Robert heard the loud roar of the motorcycle as it pulled back into the farm. “Look Pa, look, EJ's Grandmother she back. She sure knows how to stir up the chicken and horses that's for sure,” Robert said.
“Well, I see you made it back ok and you weren't kidding about an extra package. Don't be afraid son, what's your name?” Wayne chuckled as he welcomed his new guest to the farm.
“Danny sir, I come to see EJ, he’s my brother.” Danny said a little scared as he looked at man the size of large tree, but he soon relaxed as he looked into deep blue eyes. The fear melted away he sighed with relief.
“Is that right? Then you best come in.” He said as he smiled.
“Wayne any change in my grandson?” Grandma asked knowing it was to soon to expect anything after all it had only been couple of hours since she seen him, but she had hoped he would be awake. She need to find out the truth behind what his parents have done and nip in the butt quickly, and before time ran out before the state could take him away to parts unknown. “Damn his parents, his grandfather had seen this coming and would have done something long before now, but he’s gone now. It’s up to me to solve the mess and make things right, she should have done it long ago… Why did I wait so long too act? Why?”
“No, but he seems to be resting a little bit more comfortably since Doc came by,” he said
taking Grandmas arm as they walk back towards the house and opened the door for her.
“That's good,” she said trying to shake the dark thoughts from he mind as they echoed. “Dead he could be lying in there dead next time…No, not going to let that happen,” she said aloud enough it startled Wayne.
Wayne cringed as her nails to hold of her arm she seemed far way just for a moment.
“Would you like to see him before dinner? So you and Danny here can freshen up,” Wayne asked.
“Yes, that would be nice.”
“Martha has everything ready and she’s in there now. Will, would you mind taking Danny here and his Grandma Stuart,” with quick reminder look, “sorry, take Grandma down to see EJ, please son,” he asked releasing her arm as she went through the door. Just for a moment he thought he saw a shadow of a man and boy standing in the distance, but when turned to look right at them they were gone. Humm… that was strange?
“Ok Pa, come on Danny, let's go see your brother. Now you are going have to be real quiet, or Ma will kill us all and probably your Grandma to,” he said.
“Ok Will.” Danny replied happily almost skipping into the house and down the hall.
Danny nearly bounced off the walls with excitement. Martha watched Grandma Stuart and Danny walk into the room, “I thought that was you making all that ruckus out in front, and who is this little man you brought with you?” she asked.
“This is his little brother Danny.”
“Well Danny, come here let me take a good look at you,” she said.
Danny looked at his Grandma unsure, “Its ok Danny.” Danny walked cautiously over to her while he noticed EJ sleeping in the bed.
“You know Danny, you are the spitting image of your brother and I would know considering. I had to put him back together couple of times now. Well then, they tell me that dinner will be ready in about an hour so that should give you plenty of time to freshen up and we can visit, but I think this poor child here,” she said as she turned Danny around in circles. “Child, my goodness graces alive, I can't tell if that is dirt or the color of your skin.” Martha said. Grandma and Danny laughed with the biggest grins on their faces.
“Will dear?” Grandma calls out.
“Can you go out to the bike and bring in the pillowcase for me, it has Danny’s clothes in it so we can get him changed before dinner?” She asked.
“Will?” Ma asked before he leaves.
“While you are doing that, send Julie in here please,” she said.
“Julie? Ma asked watching her enter the room pausing long enough to give Danny a smile.
“Would you go into Sam's room, and find that box of Sam's clothes that he grew out of. I think they might fit this poor boy… and run a bath for him,” she said.
Danny eyes popped wide, “a bath!” Grandma and Martha started laughing.
“Yes Ma.” Julie giggled at little Danny sour expression.
“What Danny, did you think I was going to let you sit at my clean table, and then sleep in my clean bed looking like that? Oh no my boy, heavens no. EJ your brother had a bath and now it’s your turn,” Martha said with a laugh.
Danny turned and looked at Grandma for help, she just shrugged her shoulders, “Danny, don't sweat the small stuff,” and rubbed his hair as Will came back into the room holding a pillowcase that has seen better days.
“Here's that pillowcase Grandma,” Will said as he held it out to her.
“Thanks Will, you mind taking Danny down to the bathroom and helping him into the tub, I will be down in a minute, thanks dear.” Danny takes another look at EJ sleeping and then looked at his Grandma then looked down at floor and followed Will down to the bathroom, as if it was a death sentence.
Will seeing this put his arms around him. “You know your brothers going be ok, my Ma and us got everything under control and you'll feel so much better after a nice hot bath and a hot meal. Then you can spend time with your brother. Look at this way Danny; if you don't take a bath, they won't let you anywhere near him. Then where would you be sleeping Danny? With the pigs! You can play with them tomorrow if would like and the cows, the chickens and the horses. After all Danny boy, we live on a farm.”
Danny looked up at Will with his big blue eyes, “You have pigs and horses too?” He asked.
“Yep,” he said.
“WOW!” Danny replied.
“Now what do say we get you cleaned up?” Will, asked.
“Ok Will,” he said letting Will help him into the tub and giving him one of Sam’s sail boats to play with as the bubbles swirled around him.
“Well Martha, I was afraid of that?” Grandma said taking out Danny’s clothes from the pillowcase.
“Afraid of what Grandma Stua...? Sorry, Grandma,” Martha said.
“Yu’ll get the hang of it dear, these clothes that his mother gave me for Danny. They are nothing but worn out rags, if you could call them that even. Well I am not going back there to see if he’s got any better ones, not after blowing off a little steam. I guess we will have to do little shopping then. Martha, didn't you need fabric to make some kind of apron for EJ? Doc was just telling me about it.” Shaking her head at the clothes that held so many holes in them… “She should be a shame of herself her daughters had fine dress, but why theses for her boys?”
“I'll send Julie in with those clothes. I had a feeling you were going to need them. They might be a little big, but I can adjust them later. They may be a little worn. But they still have some life in them,” Martha said feeling very sad what these boys had to go through just to be thrown out like wolves. No she doesn’t know the boys story. Yet the wounds on this boy in Wills bed frightened her and frightened her husband as well. “How can anyone dare call that a home? And why could a parent hate their children so much to do something like this? No, she may not know the story behind it but she can guess and the tugs at her. The problem is what can she do about know?
“Oh they’re just collecting dust, and they needed to put to use, I can't see anything better or anyone more deserving than that sweet little boy,” she said.
“I think when this boy here wakes up, me and you need to take a trip into town and get some supplies,” Grandma said.
“Good idea, now why don't you go down there and give your grandson a bath. I got things covered here, less think you need me, but after seeing you work. I’m pretty sure you can handle him, you'll be just fine,” as they both laughed.
“Well Will. Is he minding his peas and cues?” Grandma asked opening the door seeing Danny in the tub as Will played with the sail boats with him.
“Yes Grandma as good as gold, well just good as Sam is when he’s in the tub getting water all over the floor,” Will said.
“Oh I see,” as they both laughed. “Thanks Will, I'll take it from here,” she said taking the stool and setting near the tub and watched Will close the door.
“Grandma, Will says I can see horses and pigs because they live on the farm!”
“Yes they do Danny and you can see them, would you like that?” She asked taking the washrag and soap and lathers it.
“Yes, will EJ get to see them too?” He asked sinking a sail boat in the water as if hit a tidal wave of bubbles.
“Yes when he's well enough. Ok Danny let's have a look at you and get you cleaned up so we can get you dressed for dinner, I am hungry aren't you?”
“Yes Grandma,” he said circling the little boat.
“Are you having lots of fun with your Grandma Danny?” She asked.
“Oh, yes Grandma!” He looked up at her and grinned.
“I am glad, now let’s wash those dirty toes of yours,” trying to keep her grandson preoccupied and calm not changing her voice or tone. “Can you tell your Grandma where you got these bruises, I promise and I won't be mad, I swear,” she said crossing her heart.
“You promise you won't tell Grandma? I could get into trouble.” Danny trying very hard to hide them from her.
“I promise,” she said crossing her heart again.
“I am not sure Grandma,” Danny said looking worried.
“Tell you what, you just nod if I say the person ok, that way its not really telling me anything ok,” she said.
Danny grins, “Ok.”
She washed his arms and to keep his mind occupied on something else, talks about things on the farm and what he might see and do. “Was it your sisters?” Danny shakes his head no. She washed his other arm, “was it your cat?” she asked.
“Grandma, we don't have a cat.” He laughed then frowned think that if they did Peggy would most likely kill it. Just the mere thought of her tightened her hands around his its neck or his for that matter made him gasp holding his breath in as chest tightened in fright. Grandma shakes him from his thoughts.
“Silly me,” she said and rubbed his fingers, “was it the octopus escaping from the zoo?” she asked again being silly to ease his mind.
“Grandma?” He replied thinking the octopus would have a chance against his dad’s belt. He almost could hear it whistle in the air as he jumps when Grandma touched him that he almost screamed.
“Was it your mama and daddy?” Danny's eyes quickly open big as saucers and nods his head yes quickly. Snap goes the belt .his screams echoed in his mind. “You know, I understand they’re having roast beef for dinner with homemade bread and potatoes and fresh vegetables,” watching Danny's mouth water, to forget everything they were just talking about. And talked about other things what they might see and do for fun. “Ok Danny, let’s get you dried off then you can go see EJ… and your Grandma can change to ok.”
The belt whistled and fade into the shadows that only he could see. He shock with fear as the darkness lessened around him seeing his Grandmas loving face. “Yes Grandma.” He said
She quickly dried him off seeing the terror in eyes fade she whispered. “My poor boys what have they done?” As she quickly dressed him in borrowed clothes and sent him back down the hall where his brother was. She grabbed a quick change of clothes, making her look more like her grandmotherly self taking control of her anger and putting it away in box. “Yes she will deal with it even if their Grandfather wasn’t here.” They had no one they could count on. “Why did she wait so long, leaving them to live in the darkness so long?” The words echoed in her mind. “You left them, You left them alone.. Why?” She shouted. “No. It wasn’t me!” As she grasped her chest as the pain shot up her arm her eyes watered from the pain as it soon decreased. Just for a moment she thought she saw a man in the Shadows with red glowing eyes, yet when she turned he was gone.
Danny climbed up on the bed next to his brother, puts his little arms around him. EJ stirred a little, but remained asleep. Danny whispered in EJ ear, “Its ok EJ, me and Grandma are here now.” Begin to cry not feeling a lone at last with his brother beside him, but bothered him seeing him with so many bandages round him.
Martha, with a tear in her eye, seeing the affection of his little brother, just watched for a minute then got up and walked over to little Danny, sitting next to him on the bed patting him on the back as she comforted him while the tears slowly rolled down his cheeks. Telling him, “Its ok my little one, he will be alright, just go ahead and cry if you want to.”
After a while grandma returned from freshening up, and headed back down the hall, finding Danny, Martha and EJ on the bed. Martha turned to her, “well now that looks better, I must say. That's more what I was excepting,” she said.
Grandma laughed. “Yes I know, instead of what they met was the wind instead. Hello Wayne,” Grandma said seeing walking in the door.
“Well now look what we got here. Is this the same Grandma or this someone else?” Wayne said teasing as he rubbed his chin with grin on his face.
“You are such a kidder,” Grandma replied.
“Are you and little Danny ready for some dinner? You to Martha, he's not going anywhere this time. He can't, I have all the keys; there are no clothes that he can wear in here, and all the doors are locked tight. I posted a guard with a clear sight of the door. He'll be fine. So we are all going to have dinner together, and if you argue my dear, I'll pick up that boy bring him in the kitchen, bed and all, if I have to… so march you two,” he said.
“Martha I believe he's serious,” Grandma said standing by the door.
“You can count on it,” Wayne said as he looked over at Danny. “You two women go on ahead. Why me and Danny boy get ourselves ready; mans business you know.” Pa watched the women leave then sat next to Danny, lifted him up and laid his head on his shoulder. “Son I know it hurts seeing your brother like that, but I promise you he will be ok. Now that he knows that you are here and he is safe and if you need to cry son just go right on a head, I won’t stop you. If you want to talk about it we will, but that roast beef sure looks good. So what do you say we wipe those tears and clean your face and go and fill our bellies?” He said then he tweaks his little nose and says “blow.” Grabbing a wash cloth, he cleaned his face then headed to the kitchen for dinner taking Danny by the hand.
“Pa looks like you have out done yourself,” Ma said as she looked at the spread on the table.
“Actually they wouldn't let me near the kitchen Ma, I had lots of help,” Pa said as he smiled at his children. “So all I did was help them instead,” Pa laughed. “Now then let's all be seated. I think it's about time we finally get acquainted properly now that things have quieted down for the moment, unless there’s another storm coming?” He said as he looked over at Grandma.
“Let me check,” she said as she put her finger in her mouth then sticks it out test the air as if to testing the winds then looked both directions. “Na, looks to me the winds have died down for the moment.”
“Pa?” Sam asked.
“Yes Sam?” taking his seat at front of the table across from Martha.
“What storm? There hasn't been rain or a cloud in the sky all day.” he replied feeling confused.
“Me neither Pa!” Anna said. Grandma, Ma and Pa laughed.
“Children, that's because Grandma here was the storm. The storm has blown itself out for the time being.”
“Oh?” with confused looks on their faces.
“Now then where are my manners, we have guests and I haven't properly introduced them. Everyone this is Danny, EJ's little brother and this is well Grandma Stua... Sorry Grandma,” he said making the introductions.
“You'll get it dear,” she said.
“They will be staying with us for awhile.”
“Pa how long is EJ going to be here?” Robert asked passing the rolls after taking two for his plate and the butter.
Pa, not sure how to answer that question pauses for a moment. “Now let’s dig into that roast beef,” as he looked over at Danny. “I am sure Danny is starved.” Trying to avoid the question, he slices the roast beef putting large portion on Danny's plate.
“EJ's, going to be here a long time,” Grandma said as she looked straight at Wayne and Martha. “I took care of that, he's been left in your care. Nobody will bother him, it’s all done and it’s all legal,” she said as she passed the mash potatoes. “Will, do you mind dear passing me that wonderful looking grave,” and then tastes it. “And who made this?” she asked.
“I did!” Julie replies feeling slightly embarrassed feeling her cheeks redden as she scooped fresh peas on her plate.
“It’s delicious,” she said and smiled at Julie taking another taste.
Julie glowing, “thank you Grandma.”
Grandma watched to see if it left a shocked look on Wayne and Martha's faces. Instead, she saw only warm and love and caring in their eyes. As she continued to load her plate and passing down the gravy.
“Pa?” Ma said taking the rolls from Will and the butter.
“Yes Ma?” Pa cutting the roast beef into smaller bites and taking the peas from Robert.
“Sounds like you and the boys have got some extra work to do then,” she said taking a portion of slice roast beef and passing on down the table.
“What do mean Ma?” Pa asked taking a bite of mash potatoes and butting his rolls.
“Well its time we add a couple more rooms onto the house don't you think? While we're at it, we can enlarge Robert's room,” placing a dab of butter on the peas on the plate.
Pa looked over at his boys for a brief moment. “Maybe I should ask them first what do you think? After all, they are the ones that will be doing most of the work,” taking another bite of his food.
“Yes, you are right Pa we better ask the kids?” She said. The children were on the edge with anticipation and excitement. Grandma just sat back loving every minute as he winked at her, because she already knew what they are going to say.
“Ok children what do you say, are Downing's up this?” Pa asked eyeing each one in turn.
“Oh Pa, do you even have to ask? We say he's already part of our family he just doesn't know yet.” Robert said and the rest nodded in agreement.
Will put his arm around Danny and said. “He is too.” Robert and the rest the family nod their heads with approval that brings tears to their grandmother's eyes.
There was no question in her mind where her grandson EJ needed to be. She knew he would be safe and loved on the Downing Farm. Pa, cleared his throat, “Now, how about some of that pie, unless everyone is stuffed?” clearing his plate with a quick swipe with a roll.
“That sounds good Wayne, Julie dear let me help ya clear the table,” Grandma said getting up picking up the plates and combining them with hers.
“But you are our guest Grandma,” Julie said trying to stop her and picking up the pile Grandma had in front of her.
“Phew, I need to do something or I'll go crazy just sitting watch people doing things.” She replied gathering more and following Julie into the kitchen, which was kept clean and sparkled with light yellow paint and brown homespun cabinetry with light blue curtains that set a warm tone. Right away she could tell Martha was a fine housekeeper and more so than EJ’s Mother Danny not mention excellent cook. EJ was not going to go hungry here. It sadden her to see his pale skinny body which sickened her more when she noticed Danny’s when she bathed him. How long has been since either of them had decent meal? She most likely was feeding them scraps.
“I know what you mean, sometimes I need a little action to get my day started too,” she said. Bring Grandma out of her dark thoughts.
“Now then let me help.” Grandma says in a sweet, yet commanding voice. Taking not no for answer.
Ma gets up from the table and started for the bedroom where EJ was, “Martha?” Pa asked.
“Yes dear?” Stopping her in mid stride before she reached the hallway.
“Where do think your going?” he asked he knew where she was going, but he knew they both need a break and it was time to be the children and their guest.