In the days that followed Jason lay speechless in the psychiatric ward of the hospital, staring blankly at the ceiling when awake. Peter’s body was buried close to the house, by the same pastor who had performed their father’s funeral. No one attended the service except some members of the church. Robert and his mother were discharged from the hospital and returned to the house but stayed drunk most of the time, from money Peter had saved and put into an envelope for them.

The doctors had done everything they could think of, but nothing had been able to make Jason come out of his state of shock, and so they agreed to let Irene attempt to reach him. When the police cut Peter down from the tree they found the envelope of money addressed to his mother and Robert plus another envelope addressed to Jason.

“Jason?”  Irene said, leaning over his bed. “I know you can hear me and I want you to listen carefully. This is a letter from Peter.”

Hello Jason,

I know that I have hurt you very much. I only hope that someday you will understand and be able to forgive me. There was so much that I wanted to tell you before I left but then, after thinking about it, I realized I could say it in just a few words. I LOVE YOU!

Please tell Mom and Robert that I also love them and not to blame themselves for what I have done. I know you will be strong Jason and not let me down, keep the dream alive, even though I am gone.



Tears formed in the corners of Jason’s eyes for the first time since the incident. “It’s okay Jason; it’s time to come back now,” Irene said quietly. He blinked his eyes several times and then began sobbing.

In the months that followed, Jason matured rapidly. He stayed at the children’s center, which was within walking distance of his school. He was not allowed to go home overnight but did visit at times with Irene, his social worker. He missed Peter a great deal but was determined to make Peter’s dream come true for the family. Irene, however, was just as determined to see to it that he never returned home again, and had denied his request to spend even one night at the house. Now she was talking about putting him in a foster home.

“But you promised that if I did well I could go home,” Jason responded angrily.

“No Jason, I never promised you anything. I said we would see how things were at the end of the year, and as far as I can tell, nothing has changed.”

“But that’s not fair,” Jason replied tearfully, “I haven’t been home for a long time and I have done everything you told me.”

“I am not doing this to hurt you, Jason; I want what is best for you. You have done very well and I am proud of you, but I am afraid that if you go home now, all of our work will be for nothing.”

“But I won’t do what they do.”

“Jason… Peter is not there anymore to help you. You will be all alone against them and I don’t think you are strong enough to…”

“But I can help them,” Jason interrupted, “I know I can.”

“I know you want to believe that, Jason but you will have to trust me,” Irene insisted.

“No! I have to go home and try… Peter told me to.”

“But even he couldn’t help them, Jason.”

“Yes, he did!” Jason shot back defensively, “He made things good for us.”

“I’m sorry, Jason,” Irene apologized, “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I know that you want to help them like Peter did and…”

“And I can, just let me try.”

“No Jason, it won’t work,” Irene insisted.

“Yes it will, I know it will just give me one week to prove it… please.”

“And if it doesn’t work out, Jason?”

“Then I will do whatever you want me to do.”

“You will go to a foster home?”

“Yes,” Jason agreed, “but if it goes good… I can stay at home?”

“No promises Jason, we’ll talk about that at the end of the week.”

The following morning they drove out to the house. Jason was nervous but excited about finally having a chance to live back at home. Robert and his mother were standing on the porch as they drove up. The reception was cool but at least they were both sober. Irene left, against her better judgment after Jason assured her, several times, that he would call the minute anything went wrong.

Jason was disappointed but not really surprised to find the house untidy and in disrepair. He did not make any comments about it however and tried to give the impression he didn’t notice. It was uncomfortable for all of them but they managed to make it through the day by keeping their conversation superficial. Jason retired early and, as he had hoped, his mother soon went to her room. Robert came in about an hour later and quietly climbed into bed. Jason waited patiently in the darkness, his heart pounding as he pondered for a moment how to start a conversation without getting Robert defensive. “It’s good to be home again,” he muttered nervously.

“What’s so good about it,” Robert responded coolly, “you have it better in town.”

“Yes, but you and Mom aren’t there,” Jason answered sincerely.

“What do you need us for? All we do is cause trouble for everyone.”

“But you could change that if you wanted to. You could find a job and work as Peter did,” Jason responded, reassuringly.

“Oh sure, and where did it get him? Peter is dead Jason and I’m still here so just shut up and leave me alone,” Robert answered emotionally, turning his head to the wall to hide the tears.

Jason knew if he quit now he might never get another chance to talk seriously with Robert and so he lit the lantern and pulled Peter’s letter from his wallet. Its edges were frayed from his daily reading of it but the writing inside was still very clear. “Robert,” he called softly, “this is a letter from Peter that I want you to read.”

Robert slowly turned and took the letter from Jason. By the time he was finished reading it, tears were rolling down his cheeks. He wiped them away with his hand but did not try to hide them.

“Peter doesn’t blame anyone for what happened to him, Robert… and neither do I. He wants us to be happy.”

Robert returned the letter to Jason and laid back down in his bed while Jason carefully replaced the letter in his wallet and then blew out the lantern. There was a long period of silence before Robert finally spoke. “Do you really think I could stop drinking and find a job like Peter?”

“I know you can, Robert, it may take some time but we can still make Peter’s dream come true if we work together.”

“Maybe we could,” Robert responded thoughtfully. He closed his eyes and felt peacefulness come over him that he had not felt in a lifetime. “Good night, Jason.”

“Good night, Robert,” Jason answered.

Jason was the first to arise the following morning and immediately began cleaning the house. Robert got up a bit later and helped him and by the time their mother came in, there was breakfast on the table. Jason told his mother about their plans and while she listened politely Jason could tell she was not very excited about it. He had expected that but tried not to let it bother him. He was confident that everything was going to work out fine and by the time the social worker returned there would be no doubt that he should stay at home.

During the night Robert had decided to go to the trading post in the morning to ask about work. The young couple, that bought the place after the old man died, were nice people and he was not threatened by them. He borrowed one of Jason’s new shirts and although the fit was snug he felt great in it. On his way, however, negative thoughts filled his mind and he began feeling discouraged… but he knew he could not go on living as things were and now that Jason was home, there was reason to try to make things better.

The man was pleasant and told Robert that at the moment there was no work but on days when they had supplies come in, they would certainly be able to use him because he had just found out that his wife was pregnant and so she would need to take it easy. He told him to come back in a few days and they would work out a schedule. Even though it was not a full-time job, Robert was excited about it and couldn’t wait to tell Jason.

Jason was waiting for Robert on the porch and could tell by the way he was walking that the news was good. They went in to share the good news with their mother but again she seemed distant and not really happy about it. She said she was tired and went back into her room. The boys on the other hand were excited and decided it was the perfect time to return to the mesa where the Eagle lived. Jason made some sandwiches while Robert filled the canteens and strapped on the hunting knife Peter had given him. After saying goodbye to their mother, through the door, they left the house on the run.

They walked in silence at first as each of them recalled pleasant memories of when Peter had walked beside them. In a comforting way, they could almost feel his presence still with them. Most of the day was spent exploring the mesa and the Eagle even made a close-up appearance again. It was getting dark by the time they returned home and both of them were exhausted.

As they entered the house, they found their mother lying half-naked on the couch, obviously very drunk. “Let me handle this,” Robert offered, after seeing the distressed look in Jason’s eyes. He walked over to the couch and attempted to take the half-empty bottle of whiskey from her but as he reached for the bottle she caught him off guard and smacked him in the face.

“Come on Mom, we don’t need this stuff anymore,” Robert pleaded

“What do you know, you little bastard! I could have had a good life if you had not been born. Now get out of my house and leave me alone. You’re the cause of all my problems,” she answered coldly.

Robert stood motionless for a moment and then grabbed the bottle from her hands. Jason could see the look in Robert’s eyes as he glared at his mother. It was the same look that Peter had, the last time he saw him alive.

“YOU BASTARD!” she shouted again as she lunged for the bottle. Losing her balance, she fell forward into the metal stove. Blood came gushing out from a large cut near her right eye as she rolled onto the floor.

“Mother… I’m sorry!” Robert said; as he bent down to help her.

“LEAVE ME ALONE!” she shouted, pushing him away.

Robert stood up and stared at her as Jason came over with a wet towel for the bleeding. He set the bottle down on the table and then returned to help Jason.  He was confused and angry but wanted to do the right thing. “Let’s get you up on the couch again, Mom,” he said, compassionately.

“Don’t you touch me, You SON OF A BITCH!” she yelled, as she took another swing at him. This time he was ready for it and quickly grabbed her arm. “Let me go, YOU BASTARD! Get out of my house!” she continued, as more blood came squirting out of the cut. “You have ruined my life and nothing good will ever come from it. You’re not Peter and you never will be, you idiot.”

Robert took a deep breath and then released her arm. He stood up and started for the door but then turned around. He looked at the bottle of whiskey on the table and then at Jason, who was trying to stop the bleeding from his mother’s wound.

“No, Robert! Please don’t do it,” Jason pleaded helplessly.

Tears began running down Robert’s cheeks as he briefly considered Jason’s request but then he grabbed the bottle and ran out the door.

Jason panicked because he did not know what Robert might do. He knew his first responsibility was to his mother, however, and until he could stop the bleeding he could not do anything about Robert. It took nearly an hour to finally get her to calm down to a point where she would lie down still in bed and let him work on the cut. She had lost a great deal of blood and he knew she needed to get to a hospital but he had to find Robert first. When at last she was sleeping and he felt it was safe to leave her alone… he grabbed the flashlight and ran out of the house.

The night was dark and only a sliver of the new moon could be seen in the sky. Jason searched frantically for Robert for much of the night until, just on the verge of giving up, he heard a groan coming from behind some bushes. He gave out a sigh of relief when the beam of his flashlight fell on Robert’s drunken body, lying curled up on the ground. “Robert! Are you okay?”

“Shut the damn flashlight off!” He demanded, not really aware of what was going on.

Jason did as he asked and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He was relieved to know that Robert was safe and was confident that they could still work things out. He walked over and gently put his hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Everything will be okay now, Robert,” he said reassuringly.

“Get your damn hand off of me!” Robert demanded. “Nothing will ever be okay; you fool, so why don’t you just accept it.”

“Com’on Robert, let’s go home. We both could use some rest.”

“I don’t have a home,” Robert responded angrily, as he attempted to stand. “I’m leaving this place, no one wants me anyway.”

“That’s not true Robert… I want you here.”

“No one has ever wanted me,” Robert continued tearfully. “I’m no good Jason… and you know it.”

“No, Robert, I Love you.”

“You and your stupid love,” Robert muttered as he began walking away, “what the Hell good has it done any of us?”

“Wait, Robert!” Jason pleaded, attempting to pull him back.

“FUCK OFF!” Robert shouted angrily, and then… as if possessed by some evil spirit… he pulled the hunting knife from his belt and plunged it deeply into Jason’s stomach. “I warned you, you stupid fool!” he yelled as he went running out of the bushes.

Jason fell to his knees, breathless and in a state of shock, blood oozing from his wound as he fell to the ground. After a few minutes, he stood and began walking back to the house… he could feel his heart pounding as he neared the familiar rock that had been Peter’s favorite place of meditation and so he decided to take a rest before going down to the house.  The early morning sun had already warmed the rock and it felt soothing against his cold clammy skin, as he painfully leaned back on its surface. He hoped Robert had made it home alright, and that his mother had gotten a good night’s sleep. Chills ran down his spine as he recalled the events of the previous evening and he closed his eyes hoping to clear his mind of the negative thoughts. When he opened them again, he saw the silhouetted form of the Eagle, circling high above him. As he followed it with his eyes, he felt the pain gradually subside from his body and all of his negative thoughts disappeared.


The sound of his name being called in the distance brought him out of his meditation and he blinked his dry eyes several times trying to clear his vision.


The voice sounded closer this time. He was glad to know that Robert was alright and had come for him. “Robert,” he called softly. His mouth was dry, his throat sore, and it was difficult for him to speak. “Over here, Robert,” he called a bit louder while attempting to sit up.


“I’m here, Robert,” He yelled again, this time managing to sit up high enough to look down the empty trail. His head was spinning and his vision grew dim; his arms collapsed and he fell back to the rock.

“Jason… it’s me.”

As Jason slowly reopened his eyes, he heard the call of the Eagle high above him and then felt as if he were rising up to meet it. A peaceful smile came to his face as he finally recognized the caller and whispered to him with his final breath, “Peter…”

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