What Happened to Neil
by: Miguel Sanchez
(© 2008 by the Author)
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the
author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...
I was driving home from the ASPCA when my cell phone rang. I pushed the button and said, “Hello.”
“Hi Mike,” the voice said. “It’s Connie. We have another one for you.”
“How bad,” I asked.
“Not sure,” she said. “I just got here myself but from the mumblings going on, it’s pretty bad. This might not be as short term as you like.”
“Alright,” I said. “You know I can’t refuse you. Where is he?”
“At Memorial,” she said.
“OK,” I said. “I’ll be there in about half an hour.”
I pushed the off button and changed lanes so I could head over to Memorial Hospital. I’m Mike Marshall and I’m a short term foster parent for special needs boys.
Ever since I was medically retired from the fire department, I wanted something to do that wasn’t too strenuous because of the number of operations I’ve had on my back. When I’m not fostering, I’m a volunteer at the animal shelter working with the cats. When I’ve had a bad night or just need some time to think, the cats provide me with quiet companionship.
Connie Baker is my case worker who assigns the kids to me and she’s probably one of the few females who know my other side that up until a few years ago was a deep secret. The first boy she ever assigned to me was a 13 year old who was badly beaten by his father. His mother did everything she could to stop it but finally after calling 911; she laid him out with a cast iron frying pan.
The police arrived and took both of them to jail and the boy to the hospital. I had been a foster parent for just a few months and up until then, I hadn’t told her I was gay. When I arrived at the hospital, we went into the boy’s hospital room together so we could find out what happened. That’s when we learned why his father went off on his tangent. Seems he forgot to clear his history on his computer and his father found one of the gay sites he regularly visits.
When I heard this, I wasn’t sure if the boy would want another man to be his foster parent. I figured the only way I could work with him was to let him know I was gay myself but this brought on another problem. I took Connie aside and said, “Look Connie, I think I can help him but it means telling you something and it might make me unfit to you as a foster parent.”
“What Mike?” She asked.
I looked at the floor then over to the boy in bed then said, “I’m gay too. I’ve known it for a long time but kept is a deep secret. When my father found out, he was ballistic but I was 16 and could handle myself.”
“You being gay won’t make you unsuitable as far as the department is concerned but you just won’t be able to adopt,” she said. “We get boys that have experimented and those, who like him, are in crisis.”
I went over and introduced myself to him and he immediately cowered. I put my hand on his and said, “Son, I know what you’re going through. I went through it myself but not as bad as you have.”
He looked at me unsure of what I meant but then said, “Did your Dad find your private things?”
“No,” I said giggling. “This was before computers. He just found me with my boyfriends.”
“Whoa,” he said. “I bet you really got it.”
“Not really,” I said. “See, I was 16 at the time and bigger than he was.”
He looked down and said, “You’re lucky, I’m just a little squirt.”
I lifted his chin up then said, “You’re not a little squirt. You’re going to need a place to stay and someone to look out for you for a while. Connie here wants to place you with me. What do you think about that?”
“What about my Mom,” he asked. “She didn’t do anything. Hell, she was trying to get him to stop beating me.”
“We know that son,” Connie said. “When she gets that taken care of, we’ll get you two back together.”
“Oh,” he said. “Sure, I’d like that. I’ve never known anyone else who is gay and it might be nice to have someone to talk with about things.”
Well that was my first foster son and how Connie found out I was gay. Since then, I’ve fostered about a dozen boys with most of them going back with their parents. A few stayed until they turned 18 and went out on their own but I only had two of those.
I pulled into the hospital parking lot then went to find Connie. She was waiting for me in the lobby and I could see she was really upset. “Hey girlfriend,” I said smiling. “What’s up?”
She shook her head and said, “Mike, this is the worst case I’ve ever seen.”
“How bad,” I asked.
“Come with me and we can talk with one of his doctors,” she said heading towards the elevator.
We went up to the third floor and went into the PICU. We went past several rooms and stopped outside one where I saw a badly injured child. I looked at Connie and said, “My God, what happened to him? Did he get run over by a truck?”
“He probably would have been better off if he had,” a voice said.
I turned and looked at where the voice came from and there was a doctor standing behind us. “I’m Dr. French, the young man’s Orthopedic Surgeon. Can you come with me and I can fill you in on what we know so far.”
Connie looked at the doctor and said, “This is Mike Marshall. He will be the boy’s foster parent when he’s able to leave here.”
“That’s going to be a while,” Dr. French said. “Now here’s what we know. Paramedics found the kid dumped outside near the entrance to the ER and brought him in. He was barely alive but we managed to get him stable in the trauma bay then get him to CT scan. We saw a lacerated liver, a ruptured spleen, a collapsed lung that was re-inflated in trauma, a broken ulnar, fractured radius and humorous, tib/fib fracture and a fractured femur. We also noticed a skull fracture but there’s no bleeding and we have a neurosurgeon following him. When I saw him someone had really worked him over. The trauma surgeon removed his spleen and repaired the laceration to his liver then I went to work. I pinned the bones back and he’s in casts but I don’t know what other damage has been done. The neurosurgeon suspects there will be some deficits mentally but we won’t know the extent of them until he wakes up.”
“How long has he been here?” I asked.
“He was found about 7 last night,” Dr. French said. “He was brought into surgery at 7:30 and I finally finished up on him about 3 this morning.”
Connie looked at me and said, “I decided to wait on calling you until we knew weather or not he was going to make it.”
“Alright,” I said. “Are you keeping him sedated?”
“No,” Dr. French said. “We want him to wake up even though we know he’s going to be in pain.”
“Can I see him?” I asked.
We went into his room and I immediately ran into the bathroom and threw up. I’d seen a lot of things during my career but this was by far the worst. I just couldn’t imagine how someone could do this to another human being, much less a child. “Are you alright?” Dr. French asked.
I dried my face then said, “Yeah, I am now.”
I went over and stood beside his bed and looked at him. His face was badly bruised and both eyes were blackened and swollen. I closed my eyes and tried to get a mental picture of him and I knew when the bruises cleared up, he would be a very good looking boy. “How old is he?” I asked.
Dr. French shook his head and said, “I’ve never been a good judge of that.”
I lifted the covers and his gown and looked at his crotch. I would guess he was somewhere between 13 and 15 judging by the amount of pubic hair he has. I can’t tell how big he is because of the tube in his penis. I placed the covers back over him then asked, “Am I going to be governed by the visiting hours here?”
“No,” Dr. French said. “I want someone here when he wakes up.”
“Alright,” I said. “I’ll come back in the morning. I don’t think he’s gonna wake up much before then.”
Connie and I left the PICU not saying anything to each other. As soon as we were alone however I found a place to sit and broke down crying. Connie came over and sat beside me and said, “I know Mike; I’ve already shed all the tears I have right now.”
“How could someone do this to a child?” I babbled. “I thought I’d seen just about everything when I was a paramedic but this beats it all.”
“I know Mike,” she said. “Do you still want to foster him?”
“Oh hell yeah,” I said looking up at her. “He’s going to have a lot of problems both mentally and physically and I have the time to devote to him.”
“That’s what I thought when I assigned him to you,” Connie said as we got up and headed for the elevator.
We talked some more as we headed for the front door then we set our separate ways. I got in my car and headed home trying to concentrate on the road and not let my thoughts drift back to that boy in the unit. I managed to do a pretty good job because I arrived home in one piece. I pulled into the driveway then parked and entered my house. It was almost 8 and I’d missed lunch but for some reason, I wasn’t hungry. I put on the television and tried to get engrossed in something there but that’s when my thoughts started going back to the hospital.
I knew it was going to be a very long evening so I took my evening meds a little early then hit the shower. I was drying myself off when my stomach decided it was empty and needing filling. I went into the kitchen and tried to figure out what I wanted. I looked in the freezer and decided to have a couple of pot pies.
While they were cooking I tried to watch television again but there wasn’t really anything on that I was interested in. I went upstairs looking into the other bedroom and thought about what I would need to do to make this his room. I went inside and looked at what was there, a bed, dresser, combination desk with a computer area and room for him to do his homework. It dawned on me that he might be either bed ridden or in a wheelchair so a PC might not be practical.
I heard the buzzer go off telling me my dinner was ready so I turned the light off and went downstairs. I took the pies out and dumped them onto a plate to let them cool. I had a laptop that I hadn’t used in a while and thought it would be good for him if he was bedridden or in a wheelchair.
After I ate, the medication started kicking in so I decided to go to bed and sleep. I quickly did my business then slid in between the sheets. I turned the lights off and let the medication do its thing.
I woke about 6 and had to pee but I knew there was no going back to sleep. I pulled some sweatpants on and headed downstairs and put on a pot of coffee. I put on the morning news then went outside and got the paper. I was thinking about having Connie go to the press but then who ever did this could take off if they learned he was alive.
After my second cup, I went and shaved and got dressed then decided to go to the hospital. I sat with the boy for a few hours when Dr. French came in. “Where are the clothes he was wearing when he was brought into the ER?” I asked.
“They were cut off him,” he said. “I think the police took them.”
I wanted to look through his pants and see if anything was there that might help tell me who he was. “Oh ok,” I said. “I was hoping there was something that might tell us who he was.”
“They did find a piece of paper with a name on it but they don’t know if it was his name or that of someone else,” the doc said.
“What was the name,” I asked.
“Andrew, I think,” Dr. French said heading out the door.
I sat with him until about noon then went down to the cafeteria and had a little lunch then returned until 5. I went home and fixed dinner then thought about the name “Andrew.” More than likely it was just a scrap of paper he picked up and the name didn’t mean anything.
I sat with him everyday for the next three days and there wasn’t any change in his level of consciousness. I was there when Dr. French came in with another doctor. He introduced him as Dr. Hadley, the neurosurgeon working with the boy. He examined him and said, “He is slowly starting to come out of it. But it still could be a while.”
“Do you think another CT would tell you anything?” I asked.
“No,” Dr. Hadley said. “His pupils are reacting normally to light. If they weren’t then I would.”
That made sense. Dr. French checked his casts and had his foley changed then left to see other patients while I continued to sit and wait. He’d been there for five days now and I was wondering why no one had been looking for this boy. He had to have parents somewhere and surely by now they must be missing him.
I figured I’d leave a little early and call Connie on my way home. I was about to go down to the cafeteria when I saw a slightly overweight police officer standing at the nurse’s station. He turned and headed for our room then when he saw me he asked, “How’s he doing?”
“All things considered, he’s doing pretty good,” I said allowing the officer to come in.
“I was the officer who responded here when the hospital called,” he said. “I’m Sergeant Tom O’Farrell.”
“Mike Marshall,” I said extending my hand to him. “I’m his foster parent. Have there been any enquiries about him?
“Not in the city,” he said. “None of the surrounding cities have contacted us either.”
“That’s strange,” I said. “Someone’s bound to be missing him.”
Some of the bruises around his face were starting to fade and I could see just what a cute kid he was. “We’re checking the missing person’s reports every day lad,” he said with a hint of Scottish brogue.
“I guess that’s all you can do,” I said brushing his brown hair away from his eyes.”
“I have to get back on the street,” the Sergeant said. “I’ll check back on him in a couple of days. I’m glad they have someone looking after him already.”
He left and I couldn’t help but hold his hand in mine. I sat there and stroked it for several minutes when I remembered I wanted some coffee. I went downstairs and got some coffee then as I was walking back to the unit, I thought about what Sgt. O’Farrell had said. I forgot there were a couple of surrounding cities.
When I returned, Connie was sitting in my chair holding his hand lost in thought. “Not much change,” I said walking in.
“I know,” she said rubbing his arm.
“A police officer was here earlier,” I said sitting beside her.
“I know,” she said. “I passed him on my way in. I need to get back to work. I just had to see how he was doing.”
I sat there the rest of the day then headed home to eat and clean the house. I’d let things go but I felt it was time to get busy. I fixed dinner then relaxed watching television when the phone rang. “Hello,” I said.
A voice on the other end said, “Mr. Marshall, this is the head nurse on the PICU.”
“Yes ma’am,” I said. “Is something wrong with the boy?”
“There is a change,” she said. “It appears he’s trying to wake up. I knew you would want to be called.”
“Thank you,” I said turning off the television. “I’ll be there shortly.”
‘I couldn’t believe it,’ I thought. ‘I just hope there isn’t a neurological problem.’
I locked the door and hurried off back to the hospital. I got to the PICU and Dr. French and Dr. Hadley were standing there as Dr. Hadley poked him on his foot.
I walked over by his head and rubbed his hand silently trying to will him awake. Dr. French said, “We’re going to let him rest for a bit. I’ll be back in a little while and check him one more time before I go home.”
I went and talked with the head nurse for a few minutes then had her bring me some coffee then went to take his hand again. I sat down and took his hand and started rubbing it. I looked over and saw the nurse coming in with my coffee then I felt him squeeze my hand. I shot up and said, “Do that again.”
Once more I felt him gently squeeze my hand. The nurse set my coffee on his table as I said, “He’s awake.”
She ran around and his eyes were still closed but I said, “Squeeze my hand son.”
He squeezed it yet again then I said, “Turn the lights down. I think they’re hurting his eyes.”
The nurse dimmed the lights and I watched as his eyes eased open a little. I held his hand and smiled as his eyes focused on me. Once I was sure his eyes had focused I said, “Hi there. You’ve had a lot of people worried about you.”
He tried to speak but all he could get out was a weak “Ugh.”
“I think he needs a little sip of water,” I said still rubbing the boy’s hand.
The nurse got him some water then he said after he sipped a little, “Um, my head hurts some.”
She moved his hair out of his face and said, “We’ll get you something for that.”
While the nurse went out to get the doctor I looked at him and said, “Do you know where you are?”
“Looks like a hospital,” he said. “Who are you?”
“My name is Mike,” I said. “What’s yours?”
He started to speak then stopped then started again then said softly, “I...I don’t know.”
The tears started rolling down his cheeks as I said, “It’s OK son. You’ve been through a lot and you’ve had a bad blow to you head so it’s no wonder things seemed scrambled. I’ll be right back.”
I went over to the nurse’s station as Dr. French and Dr. Hadley came into the unit. They started going to the room when I said, “Over here please.”
“I hear he’s awake,” Dr. French said.
“Yeah he is,” I said. “There is a problem though. He doesn’t know who he is. He does know he’s in a hospital but I wouldn’t place bets he knows the name of it.”
Dr. Hadley said, “I said there might be deficits. I want to check his reflexes and strength, and then I’ll leave him alone.”
We walked back in and immediately went to his head. He looked at me and said, “Who are they?”
Dr. French was by his head on the other side of the bed so I said, “This is Dr. French. He fixed your arm and leg.”
Dr. French spoke to him softly and asked, “How are you feeling? Do you hurt anywhere?”
The boy turned his head and said, “My head hurts a little and so do my arm and leg.”
“Alright,” he said. “I can get you something for that. This is Dr. Hadley. He is going to take a little look at you then we’ll let you rest.”
Dr. Hadley stepped up and took his hand and said, “Squeeze it as hard as you can.”
The boy did as he was asked. He responded well to everything the doctor asked of him. Dr. Hadley looked at the boy and said, “I understand you don’t remember what your name is. Is this correct?”
“Un huh,” the boy said. “It’s like I can then I can’t. What’s wrong with me?”
Dr. Hadley gently rubbed his hair, “You’ve been through a lot. We know what your injuries are but we don’t know how you got them or why it happened. Don’t worry about that right now. With time, it should come back to you but right now, just concentrate on getting better.”
Dr. French continued, “That’s right. Mike here, will be with you during the day and he will help you in any way he can.”
The Doctors talked with the boy a little more then they left and went back to the nurse’s station. I walked out and asked Dr. French, “Can you write an order to remove his foley? He’ll probably want that out of him soon.”
“Just make sure he urinates,” Dr. Hadley said. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Now that he’s awake, maybe I’ll transfer him out of here tomorrow,” Dr. French said. “I think I might need to have a psychiatrist come in and talk with him.”
“I’d go easy on that right now,” I said. “He’s just coming to grips with all this. Let’s let his injuries heal then we can work on his memory.”
He nodded his head then left the unit. I went back and sat with the boy. I looked at him and he looked totally lost. He turned his head and looked at me, “Why are you here?”
“Well son,” I said. “I’m your foster parent. Since we don’t know what is going on, you’re going to need someone to care for you until we can find your parents.”
I noticed him wincing and his hand under the covers. “What’s this thing in me?”
“That’s to let you go pee,” I said. “They put that in you when you were unconscious so you could go.”
“Do you think they could take it out?” He said.
I pushed the button for the nurse and then asked, “Can he get his foley out?”
She went out the look at his chart then returned wearing a pair of rubber gloves. She removed the covers and when she lifted his gown he turned red knowing a woman was seeing his boyhood. She quickly removed the tube and explained that he might dribble a little until his sphincter had a chance to close. She also told the boy that it might burn some the first time he peed and not to worry about that. She then left us to talk a little more.
We sat and talked about nothing in particular when his arm and leg started really bothering him. I again rang for the nurse and she came in with his pain medication and a new bag of IV solution. She hung the fluids then gave him the medication into the tubing. I held his hand and watched as the medication took effect and he drifted off to sleep.
I headed home thinking about a number of different things. The first thing was to figure out what to call him. I know calling him son all the time would get old. Another thing would be what would happen when he was ready to leave the hospital. Would he really want to stay with me? Another thing was what happens when his parents come into the picture? I know they’re his parents, but to him they’re strangers. I pulled into the drive way and went right to my room. I was tired and I had a feeling this was going to be a very long day. I quickly did my business then crawled into the bed for some much needed sleep after setting my alarm for 7.
It seemed like I had only slept a very short while when the alarm was waking me up. I hurried into the bathroom to pee then went out to the kitchen to put on the coffee. I went back to my room and quickly showered and shaved while the coffee was dripping.
After guzzling down two cups, I hurried out the door to get back to the boy. When I got to his room he was holding onto his covers while another nurse was trying to pull them down. “What’s the problem here?” I asked as she let go of the covers.
“I’m here to give him a bed bath,” she said.
“Mike, I don’t want her seeing me naked,” the boy said.
“A reasonable request,” I said. “Weren’t you told that I would be here?”
“Well yes,” she said. “I’ve seen many children before when I’ve bathed them so it’s not like it’s something I’ve never seen.”
“And mine is something you will never see,” the boy quipped.
I looked at her and said, “I think you should just leave him alone. I’ll have a talk with the head nurse. I am quite capable of cleaning him up myself.”
She stormed out of the room as the boy said, “Thanks Mike. I didn’t think I could have held onto them much longer.”
“No problem kiddo,” I said. “I’ll let the head nurse and charge nurse know that I’ll clean you up when you need it. Is that alright with you?”
He turned a little red then said, “I guess so Mike. I’m gonna be in these casts for quite a while, aren’t I?”
“I would hate to get near you if you decided to wait until they came off,” I said smiling at him.
“I’d really rank myself too,” he said as I went to close the curtains around the windows.
A nurse knocked then came in with a wash basin, soap, washcloths and towels. After she left, I eased the covers down to his waist then undid the snaps on the gown and removed it. I lifted his covers up a little then reached under with a towel to cover his crotch. I slid the covers down a little more then wet the cloth and put soap on then gently started washing his face. “You mean you’ve never had someone give you a bath in bed before?”
“Not since I was a kid,” he said as I was rinsing his face.
We talked while I washed him. When I got to his crotch I said, “You wanna try to do this yourself?”
“He shook his head, “I need two hands to do that. I trust you.”
I removed the towel exposing his uncut manhood. I lifted his tool and gently started washing it with the cloth then gently pulled the foreskin back. As I started washing the head, he started getting erect. I quickly finished washing it then rinsed it. By the time I was ready to dry it, he was fully hard and his face beet red. I quickly dried it then said, “Don’t be embarrassed son, it happens and yours isn’t the first erect penis I’ve ever seen.”
I got a clean gown for him and covered his body so he wouldn’t catch a chill. He smiled at me and said, “Thanks Mike. It feels good to be clean. Can you get my butt too?”
In my haste to get his dick done and covered, I forgot about his back and butt. I put his rail up and went around to the other side of the bed and dropped that one then carefully rolled him onto his side. As he held on with his good arm, I washed his back. When it came time to do his butt I said, “I’m going to have to spread your cheeks kiddo.”
“It’s OK Mike,” he said.
I lifted his cheek and washed his butt and quickly got him dry and rolled back over. His gown had shifted exposing his still hard dick. I covered it up and said, “Sorry abut that son.”
“It’s OK,” he said. “My balls feel sore.”
Now I knew what was going on and I also knew there was no way he could relieve himself there in the unit. I looked at him and said, “I know the reason for that son. I can step out if you want some privacy.”
He was about to answer when there was a knock on the window. I covered him up and opened the curtain as Dr. French started to come into the room. “Morning guys,” he said. “Ah, bath time I see.”
“Mike got me washed up,” the boy said. “I didn’t want some nurse doing it.”
“I can understand that,” the doc said.
“Mike I gotta pee,” the boy said.
I got him his jug and lifted the covers so he could go. I had to hold the jug while he put his tool inside. No sooner had that happened when he really cut loose. I waited until he was finished then took the jug out. “500cc’s,” I said. “No wonder you had to go.”
“I see you can go by yourself,” Dr. French said. “How would you like to get out of here and into a private room?”
“Can Mike still stay with me?” he asked.
“I’m not gonna leave you,” I said ruffling his hair.
Dr. French smiled and went out to write the orders. I sat down and rubbed his hand when another Doctor came in. I didn’t know who he was when Dr. French came back in and said, “The transfer orders have been written. This is Dr. Paddock. He is a psychiatrist.”
The boy looked at him and said, “I don’t know what we can talk about. Like I told Dr. French here, I don’t remember anything before I woke up last night.”
“Well we can talk in private about that,” he said.
“Look Doc,” the boy said. “I don’t know you. From what I know about Mike, he’s been here with me since I was brought in. For right now, I want Mike here.”
“I don’t,” he started when Dr. French put his hand on his shoulder.
“Can I see you outside for a minute Doctor,” he asked.
The two doctors stepped outside and Dr. French said, “He just woke up after being in a coma for a week. He doesn’t remember his name and Mike is like a life line to him right now. Mike is his legal guardian so he can ask you be replaced anytime. There’s no sign of abuse but even if there was, he is the parent for all intents and purposes.”
“I just don’t work like that,” Dr. Paddock said.
“You will with him or he’s not your patient, since I am his attending,” Dr. French said. “Have you ever had anything like this before?”
“Well no,” he said.
“Then tread very lightly, Doctor,” Dr. French said. “I do know this. It could take months for him to recover. Do I make myself quite clear?”
“Alright Doctor,” he said. “I’ll do as the boy asks.”
They walked back in just as two nurses came to transfer the boy to another room. The nurses rolled him, bed and all, out of the unit and to the elevator. They got him into his new room and I had them put the television on for him. I wanted to get him back into the world and what better way than for him to see some television.
The nurses got a report from the PICU team and they all knew that I would be with him for most of each day. The new nurses checked his vitals and showed him how to use the call bell and television.
He still had his IV so Dr. French put him on a soft lunch to see how he tolerated food. If he kept it down without any problems, he could have a regular diet.
Once it was just us again, I looked at him and said, “You know kiddo, we need to figure out a name for you. I can’t keep calling you son or kiddo all the time.”
“I don’t know Mike,” he said starting to get upset. “I’ve tried to remember but I just can’t.”
I sat on the side of his bed and said, “Shh now sport, don’t cry. I wasn’t meaning it like that. Is there a name you really like that we can use until we find out what your real name is?”
He thought for a few minutes then said, “Well, there is a name I like.”
“OK,” I said. “What is it?”
“Neil,” he said. “Don’t ask me why though.”
“Alright then, Neil it is,” I said. “We can just go with the flow for right now.”
Neil’s lunch tray came in and he quickly dove into it devouring it in record time. The nurse came back in and said, “Well young man, looks like you really enjoyed that?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Can I get something else please?”
“I’ll see what I can find,” she said. She brought him another tray and said, “Here you go my boy, enjoy.”
“Call me Neil,” he said.
“OK Neil,” she said heading out the door.
Neil ate his second tray when I said, “I’m going to get something to eat and bring it here. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
I went down to the cafeteria and got something to eat and went to bring it back to Neil’s room. While I was gone he had a visitor. “Well, hello there son,” Dr. Paddock said looking around the room.
“Uh hi,” Neil said. “What do you want?”
“Just want to talk with you,” the doctor said.
“Uh well Mike’s not here so I’ll wait for him,” Neil said.
“Now, now,” the doctor said. “You’re a big boy. You don’t need him. Now tell me, what happened to you?”
“I, I don’t remember,” he said.
“Now come on,” the doctor said. “A bright boy like you can’t remember? I know you remember what happened. Were you out doing something you shouldn’t have and that’s why you’re pretending you don’t remember?”
“I don’t know,” Neil said getting visibly upset.
“Yes you do,” the man said. “I know you do. Just tell me and this will all be over.”
Tears were streaming down Neil’s face as he shouted, “Stop it, I told you I don’t remember.”
I was just outside his room when I heard Neil yelling. I opened the door and saw Dr. Paddock standing over him saying, “You’re lying to me.”
“JUST WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?” I screamed dropping my lunch on the floor.
“Mike, he thinks I’m lying to him,” Neil said crying.
“You were told not to be here without me being present,” I said hurrying over to Neil’s side.
A nurse heard all the commotion and came into the room. I saw her and said, “Get Dr. French here right away.”
Dr. French was on the floor and quickly came in and saw Dr. Paddock with Neil in tears. “What happened?”
Neil said, “He thinks I’m lying Dr. French. He doesn’t believe me when I said I don’t remember.”
Dr. French picked up the phone and punched a few buttons then said, “Page Dr. Chase to room 351 STAT.”
I looked at the so called doctor and said, “Just what do you have to say for yourself?”
“I was just talking with him in general,” Paddock said. “I wasn’t making any accusations.”
“Bull shit,” Neil said. “You said I was doing something I knew was wrong so that’s why I was making this up.”
I never said that,” he said.
“I don’t think the boy would lie,” Dr. French said.
“He’s a kid,” the doctor said. “They lie all the time.”
“That line again?” A voice said. “What have I told you about brow beating patients?”
I looked over at the voice and said, “And who are you?”
“I’m Dr. William Chase,” he said. “I’m head of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services.”
Dr. French stepped over and said, “I told him NOT to talk with the boy unless Mike was here. This was what the child wanted.”
“Is this true?” Dr. Chase asked.
“Uh well,” he started.
“That’s good enough for me,” Chase said. “I’ve told you one more incident and I was suspending you. Well guess what, this is that incident and you’re suspended.”
I had sat down beside Neil and said, “Thank you, Dr. Chase. He wants to be called Neil.”
“You remembered your name?” Dr. French asked.
“Not exactly,” Neil said. “It’s a name I like so when Mike said to come up with a name I liked, that’s what I did.”
“It was getting a little stale calling him either son or kiddo so that’s what I did,” I said.
“Not a bad idea,” Dr. Chase said walking over to Neil. “How would you like to talk with me sometime?”
“I guess,” Neil said. “I still want Mike here.”
“Not a problem Neil,” Dr. Chase said. “You relax now and we’ll talk later. I heard you had a pretty nasty blow to your head so it’s not surprising your memory is a little scrambled.”
Neil’s injuries were healing well and I was able to get him in a wheelchair and wheel him around the floor and even go down to the gift shop and cafeteria. He had been in his room for about 10 days when I saw Sgt. O’Farrell. I had just come back from the cafeteria when he said, “Ah hi Mike and how’s the lad doing?”
“He’s doing really well now,” I said opening the door and going inside. “His memory hasn’t returned but his injuries are continuing to heal nicely.”
Sgt. O’Farrell walked over to Neil and said, “How are you feeling lad? You gave me a good scare last week.”
“Do you know me Sir?” Neil asked.
“No lad, I don’t,” the officer said. “I was the officer on duty when you were brought in.”
“Oh,” Neil said. “I’m not feeling too bad. Mike is able to get me out of the room for a while but I’m gonna have these casts on for another couple of weeks.”
“I hope you get well soon,” the cop said.
I walked out with the officer and when the door closed he said to me, “Mike, I think we now know who he is.”
“Really,” I said beaming. “Who is he and how do you know this?”
“His parents are talking with Dr. French and another doctor,” Sgt. O’Farrell said.
“Let me get Neil watching some television so I can meet with them,” I said.
I went inside and told Neil I needed to talk with Dr. French and I would be back in a few minutes. He didn’t have a problem with it so I followed the officer to the conference room. I went inside and there with Dr. French were a young man and woman. Dr. French stood and said, “Mike these are Neil’s parent’s Adam and Barbara Jefferies. And yes, his first name is Neil.”
I was stunned at that point. Some how Neil chose his real name when I asked him to pick one. I shook their hands then said, “Hi, I’m Mike Marshall. I’m Neil’s foster parent.”
“Foster parent?” His Mother asked.
“When Neil was brought in, no one knew who he was so Social Services were called,” I said. “I’ve handled about a dozen troubled and special teens.”
“Well we will be taking him home when he gets out of here,” Mr. Jefferies said.
“I don’t think so,” I said looking at them. “Is one of you prepared to be with him 24 hours a day? And what about him, I doubt he will know who you are.
“We both work,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“Then I think it would be best if he stay with me in foster care until his casts come off and he starts physical therapy,” I said. “Now I’m not saying you’re not needed here. He needs to know who you are and be in his life but with both of you working, he will need someone with him at all times.”
Dr. Chase said, “We’re getting ahead of ourselves here.”
“I have one question,” I said. “How come it took two weeks for you to realize Neil was missing?”
“School trip,” Mr. Jefferies said. “He was supposed to be on a school trip. He was to be home today and when the school said he didn’t go, we knew something was wrong.”
“Why didn’t the school call?” I asked.
“They thought he was home sick,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
I was about to say something when a voice said, “Dr. French room 351 STAT.”
I was out the door like a shot running to Neil’s room. I hit the door and went over to him saying, “Calm down son, it’s ok.”
He wrapped his arm around me and put his head on my shoulder. He was shaking and said, “I, I had a b- bad dream,”
“Shh son,” I said soothingly. “It’s OK. Take in some slow deep breaths. I’m here now.”
Sgt. O’Farrell kept the parents out of the room but they saw how their son interacted with me. He asked the parents, “Did he go to school that day?”
“Yeah he did,” Mr. Jefferies said.
“Well,” he started. “When were they supposed to leave on the trip?”
“They left about 30 minutes before school started,” he said. “The school thought he was sick, that’s why he wasn’t there when they left and we thought he was on the field trip.”
“Then someone had to know he was going on that trip,” the officer said.
“All his friends at school did,” Mrs. Jefferies said. “A lot of his friends went.”
“Who has his property,” Mr. Jefferies asked.
“What property?” the officer asked. “He didn’t have anything on him.”
“That’s odd,” Mrs. Jefferies said. “He always has his wallet with him.”
“Nope,” the sergeant said. “All they found was a scrap of paper with a name on it.”
“What was the name?” Mr. Jefferies asked.
“Um,” the sergeant thought. “Andrew, I think.”
“Oh,” Mrs. Jefferies said. “That’s his best friend Andrew Walker. They were both going on the trip. I think they were supposed to room together.”
“How does Neil get to school?” Sgt. O’Farrell asked.
“He rides their bus,” Mr. Jefferies said.
“Alright,” he said. “This gives us some things to go on now.”
I finally had Neil calm and he was talking to me. Dr. French and Dr. Chase were at the foot of the bed as I asked, “Can you remember anything son?”
“Not really,” he said. “All I remember was being chased and running.”
“Could you see who was chasing you?” Dr. Chase asked.
“No I couldn’t,” he said. “Just that I was being chased.”
“Are you OK now son?” I asked.
“Yeah Mike,” Neil said. “Thanks for being here.”
“He’s really good,” Mr. Jefferies said.
“He’s been with Neil since he came out of surgery,” Dr. French said. “Neil trusts him. Right now, I don’t think he’s mentally stable to be away from him.”
“But he’s our son,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“That’s true,” Dr. Chase said. “But right now, I don’t think he would recognize you. I would like to introduce you two to him. If he doesn’t know who you are, I do want to tell him.”
I was talking with Neil when Dr. Chase came in with his parents. He looked up and said, “Hi.”
Dr Chase came in with Mr. and Mrs. Jefferies then looked at Neil and said, “Do you know these people?”
He stared at them and said, “No Dr. Chase.”
I put my arm around him and said, “I can tell you why you like the name Neil.”
“Oh,” Neil said. “Why is that?”
“Can you think of a reason you might?” I asked.
“Is that my name?” he asked.
“Un huh,” I said. “Now, can you figure out who these people might be?”
“Umm, are they my parents?” He asked.
“That’s right,” I said.
“But I don’t know them Mike,” he said starting to get upset.
“That’s alright Neil,” I said softly. “Your memory will come back. It’s just gonna take time.”
“Alright Mike,” Neil said. “Dr. French, I hurt.”
“Alright son,” he said. “I’ll have the nurse bring you in your medicine.”
The nurse came in and I stayed with him until he nodded off to sleep. I went back to the conference room as Dr. Chase said, “I’m not sure if the nightmare he had has anything to do with his memory coming back or a result of the harassment he took from Dr. Paddock this afternoon. I’m leaning to the latter.”
“I saw how he responds to you,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“I’m not trying to take him from you,” I said.
“We know that,” Mr. Jefferies said. “Right now he needs someone and that someone is you. Will he be here until the casts come off?”
“Probably not,” Dr. French said. “He won’t be able to put weight on his bad leg for at least another few weeks. I will redo the x-rays to see how the bones are healing.”
“We have a big house and Neil’s room is on the first floor,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“What about the doors?” Dr. French asked. “He’s going to need to be in a wheelchair.”
“That’s not a problem,” his father said. “We had wide doors put on all the rooms.”
I listened to conversation then said, “I don’t know about him going home without some kind of support system.”
“We have two other bedrooms,” Mr. Jefferies said. “We want you to come and stay with him during the day.”
“OK,” I said. “But he needs to get out a little and see his surroundings.”
“In time Mike,” Dr. Chase said. “He needs time to get acclimated to his new surroundings.”
“Alright,” I said. “We can worry about that later then.”
Dr. Chase and Dr. French and to leave to see other patients and I needed to check on Neil. I looked at the Jefferies and said, “I would like to talk with you both if that’s alright?”
“We can do that,” Mr. Jefferies said.
“Let me check on Neil then we can go down to the cafeteria and talk,” I said.
I went and looked in on Neil then let the nurse’s station know where I would be in case he woke up and I wasn’t there. The Jefferies and I went downstairs and I got them coffee. I told them about myself and about some of the kids I’d fostered. I did leave out the part that I was gay because I didn’t need any hassles when it came to Neil getting better. I looked at the parents and said, “What can you tell me about Neil? I would like to know everything about him.”
They looked at each other then said, “Neil is a very personable boy and he has a lot of friends. His best friend is a boy Neil’s age.”
“How old is Neil,” I asked
“He’s almost 15,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“Although he doesn’t really look his age,” Mr. Jefferies said. “He started growing rather late and his body hasn’t finished yet.”
“I sorta noticed that,” I said. “I gave him a bed bath today and he does have some more maturing left. Does or did he have a girl friend?”
“He had friends that were girls,” Mr. Jefferies said. “But as for dating a girl, no he didn’t.”
“Who is this boy you refer to as his best friend?” I asked.
“That would be Andrew Walker,” Mrs. Jefferies answered.
“How long have they known each other?” I asked.
They looked at each other then Mrs. Jefferies said, “Since they were about 9 or 10, I think.”
“Was he into sports or any after school activities?” I asked. “I sense there is more to Neil you’re not telling me.”
They looked at each other then Mr. Jefferies said, “What do you mean?”
“Well,” he said as if he was carefully choosing his words. “I don’t think Neil is like other boys his age.”
“Now Adam,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“You know what I mean, dear,” he said to his wife before continuing. “What I mean is I just don’t see him with girls like other boys.”
I wanted to find out more about what he was saying. If Neil is gay, he will need his parents love and support now, more than ever. I looked at them and said, “Are you saying Neil might be homosexual?”
“The current term is gay,” Mr. Jefferies said. “And this is exactly what I mean. That don’t matter to us but I hope it doesn’t matter to you either.”
“Well no,” I said. “It doesn’t matter to me. You see, I’m gay too. I know all the terms and some I really hate.”
“That should help him,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“It will when he remembers that too,” I said. “Not even amnesia will take that away from who he is. He may have to re-come to grips with it but he is still gay. Has Neil talked with you about this?”
“No,” Mrs. Jefferies said. “We’re waiting for him to come to us.”
“Wise decision,” I said. “What about any of his friends. Might they know?”
They looked at each other then Mr. Jefferies said, “I don’t know. Andrew might but I just don’t think Neil would tell even him.”
“Agreed,” I said. “When we’re in the closet, we don’t want anyone to know for fear of rejection. The hardest thing for a gay person to do is tell someone. Many a person has lost friends or even had them turn on them and told others. So you’re probably right that he hasn’t said anything to anyone.”
“Mike, I’m glad you’re here with him,” Mrs. Jefferies said. “We wouldn’t begin to know how to deal with this.”
“Well ma’am,” I said. “I’m not an expert here either. I’m not pushing his memory but I did have him come up with a name that he liked so I wasn’t constantly calling him son, sport or kiddo.”
“Did he come up with Neil on his own?” Mr. Jefferies asked.
“Yep,” I said. “Now, he understands you’re his parents but he has no memory of you. It’s going to take some time for him to get used to having you around him but don’t ignore him. Let him get used to you before you go and want to constantly hug him. Did he like to cuddle or be held?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Jefferies said. “We see that with him now. He’s leaning against you wanting contact. That’s how he is.”
“Alright,” I said. “When he gets home, just be his friend to start. Ruffle his hair, pat him on the shoulder. I know you’ll want to tell him you love him and that’s good but I don’t know how he’s gonna react to it so don’t be surprised if he doesn’t return your, I love you son.”
We finished our coffee and headed back to Neil’s room. When we arrived, he was just waking up from his nap. “How ya feelin kiddo,” I asked cheerfully.
“Groggy,” he replied. “That stuff works but it takes a while to get the cobwebs out of my head when I wake up.”
“That’s the medication,” I said. “It’s still in your system helping to keep the pain down.”
He looked up at his parents and said, “Oh hi, sorry I didn’t acknowledge you.”
“That’s ok son,” Mr. Jefferies said.
“Sir,” he said. “I understand you’re my parents but I don’t know who you are. I know I should love you but.”
He stopped and started getting upset with himself. Mr. Jefferies put his hand on his shoulder and said, “It’s alright Neil. You don’t have to worry about that right now. You can call us Adam and Barbara for right now. And yes Neil, we do love you.”
He looked up at his father then leaned over and buried his face in my shoulder. “What’s happening to me Mike? I feel like I’m going crazy.”
“No you’re not son,” I said rubbing his hair. “You’ve been through a lot and you’re getting a lot of new things to try and comprehend. Let’s just take it easy now and try to relax.”
The Jefferies and I walked outside while Neil finished calming down. “I didn’t know that would upset him like that?” Mr. Jefferies said.
“It wasn’t what you said that upset him,” I said. “It was the fact that he was trying to remember you as his parents but couldn’t. I think he understands that you love him but he just doesn’t know you so he can feel it. Give it time. I’ve been with him for two weeks and he hasn’t told me how he feels towards me yet.”
“OK,” Mr. Jefferies said. “It’s getting late. Thanks for being here with him. We’ll let him rest and see him later.”
They left and I went back in and stayed with Neil. I sat on the edge of the bed and said, “Don’t try to force things to come back son. That only leads to frustration.
“What’s gonna happen to me Mike?” He asked.
“Well Neil,” I said. “When you are ready to leave here, you will go home to your parent’s house?”
“YOU’RE GONNA LEAVE ME!” he shouted.
“NO son,” I said. “Let me finish. They have two extra rooms and I’ll be staying there too. Both of them work and you will need someone to help you.”
“Oh,” he said softly. “Sorry I shouted at you. It’s just that ever since I’ve woke up, you’ve been here for me and well, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
I drew him into a gentle hug then said, “I’ve grown quite fond of you too kiddo.”
“Really?” he said surprised.
“Yeah,” I said. “I love all my foster children.”
“I love you too Mike,” he said. “What will happen after I get my memory back?”
“I’ll keep in touch,” I said. “I still do that with some of my boys.”
“I’d like that,” Neil said.
Neil’s dinner tray was brought in and I went to get myself something to eat. I stayed with him until about 9 then his arm started bothering him. I gave him a hug just before the medication kicked in then headed home. I went through my mail and paid some bills then took a shower and went to bed.
Over the next few days Neil’s injuries continued to improve. Dr. French sent him down for new x-rays and was pleased with how they were looking. He took Neil’s long leg cast off and put him in a short one that came up to just above his knee. This would make things much easier on him when he got home and he would be able to transfer from his wheelchair to another without too much difficulty.
Sgt. O’Farrell started looking into the information given to him by Neil’s parents and the first thing he wanted to know was why the school hadn’t contacted the Jefferies that their son wasn’t on the field trip or in class. He drove out to the school then walked into the office and said, “I’d like to see the principal.”
The woman came out and said, “May I help you?”
“Yes ma’am,” the sergeant said. “Who was in charge of taking attendance for the kids who went on the field trip? I’m looking into what happened to Neil Jefferies.”
“The teachers assigned to go with them were responsible for taking attendance,” she answered.
“And when would you have been informed if a student didn’t make it?” Sgt. O’Farrell asked.
“I never thought,” she started.
“That’s right lady,” Sgt. O’Farrell started. “You didn’t think. And because of it, a student has been in the hospital for two weeks and his parents never knew about it until the bus returned. That is pure negligence on your part. I can’t believe there was no way for someone on that bus to call the school with an attendance report. I hope this school has good insurance.”
Sgt. O’Farrell left the office and stopped to see the Jefferies. He wanted the address of Andrew Walker so he could talk with him when he got home from school. After he got that information, he returned to his other duties.
I arrived at the hospital and saw Neil sporting some new casts. “Hey sport,” I said. “You’re looking better today. How’s the new casts feel?”
“A lot better,” he replied. “I can move my arm but it is real weak.”
“That’s from being in a cast and not moving for two weeks,” I said. “Someone from physical therapy will be coming in to help you with some exercises to gradually build the muscles back. Now remember, the bone in there is still healing. Same goes for your leg.”
“OK,” he said. “At least it’s better then it was.”
“That’s true,” I said. “Now when you go home you’ll be able to wear some underwear and shorts.”
He giggled then said, “Yeah, it would have been drafty just wearing this gown.”
“That’s true,” I said. “I don’t think you would have wanted to show everyone your butt.”
He turned red at that thought then said, “It would have been OK for you to see it since you’ve bathed me but I sure wouldn’t want anyone else to.”
He reached his good arm out and I went over and hugged him. I got the pan out and filled it with warm water and started getting him cleaned up. It was a lot easier now that he was in short arm and leg casts. Once again when I cleaned his penis, he got an erection then asked, “Mike, my balls are still sore. The other night after you left, I um tried to well make them feel better but nothing would happen.”
“Did your penis get hard like it is now?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “And it even started feeling good but nothing would happen.”
“Well that is probably because of the pain medicine you’re on,” I said. It’s designed to block pain in the nerves and it is having an effect there as well.”
“All I know is they’re sore,” he started. “If I don’t do something soon, it feels like they’re gonna burst.”
I thought for a moment then said, “I have an idea,” I said handing him the small bottle of lotion I rub on his skin. “You can use this and it will increase the sensation.”
“That’s great,” Neil said. “But I can’t hold my dick and put the lotion on at the same time.”
“Are you saying you want to relieve yourself now?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “You don’t have a problem squirting some lotion on do you?”
“No I don’t kiddo,” I said. “Not if you don’t have a problem with me seeing you do it.”
“You’re probably the only person I would let see me,” he replied.
He handed me the bottle back then took his dick in his hand. “Skin the foreskin back,” I said.
I put a little on the head and he slowly started jacking himself. I needed to add a little more but I could tell by his facial expressions it was providing the much needed results. After about 5 minutes, his breathing got labored and he was going a lot faster. I heard him let out a deep moan then he shot all the pent up cum onto his chest, stomach and hand. I smiled seeing the results then Neil said, “Man, I really let out a lot. My balls still ache but they sure feel better.”
I got the washcloth and cleaned his chest and stomach up. I waited until his tool wasn’t so sensitive before cleaning that. “Glad you do son,” I said adjusting my semi erect dick.
He saw me do that then said, “Looks like someone else needs to take care of something.”
I blushed then said, “I’ll take care of that later.”
Dr. Chase came in just as I was about to go and get a cup of coffee. Neil surprised me by saying, “Go ahead Mike, I’ll talk with him. I trust him.”
Dr. Chase ruffled his hair and said, “Thank you Neil. I’m pleased that I’ve earned your trust.”
I left the two of them alone while I got my coffee and when I came back, the two of them were laughing and joking. I walked into the room and said, “Well, it’s nice to know I was missed.”
“Hi Mike,” Neil said very chipper. “Dr. Chase seems to think I’ll be able to go home as soon as Dr. French says I can.”
“Well that’s great kiddo,” I said.
Dr French came in later with Mr. and Mrs. Jefferies and said that Neil could leave in the morning. I could see the apprehension on his face but then he looked up at me and smiled.
I left the hospital a little earlier then I normally would have so I could do some laundry and pack for my stay at the Jefferies. The next morning I arrived and Neil was sitting there like he was lost. “What’s wrong son,” I asked.
“Oh nothing, I guess,” he said. “I mean I want to get out of here but I’m nervous about being around them.”
“You were nervous with me too at first,” I said.
“Well that’s because I was in a strange place and didn’t know what happened to me,” he said.
“But you did get used to me though, didn’t you?” I asked.
“Well yeah,” he replied.
“Then you’ll get used to being there too,” I stated.
“Suppose so,” he said as the door opened and the Jefferies came in with some clothes for Neil.
Mrs. Jefferies handed them to me then said, “We brought these for Neil to wear home.”
I walked over to get them and Mr. Jefferies said, “These were his favorites. Maybe they will help him.”
I smiled and said, “Yeah, they might. We never know what will trigger something in his mind.”
I pulled the curtain closed and took his gown off. I reached into the bag and pulled out a pair of boxers and got them on over his cast. Just then a nurse came in to remove his IV line. After she left, I helped him on with his shorts and shirt. Neil said, “I like these.”
“They look good on ya kiddo,” I said.
“I gotta pee Mike,” Neil said.
I’ll get your jug while you get it out,” I said going over to the other side of the bed.
I held the jug while he stood on his good leg and emptied his bladder. He fixed himself then I opened the curtain so his parents could see him. Neil looked at them and said, “Thanks for bringing me these. I really like them.”
A nurse brought in a wheelchair so we could bring him to the front entrance. “What kind of car do you have?” I asked trying to figure out who would be best to drive Neil home.
“Oh,” Mr. Jefferies said. “It’s a small wagon.”
Normally that wouldn’t have been a problem but Neil was going to need some extra room. “That’s OK,” I said. “I have a mini van. Neil can ride with me.”
I went ahead of everybody and brought the van to the front door. I opened the passenger door and he was able to put his butt on the seat and I swung his legs inside. He slid the seat back a little and he was good to go. I told the Jefferies I would follow them to their house then the nurse handed me Neil’s prescriptions.
It took a good thirty minutes to go from the hospital to their house and I was surprised to see the layout. I got Neil into the wheelchair and backed him up the walkway to the front door. There was a little bump to go over then it was into the foyer. I got him into the living room and Neil was taking everything in.
Mrs. Jefferies said, “I hope you like it here.”
Neil smiled and said, “I’m sure I will.”
We got the tour of the house and after putting my things away I had to help Neil to the bathroom. He needed to take a dump and this was now going to be an adventure. He stood up and I got his shorts and boxers down quickly then had him sit on the toilet. I told him I would be back when he was finished.
While he was in there, I took the time to talk with the Jefferies. I looked at them and said, “You can touch him, he’s not going to break. I don’t mean you have to hover over him but like you said, he loves the contact.”
“We just don’t know what to do,” Mrs. Jefferies said.
“He’s your son,” I said. “Treat him like that. Get him involved around the house. He’s gong to be here at least several weeks before Dr. French will even consider letting him go back to school. Maybe you can get his books and a lesson plan or something from his teachers so I can help tutor him so he won’t fall too far behind the others.”
“That is a good idea,” Mr. Jefferies said. “What should I tell his friends if they ask?”
“Tell them he just got home and to give him a day or two to get accustomed here then they can come over if they want,” I said. “Just remind them that he probably won’t know who they are but it will be a chance to see him and restart their friendships. Just tell them not to expect too much at first.”
Neil called saying he was done and when I saw how much he’d gone, I knew I was going to need some help. “Son, I’m going to need some help here. You’re really messy and I knew you couldn’t help it. Would you mind if I got Adam to help steady you on your foot so I can clean you up?”
He looked down but realized I needed the help. “It’s OK Mike,” he said. “I don’t think I can balance myself that long.”
I opened the bathroom door and said, “Adam, can you come here?”
“Yes Mike,” he said.
“I’m going to need your help,” I said. “You’re going to need to support Neil’s weight while I clean him.”
“Alright,” he said. “Does he have a problem with me being in there?”
“No,” I said. “He understands.”
We went in and Adam helped Neil stand on his good leg while I cleaned him. Because of his shorts and boxers still on, Neil cheeks stayed pretty close together and he was very messy. I finally managed to get him clean then we got him back into his wheel chair.
I needed to use the bathroom so Adam wheeled Neil down to his room and showed him his things. He looked around and asked, “Are all these things mine?”
“Yes they are Neil,” Adam said.
“What was my favorite?” he asked.
“That would be this,” Adam said pointing to his video game. “You would come in here and play it for hours at a time.”
“Can I play it?” Neil asked.
“Sure you can,” Adam said. “Everything in this room is yours. Play to your hearts content.”
I had come out of the bathroom and heard Neil and Adam talking so I went down to see what was going on. I watched as Adam put a game into the system and turned it on. Neil picked up the controller and started playing. He would make mistakes and get killed but he just sat and muddled through it until he figured it out.
Adam came out letting Neil enjoy himself. Before any of us knew it, it was lunch time. Mrs. Jefferies went down to see if he was hungry and he asked, “What time is it?”
“Almost noon,” she replied.
“Man,” he said “I can’t believe I’ve been playing it this long. I guess I am getting hungry.
“Alright then,” she said. “I’ll have Mike come get you while I fix us some sandwiches.”
Barbara started fixing lunch and I went to get Neil. “How you doing son?” I asked as I sat on his bed watching him play the game.
“I’m doing alright,” he said. “My arm is starting to hurt though.”
“You should probably give it a rest,” I said. “You’ve been in here a good two hours, but I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”
“Suppose you’re right,” Neil said.
“After lunch, would you like to go with me when I get your medicine?” I asked.
“Sure,” Neil said. “I’ll go with you.”
We went and had lunch and Both Adam and Barbara needed to go to their respective offices to see how things were going. I told them Neil was going to go with me when I got his prescriptions filled so they gave me a key to their house.
I got Neil into the van and loaded his chair into the back and set out for the pharmacy. I was familiar with this area so I kinda took my time driving there. Neil was looking out the window at the area and I couldn’t tell what was going through his head. I pulled into the drugstore parking lot and got his chair out and get him situated then went into the store. It took about 15 minutes to get prescriptions filled so I pushed him and looked around the store. When they were filled I showed them his card from Social Services and they said they would bill them. I asked Neil if he wanted anything and he asked for a candy bar and a soda.
We left the pharmacy and again I took my time going home. I found a different route and again he was sitting there looking out the window. I finally got curious and said, “What ya looking at kiddo?”
“Just looking,” he said. “You know, it seems as if I should remember this and in a ways some things do look familiar but I just can’t place them in my mind. It was like my name, I would know what it was for maybe a split second then poof, it was gone.”
“Well son,” I said. “Everything in your mind is just really out of focus. It is going to take some time for things to get clear again.”
We pulled onto the Jefferies street, and I saw a police car in front of a house. I noticed it was from another city so I figured that had to be Andrew’s house. I pulled into the drive way and got Neil into his wheelchair then took him inside. I brought him down to his room then said, “How about I get you in bed because the pill I’m going to give you will make you sleepy?”
“OK Mike,” Neil said. “I need to pee first.”
I helped him down with his shorts then got his jug. He quickly drained his bladder then I got his boxers up and took his shorts off. After getting him in bed, I got him his pain pill then sat with him until he drifted off to sleep.
Inside the Walker residence Sgt. O’Farrell was having a talk with Andrew. “So Andrew,” the Sergeant started. “I hear you’re Neil’s best friend.”
“Yeah,” Andrew said. “We go back a long way. “We’ve been friends for almost 5 years. I just heard what happened to him when I got back from the field trip.”
“How do you get to school son?” Sgt. O’Farrell asked.
“My Dad takes me,” he said.
“Is that true Mr. Walker?” the officer asked.
“Yes it is,” Mr. Walker said.
“Did you see Neil at school the day of the field trip?” O’Farrell asked.
“No I didn’t” Andrew said. “I got there after the bus did and I didn’t see him. I even looked for him on the other bus and he wasn’t there either so I figured he was sick and couldn’t go.”
“Did you drive him to school the day?” Sgt O’Farrell asked Mr. Walker.
“Not that day,” he said. “I had an early meeting and he rode with a neighbor’s son. I normally don’t let Andrew ride with him but I didn’t have a choice since he had to be there early for the trip.”
“Did he go on the trip with you Andrew?” Sgt O’Farrell asked.
“No sir,” Andrew replied. “He’s a year ahead of us.”
“I see,” the officer said. “Well that’s all the questions I have for the time being. Thank you for all your help. I’ll be in touch if I think of anything else I need. “Oh, by the way, Neil will be home soon. You might want to call his parents about going to see him.”
“That’s great,” Andrew said. “I’ll do that tonight.”
Sgt. O’Farrell went back to his duties while Andrew did his homework.
I was watching television when I heard Neil call. I went down to his room and said, “What is it son?”
“Ah Mike,” Neil stammered. “I had an accident.”
I went over to the bed to see what the problem was. I didn’t see the bed wet so I asked, “Had an accident son?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I shot in my boxers.”
I went over to the dresser and got out a clean pair then sat down beside him. I removed his shorts then went and got a wash cloth so I could clean his penis. I gently cleaned him then asked, “Do you remember what happened to make you shoot son?”
“I was with someone,” he started saying. “I couldn’t see who it was.”
“Was it a boy or a girl,” I asked.
“Ah a boy I think,” Neil said.
“What was he doing?” I asked.
“He was rubbing my crotch,” Neil said. “It must have felt good because I sure made a mess.”
“Does this bother you that a boy might have caused you to shoot in your underwear?” I asked.
“I dunno,” he said. “I’m not creeped out by it. I guess it is a little weird maybe. I don’t know.”
“You’ve been out of it for over a week,” I said. “Most teens masturbate so your nuts are probably just real full.”
“I guess so Mike,” he said. “I would like to know who it was in my dream.”
I rubbed his hair and said, “You could have that dream again and next time you might just see who it was.”
Over the next several days Neil got used to being home and relaxed more around his parents. Adam had to help me a few more times with cleaning Neil after bowel movements. He seemed not to mind too much but he almost threw a fit when his mother wanted to help when Adam was outside.
I had to take him back to see Dr. French for yet another cast change. Neil was almost 4 weeks post op and his fractures were almost healed. Dr. French changed his casts again and put him in a short leg cast, below the knee this time, but he is still non weight bearing. He changed his arm cast into short one and he in not allowed to try to pick anything up with it. I’m working with him on ranging his arm and leg so the joints don’t get stiff on him.
That evening Andrew called Adam and asked if he could come over and visit with Neil. Adam thought it was a good idea but asked if he could make it the next day in the afternoon since Neil was relaxing before going to bed.
The next day Andrew came over and I talked with him before allowing him to see Neil. “Andrew,” I started. “More than likely Neil will not recognize you. He’s been informed of who his parents are but he doesn’t even remember them. You can talk with him and even tell him you were best friends but don’t push it. He gets really frustrated when he tries to remember things then gets mad.”
“Alright,” he said. “Why are you staying with him if he’s here at home?”
“Technically he’s still in foster care,” I said. “When he was found, he had no ID on him and Social Services were called. He was placed into foster care until his parents could be located. With his memory gone, they thought it best he stay in care until that returns.”
“Oh man, poor kid” he said. “Let’s hope he gets his memory back soon. He’s my best friend. If you need any help or if there is anything I can do, let me know. I live right up the street.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said. “Let’s go see Neil now.”
We waked down the hall to his room. Neil was playing his video game when I said, “Hey kiddo, you have a visitor.”
“Hi Neil,” Andrew said.
“Hi,” Neil replied. “I take it you’re a friend of mine?”
Andrew smiled and said, “Yeah, I am. In fact, we’re best friends.”
“Where do you live,” Neil asked.
“I live three houses up on the other side of the street,” Andrew replied. “I see you’re playing one of your favorite games.”
“Oh,” Neil said. “It’s really cool. Wanna play too?”
“Sure,” Andrew said sitting down beside him. “This was one of the games you and I would play together for hours.”
I was going to leave the two boys alone then said, “Neil, don’t be on that like you were last time and got your arm hurting.”
“OK Mike,” he said.
I left the door open and then went out to read some stories I printed off my computer. The boys played together for about an hour then Andrew said he had to get home to do his homework.
I went down to see him after his friend left and said, “Well, how did the visit go?”
“Eh,” Neil said shrugging his shoulders. “OK, I guess.”
“What happened son,” I asked concerned Andrew might have said something that upset him.
“Nothing,” Neil snapped.
I decided to let him be, at that point not wanting to further upset him. I was going to talk with him later though because he was being quite rude towards me.
Adam stopped by his school and talked with his teachers about seeing if he could catch up on his work. When he got home he ruffled Neil’s hair and said, “I talked with your teachers today and they said they all miss you and send you their best.”
“What school do I go to Adam?” He asked.
“Gateway Private School,” Adam said.
“Oh,” Neil said. “What grade am I in?”
“You’re in the 9th,” Adam said.
“Do I have to do this now?” Neil asked. “I’m kinda tired.”
“I was thinking Mike could work with you on some of it tomorrow,” he said. “Don’t worry if it seems unfamiliar to you. Just look at it and see if there is anything you remember how to do, such as math or science. Those were your two favorite and strongest subjects.”
I looked at the work he had and said, “I can work with him on math and chemistry. Those were my strongest. English and History were my two not so favorite subjects.”
Adam said, “His mom was great in English and was helping him there too. He was always good in history and didn’t need much help there.”
“Why do I have to do this Mike,” Neil said. “Chances are I’m not going to remember any of this stuff either. It’s just a huge waste of time.”
I sat down beside him and said, “Look son, you are at some point going to have to go back to school. You’d be surprised what you will be able to remember. If you go into this with an ‘I can’t do this attitude,’ that’s what will happen. Your Dad says math and chemistry were your two favorite and strongest subjects. You might surprise yourself and be able to do the work.”
“Yeah,” he said rolling his eyes.
“What is it son,” I said. “You’ve seemed surly ever since Andrew left this afternoon. You bit my head off when I was trying to see how your visit went.”
He turned and fell into my arms crying and said, “I’m sorry Mike. I didn’t mean to take it out on you. It’s just, I dunno, I can’t put my finger on it. Just something about him.”
“How about I call Dr. Chase,” I asked. “Maybe you two and sit down and talk a while. It’s been awhile since you two have talked. I’m sure he’d like to know how you’re getting along since you’ve been home.”
He lifted his head and looked me in the eyes then said, “Yeah, maybe that’s not such a bad idea.”
What he did next took me and the others completely by surprise. He kissed me on the cheek and said, “I love you Mike.”
In almost a month that’s the second time he’s expressed any feeling towards me. I know hearing that had to hurt Adam and Barbara who were standing there watching the goings on. I had to admit that I did love him as I had my other foster children. This is the first time I ever had to see one naked but that just shows the level of trust Neil has for me. I held his head up in my hands and returned the kiss saying, “I love you too son.”
I pushed Neil into the family room so he could watch television then returned to the kitchen. I saw the look on Barbara’s face after he said I love you to me then said, “I know that had to hurt. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Adam said. “You’ve been with him night and day for the past month.”
“That’s true but,” I said. “It still had to hurt hearing that.”
“It did,” Barbara said. “He is getting used to us and he is starting to trust us more. So maybe soon he can say that to us also.”
“Well let’s hope he can start remembering things too,” I said trying to sound up beat.
Later that night I got Neil ready for bed and his parents came in to say good night to him. When his mother sat beside him he sat himself up and gave her a hug. Out of instinct, she kissed him on the forehead and said, “I love you son.”
Neil turned his head and just rested his head against her breast as I watched the first affection he’d shared with either of them. I had to wipe my eyes as I saw this then he said, “I love you too Mom. I just wish I could remember more about you. I hate this.”
“Shh son,” she said softly. “I know you do. We’re here and we always will be, no matter how long this takes.”
She wiped the tears from his face as she kissed him once more then Adam went and said good night. He hugged him and said, “I love you to Dad.”
I then went over and talked with him for a couple of minutes. I kissed him and said, “I got a hold of Dr. Chase and he said he wants to see you tomorrow morning.”
“Alright Mike,” he said. “You have been so good to me. When this is all over, I don’t want to lose you or the friendship we have.”
I smiled at him and said, “Don’t worry about that kiddo that is not gonna happen. Sleep tight and I’ll see you in the morning.”
I made sure he had his two urinals where he could reach them then I turned on the monitor in case he needed me during the night. I went out into the family room and watched television for a while before going to bed. Barbara looked up at me, “I hope I didn’t mess things up with what I said to him before.”
“No way Barbara,” I said. “I saw the reaction from him and it didn’t upset him in the least. He knows you’re his parents and he’s seen that you care about him. He’s beginning to trust you like he has me. You are getting your son back slowly.”
Adam looked over at me, “Now I just wish we could figure out who did this to him and why. He’s never hurt a single person nor has he ever been in a fight. I just don’t understand why anyone could do this to him.”
“Neither do I,” I said. “This is something that we may never know the answer to. I hope that’s not the case because it will mean that someone has gotten away with it.”
I went to bed about eleven after checking on Neil. He was sleeping soundly so I did my nightly business then hit the hay for some much needed rest.
I had just drifted off to sleep when Neil’s voice woke me. “No leave me alone,” he was saying. “I don’t know you. Help. Leave me alone.”
I hurried down the steps and ran into Neil’s room. I flipped on the light switch and sat beside him. “NO, NO, STOP, PLEASE, HELP!” he cried out again.
I put my hands on his shoulders and his eyes shot open. He started to sit up as I reached to take him in my arms. “Easy son,” I said. “It’s alright. You’re safe; no one is going to hurt you.”
“Oh Mike,” he cried.
“Easy tiger,” I said softly. “Can you remember this one?”
“He nodded his head and softly whimpered, “Un huh.”
I held him until he calmed down and could speak better then he said, “He was chasing me. He kept saying come here kid, I have something for you. I was running then he touched my shoulder and then everything went dark.”
I held him as he worked himself into another crying frenzy while telling me what had happened. “Could you see who it was?” I asked.
“Un un,” he said softly. “I do know it was a kid. He was bigger than me.”
“Alright son,” I said as I stroked his hair. “You’re safe. No one is gonna get you here.”
I felt him yawn against my chest so I laid him back down and covered him up. I went to leave as he said, “No Mike, please don’t leave me alone.”
Now this was something I was totally unsure of. I’d never slept with any of my foster sons before. While I was thinking about what to do Adam was standing behind me. “Another nightmare,” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “This time he doesn’t want me to leave him. I’m not sure what to do.”
“Well curl up with him and keep him calm,” he said. “I’ve done that many a time with him.”
I didn’t want to say no but I wasn’t sure what they would think. After hearing what Adam had said, I did feel a little better about the whole thing. I went over and slipped in beside Neil as Adam turned off the light. “Feel better son,” I asked him as I wrapped my arms around his chest.
“Thanks Mike,” he said as I felt him hold onto my arm as we drifted off to sleep.
The next morning I was glad I was taking Neil into see Dr. Chase. As I was heading to the hospital, there was a major accident on the highway and I had to take a detour. As I was driving Neil got a strange look on his face as I passed a row of shops. “What is it son?” I asked as I slowed for the red light.
“I don’t know Mike,” he said. “But something about that place gives me the creeps.”
I turned back and looked at the buildings and they looked run down and deserted. “Have you ever been there before?”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I can’t see myself going around a place like that.”
When the light changed the next place we passed was his school. “Gateway Private School,” Neil said. “Dad said that’s where I go to school. Nice looking place.”
I tried to catch a few glimpses as I kept my eyes on the road then said, “Yeah it is. Looks like an old English school.”
A few minutes later we arrived at the hospital and I got Neil into his wheelchair. We went to the fourth floor to Dr. Chase’s office and he was waiting on us. “Hi guys,” he said smiling. “And how are you doing Neil?”
“Not to good Doc,” Neil said.
“Well come on inside and we’ll talk about it,” Dr. Chase said.
I wheeled Neil into the office and Dr. Chase closed the door, “OK, so what’s been going on.”
“Not sure where to begin,” Neil said. “Let’s see, I had a visit from a kid named Andrew. He said he was my best friend and that he’s known me for about 5 years.”
“How did that go?” Dr. Chase asked.
“OK I guess,” Neil said. “He did keep looking at me and then smile. It was OK at first but then it started getting to me.”
“Well maybe he was glad to see you and that you’re going to be alright?” Dr. Chase asked.
“Maybe,” Neil said. “But just before he left, he started scooting closer and closer to me.”
“You don’t like body contact?” Dr. Chase asked.
“It’s not like that Doc,” Neil said. “I love to be held. I like it when Mike holds me but I don’t know Andrew. It was like he wanted to sit on my lap or something.”
“That can be a little disturbing for someone even if you know them,” Dr. Chase said.
“Yeah,” Neil said.
He next told Dr. Chase about the nightmare he had had the night before and that disturbed the doctor. The doctor asked, “You said you woke up when everything went dark, is that right?”
“Yeah,” Neil said.
“Can you remember why it went dark?” Dr. Chase asked.
“Umm no doc,” Neil said.
“Alright Neil,” Dr. Chase said.
I leaned over to Neil and whispered, “Do you want to tell him about the other dream you had?”
Neil’s head shot around and he turned red saying, “Ah Mike, do I have to?”
“He’s not gong to say anything son,” I said. “You’re certainly not the first boy ever to have a wet dream. It could be important; then again it could be nothing.”
“Alright Mike,” Neil said. “But this is under protest.”
“Understood,” I said ruffling his hair.
“Uh there is something else,” Neil said. “A couple of days ago I uh well sorta had a messy dream.”
Dr. Chase had to think for a second about what Neil had said then said, “Oh, you mean you had a wet dream?”
“Ah yeah,” Neil said. “I was outside and someone was lying beside me. Then next thing I know they were running their hands over my chest and over my crotch.”
“What happened in the dream?” Dr. Chase asked. “Can you remember?”
“Yeah,” Neil said. “It felt really good. I closed my eyes and it started feeling better and better then I woke up with a mess in my boxers.”
“And you couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl?” he asked.
“No,” Neil replied. “But I’ve been thinking about that ever since it happened and I’m not positive but I think it was a boy.”
“Could it have been your best friend Andrew?” Dr. Chase asked.
“Um, I don’t think so,” Neil replied. “He seemed a little shorter than Andrew.”
“What would you do if was Andrew in your dream?” Dr. Chase asked.
“Probably punch him,” Neil said.
“Why,” the doctor asked.
“First,” Neil said. “He never asked if he could touch me there and secondly if he had, I would have said no. I can take care of that myself.”
I looked at Neil and said, “Son, it does feel much different when someone else does that for a person.”
“Have you had someone do that Mike,” Neil asked with a surprised look on his face.
“As a matter of fact, I have,” I said. “I wasn’t much older than you are now. And to be honest, it felt super.”
“It did feel pretty good,” Neil said. “I just wouldn’t want it to be him though. Not after what happened in my room.”
“Well,” Dr, Chase said. “If he starts getting to close again, just tell him to move over and give you some space.”
“Alright Doc,” Neil said. “I’ll do that.”
Dr. Chase then looked at us and said, “I think the two nightmares you’ve had are somehow related to what happened to you, Neil. When we’ve been through a traumatic experience, like you’ve had, our bodies try to repress it but when we are asleep, we relax and it starts coming back. Sometimes we’ll only get bits and pieces at first and then over time it will come back full force. Other times, it may just be a little clue and something else will trigger it all to come back. Now, once you remember what happened will all your memories come back? That I don’t know. The brain is a very complex organ and there is a lot that we still don’t know about it.”
“So it’s something that time will heal, huh Doc?” Neil asked.
“I’m afraid so son,” Dr. Chase said.
I got Neil home and he took a nap after I’d fixed him lunch. That evening, I had to go to my house and go through the mountain of mail I’m sure had accumulated. I was gone a couple of hours and when I got back, I was in for a major surprise. Neil was sitting on the couch cuddled with his Dad. I smiled as I entered the family room and said, “Well now isn’t this a Kodak moment?”
Neil looked up at me and said, “Hi Mike. Yeah, I wanted to sit over here for a while. My butt was getting sore staying in that chair all the time.”
Neil slept through the night without any nightmares. The next afternoon Andrew came over again for another visit. They had been in Neil’s room for about 45 minutes when I heard Neil say, “Come on dude, give me some room. What are you trying to do, sit on my lap or something?”
“No man,” Andrew said as I walked down the hall to see what was going on.
“Then scoot over,” Neil said.
“What’s the matter guys?” I asked as I walked in.
“Andrew is trying to sit on me or something Mike,” Neil said.
“No I’m not,” Andrew said. “You used to like me sitting this close to you.”
I looked at Andrew and said, “Andrew, that was then. He doesn’t remember that and forcing things won’t help. Remember what I told you the first time you came over, go slow. It’s going to take time. He’s only seen you twice.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Andrew said scooting over. “Sorry Neil.”
“No problem,” Neil said.
“Well I gotta go and do my homework,” Andrew said.
“That reminds me,” I said. “Neil, you and I have some things to look at too.”
“Aw Mike,” Neil moaned. “Do we have to?”
“Yes we do,” I said getting him into his wheelchair.
We went over his math and chemistry and I was amazed. It took him a little time with his math but soon he was right on track. Chemistry took a little longer and he was behind there requiring my help. I had to really put on my thinking cap to remember my high school chemistry. I had Neil knock out several old assignments in Math and we called it a day as Adam and Barbara came in from work.
They saw him putting his school work away and Barbara asked, “So how did you do son?”
“Not bad,” he said. “Mike says I’m doing great in math.
“That’s great honey,” Barbara said.
“Yeah great,” Neil said sullen. “I can remember stupid math but I can’t remember you guys. That’s just super great.”
Now I had to get firm with him. “Neil, that’s just enough. You’ve heard what Dr. Chase has said. School work is learned and you did exactly how I figured you would do.”
“I just wanna remember what happened,” Neil said breaking down.
Barbara went to his side and comforted him saying, “You will son. You’re trying too hard now. You did good with your school work now you’re trying to push yourself to remember things your mind has locked up. That will come to you when it is ready to and not any sooner. Look, we’re the ones that should be upset. You’re our son and you don’t remember us yet each day that passes, you treat us more and more like Mom and Dad. We’re happy with what we have son.”
Neil cried in his mother’s arms as Adam came around and rubbed his back. “We love you son,” Adam said, “We don’t care if it takes a week or a year, so just relax and stop pushing so hard.”
Neil finally calmed down and spent time sandwiched in between Barbara and Adam after dinner. I was sitting in a recliner totally engrossed in a movie when suddenly I had a lap full. I came to my senses and said, “Well hello there, nice of you to drop in.”
He giggled and said, “You looked lonely.”
“This is the first time any of my kids ever cuddled like this,” I said. “They would lean against me but never sit on my lap. I guess they thought they were too old or something.”
Neil stayed there for about an hour then I noticed he was asleep. The end of the week saw us back at the hospital with Neil getting more x-rays and his leg cast changed to a walking cast and starting physical therapy. Dr. French did remove his arm cast and had a splint cast made for it.
Andrew was coming over about three times a week and I was happy that there were no more incidents like the previous one.
Neil wasn’t having any more nightmares or erotic dreams and his life was pretty much normal except for his memory. It was looking like it was going to have to return without me as I was feeling I had done all I could with him. He was able to ambulate fairly well and I knew Adam and Barbara would ask Social Services for their son back.
One afternoon after I’d helped Neil with his homework I was sitting in the family room lost in thought. Neil was in his room playing his video game when Adam and Barbara came home. I was so into my thoughts I didn’t hear them come in. “Hi Mike,” Adam said. “Where’s Neil?”
“Playing his video game,” I said.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. “You were a million miles from here when we came in.”
“Just thinking,” I said. “Neil’s getting stronger and he can get around pretty well on his own.”
“Yeah,” Barbara said. “The therapists are doing a good job with him.”
I looked at them and said, “Well, I guess you’ll be asking social Services for your son back now.”
“We have been meaning to talk with you about that,” Adam said.
“Ah sure,” I said. “I don’t see a problem with it. He’s comfortable here and he loves you both.”
Barbara was a typical mother. She knew how to read people and she picked up and my moodiness. “Are you thinking we’re going to ask you to leave when that happens?”
“Well, you are a family,” I said.
“Yes we are,” she said. “But he is still going to need you.”
“I can take him to therapy and stay with him during the day,” I said. “But he won’t need me when you’re home. He has you two.”
Adam sat beside me and said, “That’s all true but when he has those nightmares, he needs you. I know he hasn’t had them in a while but until he gets his memory back, he does need you.”
“Where are you going Mike?” Neil asked.
I had forgotten he can walk now and he was standing behind me. “Well kiddo, it was just looking like my time here was almost done.”
“Suppose I don’t want you to go yet,” he asked sitting on my lap.
“Well, that's up to your parents,” I said.
“Oh didn’t we tell you,” Barbara said. “Neil normally gets what he wants too.”
He looked at me eye to eye and there was no way I could refuse him. I kissed him on the forehead then said, “Alright kiddo, I’ll stay. But you do know that there will come a time when I’ll have to go back home.”
“I know,” Neil said resting his head on my shoulder. “But now is not the time. I think we will both know when it will be.”
A few days later Neil woke up from a nap and said, “Mike, come here please.”
I went down to his room and he had taken off his boxers. “What’s the matter son,” I asked.
“Damn,” he said. “It happened again.”
“Another wet dream,” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Just like the last.”
I got him a clean pair of boxers as he went over to the bathroom to wash himself. While he was doing that, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and Andrew was standing there. “Can I see Neil, Mike?” He asked.
I had him wait by the door until I was sure Neil was decent then I said, “Come on in Andrew. He’s in his room.”
I left them alone and watched some television. Inside the two boys were playing when Andrew said, “Hey Neil, are you still mad at me?”
“Nah man,” he said. “I just wasn’t used to you sitting on top of me like that.”
Andrew put his arm around Neil’s shoulder and squeezed him a little then said, “I was just hoping if I acted like I did before you’d remember it. I’m really sorry.”
“It’s OK,” Neil said setting the controller down. “I’ll be right back, I have to pee.”
Neil got up and went to the bathroom while Andrew continued to play. When he returned he picked up his controller and started playing again. Just then Andrew said, “Oh before I forget, I have something for you.”
Andrew pulled out his wallet and took out a photograph and handed it to Neil. Neil gasped when he took it as Andrew said, “It’s a picture of us.”
“Huh,” Neil said looking at the picture. “Wow man, when was this taken?”
Andrew looked at it then said, “Must be a couple of years ago. You don’t have those trunks any more.”
“Oh OK,” Neil said. “Thanks a lot. Andrew, I have a bit of a headache. I want to lie down and rest if you don’t mind.”
Andrew turned the game off and said, “Sure Neil. I’ll let Mike know you’re not feeling well on my way out.”
Neil stretched out on his bed and said, “Thanks Andrew.”
Andrew stopped in the family room and said, “Mike, Neil says he has a headache and is lying down.”
“Thanks Andrew,” I said getting up to see how he was.
I heard the door close as I went down the hall and I saw Neil lying there white as a ghost. I went over to the bed and sat down beside him and he was also shaking like a leaf. I felt his forehead and said, “What’s wrong son?” Andrew said you have a headache.”
He just laid there not saying a word. He started shaking more and more to the point where I was about to call 911. I reached to feel his cheeks when he pushed me out of the way and hurried into the bathroom. The next thing I heard was him throwing up in the toilet. ‘He must have a migraine’ I thought as I went to check on him.
He finally stopped heaving then said, “Can you help me up Mike?”
I went in and got him standing, “What’s wrong son?”
He went over to the sink and splashed some water on his face then rinsed his mouth out to remove that pukey taste. Neil dried his face and hands and returned to his room. He sat on the bed holding the picture Andrew gave him and said, “It’s him Mike, it’s him.”
“Who’s him,” I asked.
“Andrew,” Neil said. “It’s Andrew.”
I looked at the photo and said, “Yeah son, Andrew is in the photo with you.”
“No Mike,” he said sounding frustrated that I wasn’t understanding his cryptic talk. “It was Andrew who did this?”
“Wait a minute son,” I said. “Have you got your memory back?”
“Yeah Mike,” Neil said. “Ah um well most of it.”
“Let’s sit out on the couch where we’ll both be comfortable,” I said helping him to his feet.
Neil went to the family room while I went into the kitchen and called Adam and Barbara. They said they were leaving right away and would be home in about 20 minutes. I got Neil and I a soda then joined him in the family room. “I called your parents and they are on their way home,” I said sitting beside him. “Why don’t we wait until they get here so you only have to do this once?”
“Alright Mike,” Neil said as he sipped his soda.
“What makes you say he did it?” I asked.
“That’s what I don’t understand,” he said.
“Let me ask you this,” I said. “How were things between you two before the trip?”
“Fine,” Neil said. “Or, at least I thought they were.”
I was about to ask another question when Adam and Barbara came in. “Neil, you remember what happened?” Adam asked.
“Not totally,” Neil said. “I saw Andrew with my wallet.”
“How did he get your wallet?” Barbara asked.
“I don’t know Mom,” Neil said.
“I just can’t believe Andrew’s involved honey,” she said. “He’s your best friend.”
“Then how did he get my wallet?” Neil asked.
“I think we need to call Sgt. O’Farrell,” I said.
“Good idea,” Adam said heading for the kitchen.
Adam was on the phone for about 5 minutes then he came back in and said, “I talked with him and he was just on his way home for the day. He said he’d be here in about 30 minutes.”
The Jefferies went to change out of their work clothes when I looked at Neil and said, “Neil, how many friends do you have at school?”
“Not many,” he said. “I ride the bus and most of the other kids live in other areas. Andrew is the only friend I have from here.”
“Is there someone in any of your classes you like but doesn’t live here?” I asked.
Neil thought long and hard and said, “No. I have friends in all my classes but I don’t see them outside of school except Andrew, if that’s what you mean.”
I was running out of ideas. I felt Andrew was involved but why he would do this was beyond me. Neil and I were bouncing different things off each other and they all led back to the same question, why.
Adam and Barbara came out of their room just as the doorbell rang. Adam answered it and then came into the family room with Sgt. O’Farrell.
“Well there you are now lad,” the sergeant said. “It’s nice to see you up and around now.
“Thanks,” Neil said.
“Now what’s this I hear you have your memory back?” O’Farrell said.
“Yeah, maybe,” Neil said. “All I know is Andrew has my wallet. How he got it is a good question because it’s never out of my pants pocket.”
“When did you see him with it?” His Dad asked.
“This afternoon,” Neil said. “He pulled it out and handed me this picture.”
“That’s an older picture you each have copies of,” Barbara said.
“Well I think it’s time I had another talk with Andrew,” Sgt O’Farrell said.
“Wait,” Neil said.
“What,” Barbara asked.
“I want to confront him,” he replied. “I want to hear him tell me why he has my wallet.”
Sgt. O’Farrell asked, “Neil do you know an older boy who lives in your neighborhood who goes to your school?”
“I don’t know any of the older kids who go there period,” he replied. “Like I told Mike, Andrew is the only friend I have that lives here and goes to school with me.”
“Alright lad,” the Sergeant said. “I think I’ll just wait in the other room, if you want to confront Andrew.”
Adam dialed Andrew’s number and handed the phone to Neil. He waited for someone to answer then he said, “Hello is Andrew there. This is Neil.”
I was listening on the extension when Andrew came to the phone. “Hi Neil,” Andrew said. “What can I do for you?”
“Can you come over for a little bit,” Neil said. “My headache’s gone and I thought you’d like to finish our game.”
“Um, I dunno,” he replied. “I’ll have to check with my parents. Hold on a second and I’ll find out.”
He came back to the phone and said, “Yeah sure. I’ve finished all my homework so I can come over for a little while. I just have to be home in time for supper.”
“Cool,” Neil said. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
The Sergeant was still standing with us and asked, “How do you know it’s your wallet he had?”
“That’s easy,” Neil said. “Mom and Dad gave me that for my 13th birthday and I used a hot paper clip to burn the letter N on it. It’s hard to see now but I know just where it is.”
“Your own personal monogram,” I said. “Nice touch.”
The Sergeant went down to Neil’s room to hear what was going to happen. He didn’t think Andrew would get violent with me and Adam there but he felt it would be better if he was there, just in case.
There was a knock on the door and Barbara went to let the boy in. “Hi Mrs. Jefferies, is Neil here?”
“He’s in the family room,” she said. “Go right on in.”
Andrew came in and saw us all sitting around. “Hey Andrew,” Neil said.”
“Hi,” Andrew replied. “Glad you’re feeling better.”
“Yeah, my headache’s gone,” he said. “But now I have another problem.”
“What is it,” he asked. “You know I’ll help you with anything I can, pal.”
“Maybe you can answer a question for me then Andrew,” Neil said.
“I’ll sure try,” Andrew replied.
“How did you get my wallet?” Neil asked.
“You’re mistaken Neil,” Andrew said.
“Let me see it, will you?” Neil asked.
“Um sure,” Andrew stammered.
He reached into his back pocket and handed Neil the wallet. Neil carefully looked at it and said, “Look here Andrew. Do you see this N right here?”
Andrew looked at then said, “Um yeah,”
“I put that there right after Mom and Dad gave that to me almost two years ago,” Neil said. “It’s on the side that always faces down so no one hardly ever sees it. Now, what are you doing with my wallet? I do remember this. I never go anywhere without it.”
Neil opened it up and in a hidden area pulled out an emergency contact card. He held it up so Andrew could see it. Neil was standing beside me when he said, “Why Andrew? What did I ever do to you that would make you hurt me?”
“I didn’t do this Neil,” he said. “I would never hurt you.”
“Then how did you get my wallet, if you didn’t do it?” Neil asked.
“It was given to me,” Andrew said.
“Given to you?” Neil asked. “By who?”
“But the person who did hurt you,” Andrew said.
“You know who did this to me and you never told the police?” Neil asked. “Why?”
“Why?” Andrew yelled. “Why shouldn’t I have done that? I’m your best friend Neil. I’ve know you almost 5 years. We’ve slept over at each others house. We’ve been through so much shit together that you’re like my brother. I love you Neil and I have for the last 3 years but all that doesn’t seem to matter. You’d rather hang around Billy Maxwell. Oh yeah, I’ve seen how you look at him. I’ve seen you checking him out in the shower after PE class. You can hang around him but later it’s just good ole Andrew, the friend. You never give me those looks.”
“What are you talking about Andrew?” Neil asked. “Yeah, I talk with Billy in school but there was nothing stopping you from hanging with him either. It’s true I’ve even looked at him in the shower, but we’re just friends. He doesn’t live any where near us. If you must know, I was going to talk with you on the trip. I’d been getting some of those feelings too but I just didn’t know what they were. Why didn’t you just come and talk with me?”
Andrew was silent as Sgt. O’Farrell came out and said, “I think you’d better come with me son.”
Neil looked at Andrew and said, “If it wasn’t you who hurt me, then who was it?”
Andrew didn’t answer as Sgt. O’Farrell put handcuffs on him then called for another officer to come and pick him up. Adam called Andrew’s parents and they came right over. Mr. Walker was shocked to hear what his son had been a part of. He even tried to get him to tell him who he got to carry out the savage beating but he never would.
Neil’s memory still hasn’t totally come back surrounding the events of that day. He can remember everything up to the point of getting off the bus at school the day of the trip. Everything after that until he woke up in the hospital is still a mystery.
Neil’s recovery from his broken bones went remarkably smooth and after another 4 weeks in therapy his arm and leg were almost back to full strength.
The day Neil was released from therapy was a sad day for me. I knew when his last day was going to be so I had Connie meet us back over at the Jefferies house. Neil and I got there first and I even had Adam and Barbara there. When Connie arrived I had her follow me into the family room. I made the introductions then said, “Connie, I think it’s time Neil be released from foster care.”
Connie quickly agreed then we all signed the papers transferring Neil back to his parents. Neil looked at me and said, “Are you leaving Mike?”
I looked at him and said, “You said this day would come kiddo, didn’t you?”
Tears were starting to fall when he said, “Yeah I did.”
“You also said we would both know when it was time for me to leave,” I asked.
He came over and hugged me then said, “Yeah, I know it’s time. But it doesn’t make it any easier.”
“I know son,” I said. “But look, I also said I’d keep in touch. Of all the boys I’ve fostered, I’ve never had any one like this. I felt like I’ve become part of a family. I wouldn’t trade this for anything and I promise I’ll be around. I want to watch you grow up and become a man just like your parents do.”
“Do you think I could come over and see your house?” Neil asked. “Wasn’t I supposed to go there first?”
“Ok,” I said. “I don’t think that would be a problem.”
I had my things packed the night before and sitting on the bed. I went up and got my suitcase and as I came back down, Neil was standing at the bottom of the staircase with tears in his eyes. We walked out together with our arms around each other until we got to my van. I tossed my bag inside then Neil wrapped his arms around me in a tight hug. He looked at me and said, “You know I’m going to miss you, right?”
I handed him a piece of paper with my phone number on it and said, “You better call me son. I’ll come over and spend time with you but I want you to have some good quality time with your parents before I start coming back around.”
“I will Mike,” Neil said as he hugged me tightly. “I love you. I know I never said that much but I do. You’re my second Dad and I’ll never forget you.”
I tickled his ribs and said, “You better not or I’ll have to come back and get you.”
We hugged again and then it was time to go. I backed out of their driveway and headed back home to my quiet daily life. I must admit I never felt so needed then when I was with Neil. The daily contact and caring for his needs was something I really loved.
I gave them a month alone before I went back over and saw them. Adam told me that Sgt O’Farrell wasn’t about to give up and not find the person responsible for injuring Neil. Working with the DA’s office they got a search warrant for the boy’s house that drove Andrew to school that morning and in the back of his closet was a baseball bat that had traces of Neil’s blood on it.
The boy who carried out the attack was 16 and was tried as an adult and sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Andrew was sent to a juvenile facility until he was 18. Andrew told everyone in court that Neil was gay but his father stood up and said that he still had no right to deliberately go out and hurt someone. Mr. Walker was truly sorry for what his son did and still comes by from time to time to see how he’s doing.
The Jefferies worked out an arrangement with the school where Neil’s tuition is waived because of their mishandling of the attendance the day of the trip. The school felt it was better to take care of it that way rather then the matter going to court.
I was over visiting one Saturday when Neil said, “Can I talk with you Mike?”
“Sure thing son,” I said. “What’s up?”
We went back into his room and sat on the bed when he said, “Uh well, I had another wet dream and this time I saw who it was. It was Billy Maxwell the boy I’ve sorta been dreaming about.”
“Have you talked with Billy?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Neil said. “I talked with him last week and well, he likes me too.”
“Have you two spent any time alone together?” I asked.
“Had a sleepover at his house that weekend,” Neil said. “We talked and well, he’s sorta my boyfriend.”
“Way to go,” I said kissing him on the cheek. “Have you talked with your parents about this?”
He smiled then hugged me when he said, “Yeah, and they don’t care about that. They just want me safe and happy. They said that you and them talked about me some when I was in the hospital.”
“Yeah son,” I said. “We did. I wanted to know as much about you as I could. They said they thought you might be gay and that’s when I told them I was too.”
“You’re gay Mike,” Neil asked in surprise?”
“Yep,” I smiled. “I have known I was for a long time now. Just take things slow and if you have questions or need someone to talk to, you know where to find me.”
Neil and Billy have been together for a few months now and both boys seem happy. Neil’s confidence is growing each day and he’s doing well in school.
I’m still working with my animals at the SPCA and fostering troubled and special needs boys. I have had more boys but nothing like what ever happened to Neil.