Just as I suspected, I couldn’t stop wondering about how things were going at the house and that continued throughout the entire day. When I met up with Brandon for lunch, I discovered he’d been having the same problem, and we didn’t even know for certain if the medium had arrived at the house yet. We tried to put it out of our minds, although we were pretty sure the attempt would be futile, so when the workday ended we rushed home to see how things had gone.
“Did he show up?” Brandon asked as soon as we walked into the foyer.
This caused Dad to place his index finger to his lips to warn Brandon that he shouldn’t be talking about it in the foyer or that loudly. He then signaled Pop, Dion, Trey, Brandon, and I to follow him back to the rec room, and once we were all there he shut the door behind us. Typically the door was only closed when the boys were making too much noise playing back there, but this time we did it so the boys wouldn’t accidentally overhear our discussion.
“Yes, the medium showed up shortly after lunch and he brought his friend along,” Dad began in a hushed tone. “His friend turned out to be an Episcopal priest, although you couldn’t tell that by the way he was dressed when he first arrived. However, before we went outside he slipped on a black cassock over his other clothing and placed a stole around his neck.
“When we got to one of the stakes Elliot and I had placed along the property line, the medium opened two containers of tar water and placed them about a yard (1 m) apart. Then, we merely waited until Hubbard was attracted to the area and standing between the two containers.”
“How did you know where he was if neither of you can see spirits like Graham does?” Dion asked.
“The medium’s protective spirits let him know when Hubbard was in position. I’m not sure if his protective spirits had remained invisible or had somehow hidden within the medium’s body, but once Hubbard was in the spot the medium wanted, his protective spirits jumped into action.”
“What do you mean? What did they do?” Brandon blurted out impulsively.
“From what I was told, the protective spirits quickly surrounded and captured Hubbard, forcing him to his knees. The medium explained that two of the spirits held onto Hubbard’s arms while the other two pinned his legs to the ground to prevent him from fighting back or running away. They then held him in that position so the priest could perform the exorcism.”
“It seems this wouldn’t have worked if the medium didn’t have his protective spirits,” Trey observed.
“Possibly not, so I think we chose the right guy to help us. Anyway, once Hubbard had been restrained, the priest began the procedure of exorcising him. I won’t be able to tell you exactly what he said or did, but I can give you an idea about what happened.”
“That’s fine,” I told him. “We just want to know if Hubbard is gone for good.”
“And I’m getting to that,” Dad said looking annoyed. “The priest then started out by saying something like, ‘In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost I call upon the Blessed Archangel Michael to assist us in dealing with this troublesome and unrepentant soul.’ He was continually making the sign of the cross and flicking holy water at the area where he thought Hubbard was located, and then he started speaking again.
“This time when he addressed the archangel, he said ‘In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I beseech the Blessed Archangel Michael to come to the assistance of men whom God has created in his own likeness. Help us to cast this uncooperative spirit into the fires of hell so he will spend eternity with your fallen brother Lucifer, who is better known as Satan.’
“He continued repeating comments like that while holding onto his Bible with his left and making the sign of the cross and flicking more holy water at Hubbard with his right hand. He did this until the protective spirits advised him that Hubbard had disappeared, which he interpreted to mean the archangel had done as requested and Hubbard was now burning in hell. Even though I didn’t recall every word that was said in precise detail, I’m sure you got the gist.”
“Do you think that really happened and Hubbard is in hell now?” Trey asked. “Does this really mean he won’t be able to bother us any longer?”
“I suppose we’ll find out in due time. If no other incidents occur, then it would appear that Hubbard is dealing with the devil now, instead of us.”
“I wish Hubbard had changed his ways before things got this bad. I mean, I know he’s always been trying to hurt us, but I still hate to see someone condemned to burn in hell for all eternity,” Brandon said to no one in particular. The rest of us merely nodded in agreement.
Seeing Dad had finished filling us in, we left the rec room and went about our business. While Dad and Trey returned to the kitchen, Dion and Pop went back to doing whatever they had been working on before they joined us, and Brandon and I went upstairs to change. When we came downstairs again, we went to say hello to the boys.
“Homework?” I asked after we’d inquired about their day.
“Yeah, but I’ll do it after dinner,” Noah replied.
“Me too,” Ryan added.
“Us too,” Benny chimed in for Joshie and him, “but we don’t have very much.”
“Just make sure you get it done and then bring it to me to check.”
“Yeah, yeah. We know,” Ryan responded sarcastically.
Brandon and I then went out to see what we could do to help with dinner and ended up setting the table. When we all came together to eat, Brandon asked Benny a question.
“You’re birthday is coming up in three weeks, so do you want to have a party?”
“Do you mean with you guys or one that I invite friends?”
“You could have either, both, or a combined party for both family and friends.”
Benny looked over at Joshie before he spoke again. “What do you think? I haven’t been invited to anybody’s birthday party, so do guys our age still do that?”
“Only if it’s a really special party, not the kind you would have here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Either you have it at a special place or you do something really special.”
“You know, like having it at a restaurant or someplace where the food is brought in by special cooks.”
“Do you mean catered?” Dion asked to clarify what his son was suggesting.
“Yeah, I just couldn’t think of that word. Either you do one of those things or you have it at a bowling alley, skating rink, or where you can play laser tag or see a movie.”
“Those things would be too expensive, so we can just have a party here for the family,” Benny conceded.
“We could do something like Joshie suggested,” Brandon offered, “but we’d just have to limit the number of friends you could invite.”
“I don’t know. Let me think about it and I’ll let you know later.”
“Ok, but tell me by next weekend, because it will take time to plan this and get invitations out to your friends.”
We left it at that and continued eating, and I wondered what he would eventually decide. I felt it was a little unusual for a kid to turn down an offer to have a party, but then again he obviously knew the family would have a birthday party for him no matter what.
The rest of the evening was pretty routine and uneventful. However, when Brandon and I were tucking Benny and Joshie into bed, he had something else he wanted to tell us.
“Me and Joshie talked it over, and when you had the birthday party for me when I first came to live here, it was fun, but I don’t want to do that again. You invited my whole class and I didn’t even like some of those kids cuz they picked on me.”
“We don’t have to invite everyone in your class this time?” I offered.
“We don’t have just one class, like we did when we were in fourth grade,” Benny reminded me.
“Yeah, we go to a different room for each subject and the same kids aren’t in every class,” Joshie added.
“Then do you have any special friends that you might like to invite?” Brandon followed.
“There are some other kids I like and get along with, but my best friend is Joshie.” We thought that was cute and we could see his admission had touched Joshie deeply.
“So you don’t want to invite them?”
“Not really. We get along in school, but I don’t know what other stuff they like.”
“Ok, then we’ll just have a party for you here.”
“Can Revin come too, cuz he’s pretty neat?”
“Yes, we’ll make sure Revin also comes to your party.”
We then kissed them both on the forehead and said goodnight, and then Brandon and I went downstairs again. “That was interesting,” Brandon said when we reached the foyer.
“I agree. It seems he doesn’t have a lot of close friends at school, and I can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with the way the kids treated him when he first moved here.”
“That probably has something to do with it, because the kids didn’t treat him very nicely at first.”
“No, they didn’t and they teased him unmercifully about his mother putting him in a dog kennel. Even though Mrs. Argentine helped to put an end to what was happening, it doesn’t look as if Benny has completely forgiven the other kids.”
“But at least he has his best friend to get through this.”
“Yes, he and Joshie are inseparable.”
“And they look out for one another, including taking care of each other’s sexual needs.”
“Yes, but as far as I know they haven’t had anal intercourse yet.”
“I hope they haven’t,” Brandon added. “I still think they’re too young for that.”
“Do you remember how old we were when we first did it?”
“Yes, we were fourteen.”
“And Benny will turn fourteen at his next birthday.”
“But Joshie will only be turning thirteen in September, so I think they should wait until he turns fourteen too, or maybe the year after that.”
“I’m not so sure about that. They’ll probably be taking turns doing it to each other, and by that time Joshie’s penis is likely to be huge, which will make it much harder on Benny.”
“Ok, then maybe just one more year, but in my opinion they’re not ready to do that yet.”
“Ok, I’ll go along with you on that, and as long as we’re in agreement I’m going to call Graham. I promised to let him know how things turned out with the medium today.”
“Ok, and tell him I said ‘hi’.”
I then went up to the bedroom for some privacy before I called Graham. After explaining to him the same things that Dad had told us earlier, Graham offered his thoughts on the situation.
“I think I’ll drive back this weekend so I can see for myself whether or not Hubbard is still hanging around.”
“You don’t have to do that. We can just call you if things start up again.”
“I’d rather not wait, because I think you guys should be aware if it didn’t work so you can be on the lookout for further incidents.”
“We’ll do that anyway.”
“Possibly, but will you be as observant as if you knew Hubbard was still hanging around?”
“Ok, maybe we wouldn’t be on high alert like we would be if we knew he wasn’t gone.”
“Then I’ll be there this weekend.”
“Will Sammy and Andrew be coming with you again?”
“Hang on, let me check.” He was gone for a little over a minute and then I heard him speak again. “Yes, they’re going to come with me.”
“Ok, I’ll let Dad know, and we’ll take you out to eat again to pay you guys for making another trip.”
“I think we all enjoyed the Outback, and this time Tristan will be able to order something different, rather than mooching off the rest of us.” He laughed.
“Yes, we’ll do that then, and I know Tristan will be happy to see all of you again.”
“Yes, those two did form a special bond. Anyway, thanks for doing this for us and we’ll see you on Saturday.”
After I hung up, I informed Brandon and Dad about my conversation with Graham. “Although I’d love to see them again, I hate the idea of them driving back and forth so often,” Dad said after I’d filled him in.
“I didn’t ask him to come, he insisted. He said he wanted to be sure Hubbard was gone for good, because he wasn’t convinced we would be prepared for future attacks if he was still here.”
“Yes, I suppose he’s right about that. It’s just that the more trips they make, the greater the chance of an accident.”
“That’s why Sammy and Andrew are coming with him, so they can split the driving. That way the same person won’t have to drive both ways.”
“Yes, that is better, but I’m more concerned about the other drivers on the road.”
“That’s something we have no control over.”
“Except for how often we tempt fate by being on the road with them.”
“Damn, if that’s you’re viewpoint then I’m surprised you haven’t tried to stop all of us from making trips. It also makes me wonder how you were able to take us so many places when we were younger, if you’re so concerned about other drivers.”
“Ok, maybe I am being a little paranoid now. Chalk it up to old age. Maybe having to deal with my own mortality and the realization that my time on earth is growing short has led me to overreact.”
“Dad, you may be old, but you’re not ancient. You’re only turning sixty-eight this year, so you probably have another twenty years or more.”
“Possibly, but none of us can ever be sure. Look at how young Cody and Brent were when we lost them.”
“Ok, point taken, but let’s just enjoy the time we have without putting restrictions on it. By the way, I told Graham we’d take them out to dinner again.”
“That’s fine, and this time it’s on me.”
“I’m sure Dion and Trey would be willing to split the bill with us again.”
“No, this time I’m paying for everything.”
“Are you sure?”
“In that case you should probably know that Graham mentioned we should go to the Outback again. He wants Tristan to select one of the other entrees that he discovered he liked when he tried what we were having.”
“Good idea and that’s what we’ll do.”
The remainder of the week went by smoothly, and before we knew it Graham, Sammy, and Andrew were at the front door. “Wow, you guys have been coming here a lot,” Benny stated when he saw them coming through the door.
“We missed you guys,” Graham answered.
“And we wanted to spend time with our nephews,” Andrew added.
That caused Tristan to move in front of the others and he dragged Revin by the hand so he’d go with him. “Uncle Andrew, this is my friend, Revin.”
“Yes, I met him at Easter.”
“Oops, I forgot.”
“So you were only going to introduce him to Uncle Andrew?” Sammy stated snidely. “I guess the rest of us don’t count,”
“Yes, you do,” Tristan replied. “I was gonna introduced him to you guys too.”
Once this had been settled, we went into the living room to chat. After an hour of small talk, Graham made an announcement. “It’s such a lovely day that I think I’ll go outside for a walk. Anyone care to join me?”
“I will,” Tristan readily agreed, “and Revin will come with us.” I thought it was impolite for him to make the decision for Revin, but it appeared that Revin didn’t mind at all.
“Yeah, I’ll go too,” he agreed.
The rest of us understood what Graham was doing and thought it might be less conspicuous if only they went, so we politely declined his invitation. They headed outside, and later Graham filled us in on what happened.
“It’s been a long time since I played in this yard,” he was telling Revin and Tristan as they started out, “so do you mind if I walk around and see how things have changed?”
“No, that’s ok. We’ll just follow you.”
Graham later explained that he walked the entire perimeter of the property and stopped occasionally to tell the boys about an experience he’d had at that spot when he was younger. When they finished, they came inside, and as soon as he had a chance to speak to me alone, he broke the news.
“I was out there for quite a while and pretty much covered every square foot of this place and I didn’t see David Hubbard anywhere.”
“That’s great news. Do you want to tell Dad or should I?”
“It would probably be easier for you to get him alone so you can tell him.”
“Ok, I’ll do that,” I replied thus ending the discussion, and then we went back to rejoin the others.
A short time later we were all getting ready to go out to eat, and then we drove three vehicles to the Outback. As soon as we were seated, we began looking at the menus and Brandon asked Tristan a question. “Do you know what you want?”
“Yeah, I want to have the same thing you guys had the last time.”
“I take it you mean the steak?”
“How about you, Revin? Would you like to have the same thing?”
“That’s kinda ‘spensive, so I’ll have the chicken fingers.”
“If you want the same thing as Tristan, then it’s ok with us. Don’t worry about how much it costs.”
“Yes, so do you want the Joey Sirloin like Tristan?”
After we’d each told the server what we wanted, Dad ordered three Aussie Signature Samplers for us to share. They included the Bloomin’ Onion, some Steakhouse Mac & Cheese bites, and some Aussie Cheese Fries.
The samplers were delivered first and we warned the boys not to fill up on them because their meal would be arriving shortly. Luckily they listened to us, so there was more than enough to go around.
The conversation was lively as we ate, and it started out with Sammy telling a story about something that had happened when we were much younger. Since a few of us didn’t appear in a favorable light during his rendition of the ‘facts’, we tried to correct his version of the story. Once that ended, someone else began telling a story that made some of others look less than admirable, and these stories continued to evolve as we were eating. They were also getting more and more embarrassing as the evening progressed, and we were all getting louder and more animated as we debated the truth of what the storyteller claimed had happened. Dad was getting more and more frustrated with how we were acting and how loud we were getting, so after he paid the bill he herded us out of the restaurant, thus ending our verbal repartee.
When we got back to the house, we split into smaller groups. Some watched TV in the living room, while others watched a DVD in the family room, and a few of us sat down at the dining room table to sip a cup of coffee and chat. That’s when Graham was finally able to let Dad know that he hadn’t seen Hubbard anywhere, because most of the boys were in the family room at the time.
“That’s good to know,” Dad agreed. “I guess the medium knew what he was doing after all.”
We continued chatting until the DVD and TV shows ended, and then we sent the boys upstairs to get ready for bed. As Revin was following Tristan up the stairs, he stopped and turned to those of us who were there.
“Thanks for taking me with you tonight and buying me a steak.”
“Grandpa Josh did that,” we informed him.
“Thank you for buyin’ my supper tonight, Grandpa Josh,” Revin yelled, since Dad was in the other room.
“You’re very welcome, Revin,” Dad hollered back, and then the boys continued up the stairs.
After tucking the boys in and saying goodnight, the rest of us decided to turn in as well. “Today went very well and I’m glad Graham was able to confirm that Hubbard is no longer around,” Brandon said as we were preparing to get in bed.
“Yes, that was excellent and very welcome news,” I agreed, and then we cuddled together and fell asleep.
The next morning we went to church together, and we stopped to get Becky first. Revin immediately had to tell his mom about us taking him to the Outback as soon as she’d buckled in. She looked at us questioningly.
“Three of our brothers came home for a visit, so Dad took us all out to eat. It was his treat.”
“You guys are spoiling the boys. I hope Revin doesn’t start expecting me to do those same things.”
“He was told this was a special treat, so I’m sure he won’t do that.”
“I certainly hope not.”
We then attended Sunday school and the church service together before going out for brunch. Sammy, Graham, and Andrew left as soon as we finished eating, and we said goodbye to them in the parking lot.
“Thanks for coming to see us again,” Dad told them before they got in their car.
“We always enjoy spending time with you guys,” Graham responded for all of them.
“And we appreciate everything you do for us,” I countered cryptically so the boys wouldn’t figure out what I meant.
We waved at them as they were driving away, and then we took Becky and Revin home before going back to the house.