Simon's Journal

Volume III

Thirteen Sails
Adventures Abound

Written by Danny

Chapter - 33

Fruitier than a bowl full of dad

Wow, it sure has been a long while since I've taken the time to actually sit down and do some journaling. So much has happened recently that I don't really know where to begin. Perhaps I should start off by saying that I am back in command of the Banachelli. Please note that I said `I' and not `WE'; Jamie and Lowell were caught as the three of us tried to make it to the ship. However, even before that happened I had the chance to confirm that my Aunt Catherine was my birth mom and found out that she hadn't been artificially inseminated as she claimed to have been. Of course that lead to me learning the truth of who my birth father really is; boy it was a shocker to find out that I'd already met him before.

During the week that followed my vacation at the beach I spent most of my time either talking with my shrink or getting ready, along with Jamie and Lowell, to leave once more. Of course I didn't share any of our plans to return to the Banachelli with my doctor; I mean if I wasn't willing to tell Tom Segal, then why would I tell some overpaid, know-it-all doctor?

The plan had been for the three of us, Jamie, Lowell and me, to return to the Banachelli right before the start of the school year. But then, the day before we were due to leave, I overheard a conversation that made me want to put those plans on hold. I was coming through the living room, heading for the kitchen when I heard mom talking rather emotionally to someone on the phone. I stopped long enough to hear what she was saying and here's what I heard...

"I'm telling you Catherine that he already knows you're his real mother."

"What do you mean?"



"All these years you've let everyone believe that you didn't know who the father was and now you're saying you've known all along?"

If I hadn't had my hand resting on the wall I probably would have fallen on my diapered butt right then.

Mom continued talking to Aunt Catharine on the phone and with every second mom's voice got a little louder and her temper seemed to grow along with it.

"Oh my god! You're not serious?"

"But I thought he was gay?"


"No we don't!"

"No I will not promise that."

"Catherine I said no!"

There was a prolonged pause and I figured mom was listening to something Aunt Catharine was saying on the other end of the phone line.

"I can tell you right now that his father isn't going to go for that idea."

"Even if the doctor said it was alright I wouldn't feel comfortable having Simon stay with you."


"He's too fragile right now."

"No we haven't asked him if he wants to talk with you about it."

And then it started to sound as though they were nearing the end of their phone conversation. But instead of going on into the kitchen I went back to my room and waited a while before venturing back out. When I returned to the kitchen mom was off the phone and nowhere in sight. After checking that dad was busy in his office I picked up the phone and called Aunt Catharine.

"Hello?" Aunt Catharine answered and from the sound of her voice she had been crying.

"Hi Aunt Catharine. It's me, Simon." I said.

"SIMON!!!!" She bellowed into the phone nearly deafening me in the process.

"Mom and dad don't know I am calling you so I can't talk long." I said with my hand cupped around the receiver to try and keep my voice from traveling into dad's home office.

"I'm so glad you called." She said and then cleared her throat loudly.

"Um, can I ask you something?" I said with trepidation.

She hesitated before answering, "W-well sure you can."

"I know you are my real mom..." I started to say. Aunt Catharine tried to interrupt me but to be completely honest here; I had little desire to talk with her. My only reason for calling was to find out two things and that was all I was willing to talk about with her.

"Stop!" I said forcefully.

I then paused to make sure mom and dad hadn't heard me before I continued.

"I want you to tell me who my real dad is. I know you know."

The phone went deathly quiet; I couldn't even hear her breathing on the other end of the line.

Thinking that maybe we were disconnected or that she might have hung up on me I said, "Aunt Catharine?"

"Simon I don't..." she began but once more I cut her off.

I'm not sure why but I was feeling my blood begin to boil as I said to her, "Listen, if you don't tell me right now then I'm hanging up and never talking to you again! EVER!"

"Ian." she said so softly that at first I wasn't sure I heard her right.

"What?" I asked.

"Ian." She repeated slightly louder this time.

My legs began to tremble and my head was spinning around and around. For a minute there I thought that maybe I was going to pass out.

"Simon did you hear me?" Aunt Catharine asked.

"I heard you." Was all I could think to say back to her at first but then I added, "Are you meaning the same Ian that painted the pictures of Jamie and me that are hanging in my room right now?

She broke down crying again as she blubbered out a wet sounding, "Yes!"

I had to put a hand on my chest to be sure my heart was still beating. I then placed my hand on the counter to support myself.

"Thank you for telling me." I said into the phone.

I took a deep breath before pursuing my second question. "Now I'm going to tell you something and I want you to tell me the truth, ok?" I said in slow definitive words so that I was sure she understood me.

When she didn't respond I took it as her willingness to continue. "I know that when I was little you used to give me some kind of peach flavored booze and some special medicine..." I paused to gauge her reaction. I could still hear her crying into the phone so I knew she was still listening. "... and I guess you must have got caught and I got taken away from you, right?"

I couldn't believe when she answered with a soft but definite, "Yes."

"Aunt Catharine..." I began to go in for the kill except she interrupted me by asking, "Can't you please call me mommy?"

Wow! Talk about mad! I mean, right then I could have ripped a house in half with my bare hands, that's how mad I was. But there was no way I was going to let her sidetrack me from my intended goal.

"Aunt Catharine!" I said forcefully and I could hear her breakdown and sob even louder. "I know what the medicine was and I know that you weren't the only one giving it to their sons. But what I don't know is how you got it."

For a long time I just listened to her weeping and blowing her nose. I was starting to get impatient and worried that at any second mom or dad could appear in the kitchen and I'd be busted but finally Aunt Catharine spoke. What she told me both frightened and unnerved me.

What I had thought was something that had been limited to Peter, Jasper, Lowell and I turned out to be much, much, much larger. Aunt Catharine spilled her guts to me; she told me that in a nationwide FBI sting more then one hundred parents had been arrested and the boys that had been given the "MEDICINE", who's ages ranged from as young as one year old and as old as twenty-three, had been removed from their parents custody. It had even gotten into the news but authorities managed to keep it small and within a short time it wasn't given any major public attention.

Aunt Catharine told me a lot more about it all, details that aren't really all that important however what she wasn't telling me was were she got it so I pressed her for that extra bit of information.

"I saw an ad in a magazine. I sent away for more info and before long I received the elixir along with dosing instructions." She said.

"Instructions on how to keep your little boy a little boy forever?" I asked.

That particular question she didn't answer but she didn't have to, I already knew that was the intended result.

"Aunt Catharine?" I said softly into the phone.

"Yes?" she sniffled.

"Thanks for telling me and..." I hesitated, "for what it's worth, thanks for giving birth to me."

"Simon?" she said quickly. I guess she knew I was about to end the phone call.

"Yeah?" I answered.

"I'm sorry and I love you." She said.

Completely ignoring the `I love you' I responded, "Don't be sorry." I said emotionlessly, "I'm not."

And then I hung up the phone.

It wouldn't be until the day that Lowell, Jamie and I were heading for the Banachelli, that I would find out I should not have said that last bit because somehow Tom Segal had overheard it. I just don't know how he did but he did and he also guessed right that I was up to something. Those few words had put Tom on high alert.


The next morning I got up, got showered, slipped on a GoodNite and got myself dressed. All night long I had been dreaming about what I wanted to do that day. So when I got up I had it in my head that I was going to go confront my real dad. I went out into the kitchen where I found mom frying eggs and turkey bacon.

"Hi Mom," I said.

"Hi sweaty," she said back.

"Mom can I see if I can go over to Jamie's today?" I asked.

She dropped the spatula on the floor and I knew that my question had caught her off guard. We both knew that my real father lives in the same building as Jamie and his mom, however mom had no idea that I knew.

"Gee-whiz mom!" I said when she dropped the spatula.

"I-I must have butter on my hands." She said but I knew she had dropped it because I'd shocked the heck out of her with my question.

"Maybe you should just stay home today." She tried weakly to sway me.

"Please mom? I just want to go hangout with my brother!" I said trying to make her feel guilty enough to let me go.

"If Marsha says that it's ok. But don't go running all through the building. You stay in their apartment.

I pounced on the phone before she had even stopped talking. It rang three times before Jamie answered it.

"Hello?" Jamie said.

"Yo-Yo-Yo what's up bro?" I said trying to sound gangster.

"Hey Simon!" Jamie said as he recognized my voice.

"Can I come over?" I asked.

Now the last time I talked with Jamie and Lowell we had agreed that we probably wouldn't talk again until we met up to go back to the Banachelli. So I wasn't surprised at Jamie's reaction to my call.

"Oh my god! Why? What's going on?" Jamie asked really fast just like Lowell does when he's had too much caffeine.

I couldn't come right out and tell him that I was delaying our departure `cause mom was right there, so instead I said to him; "Since when do I have to have a reason to stop what I am doing to spend time with my favorite brother?"

"Oh crap something did happen! Do you need me to call Lowell or have you already done that?" he was speaking even faster then before.

"Uh, you want to ask your mom?" I said.

Without removing the phone from his mouth he screamed, "MOM CAN SIMON COME OVER?"

I had been smart enough to pull the phone away from my ear so that he wouldn't deafen me. He and Lowell both have a bad habit of doing that.

Jamie then said, "She said yes. How are you getting here?"

"Oh," I grunted into the phone then covering the mouth piece I asked, "Mom can you give me a ride?" But dad walked into kitchen right then and swatted me on my diapered bottom.

"To where?" he asked.

"To Jamie's." I answered.

"When?" dad asked.

"Soon as I get done eating breakfast and talk one of you into taking me over." I said remembering to display my best salesman smile.

"I can drop you on the way to work." Dad said.

"But honey your work is in the opposite direction." Mom said to him.

"Normally yes, but I've a 9:00 AM meeting with Drake Philips and Andy Cohog downtown.

I removed my hand from the receiver and told Jamie the good news.


"Yeah," he answered back.

"Dad's going to bring me on his way to a meeting." I said.

"How sooooon?" Jamie asked with a bit of an impatient whine.

Right when Jamie asked that question I felt my bowels release.

"Ah man!" I griped aloud.

"What?" Jamie asked.

"Nothing," I sighed, "I'm going to eat breakfast but first I have to get one of my parents," I started to say kind of loudly so that they would get the hint, "to change me."

Jamie laughed because he figured out what I'd done.

"So I'll see you in say an hour?" Jamie asked still giggling.

"Yeah that sounds about right but hopefully sooner." I said, "See you then bro."

"Ok, but do you need me to call Lowell or not?"

"Yeah that sounds good to me!" I said trying to be covert.

"Ok and do I need to be worried?" he asked and then said, "Cause I am!"

"It's all good! Talk to you in a few!" I said.

"I gotcha. Bye `til later!" he said before hanging up.

"Come on," mom said tugging on the front of my shirt as I was hanging up the phone.

We were halfway down the hallway when we heard dad offer up the suggestion, "Honey, why don't you just take him out back and hose him off?"

"You're not funny dad!" I shouted back.

Mom had me cleaned up within a matter of minutes but she wouldn't let me just put on a pair of GoodNites again. She insisted on putting me into a regular disposable diaper with plastic pants. I wasn't really in the mood to argue with her so I let her have her way.

"HONEY THE EGGS ARE BURNING!" dad shouted from the kitchen.

She let the elastic of my plastic pants snap against my belly as she stood up and ran from my room.

"Ouch that hurt!" I complained but she hadn't heard me.

Since I had to wear a regular diaper I couldn't put on the same pants because they wouldn't fit over the diaper. It was too bad because I was wearing a cool white button up shirt that looked cool with my black jeans. So instead I had to wear my normal blue jeans which meant I had to change my black socks `cause I wasn't about to wear black socks and black shoes with blue jeans.

"Boy I can't wait to get back on board the Banachelli so that I don't have to worry about these dang clothes anymore!" I said absent-mindedly.

It was a good thing that mom had already returned to the kitchen otherwise I was sure that I would have just blown the whole dang plan right out of the water.

I woofed down my eggs and toast but no matter how much they tried, they couldn't get me to eat the turkey bacon. I did try a bit but it tasted like bacon flavored cardboard and I spit it back onto my plate. In record time I gulped down my O.J. before going to the sink and downing a glass of water too.

"Wow, you thirsty or something?" mom asked.

I let go a wimpy little burp.

"Not now I ain't." I said trying to be cute.


You know, to this very day the security guard in Jamie's apartment building dislikes me. I mean every stinking time I go in there he makes a face as if he's got diaper gravy on his upper lip. So why should that particular visit be any different. I walked into the lobby, gave the guard a friendly wave with my middle finger before running for the elevator.

I didn't even get a chance to knock on the door to Jamie's apartment. I lifted my hand to knock and like magic the door opened.

"Well it's about time you came to see me!" Marsha said pulling me into a big welcoming hug.

"Why do you smell like bananas?" I asked her.

"What no hello? How are you? I missed you? I'll take anything!" she said holding me at arms length.

I smiled up at her and said in my worst British accent, "Jolly good morning my dear lady? It's ah divine daaarling morning, isn't it? Oh and one does hope that you've bin well and that little tike of yours hasn't bin getting intoh toohh much trouble."

She gave my ear a twist and said, "Cheeky monkey!" to which I couldn't help but laugh. She then got a serious look on her face and said, "And if I ever hear of you flipping someone off again I will break both of those fingers off!"

She flicked the end of my nose with her long fingernail to drive her message home.

"You mean that dork downstairs told on me?" I asked without thinking.

"You heard me young man!" she said twisting my ear once more just for good measure.

"OK, I'm sorry!" I said to her and that seemed to placate her `cause she retreated to the kitchen.

Jamie came out of his room and greeted me with a hearty, "DUDE!"

And I returned the greeting with my own, "DUDE!"

Jamie grinned mischievously then motioned to his room and said, "DUDE?"

I didn't want to go to his room; I wanted to go to Ian's apartment so I thumbed over my shoulder toward the door and said, "Nah, Dude!"

Jamie then shrugged his shoulders and looking puzzled asked, "Dude?"

Stomping my foot and motioning over my shoulder with my thumb again I said, "DUUUUUDE!?!?"

Jamie shrugged again, and shouted, "Mom we're going over to Becky's for a bit."

"OK!" she called from the kitchen.

Once out in the hallway Jamie nudged my arm, held out his hands and asked, "Dude?"

"Alright, that's getting old!" I said giving him a shove.

"Well then what's up?" he asked.

"You think Ian's awake yet?" I asked.

"Uh, I've not seen him for a few days. He said he had a big piece to do for some place out west or something." Jamie offered.

He then asked, "Why?"

Ignoring his question I asked, "Can we go see if he's up?"

"I don't even know if he's home." Jamie shrugged, "And besides I want to know what is going on! Are we still going tomorrow night or not?"

"I'm not sure yet but maybe, just maybe, we might need to post pone our trip for a few days." I said while trying not to look Jamie in the eyes.

"Why? What's going on?" he asked.

I kicked at a bit of fuzz on the floor as I said, "I have something that I still have to take care of before we can leave."

Jamie put his hands on his hips and impatiently said, "And I suppose you can't tell me what that is?"

"Well I could, but I don't want too." I said truthfully.

"Can you at least tell me why you want to see Ian so much?" Jamie was still standing there looking irritated with me.

"I just do, alright!" I said stomping my foot like some little brat kid about to throw a temper tantrum.

Jamie must have been in the mood to argue because he countered with, "But what if he isn't home?"

"There's only one way to find out!" I said walking down toward Ian's apartment door.

"So come on, tell me why you want to see him so bad." Jamie said again.

"Uh, I can't tell you... well, not yet. I mean, if I do then I am going to have to kill you and," I paused for dramatic effect before saying, "let's face it, I've grown rather fond of you my dear fruit of my father's loins."

Jamie grabbed my sleeve and pulled me to a stop. "Simon? What are you up to?"

I yanked my arm free, "I really hate when you start acting like dad."

"Don't avoid the question!" Jamie said grabbing my sleeve again.

"Anyone ever tell you that you can be really bossy?" I asked him.

And before he had a chance to let the question absorb into his brain I spun myself around, caught hold of his arm and twisted it behind his back in a chicken wing. He was just tensing up to try and counter my move when I leaned forward and gave him a big, wet, sloppy, puppy-dog kiss right on his cheek. I'm talking about a really sloppy one that even went into his ear.

"Ah sick!" He groaned and jerked his arm out of my grip.

He started wiping his face with the front of his t-shirt which left his nude belly exposed. While he wasn't looking I threw myself at him, wrapped my arms firmly around his butt and locked my fingers together.

He only had time to say, "Simon NO!" before I gave him a belly raspberry so big and loud that it sounded like some big fat man had cut the cheese in the hall. The raspberry on his belly had the intended effect. Jamie squealed because it tickled so much and right before I let him go I took hold of the sides of his pants and with a single yank they were down around his knees. That left him standing there with his diaper fully exposed. Granted there wasn't anyone else around but that didn't matter to him.

"SIMON!" Jamie griped and turned twenty shades of red as he struggled to pull his pants back up over his obviously drenched diaper.

"You are so incredibly dead!" he said still fumbling with his pants.

I took off running down the hallway as fast as my legs could carry me and I reached Ian's apartment door a whole twenty seconds before Jamie had even started after me. Frantically I knocked on the door and to my surprise it swung open all by itself.

What I saw struck me dumb. Even when Jamie ran up to me and punched me in the arm I didn't react. That is when he saw it too.

Stretched from the extreme left wall about ten feet from where we were standing all the way around Ian's apartment and ending at the extreme right wall was an eight foot high canvas. The canvas seemed to just be floating then we both saw that it was actually hung from a thin wire; kind of like a curtain. But what Jamie and I were looking at was no curtain. It was the biggest, most elaborate painting I've ever seen.

"Ian?" Jamie called in a high nervous sounding voice.

"That you Jamie?" came Ian's familiar voice from, uh, nowhere.

"Ian, where are you?" Jamie asked.

Ian's head suddenly appeared from behind the canvas to my left. When he emerged he said at a completely normal level, "BOO!"

Jamie and I both screamed and Jamie jumped a good foot in the air. I guess he hadn't got his pants back on all the way because when he jumped they fell to his ankles again.

"Ian what is this... uh... wow, I don't know what to call it." Jamie said with a queer sort of chuckle as he hoisted up his pants again.

"Holy buckets of green diaper gravy! How long have you been working on that?" I said as Ian fully emerged from behind the canvas.

"Come on in here boys!" Ian said pulling us both into his apartment, "This side took me a week; well, seven and a half days, but the other side I should be done with later today, or tomorrow at the latest."

Ian then thrust a triumphant fist into the air, "Which will mean that the whole project will have taken me about twelve days!"

"H-H-How?" Jamie stammered as the two of us stepped further into Ian's apartment and rotated our heads like a couple of owls to take in the full view of his magnificent achievement.

"How what?" Ian asked.

"Huh?" Jamie grunted. I don't even think Jamie knew what he was saying.

"Ian this is... is..." I tried to say.

"Big?" Ian offered with a humorous rumble.

"I was thinking more like amazing, stupendous, mammoth, breathtaking even!" I proclaimed while spreading my arms to demonstrate the majesty of it all.

"So you like it then?" Ian asked sarcastically.

"Wow!" Jamie puffed, "Would you look at that!"

He then pointed to the silhouette of a man standing on what appeared to be Mount Rushmore. What was so amazing was that even in silhouette it was clear that he was totally in the buff and very much a man; if you get my meaning.

That is when I realized that every single person on the canvas, and I mean there were dozens if not hundreds in all shapes and sizes, that had been painted completely and absolutely without clothing.

Jamie suddenly made a horror stricken sound and screeched, "Hey wait a second, is that? Oh my god it is!"

Ian tried to cover Jamie's eyes, "Maybe you shouldn't be seeing that."

But Jamie spun away and the look of distress and mortification of having just seen the nude image of his mom was evident on his face.

"Ian? You painted my mom n-n-n?!" Jamie couldn't bring himself to say it and I watched as his face turned as red as an apple.

"Well she offered to pose for me." Ian said rather flamboyantly, "Besides, how could I refuse?"

Jamie spun around and shot daggers from his eyes, "Easy! You just say no!"

"But then I wouldn't have that beautiful part of the painting!" Ian said still gazing lovingly at Marsha's likeness.

"But Ian, it's my mom!" Jamie cried out and turned back toward the canvas, "And she's... she's... Oh you have to put some clothes on her or cover her with a cloud or a building or something!" Jamie pleaded and then he spotted something else that pushed him into complete hysterics.

"OH MY GOD I CAN SEE MY MOM'S CRACK!" Jamie's voice filled every inch of the apartment and caused the walls to reverberate. "IAN I CAN SEE MY MOM'S CRACK! I-I-I DON'T WANT THE WHOLE WORLD LOOKING AT MY MOM'S CRACK!"

"I don't know; I kind of like her just the way she is." I said staring up at her.

"SIMON!" Jamie huffed while trying to cover my eyes, "Stop looking at my mom's crack like that!"

I pushed his hands away and said, "Ian this is stellar!"

"I hope my client thinks so." Ian said putting down the brush that, I hadn't noticed, he had been holding.

That is when I looked into Ian's eyes and saw how tired and old he looked.

"Whoa, how long has it been since you slept?" I asked Ian.

Jamie stepped back to get a better look at Ian and added, "Yeah, you do look pretty bad!"

"Gee thanks!" Ian sort of snickered. "Think I've had all of about three hours of sleep since I started this. And I think when it is done I'm going to sleep for a month!" he then gave a flick of his wrist as he added, "Maybe even two!"

Without really thinking about it I did the math in my head, "You've hardly slept for nearly two weeks?" I said astonished that someone could go so long on so little sleep.

Ian reached back and rubbed at his neck, "Hey when there's two-hundred-thousand dollars riding on me completing this on time I'd plit myself in half if I thought it would help me get done faster."

"Two-hundred-thousand dollars?" Jamie and I simultaneously blasted back at him.

What Ian said next made me snort with laughter and nearly made Jamie's head explode. "Well you know some people are willing to pay big bucks to get a look at Marsha's fanny."

Jamie stood there with his mouth hanging open and his eyes bulging from their sockets. I bet that if a feather had brushed against Jamie's face right then he would have fell over backward like a stone statue.

Ian placed a hand over his mouth as he let slip a quiet little giggle. I on the other hand had to bite my bottom lip and cover my mouth with both hands just to keep from laughing.

"That isn't funny!" Jamie protested.

I quickly came back with, "I think it was the funniest thing I've heard all day!" Oddly enough, within minutes I would be forced to eat those words.

Ian stepped around us, picked up a coffee cup and chugged the contents before saying, "It's the biggest commission of my life."

"Biggest painting too!" I added.

Ian quickly countered with, "No, I've done bigger!"

"You have?" I gasped.

"Well not nearly this fast!" Ian surrendered.

"Can we see the other side too?" Jamie asked.

"Sure, sure!" Ian said motioning for us to go around the same way he had emerged minutes before.

"How long is it?" I asked.

"A hundred and seven feet." Ian answered.

"Does that count both sides?" Jamie asked.

"Nah, that's just the over-all length." Ian said.

"So you've painted two-hundred and fourteen feet in less then two weeks?" I asked.

"Pretty close!" Ian said running his fingers threw his paint encrusted hair, "Like I said I hope to finish it sometime tomorrow."

All of a sudden I started feeling guilty. I had come over to confront Ian about being my real dad but seeing how bad he looked right then and knowing what he had to get done if he was going to get paid? Well I didn't think I had it in me to dump what I was carrying onto his already over burden shoulders.

"Oh yeah Simon, why did you want to see Ian so badly?" Jamie asked.

"Grrrrr!" I growled only loud enough for Jamie to hear. I could have slugged him for saying that but instead I tried to play it off by saying, "Ah, it can wait. Ian's got too much to do. He doesn't need us hanging around bugging him."

"Actually, I'd love to have someone to talk with while I work." Ian said.

"You would?" I asked awkwardly.

"Only if you do one thing." Jamie said drolly.

"What's that?" asked Ian.

"Take ten minutes away from painting to shower!" Jamie said, while pinching his nose closed for added effect.

Ian lifted his arm and sniffed his own pit. "Oh yeah, that's funky!"

"Yeah tell me about it!" Jamie said waiving his hand in front of his face to ward off the stench.

Ian pulled his arms back like he was about to take off running a marathon, lifted one leg into the air and announced, "And away we go!" He then race-walked into the bathroom like some kind of midday corporate jogger.

"That one is about three diapers short of a nursery." Jamie said while twirling his finger around the side of his head.

"What?" I squawked, "Dude, you are getting weirder everyday. You know that, right?"

Jamie shrugged his shoulders. "Ah your one to talk!" he said pointing at the front of my pants.

"Son of a..." I started to say when I saw the wet spot, "You know something? It wouldn't matter if I was wearing twenty layers of diapers and ten pairs of plastic pants, I'd still manage to have a leak!"

"Hey guys?" Ian called from inside the bathroom.

"Yo?" Jamie called back.

"I'm just spit-balling here and feel free to say no, but what would you two think if I asked you to pose for me?" Ian asked.

"WHAT?" I shouted so loud and so high that even Jamie cupped his hands over his ears.

"Well, just think about it!" Ian shouted out to us.

Jamie gave me a shove. "Come on! Let's do it!" he said.

"ARE YOU COMPLETELY MENTAL?" I was talking loud enough that I'm sure those living in the next galaxy over could hear me. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW CREEPY THAT IS?"

Yeah I was wigging out but come on, wouldn't you freak out if the man you had just learned was your father asked to paint a nude portrait of you?

"Come on Simon! It will be fun!" Jamie said.


"What are you talking about?" Jamie asked with his voice growing louder too. "Who said anything about your dad painting you?"

From the bathroom there came the sound of glass smashing and something heavy hitting the floor. Jamie and I ran to Ian's bathroom where we found him lying on the floor unconscious with shards of broken mirror all over the place. In a flash Jamie ran from Ian's apartment only to return seconds later with his mom.

"He was going to take a shower and then we heard him fall." Jamie shouted.

"Simon get back before you get cut!" Marsha said pushing me aside.

"Is he alright?" I asked.

"Ian?" Marsha said patting his face.

"Wh-what happened?" Ian asked groggily.

Ian then grabbed his head, "Oh no," he said looking right at me, "Simon are you ok?"

"Me? I'm not the one that took a dive in the bathroom!" I exclaimed.

"Do you want to try to sit up?" Marsha asked him.

"Yeah," Ian answered.

"Be careful, there is glass everywhere." Marsha warned.

Marsha and I had Ian sitting in a big overstuffed leather chair while Jamie ran back to their apartment to get the First Aid Kit. However it wasn't needed. Once Ian was seated in the chair Marsha gave him a quick check and except for a knob on his forehead he was fine.

"Would you believe that is the third time I've fallen today?" Ian said.

"I told you that you were pushing yourself too hard." Marsha scolded him.

"Mom I don't think he needs lectured right now." Jamie said and boy the look she shot Jamie was sure cold but it seemed to do the trick because Jamie didn't say anything else for a while.

Despite Marsha's repeated attempts to get Ian to go to bed for a while he refused, insisting that he had to finish the painting first. Amazingly though, when Marsha tried to get us to leave Ian so that he could work in peace Ian said, "Maybe they should stick around for a while. I mean to keep an eye on me."

Marsha surrendered, threw up her hands and started storming out of the apartment but Jamie called after her.

"Mom wait!" he said.

Marsha turned and Jamie then said, "Y-you got to tell Ian that he has to paint something to hide your c-c-c..." I thought it was funny that Jamie couldn't bring himself to say `crack' in front of his mom.

"You're crack!" I said for him and he gave me a dirty look.

I thought Marsha was going to swallow her tongue. "What on earth are you talking about?"

"Mom he's going to send this for the whole world to see! You can't let strangers see your c-c-c..." Jamie faltered on that word again and again I said it for him. "CRACK!"

Jamie turned and shouted at me, "STOP SAYING THAT!"

"Why?" Marsha asked looking around the edge of the canvas at her portrait. "I think I look really good!"

"Moooooooooooom!" Jamie whined, "Pllleeeaaaasssssee!"

But there was no use; Jamie was fighting a loosing battle.

Marsha wasn't gone ten seconds before Ian clapped his hands and said, "Right then, back to work!"

I couldn't help but wonder if he hadn't actually heard what I had said before. I was sure he had but I was hoping, no praying, that he hadn't!

Ian picked up a brush, waved it around in the air mysteriously, flipped it in the air and caught it.

"Jamie, do me a favor and get some ice." Ian said.

"Ice? Uh, right! I'll get some ice." Jamie said already moving toward the end of the painting.

Jamie stopped momentarily to ask, "Uh, are you going to paint with ice?"

Ian did a half groan and half whine, "It's for my head." He said as he rubbed the bump that had formed when he'd head-butted the mirror.

"Oh yeah right. Uh, want it in a bag or a towel or something?" Jamie asked.

I couldn't see the expression Ian gave Jamie but whatever it was Jamie gave a goofy grin in return and disappeared on the other side of the canvas.

"Are you really ok?" I asked.

After a moments thought he said, "Honestly Simon, I've been better."

Jamie returned in quick order with a dish towel wrapper around several cubes of ice. As Ian pressed it to his head he let out a whimpering sigh.

All three of us just stood there for what seemed like ages. No one spoke, no one moved, we just stood there staring; Ian at the blank area left on the canvas while Jamie and I stared at Ian.

"Uh, don't you think it would go faster if you used paint?" Jamie said sarcastically.

"Odd thing," Ian said in a gravely voice.

"What's that?" I asked.

Again Ian stood there staring for several more minutes before he shrugged his shoulders, tossed the towel of ice to Jamie and said, "That's that then!"

"What's what?" I asked.

Ian looked at me and asked, "What's what, what?"

"Uh, maybe we should go get Marsha again." I tried whispering to Jamie.

"What?" Ian said again and then quickly raising his eyebrows in what we took to be understanding he said, "No! Do you think? Nah I'll be fine!"

Jamie and I gave each other worried glances.

"Really, don't worry about me! I'm..." but Ian didn't finish what he was saying. Instead he picked up a brush in one hand, an enormous paint board with his other and began painting again.

After another minute or so Jamie quietly slipped behind the canvas again. At first I thought he was going to go get his mom but he returned too quickly and I figured out that he was just getting rid of the ice and towel.

I sat down in the leather chair that Ian had been sitting in and Jamie came over to join me.

"Mad, isn't he?" Jamie whispered.

"I think he's so tired that he doesn't even realize that he's tired." I said.

When Jamie then looked me in the eyes I was sure he was going to ask me about what I had said before, about Ian being my dad but he didn't. Instead he smiled and said, "You've got paint on your face."

Instinctively I reached up to wipe off my cheek. "Must have got it there when we were helping him up from the floor." I said.

The two of us sat there watching Ian for a good hour before Ian stepped back from the canvas and looked at us.

"So, what do you think?" Ian asked.

"About what?" Jamie said looking at the unfinished area that Ian had been working on.

Ian cocked his hip and tapped his shoe, "Will the two of you model for me?" he asked point blank.

Jamie jumped up, "Yeah!"

But I didn't jump; I didn't even budge an inch. I only shook my head and softly said, "I don't want to."

Ian looked hurt, "Why not?"

"Because I don't want to get naked." I said so fast that the words sort of ran together.

Ian laughed; I mean really laughed.

"No, no, no, no!" he was still laughing, "I didn't mean that I wanted you two to be nude models!"

"But," I motioned to all the other people in the painting, "everyone else is naked."

"No they're not!" Jamie said pointing to a woman and a small girl sitting on top of the Chrysler building wearing Tarzan style loin cloth bikinis.

"I was thinking I could paint the two of you in your diapers." He said pointing at Jamie with the butt end of his brush.

I was amazed that Jamie didn't blush, not even a little bit but I sure did. My ears felt like flames were shooting out of them. I even imagined little whiffs of steam rising from the top of my burning head.

"In our diapers?" I squeaked.

"Sure, why not!" Jamie said already pulling his shirt over his head and kicking his shoes off. His left shoe only missed another of Ian's paintings on the wall by about a foot.

"But perhaps you two should go home and get changed into dry diapers?" Ian suggested and I knew that he could see the wet spot on my pants from where my diaper had sprung a leak.

I was from top to bottom quaking with apprehension but Jamie was bound and determined that we were going to do it. Jamie pulled his shirt back on but left his shoes off. Then grabbing me by the arm he dragged me out of Ian's, down the hall and into his apartment. Of course we didn't say anything to Marsha about posing only in our diapers. It wasn't really something intentional that we didn't say anything to her; it was just because neither of us thought to tell her.

Back in Ian's I asked, "Um, can I keep my t-shirt on?"

"Simon," Jamie whined, "just take it off!"

Reluctantly I pulled it off and for the first time Ian got to see the healing scars on my back.

"Son of a bitch!" Ian cussed.

"Holy hell!" he cussed again and I felt like I wanted to run and hide.

"Simon I... Oh god I am just so very sorry! I..." his voice cracked, "I heard about it but..." but he wasn't able to finish. He had tears welling up in his eyes and his chest was heaving with each labored breath he took.

"It's cool!" Jamie said now realizing why I was so apprehensive about removing my shirt.

"Sorry, I kind of forgot." He said to me.

It took Ian a few minutes to pull himself together.

I guess after about an hour posing for Ian I started to feel a lot more comfortable. Mostly because Ian kept making us laugh. He was acting a lot more normal and even seemed more awake. Ian had Jamie and me posing on skateboards for nearly two hours. And then he announced, "I think... Yes, I do think it's done!"

"Us or the whole painting?" Jamie asked.

"Both!" Ian said putting down his paints and brushes and smiling bigger than I'd ever seen anyone smile.

"Can we move now?" I asked.

"Oh yes. Come, have a look." He said.

Jamie and I ran over to the area of the huge painting where Ian had been painting our likenesses onto the canvas.

"Whoa! Would you look at that!" I exclaimed.

"That is so amazing!" Jamie said in an excited whisper.

"Why are you whispering?" Ian asked Jamie in his own whispered voice.

"I don't know." Jamie whispered and giggled.

"Wow look! You even did the scar on my cheek." I said.

"And they look just like us!" Jamie added.

"Do me a favor and go get your mom! We need to celebrate!" Ian told Jamie.

"Don't you want to get some sleep?" Jamie asked.

"Sleep? I couldn't sleep right now if I took three bottles of sleeping pills." Ian said with wide open eyes.

Jamie left the two of us alone again and god help me I opened my mouth and said, "You're my real dad aren't you?"

There it was; hanging in the air like a floating fireball of death. My words had seemed to stop time. Ian was standing there with one hand resting on the top of his head and the other pointing to the canvas. He wasn't moving, wasn't talking, and wasn't breathing.

And then in a still soft voice he said, "Yes," and that was all that was said about it because then Jamie came running back into the room pulling his mom in behind him.

When she saw the likeness of Jamie and me she gushed; "Oh Ian they look so precious! And I can't believe you are actually done! Oh you must be so proud!"

Ian didn't look at her when he responded. Instead he looked right at me, gave me a small smile and said, "I am so proud." And I knew he was talking about me and not his painting.

Marsha cooked up a quick celebration lunch while Ian cleaned up and called his client to say that he was finished with the painting.

"They're sending someone over day after tomorrow to roll it up and ship it out." Ian said hanging up the phone. He then began to cry and it wasn't tears of sorrow but of joy and stress and relief and exhaustion.

The funny thing was that half way through lunch Ian was laughing and telling us about this other piece he had painted a few years ago when he suddenly went quiet, his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell face first into his plate. At first all three of us panicked but Marsha checked and said with a bit of a nervous chuckle, "He's only sleeping."

It took all three of us to get Ian from the table to the sofa where we left him to sleep in peace.


Chapter - 34

Jokes on me

I ended up sleeping over at Jamie's that night and once Ian had got a little bit of sleep and had sent his painting off he and I had time to really talk. The two of us sat alone in his apartment and he explained to me that the woman I know as Aunt Catharine used to be a very near and dear friend of his. They had been friends since school and when she decided that she wanted a baby she had asked Ian to be the father. At first he had refused because he's not attracted to women at all; he confessed that much to me, but then she suggested that he just donate the sperm. He told me that she had tried for nearly a year before finally getting pregnant but the first pregnancy had ended prematurely. However the second pregnancy worked and that is why I am here now.

His exact words to me were, "The second pregnancy worked better then she could have expected and nine months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and girl."

"GIRL?" I wanted to scream but an asthma attack struck out of the blue. It was a bad one too and I didn't have one of my inhalers with me at the time. It just hadn't occurred to me to bring one when I came over to Jamie's. I guess I had too much on my mind to remember.

I tried to calm myself down but those words kept replying louder and louder in my head "Gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and girl. Gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and girl."

I felt Ian lift me into his arms and could see his face but I couldn't hear anything. Ian ran from his apartment, down the hallway and into Jamie's apartment but Marsha wasn't in. She had left Jamie and me home alone while she went to the store with instructions that if we needed anything to go get Ian. As soon as she left for the store I left Jamie playing on his computer while I went to visit with Ian and that is why I was over at his place when I had my asthma attack.

Jamie later told me that Ian burst into their apartment screaming his name, "JAMIE! JAMIE! SOMETHING'S WRONG WITH SIMON!"

When Jamie came flying out of his room he wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing, not even a diaper. He was completely nude and sporting a raging erection. Of course he didn't confess that part too willingly but I have my ways of making Jamie talk to me when he doesn't want to.

The instant Jamie saw what was going on he raced back into his room. He remembered that I had left one of my inhalers at his place a long time ago. After fetching it from his nightstand drawer he raced back to the couch where Ian had deposited me.

I guess Ian was freaking out seeing me like that but Jamie was used to it and knew how to help me. Very soon he had helped me past that asthma attack but I was tired and spent. Then I remembered what had triggered the attack and I sat forward with Jamie holding tightly to my arm.

"What do you mean a girl?" I asked and it surprised me how angry my words sounded.

Ian looked nervous, scared even as he mopped at the back of his neck with a large pink handkerchief. "Simon I am so very sorry, I was only joking. We were being so serious that I thought we needed to laugh."

A tear ran down Ian's face, "I never meant to upset you like I did."

I sat stone faced staring at Ian for a full minute before the corners of my mouth curled up and I burst into laughter. Of course Jamie was clueless about what the two of us were talking about but I don't think he really cared because he was too busy worrying about me.

Talk about timing, Jamie had asked Ian to help him get diapered; the two had just come back out of Jamie's room and sat down with me when Marsha came home. I can only imagine how that might have looked had she come home and found Jamie completely nude sitting beside Ian and me. Of course nothing bad was happening but it still might have looked really bad to Marsha.

When she walked in Jamie told her that I had another asthma attack and then she suggested that maybe I needed to go home and rest.

When Ian was leaving to return to his apartment he bent over, kissed my forehead ever so softly and whispered something but I couldn't make out what he said. As he walked out the door I knew it would be the last time I would see him since Jamie, Lowell and I would be leaving for the Banachelli very soon.

Marsha had called my parents to let them know I had the attack and they came to pick me up. When Marsha told me that she had called she said something else that hit me just the same as if she had struck me across the face with her hand.

"Besides, you both need to get a good nights sleep for the start of school tomorrow."


Yes, I was leaving from Jamie's on the afternoon before school was scheduled to begin. Due to allowing myself the time I needed to confront Aunt Catharine and Ian I had pushed our departure to the point that the three of us, Jamie, Lowell and I were going to have to endure going back to school for at least a few days. It couldn't be helped. I knew if I tried to rush things then we might mess up and ruin our chance to make it back to the ship.

Even before mom and dad had got me home I had drifted off to sleep in the van and dad had to carry me into the house and put me to bed. I didn't wake up until suppertime thus that night, the night before having to go back to school, I was so wound up that I couldn't sleep. After trying to get to sleep for a couple of hours I finally gave it up and went to my computer to do more journaling.

At first I even had a hard time getting my mind to settle down enough to allow me to focus on writing but eventually my brain surrendered to my will and the memories came flooding out of my fingers and into my computer.


Chapter - 35

Who'll cry for the Amazon?

As one of Miss-M's chosen ones, many of the other kids aboard the Banachelli, even some that used to be buddy-buddy with me, started to shun me. If truth be told, I hadn't fully expected that part of it and even if I was expecting it, I wasn't prepared for just how much it would hurt. I don't think anyone ever enjoys feeling rejected, but I felt that what I was doing was for the greater good.

There were a few boys, which stayed close to my side, including everyone in my cabin room. Well I did have some opposition from Lowell at first. He had strongly objected to my sudden change of sides, but when I explained to him and our bunkmates what I was doing, they embraced me wholeheartedly! I think Lowell took a bit too much enjoyment from stabbing me in the back with the occasional `Traitor' or `Benedict Simon'. It was all in fun and don't think for a second that I didn't get my jabs in too. I guess that is why Lowell and I make such good friends; we can play like that and know that we're only messing with each other.

Within days of joining myself to Miss-M's side, my bunkmates and I started working behind the scenes to disrupt Miss-M's plans as best we could. Actually, that was our second priority. Our first priority, our Prime Directive if you will, was to not be caught.

We even got Fyer, Cho and Sister Sarafina to help us quite a bit. Basically, Fyer was the brains of our little rebellion, while Cho acted as our eyes and ears. Then there was Sister Sarafina, who did her level best to keep us from crossing the line and doing something, which we all might later regret.

Everything was going great, until the day, when a single mistake caused everything to turn against us. We had returned from a third successful mission of sinking the boats, that we'd just spent the better part of the day loading up with the subliminal CD's and DVD's and frankly it had got a bit dodgy, when Jamie was nearly sucked under with the last boat. You see, Miss-M had figured out that instead of bringing the Banachelli into port and risking being seen, she would have smaller boats come out to the ship to receive our mind altering CD's and DVD's. Because of this, it made it easy for us boys to stop any more of the CD's and DVD's from ever making it onto land. When we would have the boats fully loaded, under the cover of darkness, one or two of us would stow away on each boat. Then, when we were far enough away from the Banachelli for anyone to notice, we would knock a hole in the bottom of the boat. While the boats sank to the bottom of the sea, we would quietly swim back to our own ship.

Let me tell you, on that particularly fateful night we were all on a serious adrenaline high. As I think back on what happened next, and I think about it a lot, I can't believe how monumentally stupid I was. I guess, I have to give Lowell some of the blame too, but it was mostly my fault. It was a simple, stupid mistake, which could have been easily avoided if we would have just kept our heads together and not let our emotions take over. However, it wasn't; I messed up and I paid the price.

Lowell and I were on deck first. We were slipping back on our diapers, which we had left hidden by the railing, while the other boys were still climbing up the rope.

"Hey you two! Stop right there!" a voice shouted from across the deck.

I instantly realized my mistake. This had been the first mission that Lowell had joined Jamie, Micky, Jonathan, Peter and I on, and well, I had managed to forget to tell Lowell to turn off his flashlight. After the excitement of watching those boats sink and nearly loosing Jamie, I had forgot to keep my wits about me. Lowell's mind must have been elsewhere too, because now that we were back on the Banachelli, he didn't even need it; there was enough light spilling out of the random windows and open hatches to see well enough at night. So there I was, looking all sorts of stupid, having jumped right into the fire yet again.

Thankfully, the other guys had the presence of mind to climb back down the rope. I found out later, that they had swung over to an open porthole two decks down and climbed in that way. Lowell and I weren't so fortunate; we'd been caught dead to rights.

Amazingly, Lowell put his hand against my plastic armor covered chest and pushed me behind him. "I will take care of this!" Lowell whispered to me, "And please don't open your big mouth this time!"

In a different place and time I would have taken offence at his off-handed slam against my character, but let's face it, I do tend to open my mouth at the most inopportune moments.

As I said, it was dark but not so dark that we couldn't see, that walking toward us, was a brawny looking figure. It wasn't until he was less then twenty feet away that I could make out who it was...

"Oh crap! It's Runt!" I whispered to Lowell.

Lowell was amazing! There we were, looking down the throat of a bloodthirsty shark named Runt and Lowell managed to crack a joke.

"I would, but I'm afraid I've already soiled myself!"

Runt strode up to us with gleeful madness in his eyes. Lowell stood his ground, saying, "Buzz off! We were just having a swim!"

Runt didn't stop. He blew past Lowell, knocking him out of the way, as if he was nothing more than a stuffed toy. Lowell hit the deck hard and slid about ten feet before he stopped.

As Runt strode toward me, I was like a deer, caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi tractor. I didn't even know I was moving until I backed into the side rail. There was no place to go! Runt grabbed me by the front of my plastic armor just below my neck and, with a strength that can only be birthed from anger and hate, he lifted me up until I was on my tippy-toes. However, the Velcro straps that held my armor in place had become frayed and loose with repeated use, so they didn't hold my weight. With a rip, my armor tore away from my body. Having not been expecting it I fell flat on my diapered butt with a squish.

I had only just regained my senses, when I was again seized around the neck and dead lifted until my feet dangled. In essence, I was being hung to death as Runts fingers squeezed my throat.

"I knew you were up to something!" he seethed and I saw, that in his left hand was some kind of, odd looking, single binocular thing. He jammed it against my right eye so hard, I thought my eyeball was going to be driven through the back of my skull. Instantly I knew what it was. I'd seen enough war movies to recognize the green view one gets with night vision goggles. Only it wasn't just for seeing at night up close, but far away too.

Lowell had got to his feet, blood gushing from his nose, and tried to inject himself between the two of us by saying, "Let him go! We were only swimming Runt!"

Runt looked at Lowell and said, "You expect me to buy that load of diaper gravy?"

Runt held my throat tighter, as he pulled me away from the railing and directly under one of the upper deck lights. By now, several more boys that we knew were loyal to Miss-M, had heard the commotion and started coming up from the lower decks.

Bless Lowell, he didn't give up easily. "Let him go you overgrown chimp!" and he punched Runt right in the sweet spot.

Runt must have really been worked up, because all he did was wince and moan slightly before dropping the night vision thing, so that he could shove Lowell down again.

"Someone grab that little brat!" Runt shouted.

Instantly, Lowell was jumped and wrestled to his knees by two other boys. Whatever was going to happen to me, Lowell couldn't stop it now.

When Runt released his grip on my throat, he didn't just let me drop. With strength that can only come from true hatred, he threw me to the deck. I hit hard, rolled head-over-heals backwards once, and then amazing I pop right back to my feet again. Runt seemed surprised by this action; I know I sure was!

Up to that point, things had happened so fast, that I hadn't really noticed that the whole time Runt had been holding my throat, I hadn't been able to breathe. Now that I was free of his grip, I gasped like a fish out of water for air but none came in.

As I clawed at my neck in panic, I honestly remember hearing the words inside my head, "No, no! Don't have an asthma attack now!"

I think I might have fallen to one knee, but I am not too sure about that. I do however, remember hearing Lowell scream my name once, or was it twice. Then a voice spoke inside of my head and it wasn't the normal voice of my consciousness. This voice was unmistakably my brothers. At the instant that I needed Jamie the most, he had appeared within the recesses of my mind. As he had done so many times before, Jamie's voice spoke softly but deliberately telling me to calm down and allow the air to come. Of course, that would have been much easier to do if I didn't have Runt stalking me like some wild, bloodthirsty beast. Jamie's voice kept echoing within my skull until I felt a tiny sip of air seep in.

That one sip of air was like watching a hundred Fourth-of-July-firework-displays, all going off at one time. Just getting that one wisp of air was sufficient to get me to calm down enough to once again breathe. Granted I was only breathing in shallow, raspy and painful gasps, but I've said it before and I will continue to say it... beggars can't be choosers!

I'm not sure what I was thinking. Actually, I don't believe I was thinking; I was in a deadly situation, where instinct takes over. Of course there was no way I was going to attempt to fight him. I'd been down that road before and came out on the loosing end. There was also the option of running; I've been told that I am fairly good at that too. However, running wasn't going to happen either, because we were quickly surrounded by more of Madam-M's loyal followers.

Now that I think about it, where could I have run to, that they wouldn't eventfully find me? The Banachelli might be big, but it isn't so big, that I could have remained hidden indefinitely. Then again, my brother pulled it off.

My mind began scream out desperate questions such as; "Where were my friends? For that matter, where the heck is Jamie when I needed him?"

I was trapped inside a circle of angry looking boys, with a very big and very angry guy, who would like nothing better, then to rip me apart and feed me to the sharks.

I shot Lowell a quick glance to see that he was still being held by two of the other boys, with a third holding a knife up to Lowell's throat. I later learned that the boys were all from the White Lab. Until that night, I hadn't ever seen any of their faces; but after that night I will also never forget what any of them look like. Their skin looked gray-white, as if a ray of sunlight hadn't touched their baby soft skin ever in their lives. Yeah they were small but they must have been strong, because as much as Lowell was struggling, he still couldn't get away from them. Lowell looked at me with desperation in his eyes. I knew he wanted to help me but it was hopeless for both of us.

I looked back at Runt. He was less then ten feet away from me, and when our eyes locked onto one another, he smiled. Let me say that again... he smiled as if to say, "You're mine now!"

However, Runt didn't attack me; at least not right then. Because at that very second, there was a loud sound that drew everyone's attention. Whatever made that sound could not have been human. I'm telling you that it was the scariest sound I ever heard in my life and when I heard it, I'm sure that I wasn't the only one that wet himself. I hadn't known I'd done so at the time, but then again, peeing on myself was the least of my worries.

Everyone looked up into the air in different directions to try to see what had made the sound. I had looked up too, but thankfully, I hadn't taken both eyes off Runt.

Runt had taken advantage of the distraction to lunge at me. My entire body tensed in preparation for the impact, but it didn't happen. One second Runt was diving toward me and a second later, he was doing a midair back flip before landing on his butt. None of us saw what knocked him down. Well, I can really only speak for Lowell and myself, because I never got the chance to ask the other boys if they saw who or what it was.

Most everyone on deck stood there, staring at Runt, who was staring up into the night sky. He looked visibly stunned, but not hurt.

Then we started to hear it again, except this time it was coming from directly behind Runt and in front of me. It wasn't until after Jamie swung down and kicked Runt right in the face that I saw, it was my own brother that had taken Runt down. He was doing one of his Tarzan rope rescues again.

However, he should have quit while he was ahead because when he came swinging in for a third blow, he was stopped dead in mid-swing. Miss-M had appeared on deck and clothes lined Jamie with a massive chop, which sent him crashing to the wooden deck board. When he hit, his body made a sickening solid thud, rolled a few times and then he didn't move again.

Two of the other boys had rushed me and were holding me too, while Runt staggered to his feet. He began telling Miss-M about the three boats he'd watched us sink. Remarkably, Miss-M didn't appear to be mad; well let me rephrase that... seeing her reaction was what I imagine it would look like to peer into the eyes of Satan himself, powerful and dreadful.

When she spoke my name, it sounded as though she were going to crying. She put a trembling hand up to her quivering lips.

"Simon, why?"

When I didn't answer, Miss-M turned back toward Runt and in that sickeningly sweet tone she uses she said, "Runt darling, I do believe that one," she jabbed a finger in the direction of Jamie's motionless body, "has made you bleed."

With a single finger, she wiped the blood from Runts ear and stuck it into his mouth. That sick jock actually sucked on her finger like it was some dudes penis.

"If I remember right," while looking down on Jamie, who was still lying lifeless on the deck of the ship, Miss-M started to say, "I told that one if he ever crossed me I'd..." she didn't finish her thought.

Leaning in close to Runt, she gave him a peck on the cheek and whispered, "Be a deer and get rid of him."

Runt moved so fast that I hadn't realized what he was doing until he had Jamie's limp body hoisted over his head.

"NNNNOOOOOOO!!!!" I screamed and struggled to get free, as I realized that Runt was about to throw my brother overboard. I knew that if Jamie wasn't dead already, he would be within seconds of hitting that water.

If I ever doubted Tater, what he did next removed any lack of faith I had in him. From out of the darkness, Tater had blindsided Runt and tackled him to the floor. Though Jamie's body hit the deck hard for a second time, at least he hadn't ended up in the water. The two of them began rolling around on the floor with fists flying. However, Tater never had a chance, because Miss-M came to Runts rescue once more. I'd seen her kick someone a few times now, so I wasn't surprised when she kicked Tater, but this time she kicked him harder then I'd ever seen her kick someone before. Tater's body flew across the ship and had the railing not been there I am sure Tater would be dead right now; as it was, Tater was down for the count.

In those few seconds that Tater had been on top of Runt, pounding his face, something else had happened. At first, I hadn't realized what I was seeing. I saw Tater's younger brother Mikey reaching low from behind one of the boys, that had been aiding Runt before, and pulling Jamie down below deck. Had it been during the day, Mikey never would have gotten away with it, but thankfully it was the middle of the night and he had the advantage of shadows.

Really, the fight was over before it started. When Miss-M had kicked Tater, she'd broken several ribs; boy, I know how that is! When Runt got back up his nose was crooked and blood was gushing out like water from a faucet. He was also bleeding from both ears now and was missing at least one tooth. I looked back to Tater; he was laying there in the fetal position with his big diapered butt resembling a giant marshmallow. Once more it occurred to me that I was on my own again, or so I thought.




Everyone turned toward the noise, me included. There stood Fyer with an iron skillet in one hand and a dented saucepan in the other. At his feet lay three of the White Lab boys, knocked out cold.


Down went the two boys holding Lowell, with the last boy no longer gray-white faced, but now oozing crimson from his nose and mouth. His face also seemed a little flatter then it use to be.

The boy that had been holding the knife to Lowell's throat had stepped back out of the way of Fyers' pans of death. That meant Lowell was finally free to fight back and boy did he!

Lowell gave the boy with the knife a solid uppercut to the chin that sounded like a tree limb being snapped in half. Lowell then kneed him so hard in the jewels, that even I felt it. The boy with the knife fell backward and his knife went flying over the side of the ship.

Fyer then asked me a silly question; "Is it bad that it felt so good doing that?"

Oh man was I glad to see him, but let's face it; he might be a giant, trapped in a dwarf's body, but even he was no match for the Amazonian Warrior a.k.a. Madam-M. then again, Fyer wasn't some dumb jock either.

Madam-M had started after Fyer and for a second I feared for his life, but then Fyer bellowed, "Get her boys!"

From every direction came the diaper clad boys of the Banachelli and leading the way was one of my bunkmates, Micky and right beside him was Sister Sarafina. Every last one of the boys were wielding weapons more deadly then guns or knives; they all clutched soiled diapers and used them with deadly accuracy.

As for Sister Serafina? Allow me to share a very important piece of wisdom with you. If you ever find yourself up against an angry Jamaican Nun ... RUN! Between the Sister and Micky they had taken down half a dozen boys before any of them knew that they were in danger.

Then Micky launched himself at Madam-M. With cat like agility, he went on the attack.

"WAY TO GO MICKY!" I cheered, as he jumped on Madam-M's back and began pounding her in the head with a poop-encrusted diaper.

For all of forty-seconds, it looked like Miss-M and her plans to turn all the boys of the world into diaper wearing, diaper wetting boys, was over but then something happened to turn the tables on our little mutiny.

Suddenly, the ship lurched heavily to the starboard side and then, just as suddenly, it lurched to the portside. No one moved and no one breathed, as the ship seemed to hang in time just before jumping forward, as though a great hand had reached down and gave the Banachelli a healthy push from behind. The sudden forward momentum was so strong, that no one was left standing except for Madam-M and me; and the only reason I hadn't fallen down was because I had one arm wrapped around Madam-M's neck and was banging her in the head with the pan Fyer had been using before.

With a singe motion, she reached behind her head, pulled me off her and dropped me flat on my back. If I had been able to breathe before, I wasn't after crashing to the deck, at least not right away. By the time I caught my breath and got to my feet, the ship had picked up a lot of speed.

"Maelstrom!" Madam-M shouted as loud as a foghorn and though every pair of eyes was on her, not one of us understood what on earth she had said.

However, no one had to ask what she said, because she had pointed toward the bow of the ship and like clockwork, every head turned in that direction. We all saw it, but I don't think anyone could believe or even understood what it was they were looking at.

What we saw drained the fight out of everyone; black clouds were stretched across the sky and a charcoal-gray curtain of rain, that looked more like a wall than rain. However, it wasn't the rain that Madam-M had been pointing at but what was happening at the surface of the ocean.

Just as she had done when the Banachelli found itself at the mercy of Hurricane Katrina, Madam-M took charge, barking out orders to anyone, as though the mutiny had never happened. Seconds before we had been divided, now we were one crew again, because we had to be or we would all die!

"It looks to be at least two miles wide!" someone shouted, but I couldn't tell whom it was because of everyone else shouting to one another.

"Simon! If you're not going to help then get below!" Madam-M shouted loud enough to be heard over the crowd.

I took a shallow breath, because that's all my lungs were able to take in. I then shrugged my shoulders while looking around. Madam-M pointed at the forward mast. I gave her the thumbs up and took off to help get the sail down before we entered the storm and were caught in the vortex of the massive maelstrom.

Now, I remember from science class that maelstroms, though quite rare, do occur and typically ones, like we were facing, only happen in the rarest of rare circumstances. Ones on the magnitude that we were witnessing are almost always a result of an earth quake down on the ocean floor, which causes the earth crust to open and the oceans water to spin down, like water down a bathtub drain.

"EVERYBODY STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND GRAB ON TO SOMETHING SOLID... NOW!" Madam-M yelled over the roars of the water and the creaking of the ship, "HANG ON, WE'RE GOING IN!"

So, how do you get a ship as big as the Banachelli out of a two-mile wide maelstrom? Well, it involves a lot of spinning, round and round and round, and it also involves a lot of barfing and I do mean A LOT of barfing!

"Peter, Jonathan!" Miss-M's voice rose above all other sounds, "Get those hatches closed now!"

The ship was rising and falling with such violence that it was nearly impossible for anyone to remain standing for very long. In addition, if we weren't holding on to something, we would have surely been thrown from the ship. As it was, before we would get out of that storm, we would loose three from our crew.

Miss-M continued to shout out orders, "Abe, when you finish with that help those boys!"

"Simon, lash that down!"

"Allen, Tyler, stop fooling around with that and help them get that other sail tied down."

"Timmy, you fall on your butt once more and I'll have it for dinner tonight!"


For several hours, our ship was buffeted and tossed about in the maelstrom before fortune began to favor us. With a bone jarring snap, the ship was expelled from the whirling vortex. With all of our sails down and everyone hurt or sick, there was little any of us could do but to hang on, until the ship slowed enough.

I couldn't believe when I got to my feet and saw that throughout the entire ordeal Miss-M had not once lost her footing. She looked about as green as someone could be without actually barfing, but otherwise she was still standing strong.


She didn't allow any time at all for anyone to regain their composure before barking out new orders.

"Runt, Runt! Get to your feet and hold Simon!" she said.

I was still coughing up some seawater that I had swallowed and Runt had me in a headlock before I even knew what Miss-M had said.

"Tate? Tate where are you?" Miss-M shouted.

Someone else, I don't know who, spoke softly. "I-I think he was blown overboard." It wasn't until later that I saw that he hadn't been blown overboard.

"Get off me!" I growled at Runt, but it was useless. His arms constricted around my head so tightly that I couldn't think for the pain.

The next thing I knew, I was lashed to the forward mast, which had snapped off in the storm and now was a measly ten foot tall fractured pole. I can only guess that Runt had squeezed my head so much, that I had passed out. Because when I came too, tied to the broken forward mast, my mind was swimming and my eyes had gone all blurry as I saw, that most of those boys, as well as Sister Sarafina and Fyer, were tied at the feet and hands and were looking directly at me.

"Turn around and bend over," Runt said with a devilish grin, reminding me briefly of that lunatic in the movie, The Red Dragon.

I looked at the ropes that held me to the mast and saw that there was slack so that I was tethered to the mast but still had enough rope to move much like a dog on a short leash.

I looked at Runt and saw that in his right hand he held tightly the handle of a long leather whip. He was no longer bleeding and it looked as if he had even been put into a fresh diaper. I then looked around and saw that everyone else was in dry diapers too, everyone except for me; I was completely naked.

"Turn around and bend over!" Runt said again, though this time there was mounting anger in his words.

I scanned the crowed and found Lowell, Jamie and Micky, all hog-tied and lying on the deck, looking at me with tears flooding from their eyes as they watched.

This time when Runt spoke, he did so through clenched teeth, "I said turn around!" and I felt the first lash of the whip, as it struck my left shoulder.

Instinctively I turned away and dropped to my knees to try to protect myself, but all I had really done was to expose my bare back to Runt. I can remember wishing that my mother would suddenly come bursting onto the scene shouting, `Stop! How dare you do that to my son!', but she didn't. All I heard was Madam-M's dreadful high-pitched voice behind me screeching, "This one's the worst of the bunch! Make sure you lay into him good and hard!"

Runt did just as he was told. He stood back and took a firm posture with his legs shoulder-width apart. He raised his arm high above his head, and as he brought it down, it made a loud swishing sound, just like in the movies. I remember thinking how melodious it sounded and then there was a crack like a gun shot as it struck my back. At first, I felt absolutely nothing at all. I had just enough time to wonder, if he had missed me. However, then a fraction of a second later, the burning sting that spread across my back was so terrific, that all I could do was gasp. I gave a great gushing gasp that emptied my lungs of every ounce of air that was in them. It felt like someone had pored molten iron over my flesh.

I seemed to lift about a foot into the air and yelled, "Ow-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w!" and straighten up like I was trying to stretch myself in half at the waist.

"Harder!" shrieked Madam-M from across the deck.

I was told that she was bouncing up and down on her tiptoes like a ballerina.

"Lay it into him!" she was yelling, as though thoroughly enjoying my pain.

"Let him have it! Open him up like a gutted fish!"

"Hold on!" I heard one of the other boys warn me.

One boy later recounted, "I could hardly believe what I was seeing. It was like some awful movie scene. The whipping was bad enough, and being made to watch it was even worse, but with that black..." a racial slur was used to describe Madam-M, "...egging him on, the whole thing seemed like a horribly choreographed nightmare!


The second stroke landed. I was thrown forward so violently that, had there not been the mast right there, I think I would have fallen flat on my face. As it was, I was able to keep my balance.

I was told that my scream was unearthly.

"Harder! Harder! Harder!" She would order, "Make it sting! Tickle him good and proper! Warm him up! Go on; warm him up my sweet love!"

I stood there, wishing I wasn't there, as she kept up her cheering all the way through, exhorting Runt to greater and still greater efforts. The awful thing was, he seemed to be responding to her cheers. He was like an athlete, who is spurred on by the shouts of the crowd in the stands. Whether this was true or not, I was sure of one thing, he wasn't weakening.


The third stroke was worse then the first two and this was mainly because Runt was able, so it seemed, to land the third stroke almost exactly across the narrow line, where one of the previous ones had struck. It is bad enough when it lands on fresh skin, but when it comes down on bruised and wounded flesh, the agony is unbelievable.

I lost track of how many lashes I had been given, and by the time the last stroke was delivered, my entire back seemed to be going up in flames. Even after Runt had stopped, it still felt like he was striking me over and over and over.

Far away in the distance, I heard Runt saying, "Now that was fun!"

Someone came over, cut my ropes, then lifted me to my feet and forced me to limp across the deck. I fell hard into the arms of the spectators, a cackling sound echoing in my ears, and then I heard the acidic voice of Madam-M saying, "I am much obliged to you, my sweet-sweet boy, very much obliged. I don't think we will have anymore trouble from now on."

My eyes and face were wet with tears and everybody stared at me. My back hurt when I so much as dared to take a breath. With just the slightest of movements, my vision would be overpowered with pain, like flashes of lightning.

I honestly don't remember anything between that time and later that evening. Lowell told me, that when they tried to get me to come eat, I just moaned like an angry sleeping bear. After supper, Sister Sarafina came to our room to fetch me. She had seen that I wasn't at supper. I heard a horrified gasp from Sister Sarafina behind me.

"What's this?" she gasped. "What's happened to you?" she was staring at my bleeding back. I myself had not inspected it in the bathroom mirrors up to then, but when I twisted my head around and stole a corner of my eye glance, I saw the scarlet stripes and the deep blue bruising in between.

"Who-who-who did this?" Sister Sarafina cried. "Tell me at once!"

I was confused. I thought I had seen her on deck just before Runt had whipped me, but I guess I had only imaged it. In the end, I had to tell her the whole story, while my bunkmates stood around in their dry diapers, listening with bulging eyed and filling in the bits that I didn't know.

Sister Sarafina listened in silence. She asked no questions and just took in the story. When I had finished, she said to the other boys, "You get into bed. I'll be back."

If I had had the slightest idea of what she was going to do next, I would have tried to stop her. However, I hadn't and I didn't. She marched out of the room, down the hall, up the staircase to, what we boys had nicknamed, `The Queen's Deck', where Madam-M had taken up residence. A couple of the guys followed her at a distance and reported back, that she was walking very quickly, with her head held high and her body erect, and by the look of her, the guys figured that Madam-M was in for a hard time.

About an hour later, Sister Sarafina returned and came in to kiss us all goodnight. The entire time she had been gone, I had been worried sick for her and feared the worst. When she bent down to kiss me, I whispered to her, "I wish you hadn't gone to her!"

She kissed me a second time. "They don't beat animals like that where I come from, let alone small boys," she said. "I won't stand for it!"

"What did Madam-M say to you, Sister Sarafina?" Lowell asked from Micky's bed, where he and Micky were sitting up looking over at me. Micky had told Lowell to sleep in his bed with him, so as not to risk hurting me more. Although, I would have liked to have had Lowell beside me to comfort me, but I was too weak to offer any protest.

"She told me I was a foreigner and I don't understand how ships are run," the Sister said with a scowl.

Now all the guys were sitting up in their beds. Tyler asked, "Did she g'mean wit' y'?"

"Very mean," she said. "She told me, that if I don't like her methods, she would be more than happy to put me off the ship." Of course, we all knew that Madam-M meant that she would throw Sister Sarafina overboard.

"What did you say?" Jonathan asked with a sniffle.

"I didn't say anything," she said, "She ordered me to `Get out!' and I did."

"Does that mean you'll be leaving us?" Timmy asked.

"Not a chance in... well, let's just leave it at no. How about that?" she said with a smile so sweet, that just seeing it, nearly threw us all into diabetic commas.


Thanks to Sister Sarafina's help I was on the mend quickly, but not quick enough for me. Only a few days passed before I couldn't stand lying on that cot for another minute.

No one else was around when I got up and I'm glad, because that meant that no one was around to hear me crying and screaming as the scabbed flesh on my back flexed, stretched and tore.

I got to my feet and felt so sick that I puked right there in our cabin room. After I got sick, I realized that aside from the bandages that were held to my back with straps of cloth that wrapped around my chest, stomach and shoulders, I was also wearing only a triple thick diaper.

The first couple of steps I took hurt a lot, but each step was easier then the one before. I stopped in the bathroom and splashed water on my face, before continuing my trek. I had one thing and one thing only, on my mind. I was done playing and I wanted to go home.

My first stop was Madam-M's office, but no one was there. I rummaged around the office, looking for something, anything I could use to defend myself. What I found, was a small silver gun with pearl set into the handle.

Now, if I were any kind of real storybook or movie hero, I would have known to check if the gun was loaded, but that never occurred to me.

I made my way to the steep steps, which lead to the deck and climbed them. The pain I felt was excruciating, but I had the strength of pure, unrefined hate burning within me.

Standing on the deck of the ship, I saw Runt about twenty feet away from me with his back to me. All the way at the front of the ship, I saw Madam-M who was overseeing the installation of a new forward mast.

No one saw me, no one seemed to even know I was anywhere around. Then Runt turned slowly. His eyes fell on me and the gun that I was pointing directly at him.

Runt screamed, "MISS-M!!!" and those were the last words he ever spoke.

Madam-M could be heard screaming, "SIMON NO!"

I heard her enormous feet pounding the deck board toward me like a charging bull-elephant. I closed my eyes, squeezed the trigger and BANG!

When I opened my eyes again, I saw Runt teetering and then falling backward over the side rail.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Madam-M shrieked as she ran to the railing.

They say that when you kill someone for the first time, a part of you dies too, but I don't believe that. I don't believe that a part of me died when Runt died. What I believe is, that in that brief instant, as I watched Runt fall backward over the rail, as the last essence of his life left his body, black, evil worms came into being within my stomach, heart and brain; worms that ate at my flesh from within, devouring me bit by bit.

Something else happened when I fired that gun; it was as if I had just awakened every boy on the ship from some sort of evil spell. I later learned that, as they all watched Runt whip me, almost every last boy that use to believe in Madam-M swore to themselves, that they wouldn't follow her any more.

Like a tidal wave of diaper-clad boys, Madam-M was rushed and overpowered. Dozens of diapered boys were able to do, what no ten men could have done. They brought down the Amazonian! And though she shrieked and screamed, she couldn't escape.

Once Madam-M's hands and feet were firmly bound, every boy turned to me.

"What now Simon?" one of them asked me.

They were looking to me for direction, but I had nothing for them. I had expended every bit of strength just to get myself to that point. There was nothing left, no reserves to dip into, not even one last second wind to catch. I collapsed to my knees. Had someone not caught me by the arms, I am sure I would have crumpled to the deck.

"My brother and Lowell, where are they?" I managed to ask.

"Sister Sarafina is caring for them both." Timmy said and I looked to my right to see him holding firmly onto my right arm and beaming at me.

"And Fyer?" I asked.

"Right here boy!" came Fyer's gravely voice.

"By god what happened!" he said and for the first time I saw that Fyer looked like I felt. His left eye was completely swollen shut and his left arm was hanging in a sling that hung from around his neck.

"You boys do that?" he asked looking at Madam-M who was laying face down on the deck hogtied and gagged.

"What? Where's her monkey?" Fyer asked spinning around to find Runt.

"He's gone." I murmured.

Fyer saw that I wasn't doing so well and he ordered the boys, "Find the white lab boys and bring them here. And find that other monkey of hers."

After helping to lower me down onto my stomach, Fyer then sat down on the floor next to me.

"It's alright boy, I gotcha." he said, as he patted the side of my head.

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew, Fyer was shouting to have Madam-M and the others who were still loyal to her thrown overboard.

Now, I wish I could say that I sprang to my feet but the best I could muster was to cry out, "STOP!" as I hoisted my aching body up ever so slowly.

Jonathan and Micky both ran to help me, but I yelled at then, "No, leave me alone! I can do it!"

All eyes were on me as I staggered but no matter how much it hurt, I was able to stand. Lowell and Jamie, who both looked bruised and beaten, came on deck and I looked to them both, then called for Micky.

"Micky," I said putting a hand on his shoulder to steady myself, "Have the gang drop one of the small dinghies in the water."

I stopped talking long enough to lick my lip, "Put Madam-M and anyone that wants to go with her in it."

"No!" Fyer argued but I snapped at him, "Fyer, if you don't like what I say, then by God, you are welcome to join them!"

I don't know where that came from and for sure it didn't sound like it had come from my mouth, but it must have because with that, Fyer stopped voicing his objections.

The look Madam-M gave me as I walked up to her was one of complete and utter hatred.

"You killed my sweet Runt!" she hissed and then spat on me.

"For what it's worth, I wanted to kill you too." I said and turned my back on her.

I then turned to Tater, who was also bound and gagged. With tears now in my eyes, I asked him, "Do you want to go with her or go home?"

One of the other boys removed Tate's diaper gag to allow him to answer me.

"Simon, I just want to get off this effing ship and take my brother home!" Tate said and I didn't miss the fact that instead of cussing he used one of my slang's.

I then looked at Mikey and he nodded his desire to do the same, but there was something more. As I looked into Mikey's eyes it struck me; what I was seeing was that same boy I had helped to the nurses' office so long ago.

The corners of Mikey's mouth turned up ever so slightly.

"Cut them loose and get the rest of them off the ship now." I said to Fyer, who wasn't nice about shoving each of them off the ship and into the dinghy that awaited them below.

One of the other boys then repeated, "You heard Captain Simon! Get them off his ship!"

"My ship?" I thought, "When did I ever say that it was my ship?" but I was too sore, to tired and just to fed up with the whole experience to care one way or the other.

The dinghy was allowed to drift behind the ship as far as the rope would let it go. I then went up to Fyer, took the butchers knife from out of his belt and with a single slice the rope parted with a snap. I stood and watched as Madam-M and the boys, who were all still bound, drifted further and further away until they couldn't be seen anymore.

Lowell then walked up to me, put a hand on my shoulder and asked, "What now?"

Fyer came up next with Jamie leaning heavily on him and several other boys crowded around to hear what I had to say next.

I wanted to run to Jamie and throw myself onto him, but I didn't. Instead, I settled for a momentary glance between him and me, and then I softly spoke, "First, I say we celebrate!"

The entire deck of the ship erupted with cheers. "And then we set sail for home." And again, everyone cheered and chanted, "Hooray for Captain Simon! Hooray for Captain Simon!"

The party that proceeded was the biggest and most joyous I can ever remember. Even those of us that were hurt had joined in. It was funny to watch Fyer dance with both, Cho and Sister Sarafina. But after a time, I drifted away from the festivities in search of Tate and Mikey and Vera too, who somehow had missed the battle.

I found Tate and Mikey in, what had been Runt's Cabin room. They were ripping down every painting, every picture and throwing everything out the small round portside window, which had previously been hid behind one of the paintings.

They both stopped when they saw me standing in the doorway and Tater looked at me.

"You don't mind, do you?" he asked.

I didn't answer, but walked into the room, picked up the painting that I had painted with Runt, tucked it under my arm and headed back out.

Just before I left I turned back around and said, "Don't leave anything else of his on this ship!" and I left them to their work.

However, I wasn't but about ten feet away when Mikey came running out of the room. When I turned around, he threw himself around my neck and said, "Thanks Simon!"

When he finally let me go I said, "Listen, no matter what, you and me are friends and friends look out for one another."

With that said, Mikey ran back into help his older brother and I continued searching for Vera. It took nearly an hour of searching the ship, before I found her. She was lying behind one of the generators down below and lying there with her was a full litter of newborn kittens.

She spotted me instantly and let go a soft tired meow. In that one cat word, I knew she was asking for my help. So many times Vera had saved me and now she needed my help. With strength I didn't know I had in reserve, I ran all the way to Sister Sarafina and brought her to Vera.

After a while the Sister turned to me and said, "Simon, she's old and giving birth has taken a lot out of her."

"No!" I snapped at Sister Sarafina, but she only frowned and embraced me.

Vera didn't die then, but she also didn't get any better and I made her a promise. Petting her head I said, "All you have to do is stay here and stay alive and I will get you back home." And that is just what I did.

Chapter -- 36

Let's go home

With help from Fyer and Sister Sarafina, we managed to find our way back to the Gulf of Mexico although it took us a while. I didn't find out until after I was home again, that all over the news people all up and down the Mississippi River had been reporting sightings of an enormous ghost ship that could only be seen by the light of the moon flying a black pirate's flag. During the day, we would hide the ship so that no one could see us.

How do you hide a ship as big as the Banachelli? Well, all I am going to tell you is that it isn't an easy thing to do, but Fyer managed to find a most ingenious method. It's so incredibly simple, that even someone as addlebrained as myself could have come up with it, but even still it is nearly fool proof in its design.

By only moving the ship at night and hiding by day, we were able to sail that ship right up the Mississippi to the Ohio River and then up the Great Miami. We stopped only because the great ship couldn't go any farther, but that didn't matter, because we were close enough that we could walk the remainder of the way.

During our voyage home, I found out that nearly half of the boy's aboard the Banachelli didn't have homes and the Banachelli was all the home they ever knew or could remember having. Finally, on my last night aboard the Banachelli, while sitting in the office, which had since been stripped of all its finer things, Sister Sarafina, Fyer, Jamie, Lowell and I decided that we would help those that wanted to go home and then return to the Banachelli to care for those that didn't have anywhere else to go.

The following morning, 57 boys in total, plus a nun, a midget and a crippled girl walked off the Banachelli. In my arms was Vera, while her kittens were carried by my closest friends.

I had only made one demand of all of us boys that were leaving the ship that day. I'm not entirely sure why, but I wanted us all looking our best. Each of us cleaned up and got diapered, before we dressed in our gray uniforms. What I hadn't expected was that every other boy aboard the Banachelli did the same thing, so that they looked their best while seeing the rest of us off. Even though I knew that I would be seeing the lot of them again, it was still an emotional goodbye.

We walked to a local public soccer park, where Fyer made a phone call and within minutes dozen's of police, FBI agents and God knows who else, swarmed onto the park. During the insanity that followed, thirteen of us boys slipped away with Fyer, Cho and Sister Sarafina.

We didn't get away cleanly, but we did get away. You see, someone I thought was dead had followed us out of the park. With Vera in my arms barely purring and a kitten in the arms of several of the other boys, we made our way across town to a small dead-end street, which I had only ever been too once before.

The house looked exactly as it had the last time I'd been to it, which had been the day I had hid inside from a man in an old rusted out van. Slowly, I alone stepped up onto the porch and knocked on the door. When the door opened, a very old, much wrinkled man stood there, looking out at us with wonder in his eyes.

"Mr. Peterson," I said, "I brought Vera home."

When the man spoke, "Vera?" the cat perked up its ears and her mangy, bottlebrush tail flipped once.

"She saved my life!" I said, fighting against the lump in my throat.

The old man reached out with his thin, leathery hands and took Vera from me. Vera purred loudly for a moment, rubbed her head against the man's hand and then she closed her eyes and died.

None of us said a word as the man stepped out of his house and walked around the side. We all followed in silent, single file to his back yard, where we buried the bravest, and most amazing cat I'd ever known.


Once Vera was buried, the man that had followed us from the park made himself known with just the clearing of his throat. It was a good thing he hadn't meant us any harm, because when the lot of us heard him, every last one of us rounded on him with the idea of defending ourselves. However, we didn't have to fight.

"No wait! Everyone stop!" Lowell said.

I stepped out from the middle of everyone and up to a heavily scared man, who was missing an eye.

"Tom? Tom Segal?" I mouthed in utter disbelief.

Tom held out his arms as if to say, "Ta-Da!"

"But how?" Fyer gasped in amazement, but Tom didn't get to say anything. He was blindsided by Lowell and Jamie, who had launched themselves at Tom.

"TOM'S ALIVE!" they both shouted.

"Boys please! Yes I am alive, but I won't be for much longer if you don't stop squeezing me so tight!" Tom said with an agonizing chuckle.

I turned around and looked at my dear friends, without who I surely wouldn't have survived that ordeal. Then I turned to Tom and asked, "Can you make sure they all get home safe?"

Tom smiled as he leaned against the tree. "I was sure hoping you would say that!"

When he smiled, it made his scared face look much scarier than it did without the smile.

"Thomas you old dog!" Fyer said and for the first time ever, I saw a side of Fyer I'd never seen.

Fyer walked up to Tom Segal and the two of them shook hands like two old war buddies.

In a choked voice, Fyer said to him, "You saved my life!"

"I was just returning the favor." Tom said with a wink that I am sure only Fyer understood.

Tom and Fyer then began talking with Mr. Peterson, the Sister and Cho. That made it possible for Jamie, Lowell and I to slip away unnoticed. At least we thought we were unnoticed, but Sister Sarafina had seen and snuck away too. She had guessed what we were up to and wanted to make sure we got safely to where we were going.


On the surface, I was feeling scared, apprehensive and even like I wanted to run away and not do, what I had to do next. However, deep inside, it was something that I wanted and that want was stronger then all my negative emotions.

One last turn and we'd be on my street. I couldn't see my house yet and I took a deep breath, as I walked three steps forward and my street came into view. Seeing the street sign washed all apprehension from my body and I was about to take off running for home, when Sister Sarafina spoke from directly behind us.

"Boys?" she said softly.

The three of us jumped ten feet in the air and Jamie fell flat on his diapered butt.

"Sister Sarafina!" Jamie croaked, "You scared the life out of us!"

She smiled and said, "Well, just tink of it as payback for all da times da tree of you nearly scared me white!"

Though it pained me greatly to do so, I offered Jamie my hand to help him up again.

The Sister continued, "Why don't da tree of you stay home dis time. I tink we can take care of everybody else wit outcha help now."

She reached out and stroked my scared face with the back of her fingers, "You tree been trough so much. Go be happy boy and," she wagged her finger at the three of us, "for the love of God, behave yourselves!"

"No way!" Lowell objected.

Of course Lowell meant, no way would we be staying home, but it sounded like he was saying no way to being good.

However, before the Sister could make an objection of her own, Lowell added, "You know the deal!"

She didn't try to persuade us anymore. With a soft but pronounced sigh she stepped up to us, hugged us in turn and then kissing my face she said, "I love you boys!"

With that, the three of us took off running up the hill toward my house. About half way there, I turned around, waved and shouted, "See you in a few weeks!"

Jamie, Lowell and I were two houses away, when I saw a man walking down the driveway wheeling the trashcan to the curb. I slowed first, which got Jamie and Lowell to slow down behind me. We stood there watching the man that we all knew, but at the same time didn't know. He looked familiar, but different too. We stood motionless, holding our breath and watching him for several seconds.

Maybe he knew he was being watched, maybe he was having that little prickly feeling on the back of his neck that made the hairs stand on end. Whatever it was, he looked directly at the three of us and all at once, the tears came rushing in.

At first no one moved and it was, as though we were all thinking that maybe it wasn't real. Maybe we were just dreaming... dreaming the same dream we'd dreamt about so many times. I was conscious of a pain in my chest, as though a consuming force was growing so big that it threatened to explode out of my chest. My limbs were trembling and the bones in my legs seemed to have turned to rubber. I looked to Lowell and he was holding Jamie's hand so tightly that their fingers were turning white.

I looked back up to the man who still hadn't moved and though broken and barely audible, I called out a single word, "Dad?"

Suddenly my dad exploded into a sprint toward us screaming, and as he reached the place we were standing, he fell to his knees before us. His face was drenched in tears and with a single hand he reached out and touched my chin.

"Simon? Jamie? Lowell?" he said so softly.

We threw ourselves at him and held onto him, as though the only thing that could save us from our all-consuming emotions was his welcoming arms. He stood up and lifted all three of us into the air, repeating our names over and over.

An all too familiar woman's voice was then heard the air, "THEIR HOME!"

I lifted my tear-filled eyes away from my fathers' neck and saw mom running toward us. Dad lowered us to the ground and I took off running for her, with Jamie and Lowell right behind me.

"MOM!" I cried, as she embraced us.

She cried out, "You're here! You're here! You're all finally here!" and then she pushed us away, but still held onto us. She looked into our flooded eyes, as though she needed to be sure we were real, then pulled us close again and hugged us even tighter.

The five of us stood in our neighbor's lawn, sobbing and holding each other. Neighbors were coming out of their homes by the dozens, to see what the commotion outside was. It only took a split second for everyone to realize what was happening... We were home again... and alive.


The days and weeks that followed were crazy at best. Reporters wanting to talk with us, doctors poking us and cops asking tons of questions. The three of us spent that first night in the hospital, but we were together. They tried to split us up, but the nurses and doctors found out real fast, that if they even thought about separating the three of us into different rooms, they would have had a small war on their hands.

The second day Lowell's parents came and took him. That was one of the most difficult moments for me. Then Jamie's mom came and it became impossible for me to keep my emotions in check. At first, Jamie refused to leave me, but after I promised that I would call him the second I got home, he finally surrendered and left with his mom.

I, on the other hand, had to spend another day in the hospital due to the open wounds on my back, which were showing signs of infection. They wanted me to stay longer, but it would have taken every soldier from ever branch of the military to keep me there, so they let me go home, but with tons of antibiotics, swabs, bandages, etc.

At first, I didn't talk about what happened. Because of the scar on my face and the whip marks on my back, everyone knew something really bad had happened, but I wasn't talking and neither were any of the other kids that had left the ship. We had made an agreement and no one broke down and told.

I got a visitor the second day after being home. It was Tom and he came with a couple FBI agents in tow. I made it clear, that I wouldn't say anything as long as the stiffs in the dark suites were around. Therefore, they went out on the porch and left Tom and I alone to talk.

Tom had already talked with Fyer, but there was only so much information he was able to get out of his pint-sized friend. It was obvious that Fyer was more loyal to me then to Tom. Though I told Tom some stuff, there were other things that I just couldn't share and amazingly, he accepted that... to a point.

Tom knew about the drug that Madam-M had been giving us and that for years they had been trying to find out where the supply had been coming from. He said, for the past couple of weeks, since about the time we had taken over the Banachelli, the supplies coming into the United States had completely stopped. The problem was, nearly 500 gallons of the stuff was unaccounted for, as well as nearly 50 million dollars in US cash.

Now you might remember, that before I turned traitor to Miss-M, I had been taken into her every confidence. Well, you see I might have, maybe secretively, taken a map from her office that shows where that stuff is hidden. Though Tom didn't seem too sure, I believe he has guessed that I know where either the stuff is hidden; or at the very least could give him the clues he needs to find it.

So for the most part, I've already wrote about how life was once returning home. Mostly I was kept inside away from other people. That was more my choice then my parents.

About the only time I would venture outside our home would be, to go to the doctor, to see Lowell or Jamie, or to go over to my best friend BJ's house. Of course, I never went anywhere alone and even if I did try to, I always had Tom and his fellow G-men spying me. Then came the day, when BJ's parents came over to invite our family to join them on vacation at a very private beach house.

Boy was I sooooo ready for some serious time away. I had been spending so much time talking with my shrink that I was in need of some down time. The few days I spend with BJ and his family at the beach did more for my mental state, then any amount of therapy could have done.

Before going to the beach, I was having second thoughts about rejoining the Banachelli. I was scared that going back to the Banachelli would only be a return to all the stuff I hated about that ship, but when I returned from the beach I was sooo ready to go back! I was sooo ready for a new adventure and I was glad Jamie and Lowell were going with me too. Or so we three thought.


Chapter -- 37

Dear old golden rule days

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -- Confucius


So like I was saying before, because I had spent extra time getting to know the truth about my birth parents, I had pushed our planned departure date back a week and that meant that Lowell, Jamie and I had to go back to school for an agonizing first week of school.

I have to be honest here. I wasn't looking forward to going back to school. So many at school knew about the basic story of what had happened, because it had been on the news. I didn't want to have to deal with all the questions and having people talking behind my back. However, it wasn't all agonizing. In fact, most of it was enjoyable and things happened a lot different then I had been expecting.

You would have thought that I was going to my first day of kinder garden, because both of my parents insisted on taking me to school and walking me to the front doors of the school. Talk about embarrassing!!!

I walked into school that first morning with my class schedule in my hand, my locker assignment tucked into my shirt pocket and my loins encased in an Attends Youth Diaper. Of course the diaper was hidden under my clothes, but that didn't stop me from thinking that everyone could tell that I was wearing it.

I said a quick goodbye to my parents and then slipped away into the mass of students. At first, hardly anyone recognized me and only a few people seemed to notice the scar on my face. I was about halfway down the hallway, headed to where I thought my locker was, when I felt a large hand grip my left shoulder and heard a very familiar voice behind me.

"Young man, your hair is entirely too long?" I heard Mr. Andy Freeman, our school principle, saying in a clear authoritative voice.

I spun on my heals to face him with a cheerful smirk. "Oh, hello Mr. Principle, sir!" I said with an exaggerated salute.

"Hello Mr. Student!" He said with lots of emphasis on `student'.

He shot me a genuine smile that told me he was really glad to see me back. I don't think he believed that I would show up but I proved him wrong.

Andy Freeman had come to see me at the hospital the day after I had returned. When he saw me sitting, looking forlornly out of my hospital window, he ran to me, fell to his knees and hugged me. He was like the tenth person to do that to me. Yeah, it had hurt a lot, but it also felt good to be hugged, especially by him. Out of every adult figure, I have encountered in my educational career, Andy is by far the one I respect and admire the most.

He and I have a unique relationship. I liken him to Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books, only not as old and with all the emotions and feelings of my favorite character, Professor Hagrid, too. Of course, there is no way I would ever tell Andy that, but then again he probably already knows!

Andy let my sarcastic remark roll right past him without comment or reaction.

"How are you doing?" he asked and I knew he wasn't just asking how I was, but also HOW I WAS!

"I'm actually doing pretty darn good." I said honestly.

"Doing well." He corrected me.

"Yeah, that too." I said distractedly.

I looked around at the other students that were flooding past us, and then put a hand beside my mouth as I whispered, "Kind of scared too."

He smiled again as if to reassure me without using words. I don't know for sure but I think I smiled back at him.

Perhaps he was trying to take my mind off the other students when he asked, "How's the back? Still giving you problems?"

"What? Oh yeah sure, but it's healing slowly. I just need to stop re-hurting myself is all." I said with a grimace.

"I see that you cut your hair some since I last saw you."

I absentmindedly stroked my ponytail, which was lying on my right shoulder, "Oh yeah, mom cut it for me."

"I don't suppose you're planning on getting it cut again anytime soon?" He asked with a queer sort of grin.

"Not likely!" I said too blazingly.

Andy's left eyebrow lifted.

"I'll let it slide on one condition..." Andy started to say.

"Oh yeah?" I said trying to sound tough and cute at the same time. I don't think Andy thought it was so cute at all.

"Provided that you keep it looking as nice as you have it today and keep it out of your eyes..." he paused to scan me from head to toe before finally saying, "I won't say anything about it. BUT!" he really drove home that `but', "If I see it unkempt, oily, or otherwise, then I will take you to the barber myself!"

At first, I didn't know how to take that, but then I decided that it wasn't worth sweating over, so I thrust out my hand for him to shake.

"You have a deal! Let's shake on it!" I said with a flip of my head so that my ponytail flew around behind me and landed on my opposite shoulder.

Before he shook my hand he took hold of my wrist, turned my hand this way and that and looked me coldly in the eye.

"What'd you do that for?" I asked even though I knew full well why he had done it.

"Just making sure you didn't have a hand buzzer." He said mimicking my smirk from earlier.

Trying to act shocked and hurt, I gasped, "Mr. Principle, sir! I would never!"

Andy took hold of my right shoulder, gave me a spin and light shove as he barked in his best principle voice, "Now get your sorry hide to class, before I give you double detentions."

Then he turned to go talk with a group of girls that were giggling loudly just outside the girls bathroom.

I laughed to myself, as I searched and found my locker. However, to get to it, I had to push my way through the crowds of students. I had to try the combination three times, before I got my new locker to open. I was stuffing my backpack in, when someone yanked on my ponytail so hard that they nearly pulled me over backwards.

Oh boy, I now know why girls get so mad when boys do that to them because, dang-it that hurt! I spun around intending to pound someone's head inside out only to find BJ standing there with the goofiest grin spread across his acne cratered face.

"Hiya dork!" he said, faking like he was going to pop me in the stomach.

"Man BJ!" I complained, "You came this close to getting your face rearranged!"

"Oh please, as if a girly boy like you could ever take me!" he joked.

"So why are you bugging me? Don't you need to go find your locker or something?" I was acting like I was still mad but he knew I was only joshing him.

"Uh, that's my locker." He said pointing to the one right next to mine.

"Are you serious?" I asked, "What are the chances of that?"

BJ shrugged and said, "Don't know, but you want to get out of my way Dorkules?"

"Dorkules? That's a good one!" I said with a chuckle, and then in my snootiest impression I added, "I like it! Dorkules? Yes, it creates a perfect mental image of the mythical Hercules wearing taped glasses and a crisp white shirt. Bravo my good man; bravo in deed!"

BJ frowned, "Man you sure know how to suck the life out of a good joke." But his frown cracked and a hint of a smile broke through as he said, "Now would you kindly move? I'd like to get to my locker before the school year ends."

I took a single step back to get out of his way. However, when I stepped back I stepped on someone else's foot.

"Hey!" someone shouted and I spun around to see that I had stepped on a girl's foot. When I looked up, I saw that the foot belonged to my sweet Mary.

"MARY!" I said at the same time she happily exclaimed, "SIMON!"

"I am so sorry! I didn't mean to step on your..." I started to say but then BJ butted in with, "Hi Mary."

"Oh, hi there. I didn't see you." Mary said in that wonderfully sweet way she has about her.

"Yeah well, I can understand when you have Casanova here as your boyfriend." BJ said giving my ponytail another tug.

"By the way, like the new hairdo sweetheart." He said to me as he slammed his locker closed and made a hasty getaway.

I turned back to Mary and saw that she was hanging a sweater in the locker to the right of mine.

"No way! Your locker's to the right of mine and BJ's is right here!" I said putting my hand on his locker door.

"Weird," she said.

Then she did something totally and completely unexpected. She leaned in and kissed me right on the lips.

"Save me a seat at lunch?" she asked.

I'm not sure, but I think I said something like, "Uh... um... yeah, uh... sure!"

About half of those around us had made loud Oooo sounds when she kissed me, but I didn't care and if Mary's expression was to be believed, she didn't care what they thought either.

The First day of school is basically, just us getting our textbooks, finding what is expected of us for the first term and meeting our teachers. Therefore, it wasn't too bad, but some of our teachers took to teaching as soon as we had our books, which kind of sucked.

I realized from my first class on, that I was getting an extra bit of attention from my teachers, more then most of the other students. However, I wasn't the only one. Jasper Hawkins, Bull's younger brother was in all but two of my classes and after each class our teachers asked us to stay behind to talk to us about our unique situations. You know I'm referring to the fact that we both wore diapers. For us it is just a part of life, for our teachers it was an uncomfortable subject, which none of them wanted to address, but they did anyway. I got the feeling that Mr. Freeman might have had something to do with it too.

Basically, my teachers all wanted to make it clear that they wouldn't tolerate their classes being interrupted and that it was our responsibility to take care of our personal business between classes, just like everyone else is expected to do.

At lunch Mary, BJ and I sat together eating and laughing together. I wasn't expecting it when, out of nowhere, Cole appeared.

"Simon, there you are!" Cole said, "I've been looking for you all day!"

"Whoa, Cole! I completely forgot that you moved into our neighbor hood!" I said, "BJ, scoot over and let Cole sit down."

I introduced Cole to Mary and BJ. BJ was the only one to remember Cole from when Jasper and I were in the hospital after being attacked by Peter Alderman and his three friends, Johnny, Max and Steven.

It was so totally awesome that Cole was going to my school and though I knew that it was only a matter of days before I was leaving, I wanted to try and get him to come for a sleep over before I left.

I got a surprise at the end of History class, which is one of the classes that Jasper isn't in with me. As the bell rang, I was shoving my new textbook into my backpack and thinking that I was going to make a stop at my locker when my History teacher, Mr. Holmes, called my name along with two other's; one of which was a girl. I can only think of one word to describe Mr. Holmes, `OLD'. He's not fat but he's not thin; he's completely bald except for tufts of grey hear where a normal man's sideburns should to be. But his most distinctive feature has got to be the fact that he has a mustache that looks like a set of motorcycle copper handle bars.

At first I got nervous that Mr. Holmes was going to out me right there in front of those other two, but I shouldn't have worried, because all he had to say was, "I know you three have special health issues and I want you to know that I do not want you three disrupting my class all the time, so if you have a need to leave," he paused long enough to look from the girl to me, "just leave."

He pulled a hanky from his front right pocket, blew his nose loudly and then said, "Now come up here and get these hall passes."

The three of us hurried to the front of the classroom where we each received a crisp new pass with our names on them and Mr. Holems' signature.

He finished up with, "Keep them safe, because I won't be giving you new ones every time you want out of my class. I only ask that when you get up that you do so quietly and with as little distractions as possible. Clear?"

"Gee-thanks Mr. Holmes!" the girl said with so much energy I thought, that maybe she was hopped up on caffeine or something.

The other boy didn't say a word. He only looked at his shoes, stuffed the pass into his pocket and flew out of the door. He was moving so fast, that I'm surprised he didn't leave little trails of flames on the floor like in cartoons.

I hadn't really been giving my diaper too much thought, but after leaving my history class, I decided I better make a trip to the nurses' office. I mean, just in case.

Why I didn't expect the nurses reaction is beyond me. When I walked in, she screamed as if she had just seen a ghost. Man, she nearly gave me a heart attack with that eardrum-piercing screech of hers. She jumped at me, grabbed my arm and yanked me into a full embrace. If my diaper wasn't wet before, after that scare it sure was.

Her scream was also heard by the other office staff; who rushed to see what was going on. Both, Principle Freeman, and Vice Principle Graff, came flying out of their offices, as well as a few others who I didn't know but had seen on different occasions.

My eye caught sight of Andy Freeman and with just a look, I pleaded for his help to save me from being hugged to death by the school nurse.

Thankfully, Andy got the message. He quickly separated us and helped our school nurse to calm down. Mr. Graff had taken his cue from Mr. Freeman. He gently pushed me further into the nurse's office and into the room next door, where I could get changed. By his actions, I can assume that Mr. Graff was fully briefed on my situation by Mr. Freeman or possibly my parents. You see, Mr. Graff and I have butted heads with one another before. Though we are civil when our paths cross, the tension in the air gives evidence to the fact that neither cares much for the other. I guess you could say that we have a sort of tolerated rapport. Mr. Graff is a butthead and I tolerate him...or is it the other way around?

As he shoved me into the smaller room and just before he pulled the door closed, he said to me, "You need a hair cut Mr. Leonard."

If he hadn't closed the door behind me, I might have said something smart-alecky like `Bite me Mr. Graff' or `Suck my fat one Mr. Graff'. Thankfully, I didn't get that chance.

Inside that room, I got another shock. Standing butt naked from the waist down to his socks was that same boy I'd just seen in my History class.

Now, had our rolls been reversed, I probably would have freaked out, but not him. He looked over his shoulder and as if he was doing no more then washing his hands, he said to me, "Hey, when I saw you coming into class earlier I was almost sure you were wearing a diaper too. But I guess I wasn't totally sure until right now."

He had shiny black hair that was parted on one side and his eyes were bright brown. I'd never seen brown eyes that looked so lit up like his. In his left ear, the only ear I could see from where we were standing, he was wearing an earring and it wasn't just a stud earring like most guys with earrings have. It was gold loop with a small dangling silver and gold charm in the shape of a feather. However, what really struck me was the fact that he was so heavily tanned, but he didn't seem to have any tan lines. Believe me; I had all the proof standing right there for me to see. I noticed all of that about him once I got over the fact that he was changing out of what looked to be a wet Pull-Up diaper.

"Uh, yeah I guess so." Was all I said in return.

You would think that, after spending all that time on the Banachelli surrounded by boys in diapers, I would be used to it by now. But frankly, I hadn't expected to run into a fellow diaper wearer at school.

"You're that guy that was on TV, huh?" he asked in an offhanded manner.

"Oh no, here we go!" I thought to myself.

"It's Simon, right?" he asked when I didn't respond.

I figured the kid had me dead to rights, so what was the use in lying.

"Yeah," I answered.

"Cool, my names Wambleeska Yas-Tokala." He said.

"Wambleeska? What kind of name is that?" I said without thinking.

He was pulling up a pair of what looked from the back to be GoodNites without the cool pictures, but stopped when he had them only up to his knees. Lifting his left arm, he peered at me from under it.

"It means White Eagle Snow-Fox." He said with just a bit of annoyance.

"Oh you are messing with me now. Your parents really named you Eagle and Fox?" I said with a self indulging laugh.

He finished pulling up his protective garment and then turned to look at me. I knew instantly from his appearance that he was of Native American heritage and that I had once again stuck my big foot into my equally big mouth.

He looked more than annoyed with me but I quickly apologized.

"Listen, I'm sorry! That was really dumb of me to say. I didn't get it." I said with honesty and hoped that he would believe me.

"Yeah, I guess it's cool." He said.

I stuck out my hand, "Friends?"

"Sure!" he said and finally smiled again.

"Hey, we better hurry up or we'll be late to our next class." Wambleeska said.

Now I knew that I was wearing an Attends Youth Diaper and that I could get it off by myself, but there was no way I could get into a clean Diaper on my own. Mom had told me that I was supposed to have the nurse help me. However, after the way she had reacted when she first saw me, I wasn't too sure I wanted to go through that again.

"What are you waiting for?" Wambleeska asked while pulling up his pants.

"Uh, sorry. Do you need me to get out of here first?" he asked.

"No," I said quickly, "it's not that. I..." I trailed off without finishing my thought.

"Oh, you need help, huh?" He asked.

I puffed out my cheeks and answered with, "Yeah, something like that."

"You more then wet?" he asked.

I felt myself blushing as I shook my head.

He reached into his book bag and pulled out one of the garments he had just changed into.

"Here, try this. It's a DryNite from Europe." He said, handing it to me, "It's kind of like a GoodNite but thicker and it holds about twice as much as them too. Plus, they don't leak as easily as GoodNites do."

"Really? Hey, wow thanks!" I said, quickly dropping it on the table and pulling at my belt.

"What class do you have next?" he asked.

I groaned as I answered, "Home Economics."

"Really? Me too!" Wambleeska said. "Hey, want me to wait for you? That way, if we're late and both come in at the same time, the others are less likely to notice why we were late."

"Uh, ok thanks." I said again and quickly pulled off my wet diaper as if it were normal underwear.

It was a good thing that I had decided to come to the nurse's office, because my diaper was utterly drenched.

"Oh man, you really shouldn't wear them so long. You are going to break out in a rash." Wambleeska said.

"Uh, oh yeah!" I agreed, "Guess I didn't know it had got that bad."

I looked around for a towel or something to wipe my skin off but Wambleeska guessed what I was looking for and handed me a couple fresh baby wet wipe.

"You are ready for anything, huh?" I said trying to be witty.

"Yeah and I'm not even a Boy Scout." He joked.

After wiping myself off, I pulled on the DryNite that he had given me. It fit perfectly and felt a little thicker then the Attends diaper had. Once I had my pants pulled back up the two of us vacated the room and thankfully the nurse wasn't anywhere in sight.

On the way to our Home Ec class Wambleeska asked me, "Am I allowed to ask about your scar or is that something I shouldn't ask?"

"Well," I started, "It's kind of a long, ugly story."

"Oh, ok. So then you want to come over to my house after school?" he asked.

"Um, I don't think I will be allowed. My parents are still making me stay pretty close to home." I said.

"Too bad." He said, as I started down the steps to the lower floor.

"But maybe you could ask your mom if you can come over to my place after school tomorrow." I said, "I can ask my mom if it is ok and let you know tomorrow. I'm sure it will be ok, but I better ask."

"Yeah sure but I don't live with my mom or dad. I'm living with my Aunt now." He said but it was the way he said it that made me think there was more to that story. Though I was curious, I didn't pursue it; I figured that if he wanted me to know more, he would have told me. Well, I didn't pursue it right then, but I did find out later in the week the reason he was living with his Aunt. He had gotten into some trouble with the law back in South Carolina. He was sent to live with his mothers' foster sister in hopes that she might be able to straighten him out. He wasn't too happy about it but he was doing his best to adjust. If you ask me, he was doing great considering everything that had recently happened to him.

There was also something in his voice when he spoke about his parents that made me think they weren't exactly the Mr. and Mrs. Brady sort of parents.

As we reached the bottom of the steps, the class bell rang. We were right under the bell when it went off and we both jumped. He had landed on his feet in some kind of battle stance. I guess he's had some martial arts training or something. I on the other hand nearly collapsed to the floor out of fright. Once the two of us gathered what remained of our nerves we continued on class laughing all the way.

The following day I ran into Wambleeska in the hallway after second period and he told me that his Aunt wouldn't let him come over. Though Wambleeska didn't actually come right out and say so, I got the idea that the reason was, that she thought I might be a bad influence.

It didn't really matter, because for that one week Wambleeska and I became good friends at school. Even my three friends liked him and right away, he became one of our little school clique.


Also on that second day of school I ran into someone else that, I was both looking forward too and hoping not to see. That was the head Gym teacher and Athletic Coach, Mr. Shaffer. I bumped into him at lunch and just as I expected, he asked me if I was going to tryout for the team again this year. I told him that I wanted too, but that I couldn't due to health reasons. I don't think he bought it for a second and he wasn't happy when I showed him the doctors note that I had, which stated that I was exempt from gym class. When he tried to say that I still had to show up for class, I told him that instead of gym I had study hall in the library. Boy, he didn't like that at all.

If I didn't have plans to leave by the end of that week, I would have never showed him the note and would have gladly tried out of the Track team again. Maybe someday, when I come back home again I can try out... ah who am I fooling. I know I'm never going back to school again... I mean I have tasted freedom and I could never go back to living inside society's world of rules and boundaries. Besides, Sister Sarafina has begun teaching everyone on the ship to read and write, and those of us that already know how are tutoring those, that don't.

I never did get a chance to have Cole sleep over before the week was out. It just wasn't possible on a school night and before I knew it, it was Friday. If I tried to delay our departure again, I bet Lowell and Jamie would have hog tied me and drug me to the ship. Wouldn't that have been poetic, seeing how that is how I got on the ship both times before?


Chapter -- 38

Where we will, we'll roam

Friday was finally here and God help me every stinking tick of the minute hands on the school clocks seemed to stretch on forever. When lunch finally arrived, only one of my friends was anywhere around and that was Wambleeska.

"Where's everyone else?" I asked him, as I sat my tray down in front of his.

With a mouth full of potato chips he said, "No idea."

"What? I thought it was your day to watch them." I joked.

Wambleeska washed his chips down with a swig of milk before replying, "No, that was yesterday. I believe, today you were supposed to watch them. But, apparently you dropped the ball."

He smiled amusingly.

Having the lunch period to ourselves, I mean not having BJ, Mary or Jasper sitting with us, meant that Wambleeska and I were able to talk. I'm not sure how we got on the subject, or why I allowed the conversation to drift in the direction it had, but before too long I was telling Wambleeska about some of the brighter moments aboard the Banachelli. There is something about Wambleeska, that makes me feel completely comfortable around him. More then once during the pervious days I'd caught myself nearly telling him about our plans to return to the ship.

Earlier that same day, I had run into Wambleeska in the nurse's office again. He had sprung a leak and had to, not only change his DryNite but also his pants, socks and shoes. I think, I had said something to him about getting a defective DryNite or something, but I'm not sure now. Anyway, he'd been feeling pretty low and not just because of the accident. Apparently, his aunt was giving him a really hard time at home. He confessed to me that, aside from school, he hates living in Ohio.

I hadn't realized it at the time, but Wambleeska's words had planted a thought in my brain, a thought which my subconscious mind continued to mull over, right up to the point where the two of us were sitting at the lunch table eating and talking.

"You ever wish you could leave here and go back?" he asked me.

"Back where?" I asked, while trying to fain ignorance.

He sat his milk carton down a little too hard, causing a few drops to splash out.

"Back to that boat, I mean ship." He partially whispered.

"Oh, well," I said, trying to stall while I thought up what I was going to say to him.

"If I was you, and I had the chance to go back..." He started to say, but then he stopped, stuffed another chip in his mouth and chomped it like he was trying to kill it.

"What?" I said, trying to get him to finish his thought.

"Well," he rubbed his mouth on the back of his sleeved forearm, "I just was going to say that I'd go back, if I was you."

"Why? Wouldn't you miss your aunt and parents?" I asked.

I couldn't help but to notice that a gray cloud had formed above Wambleeska's head. He really seemed to be bummed out.

He looked up into my eyes. I don't think he'd ever looked at me like that before.

"Promise you won't tell anyone this?" he asked.

I crossed my heart with my finger and said, "I promise."

"I think, my mom and dad were glad to pass me off on my aunt. And I don't think she wants me around anymore then they did."

He had stopped eating and was looking forlornly at his half eaten meatloaf sandwich.

Inside my own head, I was wrestling with a question. The question was, "Do I tell him about our plan to go back to the ship and invite him to go with us?"

When neither of us said anything, he finally looked up at me again, "Do you think I am a bad person for saying that?"

"No!" I said almost too quickly.

I sighed heavily before saying, what I said next. "The answer is Yes! If I had the chance to go back, I would and for a lot of different reasons."

His eyes were locked on me and even if the entire school blew up around us, I don't think he would have looked away.

"Let's just say for a second here, that I was going to go back." I could tell by the look in his eyes, that he was getting worked up, so I quickly added, "Now, I'm only imagining this, but lets just say, that I was and that I invited you to come with me. Would you come?"

I don't think I even had the question out of my mouth before he answered with a loud, "YES!"

Many of the kids sitting around us stopped talking and looked at the two of us. I think we both blushed.

"Are you done eating?" he asked me.

"Yeah, more or less." I answered even though I hadn't had a single bit of any of it.

He started to stand up, "Let's go somewhere else to talk, ok?"

I picked up my tray as I said, "Yeah, good idea."

After disposing of our trays, we went into the gymnasium, where we climbed to the top of the bleachers to talk alone.

When I sat down, I felt the diaper I was wearing squish beneath me and I groaned.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," I said, "just need to go see the nurse before next period is all."

The two of us watched the other kids down below playing basketball, talking or standing around for the remainder of the lunch period.

"Listen, I know we've only been friends for a few days, but to me it feels like we've been friends all our lives." Wambleeska said to me without looking at me.

"Really?" I said, "Me too."

"And I know you said that you were only imagining it. But, if it was real, I mean, if you were really, really, really going to leave here again, then I would really, really, really like to go with you."

I was playing with the zipper on my jacket and thought about that for several minutes before I said, "You know, not everything was as good as I said. There was some bad stuff that happened too."

He drew an imaginary line on his face to signify where my scar would be on him as he asked me, "Like when you got that scar?"

I tried to hide the fact that my eyes were tearing up. "Yeah, that and more."

"And your back?" he asked and I was honestly taken aback by that comment, because I had not told him about my back.

He looked up at me shyly. "I saw some of it the first day we met, when you were getting changed, but I didn't think I should say anything about it."

He locked his fingers together and squeezed them tightly as he said, "And don't be mad, but I asked your friend BJ about it."

I wasn't mad. Actually, I wasn't feeling much of anything right then.

"What did he say?" I asked him.

"He told me that I shouldn't say anything about it to anyone; especially you." Wambleeska said and I could tell by the quiver in his voice that he was scared, that he might have strayed into dangerous grounds with me.

He sighed audibly when I said, "It's no biggy. I don't mind you knowing, but don't spread it around, ok?"

"No way! I'd never!" He said resolutely.

A couple more minutes passed without either of us saying anything, but then I asked him, "Can I trust you?"

"What do you mean?" He asked back.

"I mean, CAN I TRUST YOU?" I said with strong emphasis on each word. "If I tell you something super mega top secret, can I trust you not to tell a single person?"

"Of course you can." He said.

I turned my body toward him, "No, I mean it! You can't even tell your best friend about it."

He looked me in the eyes as he said, "I don't betray my friends."

"Ok then." I said and I took a deep breath before I asked him `THE' question.

"I'm about to tell you something." I started to say, but the first bell rang, telling us that we had 5 minutes to get to our next class, but neither of us moved.

"I don't want you to say anything at first. Just hear me out, think about it and tell me your answer after school today. OK?" I said.

Wambleeska nodded.

"I am going back and it's happening tonight." I said.

His eyes exploded with excitement, but he didn't make a sound.

"If you are serious, if you really want to go with me, then I'd love to have you join my crew." I said and then paused before adding, "Just think about it. I mean, really think about it."

Wambleeska nodded again.

"OK, now let's get to class." I said while standing up.

"Don't you have to go to the nurse's office first?" He asked me.

"Oh yeah." I said.

However, Wambleeska didn't stand up.

"You coming?" I asked.

"Uh, you go ahead. I need to sit here another second or two." He said, so I left him sitting on the bleachers.

I didn't see him in Home Ec Class either, but as soon as I reached my locker at the end of the day, he appeared.

"Where you been?" I asked him.

"Nurses office," He said with an odd expression.

Right then BJ jumped in between us, "Hiyo guys!" he put his arms around each of us and said, "So, how are my two favorite dorks doing this fine, fine Friday?"

Wambleeska looked irritated by the intrusion, but BJ didn't seem to notice or if he had, he didn't seem to care.

"What are you so happy about?" I asked.

"Because a certain someone has just asked a certain Wendy Sprite to go steady with him." BJ said with a grin so wide, I could have counted every tooth in his glowing head.

"I take it that she said yes?" I asked.

"More than that!" He said rocking up onto his tiptoes.

That is when I noticed the hint of lip-gloss on his lips.

"BJ Otteranski! Did a girl actually kiss you?" I teased.

BJ wiggled his eyebrows and, if it was possible, I think he even smiled wider.

Wambleeska shoved BJ's arm off his shoulders and poked BJ in the chest, "And who you calling a dork anyhow?"

I really thought Wambleeska was upset, but he was just pulling BJ's leg.

"What?" BJ said shrugging and backing down.

Wambleeska poked him in the chest again, "In the future, if you wish to address me, please do so properly! It is King Dork!"

The look on BJ's face was so hilarious, when it finally dawned on him, that Wambleeska had been messing with him.

"Dang man! You really had me going there!" BJ said, slapping his heart to make it start beating again.

Wambleeska smiled proudly.

BJ started opening his locker while I asked, "So, how did you manage to land the second most beautiful girl in this school?"

"Are you kidding me?" he said.

"Well, it sure wasn't because of your good looks!" I said and then ducked as BJ swung a blind backhand my way. He missed me by a mile, but he clocked some other guy.

"Hey, watch it!" the kid said and the instant that I heard his voice I knew who he was.

"FRANK!" I shouted, "It's me, Simon!"

Frank Smite was on the Varsity Squad Track Team with me last year and though I didn't get to know him too well, he seemed like a really cool guy.

"Simon? Jeezeow, I didn't recognize you!" he said.

I then said, "Man, you're one to talk! I hardly recognized you too."

Frank must have grown six inches since I saw him last and he was even sporting the traces of a mustache.

"Hey, you're going to try out again this year, right?" he asked me and I knew he meant the track team.

"Uh, I've not decided yet." I said, trying to skirt the situation.

"Oh Simon! Man you have to!" Frank said, giving me a shove.

Thankfully, the flood of students wanting to get to their lockers forced Frank away. As he moved down the row of lockers, he called back, "Monday! I'm going to drag you to tryouts myself!"

I smiled and waved him off.

When I turned back around, BJ was gone, but Wambleeska was still there and boy was he beaming. He was so filled up with excitement that, if I had poked him with a pin, he would have popped like a balloon.

"I'm gathering from your expression, that the answer is yes?" I said with half a smile.

With wide eyes he nodded vigorously.

I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out a folded up piece of notebook paper, which I had prepared earlier. On the paper were instructions on where to meet me and when.

Under the roar of other students I instructed him thus, "Read this when you are home and alone. Don't let anyone else see it and destroy it after you've read it. Got it?"

He nodded again, "Got it."


As I was walking out of the school, someone snuck up behind me and covered my eyes.

"Guess who?" I heard Mary ask.

"Um, Linden Johnson?"

She uncovered my eyes, slipped around in front of me and kissed me, like she had never kissed me before. I think, my toes even curled up inside my shoes; that's how good of a kiss it was.

"Wow!" I exclaimed and then I stammered, "W-w-what was that for?"

She smiled coyly, "Do I have to have a reason?"

I smiled back as she took hold of my hand.

"So, do you have plans this weekend?" she asked.

I honestly didn't want to lie to Mary, so I told her the truth, "I am going to sleep over at Lowell's tonight, if our parents say it is cool."

Mary's ears perked up, just the way a rabbits does.

"Sooooo," she really drew out that `so' as she pulled me close and whispered into my ear, "are you going to need a babysitter again?"

I felt the heat radiating from my face at the thought of her coming over and changing my diaper again.

"Oh my gosh, I made you blush!" she cooed and pinched both of my cheeks.

"Actually, I don't think his folks are going out." I said and for the first time I noticed, that my heart was beating like a set of drums at a rock concert.

Mary puckered out her bottom lip.

"Awe shucks!" she whimpered.

"Next time we'll have to plan better." I said and I felt my face go hot again.

She kissed me again and said, "Well, don't you boys get into too much trouble or else!"


I was one with the wind, as I ran all the way home and frankly, it felt great to run like that again. I don't think I was home ten minutes before the phone rang. I was walking back into the kitchen after having changed out of my school clothes, so I was the one to answer the phone.

"Hello?" I said.

My eardrum was blasted with Lowell shouting, "Hiya Simon, ol' buddy, ol' pal! It's me, your favoritest friend in the whole wide world."

"Oh, hi Lowell." I said purposefully trying to sound dull.

"Oh, hi Lowell? Geez Simon, ain't you even the slightest bit excited?" Lowell blasted my ear for a second time.

"Well yeah, sure I am. I mean, it's Friday and that means it's the weekend! I can finally kick back, relax, watch some TV and maybe even play some video games. Of course I have to finish my homework first but that shouldn't take more than a few hours out of my day tomorrow." I said teasingly.

Lowell growled into the phone and I couldn't keep from laughing.

Sounding annoyed, Lowell grunted out, "You're a butthead, you know that?"

"Yep, and proud of it!" I retorted.

"So, are we still on for the sleepover tonight?" Lowell said and I was glad he remembered to use the secret code.

"Well, actually I've changed my mind again." I said.

"WHAT?!?!" Lowell screamed.

"Dang it Lowell! If you don't stop shouting into my ear, I swear I am going to give you the worst diaper wedgie of your entire life!" I said while rubbing my aching ear.

"So you're only kidding, right?" Lowell said, this time sounding almost on the verge of crying.

"Yes, I am kidding!" I laughed.

"Oh good, `cause I really don't want to have to kill you." Lowell gloomily laughed.

"So, we are still on?" He asked again.

"Yeah, as far as I know." I said, "Hang on, will ya?"

For half a second I thought about shouting to mom with the receiver up to my mouth, but I decided to be nice. I put the phone down by my stomach before I shouted.

"MOOOOOM!" my voice reverberated throughout the house.

"Yes dear?" she called back.

"Can I please go sleep over at Lowell's tonight?" I shouted.

"I didn't even know you were home!" She said.

"Oh sorry, yeah I am home. So can I go sleep over at Lowell's?" I asked again.

"Simon, I don't know." She said and then hesitated long enough for panic to grip my heart. She then added, "Why don't you stay home this weekend?"

"Mooooooooooom!" I whined most excellently, if I do say so myself. "Pleeeeeease! Jamie's already going!"

It wasn't a lie, not entirely. The plan was for Jamie to come over, but I hadn't talked to him yet to make sure, he had permission.

"Oh alright, but only for one night and don't call here tomorrow, begging to stay another night either!" she said.

I put the phone back to my ear, "She said yes." I said.

Lowell was giggling like a schoolgirl, "I know, I heard you both and I already talked to Jamie before I called you. He'll be here in like an hour."

"Oh ok, cool! So, I'll see if I can get my mom to bring me over." I said.

"You don't have to. Jamie and his mom are stopping there first to pick you up." Lowell said.

"Dang, Lowell! You're amazing!" I laughed.

"Nah, I'm better then that." He giggled.

"Well, then I guess I will see you when I see you." I said.

"Don't forget to bring all of your stuff." Lowell reminded me.

"Yes mother dearest!" I joked.

Lowell seemed to get a good laugh out of that too.


I barely had time to get my stuff together before the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it!" I shouted, but when I ran down the hallway to the living room, I found that dad was already opening the door.

"Dad, you're home!" I said with surprise.

When he saw that it was Jamie, dad exclaimed, "Oh goody! I get both of my boys for the weekend!"

However, I had to burst his bubble, "No, we are going over to Lowell's for a sleepover tonight."

"Oh you are, are you?" dad said.

Jamie stepped in, "Yeah and you can't say no `cause we already got her," mom had come into the room and Jamie had pointed to her, "permission and she out ranks you." And for added effect, Jamie gave dad's tie a flip.

He then poked dad in the gut with his finger. "How do you like them apples?" he said and tried to jump toward me to get out of dad's reach, but being the loving brother that I am... I pushed him back.

"SIMON, YOU TRAITOR!!!!" Jamie screeched as Dad scooped him up and began tickling the life out of him.

"Ok Jamie, you keep dad busy while I make a break for it." I laughed and ran back to my room.

"Simon, no running in the house please!" Mom called after me, but it was too late, I was already in my room.

Even from my room I could hear the screams and pleading coming from Jamie. He tried every magic escape word; "Please!", "Uncle!", "Mercy!", "You're hurting me!" but none seemed to work.

As I was coming back out with my stuff, mom was saying to dad, "Honey, you are going to make the boy wet himself."

Jamie crowed, "Tooooo laaaaaaate!"

"Well, you better not make him poop too!" I said.

"Too late for that too!" Jamie laughed.

"Oh honey, let him up so I can change him, before he goes over to his little friend's." Mom said.

"Little friend?" I laughed.

While mom took Jamie's hand and walked him back to my room to have his diaper changed, dad helped me carry my stuff out to the car.

"How long are you planning on sleeping over at Lowell's?" Dad asked, while shoving my stuff into the trunk of Marsha's car.

Mom is a diapering pro, so Jamie was coming back out within a minute or two. I tried not to be too emotional, but I couldn't help but to feel, as though I was never going to see my parents again.

I hugged them both and I guess I was over doing it, because Jamie finally grabbed my arm and dragged me into the back seat of the car.

When we got to Lowell's, I ended up having to return the favor when Jamie nearly began to cry, as he kissed Marsha goodbye. Thankfully, Lowell was there to assist me.

The three of us ended up blowing through most of the evening by watching a movie in Lowell's basement and drinking homemade strawberry milkshakes, that his mom made for us.

None of us spoke a word about our plans all evening. The subject was completely absent from anything we did, until after Lowell's mother had changed our diapers, helped us get ready for bed and then tucked us in.

We had managed to talk Lowell's parents into letting us sleep in the basement. There would have been plenty of room in Lowell's bedroom for the three of us to sleep on the floor, but it would be easier to sneak out if we were in the basement.

None of us slept, and we didn't make a sound, which in hindsight probably wasn't a good idea. Three boys in the basement and they aren't making noise? Yeah, that should have been a clear indicator that we were up to something.

The second the clock struck midnight, Jamie whispered, "You guys ready to go?"

"I thought midnight would never come!" Lowell quickly said.

"OK Lowell, go make sure your mom and dad are out cold." I said, "And Jamie, go look out of the windows to see if you can see anyone watching the house."

"What are you going to do?" Jamie asked.

"I need to change out of this diaper. I am soaked." I said with half a smile. "That milkshake went right through me."

The three of us met up in the front foyer of Lowell's house a few minutes later.

"Yep, my dad is snoring like a bear." Lowell said, as he snuck back down the steps.

"OK here, you two need to change into these." I said, handing them each a GoodNite.

"Why?" Jamie objected.

"Because you can't run as well in those thick diapers." I said.

"Who said anything about running?" Lowell asked.

"Well, what if Tom or someone else sees us and comes after us?" I said.

"That ain't going to happen!" Jamie said.

"Guys, come on, just do it." I argued.

"No I like my diaper and besides, it isn't wet and it is the last one my mom will put on me for a long time." Lowell said and none of us had any idea just how wrong Lowell was right then.

"Fine have it your way then!" I said, stuffing the two GoodNites back into my backpack.

"OK, let's go." I said.

Jamie quickly jumped in with, "Wait!"

"What?" I asked.

"I don't have my shoes." Jamie said, tearing off, down the basement steps.

"Can you make anymore noise?" Lowell whisper-shouted down after him.

As soon as Jamie had his shoes on, we clicked off the front porch light and waited a minute to be sure all was still clear. We then opened the door and with me leading the way, we began our journey back to the Banachelli.

We were about two blocks from Lowell's house when I started to relax and supposed that we were far enough away, that there was little chance we had been seen sneaking out of the front door. I think they were feeling a lot better about the whole running away thing.

I couldn't help but think about, how things would be the next morning for those that were supposed to be watching Lowell's house. I imagine that Tom would probably want their heads on a stick.

It felt, like it was taking us longer to get to the Great Miami River then it had, when we had made the trip in the opposite direction.

When I actually voiced that thought, Jamie said, "Actually, we're making better time then before, `cause we're not stopping at the old mans house, or going through that soccer field."

"How long do you think till we get there?" Lowell asked.

Then, all at the same time, we spotted the secret marker that told us we were close. Wrapped around a tree was a piece of clear cellophane tape. During the day, no one would see it, but during the night, when a flashlight shined on it, it would glimmer like a mirror.

The three of us broke into a heavy trot, spurred on by adrenaline at the excitement of being back aboard the Banachelli.

"Stop, stop a minute!" Jamie said.

"Why?" I asked, as Lowell and I stopped to look at him.

"I heard something." Jamie said, shining his flashlight in the direction we had just come from.

"Wambleeska, that you?" I called out in a loud whisper.

"Simon?" Wambleeska called back sounding scared and anxious in the dark.

"Who's Wambl-whatever?" Lowell asked, while at the same time Jamie asked, "Who's that?"

"Never mind. I'll tell you later. He's coming with us." I said.

"Over here!" I called back to Wambleeska.

When my flashlight found his face, he looked like he had been crying or maybe it was only sweat.

"I didn't think you were coming." He panted.

"Well, we're here now." I said, "And we need to get going."

But just then, all four of us heard something from the direction that Wambleeska had come. Honestly, I didn't expect to see anything. It was so dang dark that I figured we were just feeling spooked. However, what the beam of Jamie's flashlight fell on made all of the blood in our bodies wash right out of us, along with our pee and poop. Good thing all four of us were properly attired for just such an emergency.

Standing less then ten yards from us was none other than Madam-M.

"RUUUUN!" I screamed.

All four of us took off running in the direction of the ship. We knew that the tape was supposed to be exactly one hundred yards east of the ship and we must have already covered half that distance before we realized, that we were being followed, not by the FBI or Thomas Segal, but by Madam-M. How she had survived I will never know and there was no way I was about to stop to ask her.

I was running so hard and so fast, that I lost track of Jamie and Lowell for only a second, but it only took a second. Thankfully, Wambleeska was holding onto my arm with a python like grip. I looked over my shoulder and shined my flashlight behind me. I could see them both running kind of funny and then it hit me why.

"I TOLD YOU TO PUT ON THE GOODNITES!" I screamed at them.

While I was looking behind me, I wasn't looking ahead of me, so I didn't see the tree or wall or whatever it was, that I ran into. I crashed to the ground so hard, that my brains were scrambled for a moment and I lost my flashlight and Wambleeska. A second later, I heard someone splashing into the water and hoped it was Wambleeska. Then, to my horror, someone leaned down, picked up my flashlight and shined it on himself.

I had to blink several times, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing... or rather, who I was seeing. It wasn't until he spoke, that I think, that I honestly started to believe, that it could possible be Runt.

"Hello Spaz!"

"But how?" I cried, "You are dead! I shot you! YOU ARE DEAD!"

Somewhere in the dark, I heard Lowell scream.

"Lowell?" I shouted, as I tried to crab walk backward, away from Runt.

From somewhere in the dark I heard Tomas Segal call my name, "SIMON!"

I then heard Jamie scream out in pain.

"Jamie?" I called out again.

There was suddenly a brilliant flash of light, so bright that it blinded me. The world had exploded with light and noise.

With my eyes closed tightly, I flipped over onto all fours and continued to scamper as fast as I could, away from the last known direction I knew Runt had been coming from. And then, the ground beneath me disappeared. I found myself tumbling head over heals down a steep embankment. I stopped tumbling and rolling only when I splashed into the waters of the Great Miami River.

Finally, I tried to open my eyes and beheld the wooden hull of the Banachelli.

"There's Simon! Quick someone help him into the ship!" I heard someone say and when I looked around, I saw that it was Fyer.

"Fyer, Jamie and Lowell need help!" I anxiously said.

"Quiet boy or you'll give us all away to the police out there!" Fyer said, clapping his hand over my mouth.

I saw two other boys from the ship helping Wambleeska into the ship, while three other boys forcefully dragged me against my will into the ship.


What happened to Jamie and Lowell? Well, once we had reached the Ohio River, I left the ship, in opposition to Fyer and the Sister's advice, accompanied by Micky, Peter and Tyler, to try to find a newspaper or anything that would tell us what happened. We found out, that Jamie, Lowell and I had been followed that night, but not only by Madam-M and Runt, but also by the police and FBI. Madam-M and Runt were captured and arrested. I don't know for sure, but I like to think that it was Tom, that got Runt to spill his guts and tell where the other boys, who had remained loyal to Madam-M, were hiding.

Jamie and Lowell were both caught and returned to their families.

Oh, and this part kind of gave me the chills to read. According to the article in the paper, the authorities were dragging the river to try to find my body.

Oddly, there was no mention of Wambleeska's disappearance in the paper. Fyer said, that he believes, it is because Wambleeska's aunt probably hadn't reported him missing.

Now, I had done one thing before leaving that I hadn't told Lowell or Jamie about. I'm not sure why I didn't confide in them, but there you have it. Anyway, I had wrote letters on my computer to Dad, Mom, Marsha, my real mom and dad, Mr. Freeman, Mr. Peterson, BJ, BJ's parents and finally one addressed to Thomas Segal. Once I had them printed out, I put them into the one place I knew no one was likely to find them; the same place I had hid that stolen money for so long.

Knowing that, I couldn't just leave everyone thinking I was dead, even though I knew that Lowell, Jamie and Tom probably know I had made it to the ship. So, I made a phone call to none other then the FBI. You know, it is surprisingly easy to call the FBI. I just dialed the operator and asked to speak to someone at the FBI.

I was able to leave a simple message for Thomas Segal, that I knew only he would understand, or at the very least be able to follow up on. In that message I said, "Tom, ask Lowell to tell you were he found the money. There you will find some answers. I trust that you will share only what needs to be shared. Thanks for everything."

So now, I am going to save this Journal entry and head up on deck. It's a great night for sailing and with any luck; we'll be sailing out into the Gulf of Mexico soon. From there, the world shall be my playground!



~ The End ~



** I hope you have enjoyed this third volume in the series. I know I have loved writing about Simon, his friends and all of their adventures. I am both, happy and sad at finishing but wait...this isn't the end. Be sure to check back for the fourth installment entitled `Simon's Journal -- Thirteen Summer Days'. As always, your thoughts matter to me, so if you feel moved to do so, I would love to hear from you at **