In the days that followed things got a little better. The boys spent much of their time rediscovering the many interesting places around their home and in one of those discoveries uncovered an old bike of Peter’s. They worked much of the day on cleaning it up and getting it in running condition but unfortunately could not find anything to patch up the tires. “I know the old man sells them at the Trading Post,” Peter said as he stood up and stretched. “Let me check and see if Mom has any money.” A few minutes later, he returned from the house. “She doesn’t have any,” he said despondently.

“I could have told you that,” Robert answered, as he sprung to his feet, “but I just remembered where some patches might be.” He took off on the run and returned breathless several minutes later. “Here, I found these,” he said, as he dropped a new package of patches on the ground.

“Did you steal those?” Peter asked, suspiciously.

“Would it make any difference?” Robert asked, defiantly.

Jason could tell Peter was not pleased with what Robert had done and waited for some response from him… but none came. He instead picked up the patches and began fixing the tires. When it was finished, they all walked over to the Trading Post to see if the tires would hold air. Robert hid in some brushes, just as a precaution, and when they returned a few minutes later, he jumped onto the back of the bike and the three of them took off jubilantly down the trail.

As the weeks passed they continued to entertain themselves and at times even their parents would join in on the fun. On the day before Peter’s birthday, however, their mother became quite irritable and talked their father into taking her into town. The boys assumed that their parents would not return that evening and so they retired early.

In the morning Jason awoke and found Peter standing by the front window. “Happy Birthday, Peter!” he shouted cheerfully.
“Good morning, Jason,” Peter responded pensively.

“Are they back yet?”

“No, not yet,” Peter answered. He was concerned for their safety but at the same time upset because they had decided to mess things up on his birthday again. As long as he could remember, his mother would always get upset around this time of year and he wished he knew the reason.

Robert sat up but did not say anything because he was jealous of the fact that Peter was now a teenager.

“You guys hungry?” Peter asked as he slowly walked over to the cabinet. All he could find was a nearly empty jar of peanut butter, some bread, and half a bag of potato chips.

“I’m always hungry,” Robert answered, as he started picking up the cushions. Jason helped him clean the room by folding up the blankets.

“Not much here guys,” Peter announced disappointedly. “Do you want to take it up to the rock to eat? Maybe we can take a hike afterward.”

“That sounds great!” Jason answered. “Can we try to find the Eagle?”

“Perhaps we can,” Peter answered, enthusiastically, “that would be a great birthday present for me.”

It didn’t take them long to reach the rock but as they finished their meal they saw the car of their parents returning. None of them spoke as they returned to the house, though each was wondering the same thing. Peter led the way inside and found them sitting at the kitchen table.

“Where in Hell have you been!” Emma asked before any of them could speak.

“And what did you do with all of the damn food!” Herbert continued.

“What damn food?” Robert retaliated. “There’s never anything to eat around here.”

“That’s because you damn son of a bitches steal all the food and hide it somewhere,” Herbert reacted angrily.

“That is not true,” Peter said defensively, hoping to take the attention away from Robert.

“You don’t know anything you dumb drunk!” Robert blurted before Peter could stop him. “I don’t have to take this shit!” he continued, as he picked up his slingshot and headed for the door.

“You’re not going anywhere you little bastard!” their father shouted angrily, as he grabbed hold of Robert’s shirt.

“Screw you!” Robert shot back, as he pulled away and ran out of the door.

Peter looked over at Jason, who had large tears rolling down his cheeks. He knew there was no talking sense with his parents so nodded to Jason to follow Robert. He walked out behind him, slamming the door as he left. By the time they caught up to Robert, he had picked up a number of small rocks and was shooting them aimlessly into the air. It was obvious that Robert had also been crying which was something Jason had never witnessed before.

“I know how you’re feeling,” Peter said sympathetically, as he put his hand on Robert’s shoulder.

“Get your hand off of me!” Robert demanded as he took off on a run towards the Mesa.

Peter closed his eyes and stood motionless for a moment; things were happening too fast and he was feeling out of control.

“Is he mad at us too?” Jason asked tearfully.

“No, he just got hurt,” Peter responded.

“Did Daddy hurt him?”

“Yes, but not the way you are thinking, Jason. Daddy hurt him on the inside.”

Jason looked confused and so Peter walked over to where he was standing and they both sat down on the grass. “When some big kid teases you at school Jason… what do you do?”

“I cry,” Jason responded sheepishly.

Peter smiled at his response. “No, I don’t mean that. What do you do after they are gone and you have stopped crying?”

“Oh… well sometimes I go to my bed and beat up on my pillow. I pretend I have become a giant and everyone is afraid of me and then I catch one of them and when he tries to get…”

“Okay! Okay!” Peter interrupted, “I don’t need the whole story. I just want you to understand that Robert is feeling the same way. Father hurt his feelings but he couldn’t do anything to him and so he had to find another way to release his anger. He got mad at me and now he will go and kill some poor little birds with that stupid slingshot because that is the only way he knows of to get rid of the anger. He takes it out on other people or things, just like you do to your pillow.”

“Oh,” Jason responded thoughtfully, “Do you ever get hurt, Peter?”

“Of course I do; everybody gets hurt sometimes.”

“But I never see you cry and you don’t kill anything.”

“And I don’t beat up on my pillow either,” Peter added with a grin. “I guess I handle things a little differently. I prefer going someplace quiet and just meditating.”

“Like when we are at the rock and you are watching the Eagle?”

“Yes, just like that.”

There was a long pause as Jason thought it all through. “Do you think we can help Robert not to hurt anymore?”

“I don’t know… let’s give it a try,” Peter said as he stood up. He took hold of Jason’s hand and the two of them walked in the direction Robert had taken. When they found him sitting next to a large rock, Peter went over and sat down beside him. “Feeling any better?”

“I guess so,” Robert answered quietly.

“Do you want to come with us to find the Eagle?” Peter asked.

“No, I’ll just stay here.”

Peter put his hand on Robert’s shoulder again but this time Robert didn’t pull away. “We would really like to have you come with us,” he said reassuringly.

Robert was silent for a moment but then looked up and stared intensely into Peter’s eyes. “Okay, let‘s go,” he responded, as Peter let out a sigh of relief.

The Mesa was over an hour’s walk away and to their delight, they found a small spring of fresh water near its base. After satisfying their thirst and playfully refreshing each other with the cool water, they rested for several minutes before beginning the climb. It wasn’t easy, especially for Jason, but with some pulling and pushing from his brothers, they eventually reached the top and when at last they all stood overlooking the valley they were glad they had done it. The house was not visible to them and for the first time in their lives, they felt like they were free.

“Do you think the Eagle is up here?” Jason asked, hopefully.

“It should be somewhere,” Peter answered, as he surveyed the area.

“Over there!” Robert exclaimed, pointing to a large Piñon tree standing some distance to the north of them. “I think I see a nest.”

Cautiously, they approached the tree, trying not to make a sound. Then without warning, the Great bird flew directly above them, shrieking so loudly that they all fell to the ground. Breathless… they watched as it circled the tree and then landed on one of the branches. They remained motionless for several moments until the bird spread out its mighty wings again and flew off.

“Wow!” Jason exclaimed. “That was neat!”

“I didn’t know it was that big,” Robert added.

“Or that beautiful,” Peter contributed, as he stood to his feet. “But now we had better get going.

They continued their discussion as they made their way home. It was nearly dark by the time they returned to the house where they found their parents sleeping. Quietly they made up their bed and within minutes were all sleeping soundly.

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