You Ain’t Santa Claus
by: E Walk
(© 2009-2010 by the Author)
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the
author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...
The Circus Starts
Dean Meyers started the staff meeting, “Faculty members, I need to remind you that it is important that you write for the professional journals if you want to get ahead. Professor Richter has been doing a great job and will have two additional articles that will be appearing next month.”
Dean Meyers smiled, “The reason I asked you to meet with me today is to make sure that we have everything ready for the start of classes next Monday. We have five new faculty members joining us this term. I have taken the liberty to assign the mentors for the persons. Mr. Leland Straight comes to us from the York Junior College where he was an instructor in basic psychology courses. He wants to concentrate on teaching more advance courses and finishing his doctoral dissertation. His mentor will be Dr. Richter.”
The Leland person stood. He was a very handsome forty something looking man. I still had no idea why he had requested that I be his mentor.
The other three new faculty members were introduced, which left only the other person whom I was going to be the mentor for to be introduced. Dean Meyers pointed, “Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce this last young man. He comes to us from Stanford University where he just received master’s degree in child psychology. He will be starting work on his doctorate. He, also, has been assigned to Dr. Richter. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Lance Kenmore, my nephew.”
Lance was in a wheel chair. He moved to the front of the room so he could be seen. Dean Meyers laughed, “Lance has been temporarily incapacitated because he was in a skiing accident two weeks ago. Kirk, you may have to help him to the bathroom, initially.”
After the meeting, I approached the two gentlemen, “I’m Kirk Richter. If you have a minute, perhaps we could visit in my office. I didn’t know that I was going to be your mentor until very recently. Mr. Straight, I understand that you requested that I be your mentor. Might I ask why?”
He grinned, “Ms Viola Swamp advised me to request that you be my mentor.”
I frowned, “What is your association with Ginger Belton?
“Ginger and I worked together once upon a time very long ago. We’ve remained good friends, and when I told her I was coming to university to work, she mentioned that you would be a good person to work with. Will and Brandon concurred. So here I am.”
I turned to Lance, “Lance, why did you come here to get your doctorate?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “It’s a simple matter of economics. Here I can live with my parents and get paid for teaching two courses while taking two graduate courses.”
I shook my head, “Gentlemen, let’s go to my office and get comfortable and finish our discussion.”
When we were seated, I asked, “Lance, you mentioned that you were going to be living with your parents. I gather that means you aren’t married or at least not yet?”
Lance blushed, “I’m not married and probably never will be. I play in a different ball game.”
I started to laugh, “So, it’s the young men in your classes that we will need to worry about instead of the young women.”
Lance bristled, “Dr. Richter, I can assure you that I will not be messing around indiscriminately. I was burned very badly once, and that is another reason I came home to work on my doctorate. The bastard ruined my credibility at Stanford by spreading malicious lies.”
I decided to divert attention away from Lance, “Leland, I notice you’re not wearing a wedding band. Does that mean you’re not married either.”
He smirked, “Let’s put it like this Kirk, I play in the same ballgame that you and Lance do. I was married and we separated amiably after we realized we both wanted something else. It took us a while to realize that we shouldn’t be married to each other, and by that time we did, we had three sons who are now 13, 14 and 15.”
Lance had a funny look on his face, “Lee, how do you know that Dr. Richter plays in the same ballgame that we do?”
“Elementary, my dear, Lance. Brandon and Will have moved into Dr. Richter’s and Doctor Thornton’s condo now that Dr. Richter, Doctor Thornton and their two sons have moved to Belle Monte.”
Lance looked at me, “Isn’t that where they had an attempted kidnapping last night and some people went into the ravine trying to get around a security gate?”
I nodded, “Yes, we surmise that they were trying to kidnap our sons. I haven’t seen the news, but I know that we aren’t taking any chances on people getting to Nathan and Ryan. The bad part of the story is that there are other young people who also live at Belle Monte who might be inadvertently harmed.”
Sandy knocked on the door, “Dr. Richter, Mr. Lane is here to see you. He says you asked him to stop in.”
“Show him in, Sandy.”
I stood and greeted Lanny, “Lanny, you look so different out of uniform. Was everyone okay when you got off work?”
“Yep, Nathan and Ryan were on their way to school when I got off duty. When I passed by Belle Monte to go to my room to change, Vince and Alex were patrolling the front of the house. Just so you know, I’m going to be on duty at the Little House from six thirty at night until six thirty in the morning. The sheriff wants to know if you want me to spend the night at the gate area or in the area near the Little House?”
I realized that I hadn’t properly introduced
people who were present. After the introductions, I looked at Lanny, “Lanny, I
think it might be better for you to be at the Little House when we’re there.
Who’s to stop someone from trying to come in by helicopter? You couldn’t do
much good at the gate if that were to happen, and we know the gate is an
effective barrier. Where’s the day person going to be stationed?”
“The sheriff is going to have the day persons stationed at Belle Monte especially when your two sons are there, going to school.”
I looked at the other two visitors, “Lanny, these people don’t want to hear the gory details of my life. The reason I asked you to come talk to me was that you mentioned this morning that all that separated you from getting a degree was the completion of two psych courses. Why aren’t you taking them both this semester?”
Lanny looked at me, “Dr. Richter, I can barely afford to take one class each semester. There is no way that I could take a second class with what I’m having to pay the hospital each month for my extended stay and the room where I live and some food.”
Leland and Lance looked as confused as I was feeling. Leland asked, “Why are you paying so much to the hospital each month? Isn’t that rather odd?”
Lanny began his tale of woe, “On the evening of my 18th birthday, my parents and my two brothers took me out to celebrate. After a great dinner, we were driving home. We were broadsided by a car that ran a red light. My parents and my two brothers died almost instantly. I on the other hand was transported to Memorial Hospital where a Doctor Conover performed surgery to try to save me. He did such a poor job that that I had to have three more surgeries, that have made me an undesirable mess, before I could be released.”
“Anyway Doctor Conover was promoted to the be the hospital administrator before I left the hospital and Doctor Thornton was assigned to be my primary physician. It was the day before I was to be released when Doctor Conover and a Mr. Peter Paulsen, whom they said was the hospital business manager, came to my room and informed me that the insurance company had stopped paying for my care two months previously. They told me that they could arrange it so that the amount that I owed could be paid over a ten year period. All I had to do was send a two hundred dollar certified check to the hospital every two weeks or they would take me to court. I was to mark the envelope as personal for Mr. Paulsen because they were doing me such a great favor.”
I picked up my cell phone and dialed Dan‘s cell phone. When he answered, I started, “Danny, we have a story you need to hear. How soon can you meet us?”
Dan asked, “Who is us. Are the boys with you?”
“No they’re under armed guard at Belle Monte. This has to do with the hospital. I’m calling Bruce to see if he can meet with us. Why don’t we meet at the Copper Skillet at twelve thirty?”
Dan took a deep breath, “Kirkie, why are you being so mysterious? I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
We met Dan, Bruce and George for lunch and I was surprised when Leland and Lance decided to go with us. Anyway to make a long story short, after Dan and Bruce heard Lanny's sordid story the action started. Bruce, George and Dan whisked Lanny away as the other three of us headed back to our offices.
When I arrived at Belle Monte that afternoon, there were three television stations’ trucks parked in front of the house. When I approached the house, I was accosted by a brash young reporter, “Who are you and why are you here?”
“My name is Kirk Richter and I came to collect my sons to take them to our house.”
The young reporter kept pushing, “So, you’re the father of the two boys who were involved in the attempted kidnapping plot last night?”
I pointed my finger, “Young man, you must know something, that I don’t know, to be able to say that there was an attempted kidnapping, last night. For all we know it was a robbery attempt. Although, I can’t imagine what the intruders thought they would find.”
An older reporter spoke up, “Dr. Richter, could we at least talk to the two boys. Unless we get to talk to them, we are going to keep badgering you. The viewers want to see the boys and know that they are okay.”
I looked at the reporters, “I’ll go get them, but you are not permitted to question them or pressure them. If you do, I’ll have you forcibly removed from the property.”
I opened the door and called for the two boys. They appeared as did Chase, Evan, Shawn, Shane and Jacob. I also noticed that Vince and Alex appeared from the side of the house. I looked at Ryan and Nate, “These people wanted to meet you. They seem to think that someone was trying to kidnap you last night.”
Nate giggled, “That’s silly, all me and Ryan have are two dogs, two kittens, two horses and two daddies. Our daddies don’t have much money. Daddy Kirk, teaches big people at the universal or whatever and Dad Dan takes care of sick people at the hospital. People think that me and Ryan have a lot of money because this place belongs to us. We don’t own it at all. It belongs to a cooperation until we get to be twenty one.”
The older reporter asked, “Dr. Richter, would you translate what your son just said?”
I took a deep breath, “What Nate said is that I teach at the University and his other Dad works at Memorial Hospital, that Belle Monte is owned by a corporation and that he and Ryan don’t have any money nor do his other Dad or me.”
The interview was interrupted by the arrival of Dan, Bruce and George. The brash young reporter asked, “Who are you?”
Dan spoke for the group, “I’m Doctor Dan Thornton, if it’s any of your business. We live here at Belle Monte. Why are you badgering the people here when there’s a late breaking story in town? It seems that Doctor Conover, the former chief administrator of Memorial Hospital, has been slapped with multiple lawsuits, as has the hospital’s head of finances, Mr. Paulsen. It seems that they have been bilking past patients for at least five years. In fact, Dr Conover has also been charged in a malpractice suit that has already been verified. Who knows how many more people he has butchered?”
The three vans and the reporters were gone quicker than water running off a duck’s back. Shawn announced, “Mother said that dinner would be ready in fifteen minutes.”
I went to talk to the deputy sheriff who had been closely monitoring the activity, “Hi, I’m Kirk Richter. Thanks for watching out for our sons.”
The man laughed, “I’m Ned Cummings. I’ll say this for you people, it sure isn’t boring around this place. I can’t imagine what it would be like if the young people were to be able to come and go at will.”
I laughed, “I take it that you have been on duty since you relieved Sheriff Lane this morning. Were you able to get anything to eat?”
Ned grinned, “I ate just before I came on duty here at one o’clock and my wife and I will eat when I get home after Lanny relieves me.”
I frowned, “You must work less hours than Lanny? He said that he would be on duty from six-thirty at night until six thirty in the morning.”
“Lanny volunteered to work those hours so he wouldn’t have to be on duty during the day. He wants to be able to finish college, and he’s talking about getting a part time job to make some extra money. He’s really been struggling financially. The Sheriff has tried to get him to apply for a loan, but Lanny is too proud to do that.”
Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of another sheriff’s cruiser. Lanny crawled out. “Hi, Ned. I had nothing better to do so I thought I'd come take over early. Hi, Dr. Richter, you’ll be glad to know that you will have to put up with me during two classes this semester. I expect A’s in both of them. Where are your sons?”
“They’re in the house, getting ready for dinner. Have you eaten?”
“Yes, I grabbed a sandwich before I reported for work.”
The conversation was interrupted by Ryan, “Daddy, dinner’s ready. Come on everyone’s hungry.”
Ned and Lanny were talking when I was being pulled into the house.
When we were seated and everyone was eating a sumptuous meal, I thought about what Lanny had said about eating a sandwich before he came on duty. I stood, “Shawn, would you please set another place at the table. I’m going to invite Deputy Sheriff Lane in to eat with us.”
Lanny started to give me grief when I invited him in to eat with us, “Look, either you turn on your flashing lights and get your butt in the house and eat with us, or I’ll make sure that you fail.”
As we were eating, Lanny looked at Bruce, “Mr. Holloway, Dr. Richter just threatened to fail me if I didn’t get my backside in here and eat. Isn’t there something that I can charge him with.”
Nate looked at him, “Sheriff Lane, if you charge our Dad with anything, we’ll make sure that Snitch and Snatch bite you where it hurts most. Now eat and stop complaining. Our Dads and Uncle Bruce will make sure that nothing bad happens. Right, Uncle George?
George laughed, “Right, Nate.”
As I was watching the guys taking the dishes, to the kitchen, Lanny thanked us for the great meal and announced, “I think I’d better go watch the front of Belle Monte until you’re ready to go to the Little House as you call it.”
I watched as Lanny left and wondered, ‘Why does he consider himself an undesirable mess? He a very handsome young man.’
To be continued...
Editor's Notes: I hate to paint all reporters with a broad brush, but it does seem that far too many of them seem to want only the most lurid information or the most sensational stories.
Here in the United States, we supposedly have Freedom of the press. Of course, that is a laugh, since the government is totally able to suppress whatever they wish. (of course that is my personal opinion and doesn't reflect anyone else' opinions.
I hate it when a mob of reporters descends on a family or group of people who have just suffered some sort of tragedy.
The mob starts shouting questions at anyone and everyone, and shoves Microphones in people's faces. They do this in the hope that someone will say something in the heat of the moment that will make a sensational lead story for the news.
What kind of person does it take to shove a mic in someone's face after a fatal fire occurs, and ask, “How do you feel, after being rescued, from your bedroom naked, only to find out you have lost your entire family, and your home?”
Why are there camera men taking pictures of people picking through debris, looking for something they might want to try to salvage, from a house that was destroyed by a tornado?
I am sorry to say that I have no answer to those questions.
I keep thinking of the huge mass of reporters who headed off to Haiti, after the quake, filming/taping all the terrible tragic mess that was going on there. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that at least some of them did take the time and effort to help some of the victims there.
I think I might have gotten just a small bit off topic there,
I'll try to do better next time.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher