard you in the next county.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know you were behind me,” Buck said, startled.

Josiah greeted Nettie, “You look like a woman on a mission.”

Nettie greeted Josiah, “I am. We need to talk, now.”

Josiah went on alert immediately, “About what?”

Nettie took a deep breath, “The Wilcox’s.”

Josiah nodded his head, “My office.”

Buck did not like the sound of this, “What about the Wilcox’s?”

Josiah held up his hand, “Not now Buck.”

Josiah led the way to his office. Buck tried to follow Josiah and Nettie into the office, but Josiah stopped him at the door with a stern look just before he shut it.

Buck turned to face Vin, Ezra, and JD, who were standing in the dinning room looking at him as if he had the answers to life’s questions. Buck grinned and left to go get Chris.

Inside Josiah’s office;

Nettie sits down in a chair and waits for Josiah to take a seat, “The Wilcox’s are in town and are demanding you hand over JD. They even brought a Lawyer with a court order with them, Josiah. Come Wednesday, they’ll take JD and go back to Boston.”

Josiah puts his head in his hands, “He’s going to run again,” Josiah looked Nettie in the face, “I’m finally making progress with these boys, and in a few days, it’ll all be gone.”

Nettie reaches out to place her hand on Josiah’s folded ones, “I know, but I do have some good news,” Nettie smiled, “I think we may have found JD’s biological father. He is in an, up state New York correctional facility. Apparently, JD was born in New York, not Boston, Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox showed up with papers, proving Mrs. Wilcox was JD’s only living relative. No one thought to check it out.”

Josiah stared at Nettie, “How is that going to help us, the man’s in prison.”

Nettie sighed, “If this man is JD’s father, he could sign off his parental rights to you.”

This had Josiah’s full attention, “What is his name?”

Nettie opened the folder she was holding, “John Donovan Dunne.”

Josiah smiled with relief, “That can’t be a coincidence.”

“My thought exactly, there’s more,” Nettie said, looking back at the report, “The reason he’s in prison is he killed a man in a bar room brawl, it was an accident. Mr. Dunne said he was protecting himself, but he’s a professional street fighter, so the Judge had to take that into consideration.”

Josiah shook his head, “That doesn’t sound good.”

Nettie reads on, “Well, the report goes onto say, when he was sentenced, his wife, Leola, was seven and a half months pregnant with their first child,” Nettie smiled, as she looked Josiah in the eyes, “A little more than twelve years ago.”

Josiah leans back in his chair and looks to the ceiling, “Thank you Jesus.”

Nettie laughs, “Amen.”

Josiah faces Nettie again, “So, when do we go to New York?”

“I leave Monday morning, and I’m sorry, Josiah, you can not go with me, you have got to stay here and deal with the Wilcox’s. I’ll be leaving for the prison as soon as I land in New York, so I’ll call you after I meet with him Monday afternoon.”

“I wish I was going,” Josiah sighed, “I would like to meet the man.”

“I know,” Nettie said standing, “I’ll let you know what happens and hopefully he’s the right Mr. John Dunne.”

Josiah escorted Nettie out, “You and me both.”

When they left the office, there were six teenagers waiting in the dinning room for them, “Buck said you were talking about my aunt and uncle, is he right?” JD demanded.

Nettie turned to face Josiah, “Looks like you have some damage control, so I’ll see myself out.”

Josiah glared at Buck, “Thank you, Nettie.”

Nettie left, leaving Josiah to handle things.

“Everyone in the living room, for a family meeting, now,” Josiah said as he entered the living room. When everyone was seated, Josiah started the meeting, “Yes, JD, Nettie and I talked about the Wilcox’s. They are in town with a Lawyer and a court order to take you back to Boston on Wednesday,” Josiah held up his hand to forestall any argument, “But, that isn’t all we talked about. It seems JD has another living relative, in up state New York, his name is John Donovan Dunne, JD’s father.”

JD had a surprised look on his face, “Aunt Roselyn said my dad was dead. He got in a fight in prison, and was stabbed to death.”

Josiah looked directly at JD, “What did they tell about your father?”

JD didn’t want to tell any of them for fear they wouldn’t like him because of what his father did, “He killed a man,” JD whispered.

Josiah hung his head, he barely head what JD said, “Do you know the reason why he did?”

JD’s eyes got as big as saucers when Josiah looked him in the eyes, “He’s a murderer, why does it matter?”

Josiah knelt down in front of JD and took his hands in his, “JD, look at me,” When JD did as Josiah told him to, Josiah went on, “your father was defending himself and his wife who was pregnant with their first child, you. They stopped at this bar to ask for directions, when some guy hit on your mother, and when your father stood up to him, the guy hit him. The reason your father went to prison is because he’s a prize fighter, he fights in a ring as a street fighter, his hands were considered deadly weapons, that’s why he’s in prison.”

JD was confused, “My aunt and uncle didn’t tell me that,” JD hung his head, “I was ashamed to admit I had a murderer for a father.”

Josiah placed a indexed finger under JD’s chin and lifted JD’s head to look into his eyes, “You have not a thing to be ashamed about,” Josiah smiled, “And your father’s alive.”

JD smiled back at Josiah, “Are you sure?”

Josiah nodded, “Nettie’s going to New York herself, on Monday to check it out.”

“May I go and see him?” JD asked.

“Let’s make sure he’s the right John Dunne first, then we’ll see," Josiah assured JD.

JD was hopeful about the man named John Dunne being his father. When the St. Claire’s showed up two hours later, JD told them all about his father.

“That’s cool, JD,” Cheyenne said. “I hope he’s your dad.”

JD smiled, “Me too.”

Nash put his arm around JD’s shoulders, “I know he is, who else could he be?”

The group of teens were playing around when the door bell rang, Josiah shook his head at the antics, as he went to answer it.

“Hi Mr. Sanchez, Chris invited me to go riding with him, I even brought my own horse," Ella Gains said when Josiah opened the door.

Josiah sighed, “He’s upstairs with the rest of the gang.”

Ella entered the house, “Thank you.”

Cheyenne had Buck in a head lock when Ella and Josiah entered the dinning room.

“You were saying, Buck?” Cheyenne asked.

“I see you haven’t changed, Cheyenne," Ella stated.

Cheyenne’s back was to Ella and Josiah when they entered, Cheyenne let Buck go and turned slowly toward Ella, with a forced smile on her face, “Nice to see you to, Ella.”

Ella walked up to Cheyenne, “Chris didn’t say anything about you being here.”

Cheyenne crossed her arms in front of her, “Don’t worry your pretty little head, Ella, I’m not here to take Chris from you, I’m here because Buck asked me out.”

Ella grinned, “I’m not worried, you’re not me.”

Cheyenne grinned back at her, “I know, I don’t charge admittance.”

Buck decided to intervene, “Okay, ladies, let’s not fight.”

Ella got in Cheyenne’s face, “What are you implying, Cheyenne?”

Cheyenne sighed, “Only that a friendship with you has a price.”

Ella took a step back, “If I remember correctly, you were my friend when we were in junior high school.”

“Yes we were,” Cheyenne said, “So I know what I’m talking about.”

Ella glared at Cheyenne, “Are we going on our ride, Chris?”

Chris came to stand next to Ella, “When ever you’re ready.”

Ella smiled up at Chris, “I’m ready now.”

Chris escorted Ella to the door, when he looked back at Cheyenne, there was no mistaking the anger in his eyes.

Cheyenne sighed when Chris was out of hearing range, “I think maybe I should leave.”

Buck took a deep breath, then turned and faced Cheyenne, “No, you’re a guest here, if Chris doesn’t like it, that’s his problem. Besides,” Buck smiled down at Cheyenne, “I over heard you say something about a date we had that I didn’t know about.”

Cheyenne groaned, “I had to say something, and in my defense, you did say something about renting a movie or two this weekend.”

Ezra clears his throat, “Technically, it is only a date if you go out to dinner and a movie, or perhaps a dinner and dancing.”

Buck thought it over, “You know, he is right.”

Ezra grinned, “And, to ensure the young lady’s virtue stays in tact, perhaps you should consider a chaperone. There are six, suitable, people in the room at the moment.”

Buck smiled at Ezra, “Is that your subtle way of asking to come along on my date?”

Ezra smiled and shrugged his shoulders while the rest of the group laughed.

“I have an idea,” Nash said when he stopped laughing, “Why don’t we all go.”

Josiah shook his head, “You all go, I have some work to do.”

“May we use the bus, the seven of us won’t fit into Nash’s car," Buck asked.

Josiah digs the keys out of his pocket, “Sure, if Nash drives.”

Buck placed a hand over his heart, “Hey, I’m a good driver.”

Josiah smiled as he tossed the keys to Nash, “Didn’t say you wasn’t, but there will be a pretty young lady in the van, I don’t need you wrapping the van around a tree because your eyes were on her and not the road.”

This and Buck’s red face, set off another round of laughter.

When the bus stopped out front of the movie theatre, Vin and JD went inside to see what the times were for the movies. They came back out and informed everyone else that they had time to eat. When asked what everyone wanted, Nash got five different suggestions, most of which were fast food joints. Ezra was the only one who wanted a sit down, waited on restaurant, while Vin wanted Taco Bell, JD wanted McDonalds, Buck wanted Arby’s, and Nathan wanted Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Cheyenne wanted Long John Silvers. Nash thought it over and smiled, “I know where to go. It has the convenience of a fast food place with a sit down restaurant feel, and, here’s the best part, it has all the food all of you like, at a reasonable price.”

Ezra was skeptic, “Really, there is such a place?”

Nash grinned over at Ezra who was sitting in the passenger seat next to him, “Yep, the waitress will even take your special order when she comes around to your table, and pick up your dirty dishes and serve you your drinks. And may I suggest their raspberry tea, it’s out standing.”

Cheyenne gasped with glee, “You mean it, Nash?”

Nash laughed at his sister, “Do you know any other place that would please all your wants?”

“I haven’t eaten there in ages,” Cheyenne said, “Thank you Nash.”

Vin was curious, “Where are we going?”

“The Triple D Steakhouse and Buffet,” Cheyenne answered.

Buck had never heard of the place, “The Triple D?”

Just as Buck asked about, The Triple D, they arrived.

Ezra eyes grew large with surprise at the sight of the rather large building, “Oh good Lord, look at the place.”

Vin looked at all the cars in the parking lot, “Maybe we better come back when they ain’t so busy.”

Nash parked the bus, “It’s okay, Vin, we’ll get a table in the back where it won’t be so crowded.”

JD patted Vin on the shoulder, “Come on Vin, we’re here, it’ll be okay.”

Vin took a deep breath and nodded, “Okay, as long as I can come back to the bus when I feel like it.”

They all got out and walked to the restaurant. Inside, they were greeted by a dark haired young woman, “Long time no see.”

Nash smiled at the woman, “Hey Brandy. We need a table in the back far from the crowd and we need it for seven.”

“No problem, we can push a couple of tables together,” Brandy said, “Just follow me.”

As Brandy led the way to the back, Vin’s stomach rumbled as he past the buffet tables loaded with everything he could ever want. There was a table for salads, and even a table for Chinese food as well as one for side dishes. When they got to the tables, Brandy had one of the bus boys help with the pushing of the tables.

Brandy smiled at the group, “Is everyone having the buffet?”

“Yes,” Nash answered, “And it is Friday, so I’ll want Debby’s Friday night special, if there’s any left.”

Brandy laughed, “I’m sure there is. Lindsey will be here to take your drink order.”

Brandy had no sooner left when a blond woman came by the table, “Hi, I’m Lindsey, I’ll be your waitress for the night.”

They gave Lindsey their drink orders and Nash ordered the house special, frog legs.

Vin looked the buffet tables over and thought about how much money he had and hoped he had enough, “How much is this going to cost?”

Nash smiled, “It’s all you can eat for $7.99 plus tax, your drink is $1.59 plus tax, ten dollars should cover it.” Nash had seen the worried look on Vin’s face, “Know what, don’t worry about it, the night’s on me. Buck, on the other hand, can pay for him and Cheyenne’s night out.

“That’s going to be a lot of money, are you sure you can pay for it?” Nathan asked.

Cheyenne smiled, “Oh he can pay for it, he just sold a 1965 Mustang that he restored to mint condition. That’s the reason we were late, we had to wait on the guy to come and pick it up, then cash his check so we could have some money for the weekend.”

Everyone enjoyed their meal, Nash shared his frog legs with Nathan, who discovered his favorite food. Nathan liked the frog legs so much, Nash ordered Nathan his own platter of frog legs.

When they were all done with their meals, Nash and Buck went to stand in line to pay for the food. Nathan put his left over frog legs in a napkin to take home and eat later. While Nash and Buck were waiting in line to pay for the food, the Wilcox’s entered the restaurant.

Mrs. Wilcox went up to JD and gave him a hug, “Johnny, I missed you so much.”

JD didn’t hug her back, “I don’t like being called Johnny.”

Roselyn Wilcox ignored JD’s complaint, “I can’t wait till Wednesday when you finally come home to us, your loving family.”

JD was doing all he could not to explode, “That ain’t going to happen. My real dad is going to sign papers so Josiah can keep me, you big fat liar.”

Richard Wilcox pushed his wife to the side to stand in front of JD, “What do you mean, your dad is dead.”

Buck and Nash were close enough to hear what was said, Buck handed Nash his money and went to JD’s defense, “Back off,” Buck growled.

Richard Wilcox had to take a step back when Buck stepped in front of JD and into his face, “John Dunne died in prison, a couple of years ago.”

Ezra took his place next to Buck, “Then I guess he has been resurrected.”

Richard Wilcox made a move toward Ezra, but Buck stood his ground and the man backed off, “I don’t care who you think you are, or who it is that you claim is Johnny’s dad, come Wednesday, Johnny will be leaving with us to go home to Boston.”

Nash paid for the food then joined his friends, “Don’t hold your breath on that, I know Josiah Sanchez, he won’t let that happen.”

Wilcox looked at Nash, “He won’t have a choice, even with Judge Travis in his back pocket, because we have a court order.”

“We’ll see about that,” Nash said, then led everyone out to the bus.

Nash waited for everyone to get into the bus, “JD, you may not carry his name, but you are a Sanchez, just like Vin, Ezra, Nathan, Buck and Chris. So please, don’t let that so called family in there,” Nash indicated toward the restaurant, “Tell you any different, because if you wasn’t a Sanchez, Josiah wouldn’t be trying to keep you, and Nettie Wells wouldn’t be making a trip to New York.”

JD smiled through the tears, “I know, but what if Josiah can’t keep me and I have to go back to Boston with them?”

Buck puts his arm around JD, “It won’t.”

Meanwhile back at the farm:

Ella could tell Chris’s mind was not with her and she didn’t like it. She wanted Chris all to herself, and not thinking about anything or anyone else but her, “Maybe we should go back, it’s obvious, your mind isn’t here with me.”

“I’m sorry Ella, I think it would be a good idea to go back.”

Chris and Ella turn their horses around and head back to the farm. When they arrive, Ella tells Chris she’s going home and that she’ll see him at school on Monday. Chris watched Ella leave, ridding her horse back home. The Gains owned a ranch just down the road a couple of miles, so it was less trouble and time consuming for Ella to ride over than it was to hook up the trailer and haul the horse over. Chris didn’t enjoy the ride as much as he thought he would.

Josiah left the door to the basement open so he could hear when Chris came in from his ride with Ella, “Chris, we need to talk," Josiah called out when he heard the back door open.

Chris sighed and went to see what Josiah wanted to talk about, even though he had a pretty good idea what he wanted.

“I think I know what you want to talk about, Josiah," Chris said when he sat down in one of the dining room chairs.

Josiah leaned back in his chair and eyed Chris, “Is that so, then tell me, Chris, what is it that I want to talk about?”

Chris looked Josiah in the eyes, “My behavior earlier. I know I should have asked the guys if Ella could come along with us, but I thought if they got to know her, they would like her.”

Josiah nodded, “That’s part of it, here’s the other part of it,” Josiah said when he tossed an manila envelope on the table in front of Chris, “This came for you earlier.”

Chris picked the envelope up and looked at the address, “It’s from my Uncle Robert and Aunt Susan,” Chris said, then opened it. Chris dumped the contents out on the table, “My Dad’s medals, why are they sending them to me?”

Josiah picked up one of the medals, “Is there a letter inside?

Chris looked inside the envelope, “Yeah, there is.”

Chris was reading the letter when the phone rang.

Josiah got up and answered the phone, “Josiah Sanchez. Hey Nash, how is everything?”

Nash sighed, then told Josiah about the run in with the Wilcox’s at the restaurant and they were at the movies now, “JD’s pretty up set, Josiah.”

Josiah pinched the bridge of his nose, “Damn, that’s is all we need.”

“Do you want me to bring them home?” Nash asked.

Josiah thought for a minute, “No, not if they don’t want to, JD could do with some fun time, tell Buck to tell the counter girl to give him a receipt so I can reimburse him when he gets home.”

Nash shook his head, then remembered Josiah couldn’t see him, “I’ve got it covered, Josiah, I told them it was my treat tonight, except for Buck’s, he’s paying for his and Cheyenne’s night out.”

Josiah smiled, “Thanks, Nash, I owe you one.”

Josiah hung up the phone, then sat down at the table, “Something wrong with JD, Josiah?” Chris asked.

Josiah told Chris what happened at the restaurant, “Nash is paying for the movie, we’re hoping it cheers JD up, Lord knows he needs it.”

Chris shook his head, “I hope JD doesn’t run off, like he did in Boston.”

Josiah nodded, “That makes two of us, and if he does, I will move heaven and earth to find him, and bring him back home, where he belongs.”

Chris smiled as a thought accrued to him, “Josiah, you would move heaven and earth, turn every rock, and walk to the depths of hell, to find either of us, if we were lost or ran away.”

Josiah laughed, “You’re probably right.”

“And God help anyone who’s stupid enough to stand in your way,” Chris got a serious look on his face, “And Buck and I would be right beside you, every step of the way. The Wilcox’s don’t know who their up against.”

Josiah smiled at Chris and nodded toward the letter, “What does your Aunt and Uncle have to say?”

Chris let Josiah change the subject, “They said they found these among some of my mother’s things and to expect a package in the mail in a few days. They don’t say what’s in the package, just that I should have them.”

“What about your father, do they say anything about him?” Josiah asked, hoping Chris will open up about the man.

Chris sighed, “Only that, he’s retiring from the Army in December or January, and wants to see me.”

Josiah waited, when Chris didn’t say more, he went on, “That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

Chris shrugged his shoulders, “I guess.”

Josiah placed a hand over Chris’s, “If you ever want to talk, I’m here.”

Chris nodded, “I don’t want to see him, but at the same time, I do. I love him because he’s my dad, but I hate him because he left my mom and me when we needed him the most. I want to hug him and kill him all at the same time. I understand why he did what he did, and at the same time I can’t.”

Josiah listened to every word Chris said, and knew not to interrupt him for fear Chris might stop confiding in him. Josiah took this as a large break through on the road to Chris’s healing process.

Chris told Josiah about the day his father left to go over seas, and how his Uncle Robert stepped up to take care of him and his mom, then just him when his mother died and helped with the funeral arrangements and buriel.

Neither Chris or Josiah were watching the clock, before they knew it, Nash was pulling up in the drive way in the bus. They could hear the gang long before they entered the house.

“We can talk later if you like.” Josiah smiled.

JD went on and on about the movie and the restaurant.

“I’m glad you had a nice time," Josiah said, then nodded his thanks to Nash.

Chris apologized to the guys for not asking if Ella could go along on their family ride. He also said he wished he had gone with them, the movie sounded great.

“Yeah, we had a great time, except when my Aunt and Uncle showed up. But I didn’t let them ruin my day.”

Chris looked like he was about to blow a head gasket.

JD didn’t like the look on Chris’s face, “When we we’re leaving the restaurant, they showed up. Aunt Roselyn was all nice and hugging on me as if she really cared,” JD rolled his eyes, “Uncle Richard said my dad was dead and someone was pretending to be my dad.” 

Josiah laid a hand on Chris’s shoulder, “If your Dad is alive, JD, you can be assured, Nettie and I will do what we can to keep you here. Nettie will be taking the paper work with her for him to sign, giving me legal guardianship of you. He may still have his parental rights, but I will have physical custody. Do you understand?”

“All I care about, is staying here with all of you, and if that means my dad will have to give me up, then fine. Just as long as I don’t have to go live with my aunt and uncle.”

The weekend went by quickly, and come Monday, JD was excited about Nettie going to New York to check out John D. Dunne. He preyed all weekend that the man was his father. Nettie stopped by the school to let Josiah know she was heading for the airport, and that she would call him right after the visit. Josiah wished her a safe trip. The morning went pretty well, a bit slow, but other than that, fine.

Josiah was in the teachers lounge, when he got the phone call from Nettie, “Didn’t expect your call for at least a couple more hours.”

Nettie sighed, “I’ve got some bad news.”

“He’s not the right John Dunne,” Josiah said, dejected.

“No, he’s the right John Dunne.”

“He won’t sign off.”

“That’s not it either, Josiah, he’s in the hospital in a coma.”

Josiah didn’t know what to say, how was he going to tell JD, what was he going to tell JD, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, Mr. Dunne was beaten last night in his cell. The Warden said he tried to call me this morning, but I was all ready on my way here. He did give me Mr. Dunne’s belongings,” Nettie said, then hesitated, “Josiah, he has a copy of JD’s birth certificate, a few photographs of JD and his mother, some letters from JD’s mom, and guess what, in one of the letters, his wife writes: ‘My cancer has taken a turn for the worst, and I fear Richard and Roselyn will become little Johnny’s legal guardians. I know how Roselyn treated me when we were kids, I don’t want that for our son. I wish you were here, I know if you could, you would be. I still wish you would allow me to bring Johnny on one of my visits, he needs to know you, and now he may never have the chance to.’ The letter goes on, but you get the idea.”

“In other words, Mrs. Dunne didn’t want the Wilcox’s to have JD. Can’t we use that in court?” Josiah asked with some renewed hope.

“Yes we can, I’m going to stick around here and see what I can do now that I have this letter. And Josiah, prey for Mr. Dunne to recover, because with this letter and his consent, JD is yours," Nettie said.

Josiah closed his cell, and sighed heavily, he got up from his desk and headed out of his office.

Ms. Paten was at her desk behind the front desk in the principle’s office when Josiah came out of his office, “Is everything okay, Josiah?”

Josiah shook his head, “No, unfortunately, I need to pull Ezra and Nathan from their classes, could you do that for me while I go and get Vin and JD from the Jr. High?”

Velma stood up. ”Sure, and if you like I can call over to the Jr. High and have Vin and JD waiting for you when you get there.”

Josiah smiled, “Thank you, that would be a lot better.”

Velma, using the PA system, asked that Ezra Standish and Nathan Jackson were to come to the office, she then turned to Josiah, “What about Buck and Chris?”

Josiah held up his cell phone, “Already on it.”

With in minutes, Ezra and Nathan were at the office. Josiah told them to go and get their stuff and meet him at the bus. When he had gotten a hold of Buck and Chris, he told them to meet him at Mc. Donald’s.

Ezra got in the front seat of the bus, while Nathan climb into the back, “What’s up Josiah?” Nathan asked.

Josiah looked from one boy to the other, “I’ll tell you when we’re all together.”

Ezra didn’t like the sound of this, “Why?”

Josiah looked over at Ezra, “It has to do with Mr. Dunne.”

Ezra and Nathan look at each other when Josiah pulled out of the parking lot, and was headed for the Jr. High, a block away. Vin and JD were outside waiting for them with their back packs full of books. The two boys climb into the back.

Vin and JD were buckling themselves in when Josiah pulled away from the curb, “Where are we going?” Vin asked.

Josiah smiled, “Mc. Donald’s.”

JD looked over at Nathan then at Ezra, “Nettie called didn’t she?”

Josiah smiled into the rear view mirror, “Yes she did, and before you even ask, I’ll tell you what she found out when we’re all together.”

JD sighed and nodded, “It can’t be all bad, you're smiling.”

Josiah nodded, “It’s not, actually, it’s mostly good.”

When Josiah got to Mc. Donald’s, Buck and Chris were already there, waiting.

Buck was sitting on the trunk while Chris was leaning against it when Josiah parked next to them. Inside, Buck and Chris took everyone’s orders before they went to the back of the restaurant where they could all sit together. A short, thin young lady took their orders, and Buck could not resist flirting with her. By the time they got their orders, Buck had the girls number and a date for Saturday night.

Chris had brought over the drinks, then went back to help with the food. When Chris and Buck returned with the food, Josiah helped to pass it out. No sooner had the food been passed and everyone seated, JD wanted to know what Nettie found out.

Josiah took a deep a breath, he had decided to tell the good news first, “The Mr. Dunne that she went to check out is your father, he has your birth certificate, photographs of you and your mom, he even has a letter from your mom that says she doesn’t want your Aunt and Uncle to have custody of you when she passes away.”

JD’s face lit up, “Really?”

Josiah swallowed the bite of burger and took a sip of his drink, “Yep.”

Buck smiled, “Looks like you're staying with us, Squirt.”

Chris looked at Josiah, “What’s the bad news?”

Josiah looked from one teen to the other, before looking JD in the eyes, “Someone tried to kill him last night in his cell at the prison. Mr. Dunne’s in the hospital in a coma. Nettie is staying there and doing what she can.”

Josiah saw the light go out of JD, “That’s it then, I’ll have to go back to Boston.”

Josiah shook his head, “No, no you won’t. Nettie has the letters your mother sent to your father telling him she doesn’t want your Aunt Roselyn to have you, and for him to not let that happen.”

“But if he’s in the hospital, how is he going to sign me over to Josiah?”

“Your Mother already has, JD,” Ezra said, “By writing your father her wishes, she has given him permission.”

JD thought this over, “So what you're saying is, my mom told my dad she wanted Josiah to have me?”

“Not me pacifically, but yes, she wanted someone to raise you other than your Aunt Roselyn.”

JD smiled at Josiah, “My mom was smart to write my dad and tell him.”

“Yes she was, very smart,” Josiah agreed.

Chris had to return to work when they finished their meals and since Buck had practice, the rest went to a park in stead of going home. Buck and JD teamed up against Nathan and Vin on the basket ball court, Ezra joined Josiah at a table, who was reading a book.

Josiah looked over at Ezra, “Why aren’t you playing with the others?”

Ezra raised an eyebrow and took a book from his back pack, “Please, I do not participate in such sport.”

Josiah chuckled, “You participated in the Founder’s Day softball game.”

Ezra rolled his eyes, “Please, do not remind me, besides, it was for a good cause.”

Josiah read the title of Ezra’s book, “Ezra, most adults don’t read the kind of books you do, where did you get that book, because I know you didn’t get it from the school library.”

Ezra smiled, “My Aunt Sophie, she was my father’s aunt, she said it was my father’s favorite, he also liked War and Peace.”

Josiah took the moment to ask Ezra about his parents, “Were your parents married?”

Ezra closed the book and looked down between his feet at the ground, “Mother said they were,” Ezra lifted his head and looked at Josiah, “But Aunt Sophie said they were not, and since Mother has been known to stretch the truth a bit, I tend to believe Aunt Sophie.”

Josiah nodded, “But, you carry his name.”

“Yes I do,” Ezra said with a smile.

“Did you know him?” Josiah asked.

“No, “ Ezra answered, “I would have liked to though. Aunt Sophie said I was the spitting image of him.”

Josiah sighed, “May I assume he has passed on?”

Ezra nodded, “Yes, he died before I was born.”

“What did he do for a living?”

Ezra laughed, “He was a Policeman.”

Josiah wondered why Ezra thought that was funny, “Why is that funny?”

Ezra smiled up at Josiah, “Aunt Sophie told me that’s how Mother and Father met, he arrested her when she tried to pull one of her cons on him, so to stay out of prison, she became a snitch, and one thing lead to another, and here I am.”

Josiah found the humor in the story and had to laugh.

Josiah’s cell rang and he answered it, “Sanchez.”

“Josiah, it’s Nettie,” Nettie said, “Can you and JD be here in the morning?”

Josiah stiffened, “What’s up?”

“I have found a Judge that is willing to give you temporary custody, the catch is, he want’s to talk to JD, and he can only grant it as long as Mr. Dunne is in his coma. If Mr. Dunne dies or regains consciousness, then it ends, but at least it stops the Wilcox’s from taking JD.”

Josiah closed his eyes and mouthed a silent thank you to Jesus, “We’ll be on the earliest plane.”

“I’ll see the two of you in the morning," Nettie said then hung up.

Ezra looked at Josiah, “The earliest plane”

Josiah smiled, “Boys!” Josiah yelled, “Come over here, I have some good news.”

The four youths rush over, “What is it?” Buck asked.

“Nettie has a Judge that is willing to give me temporary custody of JD, but we have got to go to New York to get it, and we have to be there tomorrow morning.”

“Can we go?” Vin asked.

“I’m sorry Vin, but I won’t have enough money for all of us," Josiah said, wishing he could take them all.

Ezra was thinking it through, “We do have three licensed drivers, we could take the bus, and that way we all could go.”

Josiah looked at Ezra, “We would have to leave with in the hour, that means we would have to be packed, Buck would have to tell the Coach he would miss practice, and Chris would have to take a leave of absence from his job as well as Buck, and the rest of you would have to miss classes for at least the rest of the week, do you think we could be ready by then?”

Josiah jumped when all five youths yelled yes.

Buck phoned the Coach and his supervisor while Josiah phoned Chris to inform him of the group decision. Chris said he would meet them at the house and that he agreed with the others, they should all be there. Josiah then phoned Nettie, who figured as much. Then he called Monty St. Claire and told him what was going on and to see if he could take Hobo for a few days. Monty said he could if he could stay at the farm because his land lord didn’t allow animals in the apartment building. Josiah agreed to it.

It took them an hour and twenty minutes, but they were on their way. Josiah said he would take the first leg of the drive so Buck and Chris could get some sleep before they took their turn at driving. Since the bus didn’t have a GPS, they had to use a road atlas to map out the shortest route from Colorado to New York. Josiah had a thermos of coffee while Chris and Buck had cans of store brand cola for the long road trip. JD was to excited to sleep, so he kept the drivers awake with his constant chatter. Nathan acted as navigator and was in charge of the map. They stopped every so often to allow bathroom breaks and the stretching of legs. When they finally got into New York, Josiah called Nettie and she gave him directions to her hotel so they all could get showers and some breakfast before meeting with the Judge.

Nettie opened the door when she heard a knock, “Come on in Josiah, boys.”

They entered the large room, “Thank you, Nettie," Josiah said when he entered.

Nettie patted him on the back, “You're welcome, I took the liberty of ordering waffles for everyone, with juice, scrambled eggs and bacon. That way we could get on our way that much faster. Judge Warren Jennings wanted to see JD first thing this morning, why, I have no idea.”

Josiah nodded, “JD, take your shower first.”

JD did as he was told.

Chris shook his head, “You would think he would be tired.”

Nettie looked puzzled, “Why?”

Josiah chuckled, “Because he has been to sleep yet.”

Nettie laughed, “He’s just excited about what’s going to happen today.”

“You think,” Buck said, “The closer we got, the more talkative he got, it’s a wonder any of us got any sleep.”

“At least he kept you all awake," Vin smiled.

Everyone chuckled in agreement.

Nettie hands Chris a slip of paper with an address on it and some cash when Josiah was in the shower, “This is the address to the county court house, when you all have showered and changed cloths, take a taxi there, the Judge said Josiah and I were to be present when he talked to JD.

After JD and Josiah had breakfast, they left with Nettie in a taxi for the court house.

Judge Warren Jennings met with the trio in the hallway when he was told they were there. JD looked to scared when he shook his hand.

“You must be John David. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Judge Jennings said to JD, “Come with me to my chambers.”

The Judge lead the way to his chambers. Inside, the Judge sat on the edge of his desk as Josiah, Nettie and JD sat in chairs in front of him.

JD was nervous, he didn’t know what to say, then he remembered what the Judge said to him earlier, “You called me John David, and that you’ve been looking forward to meeting me for a long time, what did you mean by that?”

Judge Jennings smiled, “Yes I did, I know your dad. He’s talked about you every since you were born. I was the one who sent him to jail, Lord, I didn’t want to, but the man’s family wouldn’t drop it, even though it was self defense.”

JD let what the Judge said sink in, “So, they made you do it.”

Judge Jennings nodded, “Your dad is a good man John David.”

JD sighed, “Why do you keep calling me John David?”

Judge Jennings laughed, “I’m sorry, but that’s what your father calls you.”

JD looked over at Josiah, then back at the Judge, “Do you know what happened to my Dad? Someone tried to kill him.”

Judge Jennings nodded, “Yes I know, and I also know Ms. Wells was told he was in a coma and was forbidden to see him, per my order. I needed to know who she was and why she was investigating a death of an inmate.” The Judge looked at Nettie, “Sorry Ms. Wells, but I had to know. After you visited the prison, Harry called me and told me who you were and who you were friends with, Orin and I went to law school together, it was then I thought it safe enough.”

“Safe enough for what?” Josiah asked.

Judge Jennings smiled as he leaned over to a small box and pressed a button, “Maggie, send Mr. Gatehouse and his client in please, thank you.”

A couple of minutes later, the door opens and two men walk in, one wearing a suit, the other, blue jeans and a blue, short sleeved dress shirt. On his right bicep was the name John David, He wasn’t very tall and had a thin build, his hair and eyes were the same color as JD’s. JD couldn’t believe his eyes, his father was standing in front of him.

John Dunne smiled at JD, “Well, aren’t you going to say anything?”

JD didn’t know what to say.

Josiah stood and greeted the man, “Josiah Sanchez. This is Nettie Wells.”

John shook both their hands, “Thank you Mr. Sanchez for looking after my boy. After Lily died, Roselyn took him before I could arrange something with Warren.”

“Aunt Roselyn said you were dead, and that’s why she got me.”

John looked down at his son, “There were a lot of attempts on my life after your mom died, Judge Jennings and the Warden said it would be best if we let people think I was dead. They were right, I only wish I could have done what your mom wanted me to.”

JD looked at his father’s hands and for the first time, he noticed his dad was wearing a wedding band and no hand cuffs, “You still wear your wedding ring and you're not in hand cuffs, why?”

John looked down at his hands, “If your mom was still alive, we would still be married, and for the hand cuffs, I’m not a threat to any one in here.”

Nettie cleared her throat, “We need to get down to business, gentlemen. Josiah needs Mr. Dunne to sign over physical custody to him.”

John looked over at the Judge, will I still have my parental rights?”

Judge Jennings nodded, “Yes you will, John. Mr. Sanchez has a masters in adolescent psychology, and has a foster home license. I believe he is our best choice.”

John looked back at Josiah, “If I do this, when I get out of prison in four to five years, I want him back. I know he’ll be almost grown, but I don’t want him to think I don’t love or want him.”

Josiah thought for a minute before he said anything, “I can only promise you this, when you get out and want JD to come and live with you, it will be his choice, as you said, he will almost me an adult.”

John nodded, “Fair enough.”

Nettie took out the paper from her brief case and sat them on the Judge’s desk.

John took the pen Nettie handed to him, then looked over at JD, “Is this what you want, John David?”

JD nodded, “Yes sir, very much. Josiah has five other teenagers that are like brothers to me.”

John signed his name, “That’s all I needed to hear.”

The Judge and Nettie signed as witnesses. Chris and the others were waiting out in the hallway when Josiah, Nettie and JD came out with the Judge, all of which were laughing and JD was holding a photograph in his hand.

Buck stood up and greeted them, “What have you got there, Squirt?”

JD smiled and showed them the photograph of him and his dad, “A picture of me and my dad. He signed the papers so I can stay with Josiah.”

Buck looked at the photo, “That’s great.”

John Dunne stood at a window watching his son, “He’s going to be okay now.”

Mr. Gatehouse stood next to him, “You did good by him John, now let's get you back to your cell.”

John held out his hands, “Thanks for leaving the cuffs off in there.”

Mr. Gatehouse smiled, “No problem, I wish I could leave them off, but the law is the law.

Continues in:
Chapter Five: The Game