This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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The Father's Son
Jeremy is a recently ordained Episcopal priest, who's also gay. He and Matt, his husband, knew that he would have a problem finding a parish without relocating; so after graduating from seminary in Berkley, California; Jeremy and Matt began planning on relocating. As a pharmacist, relocation wouldn't be a problem for Matt.
Although the Episcopal Church was liberal - it seemed that most were willing to accept gay members - but a vicar with a same sex partner was a different situation. Finally, an offer came from a small parish in northwest Arkansas that had been without a priest for almost a year. And that offer only came about because a longtime member, who happened to own a large portion of the town, insisted that a gay priest was better than no priest. Audrey Harris' money, for the most part, supported the church. And one of Audrey's businesses just happened to be Lakewood Pharmacy ... where Matt was offered a position.
The rectory was a nice three bedroom house with a large fenced yard across the street from the church. The rectory was nicely furnished, which would make moving easy. After arriving in town, a call was placed to Audrey for the key. Audrey was very businesslike, and a straight talker; but she also had a sense of humor. Her husband and only son had died while duck hunting when their boat capsized.
"Once you've unloaded your vehicles, come to my home for dinner," Audrey said as she left.
The offer of a home cooked meal was welcomed after being on the road for so long. Audrey's house wasn't what one would expect - it was a modest three bedroom that certainly didn't say 'I'm wealthy'.
"I'm really surprised to be offered the vicar position here," Jeremy said over dinner.
"I must be honest," Audrey began, "there was some opposition to naming you vicar, and a couple of families are leaving the church because of it. But my feeling was that we'd have more leaving, if we went any longer with just lay ministers." Jeremy's first Eucharist at St. Luke's went even better than expected.
Matt and Jeremy were actually enjoying small town living ... Matt even volunteered as an auxiliary police officer.
It was a hot summer Saturday afternoon when the church air conditioner died while Jeremy was working on his Sunday sermon. After placing several phone calls, he found a heat and air service company that was willing to get it going that afternoon. While the servicemen were working on getting the air conditioner going, Jeremy moved to the outdoor plaza to finish his sermon. That's when he noticed a young boy, who appeared to be about five or six years old, in the playground all alone. He was just sitting on the swing with his head down. Jeremy became worried about him being alone and in the heat; so he took a bottle of water and offered it to him. He must have been really thirsty, as he drank most of it without stopping.
"I'm Jeremy," Jeremy said. "What's your name?"
"Dillon," he shyly answered.
"Come over and sit in the shade where it's cooler," Jeremy said. "Are you waiting for your parents?"
"My mom's gone, and the cops took my dad away," Dillon said.
"Did the police just leave you there?"
"They didn't see me."
"When was this?"
"I'm sure you're hungry, let me tell the men working on the air conditioner where I'll be, and we'll get you something to eat."
"Dillon, would a grilled cheese sandwich be okay for now?"
"Would you like another?" Jeremy asked when Dillon had wolfed down the sandwich.
"I'll be right back," Jeremy said when the doorbell rang.
"It was a relay switch," the repairman said. "We'll mail the bill to the church."
"We'll have dinner later; would you like to watch TV for a while?" Jeremy asked, with a plan to call child protective services.
When Matt arrived home in his uniform, Dillon tried to hide behind the couch. "Is he going to arrest me?" he asked.
"No, this is Matt," Jeremy said. "He lives here too."
"This must be the little boy we've been looking for," Matt said.
"Dillon, why don't you finish watching your TV show; we'll be right back," Jeremy said.
After Jeremy explained how he'd found Dillon, Matt explained that they had gone to check the house for a meth lab; and Dillon's dad was arrested when one was found. They didn't know about Dillon until a neighbor asked about him. She also mentioned that the mother had disappeared about a week ago, after the two had been heard arguing.
"That'll be child protective service," Jeremy said when the doorbell rang.
After explaining the situation to Jennifer, the case worker, she said, "I guess we'll have to put him in a shelter until we can find a foster home."
"We'll foster him," Matt said. "We fostered a child last month, while both of his parents were hospitalized."
"Oh, that would be great, I'd hate to put him in a shelter," Jennifer said. "I'll bring the paperwork by later. He'll need to be checked by a doctor Monday, since he lived in a meth house. I'll arrange for that."
"If you'll keep an eye on Dillon, I'll go to Walmart and get him some clothes," Jeremy said. "And I'll pick up dinner at KFC, since I haven't had time to cook."
"Dillon, what grade will you be in?" Matt asked to begin a conversation.
"First," Dillon said.
"Do you know where your mom went?"
"No, I could hear her and daddy fighting, and that always wakes me up."
"Later, when I got up, Mommy was sleeping on the couch. I tried to wake her, but she wouldn't wake up. Then Daddy made me go back to bed."
"Then what happened?"
"The next morning, Daddy said she went away and wasn't coming back."
Matt and Dillon were still chatting when Jeremy returned. After eating dinner, Jeremy gave Dillon new pajamas and showed him where to take a bath. "I'll be in to help you," Jeremy offered.
"I can do it," Dillon assured him. "Am I sleeping here tonight?"
"Yes, you'll be living here for a while," Jeremy said.
"I think his dad murdered his mom," Matt said while Dillon was taking his bath.
After Matt explained his conversation with Dillon; Jeremy said, "I think you may be right."
"I've call the information in," Matt said.
"The detectives are going back to the house and do some checking. I suggested they should check the couch for blood stains."
"I've never been to church before," Dillon said during breakfast the next morning.
"Never?" Jeremy asked.
"Nope," Dillon admitted.
"I'll tell you what to do," Matt said, "but we'll have to be very quiet."
Dillon was in awe during the processional in church. "He's a knight," Dillon said, as Jeremy walked by in his vestments.
Jeremy couldn't contain a laugh as Matt quietly explained that Jeremy was the priest.
The police did discover blood on the couch and began a search for a body. The body was discovered in a shallow grave in a field not far from the house. As Dillon had no known relatives, the Child Protective Service declared him eligible for adoption. However, the state denied Jeremy's and Matt's request to adopt Dillon.
"We'll fight this," Audrey declared upon hearing the adoption denial. "I have a dear friend; whose son is a well-known attorney in Little Rock. If anyone can get this done, he can."
"We'll spend our entire savings, if necessary," Jeremy proclaimed.
"No, I'm sure Cal will take the case pro bono," Audrey said. "And I'll cover any of his expenses."
After a full year, the case had gone all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court, where it ruled in favor of the adoption. Dillon was a happy, well-adjusted child, who graduated from medical school; then went on to become a very good ophthalmologist. He also made both of his fathers very happy, by giving them a grandson and two granddaughters.