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
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.
“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
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?”
“Your fingers. You didn’t lose any during the
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
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
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
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
“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
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
“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
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
“Eric……..you remember when you told me you
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
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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
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.”