You Ain’t Santa Claus
by: E Walk

(© 2009 by the Author)

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...

Chapter 13
The House



As we were going home, from the adoption proceeding, Nate looked at Dan and me.  “Dads, me and Ryan don’t understand what’s happening.”


Dan looked around, “Guys, we don’t have any idea what’s happening either.  I guess we’re all going to be in for a surprise except your Uncle Bruce and perhaps your Granddad Thornton.  It’s as if they’re playing a mystery game.”


Ryan asked, “What should we wear?  Uncle Bruce said we should wear old clothes.  We don’t have any old clothes.  You threw them all away.”


Even though I was driving, I answered, “Why don’t we all wear a pair of jeans and sweaters and our sneakers?  No one needs to know that you don’t have any old clothes.”


When we arrived at the condo, everyone went to change into casual clothes.  We were sitting in the living room when Ginger and Will Belton arrived with Brandon Holland.  Mr. Holloway’s van pulled up at the curb, and George came to the front door and announced, “Mr. Holloway is waiting to lead you to the young gentlemen’s property.”


We went to our respective vehicles, formed a caravan and were following Mr. Holloway’s van.  We had to travel through town to get to where we were going, but once we hit the open country it was only a short time before we were pulling up at a huge antebellum mansion.  The vehicles pulled into the circular driveway.  The boys were straining to see where we were.  Ryan asked, “Dads, why are we at a hotel?  I thought we were going to go see our house.”


I turned around, “Guys, I don’t understand what’s happening.  Let’s see what your Uncle Bruce has to say.”


Bruce exited his van and was navigating his motorized wheelchair up the ramp to the front door, “Everyone, please follow me.”


We climbed the steps to  the house, then the door opened and man about my age was waiting, “Welcome home, Mr. Bruce, everything is ready.”


“Charles, where are Evan and Chase?  I have some handsome young men whom I want them to meet.”


Two boys stepped from behind Charles, “We’re here, Uncle Bruce.”


“Good, after we do the introductions, perhaps you could show my nephews around Belle Monte, so they can see what they own.”


Let’s go to the sitting room until the other guests arrive. Charles, could you please bring us some bubbly so we can celebrate the return of Ryan and Nathan?  Tell Eva to come and join us.  I guess the young ones should probably have some sparkling grape juice instead of the bubbly.”


Nathan and Ryan sat on the edge of the sofa as if they had a board in back of their shirts.  Nathan leaned over to me and whispered, “Dad, is this a museum or something?”


I shrugged my shoulders because I honestly had no idea what was going on.


Charles brought the drinks and we had started to sip on the them when Judge Glenn Winston, his wife Marilyn, their son, Elf John from the mall, and his friend Bill arrived.  I thought, ‘I think I’m in big trouble.  Pretty soon my entire classes will be here if I’m not careful.’


Elf John laughed at me, “Don’t worry, Dr. Richter, we’ll make an effort to come to class whenever we have time.”


Bruce asked, “Charles, are Vince and Alex here?”


“No sir, they had some things to do in the city.  They said they would be back about six.  They said we should eat without them tonight, since they were planning to take Vince’s mother to dinner before they returned.”


Bruce looked around, “Why don’t we go to the dining room and we can eat.  Charles, would you inform Cookie that we are ready to eat as soon as the food is ready.  Please tell Cookie that I would like to introduce him to his bosses.”


Charles nodded, “Very well, Uncle Bruce.”


I looked at Dan and he was as confused as I was.


Charles returned with a middle aged gentleman who was complaining, “Mr. Holloway, I don’t have time to be here.  The food will burn and no one will have anything to eat.”


“Ian, don’t try to pull the wool over our eyes.  We know that all you do is stand around tell Tessa and your sons what to do.  Why don’t we go ahead and eat.   As soon as the food is served, I’ll introduce everyone; that way everyone will know who the players are.  I wish Vince and Alex could be here.”


A voice spoke, “Be careful what you wish for Mr. Bruce.  Mom, had a dinner date tonight and threw us out.  We’re starved.  Lucas and Tessa, we’ll take the new bosses' shares and they can go find something edible.”


One of Lucas’ sons who appeared to be about fourteen challenged Vince, “See, Dad and Mom, I told you that Vince and Alex would be here for dinner.  I knew we should have killed another chicken.”


Bruce had Nathan and Ryan sitting next to him, “Pay them no mind.  They’re just like little children and always picking on each other.”


As we were eating, Bruce started to explain the relationships.  “Boys, there are three separate parts to your house.  The two wings were added just before your father and I had the accident.  I’ve had the wing on the right refurbished so that the first floor is handicapped equipped.  I live on the first floor with George Masters.  He is my nurse, my chauffeur and has become a very special friend.”


“Charles and Eva Fort and their sons, Evan and Chase, came to live with me when I finally was released  from the hospital.  Charles is the grounds keeper and maintains the mansion in top notch condition.  Eva makes sure the house is clean.  Evan and Chase play all day.  Eva will be able to watch you two boys when you get home from school, until your Dads get home.  They live in an apartment on the second floor, above George and me.”


“Ian and Tessa McTavish have worked here ever since your Daddy and I moved here.  Shawn and Shane were cute little tykes, then.  I’m not sure what happened.  The McTavishes have an apartment on the first floor of the addition on the left.”


“They unfortunately have to put up with noises that  Vince Simmons and Alex Lake, who manage the farm, might make, above them.  You shouldn’t be bothered though.  Upstairs in the main section of house, you have six bedrooms and five bathrooms.  On the first floor, as you’ve already seen, there’s a sitting room/parlor and the dining room.  You haven’t seen the kitchen, but it is state of the art.  There is also a family/television room with an office/study off to the side .”


“Downstairs, you have a game room, exercise room and a laundry.  After you young people do the dishes, you can play I Spy in the main part of house.  It’s going to be too dark for people to go see your animals tonight.  So I guess you will need to check on them when you bring your clothes and start to move in, tomorrow.”


The two boys were overwhelmed and were picking at the their food.  I was sitting beside Nathan; I whispered, “What’s the matter, son?” 


He almost had tears in his eyes, “Daddy, is this really mine and Ryan’s house?  You and Dad Dan are going to live here with us, aren’t you?”


I whispered, “You can bet your little butt on that.  Now that we have captured you, we aren’t going to let you get away.”


Bruce kept talking to the boys as they ate and they did a very credible job with eating  dinner.  After dinner, I was pleased to hear Nathan say, “Mr. and Mrs. McTavish, that was an excellent meal.  Come on Ryan, we need to help with the cleanup since we ate.”


That was a signal for the four pre-teenagers, the two teenagers and the four college students to make short work of clearing the table. 


Bruce looked around, “I would like to visit with Dr. Richter, Doctor Thornton and Counselor Thornton for a few minutes.  I’m sure that Kirk and Dan have some questions for me.  The rest of you might want to take this opportunity to look around the house while the young guys seem to be having a good time in the kitchen.  Charles and Eva would you please show our guests around?”


Dad Thornton, Dan and I followed Bruce into the study.  Bruce didn’t waste any time.  “Gentlemen, I am ecstatic that you will be taking care of the two boys.  I can see that that they already love you and you them.  I am also relieved that you will be able to support them properly regardless of their finances.”


“As Counselor Thornton knows, the boys have a sizeable estates.  I honestly do not know the value of their holdings.   I was afraid that they might go untouched and the government would claim them.  I would like to meet with some of you at the bank in the morning to talk to the person who has been managing their accounts.  I know Ike Lassiter has done well by me, and I’m sure that he has done the same for Nathan and Ryan.  We also need to change the guardianship on the accounts to the two of you.”


I put up my hand, “Bruce, could we take this a little slower.  If the boys own this house, are there any mortgage payments that they/we will need to pay?  While we’re both professionals, there is no way we can afford to pay the taxes and the salaries for everyone who works here.”


Dad Thornton nodded, “Bruce, I think you need to tell the guys the entire story, and I suggest that you start from the beginning.  You’re dumping a lot on them and I can fully understand why they’re concerned.”


We were interrupted by two young boys before Bruce could start to tell the story.  Ryan was pulling at my arm, “Dad, you gotta come see the basement.”


Nathan went to Mr. Holloway, “Uncle Bruce, is there any way for you to go to the basement?”


Bruce chuckled, “As a matter of fact there is; let’s go race your dads and your Granddad Thornton there.  Since they don’t know the way, we should win easily.”


Bruce and the boys took off and left the rest of wondering where we were to go, since we had no idea how to get to the basement.  We walked into the family room and Charles looked at us, “If you’re wondering how to get the basement, go down the stairs over there.  Everyone is in the game room.”


When we were going down the steps, we heard someone yelling, “Reverend Richter, you’re cheating.”


When we arrived in the game room, my staid Dad was playing foosball with Shawn and Will and Brandon were playing pool while Mom Thornton and Mrs. Winston were playing ping pong.  Everyone else was sitting around playing games and laughing.  Nathan asked, “Uncle Bruce, do you ever play any of these games?”


“Yep.”  Bruce pointed to Will and Brandon, “ I’ll whip the winner of this game so bad they will be bleeding all the way home.”


Brandon won the game and Will handed his pool stick to Bruce.  “Sir, I think that Brandon will give you a chase for your money.”


Brandon racked the balls, “Mr. Holloway, why don’t you break since you’re the host.”


Bruce grinned, “Thank you Brandon, I would be glad to.”


Everyone was watching as Bruce ran the table and poor Brandon never even had an opportunity to take a shot.  Nathan looked at Bruce, “Uncle Bruce, how’d you do that?  Is it really that easy?”


Bruce put his arm around Nathan, “Nate, when I was recovering from the accident, George and I spent many hours playing pool.  There wasn’t much else I could do.  That’s why I had the elevator put in so   George wouldn’t have to carry me and the wheelchair up and down the steps.”


Ryan was leaning on the wheelchair looking at his Uncle Bruce, “Does the vator go up, too?”


“Yep, but the door upstairs is hidden.  Maybe we should take your dads to see the upstairs.  That way they will know where to put your clothes when you start to bring them.”


Bruce, Ryan and Nathan went to get into the elevator.  We watched as Bruce backed his wheelchair into the elevator, “We’ll send the elevator back for those of you who want to join us or you can take the stairs.”


Dan turned to our parents and guests, “You take the elevator and we’ll go up the stairs.  We’ll join those of you who want to tour the second floor, there.”


I was surprised when the four college students followed us up the steps.   Brandon commented as we were climbing the two flights of stairs, “Your sons sure have some fancy digs here.  I can hardly wait until we can see the rest of the farm, plantation, or whatever you want to call it, looks like.”


When all the visitors were assembled, Bruce started to show us around.  He started with the master bedroom, “Boys, I guess this is where your Dads will be sleeping unless you kick them out and move in.”


Nathan looked at Bruce and said in a very serious voice, “Uncle Bruce, me and Nathan would get lost and scared in a big room like this by ourselves.”


Brandon chuckled, “I’ll tell you what, Nate and Ryan.  You kick your Dads out of this room and I’ll move in.”


That caught Ryan’s attention, “Uncle Brandon, are you going to be living with us?”


Brandon knelt down and hugged Ryan, “No, Ryan, I was just teasing.  My parents would miss me if I didn’t live with them.  They need me to do all the cooking and cleaning.”


Nate caught on right away, “Uncle Brandon, you’re teasing.”


We went to two nice bedrooms that shared a bath.  “These could be your bedrooms, Nate and Ryan.  That way you could visit each other and go back and forth between your rooms without anyone seeing you.  These rooms were furnished specifically for the two of you, by your Daddy.”


Ryan looked up at me and whispered, “Daddy, do me and Nate gotta sleep in our own bedrooms?”


I leaned down, “Ryan, we’ll talk about this later.”


Bruce took us to last three bedrooms which were decorated with  antiques similar to what were in the parlor.  Bruce suggested, “Nate and Ryan, two of these could be your grandparents rooms.”


My Mother chuckled, “Nathan and Ryan, we’ll be here as soon as we go get some more clothes.  These rooms are fabulous.”


Ryan thought she was serious, “Grandpa and Grandma Thornton, are going to live with us too?”


Dad answered, “No, but we may spend as much time here as possible, to make sure that your Dads are treating you properly.”


The conversation was interrupted by Shane using his hands like a megaphone, “Ladies and gentlemen, desert will be served in the dining room momentarily.  I suggest that you hurry before Vince and Alex eat it all.”


We made our way to the dining room.  This time Ryan and Nathan sat with Evan and Chase.  I was sitting next to Brandon and Will, and Vince and Alex were seated across from them.  As we were eating, Vince asked, “Are you guys going to be working tomorrow night?”


Will and Brandon both reacted by flashing their pointer fingers across their lips as if telling Vince and Alex to zip it.  But both guys nodded yes.  I thought to myself, ‘I think I had better find out what that was all about.  Perhaps Beltons and the Hollands have something to worry about, but I somehow find that unlikely.’


My thoughts were interrupted by Bruce, “Dan and Kirk, I’ll call Ike Lassiter first thing in the morning and see if I can make an appointment for us.  Are you both going to be free?”


Dan answered for us, “We have nothing specific planned for the day.  Dad, you will be able to be there won’t you?”


Dad Thornton nodded yes.  My Dad added, “Don’t worry about me and the boys.  We’ll be fine.  We’ll make sure their grandmothers don’t get into too much trouble.”


I whispered to Dan, “I think our sons have enchanted my dad.”


As we were leaving, everyone thanked the McTavishes.  I watched as the boys hugged their Uncle Bruce and gave him a kiss.  Nathan looked at George, “Sir, what do you want us to call you?  Do you want us to call you Uncle George?”


George was caught by surprise, he knelt down and hugged the two boys, “Laddies, I would be very please if you were to call me Uncle George.”


As we were leaving, I head Vince and Alex tell Will and Brandon that they would most likely be seeing them tomorrow night.


As we were driving back to the condo, Nate asked, “Dads, where will we be going to school?  We’re going to be behind, since I haven’t been to school since before Thanksgiving and Ryan hasn’t been to school since last year.”


Without thinking, I answered, “You’ll probably go to the same school as Evan and Chase.”


“Dad, they don’t go to school.  They said that they were being home schooled by their mother.  What does that mean?”


Ryan interrupted, “Dads, do we gotta have our own bedroom?  Can’t we sleep in the same room?”


“Guys, we’re home.  We’ll discuss these things more tomorrow.  I think that the two of you should give everyone a kiss and go brush your teeth.  We’ll come tuck you in when you’re ready for bed.”


The boys complied with the instructions and both sets of parents decided that they were going to call it a day also.


After everyone had departed, Dan looked and me and started to laugh, “Dad Santa, see what a fine pickle you got us into this time.  I guess we need to be thankful that it is a sweet pickle, or so it would seem.”


To be continued...


Editor's Notes: Yes indeed, it would seem that they are in a very sweet pickle.  I have to wonder just what is going on, and I certainly hope we find out more, next time.  I am still a bit confused as to what is going on.   I do think that Uncle Bruce is one of the good guys, and that things will work out nicely. Let's hope so.


Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher


Posted: 10/23/09