I got home just in time to scatter Carl's presents among the ones for everyone else before dad and the boys got home. After putting their book bags in their rooms the three of them devoured ten pounds or so of snacks before the twins disappeared outside, but Carl hung back. He gave me a couple of sheepish looks before I called him to me. I reached to put my arm around his waist but he jumped into my lap before I could. "Thanks sir. . . I mean Pop. I never got that much stuff before." Lost, I asked what he was talking about.
He ran his hands over his jeans saying "Well all the clothes! I can't wear that much!" 'Wait' I thought, 'a couple of shirts and jeans, what is he talking about.' "The Nikes are unreal only rich kids wear them they're just like the twin's!" seeing the lost expression on my face he continued "Ah, is that stuff for me? Oh I'm sorry sir it was in what you said was my room I just thought they was. . . I'm sorry sir!" tears forming in both eyes.
'Was Tim right, is this boy losing it?' I asked myself. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my dad slinking out of the kitchen pointedly ignoring us. Gently pushing Carl off my lap, folding my arm across his shoulder as I stood up, I suggested he show me what he was talking about. "Gramps, would you join us?" I asked as we made our way down the hall, Carl pushing against my side.
When we entered Carl's room, what had been our guest room, I was so startled I froze for an instant. Spread across the room's double bed was what looked like a full wardrobe for a boy, shirts, tee shirts, pants, shoes, coats and jackets, sports gear and on and on, what had to be several hundred dollars in clothes. By the labels on them, didn't come out of a discount store. "Dad?" "What's going on here dad?"
"I stopped off and picked up a few things for him," dad responded turning back to the kitchen. "When a boy starts a new life a few new clothes might help." Carl jerked out of my grasp almost knocking dad off balance as he hugged him. Carl muttered some phrases I could not understand before dad kissed him on the top of his head. Turning Carl around dad said "Well someone's got to hang all that stuff up, I think you better get to it youngster!"
During supper I told Carl about his doctor visits tomorrow successfully downplaying them. "Hey, if you play your cards right you might get a free lunch out of." Dad chimed in. Right after supper I would have given a years pay to have a camera next in hand when Carl climbed into dad's lap and kissed him before dad knew what was happening.
The rest of the evening was fairly quiet. I had to spend almost an hour untangling Carl's disastrous attempt at installing laces on his new shoes, and did a little math tutoring for the twins but got the kids scrubbed and into bed on time, Carl reluctantly promising to sleep in his new bed. I tucked the twins in then on to Carl's room. He was beautiful, laying in the middle of this large bed only his little pixie face sticking out of a mountain of covers. I sat on the bed and had to lean almost completely over to kiss his forehead. As I straightened back up he pulled his arms out from under the cover throwing them around my neck, burying his face on my chest. "I love you pop." he whispered. I wrapped my arms around him rubbing his bare back for a few seconds.
"Thanks kiddo, I love you too. But I know a little boy that has a busy day tomorrow. We don't want some mean old doctor to think I keep you up all night do we?" He continued to hold on. After another minute or so I reached around tickling his arm pits. He giggled loudly and kissed me on the cheek before squirming back under the covers. Tucking him in I gave him another kiss before getting up.
Late that night I had the same dream that Sherry was laying against me, becoming very real as I felt her warm butt filling my palm. After some convincing I talked one of my eyes into opening slightly, there was Carl again, snuggled against me his face buried in my armpit. I quickly slid my hand off his butt up his back as I wondered 'God how can he breathe?' my armpits were capable of creating body odors that could force entire neighborhoods to be evacuated. Binki, again on my pillow rubbed his nose against mine.
Carl seemed to be in a light sleep, so I decided to just lay with him for a few minutes, perhaps he could slide into a deeper slumber. Fifteen or twenty minutes later it seemed to have worked and I carefully crawled out of bed. I gently picked him up, he couldn't have been more than 80 pounds, and put him back into his bed. I sat on his bed just looking at his sweet, innocent little face for a while before kissing his forehead and getting back in bed. 'How on earth could anyone do anything but worship such a little angel? I asked myself. 'What kind of monster could harm an almost godlike little boy.' Finally I managed to drift back to sleep, Binki now snuggled against my neck.
The next morning I had an early meeting and was leaving when the boys got up, giving them a quick goodbye hug before rushing out the door. When I hugged Carl he whispered "Thanks pop." grinning at me as I left. My day was surprisingly routine. Soon I found myself back on the freeway on my way home. 'Four more hours and it's the weekend!' I mumbled I guess at the steering wheel - to keep my comp time hours in check I usually only worked half a day on Fridays -
Dad was home having already picked the kids up from school, surprisingly Carl included, and the boys had gone to play at Timmy's. According to dad Carl had very little reaction to his doctor visits, all dad could get out of him was he saw a doctor in the morning that was real nice to him, except when he made the lad get two shots. He had bragged about getting a trip to McDonald's before visiting the shrink, all he told dad about that visit was she was a nice lady that just sat around and talk with him for a while. "Oh, he informed me she had 'huge chests'!" dad concluded, snickering.
When supper was ready I called over to Tim's to have the boys sent home. Tim answered the phone and after passing my message on to the kids told me they had gotten the medical report from their doctor late this afternoon. "We expect his psychological work up sometime tomorrow morning, when we have both of them we should get together." he added. I suggested that if they got the report we could meet for lunch. He agreed saying he would have to check Roy's schedule in the morning.
We had a quiet evening. During supper I wasn't able to get any more out of Carl than dad had. He couldn't remember either of their names, explaining 'their name was Doctor!' but did repeat how impressed he was with the shrink's breast size, turning red faced and giggling at my facial reaction. "You look at them." Jeff declared.
"Yea I don't think dad has ever missed checking out a pair." Jerry chimed in, reaching over and poking me in the ribs. Everyone (but me!) had a good laugh. Red faced I studied my plate as I ate, wishing I could crawl under it. Homework, baths and such completed on time I tucked the kids into bed at 9:30, enjoying another long hug from Carl.
Crawling up in my recliner I watched the local news then read for a while before deciding to turn in. After checking on the twins, both dead to the world I quietly opened Carl's door. He was tossing wildly in the bed whimpering and occasionally crying out "No, No" Sitting on his bed I stroked his forehead a couple of times calling his name softly. Suddenly his eyes snapped open looking around the room like a frightened animal. When he saw me he blinked a few times then threw himself at me, wrapping his arms around my neck as he crawled into my lap crying.
I rubbed his neck and back for a minute or so before asking "Hey, what's wrong little buddy, did you have a bad dream?"
He kept pressing his head against my neck for several seconds. He tried to say something several times but always broke into sobs before anything intelligent came out. Kissing the side of his head several times while I reassured him he finally whispered "My dad was here. He was gonna make me go with him. Please pop don't let him PLEASE!"
"Its okay, no one is going to take you anywhere it was just a dream." I said. He just held on to my neck tighter. "Look around the room son, no one is here! Come on, it was just a dream, I won't let anything happen to you, you know that!" After a minute or so, untangling his feet from the blankets, I picked him up and carried him to the kitchen sitting on the counter. After starting a mug of milk heating in the microwave I wet a towel with cool water and washed his face and arms. Moving him a kitchen chair we sat next to each other and I guided him toward small talk as he sipped down the warm milk. Soon I had him back in his room under the covers despite his pleas to sleep with me. I took in his worried face for a few seconds before pulling back the covers. "Okay, move over." I said.
His face perked up quickly to the happy boy I was used to, squirming his body against mine and within 5 minutes he was sound asleep. I lay with him for an hour or so before quietly slipping out of his bed and into mine.
I was pouring my first cup of coffee the next morning when I heard someone coming down the hall. Carl walked into the kitchen and as soon as he saw me rushed over giving me a hug. "What are you doing up so early? Don't you know its against the teenager religion to get up before some one forces you?" I asked.
He giggled before saying "I didn't want you to leave so quick again."
I held him rubbing his back for a minute or so before guiding him to the table. After a couple of sips of coffee I said "Well, at least its Friday! I think we should do something for the weekend, what about you?" His eyes brightened as he nodded his agreement. "You want to go up, let's go somewhere in the airplane." - I've been a private pilot for many years, several years ago purchasing a small plane. I had taken Carl up with me, I think once before, just flying around the local area -
"Wow, can we?" he explained, his face brightening like a new penny. We chatted briefly about possible destinations, him suggesting anywhere from Disneyland to Paris, me vying for closer destinations.
Finally I interrupted him before he had us committed to a world tour saying "I'll get on the internet when I get to work and see what I can find" Trying to distract him before he thought of interplanetary travel I suggested "We're going to be gone overnight so you better start thinking about what you want to pack. I have to get dressed for work, go wake your brothers up and give them the news." He took off down the hall like a rocket, Binki and Bandit joining him. All three boys were waiting for me when I came out of my bedroom. After reminding them the trip was not until tomorrow, that they need to keep their minds on their school work today I hugged everyone and left.
One nice thing about working for the government is no one overdoes it, many of my co-workers take off all day on Fridays, so my workload was light. I got what needed to be done and started surfing for a short trip where I could get last minute reservations. I decided on Houston, Texas, we could tour NASA and check out what ever else there was to do. Sunday afternoon we would fly down to the gulf coast, buy some fresh shrimp and seafood, and ask my dad to have the pit ready to cook them as soon as we got home.
I had just reserved a hotel and rental car when Tim called. The shrink had faxed her report in and Roy was available, so we agreed to meet at a nearby Barbeque place we both frequented. I got a surprise when my supervisor called me into her office. It seems that my co-workers, after hearing about Carl, had taken up a collection. She handed me an envelope containing over 200 dollars asking me to buy him something nice from them and put it under our Christmas tree. I filed my flight plan for the trip then called the airport before leaving work, asking them to service and fuel the aircraft.
About 12:15 I arrived at the eatery, no Tim or Roy to be found. I mentally debated briefly before ordering a beer while I waited for them. "God Damn, what's this?" Tim's deep voice boomed from behind me. "Shit, it must be nice to work for the feds and have liquid lunches." he said, pointing at my beer as he and Roy sat down.
"Well, actually the even better part of working for the military is that I'm done for the day!" I bragged. "Tell me, what does the low scale end of Civil Service have on the agenda this afternoon, do you state guys still have to sweep and mop on Fridays?" Tim responded by raising his middle finger toward me as poor Roy stared mortified. I'm sure, not knowing how close Tim and I were, he was wondering what he had gotten into, when would the fist fight begin.
The waitress setting menus in front of each of us I think saved Roy from panic. She ask if she could get Tim and Roy something to drink while we decided what to order. They asked for iced tea, then Tim stopped her. "Give me a Miller Lite." he said. Roy gawked as Tim pulled out his cell phone entering a speed dial number. "Cindy this is Tim. It looks like I'm going to be tied up with this case all afternoon, I'll see you Monday." and hanging up. Seeing Roy's stare he said "Sorry kid, someone's got to hold down the shop."
Out of fairness we took a minute to explain our relationship to Roy. The waitress returned with Tim and Roy's drinks and taking our orders.
Tim handed me an envelope containing my foster parent license and we moved onto business. They offered me a choice of reading the doctors reports or having Roy summarize them, saying I could read them later if I chose. I asked if Roy would provide me with a summary, and he began with the pediatrician's report. Carl was overall in excellent health, small for his age and slightly underweight, which was already obvious, but with no health problems. The doctor reported finding a couple of almost healed bruises, along with several scars, from a few weeks to maybe two years old, on Carl's buttock and lower back that he was sure were caused by a belt or strap. X-rays further revealed untreated but healed fractures in two of the boy's ribs, his jaw and an old greenstick fracture (crack) of his right humerus (upper arm bone) which also had gone untreated. The doctor further said Carl had been the subject of repeated sexual abuse both orally and rectally, he suspected as recently as less then a week ago.
"Can I go onto the psychologist's report or do you have any questions right now?" Roy asked, I think seeing if I was still functioning. I took a long swallow of beer before asking him to continue.
He relayed that the shrink further verified that Carl had been physically and sexually abused along with a fair amount of emotional abuse. Despite that she found his emotional health to be better then expected, better then she could believe initially. "I quote her report, 'Although somewhat immature emotionally he is a shockingly strong child" Roy said. She stated Carl does not appear to be a threat to himself or others. She recommended he begin therapy during which she would be conducting more tests, but strongly recommended outpatient treatment feeling residence treatment could cause more harm then good. "She specifically stated the most appropriate, actually the only appropriate setting for Carl right now is to remain in your home, she said you are the only security he has right now, maybe the first he has had in his life." Roy concluded.
I hadn't even noticed the waitress setting Tim's then Roy's plates down until her arm movement near my face distracted me from what my brain was having a lot of trouble digesting. "Come on dude, munch out!" Tim explained. "The state is paying for this shit, its my duty to see it isn't wasted." Everyone had taken a few bites before he continued "You were right on this one dude, I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time. But hey, a dumb f*** computer tech outsmarting a couple of MSW's (Master's degree in Social Work) who'd ever have thought!" His tactics worked perfectly and I returned his earlier finger gesture. "You said you could keep Carl over the holidays, how would you react if we asked to leave him with you longer?" he asked between bites.
I chewed on two of my grilled finger ribs as I considered what he was asking. After a long swig of beer I answered "I don't know, that's something I'd have to give some thought", Carl's wonderfully innocent little face, his breath taking smile flashed across the back of my mind all but telling me I was lying like a snake. The selfish side of me took back over saying "I'm trying to downsize my kid raising business. Hey I'm single and almost 40!" I joked. Tim grinned at my age joke and after pausing for another rib I continued "I need to talk to my dad too, remember Colonel Nanny is a part of all this. I don't see any need to move him right after the holidays as we had discussed, but I don't want to commit to raising him either, will that work for now?" The look on Tim's face told me he didn't completely believe me, but he let the subject drop.
We finished lunch chatting about lighter things. I told them we were going out of town verifying that I could take Carl on trips. "Be sure to take your custody docs in case he gets hurt. Oh and let us know if you are leaving the country with him so we can get him a passport." is all Tim said. They also informed me Carl had a court hearing Tuesday, I was invited but did not have to attend, but Carl must. On the way to the parking lot Tim handed me another envelope. It wasn't until I got home that I opened it, but it was copies of both doctors reports.
I briefed dad on our travel plans. He had already heard about, in three part harmony, the trip all the way to school. When I reviewed my luncheon conversation his reaction regarding Carl was almost exactly opposite of what I had expected. "That boy loves you and trusts you, you might be the first authority figure he has ever been able to trust." he began. "Besides quit the BS, you love him as much as he loves you. Everyone in this household loves him now." I was trying to digest this coming from my dad when he continued. "Its your decision. At my age I don't know if I will stay healthy or even alive long enough to help, but I'll do what I can. I know what kind of money you make and you can afford him, but what you can't afford I can." he said. After we stared at each other for a minute or so he disappeared into his bedroom for his afternoon nap.
Fridays I always picked the kids up from school since I was off from work early enough. I climbed in my recliner to read until time to get them. I got about half a page read in the two hours or so before I had go pick them off, my mind drifting far from the excellent novel I was into.
The boys were even more hyper than was usual on Fridays for the ride home. Happy as always that it was finally the weekend, the idea of our trip coupled with the fact that they only had three days of school next week before the Christmas holidays really set them off. As tempted as I was a couple of times to pull over and tie Carl down before he ripped his seat belt out of the van's metal frame I managed to fill them in on our trip as I drove. As soon as we got home they attacked the refrigerator and at lightning speed relieved its load by probably 20 pounds of snacks. The twins disappeared outside, soccer ball in hand, but Carl stayed back. "Ah, will you check this for me sir?" he asked, shyly handing me a folded, very well thumbed piece of paper.
Thinking it was homework and wondering why on earth a 12 year old would be thinking about school on a Friday afternoon I grabbed a pen and sat down, Carl climbing in my lap. It took several seconds to figure out the encrypted folding method only a pre-teen could design but finally got the well worn document open. '2 underwear, green shirt, blue shirt, black jeans. . .' and so on I read. I always had to finish packing for the twins, getting ready for a trip to them was throwing the first three things they saw into a bag and hoping it was enough to wear. Carl had gotten into detail as if planning a major logistical movement. 'Hood for white Gramps coat' I read.
I wrapped my arm around his waist saying "This is very complete, I'm impressed!" instantly rewarded with one of his brightest happy faces, ear to ear smile included. "Let me read it again, will you get me a beer while I do?" He hopped of my lap still grinning like a clown. I reviewed the list again adding a toothbrush and 'Spare Tail Feathers' I had just folded it in half when he returned climbing back on my lap. "I only added a couple of things, you did a great job!" I commented. "This will work great, why don't you put it in your room and go play with your brothers, its Friday night and you need some fun!" I suggested, keeping the list just out of his reach. After a few reassurances that he would be completely prepared for his trip he accepted the folded paper disappearing down the hall.
I rushed into the family room and grabbed what I needed off a shelf, just making it back to my seat in time. Less then a minute later he was back on my lap almost knocking me out of my chair. "What are tail feathers? Do I gotta have them for the airplane or what? I didn't know airplanes had feathers! Where do I get them? We gotta get some tonight! Where can we please?" he begged. I was going to let him suffer a minute or so but his eyes started tearing as he squirmed against me. "Please pop I'll do anything if you'll take me flying, anything!" pushing his little butt against my crotch.
Propping him back on my lap I said "Well you're my little turkey, I figured you would know where to get spare feathers!" He looked at me lost for a second before I started tickling him. When he was squirming like a two year old I reached behind him gently poking him in the butt with the object I had retrieved "See you are a turkey, I just plucked one of your tail feathers!" holding an old feather writing quill up.
He stared at the quill for several seconds before breaking back into a smile then a giggle. Throwing his arms around me and again giggling kissed me before hooting "You're Mean!" he giggled a few more seconds before getting out "I love you pop." and kissing my cheek again.
"I love you too turkey" I responded as I shooed him out the door.
To Be Continued…