I found myself hoping, or more accurately praying, today would not be a repeat of yesterday as I showed Cindy and Castillo out of my temporary office. Cindy was far less than happy with my refusal to certify her without my interviewing her husband and children, but I was thankful that she didn't strangle me as her eyes clearly told me she wanted to. Instead of being outside playing like I thought they would be, all of my kids were in the outer office huddled with Edwardo, Ruben and Karl.
"Hi Pop!" Johnny hooted. He darted across the room and slammed against my side, then looked up at me. "Do you got the pictures of Ginger and everyone on your computer still? Can we look at them, please?"
"And the ranch?" Mark added.
"Yes, I do, but I would like to meet with Edwardo and his brother right now," I answered. Their faces told me that didn't work. "You may use the laptop while we talk, you know where to find the pictures that you want to show them," I suggested.
'Lord, I hope I have everything sensitive passworded', I thought as I brought the computer to life and gave it to the boys. 'I hope you don't have too good a set hacker skills, little one', I thought when Karl pushed his way between my kids for a better view of the screen.
My young patients were the picture of cooperation when I finally managed to get them alone; we blazed through all the topics I wanted to cover in far less than half the time I had allotted. This went too smoothly, I don't trust something here, an inner voice suggested. "Do you have any questions, anything you might want to ask or talk about?" I risked.
The boys exchanged glances several times before Edwardo began staring at his brother. Ruben seemed to consult with his shoes for a couple of seconds before asking, "Do we get to, , , may we be allowed to meet our new, , , um, Stevie's uncles? We will be very polite sir!" Edwardo's eyes all but raped me of any attempt to refuse their request.
'Thanks Steve, everyone', I silently groaned. "They are going to pick me up to go and eat lunch, would you like to come along with us?" I offered. Their faces told me I was being too formal, talking down to them. "I owe you a Big Mac, anyway! Would that sound good?"
"Yes sir," Ruben answered in a soft voice. His brother's glare told me our choice was not final.
"Stevie said his uncles don't like McDonald's, sir. If it is where we must, , ," Edwardo injected cutting his brother off.
"Johnny and Mark said you don't really like McDonald's very well too, Doctor, please may we eat where they wish to?" Ruben asked.
I had to look away and blink the moisture out of my eyes when Edwardo added,"We will be very careful, and polite, and we will not embarrass you, please Doctor Owen?" He gasped when his brother whispered into his ear. "Doctor Owens, I am very sorry sir!"
"I sure like, I prefer to be called Doctor Pop, if you feel comfortable. You are wonderful boys and of course we will go to eat where ever Doctor and Mister Sanchez suggest. Thank you for your frankness, for being so, for your help.
"I would like to ask you a favor, to help me," I continued as I stood. They didn't hesitate when I guided each of them under an arm and walked them toward the door. "Would you mind showing my boys, and Karl where the playground, I mean the garden, is? You and them go play until everyone else arrives, okay?"
I had to close my eyes and shake my head when I called Miguel to inform him the brothers would be joining us for lunch. "Of course, but you have not talked to your sons? Ronnie and Stephen called probably thirty minutes ago, informing us that all three of the children would be joining us," he informed me. "I've changed our reservations and ordered a second car."
'I wonder if the remote village Karl/Pieter claimed to be from has a boarding school? I wonder if they take American Nationals?' I asked myself. 'No, we are already half way to Antarctica', I decided.
Thankfully Karl didn't have the skills or desire to hack my computer. After entering my session notes on all three of my patients, I began reviewing the records.
Karl was still an unanswered question. From the interaction I had seen between the boy and Junior I was sure how he felt, and I had no problem with Junior being able to accept a foster brother. I had a good idea where Carl Senior would stand, especially if Cindy got to him before I did, which I was sure had already happened. 'Jennifer, yes, what about young Jennie?' I asked my laptop.
When I didn't get an answer I turned my attention to Edwardo and Ruben. As I reviewed my notes I found myself going back over them again and again, wondering what I was missing, how the case could have progressed so quickly. This should take weeks, but my little shits are right, the next step is to meet the prospective parents, I mumbled to myself. 'Hell, if I had brought Ginger to help out, they'd be in Virginia by now!' I snickered. 'But I'm still going to kill the little rats', I added.
"Good morning, am I interrupting you?" Miguel's voice asked from the open door. "I have wonderful news, the child you rescued is out of danger," he said after I gestured him in. His sons, along with Carl and Mary filed into the office behind him as he continued, "You were correct, he suffered extensive chest and facial injuries, but is out of danger."
"Four ribs were flailed, and he has extensive paralysis to the left side of his face," Jay added.
"Thanks for the news. Something should be done to the son-of-a-bitch that hurt him," I replied. "If something like that happened in Texas that bastard would have been, , ,"
"That also has been dealt with," Miguel cut me off. "The authorities here tend to look the other way, but my organization does not." His face told me not to ask too many questions.
The door to the outer office didn't give me a chance to as it exploded open and a stampede of teenage bodies seemed to bulge the doorsill as they rushed inside. 'This has got to be planned, no choreographed!' I thought as I watched the boys rush into what were clearly prearranged positions near the adults.
Steve darted into my office and hooted, "Hi Uncle Jay, Uncle Ronnie," as he hugged them. Johnny and Mark, escorting a very pale faced pair of brothers, were right behind.
Junior and my Ronnie more towed than ushered an equally frightened Karl in and started toward Mary and Carl. They exchanged concerned glances before Junior risked, in a voice a full octave higher than usual, "But, ah, where's Mom?"
"She had to attend to some business at the US Consulate, she will meet us," Carl answered. 'Oh shit, what is she up to now?' I thought. 'But that screwed up a perfect plan', I snickered as pairs of beady eyes darted at each other from every corner of the room . "Who is your new friend," Carl asked his son.
I stepped from behind my desk and managed to slip behind Karl before he could backpedal out of the room. He stiffened and jerked his head up to give me a glare when I draped my hands over his shoulders and pulled him against me. "Karl, this is our friend Miss Hope, and Doctor Sanchez Senior and his sons Doctor and Mister Sanchez." I began, pointing his delicate little body around. "And this is Junior's Dad and Mrs Roberts' husband, Doctor Carl Roberts." I bent down to the boy's ear and whispered, loud enough for everyone to hear, "He doesn't spell too well, he writes his first name with a C!"
"Hey, don't talk about me!" Carl countered. "My son is a Carl too, and he spells his name with a J!"
"No Dad, we got him outnumbered! Two C's against one K!" Junior chimed in.
The youngster flushed so bright I could see his scalp redden through his platinum hair. He gasped, pushing against my stomach slightly, then let out a soft giggle. "Well, I spell Lunch with an H, as in I'm Hungry!" I exclaimed. I reached down and pushed against his thin stomach and added, "That feels pretty empty too, lets's go," which earned me a quick giggle that would have made the Pillsbury Dough Boy worry for his job.
Thankfully I ended up in the same car with the trio of C/Karl's and Ronnie, Mary seemed to be thinking like me and rode with my other kids and the Sanchez clan. Karl tucked himself between Junior and Ronnie in the car's most rear seat, but soon was serving as an impromptu tour guide as we made our way through town. I was amazed as he described many of the old churches and building we drove past, even offering some history on many of them.
Everyone, including our young guide, was somewhat awestruck when our driver turned onto a wide oceanfront road bordering a white sand beach. We drove for a minute or so, enjoying watching the swimmers and tourists relaxing, before I noticed what seemed at first like a white seawall offshore.
"That is the Recife, the, , ," Karl began, but drifted off. He looked away for several seconds before saying something in Portugese to our driver. They talked back and forth for a couple of seconds, then the youngster looked back toward me. "The Reef sir. It is, well, fishes made it." The driver made another comment and Karl added, "Recife is Reef in Portugese sir."
I was about to compliment him on his intelligence when the car slowed and turned into a large high-rise hotel along the beach. The youngster stiffened and stared wide-eyed, his face as white as his hair as he looked ahead. "What's wrong son?" I asked, getting no answer.
The driver stopped under the hotel's large canopy, but held his hand up to his window as a couple of valets approached our door. He said something to Karl in Portugese, then tried a couple of more times before finally getting a meek answer.
"The boy has been here before, Senhor," he said toward me. It took me a second to snap to why that would be of any import before I realized Karl clearly had not been at the hotel as a registered guest.
"It's okay Karl, you are our guest, please just relax." His frightened face, more like a cornered animal than the little boy that could pass for ten I had just enjoyed watching and listening to answered for him. "Didn't we promise to trust each other, will you trust me now?"
Ronnie and Junior whispered to him for a second before the driver added his comments that I couldn't understand. "Come on Karl, you have my promise," I risked as I opened my car door.
Ronnie and Junior more pushed than guided their new friend out of the back seat. He shot terrified glances around them and pushed next to me dragging Junior next to him. "Relax Dude, Doctor Pop's cool," I heard Ronnie whisper as we started toward the rest of our party.
My frightened young appendage moved slightly behind or ahead of my side as we followed Miguel and the others through the lobby, clearing trying to stealth himself from the hotel desk and employees. Having to urge him along we ended up at the back of our little procession.
We didn't have to wait long for his seemingly worst fears to come to pass. We had taken only a few steps out of the main lobby toward the restaurant when two men dressed in suits stepped in front of me.
"Excuse me Senhor, may we speak to you?" one of them more ordered than asked. From their hardened faces I was sure they were not going to offer to carry my baggage to my room. I was distracted for an instant when I saw another nudge Carl out of the way and step toward the now trembling boy under my arm. "His kind is not allowed here," the man continued as the third man reached out toward little Karl. "How much did you pay for him? Why do you bring him to our hotel?"
I was trying to decide how to react when a golden streak shot in front of me. "Don't you touch him!" Ronnie snarled in an impressively aggressive alto voice. I just had time to glance as my son bolted between his new friend and our aggressor, flashing a glaring silver snarl that would have made Buddy proud. "I fucking mean it!" Ronnie barked.
"What is the problem?" Miguel demanded, pressing his face in front of the first man. "These are my guests!" he growled. His eyes frightened me even more, damn sure not what I was used to seeing in Pediatric Surgeons, as he stared the man down.
Just when I was sure things couldn't get any worse another man, a little older than Miguel and very formally dressed with a gold name tag on his suit coat all but sprinted into view. "Good day Doctor Sanchez, is there a problem sir?" he wheezed trying to catch his breath.
One of the men accosting us said something in Portugese toward him, than another started to. The elder man cut him off snarling something in a low voice that made Karl, along with Edwardo and Ruben cringe. As the other men paled and more crawled then stepped away for us he turned to Miguel. "I am very sorry Doctor Sanchez, sir," he said. He turned toward me and Karl and added, "Please forgive our rudeness, please be assured this will not happen again."
"See to it. I will talk to you later," Miguel growled, clearly dismissing the man. "I too am very sorry, Karl. Please come with me, I am sure you are as hungry as I am."
'What the hell did that man say?' I asked myself as I watched what seemed now like the zombies of my other two patients stare awestruck at Miguel as they followed Karl and him into the restaurant.
I started to get an idea of what was going on, what had been said, shortly after we entered the restaurant. Jay and Ronnie were quickly greeted by several of the eatery's staff which were clearly management types. I found out a little of what celebrity status meant as we were escorted to a private balcony style private dining room with an absolutely wonderful view of the beach, complete with several waiters to help us with our chairs.
My boys seemed to be coping fairly well, even Johnny seemed just slightly nervous as the waiters fussed over us, but I quickly started to worry about the boys from the home, especially Edwardo and Ruben, who looked like they were on the edge of overload. Karl visibly tensed and his eyes seemed to glaze over when a chef rushed into the room and respectfully greeted Ronnie with a slight bow.
I was sure Miguel picked up on my concern when he sat his menu down and announced, "I think I would like to try the buffet." He stood and turned looked at the boys before adding, "It is all you wish to eat."
Closing my menu seemed to be all the endorsement my kids needed and they sprang out of their chairs. They rushed about half way out of the room before turning back and surrounded their new friends, about half escorting half hustling them toward the steam tables.
I tried to stay as close as possible to Edwardo and Ruben as we began to load our plates, but found myself having to look away to keep from laughing instead of supporting them as I had expected I might. Sandwiched between Mark and Steve with Johnny right next to the group, both of them goggled at the vast choices of entrees and side dishes, but after exchanging worried glances at each other a couple of times they timidly each sat a single piece of grilled chicken on their plate, followed boy a small spoon of corn. They blushed when Steve whispered something to them then their eyes bugged as the looked at the bulging plates their friends were loading. When they didn't move for a second or so Johnny pushed his way between them and unceremoniously deposited another piece of chicken on each of their plates, followed by a couple of slices of roast beef and more vegetables. By the time we neared the end of the line the hungry teenager side of the shy brothers had resurfaced and they were filling their trays as full as my eating machines.
I was so absorbed watching the boys I didn't realize Cindy had arrived until her voice, followed by Karl and Junior's giggle caught my attention. 'Well, maybe Carl and Miguel will talk to me while we eat', I thought as I watched Karl's happy face looking over the mountain of food Cindy and Junior were piling on his plate. He's so tiny, I hope he can carry that tray when Cindy's done! I chuckled.
It took me an instant to snap to what was going on as the other boys started back to our private room, everyone but Johnny struggling with their overloaded tray and Johnny only carrying a small plate. I held my breath and clinched my jaw to keep from sobbing as I entered the room right behind them and watched all four boys removing plates and bowls from their tray, placing some of them at Johnny's place at the table. 'Well, maybe just summers in Antarctica, , , I'll have to think about Afghanistan', I decided as I watched Mark slice his brother's meat for him.
Our seating arrangements also were rearranged as everyone else came back into our private dining room. Johnny was sitting next to me, with Mark than Edwardo next to him. 'Somehow', Jay and his mate ended up sitting next to each other with Edwardo one side of them and Ruben on the other, Steve flanking his new friend. Junior and my Ronnie reminded me of skilled sheepdogs as they herded Cindy and Karl next to each other at the table, then Carl next to Cindy. Junior quickly claimed his seat next to Karl as my boy sat his plates and bowls onto the table next to Carl. I felt a little fortunate that Mary, our host and myself were allowed to fill in the empty chairs between the carefully arranged little groups.
The plotting my little matchmakers contrived worked better than I could have ever expected. Edwardo and Ruben very courteously picked at the first two or three bites of their meal, cautiously glancing at their young escorts, then attacked their plates as aggressively as were my little sharks, trying to chat with Jay and big Ronnie during the very brief instants their mouths were not full. Karl's happy titters as he stuffed what I was sure was almost his body weight in lunch and chatted with Cindy and Carl was music to my ears. I cursed myself for not investing in the Brazilian dairy industry as I watched all seven kids attack the ice cream bar with a vengeance that had me wondering if the explorer that discovered Brazil was checking his stock options from above, but soon they seemed full.
"Thank each of you for such a wonderful lunch, especially you wonderful young men," Miguel announced, pointing his coffee cup at Edwardo and Ruben then Karl. "It's a beautiful afternoon, would you join us in enjoying it at my house? You are welcome to enjoy a dip in my pool as soon as your food settles."
The three of them glanced nervously at each other, but after a few whispers from my boys they seemed to relax slightly. None of them offered any objection as everyone stood to leave. Karl stay close to Cindy and Junior until we turned into the hotel's hallway, then darted next to me tucking himself under my arm. I could feel his tiny shoulder muscles relax when my Ronnie pushed against him from the other side.
He again ended up in the car's rearmost seat, between Junior and Ronnie for the drive to Miguel's estate. As the boys engaged in their own quiet conversation, Junior and Ronnie this time serving as tour guides filling Karl in about what to expect at the mansion, I was tempted to ask Cindy what business she had at the Consulate, but wasn't too sure I really wanted to know.
All of the adults were quiet for the first couple of minutes, enjoying the scenery. Cindy leaned forward and arched her back, twisting side to side as she stretched. "It has been a busy morning, that pool is going to feel good," she sighed.
"Get in Miguel's hot tub, it would relax you even more," I suggested.
Her face reddened as she jerked around and gave me a dirty glare. "I'm going to get you for that little stunt, you and Miguel!" she snarled. I opened my mouth to tell her I was in the dark, was not involved, when Carl let out a soft chuckle. "I'm just going to get all of you, that way I know I got the correct one," she growled as she elbowed her husband in the ribs. I think I'll leave that alone, I decide.
"Ask them!" Ronnie's voice rang from behind us.
"Go on, or I will," Junior chimed in. After a couple of seconds he added, "Mom, does Grande, I mean Doctor Sanchez really own that hotel? And the cafeteria?"
"Ronnie and Doctor Jay own the restaurant," she answered, swinging to look at Karl. "Doctor San, , , Grande sort of owns the hotel." Karl more than the other boys stared at us open mouthed as she explained that the foundation that runs the children's home where Karl was living owned it.
"Doctor Sanchez owns the foundation," I injected seeing their lost looks. I mentally debated for a couple of seconds, but then went on to briefly explain how Miguel's foundation worked, that they owned thirty or so hotels like that one that supported their work, that Jay and Ronnie owned the restaurants in many of the hotels.
Karl's angelic little face slowly changed to the business like one that had confronted me yesterday as he digested my explanation. "Then they are rich," he said. With what seemed like perfect timing our driver slowed, then followed the other car through the gates of Miguel's estate. "Very rich," the youngster gasped.
All three of the new boys were timid as they walked with us inside, but loosened up somewhat I'm sure feeding off my boys relaxed calmness. After looking around for a minute or so they disappeared into the kitchen to find something to drink. The other adults clearly felt the same way I did and everyone all but rushed to their bedrooms to change.
I climbed into a pair of trunks and tee shirt, and stepped out of my bedroom into what seemed to be an empty house. I started toward the patio to be sure the boys had not gotten into the pool already but stopped when I heard Johnny's high pitched laugh ring through his bedroom door, followed by what I was sure was Ruben and Karl's laughter.
"Eavesdropping?" Carl asked as he stepped out of his bedroom. I raised one eyebrow and gave him an evil grin.
"Where's Cindy, did she decide to get in the hot tub?" I asked as we started toward the back door.
"That was beautiful, but she called you everything but white last night!" he snickered. "I thought she was going hunt you down like a rabid dog."
"What did I do? I really am innocent! I just told Miguel she, , , Oops!"
"Wait until she comes out, and slip through our bedroom into the courtyard," he suggested. "You'll laugh for an hour."
I decided not to go any further, but wondered what our distinguished host had gotten me into. "We need to sit down and talk a few minutes sometime later, but I'm sure Cindy has filled you in. What do you think of little Karl?"
"You mean I get another session on your couch? I'm a lot more open after I've had a couple of cold ones!" he teased. We both turned toward the bar. "He is a striking youngster, he can steal anyone's heart instantly. Are you sure he is thirteen? I find that all but unbelievable."
"I am, and we have documented it. I want to talk to Jay about his size and physical immaturity. All three of them show the aftereffects of malnutrition, but, , ,"
"Did I hear my name? Are you talking about me behind my back?" Jay interrupted.
"Just like a damn Yankee, spying in the shadows!" I teased with a little extra Texas drawl, setting another beer on the bar.
"Excuse me Doctor, but Virginia was the heart of the Confederacy, and our politicians have a worse accent than yours! Besides, I am now a Texas ranch owner, I even own a few hosses! " Jay countered.
"Don't bother trying, Doctor," Carl said. "Some south Texans consider people from Dallas Yankees. I have lived in San Antonio for about fifteen years, and I'm still an immigrant!"
"Let's see your green card, gringo," I quipped.
"We seem to be forgetting something here, I'm from a couple thousand miles south of you, who is the gringo?" Jay asked me.
"Match point, your serve, Doctor," Carl chuckled. They let me blush for a couple of seconds before he turned back toward Jay. "We were discussing Karl, the young blond boy. He is far too underdeveloped for his age, he looks like he is ten or so."
"How old is he?" Jay asked. His face portrayed his disbelief at my answer. "I would like to peruse his medical records." He took a long swallow of his drink before adding, "It is conceivable he has a hormonal imbalance, but I would suspect a pathology of some sort."
"There is nothing in his records, I have them here but I have been over them several times. The physicians here wrote it off to lack of nutrition. Something I had problems believing." I answered.
"In fairness to our practitioners, we have only had him about six months and they have been concentrating on restoring his health," Miguel injected from the hallway. "But please understand, some levels of diagnostics we have in the US are unavailable, or only available to the privileged here."
He held his hand up to silence me before I could blast him. "You are standing behind my bar, and refuse to serve me?" he grinned. "As sad as it sounds, a fact of life here. Why do you think I smuggle AIDS drugs into the country? Because, as street kids, the boys and girls we help would not be privy to them, even if I paid for them." He downed a long swallow before adding, "This is a good example of why I needed your help so badly Adam. Karl cannot get the help he needs as long as he lives here, for any price."
"He can get help, and will soon," Carl declared. He downed his beer and started toward the door. When I called after him, saying we should talk a bit more he turned back. "Consider your evaluation complete, I support Cindy's idea, and Karl is welcome to join our family!"
'This isn't working as I had planed', I thought. "We need to talk about a couple of more issues, Carl, please can we go for a walk?" I suggested.
His face told me no. "What are your concerns?" he asked. My suggestion that we speak privately went over like a lump in a fart.
I glanced around the room, hoping someone, anyone, would excuse themselves without success. 'What the fuck, it has to get onto the table sooner or later', I told myself. A glance around to Jay and Miguel offered no relief. I pulled another beer from under the bar and asked Carl to close the hall door. As he did I grabbed another one for myself.
"One of the reasons the boy came to my attention was that, he was offered for consideration, to be placed with a same sex couple. That his sexuality might accept such a placement." I tried. No one seemed angry, or even moved, even Carl's face suggested I had stated a known fact.
"And?" was his only response. He hesitated, but walked back to the bar and accepted the beer I held out to him.
'This is what you get paid for, time to earn it', I told myself. I ignored thoughts of certifying old ladies golf game losses. "Karl could, as he matures, be homosexual or bisexual. A child like that would need some, special support and understanding. How do you feel about that?"
He looked around at all of us. "You are gay, would you ever hurt a child? Karl, or the boys you wish to adopt?" he asked Jay. "And you, or Cindy and you think my son is gay, I sometimes do to. What's the difference?" he asked me. He didn't asked for a response before adding, "What do I need to do to get him, to get Karl?"
'Well, one placement settled, two to go', I told my beer. "Convince your daughter," I told him. "Let's go get wet!"
Jay gave me a longing look, but I think the pool won out and he walked next to Carl toward the patio. I ended up next to Miguel. "What the hell did you do to your hot tub?" I tittered. "I almost got my head bit off just for mentioning it to her."
He chuckled and flashed me another of his evil grins. "Come with me," he requested.
I followed him through a vacant bedroom next to Cindy and Carl's out onto a private courtyard serving about three doors into the house.
I cracked up when I looked toward the hot tub and the case of extra water filters setting next to it. "You dirty old man!" I laughed.
"I wonder how many they used last night," he snickered.
"I'm getting out of here, if she catches us we're both dead," I exclaimed.
All of the kids except Johnny and Mark were on the patio when I stepped outside, all of them clad only in Speedos except Ruben who was also wearing what I was sure was one of Ronnie's tee-shirts. Edwardo and Ruben were talking to Jay and big Ronnie, Karl to Cindy, while the others were pacing impatiently around the patio.
I bit my lip to keep from snickering at the different fit of the new boys suits, clearly loans from my boys and Steven. Edwardo was about Johnny's size but slightly bigger especially in the backside, showing much more skin and cheek than even a Speedo was designed to. Karl was wearing what I was sure was one of Mark's trunks, that were two or three sizes too big for him, instead of stretching over his thin hips and bottom the material bunched up around the drawstring and hung like a potato sack off his hips.
After my boys gave me a round of disgruntled glares they exchanged glances and Junior and my Ronnie rushed over to me. "Hi Dad!" Ronnie began, pushing against me. "When can we go swimming?"
"In a few minutes, as soon as your lunch settles," I answered. "You guys know the rules," I said as I climbed into a lounge next to Cindy.
He climbed into my lap before I had a chance to get comfortable. "But Grande promised, I mean we promised Eddie and Ruben they could, Karl too! Please?" he tried, squirming against me. He waited a few seconds and leaned his head against me, his facebow resting on my chest. I'm sure after he figured out his cuddly bribe wasn't going to work he asked, "Well, but how long?"
"Not long," I replied, cupping his tight outer thigh. "Thirty minutes, but where are your brothers?" He was silent for several seconds. "Does Johnny's arm hurt again," didn't get an answer. "Talk to me big brother, what's wrong?"
"They are with Mary and Grande but I'm not suppose to tell," he answered. "They, well nothing. Please, when can we get in the pool?"
'Yeah well', I decided. "I don't want you guys to go swimming, but you can go wading," I announced loud enough for everyone to hear. I had to hold onto Ronnie while I added, "You have to stay in the shallow end, and keep your headgears dry. You guys keep your hair dry," I said toward the new boys.
I wondered how much they lowered the water level of Miguel's pool as I watched the flock of boys jump into the water, but as I expected, no Ruben. He instead nestled himself between Jay and big Ronnie's chair. "Don't you want to go enjoy the water?" I asked him.
He looked a little longingly at his brother and new friends in the water then said, "Thank you sir, may I wait, and swim later?" He backed up so Jay's head blocked my view of his face before I could answer.
Jay, then Carl followed them into the pool. Big Ronnie tried to coax Ruben several times, but sat back and continued to chat with the lad. 'What is going on there?' I asked myself.
Cindy and I talked about our day a little but mainly just watched everyone in the pool for the next few minutes, trying to ignore the dirty looks we were getting from the boys as they waded around clearly full of energy. Screw it, I finally decided and yelled, "Okay guys, you can swim, just, , ," "Take off your headgear," I groaned as Junior and my Ronnie dove below the water.
"I hope it's the age, but I'm not sure my son has both oars in the water," Cindy laughed. "Oh well, it fits the day," she sighed.
"What did you find out at the Embassy?" I risked.
"The Consulate," she corrected. She watched the kids for several seconds, seemingly trying to formulate an answer. "We are still working on some avenues," she mumbled. "But it doesn't look as promising, or as easy as Gilbert thought it would be.
"Without a plan of service such as prospective adoption in the works, any visa we could get him is for a limited stay, a specified amount of days. If we managed to get him adopted in that time span, there is no guarantee INS would approve a change of status, especially with the watch list problem. Being deported would kill him. Why do you care, have you decided what you're going to do with him?"
I looked away hoping my face didn't show any anger at her dig. "I'm sorry you didn't deserve that," she said, cupping my forearm with her hand. "I'm not feeling too well is all. I'm not sure there is a way to help him without risking him being hurt, and it's killing me." She looked back toward the pool for several seconds. "Look at him he's so tiny, he looks so, well helpless and fragile. All the wonderful things our country does, and some god damn bureaucratic crap gets in the way. There has to be, , ,"
"Whoa," I cut her off. "Jay, come here!" I yelled toward the pool, ignoring Cindy's nasty look. "Jay, we need to talk to you for a minute," I added. "You might have just found a way to help your little guy!" I said toward Cindy.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your fun, but I have a question, a pressing one," I told my colleague when he joined us a minute later. "Well, several. I am sure I know the answers, but I would like to hear them from a Boarded Pediatrician, or more exactly if a Boarded Pediatrician would be able to justify them."
"Something tells me I better get my beer," he groaned. He grabbed it from the table next to Ruben and his mate and sat down next to us.
"The concerns you expressed earlier, about Karl's size and physical immaturity, if left untreated could they be a threat to his health? I'm sorry if left undiagnosed, could they?" I asked.
"It depends on what diagnosis is found. But until one is determined, I would call him at risk. Why, what, , ,"
"We are having problems regarding Karl's visa. Your dad said the tests needed are not available in Brazil, would a good Pediatrician have such a risk transferred to a region where they could be performed?"
"If the resources were availa, , , yes, I see where you are going now, of course!" he grinned.
I held my hand up to cut Cindy off and continued, "If the boy has a Hormonal, or Endocrineal (Glandular) pathology causing his condition, would it be safe to assume his treatment would be long term, perhaps even until he is fully matured? On my side of the fence I am very concerned, he might need long term therapy to deal with such a condition."
Jay's grin turned into an almost diabolical smile. "That is a distinct possibility, or one that could be arranged. I know where you might be able to have a couple of certified Pedo's consider such a, a scenario!" Seeing our lost expressions he added, "Dad is Board Certified too, remember?"
"Call Castillo, see if he thinks it would work," I told Cindy.
She sprang out of her lounge and darted toward the door, but turned back. "You should have been a lawyer!" she bubbled as she kissed my cheek. "Thanks Jay!" she said as she laid a kiss on Jay's.
"I hope Ronnie didn't see that, you'd be in the doghouse!" I teased Jay.
"You better hope Carl didn't see that!" he countered.
Cindy bounced back onto the patio a couple of minutes later, but instead of going back to her seat next to us she rushed to pool-side. "Karl, Karl Pieter, please come here!" she called. She whispered something to the frightened faced youngster and handed him a towel after he climbed out of the water. A kiss on the forehead seemed to reassure him, and he went inside as she rejoined Jay and I.
"Miguel and everyone are back, but Mary asked me to tell you she went shopping," she began. "Gilbert is on his way over here, and is completely excited!" she bubbled. "How long does this take, perhaps I should ask how soon could you have your, statements ready?"
"The damn legal end of it takes all the time," I answered. "I'm sure we could have our evaluations ready, by, , , well no less than three months, what about you Doctor?"
Jay picked up on my quip perfectly. "I would have to work weekends, which I don't do, but I could try for that time frame."
The deadly darts her eyes were firing into my chest told me not to push any further with our tease. "Would an hour or so work better? I already have all the data I need."
"I would have to examine the child, but when do you want it?" Jay added.
A soft giggle, then a carrot colored crop of hair followed by a hug from a skinny arm interrupted us. "Hi Pop!" Johnny exclaimed.
"So! You ran away with your Nanny?" I teased. "Have fun?"
Miguel stepped into our line of vision with a red faced little Dutch boy under his arm, now wearing a normally fitting Speedo. Karl blushed, but then seemed relax. None of the boys offered any objection when I suggested they go for a swim.
"I thought you should know, Johnny absolutely insisted on buying all three boys new suits with his money, he became rather testy when Mary and I tried to pay for his purchases." Miguel informed me.
I was still digesting Miguel's comment when Ruben's fairly loud gasp distracted me. When I looked over at him, still right next to big Ronnie, he was gawking at Johnny and pointing to his own stomach. After the two of them whispered to each other for several seconds Ruben blushed, and pulled his tee-shirt partly up exposing his stomach toward his adult friend.
Ruben giggled as Ronnie pulled his tee-shirt off him and grabbed him by his thin waist, then gently swatted him on the backside and jumped out of his chair into the pool, his young friend right behind. It was my turn to gawk when Ruben playfully turned in the pool and I saw the long, wide scar across his tight stomach.
'Well, Johnny and Ginger as Ambassadors to, , , Junior as a Congressional Crook, Karl a rich lawyer, and , , , Mark and Ronnie as, , , let's not go there!' I decided, 'Just watch them play, and save up to make their bail bonds when they grow up'. I decided.
Our meeting with Castillo was shorter and more productive than I could have imagined. I was completely on base regarding my little plot that, given the circumstances Jay, our new co-conspirator Miguel and I presented he was sure we could get Karl a Medical Visa into the US, and make it long term, as long as we needed to treat him. "As soon as I have something in writing to offer, I can make it happen," Castillo told us.
"How long will this take, what do we need to do?" Cindy asked.
"I will alert my contacts, but if I had everyone's affidavits I could get him a visa tonight or tomorrow." "Such a last minute request would also negate almost any challenges your country's Border Patrol could offer," he leered.
He looked at his notes for a second. "We must have a guardian, sponsor, for him. Who will that be? And I need an address where he will reside, someone who will care for him during his treatment. Doctor Owens, that is mostly your realm" he said.
'Is this really happening this fast?' I asked myself. 'A month or maybe a little less', "If they agree, he is to be placed with Cindy, the Roberts family, who I feel should be appointed his guardians." I took a couple of deep breaths, trying to catch up. "I would still like to talk to my patient before we finalize this, but, , , well make it happen, provided he is agreeable." The faces staring at me made me add, "Please proceed Judge Castillo. I will let you know if there are any problems."
'No Your Honor, beyond any reasonable doubt the old bitch's golf swing was destroyed by her divorce action. The comfort of, say, eight grand a month is her only hope! Yes sir, I will be collecting twenty percent of that for life', A dream flashed into my head.
"Thanks Adam, thanks more than I can ever express!" Cindy exclaimed. "I love you, my family loves you!"
"Lets go talk to Karl first, I think he has a say in this!" I answered. "Well, I'm going to get a fresh beer, than let's go talk to him,"
Karl had the same frightened animal look he did when I first met him when I called him out of the pool. Assurances that we just wanted to talk to him for a few minutes only relaxed him a little as I gave him a towel and helped him dry off. When Carl joined Cindy and I, I thought he was going to bolt and run, but he shuffled along next to me as we made our way inside.
"We would like to talk to you about, moving to America and being adopted by a new family," I began, earning the Roberts and I a distrusting glare. "We have been working on this, and we, , ,"
"You don't want me, Ruben and Edwardo get adopted by those rich people instead of me, don't they!" he declared. "I'm so skinny you had to go get this shit to have a look at me and I still lost! Thank you, DOCTOR, I hope you got a good look, that's all you get!" he snarled, looking down at his Speedo.
Cindy started after him as he raced toward the door, but I held my hand up to stop her. "What happened to trusting each other, young man? Your choice, keep walking and our driver will take you back to the children's home, or turn around and listen to me." I let him glance between the door and the floor near me a couple of times. "Trust? Please come here Karl."
"Karl, we want to, , ," Cindy started to say, then gave me the worst 'Up Your's' glare I think I have ever seen when I cut her off.
"I don't know if the Sanchez' are going to be able to adopt Edwardo and Ruben or not yet. But Doctor and Mrs Roberts would like you to move to Texas and live with them, as their son." His skeptical glare made me add, "If you want to."
His preteen face studied each of our faces like a Wall Street banker would for a couple of seconds before it melted into a lost, expression more like the ten year-old he seemed. "Oh Shit! Catch him!" I gasp as I saw his eyes roll back into his head and his knees buckle.
To Be Continued…
Notes from the Author:
Miguel, who I'm sure you know from his collaboration on this project, and his story Julio is moderating a group on Yahoo, a group that was formed to help kids deal with being gay, and showing them that they are not alone. If you are one of the many kids that have written me about PJD or my other stories, I hope you visit this group. It is indeed for support of gay or uncertain you, not for anything else. Have a look at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thegayyouthgroup , thanks for your support .