The Good Doctor 40
When you’re dealing with Italians what is on their minds
is never a question. We make our views known, sometimes it
seems like they’re printed on our foreheads but usually
being able to read isn’t a necessity. It’s not
always the same with everyone else.
Last night Pete and I had an hour of
fantastic sex and then all night long he tossed and turned,
flipping over, I would
say, every fifteen minutes. This was the third night of that.
So the thing is this, either I kill him or ask him what the
problem is, that’s a big question to ask but I decide
to go for it.
I sit up and look at his supposedly sleeping
gonna tell me what the fuck the problem is?”
He lifts his head. “Nothing………….I’m
just a little restless.”
He mumbles into the pillow. “No…..really!”
“Yeah right! You gonna tell me?” He
flips around about three more times and then lies there looking
up at me.
“You gonna actually talk to me
He groans. “It’s a big thing.”
“I’m gonna strangle you if you don’t
He laughs. “You’re not big
“Yeah? Well when you’re turning my body over to
the EMT’s they’re gonna ask about the scratch marks
on your throat.”
He laughs for a moment. “Okay.
You remember that I have a free clinic every other week?”
I smile. “I do.” Actually
this makes me really proud of him. I probably should have
told him that.
I sit up so that my back is against the
headboard and his hand drops to my thigh. “Okay.” He shakes his head. “You
probably don’t remember Mrs. Hanley…..or maybe
I never even mentioned her.”
”If you did I don’t remember.
So tell me again.”
“Well………..for the last three years
she and her son have been my patients. Her husband left years
ago and like years after he left she got divorce papers. So
anyway, she’s raising David………that’s
her son and paying rent and doing all the shit that people
do and all of this from working her butt off at that little
factory down by the railroad………….and
they have way less than nothing. What is that place? They make………I
duno……….some little thing.” He sighs
and drops his head.
Last week she driving to work with David
in the car, he’s
fourteen and just starting high school………….it’s
early in the morning and this car plows right into her.” His
hand tightens on my thigh. “Smashes into the left side
of the car right where she’s sitting. So………she’s
killed like instantly but David is just banged around. I mean,
he’s hurt but not life threatening.
I said, “That’s horrible!”
He rubs his hands in his eyes and says, “Yeah………but
it happens all the time. Well, you know, not exactly like that
but horrible stuff.” He rolls over so that he lying on
his stomach and his head is on my hip and his arms wrapped
around my back.
“So…….as if that, I mean Mrs. Hanley dying,
isn’t lousy enough, now we got a cute fourteen year old
kid that never did anything to anyone who no longer has a mom.
But he’s in the hospital so there’s people taking
care of him but now I’ve got the administrator telling
me that the kid is well enough to go home except that he can’t
do that cause his mom is dead and there’s no other relatives
that we’ve been able to find. Not that we’ll quit
looking but nothing is turning up. We’ve got a bunch
of deceased grandparents but no living person, no aunts, no
uncles, no cousins, nothing. So I’m tap dancing around
the hospital administrator finding this little thing wrong
with David and then another little thing but actually I’m
not fooling anyone. They want him turned over to Family Services.
The thing is that like a couple of months ago I gave David
his physical for high school and during that physical he told
me that he thinks he’s gay.”
I slide down the bed so that my face
is even with Pete’s. “This
is a fourteen year old boy. That’s high school, sleepovers,
sex, and who the fuck knows what all and that’s not even
mentioning the shit of having to get over the death of his
mom. Also there’s the whole thing about our being gay.
You ready to deal with all that? I mean that is where you’re
going with this, right?
Pete’s deep blue eyes stare into mine. “Yeah…..that’s
where I’m going and no……….I’m
not ready for that. It’s just the alternative that I
can’t live with.”
“Well, like you said you see this stuff all the time…………so
what’s the thing about this kid that’s getting
He shakes his head against my thigh. “I dunno. He’s
a nice kid but a lotta crap happens to nice people. Maybe because
he’s gay………..that would make things
a lot rougher on him once he gets into the system. Maybe it’s
that. I dunno.” He stares at the ceiling. “It’s
like the kid just stepped off of a cliff and it’s like
forever down and when he hits bottom he’s gonna be killed
and there’s like this one moment, just this one moment
when someone can stop it.”
I tap his chest. “Hand me my boxers.”
“Why? Cause I can’t solve the world’s
He hands me my boxers and I slip them
on. “You better
put yours on too. Gonna need em.”
I open the bedroom door as Pete is putting
on his boxerbriefs and yell for Jase. Seconds later he comes
skipping down the
hallway, yes skipping, he still does that and it doesn’t
Jase comes into the room and I scoop
him up and put him down on the bed between us. “We
got a question for ya.”
He looks back and forth between us. “For me? I didn’t
I talk really softly cause I know that
parts of this are gonna upset him. “Jase, Pete has got a patient in the hospital.” I
was gonna call David a little boy but to Jase he’s not
gonna seem little. “He’s fourteen and he and his
mom were in a traffic accident, you know a car crash. Well
the thing is that his mom got killed in the accident and he
doesn’t have a dad around like you do or a grandma or
grandpa or any other people to take care of him. So we were
wondering how you’d feel about him staying with us………..at
least for a while.
Jase looks at me and then turns his head
and looks at Pete. “His
mom is dead?” I know exactly what he’s thinking.
I say, “Jase, if you don’t wanna do this we won’t.”
I turn to Pete. “Would we be able
to meet him?”
Pete sits up quickly. “This morning………if
you want. We’ve only got till the end of the day.”
I look at Jase. “Whadya think, Kiddo?” This
is way too much to ask a little kid but I have to do it.
“I think it’d be okay. What
does grandma think?”
Now there’s a question! “Let’s go meet David
and see what he’s like and then if everyone is still
okay about this I’ll call grandma and see what she thinks
but I’m pretty sure it’d be okay with her.”
Pete looks at me incredulously. “You don’t think
I laugh and then nibble on Jase’s stomach making him
go crazy and with both of my hands on his waist it feels like
he’s spinning like a top. “This is the kinda thing
she’d surprise you on but we better ask.”
I look at Pete. “What about your parents? They’re
part of this extended nuthouse family too.”
He’s grinning broadly. “I kinda brought it up
with my dad and I’m pretty sure that if it became reality
he be fine with it. Plus if David needed psychological help
we could enlist my mom.”
What about a lawyer to deal with…………..all
the legal crap?”
“My lawyer……….who’s actually
my dad’s lawyer would be the guy to use. He’s pretty
well connected.” I can imagine.
“Is he a pitbull?”
Pete laughs. “He teaches em how
“Okay! We need to shower, shave and breakfast!” I
know I left out one s.
I look at Jase. “You could probably skip shaving this
morning.” He giggles. I’m such a riot.
Two hours later we’re walking around the hospital following
Pete who’s treating the place like his second home, which
in some ways it is. Jase has a death grip on my right hand.
Pete picks up a chart at the nurses station
and stops us. “Okay,
his room is just a few doors down. I’m gonna go in and
talk to him a bit and tell him that you and Jase are here and
if he’s okay with that I’ll wave you in. Okay?”
I smile at him. “Sounds like a plan.” Pete
walks slowly to a room about twenty feet away and turns in.
I look down at Jase and then kneel down
next to him. “If
this is something that you don’t want I need you to tell
He nods his head and says, “I gotta see if he’s
nice.” Not a bad way to judge someone.
Fourteen is a difficult age, you’re still flipping back
and forth between being a man and being a little boy. It for
sure was a shitty time for David to lose the one person in
his life that he needed and loved the most and he looked the
way that you’d expect him to look, terrified. Plus the
fact that nobody looks good when they’re in the hospital
in those stupid gowns with one of those plastic bracelets on.
What we saw when we walked into David’s room was a cute
young teenager with dark brown hair and one of those combed
forward and flipped up hair styles, his eyes were a deep green
and he looked about as afraid as I’ve ever seen someone
look. Pete was standing on the right side of his bed holding
his hand and Jase and I went of to the left side.
I sat on the edge of his bed and took
his right hand in mine. I nodded towards Pete and smiled. “I’m his boyfriend.” David’s
eyes got wide. I looked up at Pete and he looked like his heart
had stopped. I looked into David’s eyes and said slowly. “So
this really bites doesn’t it?” He just barely nodded. “Probably
not the best week of your life.” He forced a smile and
shook his head no.
I let go of his hand and picked up Jase
and sat him on the bed in front of me. “This is Jase.” I smiled at
him. “We left the dog at home.”
Jase softly said, “Hi.” Out of the corner of my
eye I could see David’s hand tightening on Pete’s
and then relaxing. Jase said, “My mom died too.”
David got a surprised look on his face
and then said so softly it could barely be heard. “I’m really sorry.” My
left hand was still on Jase’s back and I could almost
feel his thoughts.
Jase said, “It was a while ago and it’s better
now.” It was pretty clear that David’s tears were
on the verge of pouring down his face.
I reached over and took his hand again. “So what we
were thinking is that we’d spring you outta this place
and you’d come and live with us.” I could see in
his eyes that he thought he should be saying that it was too
much trouble for us, you know, in the stupid way that people
do even when what they’re saying no to is the thing that
they need the most. “Please don’t say no. We really
want you to do it and besides, you’ll get to see your
doctor in his underwear.” There was a genuine smile on
his face for the first time and Pete dropped his head on his
chest and shook it slowly in total defeat. I squeezed David’s
hand and said, “Believe me, that alone is worth the move.” Jase
leaned back against me and nodded his head too.
Something seemed to occur to Jase and
he leaned forward and said quietly to David, “They’re
both really nice.”
I scooped Jase up in my arms and kissed
him. I smile at David. “We
give em a couple a bucks a week to say nice stuff about us.”
I stood up with Jase in my arms and looked
down at David. I reached down and put my hand on his shoulder. “We really
want you do this, David. It’s not just something that
we’re saying. We’re loaded with bedrooms but you
and Jase would have to share a bathroom………..anyway
the point is that there’s plenty of room and we really
want you to come.”
I looked up at Pete who hadn’t said a word and looked
like he had just started breathing again about thirty seconds
ago. “I’m gonna take Jase down to the nurses station
and use him as bait to see if we can get a free cup of coffee.” I
reached down and squeezed David’s foot. “We really
want ya, Kiddo.”
Jase was working his little boy magic
on a half dozen nurses when Pete came striding purposely
down the hallway. He was
staring directly at me and I couldn’t tell whether he
was happy or pissed. The nurses looked up and saw him coming
and then looked over at me with an odd look on their faces.
Well if he killed me here they wouldn’t have to move
the body all that much.
Pete stopped in front of me and put his
hands on my shoulders and pressed me back against the wall.
His voice was loud. “I
love you soooo fucking much!” Then he bent his head down
and kissed me like this was the end of World War II and we
were in Times Square. I was totally engulfed in his arms and
I heard the nurses gasp and then sigh.
I could hear Jase tell them drily, “They
do that all the time.”
I eased off into the doorway in a deserted corridor and called
“Whadya mean, What happened?”
She sighed. “Normally when you
call me around this time something has happened.”
“I knew it! What?”
I told her about David.
“So I was wondering what ya think.”
“What, you need your mother to tell you what to do when
it’s staring you right in the face? The world is not
all about you, Eric. Sometimes you gotta help people out.”
“Okay, Ma.” I knew that I’d
get blamed for this.
“I forgot to ask Pete about a funeral for David’s
“There hasn’t been one. They’ve been waiting
for that poor little boy to get out of the hospital so that
he could go.” Clearly she knew more about this than she
I decided to toss a rock down the well
and see how long it’d
take it to splash. “I thought maybe they had just cremated
her or something while David was still in the hospital.”
She leapt with claws fully extended. “You think we’d
do that to that little boy? This is gonna be a decent funeral!
There’s gonna be people there! David is gonna see that
there’s people who cared about his mother and about him!” Her
breathing was heavy and her voice throaty.
Besides a great meal the thing that Italians really love is
a great funeral and mom was gonna give em both.
“I’ve invited everyone! Then they can come back
to the house for a little something to eat.” I didn’t
say anything but when she says everyone that’s exactly
what she means maybe even more than everyone and when she says
a little something to eat she means enough food for the 81st
Airborne for a week.
I smiled and said, “So ya don’t
need me to plan the funeral?”
“Sweetheart, do you and your boyfriend ever speak to
each other?” Apparently not.
An hour later we got David, still wearing
the clothes that he had on during the accident, loaded into
the car. He walked
to the car hanging onto Pete with his left hand and Jase with
his right. He was scared to death and now we were going over
to the apartment that he shared with his mom to pickup at least
some of his clothing and personal stuff. This was not gonna
be fun. According to Pete he had asked a couple of days ago
if he couldn’t just go back to the apartment and live
Pete said that that wasn’t just a fear of living with
people he had never met but also a way of denying that his
mom was dead. That sounds right to me.
Actually I was really surprised by the
apartment, it was larger than I thought and really really
clean. David’s bedroom
was beyond clean it was immaculate. Even the ever present posters
were hung perfectly and everything in the room was color coordinated.
I knew I had a job cut out for me in getting this kid to relax.
I guess that I figured that I was gonna be a major disappointment
to him because I’m the least color coordinated person
on the planet. Maybe he’d just view me as a challenge,
everyone else seemed to.
There was an Abercrombie & Fitch poster that was pretty
hot so at least the kid’s libido was working. Hey at
fourteen I was beating off like six times a day. The A&F
poster was not a bad model for David who stood the chance to
grow to be a seriously handsome kid. He was tall, just a little
shorter than me actually, and had these really broad shoulders.
It was like his body was waiting for the rest of him to catch
We took a couple of hours to very carefully
move all of David’s
clothes and some other personal things to the car and shortly
after that we were moving him into his room at our house.
He never really got a chance though because
my mom was there and had him crying in her arms within five
can be quite so all embracing as a crazed Italian mother who’s
decided her child or anyone even close needs love and attention.
Not that I’m complaining cause he clearly did but watching
him cry uncontrollably in my mother’s arms was in sharp
contrast to the super neat apartment we had just seen.
I looked up at Pete. “You’re gonna have to explain
to him how to survive her.” I smiled at him. “He’s
a lot like you…………..dad.”