Lost & Found Ch. 01bybeachbum1958©
I've been playing around with this story, in one form or another, for a very long while now, undecided about how to go with it, because it seemed too involved and not sufficiently upbeat; it has occupied a space in my head for a long while now, bounded by an equilateral triangle that described it variously as a labour of love, an on-going project, and a gadfly that nagged at me. My wife decided it for me. She found the story while I was deployed in-service overseas and asked if I'd round it out and give her something to read that involved more than just illicit sex between siblings, if there could be something that would make it a more satisfying read. This version of the story came out of that and subsequent conversations, with a large amount of amendment and input (i.e. interference, argument and nagging) from both her and her various hormonal female friends (sorry darling, but describing them as a coven of loonies doesn't nearly do them justice, and 'tribe of gin-soaked man-trap's seems a little harsh...).
Mriceman1964 has also had a long and helpful critical input and reader perspective with this, coupled with a large amount of editorial involvement and reality-checking, so a vote of deep thanks goes to him.
This story is about rejection, and abandonment, but also about redemption, love and hope, and what family really means, and maybe has a place on this site and in this category because of the base subject matter; see what you think. There is a back-story,so it has a slow build-up, you have been warned!
All characters are over 18, and are indulging in consensual sexual activities appropriate to adults only.
If you liked this story, please rate it, if you didn't, please tell me why, or ask me a question; I promise I will reply. All comment is treated as fair comment, and suggestions for improvement are always noted and acted upon, or disregarded completely if they're deranged, self-evidently demented, or utterly barking mad. If you want to be rude, I can't stop you, but I will delete pointlessly rude comments, unless they also make me laugh; I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person, but being nasty just for the sake of it gets your comment deleted molto allegro.
Part 1. I am clean without transgression, I am innocent -- Job 33:9
When Robbie was born, his father celebrated for 2 days straight; he had a son, someone to carry on the family sporting tradition. Steve Dolan had been star quarterback his senior year, the most popular boy in the school, dating the head cheerleader, Angie Rayne. He'd married the cheerleader, started his own business, building up a small chain of 8 hardware stores across the mid-west. Now he had a son, all his dreams were coming true, one after the other.
As Robbie grew, and took notice of the world around him, and began trying to grasp things, Steve noticed that he was having difficulty judging distance, identifying simple things like his toys, and as he started walking this grew more pronounced; he seemed to be having great difficulty seeing things, always bumping into things. His eyes were tested and the news devastated both of them; Robbie had severe Myopia, short-sighted to a degree requiring immediate corrective surgery and life-long spectacles; he was never going to play sports, it would be too dangerous for him.
When Steve and Angie heard the diagnosis, something inside them died; their son was never going to be a sports star, never going to be Prom King, never going to be anybody except the kid with the thick glasses, and Steve remembered the cruel tricks and casual beatings he used to hand out to kids like that. Now his son was in for all that, a life of being dismissed as Four-Eyes, Magoo, Nerd, and Urkel.
Steve's disappointment in his son was extreme, his reaction to him more so; he simply decided there was no point in making an effort with him, he was always going to be a nobody, a joke in school, 'victim' already tattooed on him in big glowing letters.
When Robbie was 2, Angie gave birth to a little girl, Casey, and she was everything, in their eyes, that their son wasn't; perfect in every way, bright, friendly, healthy, and growing up beautiful, smart, everybody's darling. From the moment she was born, all of Steve and Angie's efforts went into her; she was their princess. Robbie was sidelined, forgotten, in the family, but no longer a part of it. All the love, care and attention they had was lavished on Casey, and there was none left over for little Robbie.
He wasn't neglected, but he was ignored, unloved, abused in all but deed, and excised from the family by the most subtle knife of all. There would be periods, sometimes weeks at a time, when his father never spoke to him at all; Steve had nothing to say to his failure son, and Angie was so busy preparing her daughter for the prom-queen, cheerleader, catwalk life that was in store for her daughter that she overlooked her little boy entirely.
For Steve and Angie, Robbie simply stopped existing; it was easier that way. They fed him, clothed him, and dismissed him from their lives; he became invisible and unregarded.
The bullies at school had discovered early on that he was almost blind if he lost his glasses; all he saw of the world was moving smears of colour, so they would slap them off him, and watch him stumble around, afraid and at their mercy.
Robbie endured the beatings that got handed him at school, Steve and Angie not even noticing their boy was hurt, and hurting, unable to see he was worth their time and attention, standing by uncaring while his life spiralled downwards. One time, without his glasses, it took him nearly 4 hours to get home, unable to find his way, trying to make sense of the blurs and jags of colour he saw, almost petrified with fear, missing cars by a hairs-breadth. When he finally made it home, dinner was long over. They'd saved none for him; he was only 12 years old, and they hadn't noticed he was missing.
Robbie excelled in school; he was an outstanding math and science student, his grades the best ever achieved at Ellenbrook High, a grade point average so far ahead of the curve that his school predicted a glowing future for him; colleges were going to fight over him one day, he was scholarship material. Steve and Angie dismissed all that from their minds; Casey was the important one.
When time came, he applied for colleges across California and the South-West, and was accepted at all of them, his GPA and perfect SAT score going before him; the prize, though was the offer of a full Computer Sciences scholarship at UC Berkeley. But he had no way to support himself; Steve wouldn't hear of him going to college, they needed the money for Casey, for when she went to college; for him, there was nothing.
He spent most of his time with his best friend, Joey Anderson, the most popular boy in the school, cheerleader girlfriend, the whole cliché. If not for the fact that Joey genuinely liked him, Robbie would have avoided him like poison; too many guys like Joey had beaten the crap out of him for him to trust a jock, but Joey put a stop to that, made it clear that messing with Robbie was messing with him; after a couple of the worst offenders got handed their asses by Joey, the beatings stopped.
Joey had somehow managed to convince Robbie to help him train, and had slowly encouraged him to lift weights, to join him in his callisthenics and workouts, and to circuit-train. At last, Robbie had found an athletic endeavour he could participate in, one that he actually enjoyed. As he grew taller, he bulked-up, helped by the daily exercise and training, muscle-mass growing and firming as he trained harder and for longer, his genetics finally kicking in. At 18 he stood six feet three inches and weighed 200lbs, with not an ounce of spare fat on him. He favoured Steve in heft and looks, but towered over him, brown haired and brown-eyed, clean-limbed, clear skinned, healthy and fit. Except for his eyesight.
However, none of his family noticed the changes in him; they were watching Casey, and Robbie was just background noise they'd stopped hearing years ago.
Joey's mom, Sarah, was more of a mother to Robbie than Angie ever was, Robbie often staying over for days on end, knowing his family would never ask themselves where he was, Sarah never complaining, being there when he needed a mom to tell his troubles to. When he told her he'd turned down his college offers for lack of funds and support, she was furious, Steve Dolan had a string of successful, profitable stores, and he still had nothing for his boy! But there was nothing she could do; Robbie wasn't hers, and she couldn't afford to help him; she could barely afford to support Joey. Not that Robbie would have asked.
The evening it all came to a head was like any other; Robbie and Joey hanging out, lifting weights out back, watching TV, good-naturedly ragging each other, just keeping company with each other. When Robbie eventually left to go home, Sarah watched him walking away, a lone, upright figure, and she confided her feelings to Joey.
"It's a sin to waste your own life, but it's a crime to waste someone else's. Steve Dolan discarded that boy for no reason, took away his college, said he had no money to spare, then buys Casey a new Escalade for her birthday, and promised her a trip to Europe for the next one. You know what they gave Robbie for his birthday this year? A Disney Tee-shirt that didn't even fit. It breaks my heart to see that poor boy treated so shamefully; what did he ever do to anyone? They'll pay for this one day." Joey could only express his wish that they did, letting rip a few choice words to describe the Dolan family.
Meanwhile, Robbie arrived home to find his parents waiting for him, tight-lipped, angry.
"What's the meaning of this?" demanded Steve, waving an envelope at him, and his heart sank; the scholarship offer. "When were you going to tell us you'd applied to Berkeley? That you'd been accepted? Do you know how much it costs to go there?"
Robbie was confused. He wasn't going, he'd already turned it down, there was no money for him to go to college, any college. They'd already made that clear.
"Dad, I turned it down, I can't support myself, you can't support me, it's over, so what are you so mad about?"
Steve read through the letter properly, anger mounting as he began to understand that the scholarship had been full tuition and a bursary.
"Why didn't you give this to us, why did your mother have to find it when she was cleaning your room?"
Robbie was confused, now he was at the sharp-end again for doing exactly what they wanted. "Dad, you told me I couldn't go to college, any college. Why is there a problem, I've already refused the offer, the scholarship offer's been rescinded, it's gone to someone else. End of story. May I go now, please, I have an assignment due tomorrow?"
Steve wasn't ready to let it go.
"You stupid little shit, you had a scholarship, you could have gone to Berkeley, but no, you pissed it away -- what the hell were you thinking of?" The unfairness of it broke over Robbie, and he reared up, all his bitterness, anger and despair finally boiling over.
"You took it away from me, you son of a bitch! I asked you for one thing, for the first, for the only time in my life, and it was still too much to ask! You turned me down flat, you wanted to save the money so Casey could go to college, remember? What about me, why was it so hard to help me just once? You took my future away from me, a chance to be somebody, anybody, except your son. Thanks to you, I'll never even get to be a has-been, like you, I'll be a never-was, does that feel good, do you feel proud of me now?"
Steve snarled and swung his hand at him, for it to smack into Robbie's palm, locked there immobile as Robbie stood up, Steve suddenly really seeing him for the first time, and realising Robbie outweighed him, was a head taller than him, had no reason not to snap his wrist, and plenty of cause to do just that. They stood, silently, as Steve, face twisting in pain, tried to think of a way out of this situation, his hand trapped in Robbie's closed fist, with Robbie finally angry enough to pay him back for all the years of contempt and neglect.
"Robbie, no, let your father go!" shrilled Angie, and Robbie suddenly realised how harsh and unlovely her voice was, squawking like an angry turkey.
"Shut up, bitch, I haven't finished yet!" he gritted, twisting his hand, watching the pain flash again across Steve's face again.
""I'm going upstairs now; I'm getting my stuff, and I'm going home. Don't ever speak to me again, I owe you nothing, so don't expect to hear from me again. I'm letting go now, if you try to hit me again, I'll break your arm, Steve."
"This is your home...." trailed off Angie.
"I said shut up, bitch, and I don't live here. Have fun with Casey until she gives you the finger!"
Sarah Anderson answered the door to Robbie, took one look at his face, and hustled him in, sitting him down and handing him a soda. "Robbie, what's happened? Joey's not here, he's taken Karen to the movies, but you can tell me." She watched him closely as he told her what had happened, and that he'd walked out, asking if he could stay with them until he figured out what to do next.
"Stay as long as you want, honey, you practically live here anyway. Give me your stuff, I'll put it through the wash now, be nice and fresh for the morning. You are going to school in the morning?"
Robbie thought about it. "Don't really see the point in graduating now, I'm not going anywhere, perhaps I should start looking for a job somewhere."
Sarah snorted. "Around here? My advice is, stay in school as long as you can, you never know when you may need it!"
"Sure thing, Mrs Anderson, thanks for the soda. If you don't mind, I'll go out back, lift some weights for a while and wait for Joey."
While Robbie worked off his anger in the back yard, Sarah thought about what he'd told her. It was beyond her how a family could so despise their child that destroying his future was of no consequence to them, that they could be so indifferent to their child, could leave him out in the cold for years on end, grind away at him, and then be so shocked when he finally reared-up and struck back. At least they hadn't destroyed his spirit, she thought grimly, he still had enough grit to back Steve down, and shut Angie's whiny mouth.
A knock came at the door, and Sarah looked through the window to see Steve and Angie Dolan standing there. Good, she thought, I'm just in the right mood to deal with those two! She opened the door and stepped out, closing the door behind her, making it clear they were not invited in.
Steve started to speak. "Sarah, could we speak to Robbie..." but Sarah cut him short.
"No. He told me what you did, what you said. You're a dick, Steven Dolan, you were a dick in school, and you're still a dick now. Robbie says he doesn't want to speak to or hear from you again. He's over 18, in this state that makes him an adult, and I intend to respect his wishes. How dare you treat your boy like he's nothing, because he's not a shit-head jock like you! Right now, everything he owns in the world is sitting on my table; one bag of old clothes to show for a lifetime with you. You couldn't carry away the things you gave Casey in a big truck! But none of that matters; all he ever needed was a little love from his mom, a little time with his dad, but you couldn't even give him that, just that, you couldn't even see him for the glow from Casey. You made him not exist in his own home, the place he's supposed to be loved and safe. He was fading away in front of you, and you looked away, or looked right through him; you dismissed him out of hand, made him be nobody and nothing."
"God damn you, both of you, you stood by and let him stumble through life, knowing he's almost completely defenseless. You never once thought of giving him a helping hand, or being kind to him, or being there for him, or just letting him know that you gave a damn for him. Both of you, you gave all your love and attention to your baby girl, what about your baby boy, where was the love for him? Who the hell looked out for him? If you didn't want him, why didn't you just give him up, let someone have him who'd actually love him? For Chrissake, he'd have had a better life if you'd just dumped him along the side of the fucking road! God help the pair of you, one day you'll pay for what you did to that boy, I swear!" Tears of rage were rolling down her cheeks and she angrily rubbed them away.
"Sarah, I..." began Angie, Sarah cutting across her. "Shut up Angie, Robbie sure got one thing right; you are a miserable, mean bitch! I'm glad he finally slapped you down. One of the few things he's grateful for is that he never has to hear your damned voice ever again. Now the two of you get off my property before I call the police! Go on, go shove your heads back up Casey's ass, that's where you've had them stuck for the last 16 years!"
Steve tried to speak again. "Sarah, please..."but again Sarah shut him off. "If you say another word, Steven Dolan, I swear I will kick your ass for you, hand you a beating like poor Robbie had to endure all the time, beatings my son had to put a stop to, because you couldn't be bothered. He'd come home all busted up, and you never noticed, you just looked right through him, none of you bunch even noticed he was hurt. You are a miserable excuse for a parent, and that goes for you too, Angie. Now get the hell off my property!" Steve and Angie recognised the raw fury in Sarah's voice and beat a hasty retreat.
Casey came in from school, and did her usual twirl in front of the hall mirror, checking herself out, making sure she looked perfect from every angle, that her tight shirt and short, short plaid skirt revealed just enough without looking cheap. She was a pleasant eyeful in anybody's book, that much was true; long supple legs, taut, trim figure, long Copper-Auburn hair in a ponytail, and gray-hazel eyes. Pretty, slim, limber and athletic; the perfect cheerleader. Trouble was, she knew it too well. She clattered into the lounge, dropping her things on the coffee table and doing a graceful flop backwards onto the couch. Then something about her parents, and the strained silence in the room caught her attention, and she suddenly sensed the atmosphere, both parents looking hunted, drawn, almost furtive.
"Mom, what's going on, what's happened?" she demanded, "Dad, what is it?"
"Casey, it's Robbie..." began Angie, trailing off and looking helplessly at Steve.
"Robbie left, for good. We had...words, about college, and now he's gone, he took his stuff and left," said Steve, scowling at the memory of the pain Robbie'd caused him without breaking a sweat.
"Gone!" echoed Casey, "Gone where, why, what are you not telling me?" she demanded, "Why are you so wound-up over it, it's only Robbie! Where did he go?"
Angie answered "He's staying with the Andersons for now, long term...I don't know. But he won't come back here; he's gone."
Casey stalked out and jumped into her car, her brand new Escalade, and drove over to the Anderson residence, intending to give Robbie a piece of her mind. Sarah Anderson was sitting on the porch trying to calm herself after the confrontation she'd had with the Dolan's when Casey pulled up , got out and walked up to speak to her.
"Mrs. Anderson, may I please speak with Robbie, about..."
Sarah cut her short, a habit she was getting to like with this bunch. "No you may not, Robbie has had quite enough of you and that family of yours, leave him be, he's got a lot to deal with, and your whining voice is just another thing he wants to forget!"