Mrs. Amee Whatley Wiggins was sitting on her veranda sipping a tall glass of peach tea while supervising her new landscaper when the phone in the house rang. A sudden chill hit the older woman. A strange sense of foreboding mixed with a hint of promise washed over her as she heard her long time friend and housekeeper, Annie Mae answer the call.
"Wiggins House, can I help you?" the equally elderly woman said. "Sheriff's department? We done give to the fund…." There was a pause. "Why of course she's here, you fool. Where else Mrs. Amee gonna be but here?" There was another pause during which Mrs. Amee stood and began to make her way into the house. "What you mean prepare her? What she got to be prepared for?" Mrs. Amee did her best to speed up at that point. "Glory be! Thank you, Lord. I didn't think I'd live to see the day…. What problem?" Another pause in the conversation. "Oh Lordy, no. Mrs. Amee can't stand it. This'll put her in her grave for sure."
"Now Annie Mae, why don't you let me decide what's going to finish me off?" Mrs. Amee asked softly. "What's going on?"
"I'll tell her," Annie Mae said into the phone. "You tell them people in Arkansas they best take care of that boy. Anything happen to that child, and they's gonna answer for it." With that said she hung up the phone and turned to face her dearest friend.
"Annie Mae, will you please tell me what's going on? Who was that on the phone?"
"Mrs. Amee, that was the sheriff's department calling to tell you something," the old black woman said slowly. "You best come over here to the settee for a spell." She turned and called out to the back of the house. "Petula, you fetch that smelling salt in here quick. If Mrs. Amee don't need it, you may be shoving it under my nose 'fore the day's out."
"For heaven's sake, Annie Mae, what are you going on about?" She sat down on the velvet covered settee in the parlor and looked up at her friend. "I haven't seen you this upset since Daniel passed," she added referring to the day that her husband had died.
"Mrs. Amee this is nigh onto just as bad," Annie Mae told her. Her daughter Petula came in then and stood beside them as Annie Mae took a seat beside Mrs. Amee and grasped her hands in her own. "They done found baby Daniel."
"Where did they find him?" Mrs. Amee whispered. She couldn't have spoken any louder then. Her emotions were just too strong.
"He been living in Arkansas with some crazy woman claiming to be his momma," Annie Mae explained.
"He's alive! Hallelujah!" Petula exclaimed.
"Well, don't get to celebrating just yet," Annie Mae warned. "They was able to find him on account of that woman done tried to kill him."
Mrs. Amee flushed pale and swayed backwards for a moment. Petula rushed up to hold the smelling salt, but the old woman waved her away. "I'm all right, Petula," she said as firmly as she could. "How is the boy, Annie Mae?"
"They say she near butchered him with a knife," Annie Mae told her. "The sheriff done sent word out there telling them that he wants to know what's going on every minute. He'll be over here in a little bit. He was on the phone telling them folks they best take extra special care of our baby."
"Momma, the boy's got to be ten years old by now," Petula pointed out. "He ain't no baby now."
"Hush, girl, you knowed what I meant," Annie Mae fussed lightly.
"He will be twelve years old on Thanksgiving Day," Mrs. Amee corrected.
"That's right, I remember now," Annie Mae agreed. "He was born on your birthday, wasn't he, Amee?"
"He was the best little birthday present I ever got," the old woman said with a smile. "I want to talk to the doctors," she announced firmly. "Did the sheriff leave the number?"
"I'll dial it for you," Annie Mae told her. "Now you remember not to get too upset. It won't do that little one no good for to lose you before he gets to see you again."
"I'll behave myself, Annie Mae," Mrs. Amee promised. "I want to see him too." A few seconds later she was talking to the nurse at a small hospital in southern Arkansas. "Could you please direct me to the doctor in charge of Daniel Wiggins?" There was a pause while the other woman spoke. "Yes I am quite sure that is my great grandson's name. He is named after my late husband, Daniel Kirby Wiggins." Another pause. "Well, I would appreciate it if you would put his proper name in your records. Take that kidnapper's name away from him this instant…. Thank you very much." To Annie Mae and Petula she said, "They had him listed as …. Oh, hello doctor. My name is Amee Whatley Wiggins and I'm calling to find out about my great grandson's condition." Annie Mae and Petula watched as Mrs. Amee's facial color went white with fear and then began to redden with anger. "That was not your decision to make, sir. I realize that it was an emergency case, but what you did is totally unacceptable. I will be contacting my attorneys about malpractice and I will have my great grandson removed from your hospital as soon as possible." She clicked the portable phone off and threw it onto the settee beside her.
"What they did to our baby, Mrs. Amee?" Annie Mae asked quickly.
"Annie Mae, our baby needs help as soon as possible. Petula, call Donald Legette," the old woman said grimly. "Annie Mae, fetch me a drink and I don't mean peach tea."
"Now, Mrs. Amee, you know the doctor told you not to drink even to be social," Annie Mae warned.
"I ain't drinking to be social," the old woman snapped. "Annie Mae that woman that kidnapped little Daniel…. That woman attacked him this morning. She cut his little body so bad he's gonna need skin grafts over thirty percent of his body. But the worst…the worst she did…. I can hardly bring myself to say it. She destroyed him, Annie Mae. She took that knife and cut off his…. She castrated the boy, Annie." Tears began to flow freely down her face as she quietly continued. "She completely castrated him. And now that damn fool doctor says it would be best for the boy if he were to be made into a girl. He's a month away from being twelve years old. Maybe he is gay like that doctor said, that doesn't mean he should be turned into a girl at this late stage of life."
"You get me the judge right now, you hear me?" Petula yelled into the phone. "Mrs. Amee wants to speak to him on an emergency. That's right, Mrs. Amee Whatley Wiggins."
"The first thing we have to do is get him safe," Mrs. Amee began to mumble. "After that we'll take care of that name. I don't mind the first name so much, he'll be too used to that to try to change now anyway, but I will not stand for him to carry that monster's name a minute longer than he has to. Pickhinke," she said as if just saying the word left a nasty taste in her mouth. "People will think the poor boy is a pickle or something."
Within a few minutes, Mrs. Amee had been given new information that no one else in town knew about yet. Clan Short and Federation Youth Services are opening a hospital for abused children at the old Naval hospital. The judge knew of this only from having just met the patriarch of the Vulcan Clan who had donated the building for that use. Short sounded like an odd name for a Vulcan Clan, but she wasn't going to argue. These people might be able to save her great grandson's life.
She dialed the number she had been given and a very young voice said, "Clan Short Artificial Intelligence Division, this is Dr. Owens. May I help you?"
"I was given this number by my friend, Judge Leggette," Mrs. Amee said. "I need to get some medical help for my great grandson immediately."
"Do you have a computer terminal, Mrs….?" The young doctor asked leaving the open ended question hanging since the woman hadn't given her name yet.
"I am sorry, doctor," Mrs. Amee apologized instantly. "My manners must have slipped in my concern for my great grandson. I'm Amee Whatley-Wiggins. There is a computer in my chaffeur's son's room. He is a regular whiz at that sort of thing, unlike me. I wouldn't even know how to turn the thing on."
"If it would be possible, I could connect this call through that computer and also have our medical director join us," the voice explained. "I assure the call would be completely private. Only the three of us would need to know what you tell us."
"Let me ask Huey first," Mrs. Amee responded. "It is his machine, after all." She looked over at Petula and saw that she had already sent for her son. Huey had come in straight from working in the gardens and looked rather uncomfortable in the formal parlor with all of the dirt and grass on his clothes.
"Let me guess, Mrs. Amee," he said before she could even ask. "They want to rout the call through my computer for an encrypted connection." When the old lady nodded, Huey politely asked for the phone. "This is Huey Washington, I don't have a problem with using my computer for the call, it can handle anything up to a level six encryption code."
"Not a problem, Huey," Jerry assured him. "We can readjust the signal here to get it that low."
"Low?" Huey asked in astonishment.
"Yeah, we normally run on a level 15," The doctor explained. "The system can handle the downgrade as long as it's only temporary. Do you have video capabilities, Huey?"
"I have a webcam if that's what you mean," Huey answered. "It's not the best quality in the world, but it shows well enough to get the job done."
"That sounds good," Dr, Owens assured him. "Now just tell me your IP address."
"You really are with the Federation, right?" Huey asked. "I mean, you sound kind of young."
"Huey, you're talking with a doctor," Mrs. Amee scolded slightly.
"I'm sorry Mrs. Amee, I just don't like to give out the address for my machine to a stranger," Huey told her. "That can be very bad."
"I understand your concerns, Huey," The voice on the other end reassured him. "I promise you and your computer are completely safe." There was a pause before the boy added, "By the way to answer your question, I am an officer of Clan Short of Vulcan. I am also a doctor of medical computer science and I will be twelve years old next month."
"Wow," Huey muttered.
"Now, I have the connection ready if you want to go to your computer," Dr, Owens told him.
"Come on, Mrs. Amee, he says they are ready to connect to the computer," Huey told the old woman. She followed the boy to his room over the garage. Just outside the door, Huey stopped her for a moment. "Mrs. Amee, my room… I mean… Well, it's just…."
"I had a son and a grandson in this house, Huey," the old woman interrupted his embarrassment. "I have seen teenage boys' natural habitat before. I won't say a word unless there are actual health code violations."
"It's not that bad," the boy exclaimed with a grin. "I don't think," he added softly.
"This call is very important," Mrs. Amee reminded him.
"I'm sorry," Huey apologized sincerely as he turned to leave.
"Wait a minute, where are you going?" Mrs. Amee stopped him. "I don't know how to operate that contraption in there. You have to stay." She paused looking at him for a second. "Huey, you are about to hear some very upsetting things about someone you haven't met yet, but good Lord willing, you will soon. I don't want you to treat him differently just because of what you hear in here."
"Mrs. Amee, even if you hadn't taught me any better, Grandmomma would tan my backside if I wasn't nice to someone I just met." Mrs. Amee smiled at the boy as she walked into the room with him.
"I will wait outside just for a moment so you can tidy up a bit," she said with a conspiratorial wink. She turned around with a smile and stepped outside as Huey looked at his room questioningly. There wasn't anything to tidy up. The bed was made, the floor was clean. Then he looked at his desk.
"Mrs. Amee, you can come in now," he called after he moved his underwear off the desk and cleared the screen of the picture it had been showing.
"That's better, sweetie," she told the boy as she sat in front of the machine as he held the chair for her. Just as she got comfortable the screen lit up with the image of the seal of Clan Short. A second later it was split into two separate images. Each window showed a young boy, the one on the left was blond haired and appeared to be about eleven years old. When Mrs. Amee saw the other boy, her mouth dropped open for a moment.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Wiggins, I am Marc Furst, medical director for Clan Short AI Division," the platinum blonde haired thirteen year old told her. He noticed she still wasn't responding so he continued. "Don't let my youthful appearance fool you. I assure you I am exactly what I say I am as is Jerry whom you have already spoken with."
"I am sorry, Dr. Furst," the old woman finally managed to apologize. "You just remind me very much of someone I haven't seen in a very long time."
"I hope the memories are pleasant," the boy told her politely. "How may I help you?"
Mrs. Amee quickly laid out the facts of her great grandson's life as succinctly as possible. When she got to the extent of his injuries, she had to wipe tears from her eyes as she explained what had happened, and how. She was vaguely aware of Huey sitting down hard on his bed behind her.
"I have to confess to you, Mrs. Wiggins, I am a little out of my range here," Marc told her. "You see, although we have established the Medical Center here at the old naval hospital, we haven't had the chance to fully staff or equip the building yet. Right now we are operating from my home. That in itself isn't a problem as much as the other confession I have to make. I am trained as a medical doctor, but my specialty is Artificial Intelligence. I have never had a human patient before."
"Young man, I pride myself on being an excellent judge of human nature," Mrs. Amee began. "I believe you are the right person to help me for several reasons. First, there is the fact that you have the credentials necessary to remove my grandson from the nightmare those Arkansas idiots have planned for him. Secondly, you just told me that you are unsure of yourself. I have never trusted a doctor that claimed to know all the answers, and I never will. Will you help my boy?"
"Marc, we have to act fast," Jerry interrupted from the left hand window. "While you were talking, I checked Dixon's files at the hospital in Monticello. He is being transferred to the Baptist Children's Hospital in Little Rock right now. They have the surgery team waiting for his arrival to immediately begin the sex change operation."
"No!" Huey cried from behind Mrs. Amee. "Mrs. Amee, you can't let that happen."
"No, she can't, and neither can I," Marc affirmed. "Jerry, contact the hospital in Little Rock. Tell them if they admit that boy, then they will be in violation of Interstellar law and the Safe Haven Act. I am placing Dixon under the protection of Clan Short as of this moment."
"Thank you so much, Doctor Furst," Mrs. Amee said, her voice breaking with emotion.
"Please call me Marc, Mrs. Wiggins," he told her with a smile.
"And I'm just Jerry," the younger boy added.
"Well, thank you Marc and Just Jerry," the old woman said with a mischievous grin. "You boys can call me Mrs. Amee; all my friends do."
"It would be an honor," Marc said sincerely, as Jerry blushed profusely. "We'll handle things from here and I will get word to you when Dixon is here. Clan Short out."
The screen went back to the seal of Clan Short before returning to the desktop image. Huey gasped as he saw the picture displayed right in front of Mrs. Amee. To her credit, the old woman didn't faint dead away as he anticipated, nor did she start yelling at him as he feared.
"Huey, I love you just like you were flesh and blood family," she told the frightened teen. "Nothing will ever change that, do you understand?" He nodded slowly.
She pulled him by the hand into a brief hug before continuing. "I do have to say this, though." Huey stepped back to see her face, which although it had a loving expression, was firm nonetheless. "You are only fourteen years old. If you have been using the Internet to look at pictures like that…."
"No ma'am, that didn't come from the Internet," the boy interrupted quickly. "Well, it did, but not from a porn site. That's a friend of mine from a chat room I go to all the time. We are online… friends."
"That's what the webcam is for," the old woman mused. She noticed the shocked and embarrassed look on Huey's face. "I may be old, but I'm not senile or stupid. Just because I don't know how to work all these fancy little gadgets, that doesn't mean I don't know what they're used for." Huey's embarrassment grew more uncomfortable, but she hugged him again. "Just be careful, sweetie. Not everyone in chat rooms is who they say they are. I hate to tell you this, but that guy is a professional underwear model," she told him pointing at the bikini clad stud on the monitor. "This is from a catalog he posed for."
"No, that can't be," Huey declared. "Xboy wouldn't lie to me, would he?" the boy squeaked.
"I can show you the catalog, if you'd like," she told him sadly. "I'm really sorry to tell you that, Huey. As for him," she said once again pointing at the screen, "you have excellent taste. He's a dream boat isn't he?" She ignored the shocked look on Huey's face as she added, "His name is Billy. I can't remember his last name right now. Something else you should know is that he is a bit older by now. That photo shoot was done a couple of years ago now."
"You just said you could show me the catalog, though," Huey pointed out.
"I'm allowed to keep pictures of handsome young things too, you know," Mrs. Amee announced as she turned to leave the room.
"Mrs. Amee!" Huey exclaimed in shock.
"I may be old, but I'm not dead, Huey," she laughed. "The snow on the roof doesn't mean the fire can't still burn in the stove, and that young man can certainly light my fire."
"EEEEWWWWW!!!!" Huey grimaced. "That's like finding out my grandma still has sex or something."
"Well, if she doesn't, it's not for a lack of trying," Mrs. Amee informed the boy. "She goes out to the senior center every Friday night, regular as clock work."
"OK, T M I," he scolded. "I'm going to be scarred for life now. I see it coming, years of therapy for me all from this one moment."
Mrs. Amee just laughed and headed down to the garage to see Huey's father, her chauffeur. She had no intentions of just sitting around this old mausoleum of a house waiting for news of Danny… no, Dixon. She was going to be there when he arrived and would stay there until he came home if they would let her. They would be ill advised to try and stop her actually.
Jessie didn't manage to get even a few minutes sleep that night. He was dead tired the next morning. He nervously dressed and went down the hall to the kitchen where he smelled breakfast cooking. The only person in the room was a big brute of a teenager that looked about sixteen years old.
"It's about time you got here," this strange boy barked at Jessie. "I've started breakfast for you, but you can finish it off now that you're awake, finally."
"It's only like 5:30," Jessie pointed out.
"I know, Poppa said we could let you sleep in since you just got here and all," the boy replied. "He will blister your backside when I tell him that you locked your door last night, though," he added threateningly. "We aren't allowed to lock doors around here. You never know when someone else might need in the room."
"Why would anyone else need to be in my room?" Jessie questioned.
"It's not your room," the grumpy teen corrected. "This house and everything in it belongs to God. We have no claim over it other than Poppa. The house is in his name legally. As for why we would need into the room you are staying in, well, I just thought I would come by and see if the rumors are true."
"What rumors? Who are you anyway?" Jessie demanded.
"I'm Ezekiel, your new big brother," the teenager explained. "Word around here is that you got kicked out of your house for being a queer. Is that what happened?"
"I didn't get kicked out of my house," Jessie corrected quickly. "The police wouldn't let me stay there because my best friend's mom went psycho and attacked him at my house."
"Best friend ain't what I heard," Ezekiel sneered. "I know what happened to you and your little boyfriend, or should I say girlfriend now? He should be in Little Rock by now."
"What do you mean?" Jessie snapped. "What do you know about Dixie?"
"See there, you even call him a girl's name," Ezekiel taunted. "That's just as well, though. He is one now."
"TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!" Jessie screamed in frustration.
"Don't you raise your voice to me, little boy," Ezekiel snarled. "When Poppa ain't home, I'm in charge around here. You show me some respect, you little fag."
"What do you know about Dixi… Dixon? Please tell me," Jessie begged.
"That's more like it," the teen said smugly. "Well, from what I heard Poppa talking to that social worker woman yesterday about, your little boyfriend had his privates ripped off by his own momma when she found out that you two were abominations."
"Oh my god, Dixie," Jessie gasped as he sank into a chair. Tears streamed down his face as Ezekiel kept talking. Suddenly his memories of the previous day filled his mind. Everything that happened in his home came crashing back on him.
He had jumped up from the patio as soon as he could and had rushed to call the police. While he was trying to dial the phone, Dixon and his mother had been struggling in the kitchen. He heard the most terrible scream from Dixon and had dropped the phone to run in to see what had happened.
Dixie's mom was standing over him with a knife in one hand and something else in her other hand. Jessie couldn't tell at first what it was, until he looked down at Dixie. Dixie was lying on the kitchen floor, naked from the waist down, covered in blood. There was something wrong with the way he looked though.
"Here you go, you freaking little pervert," Mrs. Pickhinke snarled at Jessie. She walked over to him with her hand out holding something bloody. He stared at it in horror as he realized what it was. "You queers like eating these so much, you can eat this one now. He doesn't need it anymore, or I should say she doesn't need it."
Jessie looked back to his boyfriend lying on the floor and realized that the woman had castrated him. He stood frozen in shock for a moment, unable to settle on whether to attack the woman before or after he threw up. Before he could manage to respond she had squatted back down over Dixon.
"You won't need these any more either, little girl," the woman hissed as she grabbed Dixon's scrotum.
Jessie watched helplessly as she ripped the balls out in front of him before he could move. His mind was determined now. He threw himself at her, but was repelled by the knife she still wielded in her other hand.
"Let's not be too hasty, fagboy," she said in an eerily calm voice. "You shouldn't rush your meal. Here let me heat them up for you," she added as she placed the contents of her other hand in the microwave. She kept the knife pointed at Jessie as the microwave innocently did what it was programmed to do. He felt his brain shutting down in shock as he helplessly sat beside his bleeding boyfriend on the floor.
Just as the timer on the machine beeped, the police burst into the house. Mrs. Pickhinke was quickly subdued, but not before she had managed to throw the knife at one of the officers. The police had no choice; they fired at her, striking her in the leg and arm. Paramedics rushed her and Dixon out of the house, but one came running back in, obviously looking for something. Jessie didn't need to be told what the man was doing. He simply pointed at the microwave and then passed out.
"They transferred him from the hospital here to the Baptist Children's hospital in Little Rock this morning," Ezekiel informed the crying younger boy, bringing him back from his flashback. "They did a sex change operation on him as soon as he got there."
"NO!" Jessie yelled out.
"Well, they had no choice, queer boy," Ezekiel told him. "His momma cut his thing off and ripped everything else out. They weren't much left to do but sew him up a nice little hole and start giving him girl hormones." Jessie started to get up and run for the door, but Ezekiel blocked his way. "Where do you think you're going? Nobody leaves the house without Poppa's permission. Besides, I think you and I should get better acquainted, little brother."
"I am not your little brother, and I don't want to get to know you," Jessie declared. "My brother will have me out of here as soon as he finds out what has happened."
"That queer brother of yours is in jail," Ezekiel countered. "He's going to jail for corrupting minors, and all sorts of other stuff like being queer around kids."
"You're lying," Jessie snapped, hoping it was a lie.
"No, I ain't," Ezekiel confirmed. "I don't appreciate being accused of it, neither. You get to your room and you stay there until I come in there and get you."
"I will not," Jessie rebelled. "I'm going to the hospital to see Dixon." He reeled backwards when Ezekiel backhanded him across the face.
"I done told you, you ain't leaving this house," the teen growled. "I've had enough of your backtalking, little boy. You're gonna learn your lesson now." He grabbed Jessie up by the shirt collar and dragged him back down the hall to the younger boy's room. Jessie's eyes grew wide in fright as he saw Ezekiel take a long leather strap off the wall as they entered his room.
Dear Dixon's Diary,
I have never hurt so much in my life. I know I'm bleeding back there, but Ezekiel says I am not allowed out of the room to even go to the bathroom until his father comes home. I can't believe he did that to me. What did I ever do to deserve this?
I thought that when Jason shot Roger that night that I was safe. I would never have to know what it felt like to be forced to give up my virginity. I thought I would be able to give it to Dixon someday. When he and I actually got together, I really believed that would happen. Well, now that's impossible.
Ezekiel made me do things that Dixon and I hadn't even considered doing together yet. Not that I didn't want to do them with him, we just hadn't gotten that far in our relationship. Now we never will. He is in the hospital being turned into a girl and I don't have my cherry to give to anyone. Even if Dixon and I could get back together, he wouldn't want me now. I'm used goods.
Why did I have to be gay? If I weren't my life would be so different. My parents would still be alive. Dixon would still be ok. Jason wouldn't be in jail. Everyone in my life would be better off if I hadn't been gay. Maybe they would have been better off if I just hadn't been born at all. I can't change that, though. I didn't ask to be born, and I didn't ask to be gay. There is one thing I could do to help everyone out, though. If I weren't around anymore, everyone else could get on with normal lives.
I want out of this room. I really have to pee. Ezekiel said that when his dad did come home, I would be in trouble for disobeying him. I don't care anymore. They can't screw up my life anymore than I already have.
I hear someone coming. Maybe it's Ezekiel's dad. I'll write again later tonight.
When the Reverend Malachi Smeltz returned to his home, he was eager to see how his new foster son had blended into the family. He was not surprised to learn upon his arrival that his son, Ezekiel had experienced trouble with the boy. He had recognized the look of defiance in the boy's eyes when the state worker had brought him the day before.
"Ezekiel tells me you had to be disciplined today, Jessie," he said as he walked into the boy's room. "In this house, if he has to reprimand you while I am gone, then I must also correct you upon my return."
"He didn't discipline me," Jessie wept. "He beat me with a strap, and then he raped me."
"Now, Jessie, I don't know what your home life was like up to this point, obviously questionable or you wouldn't be here, but I will not tolerate lies in my home, and most definitely not lies about my family," the minister said coldly. "My son is not a queer abomination before God like you. He might have used the strap as he is instructed to maintain the home while I am away now that his mother is gone, but he would never have relations with you."
"Yes, he did," Jessie insisted. "I begged him to stop and he wouldn't. He made me suck him and he raped my butt. I want to go home. I want my brother, and I want to go home."
"Jason Blankenship has been incarcerated for corrupting your life, son," Malachi told the boy. "Ezekiel is your brother now, and you are home. Now present yourself for discipline for lying about your new brother."