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The Good Doctor
--- Chapter 52 ---
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The Good Doctor 52

I tried to sleep. I know that Jase has only got a cold and I know that it shouldn’t bother me…well not as much as it does anyway. I fell asleep right away like I always do but then I woke up. The digital readout on the clock said 11:55. I got up quietly so I didn’t wake Pete slipped on my boxers and walked around the house checking the doors and windows. Everything was okay and I slipped into Jase’s bedroom and stood there and watched him sleep. His dark hair was lying between Alan’s giant furry emerald green paws. I touched his forehead with the tips of my fingers. He didn’t really feel any different. Not bad, certainly not like he was seriously sick or something. Finally I sat down on the floor and leaned against the wall. I must have dozed and when I woke up there was a warm body next to me.

My eyes had become accustomed to the low light level and I could see pretty well.

Pete whispered, “It’s just a cold you know.”

I nodded my head in agreement. “I know but it doesn’t help.” I sighed. “He’s just so little.” I really have no idea why one of the kids being sick worries me so much. But it truly makes me nuts.

He pulled my head against his warm chest and said, “Sleep for a while, I’ll keep an eye on him.” He wrapped his arms around me and I was out like a light.

The next time I woke I could hear sounds coming from the kitchen before I opened my eyes. Pete must have been the one fixing breakfast because my mother was sitting on Jase’s bed in the dim light watching me, her hands folded in her lap.

She said softly, “Sweetheart, why don’t you go to bed?”

I glanced at Jase afraid she might wake him. She shook her head slowly. “Don’t worry, he sleeps like you, like a rock, he won’t wake up.”

I said quietly, “You’re gonna watch him?” That was pretty stupid because I knew she wouldn’t take her eyes off of him.

“Yes.”

“You think I’m crazy don’t ya?”

She smiled. “No, Eric. You’re just more like me than you realize.” Oh my god! She’s right! This is her all over! This is exactly what she used to do with me when I got sick! I’m not sure whether that made me feel better or worse.

There was no way that I was going to go back to sleep and I stumbled into the kitchen where Pete was sitting down to a cup of coffee before the boys woke up. He got up as I walked in and pulled me into a warm embrace and his warm lips found that spot right under my ear.

He whispered into the side of my head. “I’m actually getting used to your mother catching me in my underwear.”

I kissed his chin. “With Italian mothers it really is no big deal. Honest to god we could be walking around here naked and as long as neither one of us looked damaged she’d be cool with it. You know I think she still likes to check that I haven’t skinned my knees or something.”

“You mean she didn’t pay any attention when you started to go thru puberty?”

Pete poured me a cup of coffee and we both sat down. I said, “Not that I recall, well except for those, “I know you’re up to something!” looks but by then I was so used to being looked at like that it didn’t have any affect. Mom doesn’t prize my privacy very highly.”

Just then she walked into the kitchen and shook her finger at me. “You don’t need privacy unless you’re up to no good! And you’ve got nothing to look at that I didn’t see when you were a baby.”

I looked at Pete and inclined my head towards my mother. “See.” Then turning to her. “How’s Jase?”

My mother was at the stove. “He’s fine. I’m making him some nice warm oatmeal and he’s staying in bed.”

I looked at Pete and swallowed the rest of my coffee. “I gotta see him.” I buttered two pieces of toast grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and headed to Jase’s bedroom.

She yelled after me, “Don’t get him all stirred up!” I don’t know what she thinks I do.

He was lying on his back making little sounds while he stared at his fingers. I could hear a deep raspiness in his throat. I layed down next to him with my back against Alan’s broad green chest.

I took a bite of toast and a sip of coffee. When Jase looked up at me I asked him, “So they all there?”

“Huh?”

“Your fingers. You didn’t lose any during the night?”

He gave me a look of utter disgust and then rolled on his side and buried his face in my side.

I nudged him. “Hey, you want a bite?”

He twisted his head and pretty much looked at me upside down. “Grandma’s makin me oatmeal.”

I took another bite of toast. “Okay. But the toast is really well done like you like it. Lot’s of crunch. And the butter is all melted into it too.”

Sounding like a prepubescent Tallulah Bankhead he said, “Maybe just one bite."

I held out the toast and his small fingers held my hand while his pearl-white little boy teeth took a small perfect bite. He just held the toast in his mouth and smiled at me.

I said, “Ya gotta chew it.” He grinned at me and did.

When he swallowed he said, “Grandma’s bringin me oatmeal.” I nodded. “You said.”

I held out the toast. “Take another bite.” There’s something deeply satisfying about watching him eat.

He took another bite and sighed. There was a small smear of butter on his chin and I wiped it off with my thumb and then, not knowing what to do with it, wiped it on my chest. He smiled at me when I did that and it seemed like payment enough.

I said, “You gonna be over your cold for vacation?”

He nodded while pulling my hand with the toast in it towards his mouth for another bite.

David walked in while Jase was chewing and knelt on the other side of Jase’s bed with his forearms on the mattress.

He grinned at Jase and said, “You gonna live?”

Jase is always happy to see David and he grinned broadly and nodded. “I’m gonna get to watch TV all day!”


Okay, so what I really wanted to do was sit in Jase’s room all day and watch him to make absolutely sure that nothing happened to him. My mother more or less implied that Jase would then have a bigger problem than his cold so I went grudgingly to work.

Jane and Ellen were having an in-depth discussion of menstruation and husbands and I practically sprinted to my office and shut the door. I felt like a dog trying to get peanut butter off the roof of his mouth because I couldn’t get those impressions outta my head so I wandered out to the warehouse and helped…okay watched, the guys move a couple of pallets of transformers. I love the oily smell of them and it seemed the perfect antidote to thoughts of menstruation. I followed it up by sitting with Charlie for a while as he was ruminating, using mostly four letter words, over a cup of coffee, about the proper plating for soldering tips while I was playing with a Warner & Swasey cutting head. It was like a massive injection of testosterone and by the time I got back to my office menstruation seemed like the improbable idea that I’d like to convince myself it is. Then Rose called and asked me to lunch. Well, at least menstruation hasn’t been an issue with her for like forever.

Rose reached out two fingers with long blood red nails and lightly touched my hair. “With that hair you shoulda been a girl.”

“You tryin to make me feel better, Rose?”

“I’m just sayin. This hair is wasted on a guy. Whadya need hair like this for? I can’t believe that big blond stud you’re livin with is payin any attention to your hair.” She smiled evilly. “Although I imagine your face is pushed into the mattress a lot so maybe that’s mostly what he does see.”

“Is this the same snappy patter you subjected your husband to before God gave him a reprieve, Rose?”

“For Christ’s sake, Eric, I’m complimenting you! Most women’d kill for hair like yours. Guy’s have really got all the advantages when it comes to looks!”

“Yeah, I know, it’s heart breaking, you gonna finish those olives, Rose?” She shoved them over to me while I pushed my hair back into place. “The hair came as part of the package, Rose. Thanks, according to mom, to my grandfather.”

She moved an unlit cigarette to her mouth but didn’t put it in. “I can see that. He was a good lookin guy.”

“You knew him?” It surprised me. I always felt like I had a special relationship with my grandfather and he died way too soon leaving me with a hunger for more information about him. Asking my mother to tell me more about him was one of the few devices that could settle her down and as a kid I could listen to her stories about him forever.

“Sure. He was just a young guy when he moved here. Quite the stud! He wore his hair kinda longish too. That wasn’t typical for the time and it really made the girls hot.” She gave a slutty laugh. “He was quite the Casanova.”

I felt like I was twelve. “My mom says that I’m like him.”

“Maybe, you sure look like him at least. Course he was straight and making the most of it.”

“Wait a minute. He had to be married to my grandmother by then. Even you aren’t that old. Whadya mean he was making the most of it? Didn’t you know he was married?”

She rolled the cigarette between two fingers. “Oh he was married alright.”

I was appalled….really appalled. “He cheated on my grandma?”

She lit her cigarette with a silver lighter while twenty feet away the waitress watched with an appalled look on her face and threw a dishrag against the wall in irritation.

“Did I say cheated, Eric? I didn’t say cheated! And the fact is that I don’t know.” She smiled like she was remembering. “But he sure loved to flirt.”

“My grandfather was a very outgoing guy, Rose! He loved being around people! All kinds of people….men and women. It wasn’t just women, Rose!”

“Sure…..whatever you say, Eric. But he sure liked to flirt with the ladies. And he was hung too!”

“Rose! You can’t possibly know that! You just told me…..”

“Oh relax! I never did anything with him! It’s just that he………I’m not sure how to put this but……….well…….he had this display problem.”

I leaned across the table grabbed her arm and whispered. “Erections! Did he get em in public?”

She giggled in a strangely sick way patted her hairdo and said, “Well….maybe it was just me. I used to have that affect on men.”

That particular image was causing the sip of coffee that I had just taken to try coming out thru my nose and I grabbed for a napkin and covered my face. Rose’s fingers closed tightly on my wrist.

“It’s not so hard to believe you little weirdo! I was a real beauty in those days!

I slowly lowered the napkin stared into her eyes and gasped, “I have the same problem.” Why did I say that? When will I learn to keep my mouth shut?

She grinned quickly and blew a stream of smoke into the remains of the relish tray. “I’ve noticed. Somehow it’s not the same.” She stared up at the ceiling for a moment. “He was a real……..stallion…..a real Italian stallion.” She shivered. “God I love to say that word!”

“Whadya mean you’ve noticed? I sure never had that problem around you.”

“Oh please, Eric! You think women don’t check out men’s crotches?”

“You’re supposed to be thinking about…I dunno….motherhood…or something!”

She giggled obscenely. “I’m usually thinking about how to get to motherhood.”

“Well, if you figure it out, Rose, maybe we can turn it into a Nova special. You know, hour long miracles of science?”

“Shut up, Eric!”

“Better living thru chemistry.”

“Shut up, Eric!!”

“Maybe you could be the centerfold for the AMA Journal of Amazing Pregnancies.”

“Shut up, Eric!!!!”


I called my house and when my mother answered I hung up. “Okay, at least I’m sure of where she’s at.” I pulled my car into the driveway of my mom and dad’s house knocked on the door to alert my dad and walked in.

My dad was standing in the kitchen drinking a can of Coke while leaning against the counter. He looked surprised. “Eric, what are you doin here?” He got a look on his face. “Okay, what’s wrong with the business?”

“Nothing, Dad. I just thought I’d get away for a few minutes.” I smiled. “The women are talking about female shit.”

He took a swig of Coke and then nodded and said, “You’d think that as much as they talk about that shit that they’d of figured it all out about three thousand years ago.” But his eyes were telling me that he knew there was more.

He walked over and put his huge hand on my shoulder. “So whatdya really need? You didn’t just stop by to get away from that crap. You’re not sick are ya?”

I grinned. “No I’m fine, Dad.” I sighed. “You never talk about my Grandfather.”

He moved over to the table and sat down. “You mean your mother’s father.” It was a statement.

“Yeah.” I sat down across from him. “I was talking to somebody that knew him. Knew him when he was young.”

He took a long drink of his Coke and then sat back. Finally he said, “Your mother never stops talking about him. I figured it was enough.”

“Did you know him?”

He nodded his head. “Yeah.” He smiled and put his hand down over mine. “He was fine, Eric! It’s not like he was an axe murderer or something.”

“But you didn’t like him?” I didn’t see how anyone could not like him.

He smiled and wrapped his hand around my wrist. “I didn’t say that, Eric!”

He sighed heavily. “Eric, he was a good guy. He loaned me the money to start the business.” He could see by my face that that wasn’t going to be enough. He exhaled and shook his head slowly. “Okay. He was horny……..all the time. I never met a guy quite like that. He was never satisfied.”

My dad looked at me hard. “You sure you wanna hear this?” I nodded yes.

“Eric……..you remember when you told me you were gay?”

Whoa! What’s this about? “Ah…yeah.”

“You remember my reaction?”

“You just shrugged and went back to your paper.” I sighed. “I figured you were having trouble dealing with it.”

“I wasn’t having trouble dealing with it. I expected it. You’re like your grandfather in every other way so it didn’t surprise me that you inherited that too.”

It felt like my head was in one of those machines at the paint store that shakes up paint. “He was GAY??!!”

My dad shrugged. “Eric, your grandfather was everything. Like I said, the guy was always horny and it didn’t seem to matter whether it was a woman or a man and frankly if we had had one I woulda locked up the dog.”

I had like a gazillion questions. “Dad how could he have been gay then? I mean I know that he coulda been gay but how could he have done anything? Wasn’t it even illegal and what about grandma?”

He took another drink of his coke. “I dunno about illegal…maybe it was but it didn’t matter. Like I said you and he are a lot alike you both have this…….quality. And your grandmother didn’t have a clue. She was a nice lady but all she did was cook.”

“Quality?”

“Yeah…..I’ve seen you do it but I’m not even sure that you’re aware of it. When you’re around someone that you’re attracted to or even just like, even a little bit, you put out this, I dunno, quality. It’s almost like you hypnotize them just by looking at em. Anyway, that’s what he did too. I can’t even begin to guess how many people in this town he screwed. Gotta be hundreds! That’s why I was so happy when you got Pete.”

“Pete?”

He nodded.

“You were happy?”

“Yeah, sure! You couldn’t tell?”

“I guess not.”

He grinned and patted my hand. “With your mother around everyone seems to fade into the background.” Well that’s the truth! “Anyway, one look at Pete and I figured you wouldn’t be tryin to do what your grandfather did not with him in the picture anyway. That guy actually looked like he could handle you. You guys are still okay, right?”

“Oh…..yeah. It just keeps…………well, you know….getting better.” I could feel myself blushing and my butt spasming because I was thinking about how well Pete did handle me.

He squeezed my hand. “Eric, there’s nothing wrong with screwing. It’s just when you’re tryin to do the whole town. And now especially with diseases and shit. Just be thankful you got Pete. And Eric.”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t tell your mother about her father. Frankly, I think she knows but your mother has a way of filtering out stuff she doesn’t like and that’s probably best.”

When I got home my mother was cooking up a storm and Jase and David were sprawled on the floor in the family room watching television. Jase was still in his flannel pajamas and David was in jeans. I don’t know how they can lie on their stomachs with the heads up while the watch TV. It made my back hurt just seeing it.

I got “Hi, Dad.” in stereo as I kicked off my shoes and lay down on the couch.

Jase got up walked over and leaned against the couch right near my head his eyes were gleaming but his throat still a little rough. “Hi Poppy Poo!”

I pulled Jase up and he straddled my stomach and then sat upright like he was riding a horse and began to gallop which brought an “Ah, Ah, Ah,” sound out of me as he bounced on my stomach. David knee walked over and watched but then started blushing and began to turn away.

I grabbed his arm and pulled him over next to me my right arm was around his back lightly rubbing it. Jase continued to bounce.

I said, “No Sam?”

He shook his head. “Work………till nine.” I watched the emotions play across his face. This kid should never play poker.

“Gonna see him then?”

He blushed heavily and I could feel his body getting ready to flee. Finally he exhaled then nodded his head and grinned. “Yeah, he’s gonna stop by after.” On some level I think that he knows that I’m forcing him to get used to being touched to accept love. He’s is getting used to it but that probably has more to do with Sam than me.

I half sat up propping myself on my elbows and then pulled David head’s to me and kissed him on the forehead. Jase gave me a mini-glare for disrupting his ride and David was blushing so furiously I thought he might combust.

I cupped the back of David’s head in my hand and said, “Good.”

 

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