Reorientation by Colin Kelly

Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?

Chapter 26 Parental Interrogations      Story Index >>

When Ron got home his aunt wasn’t there. She left a note, which he read:


Your folks called and they are on the way home.
They might be there by the time you read this,
and if not they should be home in a little while.

There’s leftover spaghetti in the refrigerator.
If you need anything, call me.

Aunt Cathy

Ron shook his head. ‘How typical,’ he thought, ‘now that no one’s home to disturb us, Jase isn’t here. But I’m so tired I don’t think I could get it up even if he was here.’ That thought made him chuckle. On the other hand, his folks still weren’t home so it meant he didn’t have to tell them about what happened at school until later.

He hadn’t eaten since lunch but he didn’t want to take time to fix something, even something as easy as warming up leftover spaghetti, or a toaster pastry, or even chips and salsa that wouldn’t involve any cooking at all.

Tired and sore physically and emotionally, as he told Jase and Jen when they got to his house, all he wanted would be a shower and then go to bed. He yawned, a big, long yawn. In his bedroom he stripped and went across the hall to the bathroom and took his shower. It felt wonderful. When he finished he returned to his room and fell into bed. He went to sleep immediately.


A couple blocks away the situation at the Phillips home would turn out to be a very different story for Jen and Jason. Their mom paced the living room waiting for them to get home. The police had called to tell her that her two oldest children were involved in a fight at the high school. They’d been questioned, and they weren’t in any trouble.

They weren’t in any trouble? Well, Betty had a long list of questions of her own for them when they got home, and whether they were in trouble or not would be her decision. They weren’t home yet, which is why she paced back and forth in the living room. She couldn’t sit still for more than a minute or two, so she’d get up and start pacing again. This started about twenty minutes earlier after she finished talking to the policeman who phoned.


“Mom’s going to have kittens when she hears about the fight at school,” Jen said.

“Why? It sure wasn’t our fault,” Jason stated. “We didn’t start it, you weren’t involved in it except to take the video, and Ron did all of the fighting. You can show her the video and that should be enough to show it wasn’t our fault.”

“She’s going to freak about the gay slurs, Jase, and they were coming after you and Ron because they called you faggots.”

“Those guys don’t go to Hillcrest. They’re just a bunch of bullies who were looking for someone smaller they could beat on. They had no way to know whether we were gay or straight.”

“But that’s what I mean, Jase!” Jen exclaimed, “Mom’s going to say that being gay is dangerous, even from guys who don’t go to Hillcrest.”

“So what’s she going to do about it, make me turn straight? No fucking way that could happen.”

“What I’m saying is, she’s still going to freak.”

“Maybe I should use this as a reason to start taking that Tai Kwon Do class with Ron.”

“Did you ever talk to her about it?”

“Yeah. Well, I know that I mentioned it at least once. Ron’s dad wants him to take the class, and he thinks it would be a good idea if I took it at the same time. So I told Dad and he thinks it’s a good idea. I think Mom was there too.”

“That might work. If she starts saying how dangerous it is for a gay kid at school or out in the world, then tell her it‘s time you took that self-defense class.”

“Sounds like a good plan, Jen.”

“When we get home let me tell her about what happened,” Jen suggested. “I can show her the video, how you weren’t hurt, how it was Ron who disabled those three guys.”

“Okay,” Jason replied. “Then I can say I need to learn how to defend myself and want to take the Tai Kwon Do class along with Ron.”

“After watching Ron I don’t know why he’d need to take another self-defense class. Why does his dad want him to take that class?” Jen asked.

“Tai Kwon Do is different. It teaches you how to use leverage to get out of situations. What I won’t tell her is that I also want to learn Ron’s moves and techniques so I can kick guys in their balls like he did if I ever get into another situation like today.”

“Okay, we’re home,” Jen said as they arrived at their front walk. “I’ve got my little speech organized and memorized. You be ready with whatever you want to say about taking the class.”

“I’m all set,” Jason said, though he didn’t feel all set. Instead he felt nervous, and worried about what his mom would say.

They walked up to the front door. Jen grasped the door handle, inserted her key in the lock, looked at Jason, and opened the door. It must have felt like walking into a maelstrom as their mother rushed over to them, talking a mile a minute.

“Where have you been? Why didn’t you call me? The police called. They said you were in a fight. Are you hurt? Why were you fighting? Who were you fighting? Why didn’t you call me? Where is Ron? Was he with you? Why were you at school? School is closed for spring break. Why didn’t you call me? You’re going to have a lot of explaining to do when your father gets home. We didn’t raise you to get into fights with other boys. Whose idea was this? Who were these boys you were fighting? What was this all about? Who started the fight? Don’t just stand there, why aren’t you answering my questions? I want to know why you decided to get in a fight with some other boys. And I want to know why you didn’t call me…”

Betty continued pacing around the living room and asking questions, repeating some of them like ‘Why didn’t you call me?’ over and over, never stopping for even a second. Jen and Jason stood there listening to her. Jen wondered when her mother would start winding down. Jason felt like laughing, but know that would absolutely be the wrong thing to do.

“Mom!” he finally said, interrupting her. “We’ll answer your questions, but it would probably be better if we tell you what happened and show you the video that Jen took and we’ll tell you everything you want to know. Then you can ask questions if there are any questions that we didn’t answer. Okay?”

Betty took a deep breath, and replied, “Alright. A video? It better be good! Let’s sit down and you two go through everything that happened.”

Jen, with Jason adding some details, explained what happened. They went on the hike, stopped at school so Jen could get her Algebra 2 textbook, and yes, the school was open, three guys who don’t go to Hillcrest attacked Jason and Ron, and because of Ron’s self-defense training he disabled the three guys, Jen had called the police, and she took a video of the whole thing.

Then Jason used the HDMI adapter cable he hadn’t returned to Ron to connect Jen’s smartphone to the TV in the family room. Jen showed the video she took of the three guys attacking Jason and Ron.

Betty still had some questions, some of which Jen and Jason had already answered in their discussion.

“So,” she said, “I can see that this fight wasn’t your fault. Those three bullies started it. Ron finished it. Does that mean that he’s going to be in trouble with the police?”

“We don’t know,” Jen replied.

“If the police called you, they probably called Ron’s folks too,” Jason added. “His folks aren’t home, and his aunt is there, or was there, so she might have taken the call. I’d call him, but when we got to his house he said all he wanted to do is take a shower and go to sleep. I don’t want to wake him up if he already went to bed, so I’ll wait until tomorrow to call him. Tonight I’ll email him instead.”

“What Ron did sounds like what I want to do too,” Jen said. “Shower and go to bed.”

Jason looked at his mother and yawned. “Me too. I’m wiped. What happened at school was frightening, and if Ron hadn’t known what to do he and I could have been hurt bad by those bullies. Ron’s Dad want him to take that Tai Kwon Do class I told you about. I want to take it too. Dad thinks it’s a good idea.”

“It’s still up to your dad, Jason. Whatever he says. Now, are either of you hungry?”

“Yes,” Jen replied, “I am. Maybe something simple like a bowl of soup.”

“That sounds good to me too,” Jason said, “maybe with a grilled cheese sandwich if that’s okay.”

“Of course, it’s okay. Why don’t you take your showers and I’ll get your soup and sandwich ready. Can I assume you’ll want a sandwich too, Jen?”

“Yes, please. Now I’m going to go upstairs to take my shower.”

“Mom, so I don’t have to wait for Jen to finish, can I use the bathroom in your bedroom?” Jason asked.

“Yes, but be sure to take your towel and washcloth and put them in the washer when you’re finished. If you get the floor wet, please wipe it up. And don’t forget to rinse down the shower.”

“Okay. Thanks, Mom.” With that Jason went upstairs to shower and change. When he finished he came downstairs. Jen had started on her soup and sandwich, so he sat down and Betty brought a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a plate with two grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread.

“Man, those sandwiches look great. Thanks, Mom.”

Jason started on his soup and sandwiches and finished before Jen. He sat back, took a deep breath, and smiled.

“Would either of you like some ice cream or fruit for your dessert?”

“No thanks, I’m full,” Jen replied as she got up to leave. “I’m heading upstairs and get some shuteye. I’m exhausted.”

“How about you, Jase?” Betty asked.

“What flavor ice cream do we have?”

“French vanilla and butter pecan.”

“Some butter pecan, please.”

“Is one scoop enough?”

“How about, um, three scoops?”

Betty grinned. “I assume you’re not as tired as your sister.”

“No. And I’m not as tired as Ron looked, either. Of course, he did all the work of fighting off those bullies. I think maybe my adrenaline is still doing its thing to my brain. I’m more awake now than I was when we were walking home.”

Jason finished off a very generous three-scoops-plus serving of butter pecan ice cream.

“Thanks for my snack and ice cream. You gave me the perfect amount of everything. Now I’m going to get on my PC and send Ron an email. That way I won’t wake him and he’ll get my message as soon as he wakes up. Then I’m going to go to sleep until Dad gets home.”

Jason got up and took his bowl and spoon to the sink where he rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher.

“Will you want dinner?” Betty asked him.

“Probably not, maybe just a toaster pastry or something like that. What time is it?”

“Just after four thirty.”

“Dad will be home about six, right?”


“Why don’t you guys eat and after dinner, maybe around seven thirty, come wake me and Jen and we’ll tell Dad about our little adventure. That way I’ll get about three hours sleep and Jen will get a little more than that.”

“Alright, that sounds like a good idea. Now, shoo! Go upstairs and get some sleep.”

“Oh, if Ron calls, come wake me up, okay?”

“Won’t he call you on your cell number?”

“Yeah, but I’m going to put my phone in airplane mode. I don’t want anyone calling and waking me up. If Ron can’t get through using my cell number, he’ll call our house number. That’s what he always does.”

Betty grabbed Jason is a hug. “I love you, Jase. I’m so glad you weren’t hurt by those bullies. Now go and get some sleep.”

“Thanks, Mom. I will.”


“Jase! Jase, wake up!”

Jason pulled his sheet and blanket up and over his head. “I don’ wanna get up. Go ‘way,” he said to whomever told him to wake up.

That someone grabbed his blanket and sheet and pulled them completely off of him. That caused the perpetrator to bust up laughing. It also woke Jason up with the realization that he was nude, naked, without anything on. And he saw that the perpetrator was Jen. His hands moved to cover his crotch, which meant he couldn’t grab his sheet and blanket to pull them back up and cover himself. Jason blushed bright red, and Jen laughed.

“GET OUT!” he shouted.

“Not until you promise to get up. Dad’s home and he wants us to tell him what happened and why. So get your cute tush and dangly parts out of bed, get dressed, and come downstairs.”

“Alright! Just get out. And if you ever mention this to me or especially to anyone else, you’re gonna be sorry.”

Jen tossed the sheet and blanket that she held at him so it at least covered Jason’s crotch. “As if I haven’t ever seen a naked boy before,” she mumbled to herself, but Jason heard what she said anyway. She then turned around and walked out of his bedroom, closing the door as she left.

Jason got up and put on the clean clothes he’d put on after his shower that afternoon. The same ones that he wore when he ate his soup and sandwich. He showed his anger at what just happened by kicking the clothes that he’d taken off when they got home and left on the floor. That isn’t what he’d normally do. Unlike most of his peers Jason could be called a neat-freak. But not this afternoon. He had been too tired to be neat. Now those dirty clothes became the target of his anger, embarrassment, and frustration. All his emotions were directed at Jen. ‘She saw me naked! And she laughed at me!’ he thought, fuming. ‘I’m never going to talk to her again. Ever!’

He stormed out of his bedroom and went downstairs. The rest of the family, including Thea, sat watching the video Jen had taken.

“I see that you’ve seen the video and so you know what happened. So it looks like you don’t need me.” He turned and ran upstairs to his room and slammed the door closed. He sat at his desk and checked his email. Nothing from Ron yet. He heard a knock on his door, and he ignored it. The door opened anyway, as he knew it would. He spoke without turning.

“I don’t want to talk. I’m really, really upset about something. I want to sleep on it tonight. Maybe tomorrow I’ll talk.” He turned expecting to see his dad. He saw Jen standing at the door. “Get OUT! I told you that I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Jase, I’m here because Dad told me to have you come back downstairs. But mostly I’m here to tell you how sorry I am. I didn’t know that you weren’t wearing anything.”

“You laughed at me. You held the sheet and blanket off of me so you could see me naked and you kept looking and you laughed at me. I don’t want to talk to you. Just go away!”

“I admit that I was laughing, but it was because I got embarrassed and nervous because I saw you undressed. Jase, I wasn’t laughing at you. Truly, I was laughing only because like I said, I caught you undressed and that embarrassed me. You don’t have anything that’s a reason for me to laugh at you.”

Jason saw Jen turn red with embarrassment. “So you saw enough of me to know that I don’t have anything to be laughed at?”

“Oh my god!” Jen put her hands over her face, then peeked through her fingers. “What I saw looked just fine.” She pulled he hands away from her face, then her eyes got really big. “I don’t believe I said that!”

“But it’s true? What I have looks just fine?”

She nodded.

“Just as fine as Tom?” Jason grinned.

She stared at him for a couple seconds. “I’ll just say that for your age you’re really fine. Excellent, in fact. Ron’s a lucky boy.”

Jason started laughing. When he was finally able, he said, “And I don’t believe you just said that!”

“You won’t tell Ron what I said, will you?” Jen pleaded.

“No way! You won’t tell anyone what I said, will you? Especially Tom?” Jason asked.

“Same as what you said, no way! Jase, you’re my brother. I’d never tell Tom anything about… about what you have.” Jen replied. Jason didn’t get mad very often, and when he did he didn’t hang on to his anger for very long. Jen’s apology and what she said about how he looked helped him lose his anger at his sister. He started to laugh, and Jen joined him. Their laughter helped Jason get over being furious at Jen and helped them recover from what had been an embarrassing situation for both of them.

“Now,” she said as their laughter subsided, “Dad told me to come up and have you come back downstairs. You have to answer his questions about what happened today. Remember to tell him you want to take that Tai Kwon Do class with Ron. So come on, you need to come downstairs now. Please don’t get Dad upset with you, and please don’t tell them what happened when I woke you.”

“God,” Jason said, “I would never tell the folks that you saw me naked. Talk about being embarrassed! Let’s go downstairs so I can face my interrogation.”

Jason found that his dad’s questions were easy to answer.

“Were you scared when those guys grabbed the two of you?”

“Yes. Those guys were a lot bigger than me and Ron.”

“Did you know that Ron knew how to defend himself like that?”

“No. He never told me he could do those things and I’ve never seen him where he had to do anything like that. I’m sure glad he knew how, otherwise those guys would have beat us up and probably hurt us bad. That’s why I want to take that Tai Kwon Do class. Ron’s dad told me he’s going to register Ron for the class, and he said it would be a good idea if you registered me to take it at the same time.”

“Do you want to take this Tai Kwon Do class, Jase?” his mother asked.

“Yes. I think it’s a good idea. That way I could defend myself if any bullies like those three guys decided to come after me.”

“Alright,” Ron’s dad said, “I’ll call Norm Cantham when we’re finished here and find out when he’s going to register Ron.”

“Great! Thanks, Dad. There’s one other thing I’d like to talk about,” Jason said. “It’s about Jen.” He saw his sister’s face turn white and she stared at him. She definitely looked worried about what Jason might say.

“The police took the SD card from Jen’s phone. They told her they might want her whole phone, and if they take it she won’t have all of her personal information like her contacts and her schedule and text messages. The most important thing is that if they do take it, she won’t have a phone. The policeman also said we should get a lawyer. That way you can get his advice and find out if they can take Jen’s phone away from her, and if they do will they pay for a new one and if not what can you do about it. I was thinking that maybe you should get her a new phone and she can copy everything to it, then delete all of the personal stuff off the one she has now.” What Jason said made Jen very pleased. ‘What a great brother I have,’ she thought.

Jason’s dad thought about what Jason had told him. “I don’t think the police would be very happy about Jen deleting what’s on her phone, Jase.”

“They never said she couldn’t use her phone any way she wants. Right, Jen?”

“That’s right, Dad. They let me keep it and only said they might want it later. They never said that I couldn’t copy anything or even erase it if I want to. Like I normally delete my text messages after I’ve read them.”

“I’d rather you not delete or erase anything yet. I’ll contact an attorney and we’ll find out what your rights are. Also, if we have to buy you a new cellphone I want to know if the District Attorney will pay for it if they get a court order to take it away from you.

“There’s also the problem of your SIM card. If they take your phone and the SIM card, then a new phone can’t have your current phone number because you can’t copy your SIM card. Also, I’d guess a lot of your contacts are stored on your SIM card instead of internal memory or the SD card you gave the police.”

Jen turned to Jason. “Jase, is there a way I can back up what’s on my SIM card?”

“Sure. There’s an app that lets you back up all the data on your SIM card to your PC. You can also copy your apps and what’s in your internal memory and on your SD card, if you still had it, to your PC. The app lets you restore anything to your current phone, or to a new SD card or even a new phone if you get one. And the app is free. It’s very cool.”

“Can you help me with it?” she asked Jason.

“Sure. We can do it right after we’re through here.”

“I’ll need a new SD card. I’ll have to buy one of them. Mine was a thirty-two-megabyte card. I don’t know how much they cost,” Jen told her dad, hoping that he’d offer to buy a replacement.

What Jen hoped for worked. Tim Phillips told her, “I’ll go to BuyMart on my way home tomorrow night and get you a replacement.”

“Tim, is there anything else you want to ask Jen or Jase?” Betty asked.

“Nope. What I’m going to do right now is phone Norm Cantham. Jase, I’ll let you know what we decide about when you and Ron can start the class.”

“Okay, Dad. Thanks.”


Norm and Tammy Cantham had arrived home and listened to the voicemail left by the police officer about the fight Ron had been involved in at about the same time that the Phillips’ family concluded the interrogation of their children. The interrogation of Ron Cantham would be one that Ron would admit as very intense when he spoke to Jason later that night. The major impediment for Ron turned out that he didn’t have a copy of the video of the fight to back up his story. Ron knew the police had the video on the SD card they took from Jen. He didn’t remember whether Jen had a copy of the video on her smartphone, nor that by the time Ron’s interrogation concluded Jason had backed up Jen’s data to her PC including a copy of the video.

Ron concluded telling his folks what turned out to be a heavily edited and minimized description of what occurred, “…so the cops arrested those three guys and took them to the police station. We don’t know what happened to them. For all we know they were released to their parents, or were put in jail, or whatever. To protect ourselves better, Jase and I decided we want to take that Tai Kwon Do class. He said he’d talk to his dad about taking the class with me and he’d probably call you to talk about how to register Jase in the class.”

“So,” Tammy asked her son, “you and Jason were able to get away from those guys just as the cops arrived and they arrested them, right?”

“Umm… yeah.”

“And Jason’s sister called the police when she saw those guys attacking you, then she took a video of the fight and the police have her SD card that has that video. So, does she have a copy of the video on her phone?” Norm Cantham asked.

“I’m not sure. She could have copied the video to her phone from the SD card, or maybe it was vice-versa. But I’m not positive. One of the cops questioned me while the other questioned Jen and Jason. Dad, when Jase’s dad calls you about the Tai Kwan Do class you can ask him about the video. If they have it, you can watch it.”

“Okay,” Norm said, “will Jen have to come over here with her smartphone or should we go to their house to see it?”

“I suppose we could go to Jase’s house, or Jen could come here to show you the video. That assumes she has a copy on her phone.”

“Okay, I’ll work that out with Tim when he calls.”

Ron hoped they’d decide to have Jen bring her phone to his house to show his parents. He had greatly simplified the description about his part in the fight, and didn’t tell them that he’d actually disabled the three guys who attacked them. He figured his folks, his mom especially, might freak when they saw the video. If they viewed it on Jen’s phone it wouldn’t be as impressive as it would be on the big HD TV screen the Phillips’ had in their family room.

“Is there anything else to tell us, Ron?” Tammy asked.

“Oh, yeah, one thing. One of the policeman said it would be a good idea if you got a lawyer to give us advice about my rights and how to testify if these guys go to trial. I’m sure I’ll be called as a witness, and Jase and Jen would be called as witnesses too.”

“I’ll phone Mark Graff tomorrow,” Norm said. Anticipating a question from Ron he continued, “Mark Graff is our attorney.”

“I guess we know as much as there is to know until we talk to the police in the morning and see the video that Jen took using her cellphone,” Tammy concluded. “So, are you hungry, Ron?”

“Yes. When I got home I took a shower and crashed in bed. Our hike, and then what happened at school, wore me out and I didn’t want to take time to eat anything. Sleep is what I wanted. Now I feel like I could eat a cow.” He grinned.

Tammy stood up. “I’m going to reheat the spaghetti that your aunt Cathy fixed for your dinner last night. There’s more than enough for all three of us. I’ll get that going. Is that, a salad, and some garlic bread enough for the two of you?” she asked.

Both Ron and his dad said that would be fine, and Tammy went into the kitchen to get their dinner underway.

While they ate dinner the phone rang. Ron jumped up to answer it.

“It might be Jase,” he said. But the call was from Jason’s father.

“Dad, it’s Mr. Phillips for you.” Norm took the call in the family room.

Ron and his mother continued eating their meal as Norm talked on the phone. Tammy finally got up and put Norm’s dish of spaghetti in the microwave on the ‘Keep Warm’ setting, and put his garlic bread in the toaster oven on low. After about fifteen minutes he returned to the kitchen table.

“Well, that was a very interesting call. Tim said that Jen has the video on her smartphone, and we’re going over tomorrow after dinner and see the video on their big screen TV. He also told me that our son is a hero.”

‘Oh, shit!’ Ron thought to himself.

“Ron is a hero? What did he mean by that?” Tammy asked.

“It seems that the three guys who attacked Ron and Jason were a lot bigger. One of them grabbed Jason and held him from behind, another grabbed Ron and held him from behind, and the third guy was about to slug Ron when Ron leveraged himself by holding on to the arms of the guy holding him, swung both of his feet, and kicked the third guy in the crotch. Then he stomped on the ankle of the guy holding him and when he let go, Ron got kicked him in his crotch, too. Both of those guys were put out of commission, moaning in pain. Ron knocked them down and they didn’t get up. Meanwhile when the guy holding Jason let go to help out the other two guys, Jason grabbed him around his neck and held him in a choke hold while Ron kicked him in the crotch too, then kicked him in his knee, and he was out of commission in pain, too.

That’s when the police arrived. Tim says the video shows the whole thing. Ron single handedly took out three much older and larger guys, protecting himself and Jason. We’ll see the entire show tomorrow night.”

“It wasn’t like that!” Ron declared. “It sounds like I knocked those guys out using my fists. I used my feet, the way they taught me in that self-defense class I took. I wouldn’t say that they were knocked out, either. They were down, holding their crotches and moaning because I got all three of them in the nads.”

“The ‘nads’? What’s that?” Tammy asked.

“Come on Mom, you must have heard that before. Nads is slang for gonads.”

“Oh. I see.”

“How about you not ask me any questions about what happened, and I’ll describe what happened then you’ll see it when you watch the video that Jen took. The guy holding me had me around my arms… let me show you. Dad, turn your chair around and lower your arms along your sides.”

Ron stood in front of his father, facing away from him.

“Okay, so what he did was put his arms around mine from in back of me, and he locked his hands together.”

Norm grabbed Ron around his waist.

“What I did was what I was taught. I brought my arms up to my stomach and locked my hands together, then using the guy holding me as a pivot I swung my lower body up just as the third guy got into position to hit me in the stomach, and I got him really hard in his nads with my right foot.”

Ron demonstrated, but without kicking anyone or anything. Norm released his grip around Ron.

“He fell down and as my leg came back down I used the momentum to stomp on the right foot of the guy holding me which made him let go. I finished him off by kicking him in the elbow so he couldn’t get back up and hurt us. With Jase holding the last guy around his neck, I kicked him hard in his crotch and then all three of them were on the ground moaning. The cops came and they arrested them after watching the video that Jen took. I was wearing my hiking boots, and they were a lot more effective when I kicked and stomped on those guys.

“By the way, the cops took the SD card from Jen’s smartphone, and I guess she copied the video from that SD card to internal memory, or visa-versa, I’m not sure. So anyway they know exactly how those three guys were about to mess with me and Jase big time.”

“Did they know Jen was taking a video of them?” Tammy asked.

“Nope. I don’t think they saw her, and if they did they didn’t see that she was using the camera in her smartphone to take a video of what they were doing.”

“Well, tomorrow evening is going to be very interesting,” Norm said. “I’ll contact Mark and ask him if he can come with us to the Phillips’ to see the video.”

“So, how’s grandma?” Ron asked.

“The good news,” Tammy replied, “is that grandma didn’t break her hip. The bad news is that she has a bad bruise on her hip which is causing a lot of pain, and it prevents her from being able to walk. So she’s been moved to a convalescent hospital where she’ll stay until she can walk on her own. Her doctor defined ‘on her own’ as with a walker and then a cane until the bruise is healed.”

“How long will she be in that convalescent hospital?”

“About a week to a week and a half. Then she’ll be able to go home. When that happens your aunt Nancy will stay with her until she can walk unaided.”

“Aunt Nancy?”

“Yes, you remember her. She lives in Auburn, so it’s easy for her to go to Roseville. It’s less than a half hour drive.”

“Oh, you mean Aunt Nan. Her name is Nancy?”

“Yes, Ron. You didn’t know that?”

“No, I guess not, or I forgot. I’ve only known her as Aunt Nan. But then I’ve only seen her twice that I remember. Both times were when we went to Auburn to play in the snow when I was ten or eleven. What are Jim and Lyle going to do?”

“I guess they’ll stay home and go to school as usual. Your uncle Lee is taking off work and will be at home while Nancy is in Roseville.”

“Oh, that oughta make Jim and Lyle toe the line.” Ron laughed. His uncle Lee had a reputation of being a tough guy who didn’t stand for any crap from Ron’s cousins.

After dinner and cleaning up the dishes and putting them into the dishwasher, Ron excused himself and went to his bedroom. He sat down and checked email, and saw the message from Jason. He picked up his cell and speed dialed Jason.

“Hi, Ron.”

“Hi, Jase. So how did it go?”

“Okay, I guess. I really didn’t have much of a part in what went down. How about you?”

“Well, I tried to downplay my part. Remember I didn’t have the vid to show my folks, so I had to tell them what happened instead of showing them. After I finished we started dinner and your dad phoned my dad, so my dad got an earful about what happened. Your dad called me a hero, and said that I took down those three guys. Now we’re coming over to your house tomorrow after dinner to watch the video, and my dad's lawyer might come along to see the vid. I’m not sure what reaction my mom and my dad will have when they see what happened. Hell, I’m not even positive what happened because it all went down so fast.”

“How about I send you the vid? I just helped Jen back it up from her smartphone to her PC. I’ll ask her to email it to you.”

“Oh, that will be so cool. That way I can prepare for when my folks see it.”

“Hang on, I’ll ask Jen to send it and I’ll be right back.”

After a few minutes Jason returned. “I’m back. If you check your email in a couple minutes you’ll see a message with the vid file attached.”

“Cool. Thanks.” Ron heard a ‘ding’ indicating a new email had arrived. “Got it. I’ll check it out and prep my response. Then I’m gonna hit the sack. I’m still tired.”

“You should be, man. You were a hero and saved our asses from being beat up by those bastards.”

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. You have anything to do tomorrow, Jase?”

“Nope. Want to get together?”

“Sure. Where?”

“Your place?”

“Works for me. What time?”

“How about ten? Will you be up by then?”

“Yeah, you can count on it. I'll for sure be up and in both ways. See you at ten tomorrow morning.”

“Jeez Ron, you’re such a total horndog!”

“Yup, that's me! That’s why you love me, Jase!”

“Hey, how’s your grandma?”

“She’s okay. Her hip isn’t broken, but it’s bruised really bad. She’s going to a convalescent hospital for a week or so because she can’t walk. She’s in a lot of pain from the bruise.”

“Man, that’s too bad. I hope she gets better real soon. Is your mom going to go back to Roseville to see her?”

“I don’t know. She hasn’t said. All I know is that my aunt Nan will stay with grandma when she gets out of the convalescent hospital and until she can walk. Hey, it’s getting late and I want to look at that vid, so I better sign off. I’ll see you over here in the morning.”

“Okay, see you then. For now, bye, Ron. I love you.”

“Okay, bye, Jase. I love you too.”

Ron powered down his cell and plugged it in to recharge. He copied the video file from Jen’s email to his laptop then he played the video. And replayed it, several times. Finally, he decided he’d seen it enough and put his laptop in hibernate mode. He got ready for bed and laid down. He thought he’d go to sleep immediately, but he didn’t. He kept replaying the fight — because that’s what it had been, a fight — and thinking about how he reacted and how lucky he felt that they got out of what could have been a bad situation. Finally, after about an hour, Ron drifted into a deep sleep undisturbed by any nightmares or other dreams that he’d remember in the morning.


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