For Language Arts class, the students had to write an essay about their definition of a hero and what it meant to them. This was in honor of those he risked their lives or gave their lives during the attack of 9/11.
In American History, they were discussing the Vietnam War. Patrick learned that his teacher fought during the war and lost his left leg. This gave Patrick an even greater respect for the man.
Then during football practice, Patrick suffered an injury ending his playing football. Patrick was more upset about not being able to do his duties on the Ranch.
Then in American History, Mr. Hole announced that there would be a writing essay on what it means to be an American.
In second period, Mr. Hole had asked everyone to read his or her essay. He asked for those that wanted their essay to be in the contest to read first. Patrick, Scott and one other student raised their hands. Patrick read his paper first, and after he was done, Mr. Hole looked at him, "I am glad that I am not one of the judges. With how you commented about Vietnam Vets, I would be biased. America is a great nation. Sure, we have our share of issues, but I still believe in America and what made her great. We stand up when we are needed, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and anywhere else. That was why we were in Vietnam, and I am proud to have served my country when the call came out. Your paper tells how I feel, and I am proud of the work you put into it."
"Mr. Hole?" Patrick whispered, "Dad, Papa, my uncles and I talked. We want to do a Vietnam Veterans Day at the ranch on the anniversary of when America pulled out of Vietnam. There is talk amongst the politicians of making that Vietnam Veterans Day, and we would be honored if you could be our special guest."
"While you are my student, I don't know if I can accept," Mr. Hole wiped his eyes. He wanted to say yes but wasn't sure of the ethics.
"Would it help if I said, my schooling has nothing to do with the offer?" Patrick asked, "I mean, I am already getting an A, and whether you accept or not, it wouldn't change how hard I work in your class. And should I slack, I would hope that you give me the grade I deserve, but my dads and I want to honor you and all Vietnam Vets that day. We want to thank you for your service."
Mr. Hole smiled, "If you are inviting all Vietnam Vets, I see no reason to say no, but remember, this will have no effect on your grade."
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Sir," Patrick grinned.
Scott was the next to read his paper.
Patrick and Scott were sitting in Homeroom as the announcements were made: "Attention students. I want to congratulate two of our students for being in the top three for the citywide essay contest. Scott Gavin came in third and Patrick Bolt came in second. The judges said that it was a tough contest and all three papers deserved to be first, but that honor went to a young man by the name of Lenny Tyler from Another Chance Boys' Home. Patrick, Scott, to us, you are both winners. Tomorrow will be…"
Patrick was so excited that he kind of tuned out the rest of the announcements. He couldn't believe that he actually came in second. Sure, before the contest, he commented about it, but the result really surprised him. He was also happy that Lenny came in first and the Home would be getting the car to rebuild. Grandpa Vince will be pleased.
Throughout the day, teachers and students congratulated Patrick and Scott. When they arrived at Mr. Hole's class, there was more of a party than class. Mr. Hole asked both boys to read their papers to the class again. He warned everyone that the next test would contain questions answered by either paper.
Even though Patrick was excused from taking PE for a few more weeks, he still had to attend the classes. It was their last class for the day and when they arrived, Coach Leffell started off, "As you heard in the announcements, if you were listening, tomorrow is our game against Jackson Hole. It is an away game, but I would like for everyone not playing to attend. We are undefeated at this time, but we cannot slack off. Patrick, everyone has been playing their best to honor you. You showed promise before your injury and I would especially like it if you attend and sit on the bench with our team."
"My dads already said we would attend so I can cheer Scott and the rest of the team on," Patrick averred.
"Good to know," Coach acknowledged. "Wear your jersey and a good pair of jeans. As I said, I would like for you to be sitting on the bench at the games."
After school was out, Patrick climbed into Zac's truck, "Hey, Papa, where's Dad? He usually picks us up."
"Dad is doing homework, so he asked if I could."
"That's cool," Patrick smiled. "I am happy that Dad is setting an example by doing his."
"What about you?" Zac asked, "Do you have any?"
"I did, but Coach let me do it during PE, since I couldn't participate," Patrick replied. "It wasn't easy, though. The other boys were broken into teams for flag football, and Scott's team were skins." Zac started laughing as he started the truck.
As they drove home, Patrick explained about his day and Coach wanting him to sit on the bench during games. He made sure that Zac knew he would be wearing jeans and not playing. He also told Zac about coming in second on the essay but said that the judges had a tough time deciding who the winner was.
"Yeah," Zac commented, "Uncle Joe told us that Lenny won, but it was really close between him, you and Scott. I'm sorry that you didn't win, but happy for Lenny and the Home."
Patrick grinned, "I'm not sorry, I am happy for Lenny and the Home, too. Remember, I told you that I hoped Lenny would win, but I would do my best."
"That you did, and I am proud of you."
"Can we stop at the Home so I can congratulate Lenny?"
Zac patted Patrick's shoulder, "I think that would be a great idea."
As they pulled into the drive for the Ranch, a flatbed tow truck pulled in behind them. It had what looked like a piece of junk sitting on it. The truck followed Zac all the way to the Home.
Zac got out of his truck and the tow truck driver did likewise. "I have a delivery for Another Chance Boys' Home. Are you authorized to sign for it?"
"I am," Zac replied. "I'm guessing this is the prize for the school of the boy who won the essay."
"It is, but whoever is teaching their Auto Mechanics has his work cut out for him. This thing is a piece of junk."
"That is a matter of opinion," Vince Abrams stated as he came around from the side of the dorms. "A new engine and transmission, a new paint job and some tires and this will be a beauty."
"That's my dad," Zac boasted, "and the one who will teach the boys how to rebuild this."
"I admire your enthusiasm," the driver admitted. "I have a 350 Chevy engine block back at the garage. It's in perfect shape, but it's just a block; you will need to build the engine. If you are interested, I can donate it for the school."
"If you are donating it," Vincent cooed, "how can I say no? Bring it by and we can give you a receipt for a tax write-off."
"Can I bring it Monday?"
Vincent assured the guy, "Whenever is convenient for you."
Once the car was unloaded, the guy left with a promise he would be back on Monday.
"We should have a good game today, folks. Both teams are undefeated so far," the announcer declared as Jim, Zac and Jake were finding their seats. Patrick was with the team in the locker room.
Jim joked, "Well, that changes today; hopefully it's Jackson that gets defeated."
"That's not nice, Daddy," Jake scolded, "I thought you liked Jackson."
"I do, but I mean Jackson Hole, the other team."
"Oh," Jake chuckled, "then I guess it's okay."
Patrick led the Cody Broncs out onto the field and sat with them. He looked "odd man out" since he was wearing jeans while the other boys had their football pants on.
Jim could tell that Patrick was enjoying himself and wished he could play, but deep down, Jim was glad that he wasn't. He loved his son too much to want to see him hurt. Mind you, even with all the precautions taken, football is still a dangerous sport.
At half time, Cody Broncs were beating Jackson Hole fourteen to seven. While the teams were back in the locker rooms, Jackson Hole's cheerleaders were putting on a show.
When they came back out, Jackson Hole had the ball. They took several plays, but they ran the ball all the way for a touchdown. The kick for the extra point was good making the score tied.
Just as the Broncs' quarterback released the ball, he was hit, and hit hard. The wide receiver caught the ball and ran it for a touchdown, but no one was cheering. Everyone's attention was on the quarterback. He hadn't moved since he was hit.
Time was called while Coach Leffell ran out to the boy, then yelled for a medic. It was a few minutes, but the boy finally moved. He limped off the field with the medic and Coach Leffell assisting him. It was determined that the boy had a concussion and was done playing. Patrick felt bad for the boy but was glad it wasn't him.
When the game was over, the Cody Broncs won with a score of twenty-eight to fourteen. The Cody Broncs were still undefeated, and Jackson Hole suffered their first loss. Patrick chatted all the way home about how he was glad he wasn't playing in that game.
"Really, Bud?" Jim asked. "Until Alvey got injured, you looked like you wanted to play."
"Yeah, I kinda did," Patrick confessed, "but then Alvey got hurt and will be out for the rest of the season. All I could think about was, that was almost me. I never want to play again except when we are just having fun."
"I have to admit," Jim responded, "part of me is glad to hear that. I am proud of you whether you play or not."
"I know," Patrick grinned, "and I am proud of you and Papa."
"What did we do?" Jim questioned.
"For starters," Patrick replied, "You have shown me how much you love this country. You don't need to serve in the military to prove that, but if that is what you decide, I want to be as helpful as I can."
"We're still discussing it, and you are right," Zac interjected.
"Second, you guide me in what I should do, yet let me make my own decisions," Patrick continued. "Yes, you have certain rules that I need to follow, but you allow me to be me."
"Well, we love you as you are," Jim responded. "We don't want to change you. And the rules are just to help keep you on the right path."
"I know, and I love you for it."
The man from the towing company came by with the engine he offered to donate, but he also had another car on his truck. Vince was surprised to see the other car but figured he was taking it some place. "Where would you like these engines?" the driver asked.
"Engines, as in plural?"
"Yes, I thought maybe you could rebuild two cars and maybe break the boys into two teams and have a contest," the driver chuckled. "To do that, you need two cars and two engines."
"That's not a bad idea," Vince agreed. "Then we can raffle the cars off and use the money to get two cars from you next year."
The driver chuckled, "I will give you a good deal."
"I suspected you would," Vince averred, "and since you are donating these, I feel we owe it to you."
"You don't owe me anything, but I respect your way of thinking."
"As I do yours," Vince grinned. "If you don't mind me riding with you, I can show you where we'll be working on the cars."
"Hop in," was all the driver said.
After lunch, Vince took the boys out to the cars. "Griff, Xander, you two are the oldest, so I would like for you to be the team captains. Xander, which car would you like for your team?"
"If Griff doesn't mind," Xander started, "I would like the Camaro. What are we doing with the cars after we are done?"
Vince explained his plans to the boys, "We will raffle them off. Each car will have its own ticket, red for one and blue for the other. Whichever team’s car sells the most tickets, wins the contest and will get a pizza party. The balance of the money will go towards getting two cars next year."
"Can we buy a ticket?" Griff asked.
"I don't see why not," Vince replied. "Chance of winning may be slim, depending on how many tickets you buy, but even one ticket has a chance. If any of you do win, the title will have to go into your guardian's name until you are eighteen. For most of you, that would be the Home or Joe. Griff, that would be your parents."
"Who is doing the paint jobs?" Luke inquired.
"I will," Vince answered, "but it will be up to the team captains to decide what color."
"Will they be just one color?" was the next question asked.
"That depends on the team captains. If you want a design on it, I know someone who does airbrushing. He did the design on Jim's Challenger."
"Coooooool…" all the boys cooed.
"Starting next week, we will be working on the cars on Tuesdays and Fridays. Mondays during this time will be martial arts. Wednesdays, I will be teaching the older boys about firearms, and you will get some shooting practice provided you prove you can safely handle a firearm. Joe will be taking the younger boys to do something else." Vince waited a few seconds to see if anyone asked about Thursdays, but no one did. "Thursdays, you will learn to ride horses. Those that already know how can help the others learn."
"I was hoping since there is a horse for each of us that we would learn," Tom Harper commented.
Teams were chosen and the captains started talking with their crew about what they wanted with the car. "What color do we want the car?" Xander asked. "I would like blue."
"You're the team captain, so if you want blue, we should paint it blue," Peter Collins advised.
Xander reasoned, "I don't want to dictate what we do, if someone prefers a different color, we can discuss it."
"I agree with Peter, although I do respect you for wanting our input," Luke James insisted.
"Is there anyone who wants a different color?" Xander inquired.
"Can we do…?” Matthew James thought for a second, "can we do a yellow car with purple polka dots?"
"Do you really want to do that?" Xander wanted to flat out say no but didn't want to hurt Matthew's feelings.
"No, I just wanted to see what you would say," Matthew laughed. "Really, I want blue."
"Then the color is settled," Xander declared. "Now, who knows more about engines, who knows more about interior and who knows more about body work?"
As Xander and his team discussed what everyone would be doing, Griff's team was doing the same thing. Vince watched the boys in their excitement.
For a month, the boys worked hard on rebuilding the cars. Vince allowed them to work on them during their free time, provided he was available to supervise. The auto stores were willing to donate much of what was needed, but they did have to buy some things. For these items, Vince covered the cost, hoping to get the funds back from the raffle.
The cars were nearing completion. The engines looked and sounded great. The interior appeared almost new, and Vince was building two paint booths, complete with thermostat heaters to maintain a proper temperature. Since the plan was to do this every year, Joe suggested he make permanent structures. The glass, tires and lights would be added after the paint jobs.
The boys found images of what they were hoping the paint jobs would look like and used those to sell raffle tickets. The raffle would be the 19th of November, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Xander spent twenty dollars on tickets for the Camaro while Griff spent twenty dollars hoping to win the Monte Carlo.
Jim and Zac bought twenty tickets for each car at five dollars per ticket. They didn't want to show favoritism. Jackson had to buy tickets, too. He said that if he won, the car would go to Alex when he was old enough to drive.
The boys didn't pass up any opportunity to sell tickets when it presented itself. Many guests of the ranch bought tickets.
Tonight was Patrick's big night; he would be defending Scott in The Middle School of Cody vs. Scott Gavin. Melissa, the prosecuting attorney started off, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant, Scott Gavin, has been accused of stealing a monkey from the local zoo. He admits that he was at the zoo on the day in question, he admits that he visited the monkey house, and the said monkey was found asleep in his bed when the police investigated.
"He claims that he didn't know the monkey was even missing, or how it got into his house. I intend to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Scott let the monkey out of its cage and led it home."
Melissa sat down and Patrick stood up. He scanned the audience, then looked at the jury, "Ladies and gentlemen, was Scott at the zoo? Yes, he admits that. Did Scott go visit the monkeys? Who doesn't? The Cody Zoo admits that thousands of people visit the monkeys every week. That means there are nearly 150 suspects that could have released the monkey. How did they manage to pick my client as the suspect? Scott says that he didn't know the monkey was in his house when he told the police they could search it. If he did know, why would he have given permission without them having a search warrant? Scott is innocent and I intend to prove reasonable doubt of his guilt."
Several witnesses were called to testify, and the trial took an hour and forty minutes. Finally, both attorneys gave closing statements, and the jury went into deliberation. Mr. Washington stood on the stage, "Ladies and gentlemen in the audience, you will see before you a red and green button. If you think the prosecutor proved her case, push the red button. If you think the defense proved reasonable doubt, push the green button. I will announce your results after the jury returns with their verdict."
When the jury returned, the foreman was asked if they came to a verdict, "We have, your Honor." He handed a slip of paper to the bailiff, who handed it to the judge, and then back. "We, the jury," the foreman started, "find the defendant, Scott Gavin, not guilty."
Patrick started cheering, and Scott joked, "I knew you would get me off, you always do."
"Now that we have the jury's decision," Mr. Washington asked, "Scott and Patrick, would you like to hear how the audience voted?"
"We would," Patrick responded.
Mr. Washington looked at his phone, "The audience voted 1,376 green and four red. They found you not guilty, as well. Patrick, I would say you did an excellent job. Melissa, you did a good job, too."
"I still think he took the monkey," Melissa teased.
At the Home, the cars were ready and looked as close to the images the boys found as Vince could make them, with one exception. On the back of the car, he added, "Rebuilt by the boys of Another Chance Boys' Home." It wasn't very big, but if you were following the car, you would see it. That brought a smile to the boys. They were proud of the work they did, and they felt the pride Vince had in them.
The cars were parked in the center of the rodeo arena for all the guests to see as they took their seats. Additional tickets were sold as people walked in.
Vince walked up to the platform. He grabbed the mike, "Ladies and gentlemen, don't these cars look beautiful? Other than the paint jobs, the boys did all the work and I am impressed with the job they did. These cars look as good as they did back in 1967, and they sound even better."
Griff and Xander took that as their cue and they walked to the cars. Griff started the Monte Carlo while Xander started the Camaro. Vince continued talking, "These two were the captains of the teams that rebuilt them. We had a contest to see which car would bring in the most money. Folks, you did us proud. The Camaro brought in $5,840 dollars by itself, making it the winner; however, the Monte Carlo brought in $5,840 also. Both cars are winners, and the boys are even bigger winners because of people like you."
Griff and Xander turned off the cars and got out. Their teams joined them by the cars. "On behalf of both teams, we want to thank all of you," Xander hollered.
Everyone got silent as two bins were brought to the platform. "There are over a thousand tickets in each of these, so this won't be easy," Vince declared. He asked for a volunteer and chose a very young boy. "I want you to pick a ticket at random. You can dig down, or however you want to get the ticket, but the first ticket you hand me will be the winner. Do you understand?"
"Uh huh," the boy responded.
Vince asked the boy, "What's your name?"
"Michael Davenport," the boy replied. Vince helped the boy get into the bin for the Monte Carlo. He frolicked in the tickets for a bit before finally grabbing a ticket.
Vince read the name on the ticket, "Brandon Hecker, congratulations, you are the winner of this 1967 Chevy Monte Carlo. Please bring the other half of ticket 1826397 to claim your car." Vince then looked at the boy, "You did a good job, and I'm sure Brandon will agree with me. Would you like to pick the winner for the other car?"
"Uh huh," the boy smiled. Vince helped him out of the first bin and then into the second. The boy tossed tickets in the air and dug deep into the bin. Finally, he handed Vince a ticket. Before reading it, Vince helped him out of the bin.
"And the winner of this 1967 Chevy Camaro is…" Vince paused, "Alexander Martin. Actually, I'm surprised he wrote 'Alexander,' we know him as Xander. Xander, you led the team that built her, and you won her fair and square. Congratulations."
With over a thousand tickets in the bin, and him only buying four, Xander was surprised that he won. He was happy, extremely happy, but surprised. He walked over to the platform and handed the winning ticket to Vince.
Jim and Zac hugged Patrick and Jake. "We are going to miss you two at Thanksgiving dinner" they whined.
"I know," Patrick commented, "and we'll miss you, but Trevor and Roger invited us to come over there for the holiday break. And you both said we could go."
"We did," Zac confirmed, "and we haven't changed our minds, but we wanted to let you know how much we love you two."
"Remember, Xander is in charge, so behave," Jim added.
"Daaaaaaad," Patrick sighed, "you don't need to worry about us. I will help Jake to behave."
"I don't need help," Jake insisted. "I am six, you know."
Xander pulled up in the Camaro, which surprised Patrick, "I thought we were taking the Mustang."
"That was before I won this car," Xander explained. "I hope you don't mind, but this car has a bigger trunk and more leg room."
"That's cool," Patrick accepted Xander's reasoning.
Tim Thompson was in the passenger seat but got out to aid with putting Patrick's and Jake's luggage in the trunk. "Can I help you with that?" he asked Jake.
"Yes, please," Jake giggled.
Xander put Jake in a car seat and buckled him in. Zac and Jim waved as the boys drove off. They saw Patrick waving back.
I hope you enjoy the story and that it draws you in, wanting more. If you have any suggestions or concerns, don't hesitate to email me. Thoughts and suggestions are always welcomed and may or may not be implemented. Concerns will be considered and addressed as much as possible.
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