Peek A Boo, I See You

Chapter Six

When we trooped over to Brian's house Jeff immediately took Mrs. Wilson into a sitting room and he interviewed her, letting her vent about her son and taking extensive notes as well as letting his recorder run. He had taken another recorder off one of the detectives before they went back to the police station, but so far hadn't had to use it. I went and found the boys, still playing soccer with the four big boys.

I signaled to Brian to follow me into the house and we sat at the counter in his kitchen and I told him that his nightmare was over, we had found the drone, and the computer used to control it and that was used to send the blackmail demand and the pictures. One of the detective teams was currently accompanying the suspect, the 30-year-old son of his neighbor, Mrs. Wilson, to the hospital because when he tried to flee he tripped and broke his leg. Mrs. Wilson herself had complaints to file against her son, and was being interviewed by Jeff in Brian's sitting room off the front hall. His face was in his hands as he sobbed tears of relief and then held me in a crushing embrace, thanking me for being his friend.

After Jeff and Mrs. Wilson were finished, she stayed and visited with us as Jeff took off for the police station to type up his report and have the tapes transcribed. The detectives had the evidence they had collected and were processing everything already collected, as a forensics team was next door going through the trailer gathering more.

As soon as I was beginning to wonder what could be keeping Jeff he appeared, ready to go home after walking Mrs. Wilson back to her home so she could get used to being on her own and not under the control of her domineering drug-addled son. He returned, and we began to gather up the boys to head out and give Brian and Mat some time to celebrate alone. Their thanks to Jeff were as tear-filled as were the thanks I got from Brian earlier so, at some point in the afternoon, Brian had taken my advice and filled Mat, in on what was going on.

Back home, we got ready for dinner and because of the lateness of the day, it was now 5:30 PM, we called and ordered pizza for dinner, much to the boys' approval. Over the next couple of days, several charges were added to Mr. Wilson's charge of extortion, including several drug-related charges. The thing Brian most feared was that during the trial he would have to testify, and he was afraid that the explicit photos and his admission he was gay would prevent him from obtaining a teaching position, and of course, Mat also had the same problem. They, of course, wanted Cedric prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, so I mentioned this to Jeff that night and asked if he thought Cedric would accept a plea bargain and he said that would be one way to avoid a trial and having our friends have to testify. Jeff thought that Cedric had a pretty good lawyer and that there was talk that a plea had been offered, but he hadn't heard anything else.

Brian had signed up for not only the next semester, but some summer classes he was going to take online. By the end of the next school year, he and Mat both would be graduated with degrees in elementary education. Mat officially moved in with Brian in late May, after his finals had all been taken for the current school year. They were married out at our place that June and our three boys were their "best boys" as Jeff and I stood up for Brian, and Chuck and John stood up for Mat. It was a low key wedding, no fanfare and just a justice of the peace ceremony, but we had a great party after the ceremony and Jeff received a call from his office during our barbecue reception. Cedric had accepted a plea, thirty years in a state prison. If he only knew just how much of a wedding present, he had given his two blackmail victims!

It turned out to be a fine Summer for everyone. Tyler, Zach, Teddy and young Tom were enrolled in the summer daycare at the riding center and the swim center, alternating days at each. They were in their own age groups, the five to six-year-old group, but as of the Fourth of July the four of them were 6 and we had a party for Teddy that included going to the town's fireworks display, but we ended up with armloads of sleeping kids before the first one was shot off, and they slept right through the rest of them. Jeff and I carried them to the car and drove home and put them all to bed when the display was done. It surprised me when people we knew, and didn't know, stopped us as we carried the boys to the car and took photos of them asleep in our arms.

Jeff had two weeks off during the Summer, but he asked if we could just do family day trips as he wanted to get to spend days on end with the boys, something he missed while he worked during the week. So, we got to go to Dino Land, where dinosaur footprints are embedded into the rocks and shale formed in prehistoric times, we took them fishing at the Quabbin Reservoir, and lunches and ice cream at Dufresne's, a roadside stand shaped like huge two-story milk cans. Forge Pond for fishing and swimming and great picnics and riding, at home and at Terry's, and we even risked a drive to Agawam to visit a Six Flags amusement park. For that, we had help, Brian and Mat and Chuck and John all wanted to go with us and Brian had to suffer all day in sunglasses and a ball cap, so he wouldn't be recognized, but he and all of us had a ball.

After Jeff's vacation Chuck and John took off for a week at the cape and they came home married! They hadn't wanted a fuss made and had eloped, saying it was even more romantic that way, well for them it was, they were so happy. Of course, my dads' had to hold a big barbecue reception for them a week or so after they came back married and it was nice seeing everyone all together and for a happy occasion. They too only had one more school year to go before graduating, John taking a degree in financial management and going to work for Uncle Sean's office and Chuck ended up with the same degree but working for a big office in town that was a charitable trust distributor, Harris & Blackmer.

Jeff and I agonized about not only what to give them for their graduation present, but also what we were going to do without their help around our small farm. Both problems were solved one day at lunch at my Dad's house. I had stopped in to see them for lunch on the Monday before graduation was held at the University. During lunch, they asked me what I was getting the newest newlywed couple and I told them we hadn't narrowed it down yet and Dad Noah said they had an idea, but they would need the agreement of Jeff and me. What if they bought John and Chuck a prefab house and had it assembled on two acres of our land. The house would be their present and the land would be our present to the two graduates. The dads would pay for the new septic system too and they said they were willing to do this because they realized that some people felt smothered by family living on their property and they had admired my independence and also John's, but that didn't mean they couldn't still put a roof over their grandson's head. I told them I'd discuss this with Jeff when he got home, and we left it at that for now.

Jeff thought about it for as long as it took us to clean up after dinner and when we took our evening stroll with the boys, he pointed out the field to the right of the gate at the far end of the farm lane, the side I had seen the old guy tossing the puppies out of his truck from. It was a nice parcel of land, one that rose from the lane at a very gradual rise and at the top of the rise there would be quite a good view of the mountains across the river, some 28 miles away. There were mature stands of trees along the fence line and Jeff thought this parcel would be a really good house site for the guys and still be near enough that they could still ride our horses and make use of our pool. Once back at the house we called my dads' and told them we had the perfect lot for them, so their idea for a combined gift was a go.

Now the focus was on a replacement for the chores in the barn and the leasing of the fields, and part of that was accomplished when John told us that he was available all Summer for us and he had already leased out all but two acres that he had found crossed off his ledger, indicating it was unavailable for the next full year. I told him I was sorry I hadn't mentioned that area as being unavailable, but it had slipped my mind, and then I changed the subject and asked if he really was available to work the barn this summer and he hemmed and hawed and said not really, but that he and Chuck were not ready to move yet, and they figured that even with starting new jobs they thought they would continue to keep on with their work here, just maybe shifting some chores to later in the day after they returned from work.

I thanked him for thinking about us, but reminded him that I wasn't totally useless and I could take care of the morning feedings at least, and more on the days I didn't have a patient to see to. With two days to go until the graduation ceremony my dads' drove over, supposedly to look at the lot Jeff had proposed, and they agreed, after I walked them up the slope, that this was an ideal spot for a house.

 While we were strolling back to the house, they both brought up the subject they were really here to discuss , was I interested in taking over for Dad Chris's office manager for about a half year. She had the opportunity to take a cruise around the world, a once in a lifetime thing. They told me that with my education in nursing and physical therapy and with my life experience they expected me to pick it up in no time. I'd have the opportunity to work for two weeks with her before she departed, and the pay mentioned was actually more than I had earned the entire previous year. With the boys attending Terry's riding school and the swim center on alternating days, and traveling to and from by the school bus to school and the after school activities I'd be at loose ends for most of the day anyway, so I told them I'd do it. This still gave me the summer to spend full time with the boys.

I, of course, discussed this with Jeff as soon as he got home from work and he agreed with me that not only would I be helping Dad Chris out, but it would indeed be a new experience for me, and hopefully a good one at that. He said he'd miss me being out and about for 6 months, but he'd add another patrol car to the streets to make up for me not being out there to report  crime to him.

The soon to be graduating college seniors had a great time at their reception party and were thrilled by the combined gifts from the Granddads and Jeff and I and to show how enthusiastic they were about it, the Monday after their reception they were at Uncle David and Uncle Drew's office to choose a modular prefab home from all the styles that Drew's company offered. They didn't want anything ostentatious or overly big for what they perceived as what they wanted their lives to be, and they decided on a four-bedroom colonial style, with an attached garage. They were in total agreement, the master bedroom suite was to be on the first floor, to make it a bit easier for Chuck to get around the main living area if he was just on his crutches for one reason or another.

They discussed having a chairlift, as the granddad's house had, originally installed for Phil, and the model home they chose had a second smaller staircase to the second floor so they opted for the chairlift to be installed on this staircase that ran from the back hall off the kitchen to the hall upstairs, in case Chuck needed to access the second floor without his prosthesis on.

I took the boys out riding as soon as they were finished with their lunches almost every afternoon. Their mornings were filled with the riding classes and on alternating days, their swimming classes. One day we'd check on John and Chuck's home site, the other we'd pack a few fishing rods and go the other way to our big pond to "feed the fish" as the retired school teacher we often ran into liked to say. You could tell he had been a good teacher, just by the way he treated our three boys as he taught them how to fish for the sunfish and perch we had stocked the pond with.

As I've said before, the pond was basically open to the public, as it was much closer to the main road than our home was, all we asked was people treat it in a respectful manner. Zach and Tyler always told Ted about the day we found Tyler there (on his sixth birthday in July Teddy thought he was old enough to be called Ted, unless we were tucking him into bed, then he liked Teddy better). We often had young Tom with us in the afternoons so there were four of them riding the ponies wherever we went, and I rode one of the horses, and of course, the dogs were with us all the time we were away from the house.

One day in mid-July we were at the pond when a car pulled in our lane and a family got out of their car to start to unload their picnic. I casually walked closer to them to see they were a family of four, two parents, man and woman, about 40 and two children, a boy and a girl around 13 or 14. The children were not happy to be here, or anywhere really, they seemed more likely to be at home in a coffee house with internet access, as they stood by the car trying to get a Wi-Fi connection on their devices.

The parents meanwhile were unloading the car, making sure not to scratch either the car or the folding table and folding chairs they had taken from the car's trunk, which also had two picnic baskets. Before they got any more unloaded, I just had to get an idea of just how long they were moving in for. The boys were with their fishing coach and their ponies and my horse were tethered on the nearby meadow. As I approached them, they stopped their unpacking and turned to watch my approach and the father reached in his back pocket and withdrew his wallet and pulled out a twenty from it and held it out to me as I neared them. I ignored the twenty and asked if they had traveled far to get here and the father said they had just been driving around the countryside and decided to eat their picnic here.

I explained that we welcomed anyone who treated our property respectfully, but that this wasn't a public picnic ground, that was at Forge Pond, just a few miles down the road, there were picnic facilities as well as activities for the whole family, that this was actually our front yard, the beginning of our property as the sign at the beginning of the lane clearly stated, but we did welcome visitors. I told them they were welcome to have their picnic here, but the ground was really too uneven for the table and chairs and by the local fire code there were no fires allowed here.

The man was just about apoplectic at this point and he demanded to speak to the owner of the property, just as the boys and the retired schoolteacher came over to us to see what the fuss was all about. Tyler, Zach and Tim were huddled around my legs, asking," What's going on Dad? Who are these guys Dad? Did you invite these guys Dad?" The retired school teacher was chuckling and told the man and his wife that they were looking at one of the owners of the property, the other one was the Chief of Police. At this point, Roscoe was sitting on his haunches at my feet and Suriya was sniffing at one of the picnic baskets. I repeated my invitation for them to continue with their picnic, just that it was unwise to use the folding table and chairs on the uneven earth.

It took the man a few minutes to get himself under control and I used these few minutes to tell the boys to go and get their ponies and I'd be right with them. I repeated my suggestion to drive just a bit down the main road and take their picnic to Forge Pond, they might even like it better there and I took off to help the boys mount their ponies as their fishing tutor strolled down the lane to the road and off to his home. Once the boys were mounted, I regained my seat on my horse and I turned to see our unexpected visitors all getting into their car, all arguing as they did so. I heard them peel out as we slowly walked the horses up the lane to the barn.

When Jeff had gotten home and had a chance to change out of his uniform and relax before I dished up dinner, I told him about the visitors at the pond and he suggested we install a gate a cars length in off the main road. He said that it wouldn't block anyone walking into the property, but it would keep cars from coming onto the lane and we could always have a remote control in the car to open and close the gate. I told him we'd also have to have a call box installed down there so our own visitors could be let in, and while we were at it, we should have another gate and call box at the other end of the track, by the construction site of the new house, so that once the farm lane was paved people just randomly couldn't drive through the farm, thinking it was a town road. He said that if I did the groundwork on getting them installed, he'd think of some way to thank me later.

Within two weeks we had picked out the design of the gates and the lines for the electricity had been dug and power was now available at each end of our access lane. During this time the new roadbed was created at the far end, where John and Chuck's access for their house was being created, this was necessary for a couple of reasons, first was for snow removal so they would be able to drive into their property during winter and also for proper drainage and so the crane and the big trailer trucks would have a stable surface to drive onto when the house components were delivered onsite during the month of August.

With all this going on I had to pick the boys up from their Summer morning activities and find some ways to keep them occupied for the afternoons off our property, so they wouldn't have to be confined to the house while the crews were working. We spent some of those two weeks at their grandfather's house where we had access to the pool house and the horses and ponies in their barn and we went to visit some of their favorite local places on several of those afternoons.

The gates were installed and working fine as well as the new road surfaces at the main entrance by the pond and the back entrance by where the new house was now ready for the pre-fab company's components, the basement all poured and dry, waterproofing having been applied already, Two weeks was all it all took to be this completed. The gates were installed a car's length in so that a car could be totally off each of the main streets should they pull in and not have the gate code or remote control to open them, before they had to back out and turn back onto the road. Our vehicles were equipped with sensors that would open the gates starting when the front of the car was five feet from the sensor in the gate, it made for easy ins and outs for those of us who lived on the property.

The modules for the house were delivered the 3rd of August and the boys and I watched from a safe distance as the crane unloaded the trailers. Once all the modules were in place there was a four bedroom,2,500 square foot house in front of us, and crews from both David's company and from the prefab company swarmed the structure for three days after, making sure it would pass inspection and gain the house an occupancy permit.

On the 8th of August John and Chuck were moved in from our pool house and on the following day furnishings they had bought were delivered and set in place in the house, they had a completed home with which to start off their new school year from. On the following day Terry called and asked me to stop over to the riding center after lunchtime, she suggested I bring the boys with me.

We timed our arrival to occur between the morning and afternoon Summer camp sessions, the boys had attended their age group session in July and they were happy to be back here in a familiar place to all three of them. Terry asked the boys to hand out treats to the ponies in their stalls while she and I talked and we did move a bit off to one side and she asked me to just watch and she pointed to the boys who had started to hand out the treats, and talking to the ponies and during this a young man entered the barn and began to rake out the few empty stalls and take the rakings out to the compost heap. The boys all talked to him and there was a very friendly rapport between the four of them, the lad being friendly and talkative with the boys, asking how their summer was going, what were they doing to keep busy, were they looking forward to school. Light banter between acquaintances.

He continued on with his chores, cleaning the feed troughs and cleaning the water pails and putting fresh replacements out. An adult instructor entered the barn greeting the boys by name, and the young worker, Bill. Once Bill was greeted, he became quiet and only mumbled a response to the greeting from the adult and he kept his head down the entire time the adult was in the barn, It was at that point Terry took me into her office.

She explained that Bill was a client of Helen's that had aged out of the system. He was what used to be called "slow". He wasn't "retarded" or brain damaged, he just had a hard time relating to adults, but as I saw he was good around animals and children. He knew what had to be done around the barn and he did his chores very well and she would be happy to have him around for years, but that wasn't going to do anything for Bill but provide him with a minimum wage and a roof over his head. Looking me right in the eyes she said that both Jeff and I were young enough looking to put his fear of adults on a back burner and he liked our boys and would love the mix of animals in our barn, the cats, the ponies, the horses, and even Roscoe and Suriya who spent their every waking minute at the barn when they weren't out peeing on every dry surface on the farm.

She explained that he'd have a chance to be a part of a family if he came to work for us, something he hadn't had in years, as she was advocating for us to take Bill in and give him a room in our house to live in, as well as working for us in the barn. I wanted to say right away that we would do it, but I am part of a couple, and I wanted Jeff's take on all this before I committed us to this. I walked back into the barn and right over to the boys, asking them to introduce me to their friend. The boys were excited to do this, they didn't have that many adult friends, or near adult friends that were not Uncles or cousins or Aunts that I didn't already know, so they were proud to introduce me to Bill. Bill glanced up to me before shaking my hand as the boys introduced him to me and I guess I passed the "not quite intimidating" test because he didn't lower his head after, but instead looked me straight in the eyes. My God the kid had the greenest eyes I'd ever seen, and the cutest dimples. He was surely a charmer.

He loosened up enough to tell me he was 18 and he had a diploma to prove he didn't have to go to school anymore and I told him he really was a big boy now. I asked him if he liked working with the ponies and horses in the barn here and he got a big smile on his face and told me he loved it, that it was the best job in the world.

The boys and I left soon afterward and once done with our own ride down to see how Chuck and John were getting settled in, we returned home where we took care of our mounts and cleaned off our tack before going in to start on dinner, because their Daddy would be home soon.

We all participated in fixing dinner, Tyler shredding our salad lettuce, Zach washing the baking potatoes, and Ted setting the table like a pro. I breaded pork chops and prepared them for the oven and then we all snapped the green beans as I subtly questioned them about their friend Bill. They all agreed they liked Bill and told me how hard he worked.

After Jeff had a chance to change into more casual clothing and we had shared dinner with our family I settled the boys in to watch a video as Jeff and I cleaned up the kitchen and I brought up Bill and his situation, being careful not to let my opinion sway his. He looked up at me as he was loading the dishwasher and asked me outright if I had already made up my mind, and I told him I had, but that I wanted him to meet Bill and make up his own mind, without me influencing him one way or the other.

He agreed that was good and he told me he'd stop there at Terry's during the day tomorrow and meet Bill. I suggested that he not go in uniform as that was a symbol of adulthood and he agreed that he would put on a colored T-shirt or better yet, a print short sleeved shirt to disguise his uniform trousers, as that would hang down farther than a T shirt would. Then without looking at me, he asked which bedroom I had already picked out for Bill. (I've told you how much I love him haven't I?). I laughed and told him we'd discuss that later, after he met Bill.

When Jeff arrived home the next day he was still in his Hawaiian shirt and carrying his uniform shirt on a hanger, saying he could get another day out of it, and that he had taken quite a bit of ribbing from his staff all the rest of the afternoon after his meeting with Bill. He also asked me if Chuck's old room upstairs with its attached bath would be a good choice for Bill. He told me that their casual meeting went well, and when he found out he was the other dad to Tyler, Zach, and Ted he really perked up and became even more outgoing, Jeff thought I should get the boys involved with approaching Bill about working for us and living in our home with all of us.

The next day, Friday, I called Terry and told her I was interested in hiring Bill, and when would be a good time for the boys and me to come over to talk to him. She told me that just about any time would be good, but why didn't I stop by and pick him up for lunch and interview him at our place, then he'd know what he was getting into. I told her that was a good idea and told her we'd pick him up about a quarter of twelve.

I explained to the boys, as we cleaned up after our breakfast, that Jeff and I wanted Bill to come work in our barn and come to live with us, and we thought that he might like Chuck's old room upstairs to have for his own. The three of them were thrilled and asked if he was going to be their big brother, and I told them they'd have to ask Bill that, but we thought all of them would get along great.

We pulled into the parking area at the main stable and the boys walked ahead of me as we went up the walk to the stable and there, right inside the door, raking out a stall was Bill and the boys raced over to him, "Bill, want to come eat lunch with us? Bill come live with us! Bill, will you be my big brother?" They each had their own question and it took Bill a couple of seconds to process them and said his response to all of them, "Yes!" He looked up at me and I just smiled at him, telling him we wanted to hire him and have him live with us and if he wanted, we would take him to our place, so he could see where he would work and see the bedroom, we thought he might like. He nodded his agreement and I told Terry we were taking Bill for lunch and we might bring him back to finish his shift. She chuckled and told me that if we needed him that badly we could keep him and just come back for his belongings. She talked to Bill for a little bit and then they hugged, and Bill came to our car and sat in the front passenger seat after the boys were all settled in their car seats across the back seat.

When we drove into the farm Bill was looking around like his head was on a swivel, trying to take in everything. Our first stop after parking was the barn and the boys led him there while I walked out to collect the mail and the newspaper from the receptacles out by the main street our lane ran off. I took it all with me as I walked to the barn and there were the boys introducing Bill to each of the equines by name (each stall had each name on the door, just as each piece of tack had each corresponding name on it as well, it just cut down on making adjustments every time it was used to have it designated to a specific animal). He had apparently already met the dogs as they were not jumping around trying to get his attention, but they were sitting at his feet, paying attention as the boys extolled the virtues of each pony and horse. I, on the other hand, explained that what we were looking for was for him to perform the same duties here that he had done for Terry at the big stable. Feed and water twice a day, and muck out the stalls at least once a day, and that our compost heap was just about the same place, about fifty feet behind the barn. Rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, food and water were all here at the same level, just on the other side of the big room.

We left to walk up to the house and as we did Jeff pulled in, and Bill tensed right up at seeing the cruiser pull in and then Jeff, bless him, hopped out of the cruiser and removed his uniform shirt, leaving him bare-chested as the boys ran to greet him. I nudged Bill and asked him if he had met my husband yet, and he whispered to me that he had yesterday, but he hadn't looked like that, and he didn't know he was a policeman. I whispered back that not only was he a policeman, but he was the boss policeman, the Chief, and the best kisser I had ever met. Bill chuckled at that but fell silent when Jeff strode over to me and planted a big one on my lips. I heard a sharp intake of breath from Bill and when we finished our kiss Jeff reached over to shake Bill's hand and welcomed him to our home.

As the six of us walked into the house we discussed lunch and I told them all I had planned on Monte Cristo's for our repast and I had everything ready to assemble and cook so I told the boys to go wash up and show Bill where he could wash up and use the downstairs bathroom if he needed and Jeff and I washed up at the kitchen sinks before I started our meal. I had a platter with sliced turkey, cheese and ham ready and the eggs ready to be beaten. I assembled the turkey cheese and ham into sandwiches as Jeff beat the eggs for me and then once the griddle was hot, I began to cook the sandwiches just like you would French toast. The table had been set before we left the house so all we needed was the 4 boys who trooped back laughing and chuckling.

We all tucked into our hot sandwiches, all of us older "boys" helping the three youngsters cut up theirs, so they could inhale them safely. Jeff said if I fed him that good at lunch, he'd have to come home for his noon meal every day. I reminded him that I'd be working as soon as the boys were all back in school and he reluctantly said he now remembered that. After lunch had been consumed and cleared, we all trooped upstairs and showed Bill the unused bedrooms, saving Chuck's former room for last. Bill walked around it, a big smile on his face as he explored the closet, the attached bathroom and the beautiful dressers and big queen-sized bed and the nightstands. There was a student desk in there with an older desktop computer on it that still worked very well, and he lovingly ran his fingers over the keyboard as he turned to Jeff and me nodding his head up and down, a big smile on his face. Jeff had to return to his office, so he left soon after giving the boys and me a smooch goodbye, and Bill got in line! He obviously didn't want to be left out and he wasn't, Jeff kissed his forehead and gave him a hug before telling all of us he had to get back to work, and then as he was leaving, we all went to the car and drove to the riding stable to gather Bill's belongings and move him in.

He really didn't have much, and after we had all his stuff Terry came out to say her goodbyes, and Helen was with her. The two women were thrilled he was accepting our offer and Helen told me that she hadn't seen him so animated ever. She had a file folder for me, explaining there was Bill's history with her department in there and some of his contacts, such as his doctors, and his school history was also included. I told her that he'd be safe with us and that if I had any questions, I'd get in touch with her.

We spent some time getting Bill settled in his new room, of course, the boys all had to help him, but they all seemed to be having a fun time doing it. After all that hard work we then told Bill to grab his swim shorts and we took him to the pool house for his first look at our indoor pool. I was surprised when Bill showed some skills in the pool. He swam like a fish and he could even swim with one of the boys on his back, of course, they all got a ride. We stayed there until about 3:30 and then we all rinsed off and dressed again and we all went to the barn and took care of the afternoon chores, so Bill would have a good idea of what was expected of him, and he'd have the knowledge of where everything was that he needed to know to be able to do his job.

We had a fun dinner that night and after we all rode for about two hours, and we all took care of our own mounts when we returned, and everyone pitched in to help the three little guys get their ponies ready for bed.

The next morning Bill had been up even before Jeff and I were, and he had already mucked out the stalls by the time we were ready for breakfast. The boys went to collect him, telling him that breakfast was ready so he better shake a leg and get cleaned up and come eat. He laughed when he came in the kitchen, all scrubbed and with a shaking leg that the boys roared over. Jeff and I were laughing too, and I told Jeff that maybe what we needed was a bell off the back door we could ring to let whoever heard it to come to the house. He said his parents used to use one to call him in for meals when he was a kid, and he thought it was in the mudroom closet closest to the back door. After everyone had gone and while the kids were having a rest in the late morning, I dug out the old bell which was really a big one.

It was a big old brass bell about a foot high and it hung from a sturdy bracket that was easy enough to screw back into the wall just by the back door, A braided heavy cord hung from the clapper and the sound was incredible, I knew it could be heard down at the barn because once I had the bell hung on the bracket I couldn't resist ringing it and Bill stuck his head out of the barn and we waved at each other. The sound was loud enough to wake the boys and they came running to see what the noise was that disturbed their rest. I told them that when they heard the bell, they were to come to the house right away, and they seemed to understand that this was a serious matter and a new rule they must abide by. A few minutes later I did have our lunch ready and I asked the boys to ring the bell to let Bill know it was time for him to come up and eat with us.

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